There are few things that will drive a new mother over the edge like sleep deprivation.
The days where you wake up exhausted, nauseous and convinced you will never sleep again in the history of ever drive yoga pants clad moms all across this nation to the brink of insanity.
Everyone always seems to have the answer, too, as to why your baby isn’t sleeping:
Aw, it’s because his diaper is too full! Who can sleep with a leg full of urine?
It’s because you put him to bed too late! Try an hour earlier!
You are putting him to bed too early! Try an hour later!
Have you tried warm milk for him and a shot of vodka for you?
There are books written on the subject by doctors and celebrities and moms who have “been there”. Entire sections of book stores are dedicated to helping bleary eyed parents get to the bottom of the sleep disaster that happens right on cue every evening at 9 pm. Talk shows, Facebook pages, and MSN articles all claim to know exactly how you are failing to get your precious snowflake to shut his pie hole at 2 am so you can catch some beauty rest.
And, as a first time parent, you try EVERYTHING. You try the bounce walking. You try soothing music. You invest in a white noise machine. And then you throw the white noise machine out the window because it keeps your cherub up. You run fans at top speed. You tiptoe like a ninja through your house during nap time, avoiding even the appearance of noise. Sometimes, you just sit on the couch, quiet as a church mouse, and pray that your cherub doesn’t hear the sound of your breathing from the second floor.
When Fruit Loop #1 was about four months old, Hubby and I were in the throws of sleep deprivation. Crankiness reigned supreme and no one was happy. There wasn’t enough coffee on the planet, my boobs were macerated from being a constant pacifier at 2 am and we were <this close> to returning his cute little self to the stork. Because we were TIRED. We were “feel it in your bones, my eyelids hurt, even growing my fingernails makes me exhaused” kind of tired. We had bounce walked to the sound of frogs chirping for four solid months and we were DONE.
For all of the advice, there was one thing we HADN’T tried because it was controversial. It was scary. It was going to take strength that we weren’t sure we had after four months of being awake for ALL. THE. HOURS. We knew if we tried it, we’d have to be strong. We’d have to be tough. We’d have to invest in ear plugs.
I’m talking about letting Fruit Loop #1 Cry. It. Out.
We were brave. We were crazy. We were tired. And we would stop at nothing to finally get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.
We chose the date very carefully: a Friday because we knew Saturday could be spent making up for our stupidity if things didn’t go well. We prepared: we filled Fruit Loop #1’s belly with to the tippy top for dinner, we talked about staying strong and not letting the other stop the crying. We agreed that we were going to win at sleeping or die trying. Our house was no longer a sleep democracy. We were Team Sleep Dictatorship and we were declaring war on our sleep terrorist.
At the appointed hour, we put Fruit Loop #1 to bed at his usual bedtime. For us, the issue was not so much the infant GOING to sleep, rather, it was getting the infant to STAY ALEEP all night. As we quietly closed his door to the sounds of his sweet little snores, we high fived, poured a glass of wine and waited. As we turned in at 11 pm, we smirked at our cunning. Maybe Fruit Loop #1 had gotten the memo and had decided to just sleep through the night with little fan fare.
At 2 am, those cute little baby snores became loud, murderous screams demanding our attention. The hallway was filled with the sound of a child denied his rightful nightly parental visit. He was so loud and angry, we were certain the police would show up at any moment to arrest us for our inattention.
2:15 am found us laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, both repeating, “He’ll fall asleep soon. He has to….”
2:22 am brought the first attempted defection to satisfy the terrorist’s needs. Hubby had to hold me to stop me from leaving. As I cried into my pillow, exhausted and defeated, I tried to stay strong.
2:36 am was Hubby’s turn to be held back. We were going to be strong. #Winning, remember? I won’t go into the details but the sleep deprived man by my side was about to go berserk.
And still, Fruit Loop #1 cried. LOUDLY. With gusto. With the strength of ten thousand men, he made it clear that we were to come to his room PRONTO.
We stood firm. And by stood firm, I mean we cowered and begged each other not to give in to the terrorist’s demands.
2:42 am was the turning point, the moment when we realized we may have gained some ground. The cries were less murderous, less hostile. We heard hiccups and sniffles.
2:49 am brought whimpering. And stretches of quiet until he remembered he was still fighting sleep.
2:55 am found us staring at the ceiling again, saying “If it’s not over in five minutes, we will surrender.”
3 am: Absolute quiet. No one moved for ten whole minutes, lest Fruit Loop #1 should hear the sound of our breathing.
By 4 am, we knew we had won the war and we rejoiced. There was a ticker tape parade and calls from the President congratulating us on a battle well fought. Victory was ours and it came in the form of three solid hours of uninterrupted sleep for all of us. The next few nights were easier and eventually, Fruit Loop #1 waved the white flag and decided it was easier to submit to the sleep dictatorship that now ruled his camp.
#WinningAtSleeping, indeed, bitchachos.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a nap because just writing about this reminds me of how tired I still am…..
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