Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sleepless in Babydom

December 9: I'm not sleeping well.

This is not really a surprise, given that I have a four-week-old.  But the dreadful irony is that my child is sleeping better than I am.  Like a good little soldier of somnolence, he goes down around 9:00 PM for four or five hours, feeds, then goes back down for another four of five hour stretch.  For his age, he's a champ.

I wish I could say the same thing about his mother.

Alas, what's keeping me up at night is,  It's not unprecedented: I have always been, and will likely always be, my own worst enemy.  Instead of knuckling down to the business of slumber after the 1:00 AM feed like my son does, I lie awake in the dark panicking.  I need to sleep!  I need to sleep!  Am I sleeping yet?  Is he eating enough?  Why is he sleeping so long?  Why did he spit up so much? Are those real social smiles, or my imagination?  Why isn't he sleeping more during the day?  Will he get diaper rash?  Was that intestinal distress or indignance?  Why does he wheeze?  Is that heart murmur going to kill him?  Should I be calling 911?  Should I be calling the pediatrician?  Why am I not sleeping?  Oh my God, am I setting myself up for a lifetime of insomnia?  What if I'm setting myself up for a lifetime of insomnia?  Will that make me a bad mother?   I should really be sleeping! 

And so on.  Having a baby revs the engine of anxiety, but of course anxiety was always there, biding its time like a cartoon villain resting between sequels.  Meanwhile, I pore over the baby books.  In this first, most important of years, baby has a lot to learn.  He must learn to fall back asleep.  He must learn to soothe himself when he is upset.  He must learn that, however upset he gets, things will ultimately be OK.

Me too, baby.  Me too.

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