Friday, February 4, 2011
Sleeping like a baby
The pinnacle of exhaustion came for me as I was walking down the street with Elijah strapped to my chest, praying that the rhythm of our steps would keep him from fussing. I saw a homeless man sitting unsupported on a newspaper box, fast asleep despite the traffic roaring past. A thought rose from the fog of my brain- "I know exactly what it is to be that tired." People may try to warn you, prepare you, but until it happens, until you have seen that hour of the night when you are pretty much sure no one else in town is still awake, you don't know.
Elijah is four months old now, and things are so much better. I no longer keep pillows and blankets all over the house so that I don't have to waste any of his precious few sleeping moments in search of somewhere to lay my head. I wear regular cloths, not the versatile and oh-so-attractive sweatpants/t-shirt combo. I am on the other side of Insomnia Mountain, and the grass really is greener.
My friend Waahida gave me the best advice I have received as a parent thus far: let go of your sleep expectations. At times, it was my mantra. Because the second you start thinking, "If I could just sleep for [four hours, three hours, ten minutes]", the frustration sets in, because chances are, it's not going to happen. Even now, I'll go to bed at 10, thinking, "Great, I can get a solid three hours before Elijah wakes up again," and that will be the night that he wakes up every time his binky falls out. When these toxic thoughts start to rise up in my consciousness, I beat them back, replacing them with sheep or the ocean or anything else that can ease my trip to slumberland. The temptation now is the project myself several months into the future, when, perhaps, Elijah will not wake up every three hours. But maybe he will, so I continue to follow Waahida's sage advice. Besides, why on earth would I want to think about months from now when I've got the best baby ever right here?
So, for all you parents out there, what is one piece of hard-won advice that you would share?
Just please don't tell me that my baby needs a hat. I've heard that one a few times already.