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Sleep Deprived

February 5th, 2004 · No Comments

Yeah – Both of Lisa William’s sons, baby and two year old, napped at the same time the other day! Quite an accomplishment. I wanted to be sure and congratulate her.

Being a mother of multiple children is like being an orchestra conductor. But children can be much less compliant than musicians and they can’t read music – they don’t see the score. Trying to coordinate two (or more!) sleeping schedules consistently – or even the spontaneous instance of one simultaneous napping – either is a feat worthy of applause!

I remember the first time my two girls napped together. It was six days after Michaela was born. It was a fluke.

That same night Ted and I went back to visit our Lamaze class, two kids in tow, new baby and two year old. (I had gone into labor hours after the second-to-last class and the teacher invited us to come back and share.)

So I gleefully sauntered into the group, happy to show off my new little baby to all the waiting-to-be-parents and to tell them our story. Show and tell. But also the chance to be an example for the class with the instructor making points through our experience. When our teacher mentioned napping when the baby naps, that old principle, I was too happy to share how that afternoon both the baby and my two year old had slept at the same time. I had it made.

Ha ha. Little did I know I was only basking in the happy post-partum hormones that had hit me. Little did I know how tired I would become, and how hard it would be on a regular basis to have an hour of quiet in the afternoon.

After we had our third child, I felt especially exhausted. I can still remember how tired I was. I think I’ve only completely come out of it since I weaned Elisabeth. The sleep-deprivation was a shock to me with our first child but I’d still say for me it is the worse aspect of giving birth. Even going through it the second and third time didn’t help that much. I still felt pretty tired. Maybe even more tired.

I think I might have even been depressed. At least at times. I don’t think it was solely due to childbirth and new babies. There was a lot going on in our lives during the two years we had our second and third daughters. I didn’t want the world to stop simply because I had had a baby. But looking back, I realized now that I should have stopped it.

My worse time of day is from dinner time until bed time. I drag. I’d rather be in bed myself. Can’t wait for those little bodies to get under the blankets. If Ted’s away or can’t help me, I used to feel overwhelmed trying to get three wee ones ready for bed all at once. Time seemed to stop, stuck in the bathroom with babies. I couldn’t think too clearly at all, just that I wanted everyone to go to sleep and soon!

The other day, a friend reminded me how emotionally drained we become without sleep, and how the reduction in rest reduces what we have to give to our children. I can still remember feeling like cardboard, especially in the evenings, like a paper parent with nothing in me. Cranky and crabby. As Lisa wrote “Good parenting you have to be awake for it”.

Of course, putting the kids in bed didn’t mean that they’d always go to sleep or stay asleep. I remember rushing around, thinking, “I’ve got to do this while I have a chance”, making priority lists for what to do in those rare moments.

Feeding Baby in the middle of the night was never my forte either. The 2 – 3 am waking was always the worse one for me. Sometimes I’d try to read a book (wonder why I don’t remember The Lord of the Rings series too well?!), but sometimes I’d just rock there in the chair, snoozing a bit while waiting for Baby to finish her meal. Sometimes we’d both fall asleep.

Now though the older two can get themselves dressed completely. And they all sleep through the night. Mostly. Mostly now it’s my fault if I’m tired.

I still remember that grogginess. I’ve got a touch of it myself today, after staying up too late last night. I’ve only got myself to blame.

However I’m sure I don’t feel anywhere near as tired as Lisa does right now. But for a sleep-deprived mom, she’s doing very well, as it seems on her weblog. She’s been writing some great posts recently. I especially liked the ones she wrote about motherhood today ( I’m living the good old days) and marriage ( Marriage and freedom ) yesterday. Her honesty about sleep-deprivation and the baby blues . Oh, and plenty of cute pictures too. I want to thank Lisa for sharing and describing her experience of motherhood. Reading through the past few days of her posts provides rich encouragement for new moms – or moms of any age.

Tags: family