I’m so tired

No blog by a new parent would be complete without a post bemoaning the sleep deprivation that happens in the first year of your little one’s life, so here is mine.

As the stay at home parent and breastfeeding mama, I pull night duty seven nights a week. ThrottleGirl slept in our room in a cosleeper for the first three months or so, and then we moved her cosleeper into her own room and set up a baby monitor. Now when she wakes up at night, I get up, go into her room, and change positions for her/possibly change her diaper/nurse her/burp her/walk her until she goes back to sleep. Then I put her back in the cosleeper and go back to bed myself. Repeat 1-4 times per night, depending on the night. Each night waking lasts 30 minutes to an hour or more depending on why she woke up and how long it takes me to figure out what’s wrong, and lately they’ve been coming every three hours or so.

I’ve gone through periods of time when I didn’t get a lot of sleep, most notably during college when I was a full time student and working part time as a bus driver, pulling both the late night shifts ending at 2am and early morning shifts starting at 6-7am (not usually back to back). Getting four or five hours of sleep per night was not uncommon. But, I always knew when my next full night of sleep would happen. And I could always choose to blow off a class and sleep late if I really needed to.

Now I am getting six or seven hours per night, which doesn’t sound that bad until you take into account that it is being broken up into two or three chunks. So, two or three hours at a time followed by a period of wakefulness that will last an unknown amount of time during which I have to wake up enough to problem solve and not fall asleep with ThrottleGirl on my lap. Some nights are better, and some are worse. And with a baby, you never know what kind of night it will be. Or when you will be able to sleep again.

Nap while your baby naps! Is common advice for new moms. This has never worked for me. In the beginning ThrottleGirl would only nap in my arms, and I couldn’t sleep with her on me. Around three months she started taking more regular, longer naps that I could put her down for, and I used that time to catch up on housework and start trying to cook dinner again, as no housework had been done and we had been eating takeout since the baby was born, so no napping. Then naps started getting shorter, going through a two month period of hour long crying sessions leading up to half hour naps. Now the time it takes to get her to sleep has improved, but nap lengths are still variable and unpredictable, from half an hour to two hours. Sometimes she’ll sleep a half hour, wake up crying, and I’ll go put her back to sleep. So, there hasn’t been much opportunity to sleep during the day.

Sleep deprivation has been connected to all kinds of side effects like short term memory loss, depression and hostility, lack of libido, weight gain, and decreased ability to regulate your mood. I have experienced almost all of these, sometimes all at once. What fun! No wonder ThrottleDaddy thinks I am nuts. Combine all of this with the lack of freedom and increased responsibility that comes with parenting an infant 24/7, no nearby family to help with childcare so mama doesn’t get many breaks, and you have one exhausted, sometimes depressed, sometimes desperate mama, dying to go for a ride. Or take a nap. 

If I had to choose between a track day or 24 hours of time all to myself when I could sleep as much as I want, it would really be a tough decision.

In the midst of all this mama stuff, ThrottleGirl is starting to change from baby to toddler before my eyes. I am already forgetting what she was like to hold as a newborn, which is scaring me a little. People keep telling me that this stage of my daughter’s life will go by so fast, and I will miss it when it is gone. I keep telling them, I am taking lots of pictures now because I know I won’t remember it, because of the sleep deprivation-induced memory loss.

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