“No, don’t wear that tank top, wear the black one,” my husband said, groaning from the bedroom.
“You don’t like this red one?” I questioned.
“Noooo, put on the black one,” he demanded.
“But the black one is dirty. There’s spit-up on the side,” I replied.
“But that’s the one you were wearing when you nursed him last night, and he slept through the night, so you need to put that one back on before nursing him again tonight so he’ll sleep for two nights in a row,” my husband responded.
Welcome to our new life. We. Are. Desperate. Parents.
Somehow we have started emulating sports-team-like intensity superstitions in our roles as new parents. Since the day our son was born we have become victims of trying to desperately cling to whatever worked out successfully for him in that previous hour. Our son has never been a sleeper. He woke up every two to four hours for the first six months of his life. Around month six, he started waking only once a night, sleeping for two four-hour stretches. This was amazing. Then months seven and eight were spent waking at least twice a night due to the pain of teething his top two front teeth. Months nine and ten were back to waking once a night, with the odd “awful night” thrown in to really keep us on our toes. Month eleven is starting out to be what must be a total mistake, as he has slept through the night about nine times out of ten. Or, more accurately, 12 times out of 13. Maybe he’s reaching that mythical age where he starts just really sleeping through the night. This has been especially difficult on me, both physically and emotionally, as a working mom who should wake up at 4am to try and leave the house by 5am to drive to the office to start work at 6am (gotta love DC-area commutes). Sleep deprivation is horrible and no one can prepare you for the depths of misery that await you if your baby does not sleep well. So yes, we are desperate for sleep.
True examples of things that have been said in our house in the past eleven months:
“No, that didn’t work at all, never put him in that onesie again! He cried all day wearing that–it must scratch his arms funny. He can’t sleep like that.”
“When I used that new bath soap he slept for a stretch of four full hours, so only use that soap tonight.”
“That sleep sack might be too warm. I’ll try the thinner one tonight.”
“He must have been cold, I’ll switch to the fleece sleep sack tonight.”
“Maybe he needs long pajamas underneath instead of a onesie, try that tonight.”
“I bet his room is too hot/cold, let’s turn the heat/air-conditioning down/up.”
“Maybe he didn’t sleep through the night because I ate some chocolate chips before bed and perhaps the caffeine kept him awake. I’ll stop eating those.”
“I bet he likes the giraffe swaddle print better than those ugly monkeys, let’s just use that one.”
“I ate a turkey sandwich every day this week at work for lunch, and he slept for five hour stretches each night. I bet he loves the turkey and it makes him sleepy. I’ll keep eating that for lunch!”
“The turkey isn’t working any more.”
“He ate veggies before dinner and woke up three times, maybe he was gassy and we shouldn’t give him that at night.”
“Tonight the white noise was set to one of the weird creepy ones, I bet he was scared. Let’s change it back tonight.”
“I ate chocolate chips before bed again but he slept through the night so maybe it’s not the chocolate chips.”
“The nightlight was set on blue last night and he woke up every two hours. Let’s try red tonight.”
“I did baby massage for him in the tub tonight and he only woke up three times. I’ll try that again tonight!”
“Maybe I didn’t do the massage long enough, he woke up every two hours.”
“He fell asleep hard last night while I was nursing him on one side. Maybe I’ll try that side first again tomorrow.”
This could go on and on and on and on because it has. Do you see where this is going? Spoiler Alert: IT’S GOING NOWHERE. We’re developing our own sick version of OCD in trying to remember what we wore, what we used, the order in which our bedtime routine was performed, and everything possible under the sun.
Yesterday I noticed that I have forgotten to take my daily probiotic for the past week. When I mentioned this to my husband he told me not to take it again because our son has been sleeping so well this week so maybe that’s the reason why. It’s been eleven months of this behavior.
We are scared of our baby. It’s like that clip from Tina Fey. “We must subdue the night creature.” We don’t trust that this little run in sleep is going to last, as I fear he’s just resting now to gear up for another two months of teething where he wakes up three times a night.
Has anyone else found themselves this irrational with their routines surrounding infant sleep? I never see this topic covered in books and magazines, “Desperate Parent Superstitions.” I would continue typing more to discuss this, but Little Brim is sleeping now so I should probably go and try to do the same.