Sometimes mothers of newborns say “my baby is sleeping so well.” This is funny, because all newborns sleep well, at least during the day. Newborns have a sort of birthing jet-lag, it seems, and haven’t figured out sleep happens when the sun is down. I’m impressed if a newborn sleeps well at night. Now that’s something to brag about.
Later on, babies must learn to sleep again. Somehow they forget, and as far as I know, humans are the only species that need to learn this skill. It’s a rather ridiculous fact when you consider how important it is to our health.
Speaking of mental health, my brain has seemingly erased its short term memory due to lack of sleep. Perhaps I just write the same things in this column over and over. As a result I can’t specifically recall when the shift happened, but there was a point in time where I simply fed the baby until it was full, and then laid it down to sleep. Sure, I had to wake up every two or three hours through the night to do this, which isn’t much fun, but at least I didn’t spend any time rocking and shushing.
As it currently stands, I’ve got two babies who love to eat until their eyes roll back in their heads. But they resist truly sleeping when gently placed in their cribs afterwards. Suddenly they’re behaving like tweens dancing to the latest pop song at a slumber party. And so out comes the tag-team system of my husband and I, rocking and shushing and nursing, until the two are zonked out. Currently they sleep for about nine consecutive hours after that though, so we are certainly blessed. I hope I didn’t jinx us by admitting that.
Another thing I’m hopefully not jinxing is the onset of the next wave of sleep troubles. Cue horror film music and the booming voice of a narrator, ‘FOUR MONTH SLEEP REGRESSION.” Not all babies have one, I’m told, but since I’ve got two, I figure odds are pretty good at least one of them will have some rocky evenings wherein it seems they’ve forgotten how to sleep. They won’t be the only forgetful ones though, and on the upside, I’m likely to not remember much of it in a few months.
I’ve learned that the hours of the day you crave are the ones after the babies go to bed. It’s at this time when you might get an hour to eat potato chips and drink a beer and have some adult conversation on the patio with a baby monitor beside you. Even just 60 minutes of this peaceful time is enough to restore your sanity after the most difficult day full of poop explosions, simultaneous crying, and unsuccessful attempts at tummy time.
This certainly isn’t because I don’t enjoy my time with the babies. This particular age is when the first smiles and giggles come, erupting from their faces in sparkling waves. The smiles I get when they see my face first thing in the morning after waking up are the best smiles of the day, as the little cranky monsters have become little angels after a long, restorative sleep.
I am in no rush to reach the next stage, but I admit I may have caught myself wondering at what age a child can get up and make itself a bowl of cereal in the morning. I too, become an angel who smiles after a long sleep-in.