When you become new parents, you enter into a new level of tiredness. Before you have children, you are accustomed to awaking only at your own needs; you sleep until 8am if you’d like, then spend two hours enjoying your coffee while you catch up on celebrity gossip and work the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. You take naps – half an hour, two hours, six hours, any length you choose – on the weekends at any time. If it’s your prerogative to spend seven hours on Saturday reading, you are free to do so. You are rested and refreshed more often than not, and if you’re feeling tired, you can generally do something about it.
But when you become a parent for the first time, you come to terms with the fact that your sleep is no longer your sleep. In the very early months, you exist in a world of naps, and not actual “sleep.” Life is lived three hours at a time. As babies grow older, they eventually find their routine, and you do get more consistent(ish) sleep…but it’s never guaranteed. Additionally, you will find that no matter how old your children get, your sleep will never be the same as it was before you became a parent, because now you’ve been given the gift of super sonic hearing. Every little noise, while not always requiring your attention, will surely awaken you.
Then you have your second child. You are so adjusted to the new normal, that you really don’t feel too tired (probably because it’s no longer the “new” normal – it’s just regular normal with a dark roast extra bold kicker at 5am). In fact, you remark at how easy it is to just add a second child to the mix. You wonder why you didn’t do this sooner (although if we had done it any sooner, we would have just had twins…)
And then it happens: THE FOUR MONTH SLEEP REGRESSION. HISS BOO HISSSSSS.
Newborns sleep a lot. Like, A LOT. Naps all day, and all night. Lots of sleep is to be had. They awaken to eat, burp, poop, take a bath, roll around and look at the ceiling fan and whatever else you’re jingling in their faces, and by then they’re tired again and off to nap.
But infants are a different story. You know your newborn has become an infant when they reach the first sleep regression. This is when babies begin experiencing REM sleep. They are such deep, sound sleepers when they’re newborns because they don’t know how to sleep any other way except deeply. Their worlds are rocked when REM enters the picture, because now they experience light sleep. So light, they wake up thinking, “WHAT THE HELL? WHERE AM I? IS IT TIME TO PLAY? AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT? WHY IS IT SO DARK?”
Friends, we are in the thick of the four month sleep regression, and while I thought my mind and body was well-adjusted to having two children, my children would like to remind me of otherwise. And isn’t that the thing about these beautiful, spirited, loving little creatures? Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, BOOM: sleep regression, teeth, bad dreams, toilet learning, refusal to sleep in pajamas with sleeves. If being kept on your toes was an Olympic sport, parents would win all the gold medals forever and always.
But let’s talk about being T-I-R-E-D (something else in which I’d win all the gold medals)
Example of the current level of exhaustion:
Three nights ago, I was awakened in the middle of the night by my oldest cat, Pookie, in the early stages of hacking up a hairball in our bed. Instead of helping him down, getting a paper towel in front of him and cleaning it up when it finally dislodged itself, I just shoved him off the bed with my foot and rolled over, praying that he didn’t cough anything up in bed. I didn’t even bother checking; I just went back to sleep.
Two nights ago, I noticed he had, in fact, coughed up a hairball in our bed. But I noticed it was on Evan’s side of the bed, so I went to sleep. LOVE YOU HONEY XOXOXOX.
Last night, I noticed the hairball was still in bed, and it was now floating freely as Pookie had spotted it and subsequently began batting it around like a toy. But it was a small hairball, really…no bigger than a dime, and so I rolled over and went to sleep. Exhaustion level classified as: “It’s just a small hairball.”
One morning this week, I made coffee with no coffee – just water. I did not notice until I had actually poured it into my coffee mug.
I called Miles by Grant’s name and vice versa at least once a day. I may have called Grant by Frankie’s name. Frankie is another one of our cats. He and Grant bear no striking resemblance.
I read 50 pages in my current book. I know this, because I dog-eared where I finished reading. When I opened the book the following evening, I remembered nothing I had read, and had to re-read those 50 pages. Does sleep reading exist? If so, I’m doing it.
For dinner one night this week, Miles enjoyed two bananas, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, raisins and an ice cream cone. But he’s always been on the skinnier side, so this seemed like a good idea to me.
The most telling sign of exhaustion: I FELL ASLEEP BEFORE FINISHING A GLASS OF WINE. It’s also worth noting that it was the first glass of wine I’ve had in three weeks.
So, yes, it’s always possible to grow more tired. We eagerly await the day that Grant will officially sleep completely through the night, and not wake up at 2am to eat. Then 2:30am to play. Then 3:30am to burp. Then 4:00am to tell me he’s awake. Then 5:00am because ISN’T THIS WHEN WE NORMALLY GET UP ANYWAY, MOM?!
While admiring my face in the mirror today, I noticed some nice, summery blond streaks in my hair. Upon closer inspection, I found they were actually gray, but they’re scattered enough so that from far away, they give the illusion of blond.
Gray is the new blond anyway, you know.