Sunday, July 29, 2012

Life is what happens

I remember this particular phase from when my first child was born.

First, the brand new baby who sleeps 22 of every 24 hours. You're full of self-congratulation, remarking that you just knew you were going to have a natural-born sleeper from day one this time. People shake their heads knowingly and you tell them to stow it.

A few weeks later, the kid is growing, becoming more aware, doing more, and suddenly they're hungrier. They don't go to bed until 11pm, and then they wake at 2, 4, 6 for more food. You're tired, but you figure hey, if this is as bad as it gets, you can survive it until they start stretching that out a little. Soon, soon, they'll wake less. Sleep longer.

Oops, wait- this is definitely not as bad as it gets. They hit the 4 month sleep regression, Wonder Week, get in league with the devil, whatever, and all of a sudden they're in bed at 9, but they're also awake at 11, 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Surely they cannot be that hungry. Surely they do not like you that much that they have to see you that often through the night. They see you all day! Surely they'll sleep if you give them more milk, a pacifier, a shirt you've had stuffed in your bra for a week, a lovey, a musical seahorse, the right weight of blanket...

It just cannot get worse than this. You are no longer functioning like a normal human being. You put cornflakes in the fridge and milk in the cupboard. The only books you've read in five months are half a dozen baby sleep manuals, some of which may or may not have pages ripped out where you were paging through in clumsy desperation. You no longer own a single item of clothing that does not have milk, barf or pureed apple on it somewhere.

But of course it can get worse. Kid cannot sleep without you now. Kid wakes up every 45-60 minutes all.night.long. Kid is so super cheerful and adorable during the day that you reluctantly return your wicker basket to the shed instead of carting them off to a nunnery, and then you sigh and carry on picking up dropped toys, rubbing sore gums and singing silly songs.

Where does it go from here? Well, last time it went on until my daughter was 14 months old, and then she started sleeping through the night and hasn't stopped since. This time at least I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm also hoping that my son will get his act together long before that- he's got 8 more months to beat his sister to the sleeping-through milestone, and in the meantime I'm promising him that he'll be lauded, praised and held up as totally better than her every Christmas if he'll just close his freaking eyes and stay quiet all night long, right now. Tonight. It's never too early to start.

Unless you're a baby, apparently.

Am I writing at the moment? Ahaha. That there is the sound of my bitter laughter. Am I doing *anything* to progress toward getting back to it? The outward answer is no, I'm not. I'm not blogging, I'm not researching, I'm not reading, I'm not even thinking, unless you count trying valiantly to come up with an awesome answer when my toddler says such deep things as, "What does dying look like?" And, "Stephanie's little brother is a sister!"

But the inward answer is, yes, actually. It's one of those times in life where just living is the only step forward you can take, and just living- feeling the exhaustion, proudly watching your baby grow fat and healthy, nuzzling that soft baby fuzz day and night, being happy and sad and crazy- not only are they all steps toward the time when life gets back on track, but they feed into the soul of what you write when you get started again.

In the meantime, I hope to kickstart myself a little by trying to get back into blogging and research a little more- but do excuse me if I have a spare half hour and I use it to catch a nap instead!


  1. Oh Claire, that is beautiful. So funny yet so sadly true. I really hope baby boy starts sleeping lots more for you soon! I hope ours does too...

  2. Claire, as if I have to tell you. welcome to motherhood. A baby like this does get enough rest. It's you have other thing to do with your time doesn't. This too shall pass all too soon. Blogging is a good way to kick start your writing. For me, post stroke, it helps to organize thought when your brain is like scrambled mush. Cherish every moment.

  3. Bless you! I have no advice because I have no experience. Bless you, my friend. May he sleep through soon.

  4. Ah, the good ol' days! :) I hope you have a support system that enables you to have a little time for yourself!

  5. We'll get through it soon enough :) Fortunately I have an awesome husband who's a huge help, plus a three-year-old who is mature beyond her years and absolutely loves to assist with anything to do with her baby brother- plus a host of great friends and family. Only me to work on the night-time sleep, but hey, if he turns out half as amazing as my daughter in terms of kindness, caring and social skills, it's all going to be more than worth it.

  6. Aww, sounds very sweet, Claire. Counts as life research, no? [g]

  7. Oh, I do miss you, Claire!

    Are there still nunneries that accept babies in wicker baskets? I wonder if they have room for teenagers who think they know everything. *pausing for self-reflection over that last comment*

    Good to see you have lovely, healthy babies! Life is certainly happening *right now*, and you have a front row seat with the best company there is.

    Love! and Babies, and Finding your groove again.

  8. I love that the enduring theme of the passage is "Surely it can't get worse" - and this is repeated and repeated throughout in a hilarious (sorry!) escalation of surprising ways it *can* get worse. It will get better hopefully!