Sleepless in Maryland

Sunrise

If you’re looking for me, I’m probably watching the sun come up.

At this point in his young life, I know we can’t expect our newborn to sleep through the night . . . or even for a few solid hours. Especially my 10-week-old preemie, who is actually two weeks old when adjusted for his early arrival.

But is the idea of five hours of unbroken sleep a beautiful fantasy?

Absolutely.

Oliver’s schedule can be somewhat flexible, now that he’s getting bigger, but he generally eats every three hours. Spencer and I took turns with the feedings at midnight, 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. when I was home, but I’m strictly on the 3 a.m. shift on our work days.

Sometimes Ollie falls back asleep after that feeding . . . and sometimes he doesn’t.

Sometimes I fall back asleep after that feeding . . . but often? I don’t.

I think it’s a combination of middle-of-the-night overthinking and listening to every whine, gurgle and hiccup our infant is making. Oliver sleeps in a bassinet in the corner of our room, recently moved from right beside the bed. When he first came home, I was up constantly to check his breathing — like every anxious parent — and have since released some of those nerves, but am still on alert for anything that seems amiss.

I’m okay if I fall asleep before Spencer and Ollie. In a quiet, dark room, it doesn’t take long for exhaustion to pull me under. But when I’m roused by his cries for the 3 a.m. feeding and get up for the half hour or more it takes him to finish his milk, I’m finding it harder and harder to go back to bed myself.

How can I be so tired . . . yet unable to rest? It’s torturous. After Ollie finished his bottle around 4 a.m., I should have collapsed immediately. But even with my little guy actually settling himself down, I was staring at the ceiling feeling the minutes tick by.

I’ve quickly realized I can’t do the math. Initially, I became obsessed with the mathematics of sleep: as in, “Well, if I go to bed right now and Ollie sleeps for a few hours, I’ll get three hours now and maybe an hour later, possibly two . . .”

And when that didn’t happen, I would calculate how much I actually got while waiting for the Keurig to spring to life. And the answer was just really depressing.

Spencer is so wonderful, and we really take turns with these nighttime misadventures. Parenting is a shared contact sport at our house. But at the end of the day, if it comes down to Spence or me, I try to let him sneak in some extra shut-eye. I know he’s just as worn out as I am . . . and has to go to work even earlier.

So at 5 a.m. this morning, rather than spend another few restless hours in bed before I had to get up, I decided to try and make the most of that time.

Oliver was fast asleep, of course. Because why wouldn’t he be — then? So I dragged my laptop upstairs with a fresh cup of coffee and settled in.

I wrote this blog post. Answered emails. Placed a Thirty-One order before the party closed. Uploaded some photos, replied to Facebook messages, perused some books on Goodreads.

And away from the digital world? Well, I eventually squeezed another few ounces of milk into Oliver’s reluctant, fussy tummy. Got myself showered, dressed and makeup-ed. Packed my lunch and his bottles. And then, my crowning achievement: I got dinner — this tomato basil chicken stew — in the Crock Pot.

It feels like I’ve lived a full day before I even left for the office.

Better than tossing and turning for hours? Definitely.

But let’s hope for a better night tonight.

Even coffee fanatics have their limits.


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12 thoughts on “Sleepless in Maryland

  1. wow im all so far away in africa, seating in my office wishing i could switch places with you, really liked your writting and narrative….good read

  2. Vance came two and a half weeks early and has always been a good sleeper so we didn’t really experience that but, boy, am I ever experiencing it now with menopausal hormones! I feel your pain but also know that little guy is worth every second of sleep deprivation.

  3. I remember those nights, and I would rush to go to bed,at 9 when babies were sleeping. Getting any sleep I could. I hope as he grows he sleeps longer and longer, as do the adults in your home.

  4. It gets better!! You may never get as much sleep as you once did but 5 and 6 hrs are in your future! I still wake up several times a night to check on my daughters breathing and she’s 2 and a half. As a Mother I think we will always worry about our children no matter what age.

  5. Both of my girls are pretty good sleepers and usually go right back to sleep after the overnight feeding. Unfortunately, a lot of times I don’t go back to sleep right away. It’s so frustrating! Here’s to hoping for more sleep for you and me both 🙂

  6. I know that awful feeling of lying in bed and calculating how many hours of sleep you’ll get if you just fall asleep right now… and my little one isn’t even here yet! It just makes it so much worse and keeps me up even longer.

    I’m sure that he will get to be a better sleeper and so will you 🙂

  7. How about a white noise machine to block some of the sounds? I sleep TERRIBLY with my babies close by–we moved Elle out at around 8 weeks and while Evie was in our room for much longer, she eventually got put in the closet (walk in) so that I didn’t hear every little stinkin peep. That’s what they don’t tell you about babies–they make SO MUCH NOISE! There was one night when I recorded Elle’s grunting and played it to the nurse the next day because I was so concerned. I couldn’t see her…but I’m sure she just rolled her eyes.

    Good news Meg–you will ALL sleep again. I promise. But good for you for making the most of your time. I would have just laid in bed and stewed. xo

  8. Oh Meg, I remember writing a desperate email to a friend: Will I ever sleep again?! She said I would and she was right. Two things helped: eventually moving O out of our room and eliminating a night time feeding when he was finally fat enough. Whatever ends up working for you, whenever it ends up working, you will sleep again. xo

  9. The good news? You WILL sleep again. I promise. It might be a few weeks; it might be a year. However, he will get to the point where he sleeps through the night, thereby allowing you to settle into a more normal sleep pattern as well.

    The bad news? You will always be tired from here on out. They don’t tell you how exhausting parenting is even when they are sleeping through the night. Every stage brings its own challenges and fears that run you ragged and keep you up at night.

    The best news? It is worth every minute of lost sleep or bleary-eyed mornings when all they want to do is cuddle in your arms. It is the most awesome feeling in the world when they just want to sit next to you and snuggle no matter what their age.

  10. Hang in there! I must admit that sleep deprivation is the reason I only have two children. It took me years to be able to fall back asleep after being awakened at night for any reason but it does get better! Blessings to you.

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