Part 2: Sleep!
Ever heard anyone say "Sleep when the baby sleeps"? Try it. And good luck.
In my experience, if you ever want to wake your baby just let your head hit a pillow.
In all honesty, my baby is actually a pretty good sleeper. But just as nursing was a transition, sleep has taken on a different identity for me as well.
If you knew me in my previous life you might know that I heart sleep. I mean, I really really love my sleep. Maybe it's because I've always had a hard time sleeping, but naps and bedtime make me one happy girl. So going into Mommyhood, I knew I'd be sacrificing something I really love for a tiny new person that I love even more.
The night she was born was a great introduction to my new sleep habits. She had some fluid left in her from prior to birth, and every time I would lay her down she'd spit up, start gagging, and her lips would turn blue. My solution was to sit her up in my lap, lean her against my chest and stay awake holding her. It worked. She lived through the night, and that was all I cared about. But never the less, I went to sleep at 8:30 Sunday morning for the first time since waking up the previous day. While this would not continue to be the pattern, it certainly made waking up at intervals seem like a picnic!
From that experience I realized that the hours of the day had a whole new meaning. Three in the morning was just another number instead of the middle of the night when I should be asleep. Not having anything to do the next day (like work, for example) also gave me a different perspective on the wee hours. It just wasn't as important that I spend the whole night asleep and that helped A LOT.
In addition to having to get used to waking up in the night, you don't really sleep the same as you used to before a baby. Josh and I slept in shifts while we were at the hospital. It worked well. But when we got home I had some difficulty going to sleep. I actually felt like I was being negligent by going to sleep when no one else was watching the baby. What if something happened and we were both laying there asleep?! Granted, there's not a lot that can happen to a swaddled baby with mitten sleeves in a sleep positioner in a bassinet next to her mother, even if mom is sleeping. It took a few nights but I eventually got past that. Sort of. I still wake up when she makes noises. Having had a stuffy nose she takes in these long noisy deep breaths because she can't breathe well. I also wake up randomly when I haven't heard her for what feels like a long time and reach over to make sure she's still breathing. I have to say, I'm a little hyper-paranoid about SIDS. Not that I don't follow all the SIDS rules to a T or beyond, but what new mommy wouldn't be petrified by a mysterious syndrome that causes babies to die for sometimes inexplicable reasons?
Well anyway, I've kind of surprised myself by how well I've adjusted to the "new" sleep. The transition was helped tremendously by the bassinet we bought. It's not cute or frilly, but it is very practical. The bassinet has a low side that you put right up to the edge of your bed. I love that I can see and reach right in there without having to sit up or get out of bed. It has been SO nice for those times when she's being squirmy but not actually awake. And for the times when she actually does need something, it's really easy to just reach in and pick her up. In a traditional bassinet you have to reach over the side and down into it which pretty much requires sitting up in bed if not getting up completely. Plus, for the paranoid parent (see previous paragraph on negligence/SIDS) you can easily check on your baby at any time. AND, if all that isn't convenient enough, it folds up nicely and goes with you if you're sleeping somewhere other than home - as we will be in July for a wedding!
Here is a picture of this neat little bassinet:
I guess partly because I have a super adorable baby waking me up, and partly because our bassinet is amazing, I've adjusted well to getting less sleep. I'm still looking forward to sleeping through the night again, but in the meantime it hasn't been as bad as many people warned me it would be. I usually go to bed myself somewhere between 11-1 depending on feeding times, and then she usually wakes me up between 2-5, and then we get up for the day between 8-10. There have been a few days where she has slept for 5 or more hours during the night. Just the other night she slept from 11:30-5:00. So all in all I can't complain!
For my mommy-to-be friends, I highly recommend the bassinet we have. Like I said, not cute or frilly, but it has been so nice to have her within arm's reach and easy to see. Actually, the bassinet itself is called the Arm's Reach Co-sleeper. We got ours from Babies R Us, but you can also find them on Amazon.
Well that is it for sleep (for now). Check back in the next few days for my next topic in the series: Time!