The day after I took apart a baby crib for the final time and put together a toddler bed for my 2-year-old, I read this post at my local Patch site.
Lisa Rossi is writing a regular column about the challenges of being a new mom. I feel for her. The sleep deprivation she describes here conjures all-too-vivid memories for me.
Want to know what movie I watched the Friday night my daughter stayed up because she got her days and nights mixed up? “Shattered Glass,” the Billy Ray flick about serial fabulist Stephen Glass. As a journalist I was naturally interested in how this guy got away with fabricating stories for Rolling Stone and the New Republic; watching the movie I discovered it was less about journalism and more a highly perceptive study of professional ambition and office politics.
My daughter lay strapped in her “bouncy chair” looking at the attached fake aquarium in front of her pretty much the entire time. She was content — but the problem was, she was awake. She didn’t drift off to sleep until about 5 a.m., which screwed up her internal clock even more. It happens sometimes, our pediatrician told us, and she’ll snap out of it.
Which she did, but not before I also had to leave work early one Thursday — again, the vivid recollection, and I usually can’t remember where I left my wallet — after my boss looked at me, wracked by sleep deprivation, and said, “Please go home.”
Rossi describes in vivid detail the struggle to get even a few hours of deep sleep — REM sleep, the rejuvenating sleep that revives us enough to tackle another day. With a newborn, that’s pretty much out the window, unless you’re exceedingly lucky. Rossi nails the heightened sense of hearing that comes with the combination of not getting enough sleep and the anxiety of having a newborn in the house for the first time.
And I, for the most part, didn’t even have to get up to handle feedings.
It’s not something I care to revisit, truth be told, which I thought of while putting together a toddler bed for my youngest. He’s ready. He’s been jumping out of his crib at nap, much to My Beautiful Wife’s surprise. He’s actually older than his siblings were when we moved them out of a crib. The problem is, we could trust them a lot more than him. You told them to stay in bed, to not get out without calling Mommy or Daddy, and they complied, no questions, no problem. Stickers are a powerful incentive to a toddler.
Hopefully Zach will get it. He’s off to a pretty good start. He’s up only occasionally, and that’s when he loses his pacifier (which we will soon begin to phase out). If he does get out of bed in the morning or after nap, he’s behaving himself in his room, grabbing books off his bookshelf and entertaining himself.
And he feels an unmistakable sense of pride of sleeping in a “big boy bed,” with a pillow. We’ve come a long way from those days when a four-hour stretch of sleep felt like an eternity.
Thank God. Hang in there, Lisa Rossi. I wish I had more to offer you, but that’s all I got.