Sleeping Like A Baby
For those seasoned mothers amongst you, this will be one of those posts in which it is abundantly obvious that I am very ‘green’. I am only 7.5 weeks into this journey and this is merely a record and reflection on parenting as I am finding it. No doubt I will look back on these posts in the months and perhaps years to come and laugh! Perhaps I will look back with embarrassment at my naivety and even for exposing myself in such a way. Again I ask for your grace and patience towards this new mum! :)
I love sleep. I used to be a 8-10hours a night girl who could happily have a nana nap in the afternoon and still sleep soundly at night. Ever heard or used the term “I slept like a baby”? This expression always conjured up such a relaxing, cosy scene in my mind and I was someone who had mastered this art as an adult! Since LP’s arrival I’ve learnt a lot about sleep, how to function on a limited amount of it but mostly how the whole experience can challenge you in unexpected ways.
In many senses when I watch my darling girl sleep it’s everything I’ve always thought of when using this phrase. What I didn’t realise was how interrupted and loud a baby’s sleep can be. The beautiful, docile moments are just that – moments. Most of the sleep is noisy and broken. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that everyone talks about news mums and the lack of sleep that comes with the job. It’s true; as far as I can tell pretty much all babies do wake in the night and need to be fed. I say ‘pretty much all’ because I am sure that there are the odd few who sleep through right from the beginning…not that I have ever met them, or their mothers! Babies wake to be fed and sometimes, if you are really lucky, they also need to be burped, changed and cuddled. Sometimes they don’t want to go back to sleep but decide it’s play time with mummy. I am sure this is not a new concept for you, it wasn’t for me.
What has taken my by surprise are two things. First, my inability to go to sleep if LP is awake. Second, the sheer frustration and exasperation I can feel towards a small, smiling, beautiful little baby. When I started thinking about this post I had forgotten about this second thing. We’d had two quite good nights where I had been able to settle her back to sleep when she awoke in the night (using our new miracle-parenting-tool, the dummy!) and she had not fully woken to be fed until 7am. Last night was a different story with her waking up at 4.30am and not wanting to go back to sleep. She fussed and whinged and while the dummy pacified her for short bursts I was basically up and about from that point on. Enter the frustration. It took me by surprise. I had to take a deep breath and have a bit of a giggle. I thought of mothers who are up with their babies every 2hours during the night and got some perspective.
This frustration can be magnified when she won’t go back to sleep after a feed. Seeing as I can’t get back to sleep until she is asleep I am always very keen for this to happen quickly! I’d like to say that my sleepless is a result of my desire to return a docile, quiet, sleeping baby back to our bedroom so that my dear husband can get a good nights rest and be bright-eyed for work. The Architect doesn’t sleep well at the best of times so I want to do all I can to help him get good sleep wherever and whenever possible (and as you will know from a previous post, he returns the favour on the weekends!) However, my efforts are not purely noble. The truth is, I worry about what might happen to her while I am asleep.
I’ve prayed long and hard for my dear little girl. When I found out about her I became abundantly aware of the fact that she wasn’t mine. I had done nothing to earn her or deserve her, she was a gift for The Architect and I. She has been entrusted to us, but she belongs to the Lord. When I was pregnant there was nothing I could do to protect her and so I had to trust in God’s will for her and His protection of her. Since she has been born there are things that I can and should do to protect her and help her grow. I do these things willingly and lovingly but I am not so sure that my constant need to check that she is still breathing fits into this category! I often spend the early hours of the morning oscillating between wanting her to fall into a deep, quiet sleep and wanting her to make noises so that I know she is OK. Letting God look after her in that larger sense is harder now that she is here. Somehow I think I will be able to prevent a disaster that I can’t predict. This is a challenge I didn’t see coming.
My beautiful girl is asleep next to me as I write this. She is the picture of a sleeping baby. I will pray for her tonight as I do every night. I will ask God to watch over her and I will do my job as her mother when she wakes up – feeding her, cuddling her, settling her and praying that she sleeps well. Being a mum is everything I expected and so much more but there’s no manual for the emotion! I thank God that…well, that He is there.