March 22, 2006
Looking Back at Peter's 3rd Week (Update: If I had known then what I know now about how to wear a baby and safely sleep with one, you wouldn't be reading this.)
Peter bucked the newborn description from the time he was born. In the pediatrician's waiting room and emergency room the week before, people asked me how many months old he was. Some people were startled by his size, but just as many folks remarked on his activity level.
This energy and alertness made putting him down to sleep difficult. He was-- and is-- a baby easily consoled, but he is not a baby who can just "sit there" and be content. He must be rocked. He must suck. He must bounce or eat or be on a walk.
While I enjoyed these soothing techniques, my frustration grew his third week when Peter would awaken as soon as I put him in his cradle to sleep. Aren't newborns supposed to sleep 16 hours a day? We were quickly regressing to as little as 6. That's not a typo. Six hours in a 24-hour period.
Every Trick in the Book
I tried everything. I could list what all I tried, but that would take entirely too long. Sufficed to say, the technique I finally latched onto was a routine of nursing Peter to sleep, then rocking him for a good twenty minutes to get him into a deep sleep, then placing him in his cradle. And he'd sleep!
For five minutes.
We'd rock some more, as I lamented not rocking longer the first time. And I'd put him down, and he'd sleep.
For five minutes.
This is what we'd do all day, with breaks for eating. HIS eating. By this point, I was down to one meal a day, when Tom got home and could do some rocking.
I did manage a daily shower, since the sound of rushing water relaxed Peter in his bouncy seat. Dressing was another matter. My bathrobe and I were one. You could forget doing laundry, unloading the dishwasher, or even sorting through mail.
Each visitor was a source of joy and panic. Joy, because she'd have a meal in hand. Panic, that the knock on the door might stir the baby before I could get him down.
So I decided that my present life had ended, that I was the only person on the planet whose newborn didn't sleep, and that I needed to inform friends that I must retreat from life until Peter sleeps somewhere besides my arms.
I envisioned hiring a maid with money we don't have. I mourned for the life I once had with Tom, convinced no babysitter would ever take on this child.
And I cried. Several times a day. Usually it happened when Tom called from work. I wouldn't even know the tears were there until I'd start to talk, then I'd lose it.
Amazingly, I didn't become depressed. (Okay, maybe there was some depression, but it was situational as opposed to a true postpartum depression. When you are not eating, not sleeping, not dressing, not knowing when you will ever do those things again, it is natural to cry.) It amazed me how a good hot shower could refresh me to start all over again each day. And those times I managed to eat were pretty renewing too.
Peter continued to melt my heart, and my greatest sorrow was that he wasn't getting the sleep he so badly needed. Honestly, his lack of sleep bothered me more than my own. By the end of this week, I knew something had to give.