Thursday morning, the talk around the office was the Big Storm that had rolled in just after midnight. Booming thunder, scary lightning, flash flooding, power outages all over Raleigh. “I guess it didn’t get out over my direction,” I told people. “I didn’t hear a thing.”

After talking to Chris later, I realized that we DID get the storm after all. I not only slept through it, I slept through the fact that it woke both my children up, and they STAYED up for almost two hours, unable to go back to sleep because they were scared – both by the storm, and by memories of the Wallace and Gromit movie we’d watched the night before. (Yes, my children are frightened by Wallace and Gromit.)

All I have to say about that is – thanks, kids, for picking Daddy that night instead of me.

Mallory has started a prayer campaign for a baby sibling. (You can bet that I have started a counter.) She thinks this campaign will work because it did for a school friend of hers. This poor family – the husband has four grown children from a first marriage; together they have a 6th grader, a 4th grader, and a 1st grader. Then the wife got pregnant. “We’re like one of those reality TV families!” the mom said to me, not quite in jest. Anyway, Mallory’s friend was about to start praying again, when she found out the new baby was going to be a boy, but her parents strictly forbade any more prayers of that nature.

My point – there are many reasons I don’t want another baby, and yes, practical considerations – not enough bedrooms, not enough time, not enough money for college tuition – rank high. But I think the number one reason is I can’t endure the sleep deprivation again.

The first two months of Mallory’s existence, I just wanted someone to shoot me. We lived in a tiny house back then, and her crib was right next to my head. Every time she made the slightest sound, I was jerked awake, and then I lay there, frozen in dread, waiting for her to start to cry in earnest. When she did, I’d heave myself up, pick her up, navigate over the sleeping dogs into the living room, and curl up on the couch while she nursed. Most of the time I’d fall asleep, and then wake up not knowing how much she’d eaten or how long we’d been there. I’d get up as stealthily as possible and sneak back to the bedroom, lay her down inch by inch, keeping my hands on her for a few extra moments to ease the transition. (At this point one of the dogs would invariably sigh or snort or roll over and the baby would twitch and I’d add another 60 seconds to the count.) Then I’d ease into bed – and lay there wide awake. I was too tired and too demoralized to sleep – I knew she’d wake up again within an hour anyway. Sometimes I’d say some kind of incoherent prayer to what I came to call “the god of sleeping children,” a deity which I eventually realized obviously didn’t exist.

When Phoebe was born, I skipped the crib entirely. We co-slept from day one, and even though she woke up a lot every night, and continued to do so for about 18 months – it was so much better, not having to get out of bed to tend to her. Some people take the breastfeeding/co-sleeping route for reasons of bonding or safety or nutrition or whatever. I did it because I am lazy to the bone.

Now, on the rare occasions that I get woken up at night (Phoebe in particular has to let me know if she has to go to the bathroom at 3 a.m., despite my assurances that I just don’t care) – I wonder how I managed it, with both kids, this awful sensation of being roused out of a pleasant sleep, over and over again. Of going to bed every night knowing that your sleep was going to be interrupted, over and over again. I mean, I know that, like every other parent in the world, I managed because I had to manage. But I’m just so glad now that we’re over that phase. And I never want to repeat it.



Chris said...

Well, they didn't "pick" me, I just happened to still be up and awake when the storm started, so they came to me. Had they needed to make a real choice between one of us, they would have gone to you...they prefer you. I'm used to it by now. Still don't know how you slept through it though, it was pretty loud.

aimee said...

That is funny that you slept through it all. And I so agree with you about not wanting another baby because of the sleep issue. I cannot imagine having to exist on less than 7 hours of full sleep again.