Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sleepless in Fort Bragg or Babies Suck

Today is Amari's two week birthday. May she find all the joy her heart desires - preferably in the form of sleep and silence.

People say kids help you feel young again. I'm learning now that they age you dramatically first, so it really just balances out. The past few nights have been very challenging. Carrie and I are slowly finding our way, while our illusions that an easy pregnancy portends an easy infancy are quickly being shattered. We both genuinely believed that Carrie's mild morning sickness, even temperament, and minimal physical aches during pregnancy meant that Amari was far too busy learning to walk, talk, and sleep through the night to cause her Mom any unnecessary discomfort. Volcanoes, I have found, are also easy, even beautiful when they're dormant and I've often imagined that if one were to explode, I could easily outrun its slow-moving lava. Ahhh yes, the naivete of first volcanoes.

In a physical vacuum, holding, hugging, swaying, singing, changing, and feeding (Carrie might disagree with this one), are relatively easy tasks, even blissfully enjoyable. Add serious sleep deprivation and all the rest of our worldly responsibilities that we suddenly have to do one-handed or in shifts, and the very basic begins to feel incredibly demanding. It's both a blessing and a wonderful design of evolution that Amari is so damn cute. Crying, sucking, and poohing? Not big selling points. Cuteness? Priceless. Just for fun I Googled "ugly babies" the other day, which definitely reinforced my gratitude and my belief in Darwinism. Check it out - tell me you wouldn't get more frustrated with a Cabbage Patch Kid or Junior Potato Head. Seriously.

So I guess parenting isn't all fun, games, and obscure references. Well, it may still be the latter (see end of this paragraph). Fifteen days ago, when Amari was still resting quietly inside of Carrie, eating, drinking, and sleeping to her hearts content, I was absolutely certain she would emerge as a very mature infant thanks to all the pre-natal communication we'd inflicted upon her in the form of '80's and 90's synth-pop. At the very least she would be able to moonwalk or take herself too seriously.

Early on (I know - way back in the first week) we had a couple of good nights - even Carrie slept for 2-3 hours at a time. Then the tide known as Amari shifted and she was suddenly up every hour to "graze" on her exhausted mother. This lasted for a couple of nights and began to wear on Carrie's nerves. I remembered how she'd been afraid during her first night of labor that her contractions might keep her from sleeping. Now I'll bet she reminisces about contraction-filled sleep. Although I'm happy and proud of the bonding I've been able to do without breasts, these moments when Carrie is fragile, vulnerable, or just plain done leave me feeling helpless. She has always been there for me in similar moments and I really want to be able to return the favor.

The tide shifted again, and for two nights in a row Amari began the evening curled up on my chest as I watched basketball and Carrie got a head start on sleep. I was convinced that what we needed to buy was a co-sleeper that breathes, is shaped like a 38 year-old belly, and whispers play-by-play commentary all night. Apparently she loves that. I've also contemplated decorating our bedroom to look like our car, the beach, or the grocery store - all places where she absolutely loves sleeping. Grrrrrr. That night on the couch, Amari received her first lecture. I held her in front of me and said, "Listen, sweetie. Your mom is more than just a milk factory. She's a human being and she needs her sleep. Trust me - you'll thank me later." That was it. When I took Amari upstairs she slept for seven more hours with only a single interruption. Carrie's smile and optimistic glow had returned the next morning. "Did you give her a talking to?" she joked. I smiled and gave Amari a knowing wink. Amari looked right past me and drooled lactose.

Two nights later, Amari was back to her interval training. "She sucks," we both said. We meant it, and it was also true - practically once an hour day and night. Some of the best advice I've been given thus far was from a fellow newbie with a nine month old daughter who told me, "Whatever happens, good or bad, don't get attached." Nonetheless, this was not the least bit comforting in my return to helplessness and Carrie's return to sleep deprivation.

So Happy Freakin' Birthday, Amari. Now go to sleep for chrissakes.

1 comment:

  1. My friends who are parents report very similar things. hope you got some sleep eventually!

    Kate x