Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wise Mommy and Baby Sleep Schedule

(a random shot of the swing at Gma's taken by my cousin that has nothing to do with this post)
Sleep is important.

I discovered the benefits of a good 'bed time routine' early in life; especially when I started to play sports. I don't know if it was my coaches that worked the tar out of us at practices that induced such a major life style choice, or if I was a light weight.

Either way, by Jr. High, rain or shine, homework left to do or no; by 8 o'clock I was IN bed. Face washed, teeth brushed- IN BED by 8. I went directly to sleep. If there was homework left over, I woke up a bit earlier and finished it. Nothing could mess with my 8 o clock schedule. Not even my older brother teasing me about it could phase me from staying up.

Sure, on the weekends, I stayed up. But not often. 11 was my breaking point. My poor parents didn't even have to give me a curfew. I came home from parties on my own accord. Not to be a "good child" but to go to bed; "early".

If I stayed up later, I paid for it. I needed my rest. I think I may have made some excuse and pawned off the ditching of partying late into the night on my parents or Coach Guilford from HS. (He was a nightime bedtime natzi) But, it was a total lie. I was almost "embarrased" of my little bedtime schedule, like a kid who has to use an asthma inhaler. You feel like it makes you look weak, take some jabs about having lungs that close off and the likes. But there was no denying, my bed owned me.

With each new season or sport, my body always had some sort of cold to get over and so this consistent, religious sleep pattern followed me pretty much all my teen life and I can totally contribute my success for graduating and being able to last through sports to this honed talent.

Motherhood totally wrecked it.

(random pic of a baby that keeps his mom up. notice how innocent they look about it..)

Actually, there are some other things that did, too. But I blame the cute little kid I blog about- like I was the only person on earth to become a mother-

as the NUMBER ONE REASON for ruining my sleep.

And, henceforth, changing my life for all eternity!! (This is why God has to be all powerful, he has too many children, therefore, he can not sleep. He had to become a God to enable him to not have to sleep. It was the first requirement of parenthood I am convinced.)

Each night, before J. settles down to bed, he counts out on his fingers how many hours he'll get before his alarm goes off in the morning. This is really cute to me. I, on the other hand, do the oppossite. When it's morning I think back over the night and count off how many hours I actually got of the blessed relief.

This little counting game we play has been going on since the day he was born. It innocently started out with me 'worrying' over how many hours "in a row" that he slept.

Before he entered the world and was still snuggled up in my tummy, no doubt snoozing the whole entire 9 months so that he could stay awake the next nine months outside the womb, I read a book about how to get them to sleep.

(again, another peaceful shot by Karen, a talented photographer! doesn't it just seem peaceful enough to put you to sleep?)

A kind, well meaning friend dropped it by one day with a Milky Way and a Gatorade. Yes, I dealt with dehyration even back then. The book captivated me. I was glued to its precepts. I interogated all women who'd had children about this amazing book that took me, step by step, to safely getting my baby to sleep 23 of the 24 hours of a day. It sounded amazing! Like winning something really neat on Wheel of Fortune. My heart skipped with joy at how "prepared" I was going to be when this little guy came out of the womb and I got him on the "schedule".

As you can imagine, to my horror, it did not work as planned. I would go back to the book where I had stuck book marks, to the places where I thought I was not doing it right. Every two hours the unwise baby would wake up. I marked this up as the fact that he was a newborn and had to eat. I think the book even eluded to this little fact. So I really didn't put too much pressure on the wisdom of my little one at 8 days old.

Then miraculously, one night when he was still an infant he slept a total of 8 hours! I woke up, sized up the clock and rejoiced! I had done it! ME! It was all me, my efforts. The calculated times I had fed him, the amount of tummy time I had given him, the interactive play all had worked together in perfect harmony and he wisely slept the 8 hours promised from my dog earred book! I was so proud of myself! I couldn't wait to join the ranks or rank of women that met and proudly tell them how I'd mastered my child and got him to sleep soundly through the night; leaving me time each evening to take care of myself. You know, shower and brush my teeth.

This was the first and last time J. slept through the night. Or maybe that I slept 8 hours in a row.

(the yard we played in as grandkids)

Can you imagine the horror and subsequent humbling, when the next night, he went right back to being "unwise"?? What went wrong I asked myself? Can you imagine my horror that he continued to "get up" in the night? I was brought to tears as I picked up the book and tried to figure out what it was that I was doing "wrong".

I don't know the date of the night he slept through a full 8 hours, but I should have written it down as the only successful night of wisely used sleep he ever gave me. Because, as he aged, he started to do things that woke me up. First it was crying. He'd be upset about a wet diaper or something.

Then maybe he'd cough and it woke me up.

Then he got to where he could say my name, call out to me in the night and ask for something. Meanwhile, I was so perplexed at this behaviour I had to talk to the wise mothers about this phenomenom. They'd give the advice, I'd recheck the book, let him bawl in his crib a few times only to find out I'd let him sit in a soaked diaper and bedsheets for a good hour. I swithced diapers. Finally, I just gave up. I accepted that I was not a Tiger Mother in any sense of the word.

If he bawled, I went in and just laid by him so we both could get some rest.

Eventually, he got old enough, he'd get up and come into my room, crawl into my bed and stick cold feet on my legs- which, of course, woke me up. Can you believe the foolhardiness on my part. The lazyness of not dragging his ice cubed feet back to his bed?

Eventually, he got old enough to where he'd get up in the night to go to the bathroom by himself but it still woke me up.

But I remember those early months and empathize with young mothers when I see the dark circles under their eyes as they discuss the matter of sleep.

(the entryway to the well known gingerbread-like house made by Gpa Ed.)

I am transported to when J. was say 3 months old; or whatever age it is that you finally take them out in a stroller, meet up with other moms at a park or house, and swap stories. Where I compared myself or tried to figure out what I was doing "wrong". Luckily, my closest comrade at the time struggled with unwise babies, too. (Ones that didn't follow the bedtime sleep schedule book) Or else I would have given up the dream for my son to attend Harvard at 7 weeks old.

I don't think there were very many moms who were much different than I was; they all struggled. But there is always ONE mom who has a wise child who sleeps through the night, a mother who has mastered the crying child, conquered the night like Joan of Ark. And you envy her and want to emulate her like you would a supermodel when you look at what happened to your body just by being pregnant.

And so, of course, you compare yourself to Joan, berate yourself nightly on this sleeping failure.
Until, finally one day you just don't care. J. eventually figured out how much sleep he needed and if it wasn't enough, it was his problem. His clock was his own.

The shame in all of this, is now- he sleeps like a log. He can get 9-10 hours of sleep. And to my utter horror, I still wake up every few hours. It's as if his early childhood, unwise sleep schedule destroyed my sleep schedule!

Mind you, the book DID NOT inform me of this horrible consequence. If it had, well, J. may well have been put up for adoption. kidding.

Actually,I think it's just motherhood. You will never, ever sleep like you did in HS. Falling into bed and then just sleeping in til, say noon. Those days are forever behind you. Your child doesn't have to have a wet diaper for you to worry or wonder about them at night. It comes with the territory.

(the steps that creaked and wound up the house to the top floor where two bedrooms held beds that we slept in on overnighters to Gma's house. Which usually resulted in a mid-night call to mom, who had to drive to Shelley and pick us up cause a certain sibling couldn't sleep through the night. It wasn't me!)

Unless of course you are a good sleeper. And in that case, I hope we don't meet up at any ball games and swap stories about how well you sleep through the night. Please try not to share with me ANY ways that you sleep soundly for 5 hours a night. I will only be jealous and ask you to write a book about how you manage this miraculous feat!

I don't know how time really works in heaven. It is fascinating to think about, but I'd like to think there are still some sort of clock up there and that if I wanted, even if I didn't need to, that at 8 o clock, I could go to a room where my bed is, lay down and sleep for 8 hours.

Heck, it's heaven. Why not?

(A pic only those of us grandkids can appreciate.. sorry blogosphere! You will have to indulge my fam members.... This L shaped nook, led from the bathroom passed gma's room and opened up to the front room. thanks to Ed's brillaint architectural skills we could run, in a circle, through out the whole house!

Everytime we ran passed Gpa Ed sitting by the stove in his rocking chair in the living room he'd scare us. Either by trying to grab an arm or swivel in his chair and make it look like he'd try to gram us. We'd squeel like pigs! But we'd do it over and over. Cuting in tight to the wicker coffee table that held hard candy that we never really eat. Because what kid likes butterscotch?

Ed had his hearing aides turned down, so we could do this for hours. But, oh! Gma, whose hearing was perfect, would be in the kitchen doing dishes or making food and boy, howdy! She would give it to him! Thanks Gpa!!!!!!!!!!!! Sooooooooorrrryyy, Grams!!! Those times were loads of fun and I miss that house so bad! Remember when the boys, set fire to the ditch in the back yard during the driest part of the summer??

Man, that was a close one! I wasn't thinking of the house burning down as much as I was upset that it melted my favorite bracelet! It got hot so fast, and sent me crying into you both and subsequently tattling on the boys- but at least it propelled me into the house quicker than they could catch me! ha! Probably where I learned I could run.

By the way, I have told that story to J. and we have a strict match rule! So No Worries!

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