Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

As seen in Valley Babies
December 07/January 08

Mama said there’d be nights like this. I can’t seem to learn my lesson about boasting and being smug. Despite having colic (I can say it now that it’s over), my son began sleeping through the night at the age of 6 weeks. He went to sleep at around ten at night and would not stir until 8:00 a.m. People would ask me, as people inevitably do, “How does he sleep?” My answer, a prideful; “All night, every night!”

I read in a book that you shouldn’t brag about how well your child sleeps because it can always change. Well, change it did! When Rafe was five months old, my husband left for a mission trip to Africa, and my little slumbering angel began waking up three or more times a night. Some nights he awakened every hour. I chalked it up to things being “a little off kilter”, and didn’t worry too much. Sadly, my husband’s been back nearly two months and the night wakings haven’t changed.

When I mentioned this to the pediatrician, he suggested giving him a low dose of antihistamine for a few days to “reset” his clock. For seven blissful nights, we remembered how it was to get a whole night's rest. Then on the eight night, it was back to the drawing board.

We grasp at straws, trying to imagine what in the world is waking him up. Could it be teething? If so, he’s been teething for two months. We wonder if he’s getting too cold, too warm, has a tummy ache. The thing that smacks me in the face over and over about this parenting gig is that just when you think you’ve gotten over one hurdle, you bump into the mountain that follows. It vexes us when our babies wake up screaming like someone is sticking them with pins. We are bewildered when they are exhausted, nap for fifteen minutes and pop right back up ready to fight sleep with an iron will. They get over colic, then get a cold. Its enough to make you want to take drugs. But of course, you can’t. Who’d get up with the baby while you slept!?

So I trudge on, chanting my mantra, “This is temporary, this is temporary!” I know this time is fleeting, the good parts as well as the not so good. He’s six months old, and I’ll turn around and be watching him get on the school bus. Notice I didn’t say ‘in the blink of an eye‘. These days closing my eyes is no laughing matter!

I used to pray that he would sleep again. Now I pray that I can be loving at 3:00 a.m. when it’s the fifth time I’m up, leaning over the crib. I pray that God will help me remember that, right this minute, my baby is the most important piece in the puzzle of my life. He’s more important than the anxiety I feel when the sink is full of dishes and the floor full of grit. He’s healthy and I’m so grateful for that. Therefore, in the morning, bleary eyed, I drop down on the floor to play with my boy, who, for the moment, thinks I’m more fun than any light-blinking, sound-making toy.

Maybe soon we’ll get some sleep around here. I hope "soon" begins before the child is three years old. My husband has threatened my life if I read aloud to him from one more book about how to get your baby to sleep. Just like other parents looking for answers, I dig into every possible source. But for now, he’s blessedly sleeping. When I look at him on the monitor, he’s so precious, it makes me want to go and kiss him. I won’t, of course, at the risk of waking him. I’ll just wait until he wakes up to kiss him. It shouldn’t be long now. This is Lori Boatfield, nodding off!

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