I think just about any parent who has made it through the newborn phase understands the zombie-like conditions you live through the first six weeks or so of baby’s life.
To be fair, I think a lot of parents have to deal with this for much longer than six weeks. Bobby and I have really been fortunate that we have a kid who will actually sleep for longer periods at night and that we’ve found a nighttime routine that — for now — works for him.
When we first brought Noah home, we tried the whole letting-him-sleep-in-our-bedroom-in-the-Pack-n-Play thing. That did not work for us. It’s a great idea, and I would have loved being able to keep him in there with us for at least a month or two. But that kid makes a lot of noise when he sleeps! He grunts, whimpers, farts … more than enough to keep Mommy and Daddy awake and on-edge. After several nights of laying awake and getting up, down, up, down to see if he was really awake or not, we’d had enough of that business.
So we started putting him down in his crib, in his nursery, and simply leaving his door cracked and our bedroom door open. We can still hear him if he cries (and honestly, if he grunts … but at least it’s not enough to wake us up any more!).
His sleep pattern those first few weeks basically settled into him going to sleep around 11 or 11:30, then getting up 2-3 times at night before wanting to get up for the day around 7:30 or 8. Those. days. were. miserable. I was pretty much doing all the nighttime feedings at that point, and I was exhausted. My brain was not functioning like a normal person’s brain, and I seriously kept thinking, “People go crazy when they don’t get sleep. I can feel myself going crazy.” My sleep pattern was something like: Go to bed at 11:30, get up from 2:30 to 3:30 with the baby, lay awake in bed until 4:30 when he starts fussing again, get up and check on him, make a bottle only to realize that he has fallen back asleep, lay awake in bed for another hour, get up with him from 5:30 to 6:30, then fall asleep for 30 minutes until Bobby got up to get ready for work.
My sleep pattern really got messed up to the point that there were a few nights that I couldn’t sleep at all, and I really, truly did feel like I was going crazy (I’m sure that aforementioned postpartum depression didn’t help). And napping during the day?! Puh-leaze! I tried it, and it never worked for me. Noah’s naps are so inconsistent that I was constantly tensed up, waiting to hop up and grab him if he started crying after only 20 minutes.
Thankfully all the insanity seems to have gotten much better, right around the time I started back to work last week. I read one of the Baby Whisperer books, and we started getting him into an actual daytime routine. We started trying to put him to bed earlier (which was a pain in the butt, because he is REALLY good at resisting sleep, even when he’s obviously worn out). There were several nights when both Bobby and I were completely at our wit’s end and had to keep taking turns dealing with him because we were getting frustrated to the point of shouting, tears, etc.
Then suddenly one night we managed to get him down by 8:30. I looked at Bobby, “He’ll be back up in an hour.” Nope. He slept right on through until about 4. We were finally able to try the Baby Whisperer’s “dream feed,” which is basically giving the baby a bottle while he’s still asleep and putting him right back down in the crib afterwards.
I really think the dream feed has been a lifesaver. We are now consistently getting Noah to bed between 7:30 and 8:30, giving him a bottle in his sleep around 10, and he’s sleeping until anywhere from 3:30-5.
Now Bobby and I are able to relax and have some down time in the evenings where we can actually enjoy each other’s company — while the baby is in the house, as Bobby has pointed out. We are actually able to get stretches of sleep in the five-hour range, which is absolutely amazing compared to what we were getting. He typically goes back to sleep until 6:30 or 7 after his middle-of-the-night bottle, and by that point, we are up and getting ready for work.
It’s definitely not perfect, but for an almost-8-week-old baby, it’s pretty amazing! I know there are other moms out there who would kill for this nighttime schedule right now!