Friday, March 11, 2011

Gratitude, gratitude

I'm feeling more grateful lately. Which given my propensity to whine and complain, may not be obvious to all observers. It has nothing to do with my new year's resolution, I'm afraid, for I'd forgotten about it until this morning. It has everything to do with my family: the kids who keep things just challenging enough for me to remember what's important, my husband who's always steadying me, my in-laws who back me up in the daily tasks that risk overwhelming me.

And yet. Can I complain just a little bit about the nights?

Mademoiselle came home from the hospital sleeping very well for a newborn. She's still sleeping very well -- for a newborn. But she's three months old now and selfish me, I was hoping for a little improvement. She wakes up once about four hours after she goes down for the night, then again two hours later, and then again an hour or two later (and again an hour later, if we're all still in bed). This makes three wake-ups in a night and no long period of sleep for me, unless I go to bed right when she does, something I'm grudgingly admitting I must do. The wake-ups are fairly short, but I often fall asleep with my back propped up against the pillows in my bed and Mademoiselle in my arms. I'll wake up an hour later and try to put Mademoiselle down in her crib which is next to our bed; she'll sometimes wake up, so it's lather-rinse-repeat until she settles down again. Then I throw the nursing pillow to the foot of bed, slide down into my pillows and, with a sigh, fall back asleep for some undetermined but brief period of time.

On the infrequent bad nights, which are usually a sign that Mademoiselle is coming down with a cold, she wakes up every hour and sometimes won't nurse back down at all. That happened earlier this week and although Mademoiselle is thankfully feeling better, my grumpiness is due to the resulting sleep deficit.

I was complaining about all this to my husband. He has plenty of sympathy, but he was reminding me that:

1) Le Petit didn't sleep this well until he was five or six months old. Not that we remember precisely.

2) Mademoiselle isn't awake for two to three hours at a stretch in the middle of the night like le Petit was during his infamous java du petit matin dance parties. (Just re-reading that post makes me feel better now.)

3) This time around he's never watched the sun come up, both despondent and relieved because at least the sleepless night was over, finally.

To which I'll add:

4) Mademoiselle can be transfered to her bed with ease, most of the time. Even when I fumble and her head hits the mattress with a gentle flop, or when she's fallen asleep on my lap on the couch and I have to get up and carry her from the living room to the bedroom.

5) Mademoiselle naps in her bed during the day. Not according to any reliable schedule as yet, but I often get at least one 45 minute nap and one two-hour nap.

6) I fall back asleep easily at night. Heck, I fall back asleep sitting up. My mother-in-law, whose second child slept like Mademoiselle through all of his first year, can't fall back asleep easily at all and still remembers the exhaustion thirty-some years later.

7) I have backup during the day. My mother-in-law was a stay-at-home mom with no local family and a husband who traveled for work. She used to try unsuccessfully to nap while her cheerfully-awake son jumped on the bed next to her or on top of her.

I feel the worst when I give in to common perceptions of how my baby should be sleeping. Half of the people on the street think that at three months a baby "should" be sleeping through the night or you're doing something wrong. (The other half of the people on the street have horror stories to share about how badly their children actually slept, but never mind.)

So, to finish this post, here are a few things I'm grateful for right now:

1) A husband who does the dishes and straightens the house while I'm nursing my baby to sleep. There's no sweeter sound than that of Legos being picked up off the living room floor.

2) A mother-in-law who comes over to look after the kids so I can run errands or nap, and who folds laundry and straightens the house to boot

3) Mademoiselle's healthy appetite, and the ease with which breastfeeding was established

4) Long-term parental leave. This should probably be first on my list.

5) Le Petit's remarkable acceptance of his baby sister (even though, yes, his "hugs" would sometimes look a bit like WWF wrestling if I didn't intervene)

6) Legos and the hours of relative calm that they provide

7) My kids, their hugs, their smiles

So there.

That felt good.


Jac said...

This is such a lovely post to read. I keep reminding myself of how awful the sleep deprivation was with my first when I finding myself wishing DD would sleep better. She actually sleeps great. I dreamfeed her at 10 pm when I go to bed, and she only wakes up once to nurse between 10 and morning. Which is great! She's been doing that for about 6 weeks now, so I keep thinking she should "improve" but really I just need to enjoy! 'Cuz I know how much worse things could be.

DS "loves" his sister a little too hard too. But, at least the love is there. Although, I'm not sure if the constant huggy/kissy behaviour isn't a little bit of passive-aggressiveness. Still trying to sort that one out.

Cloud said...

Your MIL sounds wonderful.

We have a similar pattern- a second baby whose sleep could be better, but whose sister taught us that it could also be much, much worse. So mostly I'm content.

But it kills me to realize that a lot of our current sleep issues are related to the health issues. I watched her one night during her tonsillitis, and she was trying so very hard to self-soothe. It was sweet. But ultimately unsuccessful, and she required my help to settle back down.

Ah well. They'll be grown up before I know it, and their sleep won't be my problem....

paola said...

Legos keep my kids busy and me sane for hours on end. Three cheers for Lego!! Hip hip..

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@Jac - I'm sure there's some jealousy involved here, because le Petit often wants to "hug" Mademoiselle when she just happens to be already in my arms. Oh, well. He's also recently been pulling at her arms and legs just a bit too hard, and I've got a zero-tolerance policy for that... This is just the first chapter in the sibling relationship...

@Cloud - just a plain old cold will throw Mademoiselle's sleep way off, so I can imagine how it must be with Petunia's more serious illnesses! The hard thing for me is I want to be super-nurturing when she's sick, but I have a hard time mothering or even just functioning when I'm severely sleep-deprived.

@paola - I know, I only hope Legos are as efficient at keeping Mademoiselle occupied when she's old enough.