Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Sleep When the Baby Sleeps" ...yeah right!


Jackson is six weeks old today. Three nights ago, I had the best sleep in all six weeks of his life. He only woke up twice; once at 3:30am and once at 6am. I rose in the morning feeling alive and refreshed. Then came Friday. While the world took advantage of sleeping in on Saturday morning, Jackson had other plans. He reverted to the Jackson of week one who wakes every hour to suck milk, while laughing inside at his parent’s sleepless plight.

Ready for a load of horse shit? Here’s the advice of books, baby classes, and knowledgeable friends and family: “Sleep When the Baby Sleeps.”

“Sleep When the Baby Sleeps” is probably the most useless advice I’ve ever heard. Let’s look at this recommendation logically. “Sleep When the Baby Sleeps” implies that I currently sleep when the baby is awake, which is ridiculous. First of all, it’s dangerous for parents to sleep when babies are awake. Unsupervised, awake children tend to eat poison and die. Excellent parenting tip. Second, sleeping while Jackson is awake is impossible. Don’t believe me? Please come to my house for some shut-eye while Jackson exercises your ear drums with his vocal cords. As an alternative, bring a pillow and blanket to the busiest intersection or closest construction site in your home town and attempt to get a few zzzz’s.

The “Sleep When the Baby Sleeps” instruction is extremely insensitive to fathers. Sure, some mom’s get anywhere from six weeks to three months of maternity leave, but unless you live in Canada, most Dads continue the daily grind. Should they follow this ludicrous council too? It certainly would be easy to spot the fathers of newborns. Men dozing off into a blissful slumber during business meetings. Subways pausing in the tunnels for power naps. I’m sure sleepy time at the air traffic control station would be completely acceptable.

The main reason this advice stinks is because baby’s don’t sleep like adults. Babies enter deep REM sleep in seconds, and they get to sleep whenever they want. Adult require more time to hit REM, and we just can’t slip into a warm sleep coma when we feel a little drowsy. Jackson hasn’t slept for more then three hours since birth. In the evening, he often sleeps in 1, 2 or 3 hour spurts. Therefore, Nicole an I get about 2 hours of quality REM sleep per night.

I don’t want my blog to turn into a bitch session, so here is my exploration of possible solutions. With over six weeks of expert daddy experience, I propose the following: Uppers and Downers. A strict regimen of highly potent Caffeine, Taurine, L-Carntine and Guarana should do the trick. Cocaine probably works like a charm, and I hear Meth use among mid-west Mom’s is all the rage. Unfortunately, Federal, State, and local governments frown upon illicit drug use around children. Clearly, DEA officials are infertile, children-less, joy-killers. Since the heyday of legal narcotics in the 1800s is over, it looks like Maxwell House will have to suffice.

For downers there are some really wonderful neurological depressants that will help you come down from the day’s binge of Red Bull and Jolt. First the soft stuff: Chamomile and other herbs. Nature has created a variety of products in tea, pill, and liquid form that act as relaxing agents, perfect after a long day of colic and nipple ripping. I’m not sure of the effect on breast milk, but these natural downers are perfect for a stressed out Dad. Now for the hard (fun) stuff: booze. I’m a big fan of booze, in moderation of course. We don’t need a nation of alcoholics raising our children, and sooner or later the fuzz will find the drunk parents too. Responsibly, a glass of wine or three can take the edge off of a day of crazy baby antics. Drinking alcohol in moderation is socially acceptable, and in some instances can be beneficial to your health. It can even help with mommy’s breast milk production, so the family can enjoy responsibly together. Best of all, as long as you are not driving, have a sober adult to care for your child, and are not a raging alcoholic, you can get shit faced every now and again.

I’m still seeking healthy solutions, and I will continue to learn and share as my daddyhood continues. For now, ignore the “Sleep When the Baby Sleeps” adage, brew a pot of java, and pick up a six pack of your favorite micro-brew.

3 comments:

Lindsay said...

Hi Tom. Wow, you guys sound even more sleep deprived than we were! Robin woke up usually twice per night as an infant, then spoiled us from age 4 months-9 months by sleeping through the night. Now she wakes up 2 to I don't know 4,5,6 times per night . . . and has basically taken up residence in our bed. She opens her eyes and says "milk" and then usually goes right back to sleep after consuming milk. The last couple of nights have been very interesting. Robin has taken a liking to a pair of white crew socks. She won't take them off and she cries if we cover them up with shoes. She sleeps in them and wakes up screaming, holding a sock if one falls off.
Anyway, based on our experience, infant sleeping habits were no idication of toddler sleeping habits. Maybe Jackson will sleep for 10 hours straight by the time he's a year old.
I'll print out your blog for Paul. We're having computer trouble at home.
Hope to see you soon!

Lindsay

Bethany said...

Whoever made up that little tidbit (sleep when the baby sleeps), should be shot. So impossible. When would you say... eat? Or go the bathroom? Not to mention bathe, or have a cup of coffee?

It gets better. Eventually. I've survived 2 like yours... and eventually sleep does come back.

Anonymous said...

Babies wake up b/c they need to eliminate (pee potty) also. read up on elimination communication.

www.diaperfreebaby.org
Just as our babies know their own bodies, and their needs for food and breast, they also know the bodily sensations that go with the need to pee and poop, and they can, and usually do, communicate these needs.(1)

As babies aren't left to sit in their own urine for minutes, much less hours, lower incident of diaper rash. And, no need for diaper rash creams to protect them from their urine!

If your child was left in his soiled pants, it's child abuse. If your grandmother was left in her soiled underwear, it's neglect. If your baby is left in urine filled diaper for hours, it's love?

The distance from a urine filled diaper to a babies nose is only inches. A babies nose is sensitive to smell, and learns the world through his senses. It is sad, that for most babies, they learn the world smells like urine.