Monday, August 9, 2010

Sleep is for the weak (and I'll tell you why)

Let me just begin by saying that I'm quite accustomed to sleep deprivation (not on Gitmo-torture levels, but in the way than any average American joe can be). I worked through five years of college, during which I double majored in theatre and education. I didn't sleep much then. After school, I held five part-time jobs simultaneously. One of these was at a 24-hour coffee shop where I enjoyed working the 10pm to 6am shift, after which I would work two other shifts at two other jobs before noon. I spent the last four months of my pregnancy physically unable to configure my body into any position conducive to sleep and, therefore, survived on only the brief naps I snag while sitting up on the couch during the mid-afternoon hours.

So, really, I'm not any more sleep-deprived now that my bundle of joy has arrived than I have ever been. It is, however, a completely different type of tired that I was unaccustomed to. When friends and family members warned me that I would lose sleep, I falsely assumed that the reason would be frequent feedings. That it simply not the case, although changing diapers and making bottles at 4am doesn't help. The real reason I'm tired is our next Realization: every noise a baby makes in his or her sleep is utterly terrifying.

Even when I know she's fine - I've just changed her diaper and fed and burped her - and she's passed out like Nikki Sixx in 1987, I can't help checking on her when she makes any sort of wonky noise. Or just to make sure she's breathing. Or just to make sure she hasn't spit up and begun to choke to death on it. Or just to make sure her blanket is arranged properly for optimum comfort. Or just to make sure she's not too hot or too cold. (I hope you get my point here, because that whole paragraph is making my inner grammar freak twitch a bit around the eyes.)

Especially right after a bottle, she gets this kind of glottal mucus-y sound in the back of her throat when she breathes. It's totally ok and normal, except that it terrifies me. Last week she had a bit of a cold and I would lay in bed at night, afraid to fall asleep. Just listening for her breathing to make sure she was still alive. Every change in her breathing pattern had me sitting up, staring into her bassinet to make sure she was ok. And, oh Lord, when she wheezed. I would think to myself "was that a stuffy nose wheeze, or a SIDS death rattle?!" and, no matter how much I told myself she was fine, I'd had to get up and check on her just to be sure.

Now, I don't want you to think I live in fear. I don't. I'm certain that Caroline will be ok, I really am. But I'm not stupid. I was also certain that my period was just late. It never hurts to double check.

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