01 October 2006

Transitions (or, Sleepless in Boston)

My mom came to visit for a week. It was awesome, but I was so busy taking care of the babies and having fun with her that I didn't post.

I'm back!

I was also busy NOT SLEEPING while my mom was here. GH and I decided to use her week-long visit as the time to transition the twins from sleeping in their car seats all night to sleeping in their bed. We'd been putting their car seats right into the co-sleeper next to our bed and had gotten to a point where they were up once a night, usually around 3:00, then sleeping until 6:00 or so. Pretty good. We knew the transition to sleeping in the co-sleeper on their backs would be hard and wanted to do it a) before I went back to work and b) at a time when someone else could help me and GH could sleep in the spare room since we anticipated a difficult time.

Boy, "difficult" doesn't even come close.

The first night, the kids were up every two hours or so. And by "up" I mean "wide awake and screaming." It sucked. I was determined not to feed them more than twice a night, so my mom and I did a lot of bouncing, rocking, etc. to get them back to sleep. Gar. Needless to say, I was a little bleary-eyed and ready to throw in the towel.

But we persevered, with changes along the way. We elevated the crib so that the babies were sleeping at an angle, more like the car seats. We have them in "sleep positioners," foam wedges that surround them and give them an enclosed feeling. We unplugged the nightlight in our room to encourage them to sleep longer/deeper/better. I would love to say that every night things have improved, but they just haven't. We're making sloooooooow progress, but it's frustrating. Last night was the best night so far; I only fed them once, but Maddie had to be rocked to sleep once and at 4:30 we gave in and put them in their car seats until 6:30. But we're getting there. I will be so glad when this transition is over.

We're encouraging them to take naps in their bed, too, just to get them more and more used to sleeping in a bed. And I let Riley sleep half of last night on his side, which our pediatrician says is OK. I think that helped. Like I said, we're getting there, but I must say again:


I've been thinking a lot about babies and sleep (surprise, surprise). The more I think about it, the more I realize how much we're asking of them. We want them to sleep 10-12 hours in a row; most adults can't sleep an adult 6-8 hours at a stretch without getting up for some reason. Babies can't adjust the covers, change position (mostly), change the amount of light in the room. But we expect them to just sleep the night away. It's a lot to ask. I try to remember that when I'm bouncing someone on the yoga ball at some ungodly hour. Sigh.

I've also been thinking a lot about resentment and anger. I was prepared for the sacrifices of parenting. I really was. I miss reading, going to the movies, eating out at fancy restaurants, sleeping in, running into the coffee shop on my way to a friend's house (not worth getting the babies out of the car seats . . .), taking my time browsing in stores. But I knew I was going to give that all up for a while. I'll get that stuff back and I'm totally OK with not having it right now. What's blindsided me about being a parent is the anger I can feel towards the babies. I am never without a feeling of deep, deep love for them and I've certainly never felt like harming them. But sometimes they make me so damn mad for things they can't control. I was furious with Maddie for being awake last night at 11:30. Furious! As I bounced her back to sleep, I was loaded with tension that I'm sure she could sense. And with that anger sometimes comes resentment about having to give so much, having to give up so much. Things are just so hard in the middle of the night when I'm tired. I take deep breaths and remind myself of how much I love them, how small a slice of my life this middle-of-the-night stuff is.

I think the transitions--car seat to bed, home to daycare (two trial days this upcoming week), back to work--make it harder. Transitions, change, are hard for anyone and that certainly includes babies.


lala said...

I have to admit to letting Piper sleep on her belly from pretty soon after birth. It just works better for her and she sleeps well.

Anger: I think that the babies are just like a straw and everything else that your carrying is still there. Sometimes, you think you're angry at them but it's a longtime build-up of anger towards cancer and what other indignities you may have suffered along the way. The lack of sleep pushes you to the edge and ALL the anger wells up.
I may not be right, it may not be good, but it sounds pretty normal to me.

Yankee, Transferred said...

Oh, it is a hard thing, being a parent. It is exhausting and at the same time, very important work. Taking a little control is a good step, I believe. I know there are people who would argue with my parenting style when OD was a baby, but because it was just me and her, and I had to work, she learned very young to fit into a schedule that worked for our situation. Yours will do the same. You're in my thoughts, all the time. They are stunningly beautiful.

Emmie (Better Make It A Double) said...

I hear ya on the anger thing. So totally normal, though. It always helps me to remember that mother-love is an irrational love by definition. We love these needy, poopy, loud, helpless beings who keep us up all night, wreck all our plans, and spend all our money because we're wired that way, and because they're adorable, not because it makes rational sense. the flip side of that "irrational love" is a little irrational anger. I think any mom who says she never felt that is probably lying or has forgotten. Good luck with all your transitions!

weigook saram said...

Yes, I have been there with the anger. I think everyone goes through that at some point.

I know what you're going through with trying to get them to sleep on their own is really hard, but there will be an eventual payoff in more rest/ free time for you. Hang in there!

bg's Little Sis said...

You're doing a great job, your honesty is uplifting. We've been there as well, and amazingly when you do start back to work, and they settle in at daycare, a routine just develops, it just happens, and it will for you and the kids too. I agree that every mother has felt this at one time or another, when my oldest was an infant and colicky I felt this was A LOT. It's natural, you're exhausted. Thinking of you and family and wishin you each well.

Menita said...

Sounds to me like you're doing a better than great job!
And yes, parenting is harder than I ever imagined,and I am apalled by how low I get sometimes. But the highs, oh the highs are also unimaginable.

Newbie said...

Anger is the natural part of parenting that everyone forgets to mention. I find that sleeplessness cranks up that feeling of anger in a way that nothing else quite can. For me, anger was linked to post-natal depression with our second child and that really was scary.

In your case, as lala points out, you have alot of other stuff going on that complicates your experience. For starters there are two of them - which automatically makes everything so complicated and time-consuming. Second, there is GH's cancer. I can barely begin to imagine how much your patience and energy is being consumed by these wo things.

On the other hand, it is also very clear that these are two much loved and wanted children. It is so wonderful that you and GH are able to share this part of the twins' lives - and may this be true for a long time.

Just wanted to say that what you are experiencing is normal and thanks for sharing so much through your blog. It is a privilege to read it.