Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dreaming of feasting on sleep

Ahhh, that wonderous space of dreamy rest, warm comfort, liminal delights - such a precious commodity to the parent of the very young, so taken for granted by those who have yet to procreate... sleep is one of those things which, like food, must be enjoyed in just the right quantity to have the greatest effect on the sleeper. Too much and one feels sluggish and 'overcooked', too little and the nerves start to tighten, the muscles to ache, the eyes to sting, and you can almost feel the brain kinda flexing itself to keep going, keep going.

Yes, it's finally getting to me, the lack of sleep. For the first few months of Indi's life, I can honestly say I was better rested than through the bulk of my pregnancy with her, during which I suffered from chronic insomnia and experienced the deepest tiredness I have ever felt - growing a person is not easy! Indi has always been a fairly good sleeper, sleeping most nights for 10-12 hours, not even really waking to feed, just stirring and being fed back to rest immediately as she sleeps right by me in our big bed. For the first few months she needed a feed every three hours, and during that time I felt really great, very energetic, not tired at all. The last few months have seen the gaps between feeds shrinking gradually, and for the last few weeks it seems I wake every hour or two. This has been taking it's toll. I seem to be unable to get a really restful sleep when waking with this frequency, and I can feel myself running out of steam. I feel tired during the day. I'm a bit more cranky than usual. I don't feel the elation and joy I used to during my long walks while Indi naps in the Ergo. I'm kinda going through the motions a little. Indi herself still makes my heart sing with her every action, she is still the most amazing thing ever, it's just that my spirit seems to be sagging a little as my physical body struggles with the load.

But I'm keeping it all in perspective, and recognising this as an intrinsic element of being a new mother. It's part and parcel of the job for most parents. This is part of the hard work of parenting. I know many others have it far harder than me - my partner works from home part time, and is very supportive, so I am most grateful really.

A couple of nights recently I have had three hour gaps between feeds, and I have woken feeling like I have been asleep for AGES! Wow, how different this is to pre-pregnancy times! Back then, waking after three hours would have seemed horrible, and I would have been complaining bitterly! Ahhh how things change when you become a parent! Youth is definitely wasted on the young!

We have recently acquired another queen size bed to sit alongside our current one (which Indi and I have been sleeping in as Mat camped out on the floor on a single futon), so we will experiment with having Indi sleep in one bed while Mum and Dad sleep in the other one, in case she is waking due to my snoring or shifting. Maybe it's just the teething, or a growth spurt, or who knows what.

In the meantime I dream of the wonderfully restful and uninterrupted eight hour sleeps I used to get, and the long luxurious sleep-ins Mat and I used to have so often, every day during uni days, and weekends after that, chatting in bed for hours , making love, being silly and laughing so much, only emerging when hunger forced us to. Such sweet sweet memories that I will treasure forever. And look forward to having again one day.

Note: The wonderful picture above, called Sleeping in the Garden, is a painting by Erika Hastings. She has a cool blog: where you can see more lovely paintings, and contact her.


Sumara said...

Ah Nalin, I love your positive way of looking at everything.
What yoou've described is one of the reasons (there are many, believe it or not!) that I like my bubs' way of being light restless sleepers right from the beginning. I always feel sorry for mums like yourself who have a good sleeper for the early months and are then taken by surprise when a restless phase hits.

We'll get those long sleepy mornings back one day, and when we do we'll probably be wishing our babies were back with us to share it! It's all about the different phases of life, isn't it.

Nalin said...

I think you are totally right Sumara! I'll be sleeping eight hours when she's grown up and wishing she was there for me to hug and to wake me during the night! It's a funny ol' universe, innit?