Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Sleep Game

I think that one of the questions I see most often on baby Facebook groups or message boards or whatever is asking something about a person, their baby, and sleep.

The Sleep Game is weird.  When a baby goes from sleeping like a boss for the first time to lesser so, it's sort of magnified by twenty.  Even if they're just waking up one more time at night than usual, it sort of sends you into a panic.  I remember when George went from his first great sleeper mode to not-so-much and after a few nights of it all I could think about was the good ol' days.  I'm sure it lasted maybe a week tops at the time, but it felt like a decade.  And I'm sure he really didn't wake up that often, but it felt like all the time.  It felt like my head was on the pillow and my eyes were closed for a split second before I was up and tending to George.  But again, I seriously have no idea if that was actually true.

Seriously, the Sleep Game is weird.  It messes with your head, has you convinced that there's something wrong, that your baby should be sleeping better, that clearly you're not doing it right.

The Sleep Game drove me crazy for much of the first part of George's life.  But eventually I had to let go of it.  I had to stop worrying about it.  And this was a big step for me, because pre-George I was a stickler for sleep.  I honestly had a very, very difficult time functioning without proper, solid sleep.

Post-George, however, I'd like to step up and say that, hey, yeah, I no longer play the Sleep Game.  Yes, I still feel tired some days.  Yes, lack of sleep gets to me from time to time.  But I no longer allow myself to freak out about how George chooses his sleep schedule.

I mean, I've always just sort of let George decide, but I've always followed behind worrying that it was correct or not.  No more!

This has been tested these past weeks as George is working through teeth and pain and all that.  His choice sleep pattern is certainly interesting.  You know, considering it's basically just "put off sleep until the last second".  But Brad and I have just gone with the flow.  Some nights he wants to be rocked or bounced or just pretty much goaded to sleep.  Other nights all he wants is for us to leave him alone and let him watch twenty YouTube videos of Baby Einstein and drifts off.  And sometimes we just lay him down, he turns his video off, talks to himself for a while, and falls asleep.  And other nights he has no clue what he wants and we just work with it.

Last night George just wanted to hang out with us as long as possible.  We had laid him down earlier in the night, but when he was just being funny in his crib I brought him in our room and he lounged between Brad and I.  While we played Diablo III, he just chilled just there and played with an old computer mouse, a favorite toy of his.

This was just before 11:00 PM.  He hung out like that for a while, happy and chatty.  Brad and I were happy to have him.  It was kind of a great moment, actually.  George is a non-chillaxing, non-snuggling sort-of-guy, so it was super nice for him to have this sort of moment with us.

But he was clearly tired.  His eyes were so red, poor kid!  Eventually he had his meltdown.  Stick a fork in it, he was done!

But seriously, it was a sweet moment.  A sweet moment that I'm fairly sure if I would've missed if I had been panicking about not sleeping.  Brad's been a really good example in this because, even knowing that he needs to get up for work the next morning, George staying up late doesn't phase him.  Brad doesn't freak out or panic because he's only going to get so much sleep, he's just very calm about it.  It's what George needs us to do, so we do it, in his mind.

And seriously, that's been the mentality that broke me out of the Sleep Game.  And now, George staying up late doesn't panic me or anger me or frustrate me.  Even when it's been rough, the whole lack of sleep thing that comes with parenting is just getting easier.  It's not easy, but certainly easier.  It's a norm now.  It doesn't stress me out anymore, it doesn't send me into a panic, and I really owe that to Brad's influence.  Hey, I'm just grateful it wasn't like that one month where he got up every hour for five hours each night.  That's painful.

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