On Friday night, in a desperate attempt to get more than 5 hours of sleep, I came up with a plan.
Maybe, just maybe, Max isn’t sleeping because he’s not eating enough. Now I know that breastfed babies supposedly eat what they want and no more but what if he wanted to eat more and wasn’t getting it? What if there wasn’t enough milk to completely knock him out for 6, maybe 7, oh let’s say 10 hours of straight sleep?
Before you tell me that I’m hoping for the impossible, let me assure you – it’s possible. How do I know? The woman who sits next to me in baby yoga told me a magical tale of her son sleeping the night before from 7 pm to 6 am.
When you, as a mother, hear things like that your first feeling is an overwhelming urge to tackle that woman to the ground and shake her silly while shouting things like DAMN YOU WOMAN I HAVEN’T SLEPT IN 12 WEEKS! After that urge passes, you realize that a much safer (and legal) way to approach this is to ask her…
HOW did you do that?
There are no secrets in training but let me tell you – there are secrets in parenting. There has to be. Otherwise, how are people getting their kids to sleep through the night? She tells me her son drinks 7 ounces of milk before bed.
The light bulb appears.
A HA! Yes, yes, THAT is it! He needs more milk!
I’m willing to try anything. If you told me I had to wear Newton’s, compression socks and a power meter attached to my breasts in order to get my child to sleep through the night let me be the first to admit – I’d do it. I spent all of Friday pumping. That’s what it felt like. Breastfeeding can feel like a full-time job if you feed and pump. I pumped after every feeding until I had accumulated 5 ounces of milk.
Friday seemed like a neverending day of not enough naps. I was convinced that lack of naps combined with more milk would be a powerful drug cocktail that Max would not resist. At 7:30 pm, Max faked us out by falling asleep in the pack ‘n play. Dammit! You never ever EVER move a sleeping baby (don’t try, unless you want a woken up baby) so we let him be. And we waited….
9 pm he woke up. I gave Chris the bottle and told him to start there. See if he drinks all of it. Since you have no idea how much a breastfed baby drinks (there is no predictable flow rate of a boob, yes I know this, my husband asked the doctor), I figured 5 ounces would be a good place to start. Meanwhile, I started pumping. Max tore through the 5 ounces then we gave him 2 more. When he tore through that, we gave him 2 more. Then, he laid there, eyes glazed over with a belly full of 9 ounces of milk and what had to be a massive shit brewing.
(and one that would hopefully stay put until at least 6 am)
By 9:30, he was in his crib. Sleeping.
That night I stood brushing my teeth and thinking to myself – this is it, the night I’m finally going to get sleep. It was like the feeling of Christmas morning, your wedding day, a feeling of happiness that would soon come to be.
At 9:45 pm, I was in bed.
It took me 30 minutes to fall asleep.
(how is that fair?)
At midnight, I heard something. At first I didn’t believe it. What is that? Why is the dog crying? Wait, is that the…baby!? How can he be up? He can’t possibly be hungry! I go into his room to realize the diaper is full. Dammit! We need bigger diapers. Changed the diaper and he fell right back to sleep.
At 2:14 am, he woke up again.
Seriously? This isn’t happening. What now? This time he was hungry. Is there a hole in him that only leaks milk? So I fed him, changed him and 20 minutes later, he was back to sleep. This had to be it! I’m free until the morning. Please!
Except I couldn’t fall asleep for another 30 minutes.
At 3:19 am, he woke up again. WHAT NOW! He wasn’t hungry. No, his diaper leaked. And now his pajamas were wet. New diaper, new pajamas, zipped into sleep sack. Done.
GO TO SLEEP ALREADY!
At 4:20 am, he was up. Again. ON FOR THE LOVE OF A SLEEPLESS GOD! I cursed. I thought to myself – why do I even try to go to sleep!? And, how can this kid not need sleep? He napped once during the way. He’s got to be exhausted? What did I do to make him this way?
(if you ask my mom, she’ll tell you that I ate too many Power Bars during pregnancy)
He was hungry, so I fed him again and put him back to sleep.
At 5:29 am, guess what happened. He woke up. AGAIN! I took myself off the clock. I ignored the cries and admitted defeat. I let him cry until Chris got him.
Chris brought him into the bedroom.
What does he want?
(I always ask this like the answer will ever be anything different than food)
I have no idea what happened between the hours of 5:39 and 8:39 am because that is when I finally slept.
Later in the morning, Chris and I meet in the upstairs hallway. I looked tired. He had bad bedhead. We both look at the line of 6 diapers on the landing when he says:
YOU’RE TELLING ME!
Our plan did not only backfire but it caused the opposite of what we were looking for. I am still not sure how that was possible. Some say growth spurt, others say too many Power Bars but the real answer, I know, is that the kid does not have a clock. He will eat and sleep when he wants, as he wants. No matter what I do in between.
The next few days, Max slept better. Why? FOR NO DISCERNIBLE REASON AT ALL. I’ve made a science experiment of my child’s sleep for so many nights (sleep sack vs swaddle, fan on vs fan off, footie pajamas vs open toed…YES I was willing to consider anything!) and after careful calculations and a Chi-squared test for statistical significance, my hypothesis has been refuted over and over again.
There is no pattern. No correlation. No relationships. He is an enigma who sometimes just does not need to sleep.
If you are a new or soon to be parent, heed my warning – don’t bother making charts or plotting data because it won’t tell you a damn thing. Like I learned from Facebook, sure, we can all pretend like we’ll sleep again. Maybe in 18 years. Until then, get out your best bottle of foundation, hide those lines and convince yourself that only the weak need sleep.
And really old people.
How soon until I'm really old?