To say it’s been a stressful year so far might be a bit of an understatement… Looking back, our furnace failing in mid-winter might be the most innocuous event of 2013… costly, but innocuous. Maybe it was the second time we were getting a spinal tap for our newborn, or the hospital stay, or the doctors using phrases like ‘congenital anemia’, ‘cyclic neutropenia’, and ‘chronic benign neutropenia’ (side note – our hematologist seemed to get a kick out of mentioning that Little Miss Junior’s case was more like ‘not so benign’ neutropenia – fun with medical puns!) or the terrorist event nearby… or the ensuing gun/bomb battle roughly a mile from our house… or the lockdown day when we were told not to leave our homes because one of the terrorist murderers from the gun/bomb battle a mile from our house got away and was on the loose… yeah, I think it’s been a stressful year so far.
It’s too stressful to keep talking about those things though… I want to talk about important parenting business. I want to talk about being tired and smelly. That’s right fellow parents, the great sleep deprived unwashed masses of mommies and daddies out there. Today was an MSD. What’s that you ask? A must shower day. I have to tip my hat to a college friend and hysterical mommy blogger, Karen Alpert, for coining that phrase… read her stuff, she’s damn funny – http://www.chicagonow.com/baby-sideburns
So what’s a ‘must shower day’? Well when you wake up (assuming you slept at all), and realize you’ve got the same clothes on for two days and can’t remember the last time you showered? It’s probably an MSD. When your baby (who’s a poop/spitup machine) smells better than you do, it’s an MSD. People talk all the time about sleep deprivation for parents with young children. Sleep deprivation is real, and can be debilitating, but nobody warns you about showering (or lack thereof… or how hard finding time will become). My normal morning ritual had always been to wake up and shower. That’s just what I did. I needed the morning shower to start my engine, wake up, become a person.
Welcome parenthood… My morning shower is gone. Mornings involve getting Little Miss to daycare, up-clothed-fed-out-the-door… or LMJ cleaned, diapered, fed. Mornings are no longer a time for a personal 30 minute hygiene break. In our world, you shower when you can, at night if you’ve got the gumption once the kids are down… or during the day when one is sleeping and the other’s at daycare, or not at all. So you find yourself going much longer than ever seemed appropriate without a shower. This time will pass, LMJ will get older and more self-sufficient, and I won’t have to wonder when my last shower was, but this is our reality for the moment.
One of the real reasons that spare time showers become difficult is the sleep deprivation. If you’re the lucky parent of a child who doesn’t sleep well, then the extra energy to shower at the end of the day when you just want to melt into the sofa doesn’t really exist. To date, LMJ has been a pretty awful sleeper. She’s nearly 6 months old and up until the last week or two she’s never really slept for more than a 3-4 hour stretch, and rarely more than one good stretch a night. Some nights she wakes up every 90 minutes… to play…and tell jokes… and suck on her own toes. So Red and I have been zombie people. Trading nights with LMJ, while one of us gets real sleep on the office futon.
Well this week we hit the wall. After a particularly rough stretch where LMJ decided to see how often she could wake up to chat through the wee hours, we have moved into sleep training mode. So what does this look like? Well we have 2 big beautiful bedrooms in our house, and currently neither my wife nor myself is sleeping in either of them. LM has a room to herself for the moment (LMJ is coming to join her soon), and LMJ is in a small crib in our room. Whoever is ‘on’ for the night sleeps on the office futon and deals with LMJ, and whoever is off now sleeps on the pullout sofa downstairs… maybe even for 4-5 hours IN A ROW. Fancy that. Basically it started to feel like LMJ was too interested in waking up to say hi to whichever parent was tending her, so she’s in a room by herself now.
We are putting LMJ down in her crib, and we will visit her twice a night, and if she wakes up in between, she’ll have to go back to sleep on her own… or watch ESPN I guess. We are in day 4 of this new routine, and let me just say that LMJ had a great night! She went down at 7pm… she did wake up around 9:30 but only briefly, and was able to fall back asleep by 2:30am. This was quite a victory. After her 2:30 feeding, she slept till 7am. Incredible. After 4 days of not intervening for every overnight ‘mwah mwah’ she already stretched out to multiple long sleep sessions.
I did not sleep so well. See I was ‘on’ last night (futon duty – feeding duty), and this was the first time that LMJ had ever slept that long for me. So now I’m sitting at my computer at 10pm thinking she’ll be getting up in the next hour (par usual) for her bottle snack and back to bed… not so. 11pm…12pm…1am…still sleeping! This is cause for joy, it’s also giving me a small heart attack I as keep checking the baby monitor, and keep thinking I hear her crying (I don’t, it’s newborn parent ear in affect). LMJ makes it 2:30am and I’ve been up the whole time.
Red has ‘mommy hearing’. She can hear her kids crying through a wind tunnel set inside a hurricane. She uses the monitor but she doesn’t need it. She can go to sleep and wake up at the right time to tend her children. I envy that skill. Today I am still zombie-dad, because I hardly slept, even though LMJ slept more than ever in her little life. At least I’m showered with clean clothes on. 1 out of 2 ain’t bad.