Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sleep Saga - Part One

Sabrina was not a good sleeper when she was a baby.

Let me clarify that understatement. I didn't sleep for two years after she was born.

As a newborn she wanted to nurse every two hours. For approximately an hour each time. And because she would projectile vomit otherwise, she had to be held upright for 30 minutes after each feeding.

Thus leaving me 30 minutes to sleep in between feedings. This is assuming she actually slept in those 30 minutes.

Sabrina was like those dolls you used to play with as a kid. Remember the ones whose eyelids moved? When you would lay them flat the eyelids would close and when you lifted them up they popped open.

She was just like that. Except in reverse.

I read somewhere in those early days, that babies and toddlers do most of their growing while they sleep. Since Sabrina managed to grow from 6 pounds 15 ounces and 20 1/4 inches to 27 1/2 pounds and 34 1/4 inches in those two years with no discernible sleeping, I can assure you this is not true.

In an effort to comfort me someone told me that highly intelligent children require less sleep. This may be true. Sabrina is very smart. But still, in those first two years I would have happily traded a few I.Q. points for a little sleep.

Long after the days of round the clock nursing, Sabrina still required elaborate rituals to fall asleep and stay asleep. I actually had a small nest set up next to her crib composed of a large feather duvet and a sleeping bag so I could be somewhat comfortable while I would lie on the floor next to her, holding her hand and pretending to sleep in a desperate bid to entice her to do the same. Many nights it worked well. On me. And I would wake an hour or two later to find her peering through the bars at me with very open eyes attempting to see if her fingers would fit into my ears or nose.

Even after successfully ushering her into the Land of Nod, usually at some point in the night (assuming I wasn't still asleep on her floor in a sleeping bag) I would simply bring her to bed with me so that I could at least cope with her wakefulness in my own bed. I didn't view this as wrong, or a bad habit, it simply wasn't all that effective.

She Just. Didn't. Sleep.

When she turned two and I became pregnant with Jamie shortly thereafter, I found myself one night lying on her floor imagining myself 6 months from then hauling my extremely large pregnant self up from her floor. This filled me with such despair that I turned to her one night and said, "Sabrina, Mama can't keep sleeping on the floor like this with you. When Mama puts you to bed, you're going to have to just go to sleep."

And she said "Okay." And she has done so every night since.

As if she had simply been waiting for the "How To Sleep" instruction manual all that time.

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