PARENTS

The Newborn Diaries: Desperately Seeking Sleep

08/04/2011 18:36 | Updated 22 May 2015

So it seems that the euphoria of the early days ("I'm on no sleep but have never felt better or happier in my whole life!" I enthused for the first fortnight after giving birth) has passed, replaced with general crankiness, dark under-eye circles and complete out-of-itness.

Example: I awoke with a start the other day at 4am, looked around the bedroom and was gripped by complete panic as I realised the baby was gone. "Where is she?" I wailed to my partner, who took one weary glance at me and said, "In your arms." (In related news, when we went to register her birth the following day, he proceeded to spell her name, Diana, "D-I-N-A..") Yikes. If we're this non-functional, surely we shouldn't be entrusted with the care of a newborn?
Other than feeling somewhat frustrated that little Diana has been slow to get back to her birth weight (an issue she is trying to remedy aggressively by increasing my milk supply, which involves several-hour long nighttime feeding marathons a few times a week and are a horrendous experience for both parties involved), I feel like I'm getting the hang of things.

Fortunately, baby D likes to sleep during the day, so I can afford little luxuries like taking her for a walk in the park or sneaking in a short nap. These treats have become an essential part of my survival arsenal, necessary for the preservation of my sanity before night falls and the battle for sleep begins. And while I'm weakened by exhaustion, my opponent is well-rested, fortified with milk and has an unbeatable weapon: the screeching capacity of some of the world's greatest sopranos.

During the day, Diana will happily nap in her Moses basket, but for some reason, at night, when we need her to sleep in her bed, the little diva absolutely refuses to. The only place she'll deign to sleep? Our bed, naturally. And with all of the warnings about cot death (no pillows or duvets near the infant, don't let the child fall asleep on its front or side, avoid bringing your baby into bed with you for fear of the baby falling out or of one of the parents crushing it, etc), co-sleeping poses something of a worry. But when faced with the other option – no sleep – we had to give in.

Due to my intense paranoia, our sleeping arrangements as a threesome are somewhat comical (thankfully we're too tired to notice). My 6'1, 14 stone (on a good day) partner is smashed up against the wall, taking up 1/10 of available bedspace. I am squished right up next to him, impinging on what little room he has, and Diana – all 53 cm of her – takes up the other 9/10 of the bed. Since pillows might suffocate her, I throw them all off the bed and sleep with one, max, positioned at an angle so that it's nowhere near the baby. Similarly, the duvet has been deemed too risky, so I have forsaken the joys of feeling wrapped up and cozy. I'm just hoping Diana learns to love her bed before winter hits...

Sometimes I'll feel deeply irritated that this baby's needs are always going to usurp mine and that sleeping through the night is a relic of my former life. But then I look at Diana, and she'll give me a funny sort of smile and I'm a goner. Sleep is overrated anyway.

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