You know you're sleep deprived when you start dreaming about being tired. Last night while I cuddled a sick baby in my arms all night, waking every half hour at times, I managed to dream ... but in my dream I got lost on our street, couldn't find our house, and then somehow missplaced Henry. I kept running into people I knew but was embarrassed by my inability to think straight. Even in my dream state, I knew the root cause of my confusion was the simple fact that I was over-tired.
Hmm, something tells me that when you dream about being tired you aren't exactly getting the most restful sleep. (And dreaming about castles and Romans is a clear sign you are jet-lagged.)
When you're a new parent, "sleep" becomes the sexy topic that everyone wants to talk about, yet no one really wants to hear when someone else is getting it. How much sleep are YOU getting? Is he sleeping through the night? Every night you feel a little nervous and excited hoping that this will be it, this will be the night when you'll finally get some sleep!
It's surprising what a person can do on little sleep. Somehow I've gone the last 7.5 months on only 2-3 (occasionally 4 and only once 5) consecutive hours of sleep. And this is coming from a person accustomed to a full 8 hours in dreamland. Up until now I've always held that my most sleep-deprived state was when I was sailing on a tall ship out in the Atlantic for 16 days, where we worked in 4-hour shifts, including 12-4am. I remember sitting on the deck around 2am trying desperately to stay alert while the boat bobbed in perfect sleep-inducing, rhythmic fashion. That was the first time I was conscious of the fact that if you are extremely tired yet technically awake, your eyes can still drift from side to side as if you are in the midst of a dream. My body was craving that REM cycle so profoundly it went through the motions while I sat there fighting it*. (*Not scientifically proven, but it sure felt like it!)
My sleep-deprived state while aboard the ship - my barometer for measuring all levels of tiredness since - is nothing compared to my current state of deprivation. And yet ...
I haven't gotten sick (knock on wood!), I still have energy most days, and I continue to feel a rise of happiness and excitement when this little boy wakes up in the morning. (The same cannot be said about my 2, 2:30 and 3am wake-ups last night!).
Evan, who has suffered through numerous sicknesses these last few months, said it so simply the other day. "Your body knows you had a baby, mine doesn't."He doesn't think he's one for words, but this statement speaks truth.
Despite a slew of postpartum experiences many women would love to live without (hair loss, loose skin, stretch marks, brittle hair), it is quite remarkable the way our bodies understand what they need to do to keep baby alive and well. Including living on less sleep.
Although, I'm not gonna lie, it would be nice if Henry's body knew that my body could use just a wee bit more sleep one of these nights. ; )
PS - Since I started writing this post earlier this week, we have started "sleep training," and have already begun to enjoy (slightly) longer hours of consecutive sleep. Fingers crossed we have the stamina to continue!