sleep deprivation: it’s real

Remember when I posted about how Henry was a sleep champion? Yea….that’s over. Our little man has decided that he is no longer sleepy and much more interested in the world around him. Of course, this was inevitable but it is still a little sad to say good bye to those beautiful long 4 and 5 hour sleep stretches. Now, I am thrilled if we get 2 hours of consecutive sleep! The decline of sleep coincided with my return to work. Isn’t that how it always goes?  I am left wondering why this is and how exactly this can be “corrected” (if it can).

Really, I just wish I had enough energy to observe our situation more. With Henry, we have discovered that if we observe him and really watch his cues, we are usually able to “crack” the code. Unfortunately, I am just SO tired. It wasn’t so bad after the first week of sleep deprivation but now heading into our third week of inconsistent sleep, I feel it in my bones. My mind is in a perpetual cloud. Things hurt that I never knew could hurt so badly, like my lumbar, my neck, and eyelids. Yes, my eyelids actually hurt, probably because those eyelid muscles are working so hard to keep my eyes open, right? In the middle of the night when Henry cries, my initial thought is, “Whose baby is crying?” Then once the sleep fogs lifts a bit I realize where I am.  But, it is always so funny to me that I forget in my delirious sleep state.

It is amazing how many “second winds” you get in a single day. Just when I think I cannot stop myself from falling head over heels to the ground for a snooze wherever it is I am standing in that moment, then a surge of wild energy hits. Clearly, it is this wild energy that has sustained parents throughout generations of sleepless babies. But you have to be careful about this energy. It fades as quickly as it arrives and while it fades you may find that your mind, thoughts, and speech, which seem sharp one minute, turn to mush the next. Sitting with my advisees, I ask, “Who attended the leadershit conference this year?” Laughing their heads off, they ask, “What!??” and I reply, “What?” Yup, I had no idea that my mouth had forsaken me and in trying to retrieve the correct vocabulary misfired swapping a “t” for a “p”.  There I was thinking I was asking a clear question and starting up a nice dialogue when in fact my body was shutting down and there was nothing I could do to stop it!

Even David is walking around in a zombie-like trance. One minute he is awake on the couch cuddling Henry and the next he too is resting his eyes. So what do we do? Seriously, what do we do? Yes, this phase will pass and as my friend noted: David and I will get accustomed to living and operating “light and lean.” But, I wonder if the issue stems from Henry’s swaddle a.k.a. his sleep crutch. He might be in limbo right now.  He seems to still want to be swaddled in order to fall asleep but he also is fighting against the swaddle.  His startle reflex is still very apparent though and leaving his arms out free wakes him. I think we need to wean Henry from his swaddle and get him to a place where he can fall asleep without his baby straight jacket. And…..we need to practice this whole, “lay baby down while sleepy and not asleep” so that he learns how to put himself to sleep and isn’t also dependent on swinging and swaying. So fellow parents, can you have mercy on the weary and share your sleep tips or advice?

ménage à trois: me, caffiene, & sleep deprivation

Monday night I felt very prepared for school. Henry had been sleeping for 4-5 hour stretches, I had packed up my bags to make the morning departure go smoothly, and David and I even spent a few minutes just the two of us to connect and reflect before the hustle and bustle of the school year commenced. Then the week went like this:

Tuesday 1AM, 2AM, 3AM, 4AM, 5AM: Henry decides to boycott sleep and/or he was worried I would not wake up for my alarm and wanted to make sure I was up and ready to go.  Nothing says, “Let’s get this party started” like of sleepless night, right?

Tuesday 6:30AM-7:40AM: The usual 25 minute commute is endless as everyone in the 20 mile stretch to school decides to hit the road early for the first day of school.

Tuesday 8AM-12PM: A blur of classes, students, faculty, lessons, meetings, emails, and trying to speak coherently after spending the summer mostly in the company of 4 people or less. Oh, yea….and I have to pump for baby Henry A LOT.  So also I spent time running in and out of the Nurse’s Office and then trying to relax enough when in there in order to accomplish this task. And, of course I wore a dress on the first day in order to look “fabulous” which meant pumping was an interesting procedure. Note to self: No more dresses.

Tuesday 12-2PM: Try to call my mother for an update, as this is the first day I am totally away from home, but her phone keeps going to voice mail. Usher in PANIC, SWEAT, and  calling her number over and over again. Is everyone alive?

Tuesday 3PM: See that our friend and neighbor has been able to knock on the door and confirm that everyone is indeed alive and fine and my mom plugs her phone in. Whew!

Tuesday 3:30PM-4:30PM: slow go through traffic all the way home.

Tuesday 4:30-9:00PM: Soak up as much of my family time as possible. Seeing Henry at the end of the day is the BEST! I cannot get enough of that little man’s smell, smile, cuddles. Also, I shed a few tears because I am so happy to see him and so happy the day went so well at home for him. And really I am just an emotional person these days anyway.

Wednesday 12AM, 2AM, 4AM: Henry is no longer worried about me missing my alarm and extends his sleep from every hour to every two hours. It is amazing how “highly functioning” one can be with so few hours of sleep. I guess it is all about lowering one’s standards for “functioning.”

Wednesday 6:30AM-7:20AM: Tons of traffic yet again. I am looking forward to when everyone collectively starts to sleep in or snoozes their alarms and I can perhaps squeak by ahead of the traffic cluster.

Wednesday 8AM-2:15PM: Another whirlwind of classes, students, emails, pumping, and trying to do all of this without breaking a sweat in the crushing heat that has enveloped Boston. Somehow all of this is done today with less of the “teacher crust” of yesterday. While I am definitely not in my groove, teaching is starting to feel comfortable again. It is like breaking in a pair of jeans after they have stiffened up from the dryer.

Wednesday 2:30PM-3:30PM: Take a walk down memory lane with the senior class.  As they prepare to apply for college, we teachers share stories from our college years. It was pretty great hearing my co-workers’ stories and having the opportunity to share my own. Go BC!

Wednesday 3:30PM-3:50PM: Drive fairly smoothly to Natick and decide to pull into the Starbucks drive-thru for a treat. This was my guiltiest cup of coffee ever! I wanted to head home to Henry but I also wanted an afternoon pick me up so I could feel alive and present during my time with Henry. I justified the pit stop by noting this Starbucks was a drive thru.

Wednesday 4:10PM: Arrive home and snuggle Henry.  Immediately realize I left all of my pumping gear and all of Henry’s milk back at school! Panic sets in and I realize that despite my cool exterior, my mind is complete mush. And the consequence is: Henry will starve tomorrow.

Wednesday 5:00PM-7:30PM: Pack everyone up in the car and drive all the way back to school to retrieve the much needed items. As an “I am so sorry for ruining everyone’s night,” I treat David and my mom to dinner in the area to break up the long commute in the car. Finally arrive back home and feel like crashing but it is time to get in that quality time with Henry so I postpone fatigue until later.

Thursday 1AM, 4AM: Ah Henry is heading back towards his more reasonable sleep schedule just in time for the end of the school week. Fingers crossed

Thursday 6:30AM-7:10AM: Even the commute this morning is being more cooperative!

Thursday 8AM-12:30PM: Being in school feels more “normal.”  Starting to feel more confident in the classroom and more capable around pumping. Work-Life balance is coming more into focus…for now, I think.

Thursday 12:30PM: Head over the Keurig machine in the faculty room because yesterday’s drama revealed I need a shot of caffeine before I head home and see that someone has left a “pumpkin spice” capsule in the machine. Deliriously excited, I open the cabinet to retrieve one  of these special k-cups only to see that this flavor is non-existent.  Some sneaky, smarty pants brought it in for themselves and now I am incredibly jealous. Left to drink the usual k-cup, I return to my classroom to await the last class of the day.

Thursday 3:00PM: A moment of peace and calm after checking for the 100th time that I have everything I will need when I leave campus. I do not think my nerves could handle another mishap like yesterday. Finally settle into some lesson planning in an attempt to “get ahead” of the weekend pile up.

Thursday 3:30-4:10PM: An uneventful drive home and the first night where alongside snuggling up with our little man and giving him our undivided attention we are also trying to prep dinner (remarkable that this is the first time this week we have to do that!). Thankfully it is taco night.  Not that this isn’t work, but taco night is usually an easy kitchen night!  Definitely thanking “past Melissa” for her smart meal planning for this first week back to teaching.

Thursday 5PM-9PM: Family time to the max!

Friday 1:30AM: Oh my goodness, the little man sleeps for 5 hours without interruptions and now I am sleep drunk from all the extra Zs.

Friday 5:00AM: My alarm and not the little man wakes me up.  Have we finally fallen into some semblance of “normal”?  I don’t want to jinx us but this would be a very very VERY nice routine.  Let’s replicate this again okay, Henry?

Friday 8:00AM-2:15PM: Despite some scheduling mishaps on my part (Need to remember to double check the uploaded homework assignments) the day goes fairly smoothly. It is topped off by a visit from David and Henry to the ice cream social before Henry’s 2 month check-up.

Friday 4:00PM: Henry had his 2  month check-up and vaccines. We all took guesses for his weight and height but we missed the mark. That’s right we all underestimated our little man’s monthly growth. Henry is not 13.11lbs and 24.75in!  He also did not like his vaccines.  His cries were heart-breaking

Friday 5:00PM: Lots and Lots of snuggles all around.

And so it goes, the successful conclusion of our first week. It is amazing how a 4 day work week could feel like it was actually 8 full days of work and running around. Yet,  we all survived and it can only get better from here, right?

going back to school

Tomorrow I go back to school officially. Thankfully it is not a full day of school jammed with classes and new students and new lessons.  That will wait until Tuesday. Rather tomorrow is a day to set up my classroom briefly, meet with a few parents of my advisory, and leave Henry at home for the first time for more than just a Pure Barre Class. Family and friends have asked how am I feeling about this and to be honest I am incredibly conflicted.

Half of me is excited and ready to return. I love being a teacher. Each day the students challenge me to think, grow, and learn and in return I get to work closely with them as they question the world around them and discover history. My co-workers are inspiring men and women who are passionate about their careers, the students, and about having a good time too. It truly is a wonderful place to work and a wonderful place to return to each Fall. Having had my mother here this week, I have been able to prepare lessons, set up class websites, check e-mails, start class blogs, review faculty documents, review class lists, and generally feel “ready” for the first day of school. This has helped keep the typical back to school anxiety dreams away! Professionally, I feel fulfilled in my job which makes going back to it exciting.  I have also spent time tracking Henry’s sleep/wake time and feel good about the schedule I am leaving behind for Mema.  This was a major step is feeling ready to return. Whenever you look up baby schedules (even one that is baby led and flexible) it follows the typical work day of 9AM-5PM which is not the schedule of the working teacher. This new baby schedule for the teaching parent that we have created at least lets me feel as though when I leave Henry’s grandma will have a sense of when to expect certain cues from Henry in order to have as smooth a day as possible (and, I know this is ideal).

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At the same time, this year is so different. The other half of me is drawn inward to my home and family. Henry has turned out to be such a wonderful and amazing addition to our lives. I am afraid that if someone asks me “How are you doing?” on that first day, I will be too fragile to answer without bursting into tears. I know I want to return to work, but I also wish I could just stay home (at the same time!) and raise and love my son full-time. Two feelings I am most conflicted with about leaving Henry are: I don’t want to miss ANYTHING and I want Henry to be more than just okay when I am away. It is not healthy to be the only one to provide Henry with all of his needs, I know. It is important for him to meet others and be cared for by others.  But the idea of missing BIG chunks of his day hurts my heart so much. He grows and changes so much even in a day and I just feel like I am going to be missing out. Oddly, I also feel like I am going to be replaced. For the last 8 weeks, I have been there for everything even if I was just watching David parent, I was still physically there. Now I won’t be there AND someone else will be. What if I no longer can read my son or what if he prefers the care, cuddles, and love of my mom over me?  I am so lucky that my mom, Henry’s mema, will be with him but I still have this silly worry. As I write this, I can see the selfishness of these feelings but I cannot swipe them away. I selfishly want to be home with my baby boy and simultaneously want to be at school teaching and working. Part of me wonders if I had had more time and support in this dynamic if I would feel better prepared to return but our timing wasn’t perfect. And, part of me wonders if anyone would notice if I just tucked him in my backpack and brought him with me!

Tomorrow morning I will probably cry all the way to school but then will be so happy to see my co-workers who have for years shared some much of themselves with me. I feel more emotional now than I did any day of my pregnancy! I just hope that when I come home tomorrow, Henry will have had a good day home with Mema and David and the decision to return to work will feel more and more right as the hours turn into days, weeks, and months back at school.