Henry is a sleep champion! It didn’t seem this way when he was first born though. That first night in the hospital after giving birth to him at 9PM, the nurse left us in our room two hours later and we were alone. Completely alone with this little person whom we knew “nothing” about and who was belligerent about having left the warm, dark world he had come to know. David and I sat in that room clueless. I remember feeling totally helpless as this little screaming baby turned red in my arms and I frantically tried to comfort him. Babies I had babysat for always seemed to like x, y, and z but then they were always older than two hours and none of my “tricks” worked. We had to start from scratch with this little guy and our first impression was not one of capable parents! That was the longest night ever. Yet, very quickly our sleepless, upset baby changed into a sleep champion.
By the time we took Henry home from the hospital he was sleeping like clockwork. Every two hours he was up to eat and was quick to soothe and put back to sleep. This two hour pattern though tiring was predictable and it is amazing how quickly you get use to sleeping in two hour shifts. In some ways it even felt luxurious. This pattern lasted until Henry was 4 weeks old and was coupled with long, long stretches of daytime naps. It use to always boggle my mind when people used the phrase “slept like a baby.” Babies don’t sleep well! That is why there are all those TV shows and movies showing exhausted new parents comically stumbling about. And, all those baby sleep books that line the shelves of Barnes & Noble capitalize on providing hope and advice to new parents whose bags under their eyes drag to the floor. Henry, though, seemed to be in some sleep stupor. Perhaps this was the fourth trimester some have indicated exists for the select few? Whatever it was, we were happy to get a little “regular” sleep even if it was in short segments.
At five weeks old, we held our breath. This would be the moment when everything changed, no? Henry would suddenly wake up and become fussy and restless and inconsolable. We had pressed our luck long enough and now it was time to pay up with our precious sleep. Somehow Henry didn’t get the cranky message!! Instead, five weeks marked elongated sleep patterns and changes to his naps. Henry started to sleep the fabled long stretch. From around 8:30PM to 1:30AM, he slept solidly. Then again from 2AM-4:30AM and again from 5AM-6:30AM. WHAT!?!? How is this possible. His naps are little shorter in the day now too: 9AM-11AM, 2PM-3PM, 6PM-7PM and then bed time. All week long, he followed this pattern (give or take 30 minutes). While this is the most amazing pattern we could ask for, it feels like we are walking on eggshells. It will stop, we keep telling ourselves. It will end, it will change, it will disappear, it will turn into the sleepless madness that is more universally experienced by babies all around the world, no? Sunday night we had a glimpse of this horror. Henry did not sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. All night long, I fed him, cuddled him, changed his diapers, and swayed him back and forth. He would only sleep if he lay beside me in bed and I thought in a tearful moment that this was our forever future. And, I was “okay” with it, as it was inevitable and we held it off as long as we could.
Then last night, his predictable pattern seemed to return! Maybe the previous night was a fluke, or maybe it was a growth spurt, or maybe we will never know what it was. David and I are a little scared to see nights like that again and we are hoping that this sleep champion continues to impress us. It isn’t anything we are doing that is for sure, so hopefully this balanced, calm stays within Henry and sleep stays in our house. Fingers Crossed.