Sleep deprivation comes with the territory of bringing up a baby. But it’s still a shock when it hits and when you feel your body drained of the necessary resources to get through the day.
This time around it has been a bit easier. We’re more relaxed with K, our second child, than we were the first time around. With his elder brother A to think about, the attention K gets is of a different type to that A received, and includes having an older brother who delights in trying to make him smile by singing to him and dancing around for him.
Nevertheless, over the last three months I’ve once again found myself intimately acquainted with the earliest hours of the day. Those when the house, the road and perhaps the town itself are quiet.
How young are you/How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes.
I’ve started this post a couple of times, but found sleep weighing down my eyelids each time. Finally I think I’ll make it to the end.
One reason for this is that things have improved recently. K started going through the night and then last week we moved him into his own room.
So far so good, though A did something similar at about four months, then teething hit and he didn’t stay in his own bed until, aged six and a half, his younger brother was born. So we’ll see how it goes this time around.
I can’t imagine that anyone who’s had a child – and been very involved in their care, as I am – can forgot the effects of sleeplessness.
During the last 12 weeks we fell into the routine of waking for an hour or two between 12-4am to change, feed, wind and put K back to bed. The routine was perhaps the easy part. I can still, almost literally, change nappies in my sleep.
The harder part is the knock-on effects – and I had the easier job, doing the changes while S got the bottle ready, but then only staying up to do the feed every other night. Still, once again I’ve found myself slowing down, forgetting words, struggling with sentences when tiredness hits hard. And once again I”m reminded of the effects of sleep deprivation and my retained ability to gently rock back and worth, almost in my sleep, to get babies to return to sleep.
Either to confirm this, or perhaps to make myself feel better, I looked up the physiological symptoms of sleep deprivation listed on Wikidpedia.
I can tick off aching muscles, dizziness, irritability, memory (particularly short-term) and slowed word recall (see memory).
I suppose I can tick off “yawning” too, though it seems a little obvious to include, and I may look up nystagmus – which could be the funny eye fluttering I get now and then.
So, as I said, it’s been better this time. But maybe that’s because with A it got so bad I found myself hallucinating.
This is not something that comes up in those parenthood guides, but there they were, black beetles climbing the walls of our flat.
But perhaps there was something to thank the sleep deprivation for – I was so tired I took them at face value (otherwise I might have been a little panicked).