I want to start with a quick shout out to all the mamas and papas of newborns out there and repeat (because I so hope you've heard it) that it *does* get better. Really. Sooner than you think. These sweet babies will acclimate to being earthside and get their days and nights straightened out and you will sleep again. It won't look like the sleep you used to get but it will be sleep, and it will be better.
I actually read that somewhere during B's newborn-hood, that I was never going to sleep the way I used to. At first blush, this was cruel and unusual punishment. I was exhausted and it seemed like they were saying it would never get better. But I've now come to a sort of peace with it, on good nights anyway. Because, yes, Betsy sleeps loads more than she used to - but she's also teething, and learning to sit up and stand up - and these things disrupt her sleep and mine in a way that is totally different than the newborn cycle. The last few nights she has woken up at 2a, smiling and laughing, and then tried to put herself back to sleep. She imitates a very dramatic huff and tossing her head down on a pillow (I have no idea where she's seen that...every night of her life). It's funny in the way that you aren't supposed to laugh and encourage them to keep doing it. At some point this phase will pass, and we will be onto something else - nightmares or hurt feelings or coming home past curfew. I won't ever sleep like I did before Betsy - but then, what in my life hasn't been fundamentally changed by her sweet presence?
Betsy had an earache last night - her first really bad illness. I recognize that at almost-8 months, we are incredibly blessed that our greatest trial has been an ear infection -- but, man, it's been a doozy. 104.5 temperature, vomiting, coughing, crying - that exquisite pain of watching your child suffer and not be able to fix it. I wanted to cry right along with her, and at some points I did. We were thrown right back into that still familiar newborn sleep pattern - up every ninety minutes, Nate sweetly standing guard and taking care of his girls while I grumbled about men not being equipped to breastfeed. We finally got her comfortable sometime after 430a and Nate quickly fell asleep beside her, preparing for an all-too-soon alarm clock and full day at work.
I rolled over to sleep - and I couldn't. I couldn't take my eyes off her. Just like when she was new to us. The fear that I was supposed to take care of her and couldn't, that I didn't even have time to blink - that was there just like the night we brought her home from the hospital, when I slept with my hand on her chest and scooted down in the bed until I was practically nose-to-nose with her in the co-sleeper.
But there was a sweetness to it, too. She's growing up. In so many ways, she is absolutely nothing like the baby I brought home in November. She smiles and squeals and claps her hands at the dogs. She has sweet, wispy blonde hair and strong little legs and takes down a slice of watermelon like nobody's business. Each day she grows into more of a child and less of a baby. At the end of a long night, I just couldn't take my eyes off her.
This isn't one of those carpe diem posts, because this shit is hard, especially at night, and if I could trade last night in for a night when Betsy didn't cry and I didn't get barfed on and all of us felt better - I would do it in a heartbeat. If you haven't read Glennon's thoughts on NOT carpe-ing some of these diems, I suggest you do that right now. It was just the first time in a while that we had been up all night together. I couldn't sleep and I've learned not to fight that. So I listened to her breathe and felt her sweet hand on my face - and together we slept until morning.