Eric, now three, slept through the night early. “I am the best-rested mother of a newborn in the Western Hemisphere,” I used to say.
Baby Carl is his own person, though he and Eric have a lot in common. Like Eric before him, Carl is generally hard to upset and easy to settle; he rarely cries unless we are slow to respond to his quieter requests for attention and aid. And, like Eric, when he wakes in the night he almost always does so efficiently: he wakes up, eats, and goes back to sleep.
Where he differs from Eric is that he tends to do that a lot. Eric followed a linear path to sleeping through: once he’d gone four hours at a stretch, I could pretty much count on a four-hour stretch every night. And then it expanded to six, eight, and eventually nine hours, which he accomplished at 8 weeks, 6 days old.
At eleven weeks, Carl has slept a six-hour stretch more than once, but he hasn’t stuck with it. He tends to stick with a specific sleep patter for only five or six days in a row, which is strange given that he is very regular in his daytimes habits, having predictable awake times and predictable sleep times.
My tiredness, therefore, varies from day to day and week to week. One week I feel great; the next week, like this last one,when Carl was waking just about every hour from 1 a.m. to 7, I’m tired and discouraged (and what kind of shape I’d be in if David hadn’t taken a day off work to let me sleep in the daytime, I shudder to think).
It’s OK, though. In general, I don’t mind waking up in the night a few times. I don’t even mind being tired, much.
What I mind is giving up my illusion that I’m in control. You see, Carl’s failure to sleep through the night at seven weeks like Eric did has unearthed a deeply-buried, unarticulated illusion I have been cherishing, unbeknownst to me, for three years: All this time, I have believed, deep down, that Eric slept through the night so early because I was such an excellent mother.
But now, as a friend said yesterday, in a vividly mixed metaphor, “the big Mack Truck of Reality has come crashing down from the sky.” I’m still an excellent mother. I think. I’m just a tired one, too.Posted by Su Penn at June 6, 2004 07:34 PM | TrackBack