Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sleeping in shifts

Babies demolish sleep. Which is strange as they sleep for at least two thirds of the time. Lady P is brilliant at sleeping. She's particularly good at sleeping during her daytime naps, but also not half bad at sleeping overnight too. And yet... and yet TLOML and I are seriously sleep deprived. So we've taken to sleeping in shifts.

When I say she's 'not bad' at sleeping overnight, I mean that she's a lot better than she was when she used to wake four or five times between midnight at 7am. Some babies do that for months. The fact that she sleeps from 6pm till 6amish and only wakes once or twice, is pretty good. She has even slept for a solid 12 hours on one tantalising occasion. Still, most nights when teething, rolling over, pooing or existential angst prevent her sleeping peacefully and require some shushing and soothing from us. Getting up at 6 or 6.30am, on top of the middle of the night shenanigans - and months of broken sleep - is getting really tiring.
Cranking out some quality ZZZZZs
I'm used to early mornings. When I worked in LA I frequently got up for 6am calls with colleagues on the East Coast. And when we moved to New York I often got up at the crack of dawn for calls with colleagues in the UK. So I can cope okay with the early morning. I just might not be terribly chatty. And by noon I'm looking for a stiff drink, a strong coffee, or a soft bed.

TLOML, by contrast, is used to starting his working day at around 9am Pacific Standard Time. Wherever he lives. This translated into a nice lie in for him in New York. In the UK it's almost like working a night shift. Embarrassment at what our neighbours would think if the curtains remained drawn after 10am is the only thing that gets him out of bed in the morning.

While TLOML's strange hours mean his work intrudes on our evenings, the pay off is that he doesn't mind getting up in the middle of the night to turn Lady P back onto her back for the millionth time. Or change a nappy. Or to solve any of those other myriad problems that prevent her from 'sleeping through'. This is where the sleeping in shifts comes in. He is now officially in charge of the night shift for Lady P. Since I have to get up at the crack of dawn to tend to her, I can sleep through all those middle-of-the-night disturbances guilt free. TLOML then has a good lie in to catch up.

It's a good system. In theory we both still get a decent-ish night's sleep. And yet we're both still shattered. When she takes her 12-2 nap, it's not unusual for us both to crawl back into bed for a nap of our own.

I can't imagine doing this and managing a full day's work, or handling this without a husband who can help out, or with a toddler to entertain while the baby sleeps. When talk turns to Baby #2, mention of a night nurse is never far behind.

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