He used to be such a good sleeper. Brag-worthy four- and five-hour blocks of time were spent catching up on restful sleep, allowing us all to recharge and face our days, all smiles and productivity. But for the past few nights - hell, maybe a week or two? - I haven't gotten more than three hours of sleep at a time. In fact, the three hour chunk happened only a handful of times over the past week. More often, these days, Zephyr wakes up every two hours or less, wants to nurse, and is difficult to lay back down (even though he falls asleep while nursing). During the day, it lately takes an hour to get him down to sleep for thirty minutes. Scott badly wants to help, but alas, he lacks the breasts that allow Zephyr to succumb to deep, lengthy sleep (when I take time for myself, it's always at the expense of Zeph's nap schedule).
I feel like I'm completely losing my shit, and I'm shocked at how quickly I go from a creamy Madonna to a hanger-wielding harpy when my precious sleep is compromised. Sometimes I get so frazzled that it takes an hour or more for me to get back to sleep (and by the time this happens, Zephyr often starts fussing again). Then I crumble into frustrated tears and wonder what I was ever thinking, deciding to have a kid.
I should put things into perspective, though. He is still the sweetest, goofiest, smiliest and happiest little baby I've ever met. He grins so big that it splits his face in two. He is not a difficult baby at all, not by any stretch of the imagination. The little guy is teething, and is covered in eczema that he scratches until it bleeds. He is merely guilty of being a baby: mutable, unpredictable, inconstant. He evolves at an hourly rate.
What kind of monster loses her cool at a tiny baby, just because he won't sleep? This one, evidently. During those wee hours of sleeplessness, I worry that I will never be good enough for my precious little changeling. I spend so much time in that dark place in my heart that tells me that I can never be the mother that my son deserves. I have spent the better part of my life obsessing about being the polar opposite of my intolerant, dictator father (the dominant parent in my family), but I am terrified that, if pushed, I might still have his capacity for violence. The worst thing that can happen to Zephyr is for him to be raised by someone who hates children.
In case you have already dialed six of the seven digits to call Adult and Family Services, I should let you know that I don't beat my infant with a hanger, or shake him, or anything like that (I have yelled at him, though, I'll admit it). It's just that my own anger frightens me. It's so early in this ride - how awful will I be when, in a couple years, he starts throwing tantrums in the grocery store? Or when actually looks me in the eye and talks back?
In the meanwhile, I will learn to take deep breaths. I will take Zephyr's nap-free days as opportunities to play more and count my blessings that he is such a joyful creature. And I will hope fervently to gain the grace that only restful sleep can bring.
(Note: as I finished typing this, Zephyr just woke up from a 3.5-hour nap. Just to prove me wrong and make me look a harpy fool. Little bastard.)