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New Parents and Sleep Deprivation: What Do You Do When the New Baby Keeps You Awake?

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As a new parent, one of the questions that pops up like a pimple ready to make me question my self-worth is, "So, is your baby sleeping through the night?" Feelings of failure permeate my soul as I make some joke like, "If that is what you call waking up every two hours? Hahaha..." My laugh is strained, my eyes darting around the room like a beast in heat, while my brain questions whether I even deserve to raise a child if I can't make them sleep for 12 hours in a row.

I get it that every parent has an issue with their baby; mine just happens to be sleep. And why do we have to "fall asleep"? Isn't that so dramatic? Why don't we step into sleep... or cruise there? Maybe all the knowledge of the universe is in our dreams, and the price we pay is waking up.

O sleep, how do I miss thee; I would count the ways, but I might pass out.

The funny thing is, my baby is not the one who is sleep-deprived. I think she is sleeping behind my back. I am the one who has bags under my eyes to rival Bill Clinton, yet I obsess about making sure she sleeps like an Arab prince. Something about her brain developing and blah blah blah -- I can't remember because I am so tired.

I will do anything not to wake her when she is napping, because I heard that babies who sleep more during the day sleep better at night. Maybe the person who said that had a seriously lazy baby, but I tend to believe everything I hear. I will spare you the details, but the contortions I have put my body through to pee in the sink while holding a sleeping baby would make Cirque du Soleil blush.

After I have gotten through the day with at least two decent naps for her, and a bladder infection for me, we edge into the territory of night sleeping. Like an Abu Ghraib alarm clock, she is up every other hour. She grunts and thrashes her head like Stevie Wonder in search of my nipple. Now I don't know about you, but I find sleeping while someone is sucking on my boob next to impossible.

I can acknowledge that part of this is my own doing. I breastfeed her, and she does sleep right next to me. If I was sleeping next to a pizza all night, chances are I would wake up for a few bites, too. Those are choices I made, and I can't blame my baby, although I am starting to silently resent her.

I tried complaining to my mom about it, who suggested that I "put her in a crib in an other room, the way I did with you. You were downstairs, so you really had to fuss to get my attention." Well, now that my lifelong battle with insomnia is solved, I am still not sure what my best strategy is. I read "Happiest Baby on the Block" because I happen to want to have the happiest baby in the whole galaxy. The "Happiest Baby" suggests an array of methods to make sure your baby never cries. I have to say, thanks to Dr. Karp, my baby is not a crybaby like her mom, but that doesn't mean I am not hallucinating right now.

I have no moral issues with letting your baby "cry it out." I have heard it works. But those parents are most likely well-adjusted people who probably don't cry if someone gives them the finger and cuts them off. I however, am an adult crier, and hearing my baby cry stresses me out. I can't leave her crying if I know that my rocking, nursing, jiggling or a monologue about my deepest insecurities could lull her off into the wonderland of sleep.

So what I am telling myself is that even though I never get more than two hours of uninterrupted sleep, the fact that I am sleeping so close to her little mind makes me feel that our dreams are melding together, that we will forever have a connection in the astral plane of our slumber, so even when we are apart,we can always visit in our unconscious. Or maybe I am just delirious?

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