The Catch-22 Of Motherhood: Why Don’t You Sleep When the Baby Sleeps?

I recently had a chat with a friend about motherhood and the profound, earth shattering, and indescribable lack of sleep that had accompanied the joy and delight of bringing a small human into the world. He asked me the classic question that often comes in the form of well-meaning advice from doctors, the childless, and perhaps those who have revised sense of history of what it was like to have small children:

“Why don’t you sleep when the baby sleeps?”

Ethan not asleep

It seems so obvious, right? The kiddo takes 2-3 40 minute to 2 hour naps each day.  If I’m so tired, why wouldn’t I just take naps when he sleeps?

It has something to do with this a strong desire to feel like a human being, not just a mom.  As Ethan’s primary carer (sidenote: I would love to find an alternative term to stay-at-home mom, but this one is too clinical. Any suggestions? Homemaker? Domestic Engineer?) I spend the vast majority of my day either entertaining him, or feeling guilty for not entertaining him while cleaning, taking care of the chickens or garden, or performing any other task that is required during his waking hours. (sidenote 2: mommy guilt. It’s real and it’s brutal, at least for me.) When he’s asleep, the last thing I want to do is take a nap myself, as it’s the only time I have to write, read, or simply be by myself. 

Ethan sleeping

Especially considering I am working very hard on putting my phone and computer away when he is awake, this is the time to feel connected to the outside world and engaged with life outside the farm.  However, this is problematic as when I am exhausted, it’s doubly difficult not to zone out and scroll through instagram when he’s feeding, or even be able to enjoy playing with him and seeing the world through his remarkable, fresh eyes.

A friend recently asked me if I miss using my brain. While this stung (I feel like my brain is put to good use raising a baby, as well as taking care of my family, as well as starting a small business, but thanks so much for asking!) I do know that more sleep would absolutely help the fuzziness that surrounds my every day interactions. However, right now, even with the fuzziness, connecting to others and my personal pursuits is worth the sacrifice. 

Four Baby Sleep Essentials*

*for my baby. Your baby might hate them.  

HAPPY MAY!!!

Well, it’s hard to believe my little baby is a month old.  He’s also not so little. Need proof?  Here he is at 2 days old…

Ethan at 2 days old

And here he is two days ago.

Ethan at 3.5 weeks

He’s grown by a quarter at least!

Anyway, all in all, he’s a great kid. He’s very adaptable, easy going, and smily, even at one month. However, he is still a one month old, and sleep doesn’t always come easy to him.  Obviously, I want to help him sleep as much as I can, but my arms can only bounce a 9.5 lb baby for so long before the burn is just unbearable.  Having Anthony and my mother-in-law around helps enormously, but we all use these different tools to help him catch up on some zzzz’s.

Happiest Baby on the Block

The book The Happiest Baby on the Block is truly a life saver. The 5 S’s are magical in how effective they are 95% of the time (the other 5%, I’m pretty sure he has genuine gas).  The techniques not only help Ethan, but they help me feel like a confident and competent mom, which is priceless.  One note: I first started the book while pregnant, and put it down in disgust.  “Why is this man, a famous pediatrician, writing like I’m a 5 year old reader? It is so condescending.” Well, after Ethan was born, I re-opened it, and got it.  It wasn’t condescending. It’s written for moms and dads who haven’t slept in weeks and have lost their mental faculties.  It’s awesome.

Halo sleep sack

The Halo Sleep Sack is another essential for us.  We tried using baby blankets to swaddle, as well as three brands of of pre-made versions that were gifted to us, and the Halo is by far our favorite (to the point that we bought an extra!) It’s the only one that really keeps his arms in. However, my sister’s baby (not a baby anymore!) was a devoted Miracle Blanket baby, so your mileage may vary.  I’d recommend trying a few and seeing how it works for you. The most important thing we’ve learned is that for them to work, they have to be tight. Like, super tight. If he can get their arms out, he hits himself in the face and wakes himself up. True story. 

Cloud b Sleep Sheep

The Cloud b Sleep Sheep is such an essential that we’re about to buy another one for the car, just in case. We’ve been trying to be fairly minimalistic with baby purchases, but this guy – WOW.  He makes 4 sounds, and the ocean sound keeps E asleep at night. White noise is so helpful to keeping him asleep, as apparently in the womb, it was loud and white noisy all the time.  The only thing I’d change is to have a white noise machine that has the option to stay on all night, not just for 45 minutes, as when he wakes himself up in the middle of the night, it’s silent and he cries. Sad face.

Solly baby wrap

Solly baby wrap. Oh my goodness, how I love this wrap.  It’s soft, light weight, and gets him to conk out when nothing else will.  I also love that they’re made in the US and the company is owned by mama extraordinare Elle Rowley. However, wraps are yet another personal preference thing – there are so many ways to “wear” your baby, and the Solly is just one of many fabulous choices.

These are tools that have been working for us, though of course there is no guarantee that they will continue to do so – the joys of parenthood! Would love to hear what has worked for you, as well!

Weekend Highlights

This weekend was a bit of a whirlwind, but a fun one!  We had lots of time with friends, outside, working, and playing. What could be better?

The weekend started Friday afternoon by picking up 140 pounds of pastured pork from Misty Morning farms, butchered at Matt’s Custom Meats up in Kelso, WA.  It was a long drive, but the mountain views can’t be beat. 

pork

The above is barely a fraction of the meat. We asked to keep everything, including the fat to render for lard, so we have at least 25 pounds of just pig fat.  Amazing.

Saturday morning, I put up the decals in the (almost) finished nursery.  Since Anthony is from Australia, we wanted the baby to have a strong sense of it’s heritage.  It may be confused that bamboo has blue leaves, but whatevs. 

decal

 

koala decal

We took a beautiful walk up the road. Every day, I’m in such awe of the amazing natural surroundings we have, and how much it changes every day with the impending spring. 

walk photos

Hillsboro, OR

We also checked our garden beds with the garlic, which are still looking good and weed free. 

garlic bed

Super pregnant gardener

We also got our fruit trees in the mail from GrowOrganic.com and plan to plant them throughout the week.

fruit trees

We bought three cherries, four apples, two pears, and a peach.  We’ll see how they go!

As Anthony worked on the mantle for the fireplace, I built our growing (and exceedingly annoying, although very cute) chicks a home more appropriately sized for their growing selves.  We went from this:

chick brooder

chick brooder XL

Funny story. The crate was originally Chewy’s. Apparently, we thought she was going to go from 10 pounds to a german shepherd. No such lock, but the chickens are loving it!  I felt very 

Finally, our incredibly sweet and generous neighbors threw us a “welcome to the neighborhood” party.  We got to meet some of our new neighbors, including a couple who gave us a custom-written gardening book for our area. How sweet! There is nothing like having amazing neighbors. 

Welcome cake

Kat and Anthony

I tell you, after this weekend, the moment my head hit the pillow, I was out like a light. Can’t wait to see what this week will bring!