I read a lot of mommy blogs. I have nothing in common with these women, but I want to have kids soon and they fascinate me. They have given me great insight into the amazing, wonderful and frightening thing that is motherhood. One of the first things I learned is that there are more than a handful of taboo topics- topics the good mommy bloggers always write about, because no one wants to read a boring blog and everyone loves controversy. I don't know how many times I've read the same post about homebirthing, daycare, cry-it-out, breastfeeding- the opposing sides come out, they attack, they make it absolutely impossible to know you are doing the right thing for your baby. Someone remind me: why I'm so eager to jump into this whole baby thing?
But sometimes the mommies are just writing about their days. Or their nights. It's the posts about nighttime that make me nervous, even more than the debates over formula and c-sections and naps. It's the being awake all night, the hyper-sensitivity to every sound, the baby needing things at all hours. I am going to be royally screwed.
And it's not even the sleep training that terrifies me. I have no final opinion on the best way to make your kid stay asleep all night in his own bed. I say whatever works! No, it's the fact that babies don't sleep.
I have spent the last several years in grand pursuit of sleep. I'm the kind of person who needs 10 hours, preferably 14, in order to keep my sunny disposition. I go to bed earlier than most school children and wake up when all the old people are putting on their bathrobes and heading outside for the paper. And when I can't fall asleep until two in the morning, there is never any hope of me sleeping past seven or eight. When I'm anxious and it's dark, I start to worry about not being able to sleep. Worrying about lack of sleep makes it even harder to fall asleep. The trick is to convince yourself that it doesn't matter, that you'll still be able to function the next day, but it's exhausting getting to that point- exhaustion that doesn't always put your body into a much-needed eight-hour coma. I once went a week without sleeping at night (I'd fall alseep for a few hours in the early morning) and it was, hands down, the worst week of my life. I'm over it, mostly, but I've kept a well-past-the-expiration-date bottle of tranquilizers in my medicine cabinet in case that week ever makes a hint of another entrance.
So having a baby that doesn't sleep? MY baby? Oh dear God.
I used to worry about passing my crappy eyesight onto my baby. Or my stringy hair or my crooked teeth. But now I worry that I will pass my questionable mental health to my baby. When my baby cries at night, how will I know she's just hungry and not anxious? Doesn't that sound ridiculous? All babies cry at night! No baby sleeps through the night! But I'm so scared. When my three-year-old has a bad dream and can't go back to sleep, when my eight-year-old wakes up at one asking for a glass of water- how will I know that it's not anxiety making that happen? When my baby is awake all night because neither of us know how to help her sleep, I am so afraid of how I will feel. I think I will know my baby isn't anxious, but I will remember the week I couldn't sleep. I will feel awful, because I never ever want my baby to know what that is like.
When my baby is twenty-two and neurotic and crazy and silly and dramatic like her mother, what if she gets nervous about something and can't make it stop? It will be my fault. I gave that to her. It's not unfortunate, like bad teeth, it's not annoying, like stringy flat hair. It's unbearable.
It's past midnight right now. I lose most of my brain functionality after two in the afternoon, so this is admittedly the dumbest post ever. But it's something I think about, and something I'm thinking about right now. I'm not anxious at 12:14 pm. I'm tired, but I'm restless and a little bored, and Phillip is still working downstairs. I'm okay with all of that, which goes to show how far I've come.