5/6/09

Sleep Part I: Learning to Operate Tired


I once had a boss who said only one thing to me that turned out to be right – and it had nothing to do with work. He told me when I announced that my wife was pregnant, “You will now learn how to live just about the rest of your life tired.”

Boy, was he ever right.

Now, I could go on a completely different tangent on that boss and how wrong he was so many other times, but that’s a story for a different blog. So, for the sake of the PBM we’ll focus on this one thing he said to me that actually made sense.

I, like many first time parents, learned very quickly how different life is with kids and how tired you quickly become. The first night we brought the twins (Junior Bear and Peanut Bear) home from the hospital, my wife and I stayed up all night just starring at them as they slept. We were so paranoid that something bad would happen that we just sat on the edge of the bed and looked at them.

So, from that night nearly six years ago, I have been playing catch-up in the sleep department.

After we realized nothing would happen to them if we fell asleep, I can remember that we set our alarm clock for every three hours to feed them. The docs at the hospital told us the kids needed to have a bottle that often, so we carried that schedule into the wee hours of the morning. Also, since we had twins we also wanted to keep them on the same feeding and sleeping schedule, otherwise we might’ve been feeding and staying up around the clock.

Then, as the kids began sleeping a little longer and required only one overnight feeding, that’s when things really became interesting (for me at least). Since I was home during the day, I took many of the overnight feedings to allow Mama Bear the consecutive hours of sleep leading into work.

At this point, let me add that we formula fed the kids. We heard all the stories and got all the pressure from the nurses at the hospital on breast feeding, but with twins and a working mom, it just wasn’t going to work.

Here is my contractually required tangent…

Honestly, though, is everyone who is pro-breast feeding part of some kind of cult? I can’t tell you the pressure we felt from the nurses at the hospital. It honestly got to the point when I had to kick the nurse out of the room because she was making us very uncomfortable. I repeat, I kicked a nurse out of our hospital room!!! True story: At one point she told us our kids wouldn’t be smart if Mama Bear didn’t breast feed. Really?! Seriously?!

Trust me, for how much formula costs and how much we went through the first year, I would have much rather Mama Bear breast fed (if memory serves correct we spent around $3,000 in formula alone the first year), but breast feeding just wasn’t realistic with our situation.

Anyway, where was I?… Oh yeah, lack of sleep and overnight feedings.

As I said earlier the big theme of the first year with twins is keeping them on the same schedule. Same schedule and life is easy (relatively speaking), different eating and napping schedules and life is miserable.

So once we realized we could wait for Peanut Bear and Junior Bear to wake up to feed them, I would feed the kid who woke up first, then wake up the other (if they didn’t wake up on their own) to feed him or her, just to keep them on the, that’s right, same schedule. However, I realized that this wasn’t the best way to waste an hour of my life at 3 am. So, I had to come up with a different plan and that’s when the boppy became my best friend.

I would take both kids to the couch, put one kid in the boppy on my lap with the head on my right thigh to feed with my left hand, and the other kid on the boppy on the couch directly next to my right thigh with her head closer to me and fed with right hand.

The only downside -- I became such a pro at this set up I often fell asleep in the middle of the feeding. And since I rarely noted what time it was when I got up to begin the feeding, I had no idea how long I was asleep. I guess it really didn’t matter, but it was very frustrating when I put the kids back into bed only to have them get up an hour later hungry again.

Then there were the feedings at 6 am-ish. Mama Bear would more times than not take these feedings. She was up already getting ready for work and she would knock out the feedings to help out.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this was a big help, but there was a big down side – Papa Bear wasn’t ready to get up yet and the kids often were. At first this wasn’t a huge problem, but as the kids got older and I started working until 1 am every night, it really became a problem for Papa Bear.

Mama Bear would put the kids in bed with me and turn on TV so they could watch whatever was on PBS or Disney Channel or Noggin while I slowly got going. It was great when the kids fell right back to sleep, but when they were really ready to get up, I paid the price.

Often times, Peanut Bear, more so than Junior Bear, would find my face absolutely fascinating. While I was trying to sleep, she would put her little fingers in my ears, eyes, mouth and nose (that’s right, my nose).

Does anyone have any idea how annoying it is to have someone else stick their fingers in your face, especially when you’re asleep? It was so annoying for the seriously sleep deprived Papa Bear.

Now that the kids are older, it’s nice to be sleeping through the night…well kind of. Next week, in Part 2 of this series I’ll talk about how sleeping can be considered a contact sport -- in our house at least.

Twitter, Facebook or email Papa Bear.

2 comments:

3rd Wave Inc said...

An alarm clock is a necessity in every household to keep us on time with our daily activities especially if you're always on the go.

Tatiana @ averygoodyear said...

Oh man, I have fallen asleep feeding my daughter soooo many times. Fortunately I'm able to do the stay-at-home mom thing, so I can sleep whenever the heck she does, but sometimes I still think OH GOD I WANT TO SLEEP WHY CAN'T YOU LET ME SLEEEEEP?!