Thursday, March 29, 2007

a new mom's attempt at survival part II: to sleep, perchance to dream

ah, sleep...i vaguely remember so many people giving me a knowing smile when i was pregnant and saying things like, "be sure to sleep as much as you can now because, before you know it, you will be so sleep deprived!" i never really liked such comments. how did they know what MY baby would be like? why couldn't they say something encouraging instead? later, when tristan was about a month old, i remember walking around in a zombie-like state, wondering WHY in the WORLD nobody warned me? instead of throwing a happy baby shower, they should have thrown a mournful gathering where everyone could have explained exactly how painful and emotional and inadequate i was going to feel. i could no longer understand why people got all excited when told the news that we were expecting. why didn't they rather get a concerned look on their faces, while telling me that they'd be praying for me? at least then i might have had SOME clue as to how DIFFICULT it would all be.

before tristan came home from the hospital, we thought we had it all worked out. everyone we knew had used a bassinet for the first few weeks, keeping the baby at arms reach. we, however didn't think that was necessary. we set up his crib in his own room and added little foam "blocks" in the middle, to keep him kind of walled in and cozy. we were sure that by doing this, we wouldn't be awakened so many times by every little noise he made next to our bed. on leaving the hospital, however, the pediatrician recommended that we keep him as close as possible to our bed, in a bassinet. you see, he had swallowed a bit of meconium in utero and was having a lot of it come back out through coughing fits. we were to keep the bassinet angled so that he would have a smaller chance of choking. GREAT! that's what every new parent wants to hear: keep your baby close by so that you can hear if they start choking at night. if that wasn't enough to keep my eyes plastered wide open at night, tristan had a little "episode" when he was five days old. he stopped breathing for awhile and his lips turned blue. josh had to pound on his back to get him going again. then, later that night after i had fed him, it happened again. a phone call to the pediatrician gave us the news that it was only the result of an "immature digestive system" and that it shouldn't happen again. i don't think i've cried so often as i did over that next week. thankfully, my mom was helping us out and she did her best to keep me sane, but i literally lived in fear of my little boy suffocating. all through the night, my tired body slept fitfully, awaking every single hour. if it wasn't time to feed him, i'd turn on the light and put my hand on his chest to feel it rise and fall, or touch his head to make sure it was still warm. to be completely honest, i still check on him every time he naps and if i happen to awaken during the night. a scare like the one we had is not easily forgotten.

well, the day came when my husband told me it was time to move tristan from his "bassinet" (which was really just a plastic storage bin lined with blankets) in our room to his crib in the nursery waaaaay at the other end of the house. i fought it, but in the end he convinced me. "this is what baby monitors are for" he said. he was right; i realized that if i turned the monitor up loud enough, i could actually hear tristan breathing! gradually the volume on the monitor went lower and lower, but that didn't stop my mind from working overtime. when i wasn't giving tristan his middle of the night feeds, i was dreaming about it. actually, in my dreams i was always feeding him in our bed, then putting him beside me and falling asleep. moments later, i'd awaken and madly start ripping at the blankets, trying to find my little baby hidden somewhere in amongst them, probably suffocating. sometimes i'd actually think i had found him and i would walk in my sleep to the nursery, to put him back in his crib. there, i would discover that there was already a baby in the crib. i would look down to see the baby i was holding, discover that my arms were empty and that i had been dreaming, and would go back to bed. this would happen over and over, every night. often i would wake josh up, in a panic, saying "where is he? did you roll over him?" i would dream that he spit up in our bed, so i would get a cloth to wipe it up with, only to find that he wasn't in our bed after all. basically, i didn't have a single good hours sleep for about 8 weeks.

one evening i went to bed early and i suppose i had been dreaming that i was nursing tristan. josh came in the room to go to sleep and i got out of bed with my arms folded in front of me. it was dark and he couldn't see that well, so he asked me what i was doing "i'm just going to put tristan back into bed." puzzled that i seemed to be holding tristan even though josh had just checked on him, he asked me how long i had had him for. "oh, i just finished feeding him" i told josh. at this point, i began to wake up a little and wondered if i was just dreaming, but i felt tristan's head in one hand and his little bum in the other. then i looked down and realized that it wasn't tristan that i was cradling; it was my own chest! yup, he was small enough at that point (and i was big enough) that i suppose his head and my breast were approximately the same size and weight. both josh and i realized at the same time what was going on and we just about killed ourselves laughing. and, of course, the story has since been repeated many times to many people.

the dreams have quieted down quite a bit over the past few weeks, though an occasional one slips through. last night i thought that tristan was sleeping on josh's chest. it was so vivid that i even knew which sleeper he was wearing. i walked to josh's side of the bed and shook him, telling him to "give tristan to me so that i can put him in his crib". by now, josh is used to my nightly rambles, so he pretty much ignored me and turned over. i clued in right away that i had been dreaming. but that still didn't stop me from going to tristan's crib, peering over it, and watching his little chest rise and fall.


Rose said...

I think the reason nobody fully 'warns' you is that there is NOTHING they could ever say to actually prepare you for this so I guess they just try to share in the joy of it? Until you are in it, you would just think that's not going to be you.
I felt the exact same way after Keeran, especially being far from home like you. You start to think 'this must get easier or else nobody in their right mind would do it more than once, right?' Hang in there Heidi,(it seems like you have) what you are going through is so completely normal, and this too shall pass...

Jennifer said...

what we fear matters not, it's whether we bother to take those fears seriously.

Next pregnancy you announce I shall say 'oh you poor thing' ;)

sarah_dickenson said...

Hi Heidi!
I've been reading your very engaging blog since my mom (Aunt Marilyn) got me hooked on blogs in general! You are great at writing and it's neat to read about your life.
Now, you've got me a little freaked out about having a baby one day!! I guess it's good to have an idea of what I'll be getting myself into :)
Tristan is such an adorable baby and I will continue to be a freqent visitor to your blog.
All the best,
Cousin Sarah

Janet said...

Oh My! I don't even know what to say. What a wonderful caring mom you are. I to would go and watch Kolby sleep. He had mucus in his lungs that didn't all come out during birth and would cough it up at night, scary. I didn't know about Tristan not breathing, I started to cry when I read that. I think that your dreams were a reflection of that. You are doing such a great job. You will be in my prayers!

Z-Mama said...

You got me laughing out loud! Thanks, I needed that. And I am so glad to hear that your nights are becoming more consistent...especially after the visit from your parents!

corinne said...

It's great that you had some time with your parents. Every new mom needs their mom. I so know about the worrying and not sleeping. I had panic depression after our 4th child and it was awful but you know the time flies by and before you know it you will be helping Tristan with his science project. You do sound like you are having fun so enjoy him as a baby as much as you can and take any help that anyone offers. The sleep at night really helps eh? It makes the next day much easier to handle.

eipwek said...

Wow - I really thought this post was interesting. Boy, am I in for a big shock when our little one gets here!

Thank you for your prayers and that wonderful image of the Father reaching down and turning our baby. That's exactly what He did! Praise God!

Jennifer said...

...but I thought I hinted.

jtinworth said...

Heidi, Brian and I had such a good laugh at this blog, especially since I have been know to do some of the same things.

Brian will get into bed, and I will mumble "watch for Brenna's arms and legs", thinking that Brenna is somehow in danger. I've also been known to tell Brian not to crush the baby, while she's quite safe in her own crib.

Isn't it funny how motherhood can totally change things - like sleep? Thanks for sharing such a funny stage in your life.


Sorlil said...

oh dear sounds like you had a particularly tough time but I can totally relate to the feeding dreams and waking up in a panic wondering where the baby is. We don't have a separate nursery instead our bedrom is a nursery! So everytime I waken up and don't hear a noise from him I'm peering over his cradle and poking him to make sure he's ok!

Sharlene said...

Hi Heidi!

I don't know if you'll remember me, but I went to Valley Christian School for 2 years when you attended there yourself.I was a grade younger than you, last name Lamblin at the time.Well I'm still really good friends with Sarah Born and she let me know a while back about all this blogging business going on. So I checked her's out and also saw the links to your's and Shannon's and Leah's as well as a few of the other girls from back in the good ol' Valley days! Any who, I just checked yours out again today and couldn't believe that you just had a baby boy 2 months ago! Ironically I just had a baby girl on December 20th, 2006 just before Christmas, fun times that was! I named her Tianna Aliyah Oesch and from the sounds of things our baby's are very similar with the whole, mild colicky - eating on demand - needs to be cuddled and held alot, thing going on! Tianna is now just over 3 months old and seems to be getting better with her fussiness a little bit everyday. I do give her gripe water occasionally and find that it helps to calm her down as well as lot's of cuddle time and attention. Just wanted you to know that your not alone with superwomen showers and all the unwanted baby throw up all over your hair and clothes, (I had to change my shirt twice today!) I hear yah girl and my sentiments exactly! P.S I might start up a blog myself one of these days, in the meantime here's my email if you would like to get in touch...

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Dear Heidi;

Sometimes Josh is such an idiot. That is why God gave him you to help him. He is really cute, just sometimes (well, alot of the time) not so smart, you know what I mean?

I am so sorry he got the crazy idea that "it was time" to put Tristan in the other room, and use a baby monitor.

The transporting Tristian in the middle of the night job SHOULD then have fell to him!

It is really much easier to have the baby next to mommy until the baby is at the 12 lb mark, at which time the baby no longer physically requires feeding during the night.

At that point it is a simple matter to put the baby in the crib in the other room and ignore the "hungry" cries for a night or two.

Bless your heart girl. Not only should there have been a mournful gathering at the baby shower, there should also have been a sad gathering with lots of headshaking, and "you poor thing" statements at your bridal showers!
Helpmating the clueless is a lot of work!

Even us old married ladies who dearly love our smart, handsome husbands know the "helpmate" job never ends.

The part that does get better is as the husbands get older and wiser, they also realize that sometime they were idiots when they were younger.
Then they start regularly falling down and singing praises to their wife and plead that we never stop being such wisdom in the home.

They are always the head of the household, but later they realize even the strongest leader is only as good as their best advisors, and that would be us!

It is only while they are young and insecure in their role that they feel it is necessary to make "Authoritative Pronouncements" to their wives such as "it it time" or "You will..." and "In my house.." It is tough for them to know how to rule and lead, bless their hearts.

Keep up the good work as a mommy and a wife. What a lovely helpmate you have been.

Oh, and by the way, say hi to Josh for me.

heidi said...

i just couldn't let that last comment slip by without posting another in defense of my man. i know you meant it all in good humor, but i really have to say that my husband, in moving tristan to his crib, was only doing what he thought was best for me (helping me to get more sleep). i've never wanted him to wake up at night to get the baby for me because he has to wake up so early in the morning and then go off to work. a sleep-deprived mom who can take naps at home is much safer, in my opinion, than a sleep-deprived electrician trying to do his job.

my husband is not an idiot; he is actually quite intelligent and i have to say that we're both equally clueless and insecure in our rolls as new parents. it does take a lot of work to be a good helpmate, but being the head of the home often has bigger challenges and responsibilities and i couldn't have asked for a more loving, wonderful man to head up my household.

i do have to agree with you on one point, though: he IS really cute :)

with all kindness and sincerity,


Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Atta girl Heidi! Good answer!
You and Josh are learning the ropes together with a wonderful if challenging child, as well as how to work together on decisions both large and small.

I'm glad you didn't let the comments pass, that you took the time to think through how you felt about about Josh's decision to insist that T. get moved, and the outcome of that decision, as well as defending the decision as being made in your best interest.

If it helps at all, my husband was an electrian and also was attending apprenticeship school nights, and had to study the rest of the time while our babies were new borns.

I totally understand about a husband's need to sleep as an electrician. Hence my concern that arrangements for sleep for all concern worked for you in the end. I naturally would hate for lack of sleep to lead to a "shocking" outcome!

I do hope the sleeping arrangements at your place are working out for all concerned.

By the by...when's your next baby due?

(Just kidding, I know Josh needs his sleep, right? So you guys are simply sleeping for now. By the way, how close together were Josh and Jess again?)

Mark and Tamara said...

Heidi, I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. I'm at work - I'm supposed to be working! Instead I'm watching my cousin coddle her chest instead of her baby.....
....too funny.

So happy to hear that Tristan's doing better with naps, etc. Sounds like you're having more fun.


Rachel Z said...

oh dear, I had a good laugh at this one. Mostly because I have done the exact same things. I didn't have the crazy searching through the bed with Marty like I did with Max (I used to grab Paul, thinking he was the baby and didn't understand why I couldn't pick him up easily.) But I still check on them both, several times in the evening and pretty much every nap time. I don't think that ever stops.
I appreciate your candor in sharing the joys and woes of parenting.