Our friends’ baby Tallulah is now eight weeks old. She’s kicking her parents’ asses with her newborn I’m-a-baby-so-I’ll-think-I’ll-cry-instead-of-sleep attitude, but—and this is important—she’s not mine, so I feel pretty relaxed about it. I recently said to them, “Boy, these first few weeks sure have gone by quickly!” and they were like, hmm, it’s been crawling by for us, what with the sleep deprivation and the, you know, crying. And then I mentioned how Henry sleeps 13 hours a night, and takes a two-hour nap every day, and how that day we all overslept because we forgot to set the alarm and Henry didn’t wake up until 10 a.m., and, well, it turns out that wasn’t something they wanted to hear. New parents are so sensitive.
Actually, I think our tales of Henry’s record-breaking sleep habits cheer them up, because I’m sure that they, like the we of 16 months ago, don’t really believe that Tallulah will ever, ever sleep through the night. Luckily we are here to give hope to the hopeless, perspective to the not-perspective-having.
Until Henry was around 4 months old, Scott and I were so sleep-deprived, we were probably clinically insane. Henry would sleep for, say, 45 minutes at a time, then wake up and remain awake--awake and pissed off--for hours. I would tell people that I now understood child abuse, then I would shriek “JUST KIDDING!” and laugh maniacally until they backed away. I spent all day graphing charts of Henry’s sleep and then staring at the paper as if a 3-D solution would eventually wobble into view.
We were tired.
Turns out that not sleeping makes you stupid, too. Scott and I fought all the time, but we were such morons that it was hard to take our conflicts seriously. We would have the kind of asinine, confused fights that you might have with someone if you’ve both just been awakened in the middle of the night and you’re trying to communicate some kind of dream-agenda, although you can no longer recall what you’ve said as soon as you’ve said it. Our fights went a little like this:
Setting: The living room. 7 p.m. I’m staring longingly into an empty brownie pan. Husband is glaring at the TV. Henry has just fallen asleep in his car seat.
Me: Did you do that thing? The, um…
Me: You know…(sigh).
Him: Wha--? How would I know? Wha--?
Me [glaring]: The thing! The—Jesus, never mind.
Him: What are you saying?
Me: Shut UP.
Him: Don't tell me to--God!
Me [sobbing]: Shut up shut up! Shut up!
Henry wakes up.
Me: [incomprehensible syllables amid sobs]
Him: [kicking coffee table]
And now! Lookit lookit! Henry sleeps, and our fights have become more sophisticated, with completed thoughts and proper nouns! There are several ways that we could probably take credit for this, but in the end, he just needed to get a little bigger. I guess it happens that way for everyone, or else some of us would be 34 and still need to be rocked and swaddled every night. And that would be creepy.
On a somewhat related note, I love this quote (From a non-news story on President Taft, of all people: “Taft's Nodding Off Attributed to Illness”)—the article notes that President Taft “was the most obviously sleepy person to ever inhabit the White House.” Apparently other presidents, like, say, Rutherford B. Hayes,* were drowsier, but better able to hide it.
*I love Rutherford B. Hayes.