how do new parents cope with sleep deprivation?
February 26, 2007 7:59 PM   Subscribe

Parents, tell me: how do you cope with the sleep deprivation that comes with the territory of having a baby?

My boyfriend and I are in our late 30s, have been together several years, starting to talk seriously about getting engaged. He wants children, while I (in a twist on the "women in their 30s are desperate to have babies" stereotype) am not sure anymore, even though I adore kids and have always assumed I'd have them.

I realized today that one of my main fears (besides the financial side of things) is the seemingly-endless sleep deprivation that my friends/family indicate goes on for years. YEARS! Years of not getting a decent night's sleep?! I feel so physically shattered after just a few days of insomnia that the idea of being sleep deprived for so long honestly terrifies me. I mean, there's a reason sleep deprivation is a form of torture, right?

Is this fear overblown? My boyfriend thinks it's a simple matter of "get up, feed baby, go back to sleep, then nap when the baby's napping," but in observing my zombie-like friends/family with kids, this notion seems to be a total fantasy. How have all you parents out there coped? And are these just normal "oh my god, I'm really thinking about starting a family with someone" jitters?

P.S. this is anon because I don't want to publicly let the cat out of the bag yet regarding my possible engagement. I mean, our families don't even know yet! ;)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
How does the sleep deprivation go on for years? Babies cry in the middle of the night generally, infants dont, generally. Once they are rugrats you have a lot more control over their sleep schedule. This seems like a strange thing to be worried about when thinking about having kids; it seems like it should be a minor consideration if you really have problems with sleep deprivation more than the average person. But it kind of just seems like you dont want kids if you are worried about something like this. A genuine issue is something like can you afford to have kids. Kids cost a lot of money and it would be irresponsible to have them without being able to budget for them. The getting woken up thing on the other hand...
posted by who else at 8:06 PM on February 26, 2007

It's not that bad, and probably lasts for a year or so, depending on the baby. Right now it manifests in my daughter being an early riser (around 6am), which I've gotten used to by going to bed earlier (~11pm instead of after 1am).
posted by mathowie at 8:11 PM on February 26, 2007

You will, as a mother, NEVER sleep the same again.
My "kids" are grown and I still maintain an "if the phone rings I'll wake up" level of sleep...
BC (before children) life was so different. sigh.
Here's the thing about kids. They'll most likely bring you equal amounts of happiness and misery. Toddlers are really, really, cute. That's why we don't kill them.
LOL. Parenting. I recommend it.
posted by bkiddo at 8:17 PM on February 26, 2007 [3 favorites]

Congrats on your engagement!

Sleep deprivation: typically, yes, there is some, particularly during the first 3 months when the child needs to be fed every 2.5-3hrs. You either sleep during he/she sleeps or you pump breast milk and let your husband feed it with the bottle while you are taking a longer nap.

I myself never thought I could survive on intermittent sleep and I did it. If you knew me, you would probably be amazed yourself.

That said, of course, there are children who might be more difficult to handle regarding sleep. And there might be times (sickness, jet lag, or anything) that even "easy-going" children can't easily sleep. However, there are many methods to address this and people have done it. As in everything else during child rearing, you will find that you need a balanced combination of personal strength and/or supporting environment.

I would imagine it might a general fear of the endeavor that makes you uncomfortable, which is a good thing to rationalize on, though!
posted by carmina at 8:18 PM on February 26, 2007

I have not slept in six years. And I applaud you for actually considering this factor when so many people think it's no big deal. It was/is a huge deal for me to be sleep deprived. I get very depressed and frustrated. For me, when I wake up/get woken up it takes me literally hours to get back to sleep. I'm a lousy sleeper to begin with and kids have made it much worse.

The whole "nap when baby's napping" thing sounds nice. But take my first child - she never slept. I mean she'd take 15 minute catnaps here and there but nothing substantial. It was horrible. I would put her down to sleep and I would decide to do the "sleep when baby is sleeping" thing and as soon as I hit the pillow, she'd be up. I got so frustrated.

So, I think your fear is a rational one especially since you know what it is like to be stricken with insomnia or some sort of sleep deprivation. You are ahead of the game - you kind of know what to expect and how you will feel with lack of sleep. That means you can take some precautionary measures to avoid severe sleep deprivation and problems associated with it. Perhaps you and BF could bottlefeed the baby at night. That means you can take shifts with who gets up to feed and change the baby. This also means that if baby is used to a bottle, you can have someone babysit or take care of the baby while you take naps or whatever.

Sleep deprivation is a big deal; it's a huge deal. BUT there are ways to make it better and not so bad.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:25 PM on February 26, 2007

My daughter hates to sleep, so I speak from experience.

That whole "just sleep when the baby sleeps" thing doesn't work. Before she was born, I was reading books about how a newborn would need to sleep 16+ hours a day, thinking that I would get plenty of sleep. But my daughter took all of her sleep in 15-minute increments. Getting a whole hour of sleep in a row was a luxury for me.

The first 3 months were pretty much hell. This was made worse by the fact that my husband's parents are not the type to babysit or help out, and my parents live out-of-state. I think that some family support, like having someone willing to come over and hold the baby while you take a 2-hour nap once in a while, is valuable.

However, you just dive in and deal with it. What other choice do you have? Many nights I caught brief snippets of sleep rocking my baby in the recliner in our living room. When she woke at night I would take her and sleep with her on the couch, since she seemed to sleep a little bit better next to me and I didn't want to disturb my husband.

But it was worth it ... just like I could not image life with a child before, I cannot imagine life without her now.

She's 2 now, and for the most part the extreme sleep deprivation is over. She sleeps from 8:30 p.m. until 7:30-8 a.m., sometimes waking once.
posted by Ostara at 8:45 PM on February 26, 2007

It's hard to predict if the sleep issue will be a big deal or not. Some of my friends have kids who have slept well form the beginning. Me, my son generally wakes up once a night, even at 14 months. He also gets up early, about 6 am. What's working for us right now is we take turns each night. This way we each get a full night's sleep (more or less) every other night. It's not ideal (especially with everyone now sick) but it's better than no sleep! And I'm in my mid/late 30s, too.

Bottom line: sleep might be an issue, but it's not likely to be an issue forever. And you may luck out and get a baby who sleeps great!
posted by debgpi at 9:02 PM on February 26, 2007

In my experience, the most intense sleep deprivation happened during the first three weeks. I don't have many memories during this time, really. I remember feeling warm soft cuddly feelings but they are mostly a blur because my son was so new. Post partum blues can also influence sleep loss.

If you have a relative, or a very, very good friend, you can break up the nursing duties into shifts, during those first weeks. For example, I pumped like a dairy cow all day long while I looked after the baby. When he wasn't nursing, I was pumping. My mom took the 10 pm to 4am shift, my husband took the 4 am to 10 am shift and I got the baby from 10 am to 10 pm. My husband and I couldn't afford him taking a long family leave, so he'd go to work after that. Then he'd get home around 8 pm, and we'd start all over again.

Typically, breastfed babies nurse more frequently, so I allowed my son to co-sleep with us till he was about 1 year old. YMMV on that, it worked for us. Co-sleeping or having the crib in your room can be advantageous because you won't have to stumble as far. Many people transition their babies to cribs around 4 months of age. After he moved into the crib, my sleep improved by an order of magnitude.

I require 9 hours of sleep to maintain my sanity and health. I didn't get it during the first year of my son's life, but I got it regularly thereafter. Now my night waking happens when he's sick or scared, but overall I get the sleep I need. The sleep after having a child is different. I can still sleep through earthquakes but am up the instant I hear my son cry. Parenting changes our ears, I swear. The best thing about having children and sleep? I am sound asleep within 3 minutes of my head hitting the pillow. That's bliss, for me.
posted by luminous phenomena at 9:09 PM on February 26, 2007

It all depends on the baby you get. My kid sleeps 6 hours at a stretch at 10 weeks old. (hope she will keep this up, touch wood!) 6 hours is a reasonable sleep, and if I get the subsequent 2-3 hours before the next feeding, I'm golden.

I have also struggled with insomnia for years. My insomnia was characterized by night wakings, so I am used to waking up in the night. (I got to practice a lot when I was pregnant, lucky me!) It's really tough when you have to wake 3 or more times. I find that one long waking or two short wakings are ok. I can function on 2 good sleeps a week, and I can and will make them happen. I have on hand a sleep aid that doesn't make baby excessively sleepy, ear plugs, a willing spouse, and bottle feeding equipment. Many people can function on a few good sleeps a week.

I think the zombie look comes from the fact that many parents do not sit down from the 6 am wake up call to the 8-9 pm bedtime, when it's time to do the dishes and the laundry. They may sleep ok but they're certainly busy as hell.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:10 PM on February 26, 2007

I'm historically a 12-hour-a-night girl. I don't know how I've managed life with two children, 19 months apart, but I have. I don't even really think about it.

I have never napped in my life, much less "when the baby naps", but I did get damn good at breastfeeding while lying down, and I chose to at least try cosleeping with the babies to maximize the sleepage (it worked well with one of them, not so well with the other). My partner and I have also worked out various tradeoffs at different times, which we revisit as needed.

I gotta say, having the kids close together (which we did on purpose) pretty much wrapped the worst of the sleep problems up in a short timeframe of our parental lives. My kids are 4 and 2.5 and I haven't had to deal with regular night-waking in close to two years. They get up early as hell, but that just gives us grownups time to do a little morning yoga/coffee/paper reading while the kids eat cereal at the asscrack of dawn.
posted by padraigin at 9:15 PM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I fully expect many of the other parents here to hate me, and I know by saying this that our next child will be a sleep terror, but I have a very easy 2 month old - possibly the best baby ever. Generally she goes to bed around 10:30 - 11:00 (moving steadily earlier from midnight). She wakes once or at most twice to eat and then goest immediately back to bed, getting up at 9:30 or so. Naps during the daytime are at least an hour long.

Generally we'll go to bed when the baby does, and my wife gets up to feed her in the middle of the night. If she's feeling extra tired she'll go to bed early to get a head start and I'll stay up and do the last feeding with a bottle and/or she'll take a daytime nap. Neither of us is much more tired than we were before.

Again - we are extemely lucky. Our baby never had day/night confusion and puts herself to sleep silently when it's time to go to bed. I'll say that if you plan to breastfeed the first weeks will be the hardest, since they recommend that you don't introduce a bottle right away and your baby will want to eat more often that at any other time.
posted by true at 9:15 PM on February 26, 2007

What everyone else said.

Also, there's that scary night the first time they sleep right through, when you wake up in the morning and think "omigod the baby's dead!"

Have you ever done shiftwork? It's like that. You adjust. It's never as good as a "normal" existence but you cope and get used to it.

My daughter started sleeping through the whole night at about 14 months, but she went to waking only once per night a lot earlier than that. It really does depend on the child. I'm inclined to wonder whether the hugely varying reports of the success of different sleep methods is really the variance in children's innate sleep preferences.

You do have the advantage in your 30s that you should have more financial resources. When you're in your 20s you can't afford home help or takeout food or anything that makes your life easier. When you're older often you can, and that sweetens the fatigue quite a lot.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:30 PM on February 26, 2007

It does not go on for years for any but a very unlucky few. Most infants resolve to a regular sleeping period of 9-12 hours somewhere between 6 and 18 months, and often hit milestones (longer periods and down to one or two interruptions in the night) that make it manageable by 6-8 weeks (I'm sure your 2 month old is the best baby ever, true, but what you describe is really not that unusual). Generally, though, the first few months are unquestionably rough.

Of course I'm operating on the bias of my own experience, but I firmly believe that parents can have a significant impact on their child developing healthy sleep habits. By nine months I was sleeping as well as I ever did.
posted by nanojath at 9:51 PM on February 26, 2007

  • Short answer: like a lot of other people have said, "you get used to it".
  • Longer answer: I remember saying this at the time (just over a year ago), "it's not that you don't sleep, it's just that you don't sleep for more than two hours". I was partly joking, but although eight uninterrupted hours is great, you'll take whatever sleep you can get and it's better than nothing.
  • Longer answer again: after the first two or three months the baby should be sleeping much more reliably and although you still won't necessarily get your eight hours, there's a big difference between "being woken by loud crying every couple of hours" and "you get four hours' sleep, baby whinges a bit, you shove the bottle in the baby's mouth on autopilot, you get another four hours' sleep". That's not insomnia, that's no worse than getting up to pee. Yes, if you were truly sleep deprived, even for a week, you'd go insane, and if that's literally what happens to you when you have a baby, you will very much need help and support. But saying "sleep deprivation is torture" is like saying "starvation is torture". If all goes well, you won't be starved, you'll just be on a rather unpredictable diet.
I still remember when our baby slept through the night for the first time. February 24, 2006. I remember it like it was yesterday, it was such a great feeling.

It was also the last time he slept through the night. He was just kidding, it seems.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:09 PM on February 26, 2007

I am the stay-at-home father of a two-year-old, so I am primarily the one in charge of getting up at night when necessary. I am also a lifelong insomniac. Let me say right now that these two things do not work well together; if you are already having trouble sleeping at night, adding a baby to the mix is going to be a, uh, challenge. When my wife was pregnant I stupidly assumed that my insomnia would make getting up with a baby not that bad, since "hey, I'll be awake anyway." Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that -- he usually wakes up shortly after I finally get to sleep, so I have to start over again. It doesn't sound that bad right now, but if you're an insomniac, you know that it's practically suicide material at 4:30 in the morning.

However, many children apparently sleep reliably through the night for a dozen hours by their first birthday. Their parents are invariably smug about it, and will be happy to advise you that you must be doing something wrong, since otherwise your monster would be sleeping as beautifully as their little angels. Deal with these jackasses with a swift cockpunch, in the case of men, or by asking the women why they look so tired today. Such delightful cherubim shouldn't cause such bags under the eyes, should they?

posted by Vercingetorix at 10:40 PM on February 26, 2007 [5 favorites]

We're going through this right now with a 5-week old baby. Before the baby came, I never thought I'd cope - I used to be a zombie if I didn't have ten hours of sleep. The first couple of weeks had a nightmarish quality, but only at night for some reason - once the sun came up, we were fine no matter how much or how little sleep we'd had. He's still 2-3 hours on, 2-3 hours off, but we don't feel sleep deprived. It's amazing how well you cope - even a half hour nap on the couch with the baby on your chest is enough to make you feel alive again. Once in a while we get four hours, and it's like you slept in all day.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:45 PM on February 26, 2007

It isn't years. I have 4 kids (so far), two of whom are twins. Yes, there are sleep issues at first but they start being *able* to sleep through the night anywhere from 9 months to a year. And if you are breast-feeding (which you should be unless there's a specific medical reason you can't) it's not to hard to nurse a baby while mostly-asleep in a chair. Even with twins, many times I would wake up in the morning to find my wife asleep in the chair with two babies. Sleeping semi-erect with two babies on you isn't the most comfortable, but it's better than walking around with a bottle.

As for whether the baby *will* sleep through the night: Some babies are just plain bad, there's no denying that. But, and I speak from experience on this, the main problem is the parents. With your first baby, if they make a tiny peep you want to rush in there and snatch them up. By the time we got to the twins, it was more like "she's only been crying for 20 minutes--let's give it another 10 and see if she's serious". Really, babies are very, very good at manipulating their parents.

The best advice is: They will only sleep through the night if they can put themselves back to sleep. That means that if they wake up and you know (from how much they need to eat and based on your personal knowledge of your particular baby) they can't be hungry, let. them. cry. At least for a while. I know how hard it is, since I'm the soft-hearted one and still want to rush right in, but giving them a few minutes and listening for escalation (and also getting used to your baby's different cries) is the best bet.
posted by DU at 4:18 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Become a heavier sleeper than your spouse.

Like the joke about the two guys running from a tiger, you don't have to outrun (sleep) the tiger, just the other guy.

Sorry, I'll be good now.
posted by mrbugsentry at 5:01 AM on February 27, 2007

You will get plenty of advice on how to get the baby to sleep, but I have no idea whether parenting or luck plays a bigger role in getting a child who sleeps. In any event, for our 2 year old the first 2-3 months were definitely the worst but have now faded into a distant memory. During that time we took shifts: I would go to bed right after dinner and when my wife gave out around 2-3 AM I would get up and spend the rest of the night with the baby; generally we were both able to get a few solid hours each night that way, with shorter naps throughout the day. It really wasn't as bad as we feared, but it definitely does need to be planned for.
posted by TedW at 6:44 AM on February 27, 2007

Listen to DU, he knows what he's talking about. I have three kids, and they've progressively gotten better at sleeping through the night. They have different personalities, and we've gotten better at letting them settle themselves down.

One of the things that worked for us was getting over sleep guilt. My wife was breast feeding, so I couldn't really do anything when babes woke up to be fed, so I slept through it. I took on the changing and the morning and day shift and let the wife sleep when she could.

Don't worry about the sleep, worry about the money.
posted by hilby at 7:10 AM on February 27, 2007

Look at the number of "sleep solution" books and methods there are out there. Obviously this is a big issue in people's lives.

"Children's poor sleep habits also take a toll on parents/caregivers, some of whom lose an estimated 200 hours of sleep a year due to their child's nighttime awakenings."

Our son turns 2 years old in May, and I can count on one hand the number of times he has slept through the night. Some nights are better than others, but he's usually up 3-4 times a night. The good nights are like little nuggets of gold.

Obviously, this lack of sleep can take a toll on the quality of whatever you do during the day.

The Good News: It's all worth it. Coffee is your friend.

Also, there's that scary night the first time they sleep right through, when you wake up in the morning and think "omigod the baby's dead!"

Ha! This is so true.
posted by Otis at 7:13 AM on February 27, 2007

I've learned ONE BASIC THING as the proud father of a happy six-month old:
Sorry to shout about it; I shared your fears, but it is Good Good Good.
Don't wait until you're an old man of 44 (like me) to do this!
posted by Dizzy at 7:16 AM on February 27, 2007

This problem is unique to Western societies. Cosleeping is the answer, and is practiced worldwide. Our boy is 2, and has never had his own bed or nursery or whatever. He was born at home, and was sleeping with us in our bed 3 hours after he was born. We have many friends who "fell into" cosleeping, but we did it intentionally from the start.

Around the time he turned one, I heard my wife tell a friend that she could easily count on both hands the number of mornings she had felt tired from inadequate sleep the night before. I'm sure there have been more since then, but it's never more than once a month.

The rhythm of the night is a beautiful thing. As soon as baby starts to stir, rooting around for the nipple, mama wakes just enough to pull him in to latch on and he nurses back to deep sleep. Neither of them are ever fully awake.

Some Cosleeping Articles.
posted by Bradley at 7:51 AM on February 27, 2007

I breast fed my daughter and after the first few weeks of getting up at night to nurse her, I wised up and stuck her in the bed with us. I'd lay on my side and she'd nurse and I'd doze and we'd all be back to sleep in no time. I went back to work when she was 10 weeks old and couldn't afford to be a zombie at work so she continued to sleep with us and it worked out fine.

When she started crawling she crawled off the bed one morning after we'd gotten up. so I put a futon mattress on the floor beside the bed and slept with her there for a long time. Yes, we looked like hippie/refugees, but we were sleeping and she was safe.

I breast fed until she was 3 1/2 (probably another topic for another thread) and she continued to wake up for "the boobie" once or twice a night. I slowly weaned her off at that point.

The idea, I guess, is that you do what you have to do to take care of your baby, and although it may not be easy, whatever the difficulties are, they don't last forever and it's definitely worth it.

One more thing, if you're considering having children. By all means, read a lot about everything, but don't let it freak you out. You can find a book or article to support any child rearing philosophy you can think of (family bed, no family bed, cry it out, don't cry it out, etc., etc.) It's your baby, do what feels right for your family and only consult the "experts" when you have a real question or something isn't working for you. Good luck with everything!
posted by BluGnu at 7:52 AM on February 27, 2007

Also, I don't really think that babies are "designed" to sleep through the night apart from us for our convenience. They're tiny helpless creatures, meant to be held close, protected, treasured, and enjoyed.

And even with out boy in our bed, all of us sleeping peacefully, there's never been a night when he "slept through the night". It's not something we've ever discussed or wished for. Our job is simply to meet his needs. He'll go 6 hours at the most before needing to nurse, but it's never a disruption.

The belief in babies being "manipulative" is also very foreign to us. Babies have needs. Babies communicate needs. End of story.
posted by Bradley at 7:59 AM on February 27, 2007

The belief in babies being "manipulative" is also very foreign to us.

Then I suggest you read The Extended Phenotype. It is in babies' best interest to take more than it is in their parents' best interest to give, for one thing.

For another, will this child sleep with you until adulthood? And you've given up sex completely (since I assume you can't even put him down during the day, because of all the protecting and treasuring)?
posted by DU at 8:10 AM on February 27, 2007

Yeah, I'm chiming in late, and echoing a lot of what was said here already, but I'm the father of a 16-month old, who is just now sleeping through the night regularly. She's a high needs kid, very sensitive to noise and light when sleeping, and a bad napper.

How do you deal with it? You just do. You can't have a child and expect nothing to change, so you make the changes you have to. In our case, lights go off as soon as she's asleep, TV/Video Games are watched/played with headphones, and we make sure that we don't have anything noisy to do after bedtime or during naps.

Then, in the morning, she smiles when you get her out of bed, and says 'BYE BYE DAD-DOO!' as you walk out the door for work. It's totally worth it.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:13 AM on February 27, 2007

You'll catch up on sleep when you're dead. Haha. But really, the first few months are crazy (around 4 hours of sleep a night) but at some point when the kid is about 2 you get to catch up. My hubby and I used to take turns sleeping in on the weekends, but now we're all fuddy-duddies who wake up at 9 on a weekend regardless.
posted by frecklefaerie at 8:15 AM on February 27, 2007

Just so you know, this terrifies me too. I don't know how new parents do it.
posted by donajo at 8:35 AM on February 27, 2007

Oh, and whatever happens, ignore any advice that implies you are a bad parent for whatever sleep choices you make. The advice book industry thrives on guilt.

I have a friend who contemplated stalking Bill Sears and punching him out for guilting her into a disastrous co-sleeping arrangement. While I wouldn't condone violence, I love the image of angry parent meets know it all advice shill-er.
posted by mrbugsentry at 9:00 AM on February 27, 2007

Also, there's that scary night the first time they sleep right through, when you wake up in the morning and think "omigod the baby's dead!"

Shoot, I still do that with our 2+ year old. If I haven't heard her cough or grumble in a while, I'll peek in on her.

As others have noted, if you're going to exclusively breastfeed, you're most likely the one who's going to be a hurting unit. Not that Daddy won't get his share of rocking a bawling infant back to sleep, but it won't necessarily be a fair share.

Ours has always generally been a good sleeper. One thing I think might have helped, though this is purely speculation, is a little Pavlovian technique. We hung a little music and water noise playing thing on the side of her crib. When we put her down, we started the music. If she woke in the night, we started the music as we got her back to sleep. Naptime? Start the music. Eventually, we would hear her wake up a bit in the night, start the music herself, and fall back to sleep. She still hits the thing every so often, but less so now she's getting older.

The thing chews through D batteries like candy (the music player, not the kid), but it's been a life saver for two years running.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:08 AM on February 27, 2007

TV/Video Games are watched/played with headphones

According to my wife, you've never seen anything funnier than me jumping all around my living room, waving my arms, in complete silence when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl in 2002, when my daughter was a horrible-sleeping infant.

The first 6 months were hell -- she almost never slept in her crib -- always in our arms. After that, she got accustomed to the crib, but was still waking 3-4 times/night on average. On her second birthday we gave her a big girl bed, and she slept through the night that night for the first time ever, and since then she gets up maybe two or three times per month, but always right back to sleep (now 6).

We still don't remember how we did it, but we did. And it is CERTAINLY well worth it. And, yes, I woke her up when the Sox won.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:59 AM on February 27, 2007

We hung a little music and water noise playing thing on the side of her crib.

Oh yeah, we had the same thing, and it did work to some extent. I think they have remote controlled ones now, so you can turn it on from the doorway, to avoid the child seeing (and wanting) you (which is a big factor in a lot of the sleep-programming methods).
posted by Rock Steady at 10:01 AM on February 27, 2007

It sucks beyond belief. But you get used to it.
posted by selfmedicating at 10:42 AM on February 27, 2007

It is really hard. I have a four year old and a one year old; the baby has just started sleeping through in the last week or two, and weirdly we feel worse - as if we've just started to catch up on the lost sleep of the last year.

I think you need to have rillyrillyrilly wanted kids to get through the grim times. We did, and ours are the best ever, so that helps a lot :)
posted by rdc at 12:11 PM on February 27, 2007

It's completely random, I think. I laugh a little at people who believe devoutly that you as a parent can control this. You have some influence on your child's sleep habits, but they are individual people w/individual little biological clocks, just like we grown ups are. I slept incredibly well early on; my younger sister didn't sleep through the night til she was three. My first was a screaming terror the first three months, then slept beautifully, w/two long naps a day, forever after that. My baby is happy and angelic-slept 9 hours a night til 6 months old, and in the next six months she has almost never slept more than 3 hours straight. And barely naps.

I cope by giving up, largely, on housework. Trading sleep ins w/my spouse on weekend days. I used to have huge difficulties falling asleep, but now mostly fall asleep in minutes-sitting up, baby on chest, fully clothed, whatever chance I get. Try your best not to shoot hate-rays out of your eyes in the middle of the night.

I cosleep, but this baby is an active nurser and she makes it hard to sleep while nursing, while I could w/my first. If I didn't cosleep, I wouldn't sleep at all-if I had to get up and go across the house and sit up to nurse, I'd be wide awake at the end.
posted by purenitrous at 5:53 PM on February 27, 2007

Lots of great advice up-thread, so I will just ask:
If your boyfriend/fiance snored, would you think twice about marrying him?
Extrapolate as needed
posted by misterbrandt at 6:51 PM on February 27, 2007

misterbrandt: earplugs have saved my life. I go through them like. . .well, like lifesavers :)
posted by changeling at 9:09 PM on February 27, 2007

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