Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sweet Elusive Sleep

My babies spent four days in the hospital nursery before we took them home. I distinctly remember putting on their tiny little preemie outfits, which were too big for them (they were five weeks premature, but very healthy). David and I tucked them in their car seats and looked at each other, knowing what the other was thinking. The hospital is letting us take them home. Just like that. What do we know about parenthood. I remember crying at home later, because I was sure that I would do something wrong and these little beauties, smaller than our cats, would not live.

What I didn't realize was that God gave babies an alarm system. Every three hours, 24/7, they cried. David and I would wake up and he'd get Summerlyn this time and I'd get Sydney. I breastfed one and he didn't breastfeed the other. I didn't make enough milk to feed both girls all day, so I pumped every day for a year (watching my cracked and bleeding nipples sucked 1 1/2 inches into the tube...oh, sorry, too much information).

Then we'd change their diapers (or maybe we did that first, it's all such a psychotic blur) and wrap them into tiny bundles like pupae and layed them side by side in their bassinet. They shut their tiny eyes and fall into baby slumber, pacifiers periodically quivering. We crashed into bed, trying to squeeze all the sleep possible out of the next three hours. Then the baby alarms would go off "Waaaaaaa!!!!" and we repeated the cycle. Every three hours. For SEVEN MONTHS.

You see, we never had children before, and the parents we knew never had twins and so didn't know what was "normal." It wasn't until the babies seventh month check up that their pediatrician told us they could have been sleeping through the night by five months. When she said that David and I looked right at the girls, blearily, "why you little...." The doctor just chuckled. Oh. Very. Funny.

Who knew how long this would have lasted had the doctor not told us? They are nearly five now -- would they still be waking up at 0200, "Mama! Daddy! I'm hungry! Peanut butter and jelly sandwich!" Sounds absurd, but you may not grasp the full psychoses of the sleep-deprived mind. At least by 13 years we could have just scheduled an ongoing, rotating delivery from the nearest 24 hour pizza shop.

That night we put them in their crib and turned the light off. Three hours later the alarm went off, "waaaaaa!!!" David and I just rolled over and sighed happily. (Yes, we checked them and comforted them, of course.) It wasn't easy, but within three nights they slept. 12. Blessed. Hours.


At Monday, April 03, 2006 10:42:00 PM, Blogger Twinmama said...

I came here via your Dooce comment...wish somebody had told one of mine it was okay to sleep before she hit three! But anything's better than those early days...oy vey!

At Tuesday, April 04, 2006 5:22:00 AM, Anonymous lawbrat said...

'full psychoses of the sleep-deprived mind'- Here here!! Toast to you and hubby doing it with twins!

I thought my first one was going to make me die of no sleep. I wanted no more- one was enough. No sleep for the first year. Then they tell us!! He dosent need to be fed every 1.5 hours!
Hunter- slept 5-6 hrs from the get go. I'd wake up first! With pain! Needed him to eat.

At Tuesday, April 04, 2006 10:06:00 PM, Blogger Sheryle said...

Twinmama: Welcome! And please tell me you are kidding about three! Those early days are just a blur.

lawbrat: Hey, kid, glad to hear you're still alive with finals coming up. This too shall pass.

Amazing how different children can be, isn't it? I often wonder how they would have been if one didn't
wake the other from sleeping. Maybe I would have had a 3 hr one and a 6 hour one. Who knows?


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