Redefining a good night’s sleep

Last night, I got a pretty good night’s sleep. Now, before you get jealous, let’s qualify that statement. Harley went to bed at around 10 after being a fussy nightmare from 5 in the evening. She slept until 2am, when I woke up and nursed her, getting her back to sleep by 2:30ish. She woke up again at 5am and went back to sleep at about 5:30, giving me ten minutes to lie back in bed before my alarm went off.

As little miss 8 hours sleep, I never would have believe 6.5 hours of interrupted sleep would ever feel like a glorious night of rest, but it seems that my body has adapted in the month since getting Harley home. In fact, I don’t even feel like I need a nap today (although I may reconsider this evening), and I feel full of energy. Maybe it’s all relative, though, and I feel so well rested as compared to what some nights have been like, but I think there are a few factors in that.

First of all, nursing has made a huge difference. It’s way easier to throw Harley on the boob in the wee hours of the morning and be able to relax as compared to getting up and giving her a bottle while also trying to breast pump at the same time. Plus, it means that those late nights are actually kind of magical – a time for us to bond and cuddle when the house is quiet. Contrary to what I imagined about being woken up in the middle of the night, I actually feel the fondest for Harley in those moments. She is just so tiny and so helpless and I am her source of happiness in the darkest times.

Second, I have started entertaining myself at night. I used to just stare at Harley, bonding and stuff but eventually just staring at her and hoping she would finish up so that I could get back into bed. It meant that I felt rushed with burping her or cuddling her to help her fall back to sleep, which inevitably meant that I would try to put her to bed too soon. This would get her upset, start the crying and I’d have to spend even longer getting her settled again. Now, I read my book (at the moment, Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, which is fantastic) late at night, and I get so caught up in it that I don’t notice the time going by. Two nights ago, she was up from 12-2am, and I didn’t even mind because I was so engrossed in what I was reading. No, the reading doesn’t distract from bonding time – I still cuddle her and stare at her from time to time, but at least I’m able to also keep my mind active.

Third, I’ve adjusted my expectations. I no longer expect to get a solid night’s sleep. I know that Harley’s tiny body just can’t hold enough breast milk to keep her full until the morning. She has to wake up to eat. Instead, I hope for her to go for 2-3 hour at a time so that I can sort of have a complete sleep cycle before she starts crying. As long as I can sleep in those stretches, I don’t mind waking up in the night. My worst was when she was waking up every 45 minutes… now that was pure hell. So no, 6.5 hours of interrupted sleep might not be ideal, but in my world of understanding the tiny human I’m looking after, it’s pretty damn great.


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