Monday, 12 October 2009

Hey Mr Sandman

12th-15th September, 2009

One of the great clichés of being a new parent is that you don't get much sleep and are really tired all the time.  Neither part of this is wholly true.  You can get lots of sleep, just in one and half hour chunks and you'll be really, extraordinarily, mind-manglingly tired all the time.

The sleep pattern thing is odd.  During the first couple of days Nic and I manage to grab about as much sleep as we would usually.  The reason we're tired is that it's not good sleep.  As well as the general worry of looking after Alex, newborns are supposed to feed every three hours or less.  (And that's three hours from the start of the last feed, not the end.)  At best, we manage to get maybe 1.5-2 hours sleep in one go.  In the worst case, Alex will feed for an hour and a half, then take half an hour to settle.  That means he gets an hour's sleep before being woken to feed.  Nic and I are lucky to get 45 minutes.  Overall it might add up to eight to ten hours a day, but it's far from restful.

It's hard to describe just how tiring being constantly on-call like this actually is.  You pass through tiredness, into that magical second wind period, out the other side of that into dead tired and then go beyond dead tired into some previously unexplored nadir of sleep deprivation.  You become a shambling undead monstrosity, capable only of nappy changing and shoogling motions paired with shushing noises.  All hours of the day and night are equal to you.  You know you're a new parent when 3am seems like a good time for a chat with the in-laws, but curse their eternal souls for calling at the utterly unreasonable hour of 2pm.  I take advantage of the newly discovered hours in the day to put the bin out in the dead of night.

Even the times when Alex is asleep aren't really relaxing.  We suddenly have far more to do and far less time to do it in.  At one point I optimistically prepare dinner for an hour's time, at which point Alex should be asleep.  Three hours later we manage to shift-eat the cremated remains of a steak pie and baked potato.  I manage about five mouthfuls before giving up.

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The upside of all this stress and sleeplessness is that I'm losing weight!  The Bell side of my family loses their appetites when overly tired.  The Caldwell side loses theirs when stressed.  I am currently both and cannot manage more than a slice of toast in six hours.  I thought it was Nic who was meant to lose weight after the birth, not me.  Still, can't really complain.  Maybe we have a family breast size total that can't be exceeded?  As Nic's have got bigger, mine are getting smaller.  That's a win-win situation!

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