We were warned. So many experienced parents warned us that we should get all the sleep while we could because rest was about to become a rare commodity. We nodded and thanked the would-be heralds for their parenting advice. But, it all seemed so cliché — the midnight wailing baby and the exhausted parents. Like some sort of bad television trope, these ominous omens seemed over dramatic and more than well played out as cautionary tales of parenthood.
But, did we listen? We were naive. We were cocky. We were nonchalant. Hell, we were lucky. We were blessed with a daughter that would sleep through the night much more than not. Six to eight hours of blissful and uninterrupted slumber was the norm for much of the first year of our child’s life. We assumed that we had escaped the wraith of the wailing insomniac infant. We under the fictitious facade that we were the world’s greatest parents because our child slumbered through the night and our own sleeping patterns were affected by no more than a mere ripple of inconvenient interruptions.
Then Jean Louise turned one year old. As if a curse were suddenly awaken (so to speak) and her ability and willingness to sleep were greatly diminished. Now we are amazed if we manage to sleep though the night without having to get up and tend to her needs. Just last night, about an hour after putting our daughter down for the night, we heard her crying. My wife and I actually played three rounds of rock-paper-scissors to see who would go to her. Does that make us bad parents?
Jean Louise recently had her one year check-up with the pediatrician (in which she was pronounced as perfect — not to brag) and we asked the doctor about her recent anti-sleep routine. We were instructed that it was perfectly (again — she’s perfect) normal for infants to go through a regression when it comes to their sleep habits. Our daughter wasn’t torturing us for some future deep resentment that will fester later when she is a know-it-all teenager looking to rebel against her parents.
Now, my daughter does love a good bedtime story. And, even at her very young age, is developing a strong fondness for books. Which I greatly appreciate. But, she has apparently gotten her grubby little paws on a copy of Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Not only has she managed to read and understand the poem (which is an amazing achievement for a one year-old), she takes the opening verse quite literally.
Please do not read this post and interpret that I am airing any displeasure of being a parent, nor any animosity toward the apple of my eye, the center of my universe, the sole meaning of my existence — my daughter Jean Louise. This post is merely a smidgen of sleep deprivation dysphoria, as well as an apology to all of the other parents who warned us. Besides… Who needs sleep when you’re greeted first thing in the morning with a cherub smile like this…?