It is often said after doing something rather tiresome that one will “sleep like a baby.” I never really thought about this phrase as being complete and utter bullshit until the other night when I was trying to get to sleep and couldn’t. I could not get comfortable no matter in what position I would lie, and so I tried a favorite of both my daughters, the butt in the air, knees tucked tightly under one’s body, face plant into the pillow, bed or stuffed animal which happens to be nearby. And do you know what I discovered? Not only could I not sleep, but I’m f*cking fat too because I could feel every roll on my belly being shoved into my inner organs by my knees. You know what else I learned? I’m getting old. My knees creaked so much on the way into that position that you’d swear I was a set of old, wooden stairs. The girls, and other babies I know, always loved that position, and now that they are toddlers, I still see them giving it a whirl every now and then and sleeping soundly.
My recommendation? Do not try this at home.
And now that I was thoroughly uncomfortable and awake, my mind wandered to the crock of shit that is this expression in the first place. Sleep like a baby? Surely you can’t mean sleep like my babies, because my babies tended, and still do often, sleep like total crap.
After an unsuccessful, because I wouldn’t pay for it probably, search on Google, I was not able to find out where and when this lovely turn of phrase originated, but I realized that it doesn’t matter. Others online defended the phrase with explanations of- When a baby does sleep, it sleeps hard and you can’t wake it sometimes. You can pick the baby up and move it and it stays asleep. My niece had a baby that slept almost all night long almost immediately after she pushed his almost 10lb body out of her whoo-ha, and I was oh so very jealous. Happy for her, of course, but jealous that my own baby had not done the same, and was sure at the time that my new baby which would be born just a couple months later, wouldn’t either. And I was right. My first was more of the variety of if I let a breath escape or, gasp, made the floor creak, she was going to be wide awake as though the night had already passed.
Just the other night I was awake nine times and restless 23 times. It’s not because I have problems sleeping. It’s because I have two daughters. For a total of 1 hour and 11 minutes, I was up checking on, tending to and whatever else needed to be done to appease the
gods children. (Thank you FitBit for your wealth of knowledge. I wish I’d had you in the early days.) I know that’s all part of being a mom, and that one day it will stop and I will probably look back and miss being needed in that way, especially when the reasons are legitimate like being sick, or having a bad dream. But let’s be honest and just say that not always are the reasons legitimate and sometimes the little angry dictators just want to see how far they can push mommy-kins.
I remember when I first brought my oldest one home. My sister told me to let her spend the night in the nursery at the hospital, and the thought was just too much for the new mother to handle, so she didn’t listen. Then she proceeded to have her first taste of sleep with a breastfeeding newborn with latch issues and sleep issues and the happy family all came home. My sister came to visit me shortly after the homecoming, and when she walked in and saw me I remember her saying something to the effect of, “Oh this is worse than I thought.” She was super helpful, (I mean that legitimately rather than sarcastically as I would usually) and with the help of a lactation consultant, some things got better. But the reality of the sleep situation was that I would spend an eternity trying to get my lovely little daughter to sleep only to have her wake immediately upon putting her down and having to start all over again. She and I did the nightly battle for about 18 months when I had her sister, and miraculously she started being a bit better. No doubt, I was still doing nightly double duty, but it was an improvement. She is turning 4 soon, (sniff, sniff) and she sleeps pretty well. So for those of you with young babies, just hang in there! They do get older, and they will eventually sleep. It may literally take years… but it will happen.
And so you see, this is what happens when Mommy finds herself uncomfortable and unable to sleep. She ponders the really deep matters of life like who the crackpot was who first turned that truly awful phrase of “sleep like a baby.” At least I now know what to wish upon my worst enemies…