I became seriously sleep deprived, especially in the first few weeks. There was no avoiding this. As a househusband it was my duty to take the brunt of the night shift because my wife had to be able to function at work in the daytime. If I fell asleep at the table no one was going to sack me (sad but true).
I have vivid memories of being up for a couple of hours at a time most nights with Small 2 who just did not want to sleep between 2:00am and 4:00am. Trying to put him down just caused a lot of noise, which meant both adults were missing sleep, so to make sure my wife could sleep I would take Small 2 downstairs and rock him whilst watching TV. At that time the only programme showing, other than commercials, was competition poker and I became quite an armchair expert, and addict. Small 2 kept up the routine until he was two.
He was unusual though. The other Smalls began to sleep for longer periods at about 4 months, once their Moro, or startle, reflex faded. This is a reflex that causes Small’s limbs to jerk in response to certain triggers: a loud noise, a change in temperature, sudden movement, even a bad dream. The reflex usually disappears by 4 months.
A full 8 hours sleep was not achieved much before 6 months. That’s 8 hours for Small. If we went to sleep a couple of hours after Small we only got 6, which would have been ok for a day or two but not continuously.
Before long I became so exhausted I could sleep anywhere. Unfortunately I was so wound up and wired into Small that I lived in a state of perpetual alertness and would wake at the slightest mummer from him. I used to sleep so lightly that I could be up, in Small’s room ready to take action, before the first cry erupted from his lungs.
Whilst this has been covered elsewhere, I tried to ignore other parents when they told me their Small had slept through the night since he was born. It made me feel inadequate. It also made me want to rip their heads off. Neither was a good emotion, although the latter had more merit. It proved not to be true anyway.
It should be pointed out that when faced with more than one Small the problems increase exponentially. Just as Small 2 has finally decided that he wants to sleep through the night, Small 1 will enter the nightmare phase, at its peak between the ages of 2 and 6.
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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