Back in the day, (1996 and then 2000 - 2007), Woody and I could hardly wait for Spring to come so we could hop a plane to New Orleans for our annual Jazz Fest binge. One of my favorite NOJF quotes has always been, “You can sleep when you are dead.” During this long weekend marathon you are pushed daily to drag your hangover to the fairgrounds where you gorge yourself under the blazing sun on food, drinks and an insane variety of musical acts and then you push on through to an early show (8-10 PM start time and then a late night show (1-2 AM start time) that often keeps you dancing ‘til sunrise. After a few hours of sleep you lather, rinse and repeat, getting a little more delirious with both joy and fatigue every day. By the end you are shredded. Well this year we missed what would have been our 10th Jazz Fest to welcome Finnja into our world and I haven’t slept since.
Last week I started back to work after 3 ½ months off and my re-entry into the "real world" was far from graceful. I cried at my desk all day Monday. I actually cried on and off all week but it was by far the worst Monday EVER! Everyone at work was extremely supportive which only made me cry more like the babyless baby I am. I guess there are some folks who look forward to the return to work so they can catch a break from the endless grind of parenting and maybe have some adult conversations about “thinking outside the box” and paradigm shifts, but I could have easily spent another 9 months babbling incoherently at my smiling "stinking cute" son. It reminded me a lot of college. Now don’t get me wrong, I like work, or at least I did. I’m a Senior Program/Project Manager working on Infrastructure projects and although that sounds dead sexy, it really is challenging and enjoyable. But that was all before Finnja. Now work means that someone else is playing with my Ninja all day and will be experiencing many of his “firsts” before me. Just the thought of that makes me want to go buy $1000 worth of mega millions tickets to up my chances of staying home.
It does help that his new caregivers are my friends Jena, Leslie and Kate. At least I don't have to worry that the minute I leave in the morning they will lock him in a closet and go out for a smoke break. They would at least bring him with them. Baby likes his Camel Lights! Seriously, Jena's daycare is top notch and my only worry was that he would like his new Mommies so much he wouldn't remember me. Turns out he does. Monday when I picked him up he was his typical smiley lovey self and he even managed to survive the deluge of tears as I clutched him to my bosom mumbling something about being sorry for growing him in my belly when I planned all along to shop his smiles out to someone else 75% of the time. Hey, at least I said smiles and not stem cells.
The first week back was as awful as I expected it would be, but luckily the Ninja wasn't sleeping either and he so graciously offered to share his head cold with me, so...yeah, AWFUL. Gone were the carefree sleepless nights that were buffered by sweet daily naps with my baby, but hey, "You can sleep when you're dead", right? Turns out the quote doesn't make dead mom walking want to push on through. I want to sleep now. Woody tried to help by taking the first shift at night but it turns out that if my baby is awake and/or crying then I am also AWAKE! Actually, not only awake, but also itching to back seat parent because it might just get us all to bed sooner. So annoying. So hard to resist.
Just in the nick of time our Doulas Sharon and Dani came for a visit and let me tell you, they are truly the gift that keeps on giving. They gave us some great ideas about how to make sleep work for us regardless of what the Finnja does. We were so busy logging his patterns and trying to make sense of every change that it was making us crazy. That night I dragged my body pillow, sound machine and ear plugs into the spare bedroom and when I woke up 6 hrs later I didn't know where I was. I haven't slept that soundly for over a year. Hallelujah! Last night I did the same with the help of the boy who slept his longest stretch yet. The birth of a beautiful pattern? Doubt it. Tonight he may wake up every hr from 12 - 6 AM, but we've learned to cherish the good nights without over analyzing every variable. With a couple good nights of sleep under my belt the world is a different place and Jena was right when she said every day would get easier. Last week seems so far away now. I probably shouldn't even admit this but on Tuesday (now my 2nd week back at work) I pulled into my garage still engrossed in a phone conversation with my Mom:
Mom: Are you home?
Me: Yeah just pulled in.
Mom: Who's picking up the baby?
Me: D'oh! Oh my god. Gotta go.