I fall asleep everywhere. Last week we went to the cardiologist to have my blood pressure evaluated further and Sam and I were the youngest people in a room surrounded by ancient artifacts of humans. I could hear a man probably in his eighties or nineties telling who may have been his caregiver a joke, and he was laughing away, full of so much life. Meanwhile, Sam and I, the youngest two people in this room were sleeping on the waiting room couch like two junkies on the nod, almost dead. I went to get my nails done on Tuesday because I wanted to feel a little human again and I fell asleep when they started the foot massage. I fall asleep on the toilet sitting up in the middle of the night between feedings. I have a terrible fear of falling asleep sitting up feeding her and will nudge Sam to watch me and make sure my eyes are open because I don’t want to drop her. Despite all of this, I actually am getting more sleep now than I was the last month of being pregnant I think.
I texted Joelene a couple weeks before Ollie was born that I couldn’t wait for her to be here and finally get some sleep, she texted back with “hahahahahahahahahah.” She proceeded to tell me that yes, I would get some sleep, in a few years. I am getting more than I was getting before she was born, when I was up all night, unable to find a comfortable position, wide awake from laying down 22 hours out of the day (doctor’s orders). My legs would crawl and itch and jump and I would try to shove them under pillows and the crack in the couch in order to stop the jumping because it kept me up and slowly drove me insane until I would pray to god to stop the crawling and think about what sweet relief it would be to saw my legs off. I’m definitely sleeping more now. I get between 3 and 5 hours every night, depending on the night. And it turns out, I don’t really need more than that! I used to love sleep, it was my way of checking out, the way normal people may have a glass of wine. I find myself being more productive than I have been my whole life, on those 3 to 5 hours. There is just so much I want to do now. I haven’t even caught up on any of my shows during that time. In the 3 weeks we have been home I have watched only 2 hours of TV and that was both my recorded episodes of Below Deck, and I was barely paying attention because I was doing so many projects in between. I find myself, everytime Ollie shuts her eyes for a minute, making a mad dash to clean the house, wash the dishes, unpack boxes (we only moved in 12 days before she was born), add things into her baby book, work on my blog, fill out the various paperwork associated with having a child, order birth announcements. As they say in my secret society, the list goes on, ad infinitum.
The person who has had hardest time adapting to less sleep is Stewie, he is the only person I know who loved sleep more than me, pre Ollie. When we first brought Ollie home, Stewie was definitely wondering who the heck this attention stealing blob of flesh was. The first night he was thrilled to see that he still got to sleep in the bed with us and she would be sleeping in a rock n play on the floor. The day before Sam had to go back to work, I wanted to give him a full night’s sleep so that he would be well-rested for work. I woke up in the middle of the night to Ollie stirring and Stewie dry heaving which happens every once in a blue moon that he gets sick in the middle of the night and I am up all night with him, and I couldn’t believe his timing to choose tonight. I called him up in the bed and wrapped myself around him and cuddled him for hours, Ollie gave us a break and slept for a few hours so that I could tend to my first born who had an upset tummy. Poor Stewie, Sam and I find him during the day, trying to watch Ollie and he is nodding out too, with his eyes open. He is so strange, before Ollie, he was so skittish, and any strangers that came to the door, he would run and hide under the table like an elementary school kid in an earthquake drill. Since she came, he gets right in between Ollie and every person who walks across our threshold, he’s made it his mission without even being asked really, but it’s so hard to be a bodyguard when you are working with only a few hours of sleep. I look at him and my heart hurts, only the most selfless of beings would go from being the center of our universe to taking care of the new attention stealer and never complain once about it. I tell everyone Stewie is human, it offends me when someone calls him a dog because it offends him, but only a dog could make that sacrifice.
Despite all this sleep deprivation, we have a REALLY good baby. I mean, I have no prior experience to base this off of. I never really cared for babies until I had my own, so I wasn’t paying too much attention. Now all of a sudden I’m the corniest, gushiest human on the planet. I know I don’t have the market cornered on baby loving, but I care about other people’s children out of nowhere, or out of somewhere, out of Olivewhere. Although we have this tiny sleep terrorist, she is not crying all night long, she is just awake. According to witnesses to my infancy, I cried around the clock for the first year of my life, only stopping when taken on a car ride and as soon as the engine turned off I would start wailing again. But Ollie is just awake, she can’t figure out the difference between day and night yet, and she is ALWAYS hungry. Sam looks at her and her tummy looks like it may bust at the seams and she keeps eating. I can’t make milk fast enough to feed this hungry girl so we find ourselves in the middle of the night supplementing with formula when the milk vampire has drained my supply and my boobs feel like they have been cut open from the inside out with razor blades. My friend Alissa had a baby two weeks before us, it’s her second so she is a bit more evolved than myself. She says anytime Marlo breaks the cycle or is up all night when he slept the whole night before, she just says to herself, “growth spurt.” So when Sam is freaking out, saying he thinks we may be overfeeding our child, I just say, “she’s going through a growth spurt, and we can’t put our baby on a diet, she’s not a goldfish who will eat until she explodes, she will stop, when she is full.”
So what do I do during these sometimes 3 or 4 hour awake stretches at night? One of three things. One, I online shop, because I was on bed rest that last month and we didn’t have our house until 12 days before she was born, I never got to nest. Women have a cavewoman pull and desire to build a nice home for their babies, I was deprived of this. So I shop for house stuff, for anything and everything we need, the list never stops. Two, I look up baby questions I have. This is a very interesting one because during my pregnancy, I forbade myself to go online and research symptoms, I spent the first three months doing that and every time I went online, I was convinced I was going to have a miscarriage. I had a pretty difficult pregnancy between a barrage of different health problems and a very dark depression that could have been situational (read blog “A River (of Shit) Runs Through It,” but I think it was deeper than that. Now that she is here, I look up everything, because I know nothing about babies; can she get a regular bath if the majority of her cord has fallen off but there is still a little piece or do I continue sponge baths? Is it safe to take her out in public before her first round of shots at 2 months? Is it normal that she holds a bottle on her own or is she a genius? Is it normal that she already grabs her feet, or is she a genius? Does every mother thing their baby is a genius? Three, I research ways to improve milk supply. I start with why is my milk supply low? I get tons of ads for supplements to improve milk supply. I see huge bruises on my legs that were not the result of hitting anything, they just appeared. I was anemic during pregnancy and the doctor said it could happen again postpartum, I google, does anemia cause low milk supply, yes, it does! Eat more meat, you can’t take Iron supplements when breast feeding. Then there is the coconut oil. We started mixing in a teaspoon of coconut oil to Stewie’s food a few weeks ago because he was chewing his paws like crazy and I read that that would help. Within days of starting this, his coat felt nicer, his breath smelled better, he finally started losing some weight after trying so many doggie diets at the vet’s recommendation for the past few years. The only thing the coconut oil didn’t help, was Stewie chewing his paws.. So coincidentally, I also find that this miracle potion, will increase milk supply, I start putting 3 tablespoons of it a day in my oatmeal. Stewie and I both smell like Hawaii, coconut oil is seeping out of our pores. I start breaking out, probably because of something else pregnancy related and I put coconut oil on. I feel like the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding that thinks Windex will cure everything, but instead I’m promoting coconut oil. I pump every 3 hours, rain or shine to keep the milk going. I walk around the house with my lunchbox sized breast pump going, trying to get as much done as possible during these 20 minutes, because Sam has to hold Ollie while I pump if she is awake. This jersey cow is just trying to make milk.
Ilya and Caitlin came by this weekend with a huge basket for Ollie and a pillow of a Boxer that is the spitting image of Stewie as a housewarming gift. They understand me. I love dog people. They probably don’t know this but I still remember what they got us for our wedding present, they bought us the one gift that was actually for Stewie on our registry, a big plush dog bed. A few nights later, Stewie doesn’t come into bed, perhaps he thinks he will sleep better on the couch.I go out to kiss him goodnight and he is on the couch curled up in front of his new pillow with his face nose to nose with the dog on the pillow.I have a stabbing in my gut that he believes we have bought him this new fake dog pillow friend to replace us in his lives and we want him to be best friends with this pillow now. I wonder if it is a coincidence and he just fell asleep in that position, so I look between him and the pillow to see if his eyes are closed, but they are open, and he is looking soulfully at the fake dog embroidered on the pillow, perhaps longing for him to wake up like the Velveteen Rabbit. I can't help but wonder if Stewie thinks the pillow is his new friend, his only friend. I give him a big kiss and a cuddle and ask him to get up and come to bed but he doesn’t want to tonight, tonight he wants to sleep on his own in the living room, I give him his space.
I wake up on Tuesday, the morning after Stewie slept alone. We have gotten a lot of sleep! I hear Sam's voice calling Stewie in the distance (he's really just right behind me but he sounds a million miles away). Stewie comes running in and jumps into bed with us. I lay between Sam and Stewie and Ollie.....I know it's the perfect kodak moment but like so many other perfect shots, there is nobody here to take a picture. So I close my eyes and try to suck up every sensory memory from this moment in a mental snapshot and remember it later today and Wednesday and Thursday when she goes back to barely sleeping at all.