Monday, October 26, 2009

Blame the Sleep Deprivation

Parenting a toddler has its challenges, and I'm not minimizing them, but it is so much easier now than it was around this time last year. Around this time last year, I decided to take Ben on a road trip to visit friends in Philadelphia, DC, Charlottesville, DC again, and New Jersey. It was going to take nearly two weeks. In my mind, if I didn't embark on this insane journey with him, I would never go anywhere or see anyone again. At the time, he was sleeping three or four hours at a stretch and was a fairly typically mercurial four-month-old. We got as far as Philadelphia, and he woke up and needed to be nursed back down often enough overnight that I knew I'd never make it on that kind of crappy sleep, and it was much better to turn back while still mostly functional than press on and get farther from home before having to make the same decision.

And that was fine. I missed seeing the other people, but what mattered was that I'd made the attempt. But what's significant when I look back on it is that I'm sure I really didn't grasp that Ben would grow out of that sleep insanity, that in a year he'd be relatively easy to travel with, that even if I didn't take him on road trips as an infant, he'd eventually be ok with travel just by virtue of being a little kid instead of a baby. Not that travel with a little kid doesn't have its own issues.

What I'm getting at (not very cogently) is that it's kind of astounding how blind I was as the parent of a newborn to the notion that infancy would, you know, end. That no matter how crazy it was, it couldn't possibly go on forever. Part of it, I'm sure, was the lack of sleep. But part of it, too, was just the degree to which having a baby spins your head around. Everything is different and crazy and has new rules -- it's no wonder that it's so hard to see clearly what the new progression will be.

I remember saying on several occasions that I couldn't believe, having gone through this once, that anyone ever has a second child. Andy used to vow (only maybe 98% seriously) that Ben would be an only child. And you can blame the sleep deprivation for our inability to form memories back then, because now the horror is a lot fuzzier, but now the idea isn't so terrible.

I wonder how many second children are conceived soon after the first child starts sleeping through the night.

(I'm not trying to be coy or anything. We do plan to have another baby. I'm being a little goofy about not wanting to be vastly pregnant in the summer, though, so we're waiting a bit.)

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