“Sleep when the baby sleeps”

When you’re expecting, everyone advises you to sleep when the baby sleeps. Fellow grocery store line patrons, colleagues at work, the perfume girl at Sephora, the woman next to you on the elliptical at the gym … you name it, they say it. It’s probably the #1 mantra of new motherhood.

And then when the baby comes, you’ll hear the same counsel from everyone and their mom.

Clearly this is tried and true advice … But I’ll go out on a limb and say this is single-handedly the best and worst (OK, read as, “most unrealistic”) parenting advice I’ve ever heard.

On the one hand, newborns sleep a LOT. Especially during the day. Which should be prime-time for mama to sleep, as well.

But now the hours I used to spend at night with Luis and Maya, blogging, at the gym, cleaning up or … you know, sleeping … are now spent making milk. Literally. I say this because as a mostly pumping mom (who nurses some and supplements a little formula for days when my supply sucks) I spend most of my days hooked up to a pump. Which means I have to capitalize on Ben’s insanely full day-time sleep schedule. How can I sleep when there are tons of things needed tending — dinner, laundry, errands, bills, you name it?!

Yet on the other hand, I’m the first to admit I’m wholly sleep-deprived at the moment, living life in two-to-three hour increments. My eyes are pink-tinged, and I’m not sick. It’s a permanent state of bloodshot-ness these days. While Luis is a tremendous help — I’m blessed, for sure!! — he can’t make milk … so I still have to wake to nurse or pump. Which means these past couple weeks haven’t been a walk in the park, especially coming on the heels of two months of pregnancy-induced insomnia. Occasionally he’ll give us a four or five-hour stretch, but not often enough yet (he’s only four weeks old).

So my middle-of-the-road solution to this sage, world-wide advice has been to nap with him in the morning — after Luis brings Maya to school but before I eat/shower. It’s a cat-nap for me — maybe 20-45 minutes — but it helps set the tone of the day. And I love snuggling with him; there’s nothing better than a sleeping baby on your chest. And we all know, those days where his sweet ‘lil bum fits in the palm of my hand as he drapes across me are numbered. [Sigh …]

Fortunately, though he still sleeps a good portion of the day, he’s finally now getting into a fairly consistent routine of wake, change, feed, “play,” sleep, repeat. I wouldn’t call it “organized sleep” quite yet … but we’re on the way there.

Even still, I can’t rationalize a nap in the middle of the afternoon — even if he’s sleeping — when I feel like there’s so much to do. So in between cuddles and milk-making, I do chores while tuning in to Hoda and Kathy LeeThe View … and then catch up on House Hunters, Love it or List It, or Sex and the City (my guilty pleasures) before venturing out for an errand or two in the afternoon, just so I can get out of the house. Thursday it was a lunch date with Luis. Friday it was Target to return some moldy cheese (Note: this is the SECOND time in three months I’ve bought cheddar cheese at Target — set to expire in 2014 — that was moldy. NOT HAPPY). Good times 😉

Of course, when I go back to work, everything will change and I will have to figure out how to find time for these chores, errands, the gym on top of work … I’m sure I’ll be fine; millions of women do it. But right now — in this sleep-deprived state — it feels awfully daunting, giving me heartburn already — even though I don’t return to work til 12/23.

For now, I’ll heed the advice on my own terms: sleeping if the opportunity allows. After all, if the same advice is being spewed by women around the world … from all different ages and backgrounds … they have to be on to something, right?

How about you? Did you “sleep while the baby sleeps”? What other parenting advice did you/do you love/loathe the most?

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4 thoughts on ““Sleep when the baby sleeps”

  1. I have no advice. Just wanted to say I feel for you. My sister exclusively pumped and I know she felt like she spent all her time pumping! She would watch a movie a night in pieces with all the pumping she did. I am thinking of you 🙂

  2. Do you have Netflix? You could get through a TV series. 🙂 I didn’t nurse/pump but Nate did wake up for the day (ughhhh) at 4:30am for a long stretch as an infant. I watched a lot of early morning MSNBC. I feel like the “sleep when the baby sleeps” advice is smart but unrealistic. Once I’m up for the day, I’m up. I can’t relax enough to fall back asleep until later in the day, if that. And there’s always something to do (laundry, dishes, etc – I still shudder at the never-ending washing of bottles). But at least you know this time it will pass. It won’t be forever. One day you’ll be semi-rested again. I’m waiting for well-rested… I’m sure it’ll happen at some point. 😉

    1. Exactly, Candice–I’m the same way. Once I’m up, I’m up. I can handle a nap from 8-9 b/c I am still in bed. But at 2 pm? Oy! LOL … it will happen eventually … and OMG yes … bottles, pump parts … makes me want to hurl!!

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