Sleeping through the Night

I find myself recently reflecting on my children.  I have two daughters.  At the time of writing this, my oldest is four, and my youngest is two.  I’m constantly amazed at how physically resilient they are.  I keep expecting them to be more fragile than they are.

Today’s memory goes back to the birth of my first daughter.  She actually started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks.  Great, right?  How that came about was a little more scary.

I thought I killed my six week old daughter.

My wife had needed an emergency cesarean to deliver our baby.  It was a pretty scary night and next few days, but ultimately both mother and daughter came home.  Once they had, we ended up moving into the basement.  It’s a finished basement, so it wasn’t like we were living industrial.

We moved down there because I had awesome bachelor couches.

Once we bought the house, I had to move all my old furniture to my man-cave basement, as my wife replaced them with prettier couches upstairs.  My couches were a sort of dark mud brown color, but what made them great was that they had high backs and could be turned into recliners.  I guess I found them more endearing than my wife.  But as it turned out, the recliner was a lot better for her sleep.

One of the other problems with these couches was that bachelor days had abused them.  I often sprawled over the arms of the couch, and as such, they had slowly been coming away from the rest of the couch over the years.  This meant a pocket had opened between the seat and the arm… A pocket that often claimed loose change, wallets, cell phones, etc.

Oh yeah, And my kid.

So during those early weeks, mom and dad are waking up every two hours to handle feedings and carry the baby around the room singing so she’ll go back to sleep… All that good new parent stuff.  We had our wakeup schedule on an alarm on my phone.  Usually my daughter slept in her rocker/crib, but sometimes we’d fall asleep holding her.

In this case, she was tucked in my left arm like a football, and that’s how I fell asleep.  around midnight or one.  The alarm was set to go off at 3.  I silenced it in my sleep, and the wife and I slept right through it.

Sometime during that sleep, baby Jessica slides down from my arm into the mechanical gears of this recliner couch.  The rays of the sun wake me up around 6 am.

No baby.

My first thought is panic.  Where’s the kid?  I look over; wife doesn’t have her.  She’s still sleeping away.  I look around.  Thankfully, I didn’t close the recliner; this might have been a different story.  Instead I look down and see the top of her head poking up from the space between the seat and the arm.

I want to throw up.  I’m confident I’ve killed our child.  How do I wake up my wife and tell her I killed our 6 week old baby girl?

I pull Jessica up out of the couch and hold her, sickness settled into me.  She’s missed two feedings and has been cramped inside the couch for who-knows-how-long.  What kind of crap father am I?  Do you go to jail for this kind of thing?  Despair is pretty overwhelming as I look over and start to reach out to my wife to wake her.  Then I notice Jessica breathing.

She opens her eyes and smiles.

First thought here is relief.  Then panic again… Why is she smiling (they all say it’s gas… but no… Couldn’t be gas, could it)?  I guess I brain-damaged her.

She turned out okay.  Wife panicked when I woke her, and while Jessica was hungry, she was no worse for wear from her experience.  A slightly larger than average feeding later, and Jessica was settling back into to go to sleep again.  I changed the diaper and bundled her back up into some swaddling cloth and then set her down to sleep.

In her rocker this time.

She pretty much slept 5-6 hours a night after that, and even now, she tends to be a good sleeper.   How long before your kids slept through the night?  Any new parent stories you’d like to share?

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One thought on “Sleeping through the Night

  1. Great story and I can definitely relate. While my new parent story isn’t quite so harrowing, I remember that very first night after my daughter was born pretty clearly. She was also delivered by C section, so of course my wife was in no condition to get up with her. Our daughter just kept crying and I wasn’t used to the sleep deprivation yet, so at some point ended up stumbling around the room like a drunken maniac with this wailing child in my arms. Neither of us could figure out what was wrong and were both imagining this being our life for the next year and a half. Desperate, I went out to ask the nurse for help and she offered a pacifier. A pacifier. The stereotypical baby accessory…that my wife and I both forgot existed. Within maybe a minute of giving it to her, she was out and I was on my way.

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