I think being perpetually tired is a universal sign of motherhood. Almost a badge of honor, if you will. Most playdates find me with other moms, comparing how many hours of sleep we haven't gotten since our babies were born.
I am actually fairly fortunate when it comes to Will and sleeping. He was rough on us in the beginning and, at times, I thought I would never sleep more than two consecutive hours again. Then one miracle night (at 11 weeks), he slept for seven hours straight. I woke up with rock hard boobs and yet still wanted to run around the neighborhood sans sports bra shouting with glee! Over several weeks, that miraculous seven hour stretch eventually lengethened until we were getting 8 hour stretchs consistently. He still nursed in the early morning (around 5 AM or so) until 7 months. Since then, most nights, Will gets a solid 11 - 12 hours, with nary a peep from his room.
But there nights when he doesn't sleep well. Now, they don't alarm me like they used it. I know that he can and will sleep through the night. It used to be that a string of bad nights would send me into an utter panic, straight into the evil, loving arms of Dr. Google. During those quests for information on how to get my baby to sleep, I found a few priceless resources. I have referenced this site before and I just love her no-nonsense, no-guilt approach. I first found her during Will's 4 month sleep regression. That one almost killed me, folks, because he had been sleeping so well from 11 - 16 weeks and then BAM! we were back to hourly wakeups. I always found it harder to go backwards and feel as if we are losing ground and I had never heard of these regressions, so I figuerd I had messed something up. Turns out, my kid was perfectly normal, and he hit five months and started sleeping like a champ again.
Moxie also saved my life by introducing me to the 2-3-4 schedule. I had been doing an "up two, down two" schedule, but it didn't seem to be working anymore at about five months. The 2-3-4 worked like a dream until about 14 months, when he gave up his second nap. But man, how I loved the 2-3-4 and hope it works as well with Emma.
If you read about the sleep regression business, you'll also see that it doesn't happen at four months, but also at nine and. . . yes, folks, 18 months. Which is where we are right now, smack dab in the middle of another Sleep Regression [said in a scary voice].
This regression has not been nearly as bad as the other two. First off, because of my perspective and the fact that I don't freak out when he stops sleeping. Secondly, because he usually doesn't need much, if any, help from us in getting back to sleep. He will cry for less than five minutes and just get himself back off to dreamland. As our walls are paper thin and his room his just across the hall from us, he still wakes us, but I usually don't have to get out of bed.
Last night, however, he was up too many times to count. Several of them required intervention. He has also started this rather "charming" habit of telling us that he is hungry when he wakes up. He will loudly, insistently, desperately announce, "Eat! Eat! Eat!" When your kid is telling you that he is hungry, especially when that same toddler ate only one slice of banana and a quarter of a string cheese all day, you start wondering if perhaps a midnight (or 2, 3, or 4 AM) snack isn't in order. It makes the whole crying it out thing even harder, because you wonder, "Am I starving my child?"
You might (if you are a weakling, like me) even give in and bring a packet of Ritz crackers into his room and give him one, which he didn't eat, but instead wanted to take to bed like some sort of uber-crumby-choking-hazard-transition-item (for those inquiring minds about to call CPS, no, I did not let him sleep with the cracker). In addition to multiple trips to Will's room last night, Emma has also decided that it's fun to jump on Mommy's bladder at the alternate hours that her brother doesn't wake up.
So, today, I am tired. Like stretch marks, sagging boobs, and gray hairs, it is yet another sign of motherhood. It is all so worth it, and I find that each time we come up against a new challenge, I am little more equipped to handle it. It's not that I handle it any better, per se, but I feel less defeated. I still feel exhausted, but not as if the world will end. Just like I need a nap! Hopefully, this will also apply when Emma arrives and doubles my trouble!