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Catching Some Z's

Forget the Lawyers. Just Say No |


| A Tribute to Jim

January 27, 2006

Catching Some Z's

James Mehring

Now that I have six weeks of fatherhood under my belt, I am well prepared for the usual stream of questions when I bump into a co-worker or call a friend for the first time since the birth. What’s her name? Who does she look like? And then there is, are you getting any sleep? That last question is accompanied by a knowing smile from those who have already experienced the joys of 2 a.m. feedings.

For the first two weeks after my daughter’s birth both Lyn, my wife, and I were at home. Not used to getting up three times a night, we both walked around like zombies by mid-afternoon. While my wife is on leave for a few more weeks, I am now back at BusinessWeek. Trying to balance equity of responsibility and the need to energize myself for another day at the office is a difficult task.

Right now, we are going the more traditional route with my wife handling the real overnight duties when our little girl gives a shout to mommy and daddy that all is not well. I pitch in as best I can when home by handling the evening feedings, any morning responsibilities while getting ready for work, and taking the night shift during weekends.

In order to make life easier, we have been trying to find the magic formula that will help our daughter sleep longer at night. This has been a trial and error process that yields only temporary successes. Attempts to gently keep our baby awake for longer stretches during the day seemed to work for a while. But, alas, she started to get very fussy in the evening and those spells of crying didn’t lead to happier nights. I would love to know if there is a Holy Grail for getting one’s baby to sleep longer at night.

As days and weeks zip by, my wife will soon be heading back to work. This poses the next big sleep challenge. When both parents are working how do you split the responsibilities and still catch enough Z’s? I have noticed that I do not fare well if I try to sleep in short spells. Sleeping 5 hours all at once for me is better than 6-7 hours with a couple 30 minute spells of consciousness. Once again, some useful tips and suggestions are welcome.

As a new parent, I am eager to share the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of my family’s journey. But I feel my entries will also be filled with nearly as many questions as answers.

08:34 AM


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There is no holy grail. It'll just take time. I'm the father of three (7, 5, 2). I would think that your daughter should be sleeping in longer stretches by now. If not, then likely soon. Not all night, but that will come in time.

One thing I think we tried or I heard was trying to make sure your daughter had a good feeding in the evening/nighttime. That should help in her sleeping longer.

As far as being tired, it's just beginning. For the most part, my wife and I have been tired for the past seven years. But, we're not complaining. It's just part of being a parent to three young children. It will get easier.

One thing we have said often in the past seven years is how much time we wasted before our first child was born.

WE HAD SO MUCH OF OUR OWN TIME ON OUR HANDS! We could've solved world hunger, I think. ;)

It's not easy, but being a parent definitely is fun.

Good luck. And, I'll add my $0.02 that I like the idea of BW's working parents blog.


Posted by: Mike Driehorst at January 27, 2006 09:48 AM

Everyone's situation is different. My wife is a full time mom, and I am the only one working. It's tight, but she gets up in the middle of the night for feedings, and she naps with them during the day. She doesn't get much sleep either, but since she isn't working, she lets me sleep. What a sweetheart!

Our first son didn't start sleeping through the night until about 5 months old. Our second son still isn't sleeping through the night. The result is that my wife hasn't had a full night's sleep in 21 months.

As far as warding off the Zombie state, I recommend lots and lots of strong coffee. Congratulations on being a new Dad.

Posted by: Logan Wick at January 27, 2006 02:52 PM

My son's first few weeks are a blur. I was home with my wife for the first week, and when I went back to work, the school at which we both taught was just down the street, so I'd run home during lunch and planning periods.

I honestly don't know what we did to manage, I only know that we did. That's probably the only bit of advice I can offer - as a parent, you'll always manage, because you need to. Sleep isn't what'll keep you going; it's that little girl in your arms.

Welcome to the club!

Posted by: Jared at January 28, 2006 08:38 AM

We are expecting our first child in about a month, so no direct experience, but many friends have had success with sleeping with some of the advice offered in the book called the Happiest Baby on the Block...

Posted by: Dana at February 9, 2006 06:00 PM

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