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.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.