When my children were infants, there was no more important issue than sleep. Any conversation among parents of newborns eventually circled around to sleep – the baby’s constantly changing habits and the parents’ lack of it. The debates among proponents of different approaches – co-sleeping, letting babies cry it out or no method at all – were intense and jealousy-filled.
For the last week, I have felt that same sleep-deprived helplessness. Since my son’s hip operation two weeks ago, he has had to sleep in zimmers – a form of soft cast – on both legs which are kept in a groin stretch by triangle of hard styrofoam between his legs. The zimmers are hot and I can’t begin to imagine how uncomfortable it is to sleep with a wedge between your legs.
To make matters worse, he has redness on his tailbone that is threatening to develop into a bed sore.
As a result, Deane has been waking up shouting in frustration dozens of times a night. He wants to change position, but because of his tailbone, he has to stay off his back. This means turning him on to his side with blankets pushed up against his back and pillows stacked under his leg wedge to keep him from rolling on to his back. The end result is that he has one foot high in the air as he tries to sleep.
Not surprisingly, this lasts 20 to 30 minutes at best. The attending parent – we’ve been taking turns – gets up to switch the blankets and pillows and then calm Deane down in hopes of getting a decent stretch of sleep. Other times wakes shouting, agrees he wants to roll over – with the all the corresponding re-arranging – only to immediately decide he wants to roll back again. While at times Deane is wide awake, at other times he can muster a shout able to raise the dead – or at least his dead tired parents – while remaining mostly asleep.
It is all very reminiscent of when our children were infants. We expected this to be a long haul, but didn’t anticipate a return to the zombie-like condition of parents of newborns.