Once Roya turned nine weeks old, her second growth spurt and second round of vaccines were behind her. She settled into a nice mode at bedtime, and we stopped our occasional night care. Each evening, Roya would go down at around 9:00pm. I would feed her a bottle at midnight before going to sleep, and then she would be up again between 4-5:00am to eat. During the night feedings, Roya wouldn’t cry or stay up for long. All she wanted was a bottle, burp and change, and then she would go back to sleep. She woke up in the morning at around 8:00am. That lasted consistently for the month of August.

Several friends had commented over the summer that motherhood was a natural fit for me.

“You’re the same old Stef Woods…just now with a baby!” Roya’s godmother said.

That’s how I felt, yet all that unfortunately changed in September. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we ended up displaced from our apartment.

Thankfully, a neighbor was kind enough to let us stay in her unit. Every night, The Man, my dog, Roya and I slept together in a 12” x 16” room together. That remained the case for almost four months.

(And, yes, I recognize my privilege as I write that. I realize there are many families who can only wish for a room of their own.)

On average, Roya would wake three times a night while we were in the other apartment. I would cough, and she would wake up. Flake would roll over as dogs do, and she would wake up. The Man would snore, and she would wake up.  I’m a light sleeper, and at least during this arrangement, so was Roya!

When we gleefully returned to our own home in December, Roya received her first flu shot the following day. For seven out of the next eight days, low-grade fevers ensued. She felt better over Christmas, but then she contracted her first cold. The cold improved, but then early January-early February found her with two back-to-back viruses.

The combination of flu shot, cold and two viruses meant that neither Roya nor I were sleeping that well. The colds and viruses caused Roya to cough so much that she would wake herself up from throwing up. And, she was often too uncomfortable to drink much during the day so she would feed more at night. Again, there weren’t many nights in which she was up for long, but she definitely was up a lot!

Knock on wood, Roya has been feeling better over the past month. But, now her two bottom teeth are coming in! (As any parent knows, it’s always something with these little nuggets!)

I can count on one hand the number of nights that I’ve slept well in the past six months, and that was because of night care.  I’ve been up an average of three times a night with Roya for six months. I’m so sleep deprived that I’ve almost fallen asleep at the wheel on more than one occasion. I feel like an exhausted shell of my former self, and my doctors are understandably concerned about my health.

All of the usual things that help babies to sleep longer (weighing a certain amount, regular nap times, introducing solids, taking baby Advil for a fever, giving more formula in the evening hours, etc.) haven’t made a difference in Roya’s nighttime sleep.

In November, Roya’s godmother aptly said, “I’ve never seen you like this.” I’ve known for her for 13 years, and I agree!

I’m an exhausted shell of my former self. I have the most amazing daughter, and I’m incomprehensibly tired.

Something needs to change for all of our sakes.

To be continued…

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