Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Most Frequently Asked Question, Part 2

Perhaps the most frequently asked question when one of us has Anjali with her is "How old is she?" But the question I was thinking of that is inevitably asked, either when Anjali is with one of us or not, comes in the form of: "Does she sleep through the night," or "Are you sleeping through the night?"

I find it interesting that people ask this. For one, it seems odd to me that a four month old (or younger when people were asking us) should be expected to follow an adult sleep schedule or pattern. Actually, it is more likely the other way around, and at best it is a meeting in between.

Secondly, although the question is, "Is she sleeping through the night," we hear it more as, "Are you guys getting sleep?" Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn say it so eloquently in their wonderful book, Everyday Blessings, when they write: "...the intent behind this question...has more to do with how much sleep the parents are or aren't getting than it does with concern for the baby. It is predicated on the supposition that babies are supposed to sleep all night long. The unspoken assumption is that the parents' needs should take priority."

Don't get me wrong; sleep is very important. And in order to function at work or at home it is important to have as much rest as possible. But in order to truly be baby led, we need to shed ourselves of our old life. In our new life with our baby, we need to fit around her schedule as best we can. In my old life, I went to sleep when I wanted and got 6-8 hours of straight sleep (actually, that's not even 100% true since the musician life often wound me up until 3 or 4 AM only to have to rise at the sound of the alarm at 7 AM!). In my new life, I can expect that sleep to be interrupted. In a nutshell, in our old lives our needs were in primary focus, and in our new lives Anjali's needs are the primary focus.

Anyway, as far as I can tell, when Anjali wakes in the night and mama nurses her to sleep, both of them are only awake for brief periods. This is because Anjali has needs of closeness, hunger, warmth and love that are easily and quickly being met. So, technically Anjali and mama are not "sleeping through the night," but mama is getting enough sleep to be able to make it through some long work days. And Anjali is a happier baby for having her needs responded to...

1 comment:

r. seligman said...

Beautifully written post.