My pregnant self had entertained the thought that baby number two would be my "easy" baby, my "sleeper" baby. But I regret to say that I was wrong. I know how to swaddle! I thought. I know The Happiest Baby techniques! I know about white noise and over-stimulation. We've totally got this! BAH... HA. The only thing I've got is an 8-month-old kid who never sleeps. Not swaddled or wrapped, not in his "last resort" car seat or even in a stroller. I have the kid who watches absolutely everything and lifts his head up to look around when a floorboard creaks, even if he's been up for hours on end. I've got the kid who can fight sleep like no one I've ever met in my entire life, conk out for 10 minutes, then party all night. I've got the kid who wakes up screaming the second a nip slips out of his mouth or his body touches something that lacks a pulse. Having gone through an intense period of sleep deprivation with this child, I now know how important sleep is. Sleep can seriously make or break you. Not sleeping for months on end can tear your life apart and leave it like that crap in the bottom of a hamster's cage -- shredded.
Here are the 50 stages of sleep deprivation as I know them:
1.You start taking your kid to school without your bra on, regardless of the fact that your breasts are all over the place.
2. Showering becomes either obsolete or the only thing you do in your day that brings you back from the brink. Until everyone starts screaming and you realize it was completely not worth it.
3. Everything your husband does annoys you.
4. Everything your husband doesn't do annoys you.
5. You begin to understand how horses sleep standing up.
6. Falling asleep on the toilet seems like a very legitimate option. Until, again, everyone starts screaming at you.
7. You unload half the dishwasher before realizing your cupboards are filled with gross, dirty dishes.
8. You have a stack of 18 sleep books next to your bed.
9. You're too tired to read any of them.
10. You tell yourself that all the Angelina Ballerina your daughter has been watching is educational.
11. You contemplate hiring a "sleep coach," but hang up when you forgot who you dialed.
12. Out of desperation, you let your baby scream approximately one time while you sob and guzzle half a box of wine.
13. You become so guilt-ridden about letting your baby cry that you stay up all night anyway thinking about his cortisol levels which are, no doubt, off the chart.
14. You begin texting, emailing and Facebook messaging anyone (even total strangers) who had a similar struggle for encouraging words.
15. You eliminate "getting dressed" from your daily tasks.
16. Thirty-two people a day tell you they have a "great sleeper."
17. Twenty-eight people a day recommend "wearing your baby" and look at you with crazy eyes when you tell them he hasn't liked to sleep that way since he was 4 months old.
18. Twelve people a day tell you to let your baby "cry it out."
19. Fifty people a day tell you to "enjoy every minute," even when you can't quite put your finger on what "minutes" are.
20. You install The Wonder Weeks App on your phone thinking perhaps it's just a developmental milestone.
21. You delete The Wonder Weeks App when you realize it's not a developmental milestone that's keeping your baby awake. He's been awake since birth.
22. After your fifth hysterical phone call, your sister who has gone back and forth in the past finally decides to never have kids because, "Hell no, I can't deal with that."
23. You email a "gentle sleep coach" just to see what the deal is.
24. You tell your husband nothing will ever work and this is all your fault because you were too stressed during pregnancy and also sometimes ate brie.
25. You give up ever putting your boob away or trying to get the baby to sleep anywhere but on you and recommit to co-sleeping completely.
26. People tell you you'll never get the baby out of your bed, he'll be nursing till he's in middle school and that you'll get divorced.
27. You tell your daughter to be quiet 18,564 times a day.
28. She resents this, starts whining all the time and begins her own personal sleep regression.
29. Your entire nights are made up of trying to get people back to sleep, only to be so wired from the constant waking that you completely give up on sleeping yourself and begin starting your days at 3 a.m., only to feel like it's midnight by 7:30 a.m.
30. You give up co-sleeping AGAIN when the baby sleeps very poorly this way, literally suckles and bites you all night as you lie awake, morphing your body into exceedingly more and more uncomfortable positions.
31. You feel like you've been through the washing machine at 6 a.m. and want to close your eyes so badly just when you're supposed to be starting your day.
32. You fantasize about nothing other than sleep.
33. People tell you co-sleeping is really the best for the baby and it always worked for them.
34. You start gathering doctors' phone numbers so your husband can go ahead with his vasectomy.
35. Drinking coffee makes you feel like puking.
36. Not drinking coffee makes you feel like puking.
37. You start praying on the regular.
38. You overhear your husband praying also.
39. You tell yourself "this too shall pass" 25 times a day.
40. You make plans to go to yoga even if you're tired.
41. You cancel plans to go to yoga when you're way beyond tired, bordering on incoherent and no amount of downdoggin' will get you anywhere close to feeling sort of OK.
42. You stay over at your mother's house when your husband goes out of town for work AGAIN, so that you can maybe, possibly avoid calling him in the middle of the night and ugly crying into the phone.
43. You try to distract yourself from the fact the he's sleeping soundly in a hotel bed with no one pulling at his teat or yelling in his ear.
44. You consider taking up day drinking, but realize you won't be a fun drunk like you used to be anyway, so what's the point?
45. You finally check your email and write back to the "gentle sleep coach" and feel a shred of something that resembles hope.
46. Have a kind of OK night with the baby and consider canceling the coaching appointment and saving all that money that you really don't have in the first place.
47. Have a horrible night with the baby and shell out the dollars.
48. Get the baby to sleep and stay asleep for the first time ever and think it was the best money you ever spent.
49. Celebrate by pouring yourself a huge glass of red wine, but fall asleep before you can drink it.
50. Sleep for three uninterrupted hours and feel as if you can take over the world and wonder how it's even possible that you weren't a way more productive person when you were sleeping for an astonishing seven or eight hours A NIGHT on the regular.