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Sleep. What Is That?

By Jeana Lee Tahnk

Ahh, sleep. The ever-elusive, always-coveted thing that parents never seem to have the secret answer for getting. If you're lucky, you have a baby who is a great sleeper from the start and goes for five or six hours from the day you bring him or her home. None of mine were great sleepers at the beginning, but I will give them credit for being very punctual. As in every two hours. On the dot.

Night after night of three to four wakings is tough-more than tough on some days. Of course, as the kids get older and you start to regain that sleep you so craved, the memories of those hundreds and thousands of night wakings start to fade away, but the minute another baby comes into the picture, you're thrust back into it.

That's where I am now. Baby No. 3 came along and all of a sudden, getting seven straight hours is merely a pipe dream. My baby just isn't on board with the whole sleeping-through-the-night idea. All of my cajoling, pleading, begging and monetary incentives haven't helped. It has taken a long nine months to get to the point where I'm getting a little more sleep, but it has been a process in the making.

Ironically, now that I am getting sleep, I'm actually more tired than before. I have a theory that sleep is like money in a bank: You can make sleep deposits and save up. But on the flip side, when you're not getting cumulative sleep, it's like you're constantly withdrawing from your sleep account and eventually you'll hit zero. I was at a pretty low balance for a long time and I'm building myself back up, which is why I think it's taking my body a long time to get back into normal mode.

The body has an amazing way of adapting, though. To think that I could function, drive, work, carry on conversations and even sound coherent at times on such little sleep is pretty impressive, if I say so myself. If you're going through the rough period of interrupted sleep, just know that you'll come out of it eventually. It may take a little bit of time, but until then, try to bank the sleep you are getting. And make coffee your friend, if not your constant companion.

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