“Sleep while the baby is sleeping,” the tell me, beaming with beneficence and sure they have just offered sage advice. “Sleep while the baby is sleeping.” And I am lucky to have such wisdom heaped upon me, although I find myself with a few questions.
When the baby falls asleep in the car while I am driving her brothers to school, do I pull over right there on the 405 and go to sleep in the driver’s seat, or do I ask the four-year-old to take over at the wheel? Also, when she falls asleep in the Bjorn while taking a walk around the neighborhood, how do I know which neighbors will not mind me going to sleep on their front lawn?
Now, I know I am not supposed to sleep with the baby in the bed, but when she wakes up every time I put her down, am I supposed to go with the SIDS warnings against the baby in the bed or the advice to sleep while the baby is sleeping?
“Sleep while the baby is sleeping,” they instruct me. This goes hand-in-hand with their other advice. I am to make sure each of the other children gets a little alone time with me each day. And I am to be sure to eat well and get some exercise. And I am absolutely required to take a little time to do something nice for myself each day. But all that salad-eating and toddler cuddle time and me-time has to happen – you guessed it – when the baby is sleeping. Plus there are those annoying habits I got into way back before I had children: teeth brushing, face washing, and fingernail cutting. I tend to find it easier to get those things done without a squalling infant in the room.
“Sleep while the baby is sleeping,” they insist firmly, so often in fact that sleeping becomes just one more thing to feel guilty that I haven’t accomplished to the standards they are setting for me. And I love that advice, really I do. I love the naivety with which they offer it, as though it had never occurred to me that the best time to get rest is when the baby is also asleep. But by the time I have eaten and showered and pumped (because they also tell me I MUST have a break and so she NEEDS to learn to take a relief bottle), it is twenty minutes before the next feeding. It is not worth going to sleep, especially because, as soon as I do, someone is sure to call and tell me to sleep while the baby is sleeping.
It is, however, just the right amount of time to write a blog post.