TIL as a new parent: the meaning of ‘sleeping through the night’
by Adam Kuban
“Is she sleeping through the night yet?” You’ve probably overheard that phrase if you’ve ever been around a group of newish parents.
I’d heard it before but never quite grasped the meaning. I just assumed that babies were finicky and that, sure, they’d wake you up here and there, but some nights they’d sleep for hours and hours (just not the whole night) and that other nights they’d sleep a little less. You know, that it was just sort of luck of the draw from night to night. And then eventually they’d sleep through the night and let you get eight hours.
I didn’t realize these little suckers NEED TO BE FED EVERY TWO HOURS. So regardless of what you’re doing—the crossword puzzle, tying lures for fly-fishing, corresponding with prison inmates—you have to stop and feed them.
That means you have to set your alarm at night and get up every couple of hours.
Here’s the rub, too: the countdown clock for the next feeding starts at the beginning of the current feeding. Our bean can sometimes suckle for a total of 40 minutes or more. That’s not including the burping (10 minutes after each breast) and the inevitable diaper change before and after feeding (3 minutes per). So if you’re lucky you get an hour’s sleep between feedings.
(OK, I’m probably going for dramatic effect above. Our pediatrician told us we could go two to three hours between feedings, and we try to feed Margot heavily at night so she can hold out longer. But even then, the most we get is 2.5 hours of shuteye at a stretch.)
Anyway, that’s all nothing new to veteran parents out there, but since this is my blog for myself and maybe some of my non-children-havin’ friends are reading it, well, that’s a TIL—Thing I’ve Learned.