Sleepy dad

My sleep schedule hasn’t exactly been “normal” for the better part of the last decade. It has been far more common for me to fall asleep some time after two or three in the morning than to go to bed at a more conventional hour. Most days, I didn’t get up to start my day until some time after ten o’clock. I value my sleep greatly, because if I’m not well rested, I feel like I may not be as effective at what I do. Since becoming a dad last year, though, some things have obviously changed.

And one of those things is sleep.

Being a dad can be stressful for any number of reasons. In the first few months, a baby needs to be fed (and changed and lulled back to sleep) every two to three hours. This includes throughout the night and while I wasn’t exactly involved in the feeding part, I was involved in everything else that went along with that. She’s able to sleep through the night now, but she needs help. She still needs to be monitored.

So yes, I do feel like I am not getting as much sleep as I once enjoyed. I’m perpetually tired. At the same time, life must go on and things still need to get done. Perhaps on a somewhat ironic level, my senses have been heightened since becoming a dad too. Allow me to illustrate with a story from a few weeks ago.

The three of us were over at a friend’s place for a casual dinner party. Adalynn had just been fed and she had fallen asleep on the car ride over. We didn’t want to disturb her (never wake a sleeping baby unless it is absolutely necessary), so we brought her into the master bedroom where it’d likely be quieter. We gently loosened the straps on her car seat so she could be more comfortable, and simply let her be.

We then went back to the living room to mingle and dinner was served shortly thereafter. As we all sat around the dining table, chatting about this topic and that, I thought I heard a light grunt from the other room. I quietly excused myself and went to check on the baby.

Sure enough, she had just woken up. She gazed up at me looking slightly confused–she had never been here before–but otherwise content. I unbuckled her from her seat and brought her back with me to the dining room.

“Oh! How did you know she woke up?” asked our host.

“I heard her,” I responded.

No one else at the table, my wife included, heard anything. To be fair, I figured that Adalynn would be waking up at some point during dinner, so I was keeping half an ear out for any indication as such. This being said, I find that I’m much the same way when we are at home and Adalynn is taking a nap too. We could be watching TV in the other room. We could be doing laundry. I could be working in my home office. Then, I’ll think I hear a peep.

I’ve never had a particularly great sense of hearing and I’m notoriously bad at mishearing song lyrics. I may not be very good at hearing specifics, but my awareness of little noises is pretty good. And now that I’m a dad, I think I may have developed a heightened sense of awareness. Every little grunt or whimper elicits an immediate response.

This will likely change as she gets older. This will likely change as I get older. In the interim, I’ll just brew myself another cup of coffee.