Quantified Infant Life and Sleep Deprivation

A month ago, my husband and I officially entered parenthood and sleep is a long forgotten luxury that I sorely miss. Everyone keeps telling me it will return and I grin and nod while I mentally pull a face at them. I know that just knowing the torture will end, isn’t enough to make it hurt less when you’re in the throws of it. But they all mean well and speak from a place of kinship and understanding. And I realize it’s just my deprived brain lashing out because they got over this hump with their sanity intact and I question whether mine will be able to manage.

And they get a few hours of sleep….in a row….in their bed…..probably next to their significant other. But really no, I’m not too bitter. One day I will be that guy. I hope. I pray. I better be or I’m going to remind each and every one of them about having lied to me.

Using Tech Gear In Parenting

I think it’s known that I am apart of the Quantified Self movement and Decentralization. I’m not a huge fan of silo systems but I will use them under certain circumstances. I have been life logging for several years now, in various forms. Using various apps, programs, etc. My smart phone is basically a life logging machine that can text. So I was already logging everything during pregnancy and didn’t realize I’d be questioned so closely when we saw the pediatrician and consultants. I had the answers, such as how many diapers I had changed, how many bottles, etc. I just didn’t expect people to care or ask.
Anyway, I felt as if my prior life logging had been training me for this. I was so ready to log all the things. And for such purposes, I’ve been happily using FeedBaby. It let’s you record all the essentials, food, diapers, sleep, pumping, mood, notes, etc. It let’s you sync to multiple phones on the paid version. But the selling point for me was the export option, downloading the data as often as you like in csv format, on the free or paid version.

I’ve been using my normal life logging apps to track my food intake, pain levels, changes, etc. This has been helpful when discovering things such as her lactose issues, or being able to correlate my actions and how it affects her.

Sleep Deprivation

I think I’ve established how the first month of lack of sleep has felt, at least generally. We had everyone tell us to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ and while this idea works in theory, doesn’t translate well for us. First, because we have a cat. A ten year old, spoiled cat who doesn’t much care for closed doors and will whine, scratch, and howl until he’s let into a room. This has been a problem for a long time and perhaps we should have tackled ridding him of this habit prior to our baby’s arrival but with dealing with other health issues that come along with pregnancy, neither of us had the time or patience to try. So if we want to try to sleep when the baby sleeps, we either have to have a second person in the room or risk our cat being in the room unsupervised.
Secondly, our baby doesn’t much care for sleeping in the bassinet. She tosses, grunts, flails, and at two weeks of age was managing to wiggle her way to the edge of the bassinet. We suspect it started with acid reflux that was making it uncomfortable to be flat on her back, but her wiggling made even propping her up, impossible. Oh, and swaddling? Ha. She ninja-ed her arms free in minutes no matter who swaddled her, and all the swaddle suits are made of fleece. It’s the middle of summer and I can only imagine a bulky fleece suit would get too hot.

The only way she would sleep was in the podster. Which isn’t recommended, but it allowed her to feel snuggled in while allowing her to move her limbs when she wanted, and elevated her just enough to make the reflux ease up. But because sleeping in a podster is dangerous; neither of us felt safe enough to try to sleep when she did.

Using the MonBaby monitor, while allowing me to feel safe enough to sleep when she does, is a pain to use. The app takes up a lot of resources on your phone, so if you have a slightly older phone (mine is a year old), it will drain your battery. Syncing is tricky to say the least, since it has to use bluetooth, you basically have to have the phone immediately next to the baby. As in a foot or two, max. Or it won’t see the device at all. Not to mention it’s not as simple as just ‘turning on an app’, it’s a bit of a tedious process of -don’t breathe, don’t move while it takes five minutes to sync to the device’. Or risk it not finding it at all and needing a phone reboot so you can try again. It’s basically a pain to turn it on. Also, as a side note: when it does confirm a sync, the button (that’s attached to your child only an inch from their face) flashes this extremely bright blue light, so if your child is a light sleeper, I recommend blocking that blinking with a hand.

Also, it only operates under the impression that your baby is a sound sleeper. If the baby moves too much in her sleep, the alarm goes off (too much movement). If you have to pick up your baby a few times after syncing the device because she keeps fighting going to sleep, the alarm goes off (it detects she’s not on her back), if you leave the room with baby to bounce her back to sleep, away from your -attached to the wall- phone, the alarm goes off (lost signal alert). Or it may just loose it’s bluetooth signal and go off randomly.

Oh, and while it’s nice that the device battery is standard, it was a bit annoying that by the time I actually got to use it, the battery was at 38% because there’s no way to turn it off and conserve it.

Now that I bashed the device, I will reiterate, that it is worth all the effort to get it to work, if I am desperate enough to try to sleep when she does. But take that with a grain of salt, considering my next point goes into how my husband and I have rearranged our sleep schedule to avoid doing just that.

Polyphasic Sleep

My husband recently made a blog post, discussing his experiences with polyphasic sleep. Now, I am doing going full force into sleep scheduling, as he is. For instance, I am not taking any of the supplements he is, because 1) we don’t know the affects they have on the baby and 2) I am only trying biphasic sleep in the simplest terms and don’t feel I need the additional help.

He came up with a sleep schedule for both of us that works around my getting a core 5 hour block of sleep while working around his going back to work. And while this will likely work. I feel it will limit our time we get to spent together.
When we were taking shifts in the first two weeks, one of the biggest complaints we both had was sleeping opposite of the other. It felt isolating. And while this new schedule fixes that, it depends largely on his being at home on paternity leave. There’s going to be a huge chunk of time during the day that he won’t be. And we will get maybe two hours, but likely closer or less than one hour before he has to do his dusk sleep. Then I prep for my 5 hour block at night.
I’m also anxious how easily it will be for him to keep his schedule with the demands of work. His schedule relies on his being able to get a lunch break and being able to leave on time at night. While, ideal….may not work every time. There’s no way to predict a future problem that needs him to change his schedule. And my worry is how badly will that affect the remaining schedule.

Also, we expected Day 3 and Day 5 to be the worst in terms of not feeling rested. And boy was that correct. What I found interesting was that even I felt sluggish. Even though I feel my schedule is the least altered, I could still feel a difference.
He had two good days after that point but something that we didn’t see covered was how having a cold/flu affects the entire process. We both felt under the weather a few days ago, but thankfully I recovered quickly. I can’t say the same for him. And it’s completely thrown off his schedule. He can’t seem to feel well rested, no matter how many additional hours he gets. He had a 10 hour block yesterday during his morning sleep and still felt drained, achey, and completely worn down. And again this morning, although to a lesser degree. He’s basically having to start all over again because this threw him. Even with cold medicine and tons of vitamin C and sleeping until he wakes up naturally. But then attempting to stick to his next sleep block. And even though he’s sick right now, we both had noticed he felt well rested after his dusk sleep and drained after his morning sleep. But neither of us can figure out a way to replace that morning sleep or move it within the entire schedule.

My Thoughts

It is concerning how easily his schedule can be thrown by illness and timing. And I’m sure it’s also affected by us entering this, already sleep deprived with high stress. And I doubt many have been drawn to this due to a newborn.

We know that her sleeping like this is a temporary situation and eventually she will sleep through the night and ‘hopefully’ in her bed. So this won’t be necessary forever, but if it works for us and actually benefits our habits, goals, and productivity; it’s well worth considering for the long term. It’s just been difficult getting to that point with hiccups in the system.