Tuesday, January 3, 2012

those 3 am prayers

A familiar cry pierces the night and awakens me from much-needed slumber.  As I muster up the strength to get out of bed, I check the clock.  Merely two hours before, it was the same story.  And two hours before that.  And in two hours, it will probably happen again.

It's not a hunger cry, nor a pain cry.  It's a strange whimper unlike any I really know.  I feed her anyways, because if she'll eat, it's the fastest way to get her to sleep again.  But sometimes she just wants to be held.  She'll fall right asleep in my arms, curling up and bringing her tiny face against my chest as she "hummm, hummmms" her way back into her dreams.

But what about me?  Where is my sleep?

Because when I put her back in the crib, the crying starts again.  And so there are many hours in the night when I am huddled on a rocking chair or pacing the nursery floor or wishing-to-God that our co-sleeper would fit in our new bedroom.

This is a rude awakening for parents who got used to a one-month-old daughter who slept through the night, then regressed at three months to wake up for a 3 am feeding.  But we managed well.  My body adjusted to the feeding time, and I thanked the Lord every day for such an easy baby.  The entire family felt well-rested and blessed, and we went along our merry way.

Over Christmas, we attributed the strange new sleeping pattern to various possibilities.  It was probably the new environment, we said... or perhaps she was overstimulated from Christmas presents and cousins... or maybe she was missing the feel of her cloth diapers since we opted for disposables while away from home.  We reasoned the nightly oddities away, telling ourselves all would go back to normal when we got home.

But they didn't.
And I got sick.
And sometimes at night, I don't know how to deal.  After I put her down in the crib in the middle of the night, I tiptoe back to my bed and beg God that He will help her sleep.  My head pounding, my throat soar and parched, my body longing for one night of decent sleep, I succumb to the temptation of despair.

It's only in the light of day that I wonder what sorts of prayers I should be uttering in the quiet recesses of the night.  There are so many people around the world in dire circumstances -- a mother who sleeps restless wondering if she can feed her children the next day, a kidnapped young girl crouched on a dirty brothel floor, the wrongly-accused suffering silently in solitary confinement.  What right have I to beg God for a night of sleep when the worst of my problems in that my healthy 6-month-old is going through a phase?
My husband says it is good to bring all our concerns to a Father who loves us, but that we shouldn't let our concerns cloud our judgement and thankfulness.  In the morning light, I accept this clarity, but I have trouble thanking God when I am called away from the rest my body craves in two-hour increments.

So now before I go to sleep, I just ask God for the strength to get me through the night, and the day that follows.  Because when I am sleep deprived, I am prone to snappiness and selfishness and cloudy judgement and sickness.  I ask God for His grace to work through these earthly weaknesses, and I search Him for understanding what I can learn from this situation.


Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share with this sleep-deprived girl?  Any words of encouragement, having possibly "been there, and done that?"  

1 comment:

  1. I don't have any advice for you, but I can tell you I know exactly how you feel! My 7 month old still wakes regularly--sometimes even often--at night. There are some nights when I am so frustrated that when the morning comes I am actually ashamed of myself for my lack of patience. I do the same thing you do--beg for strength and mercy to make it through the night and then work the next day! When it's daylight I try to remember that one day he'll be sleeping in his own house, and that he won't be sleeping in my arms for very long at all...it helps me be thankful for him, if not for his schedule :)

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