The four-month sleep regression snuck in through the back door last week. Two nights of no sleep for me and James was avoiding eye contact and backing away slowly any time I rage-stomped into a room. He's a smart man; his survival skills are on point.
I find myself getting frustrated with Nora, though. Not all the time-- even when she's having a rough day she's a fairly easy person to be around. Mostly this is because even for a baby she's pretty reasonable. If you can show her she's not dying, she'll usually calm down pretty quickly even when she's hysterical (I know this because we've had a couple touch-and-go moments with a sweatshirt that always gets suction-stuck to her arm chub). But often enough that I'm not proud of myself when I feel my typically level-headed demeanor abandon me.
I think that's why I struggle, though. I'm spoiled. She really is as delightful as she seems on my social media profiles. She's a happy little ball of light. For the most part.
Lack of sleep brings out the screaming banshee in both of us, apparently. I've spent a couple frazzled days pressing kisses into the top of her overtired little head, begging her to sleep while she grunts and kicks and violently fends off nap after nap after nap. She looks up at me with her angry little eyes, rimmed red and purple with the exhaustion she wades into simply by waking up and learning to be a person every day, and lets out a miserable, sharp little raptor yell. She doesn't want to nap because she doesn't want to miss anything, but she doesn't want to feel so tired either. (It doesn't suit either of us, this exhaustion we're perpetually navigating now.) She can't explain this to me. All she can do is kick and squirm and slap and cry. I'm sure she already wonders how I can misunderstand her so deeply-- can't I see she doesn't want to rest? Don't I know she can't sleep unless she's touching me? Why would I ever let her get this tired?
I feel my patience thin, then fray, then unravel. I feel the ugly part of me-- the exhausted, snappy, mean person James is avoiding-- stir, stretch, tug at my chest with her gnarled fingers. I don't want to let her at Nora. Not yet. I want Nora to think Mommy can handle anything for as long as possible. I don't want to be the one to make her feel like her best isn't good enough. Not now, not ever. I'm running the long con here.
The thing about my girl that's so incredible though is how quickly she moves through it. The fight leaves her and her little body collapses through a sigh and into the nap she needs so badly. And she just looks wrecked, like taking this nap is the hardest thing she's ever had to do. She's a little disorganized, sure, and at times she's a bit of a hot mess, but I do believe that she shows up every day and gives me her best shot. (And I'm sure she looks at me and thinks the same thing: disorganized and kind of a mess but giving it her best shot.)
No matter how rough it gets during the day, she always wants to pull me closer to her when she sleeps. In the car on the ride home from dinner tonight she gave her pacifier a couple contented thumps, then grabbed my hand from the side of her car seat and held it gently but firmly against her chest with both her little hands. And I just melted, because there's no other response to a moment like that. I love her so much it's ridiculous. Even through the exhaustion. Even through the delirium. Even through the mess.
That's how I know we'll all get through this one tiny blip, this little rough spot. The love in this little family is big enough to hold all of it, and we'll all show up and do our best again tomorrow.