Mixed signals

The pediatrician told us one thing. The lactation consultant told us another.

Zoe, screaming with every breath in her tiny lungs, was clearly trying to tell us something entirely different.

“Hey Zoe, want to go play in your gym? No? Okay… Do we like the exersaucer? Okay, that is still a no… How about your friend the sheep? No? Not even Mr. Sheep?”

And all of those ministrations would get us a grand total of fifteen seconds of peace, two exhausted parents, and one eternally cranky baby.

“Really, you’re hungry AGAIN?”

According to our new pediatrician, we’d been misreading her cues.

Ohh so she’s not hungry every hour?

No ma’am. Overtired. Overstimulated.

Well that would explain it. I’d be agitated too, if someone shoved a breast in my mouth every time I got tired. Although I’m inclined to think Zoe does like breasts a great deal more than I do. And here we were thinking she is just a cranky, fussy baby.

Nope. Just very tired.

Apparently schedules and body language are the two solutions we’ve been searching for.

It’s as if we have an entirely new person in the house. Now when I hold Zoe, all she can do is gaze steadily in the direction of her toys, making longing eyes at Mr. Sheepy until Mommy catches on and puts her down. Cautiously, I sneak over to the kitchen, throw a couple things into the dishwasher. Happy burbling and cooing sounds drift in from the other room and I pop my head back over. Yup, one happy baby and one happy sheep.

Remarkable the difference it can make when you have your basic needs being met. And Zoe is not the only one that loses out on mental capacity when tired. photo (1)

“Hmmrgghh grumpy when sleeping!” I snarl, half incoherently.

Oliver understands the coherent half and makes a graceful exit. At least it seems graceful, but I am too sleepy to notice.

Waking me up when I’m sleeping is not for the faint-hearted. Zoe is an exception, but that too, only because she’ll starve otherwise. The only other exception is… Nope, that’s the only one. What can I say? I like being well-rested.

When our needs aren’t being met, it fundamentally alters how we act and even how we view ourselves. Being sleepy is one thing, but for years I thought I was a crotchety, judgmental prick. Turns out it was just another unfulfilled need: not feeling cared for.

I might still be crotchety and judgmental, but hey, at least now I only have myself to blame.

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