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A portrait of sleep in my family every week in 2018

She’s ended up in my bed a few times this week, which results in her getting a lot less sleep due to the baby waking her up. She never seems to mind, as the thing she loves most in the world is being with her sister. It shows the next day however, manifesting in ways like a sobbing meltdown begging to stay home from school until I cave, because really it’s just 4K anyway and she deserves a break.

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A portrait of sleep in my family every week in 2018

I’ve been putting them to sleep in the same bed occasionally, and am trying to do so more often. Eventually I plan to have them share a room, once the baby is old enough and no longer nursing over night. Considering I didn’t night wean her sister until I was pregnant with her that could be a while. I’m hoping sometime around age two to start transitioning them into the same bed. They both sleep better next to someone I’m hoping that they can be each other’s someone.

The baby landed herself in the emergency room for a fever and cellulitis this week, which was horrible and scary and majorly triggered my child related health anxiety. She developed a rash today so I’m thinking it may have actually been Roseola, but then again it could also be a reaction to the antibiotics so who knows. She slept more those few days she had a fever than she has in her entire little life. The past two nights she’s woke up sobbing sooooo many times so who knows what’s going on. It’s exhausting and worrying, but I took a nap today so at least there’s that.

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A portrait of sleep in my family every week in 2018

Sleep has not come easy for this girl over the past week. I can’t figure out what’s going on with her but it hasn’t been fun. She’s fought naps and sometimes bedtime, which isn’t really like her. She skipped her afternoon nap yesterday. Last night her sister and I went to a birthday party. She fell asleep while we were gone, but woke up right before we got home. I managed to get her back to sleep pretty easily but the second I tried to leave the room she bolted up. And then she was up until 12:45. And she was crazy. She was wild, she was unhappy, she was funny, she was miserable, and she was over tired. She almost fell asleep, or actually fell asleep numerous times only to wake back up at the slightest sound. I thought for sure all this meant she had to poop but she never did. Maybe she has more teeth coming through, but getting her to let me poke around in her mouth is basically impossible. I’m so worn out I feel barely human. There is literally not enough coffee. I had someone tell me she’s a “trained night feeder” this week and I laughed, because obviously, but that’s not even the part that I care about. She fought her morning nap today too, as she does anytime she’s over tired. Sometimes I think she’s transitioning to just one nap, but then she’s a total handful on the days she only gets one. Sleep consumes you when you’re a parent of small kids, that’s for sure. Even those parents who seem to have it down, absolutely at some point have or will put way more effort than they ever imagined into their kids sleep. I know this is temporary. I get that. They’re only little for so long, and I try to keep repeating that in my head. But that doesn’t make it any less exhausting.

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A portrait of sleep in my family, every week, in 2018

Sleep. It’s something I’ve always loved. I stayed up late and slept until noon. I took naps. It was wonderful. Then I got pregnant with my first child and about halfway through pregnancy sleep went to shit. I was up every hour to pee. Everything hurt. I couldn’t sleep. It seemed like a cruel joke, wasn’t the sleep deprivation supposed to come after, with the baby? I literally had no idea what sleep deprivation was until I had children. There’s simply no way to prepare for what having a baby does to your sleep. And honestly it’s bullshit the way we all treat it. Asking new moms if the baby is sleeping well. The answer is always no. And if it isn’t, it will be next week. Babies don’t sleep. Period. They’re not supposed to. I mean yes, they sleep, and when they do it’s a wonderful, deep sleep that we all dream about. But they wake up. A lot. And their sleep patterns change. Non stop.

It’s not just the lack of sleep that throws you when you become a parent. It’s how much time and energy you have to devote to getting another little person to sleep. And ready for sleep. And waking up. And doing it all over again in two hours. There’s a good couple of years where sleep and naps rule your life. Even if you don’t let them, they still do.

It’s different the second time. Our lives aren’t based around nap times, they can’t be. We have five year old who has school drop off and pick up, and ballet and skating lessons. So the baby naps in the car, and the stroller, and the baby carrier. She had to get used to it fast, and she did.

I’m drawn to photographing my kids while they sleep. I love to look at their sweet little faces, so calm. So peaceful, so innocent, and so much younger. I wish the five year old still took naps, if only just to photograph her. So I’ve decided to make some photos of sleep in my family over the next year. I have a feeling it will get a bit repetitive, and that’s ok with me. I’m really interested to see the finished series, as one large piece rather, than the individual photos. Don’t get me wrong the individual photos have to be good too, but I’ve always loved a series. I’m hoping to play with long exposures and self portraits again as well. Maybe I’ll even convince one of them to sleep under the stars and photograph that. So here’s to sleep in 2018, and hoping I get more than I did in 2017.