the machine

Tell someone you are going to have your first baby, and inevitably you'll hear, "get your sleep now" as they chuckle devilishly.

The exhortation often comes from those recently sleep deprived parents, wishing they still lived the days where they could carelessly sleep until the sun or alarm woke them up.

I'll confess, my reaction to the "get your sleep" now warnings is often taken with a grain of salt. I think - how bad could it be. I've gone without sleep before. I can do this.

Then the other night we were watching the Princess Bride on TV - and a particular scene rang with an impending sense of destiny. Here is the dialogue (more or less) between Westley and the Albino:

Westley: Where am I?
The Albino: [raspy voice] The Pit of Despair... don't even think about trying to escape. The chains are far too thick. Don't dream of being rescued, either; the only way in is secret. Only the Prince, the Count, and I know how to get in and out.
Westley: So I'm here till I die?
The Albino: Until they kill you, yeah.
Westley: Then why bother curing me?
The Albino: Well, the Prince and Count always insist on everyone being healthy before they're broken.
Westley: So it's to be torture?
The Albino: [nods enthusiastically]
Westley: I can cope with torture.
The Albino: [shakes head enthusiastically]
Westley: Don't believe me?
The Albino: You survived the Fire Swamp, so you must be very brave, but no one withstands The Machine.

Just like Westley was confident in his ability to withstand torture, so am I in my confidence to suffer through sleep deprivation. It's not that I've had ample experience with this - the closest I've been to sleep deprivation was completely voluntary, when Ashley and I were dating in Washington DC, hanging out until 2-3 am on a week night, waking up at six am to go to work - working a full day, and doing it all over again. Weekends weren't much better, but at least I was able to catch up with an epic 3-4 hour nap on Sunday.

Another thing in the works here is, I kind of want to prove people wrong and that I am strong where they are weak. Like, "yeah, no sleep, must be rough... if you are a weak-willed simpleton."

Just like Westley was brave and confident in the face of torture - so am I in the threat of losing sleep.

Confidence aside, we all know how the story ends. The machine breaks Westley. Stay tuned to see if our own little Prince Humperdink breaks us.


Johnny said...

The shock will be worse for you than Ashley. She has been slowly being prepared by having to get up and go to the bathroom with increasing frequency at night. So by the time the baby is born she will actually be getting more sleep. However, I assume by your bike riding, whole grain, all natural life style, that you won't be bottle feeding, so there is only so much the father can do in the night. I wouldn't worry too much.

david said...

johnny. have you been spying on us? ashley has been getting up, 3-4 times a night.

we won't be bottle feeding, that is correct.

so, that means that i'm useless. i have been told that i can go up and get prince humperdink to mom so as to play some (albeit an insignificant) role in the process.

i have also been warned that this is a time where raw nerves can be exposed. thoughts?

Serena Cherry said...

getting the baby for your wife in the middle of the night is not insignificant...take it from one who definitely doesn't want to get out of bed at 2:30am. This post couldn't have come at a better time. Charlotte woke up hysterically crying at 4:30am after our staying up until 1:00am. Then Lane had a fever and Charlotte would not be consoled back to sleep for 2 hours! Chris and I were dying! Miserably trying to help her go to sleep. We finally all fell back asleep only to be woken up around 7:15 by Lane. It feels like "the machine." or worse.

david said...

thanks serena, i feel better about my role as the "delivery boy."

also... all i can say about your experience with charlotte is this.

not to fifty!

Blythe said...

On a message board I hang out on, someone made an interesting comment. It was about wedding days, not babies, but the principle is the same. She said that if everything goes perfectly, it will be boring. It's the tough stuff that makes a good story. Her point was that when it seems like everything is going to hell in a hand basket, you can think about how much fun you'll have telling the story later.

The night no one slept because all six people in the family had a virulent, nasty projectile vomiting virus was horrible (Finn was a baby at the time). Now I just think about it and it's hilarious to me. At the time, it was much less hilarious.

Alison said...


david said...

alison. i think i speak for the both ashley and i when i say, we could use a little more enthusiasm from you when it comes to our child.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, who's to say what you're going to get as far as sleep with a new baby? Malcolm was sleeping 5 hours at a time when he was born. You'll adapt to whatever surfaces when your baby arrives. I have confidence that you're fully capable of being awesome parents and the joys of which will far surpass any "pit of despair" circumstances that may temporarily enter your lives. It's all about finding the magic nob . . .

david said...

jeremiah and or hillary - way to take the metaphor to the next level. that is the kind of participation i like to see!

Dawn D. Lion said...

Two words: family bed. My philosophy is, the sooner you (you meaning Ashley) can roll over and nurse baby without truly waking up, the better. It took longer to get to that point with Ivan - 3 months. With Xine it was like 2 weeks.
If you're nervous about putting your baby in your bed (there's been all these biased studies that have come out lately) consider a sidecar arrangement. Really the closer to your bed=less you have to wake up to deal w/ him. Just my 2 cents!

Sarah said...

I have to disagree with Johnny and agree with Serena. You will get more sleep than Ashley . . . easily! If you don't do bottle feeding and you don't supplement her nursing with formula, then Ashley will have it the hardest. And, again, I have to agree with Serena, the least you can do (as insignificant as it may sound) is get the baby and bring the baby to Ashley in the middle of the night and then she can get up and put the baby back to bed. We're pregnant with baby #3 and I'm already dreading the first couple of months. It makes me groan. Sorry to sound like such a downer! Geez! I guess I should say something wonderful now. Children are a joy.

MF said...