Thank you all for the nice comments on the last post. I should clarify- Hubby doesn't really give me any grief for the differences in our to do lists. He (usually) recognizes the fact that I do a lot of things that he can't do (e.g., make milk for the baby) or that don't show up on to do lists (e.g., figure out new routines and processes so that our life "flows" again). The criticism is all in my own head!
One thing that I can't claim, though, is that he's getting more sleep than me. I think we're both getting about the same amount of sleep right now. Petunia wakes up to eat twice per night. Hubby does the first feeding with a bottle of breastmilk and settles her back in the co-sleeper. During this part of the night, he is sleeping in our bedroom with Petunia and I am on our sofa. If Petunia doesn't cry too much during this first wake up and if Pumpkin doesn't fall out of bed or loose her socks or something like that, I might even sleep straight through to Petunia's second feeding. This gives me 4-5 hours of uninterrupted sleep, which is what I need to function well.
When Petunia wakes up for her second feeding, Hubby comes and gets me, and we switch places. Petunia is often very restless after this feeding, so I may or may not get any further sleep. Hubby sleeps on the sofa until Pumpkin wakes us both up ("Mommy! I turned on my light all by myself! I want to watch my horsey show!"), usually about 3-4 hours after Hubby moved to the sofa.
This is obviously not our ideal sleep situation. We, for instance, would like to both sleep in our bed again at some point. However, it is working so far, and we are cautiously optimistic that things might improve. Petunia, you see, is completely unlike Pumpkin was in the nighttime sleep department. First of all, I can put her down with her eyes open and she will shuffle about a bit and then fall asleep without me even in the room. Pumpkin still needs me (or more precisely, my hair) in her bed with her in order to fall asleep.
Petunia's first stretch of sleep lasts between 4 and 5 hours, and subsequent stretches are 3-4 hours. At this age, Pumpkin's longest stretch of sleep was about 3 hours, and after that, she wanted to eat every two hours (and remember, we count from the start of one feeding to the start of the next- so I would often only get 20-30 minutes of rest before the cycle started again).
When I tell people that Pumpkin wakes up at 6 a.m. most mornings, people sympathize with me for having such an early bird. This is nice, but a bit funny, since we were very excited when she started sleeping in until 6. When Pumpkin was a baby, she started her days at 4:30 a.m. She didn't sleep in until 6 until she was almost one year old. Petunia, on the other hand, didn't wake up for the day today until almost 7.
Yes, Petunia is just better at sleep than Pumpkin. However, I know that she is not the gold standard in baby sleep. We have friends whose babies sleep far better than Petunia does at night. And Petunia hasn't really figured out the nap thing yet. She wants to be held for most of her naps. I can usually get her down for one nap per day, but I can't predict which nap that will be. For instance, she is sleeping happily in her moses basket now. I had thought that she'd be awake and fussy about now, and that I'd be taking her for a walk to deal with that and (hopefully) coax her into taking her final nap of the day. I even had an errand planned for our walk. I guess that errand will wait until tomorrow! And there will be no nap for me- it is too late in the day for that.
I wish I understood the reason for the striking differences in sleep patterns between our two girls, and why some other babies sleep better than either of mine. I swear that our parenting style has not changed between babies. It seems pretty clear to me that there are some differences in sleep patterns that are set at birth. Is it all genetic? Afterall, Pumpkin's sleep patterns were very similar to mine as a baby, and like her, I still have a hard time falling asleep sometimes. Was there some influence from my diet while pregnant? I took fish oil supplements this time around. Did the fact that Pumpkin was born 5 days early and Petunia was born 2 days late have anything to do with it? I do not know.
Regardless of the underlying cause, what is the mechanism? Is there some protein (or more likely, set of proteins) in the brain that determines how easily we fall asleep and whether we stay asleep through the night?
If I were still choosing my own research directions, I'd be tempted to start trying to figure these things out. Last time I checked in, we were starting to sort out the components that set our internal body clocks, i.e., the proteins that determine whether you're an early bird like Pumpkin or more of a night owl like I was before I had kids. I don't recall seeing anything about the mechanism that enables us to actually fall asleep. But maybe we know more than I realize- I am not up to date on the literature in this area, and frankly, I'm too tired to try to fix that!