wileypeter: (Erosion)
You know how you'd see friends waiting for a pal to have his first hangover, just so he'd finally know that particular pain? So he'd nod knowingly when they'd describe a particular morning after?

That's a mild version of what I've been seeing from a whole bunch of friends who have been parents, every time I'd mention school and how little sleep I got during certain stretches of studio classes. I could see it in their eyes and hear it in their tone of voice.

Just wait. You don't know sleep deprivation. Wait 'til you have a kid.

Most have been subtle. Some have not. But, and I'm sorry to say this, most, even some close friends, have had a condescending tone. You think you've been tired. WE know tired. I've found the attitude annoying, but I'd tried not to push back at it because I hadn't experienced new parenthood, so they might have had a point.

Over the last two weeks I have been experiencing firsthand the joys and frustrations of caring for a newborn. No major colic, but he has what seems to be a cold and an eye infection, for which we get to apply ointment to his eyes four times a day. I've been up a lot. I'm tired. Quite tired. It's taken me two hours to type this between Matthew's crying jags. (My wife is asleep. I take him for three hours at a time between feedings, barring his major hunger, so she can continue to recover from the c-section. Two or three of these in a row, should the kid allow, and she's much happier. I like making her happy.)

But I'm here to tell you this: I'm getting more sleep now than I did during the last week to two weeks of any studio I've ever taken. Or the last month of my Masters degree. Dealing with a screaming child is a wholly different kind of pain, and I'm more than happy to acknowledge that. But don't come to me and tell me you're tired and I wasn't. Go to school for architecture or design then we'll talk as equals in experience*. (This doesn't apply to parents of ill children, keeping vigil for days in a hospital room. I wouldn't dare compare my experiences to that.) The standard newborn allows for more sleep than I ever got during crunch week. And counting the number of times I've been awake for between 36 and 50 hours for school requires more fingers and toes than I have.

I appreciate that the parents I know didn't sleep much. I'm not sleeping much. It's hard. But cop an attitude with me about your sleep deprivation at your own peril. Now that I've been through both the first two weeks of parenthood and the last month of my Thesis I can say this with authority: Most of you don't have a faint clue how far sleep deprivation can go. To match Thesis sleep dep I'd have to get three hours of sleep every night for the next two weeks. No naps, either.

Sorry to be so cranky. I'm just finally realizing how incredibly bogus the attitude copped was, and I'm just tired enough to want to express my attitude.

And as tired as I was then, I have to say that's still likely less as punishing as that endured in medical school. After 36 hours of being awake I've glued myself to models, cut myself with exacto knives and had to be talked out of sectioning old shoes on a band saw. I cannot imagine taking responsibility for someone's medical care.

EDIT (2:04am): Still up. Still dealing w/the kid. Still ahead of the curve, vs. school.

*The reason? Architecture is never finished. You're done when you have to show it to the client/instructor/public, but you could conceivably work on any project twenty-four hours a day for the entire quarter/semester and still have unfinished work. On top of the same level of research required of any college class. So most students do their damnedest to do just that. I did. One studio ended with none of the 23 hours of sleep I got in the last seven days being in the last two days. And then I had to stand up in front of my work and explain it to well-rested architects. For your sake I hope you are never that tired. A good deal of my bad attitude here stems from folks who got a degree in English Lit or Sociology thinking they know what my degree required. All majors are not created equal.


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