When I brought my little girl home from the hospital, we were both recovering from a major ordeal. Failed labor and an emergency c-section for me, a three weeks early entrance into the world and a stay in the NICU for her. In those early days, as we focused on fattening her up (really, feeding her enough to make sure her jaundice and low blood sugar issues resolved), my husband and I would wake her up every 2 hours around the clock and pop a bottle (or in my case, a boob) into her mouth. There was never any time for either of us to sleep, and yet somehow, I felt fine. I thought I had discovered a new super power– the ability to function without sleep, fueled by baby snuggles, Coke (not the drug), and the cheese and crackers that were all I ever had time to eat. What are all those other parents complaining about, I wondered? It seemed doable. Not as bad as everyone had made it out to be.
Then the crash came. Somewhere around 5 weeks, the adrenaline wore off. And then I realized that I was completely delusional, and that my baby might in fact be a tiny CIA agent determined to break me through sleep deprivation. Since then, I’ve probably spent 40% of every day yawning, and wondering when my baby will finally sleep through the night. As she gets older, her disdain for sleep seems to grow in direct proportion to my all-consuming yearn for it. And while I sleep like the dead, my baby girl’s eye fly open at the slightest provocation.
Offending noises/actions include:
My stomach growling. Her own farts. Her daddy’s farts. Me pressing the home button on my iPhone. The creaky floorboard next to her bassinet. Hunger, which, judging from the volume of her cries was near starvation level– although it was eventually sated by approximately 7 drops of milk. Coughing- her or me. Sneezing- her or me. The sound of my back cracking. Her pacifier falling out. Me sighing. Me sitting down to any meal ever. Me hitting play on Netflix. Me trying to sleep. Turning on the faucet in the kitchen. Bedroom doorknob jiggling. Any door in the house being opened or shut. Zipping or unzipping any article of clothing. Cracking open a soda can. Phone ringing. Microwave dinging. The arm of my glasses clicking as I folded them up. Blowing my nose (because of a cold she gave me) Me turning over in bed (even though she was not in bed with me). Me stealing a kiss (I never learn).
Part of me knows that this exhausting stage won’t last forever, and that it’s not like she’s going to go off to college one day and still be waking up for a snack 3 times a night (unless she’s the hugest stoner ever). Another part of me feels like I should just accept that this is my life now, that my constant drowsiness will leave me unable to ever again stay awake in a movie theater, or operate heavy machinery.
Most people (friends with kids, family members, our pediatrician) assure me that this no sleep phase will be over in a few short months. I obviously hate those people. (Just kidding). (Okay, half kidding). Until that blessed day comes, I’ll suck it up, and the smiles baby girl gives me when I scoop her up at night will keep me going. And I’ll take solace in the fact that for those times when it’s just too much, and I feel like I just can’t handle another wake up–then it’s daddy’s turn.