Thirteen weeks. Thirteen weeks of sleepless nights. I haven’t slept since March 3, 2017 at approximately 11:00 am. That’s when my water broke. That’s when shit got real. That’s when the easy part was over. That’s when coffee quit working and all the days started blending together. That’s when I got two new bags and before you ask they’re not designer; they’re permanent and located under my eyes. As you can tell, I’m handling the adjustment to Motherhood quite well!
Having a new baby at home makes me want to go back in time and bitch slap myself for every time I thought it was tired. I wasn’t tired. Nor have I ever been. I don’t want to sound as if I was completely naive to what caring for a new baby would entail (too late for that, I suppose), but I didn’t think it would be this (insert word stronger than exhaustion here).
When I got home from the hospital I was horrified to learn that it’s possible for some babies to have their days and nights mixed up and we were the lucky parents to take home a baby with that exact issue. It’s like we went home with a nocturnal creature instead of a little girl. She spent long hours of the day sleeping and I spent them doing everything but sleeping. Whoever started the whole, “sleep when the baby sleeps” thing is a crazy person. When do you do laundry or dishes or eat or shower if you’re sleeping when the baby sleeps and tending to the baby when she’s awake?
I couldn’t understand how all of my new mom friends were sharing photos on social media of themselves on exotic spring break vacations with their brand new babies, going out to dinners, wearing makeup with their hair perfectly styled? Don’t even get me started on the woman who posted “My baby is sleeping twelve hours a night all on his own at 5 weeks old!” Lucky bitch. Why was I at home in my $5 sweatpants avoiding mirrors and crying in the middle of the night?
This is probably the part of the story where you’re thinking, “Whoa, lady, call a friend or call your mom and have them stop by to give you a break!” Well, you see that’s the problem. My husband and I relocated just a little over 800 miles away from the nearest friend or family member halfway through my pregnancy for his job. There is no help. It’s just us. And since he wakes up at 4:30 am for twelve hour work days, it’s just me…
The thing about being this tired is that it basically ruins everything. Like a nightmarish game of dominoes, the extreme sleep deprivation starts with being tired and topples into exhaustion, which collapses into misery, which turns into a frantic daily search for energy through simple carbs, sugar and caffeine. I have become someone who’s impossible to get along with most days as I continue to pour every ounce of energy into my child. I pretend to be excited when my husband exclaims about what a great workout he had today or how he’s off to get a haircut. I pretend not to resent the fact that he gets to leave the house and do something as selfish as exercise and trips to the salon while I’m stuck here working on scheduling and sleep training.
This is probably the part of the story where you’re thinking, “Get a grip. He works so you don’t have to you. This is your job now. Maybe you should let her cry it out? Maybe you could try putting her in the nursery that might as well be a mile and a half away from your room? Maybe you shouldn’t be such wimp.” I could, but I’m too tired to experiment. I’m too tired to try…I have surpassed the point of trying new things and have succumbed to the “what’s the best way for me to sleep sitting up holding a baby” method.
I know it doesn’t last forever. I know eventually we’ll figure this out. But when you’re in the thick of something like this everything just seems hopeless and hard and desperate. When I’m cleaning up a blowout at 3:00 am after spending the last hour feeding and trying to get my baby back to sleep I wonder why the hell I thought having a baby would make life meaningful, fulfilling. It’s in those moments that her little eyes find mine in the dark and she smiles…