Like really tired. Like reaching for a third cup of coffee tired. But that’s because I’ve been up all night working—by choice.
So I really can’t complain.
However, nothing will ever compare to the first time we had a baby and the sleep deprivation was absolutely crippling.
Just for a little understanding, I was in immense pain from an unplanned cesarean (thank you little breech baby) and on top of that we were up pumping ‘round the clock and feeding colostrum to our baby with a spoon due to a really super duper hard start to breastfeeding.
We were just getting used to the idea of being responsible for our new tiny human, and a good night for me was finding a position to sleep in that didn’t make me cry in my sleep.
The last thing my tired behind needed was to hear someone asking if my two-week old was sleeping through the night yet.
All I wanted to say was, “No, Sharon. She sure isn’t.”
But here’s the deal: babies aren’t supposed to sleep through the night.
The idea that we have to be super moms and everything has to be perfect otherwise you’re failing is complete nonsense. Yet that question is implying exactly that.
If you scroll through popular parenting sites, they’re riddled with questions along the line of, “My baby seems to be up all night. Is this normal?”
Well read all the responses. IT’S COMPLETELY NORMAL.
Moms around the world are going through this and they think they’ve somehow failed at “moming” because their baby isn’t sleeping eight hours straight.
Yes, of course at some point your child will sleep through the night. This isn’t a doomsday article. Eventually all children sleep.
And if your tiny human is sleeping eight or more hours at night, do not say it out loud. Do not even think about it. And do not let that tiny being know you know because they’ll go on strike. It’s science I’m pretty sure.
Little ones have gone from a warm, dark, completely safe jacuzzi to a bright, cold, new world. That takes time to adjust to. Haven’t you ever had trouble sleeping in a new, unfamiliar place?
All they want is the same feeling of safety, warmth, and you. So they tell you in the only way they know how—crying. Loud crying in the middle of the night.
Or, even better, when it’s too early to be awake but late enough that you can’t go back to sleep.
So what do you do? How do you you cope with having to survive on little or no sleep?
1. This is your new normal
Sure, when you were in college you could sleep until 1:00pm. That won’t happen now. But that’s because it’s a new season of life. If you play the then vs. now game, you’re going to be focused on what you’re lacking rather than practicing gratitude for the here and now. You can think of it as a cliche, glass-half-empty vs. glass-half-full mentality choice.
2. Throw out all clocks
Cover them. Time does not exist in those first couple of weeks. Sleep when you feel tired, eat when you’re hungry, and drink as much water as your body will hold.
Let go of the idea of a schedule and just go with the flow. When you can release control over needing to get things done, you can bask in the glory that is newborn life and all its wonderful chaos as you get to know each other.
3. Put the phone down
First of all, it’s a clock. And when you reach for it in
the middle of the night, you don’t need to see that you’ve only been asleep for twenty minutes or that the baby has been nursing for an eternity. See number two for more details.
Second, ten bucks says you’ll end up on social media. When you’re sitting on a pad that resembles something more like a diaper, you’ve got spit up on your shirt, and a sleeve of crackers on your lap, you don’t need to see perfectly cropped and filtered images of people’s highlight reel. It triggers the comparison game and that, my friend, is a deep, dark hole that you don’t want to mess with.
So grab a book or take up crochet. Whatever sparks your interest! Have something to do that you enjoy to pass the time and keep your hands away from the phone.
4. Break rule number three
Hold on! Don’t go crazy!
The real title should be, “Ask for Help.”
Pick up that handy portable device and call a friend.
Need to take a shower but you’re alone? Call a friend. Trust me, they’re more than happy to hold a baby.
Need to wash some laundry but are stuck on the couch dealing with cluster feeding in your last clean shirt? Call a friend.
Need some ice cream and more extra large super maxi pads? Call a friend.
I promise you, people want to help but most don’t know how. Instead, they’ll say things like, “Let me know if you need anything,” and be on their way, when really that means, “Please call me and tell me what I can do to help you because I want to but I’m feeling a bit lost.”
Hold on, I’m not trying to start a mom-war here. Read first, comment later.
Co-sleeping, by definition, is having the baby sleep within f
ive feet of you. Yes, this does include bed sharing (having the baby in the same bed with you), but it doesn’t have to.
There are many ways to safely co-sleep and there are so many benefits to it.
More sleep for mom is the biggest benefit, but co-sleep
ing benefits also include increased breastfeeding rates, lower rate of SIDS, and better sleep for babies. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics says the best place for a baby to sleep is in the parents’ bedroom for at least 6 months, 12 months being even better. You can find that here.
HOWEVER, co-sleeping is only safe and appropriate if you follow the Safe Sleep Rules.
Hopefully these tips can help you get a little bit more sleep in those early days and help you stay a little more sane.
Not all families are the same, though, and some of these my work for you but none of them may work for your neighbor. That is motherhood. When that happens, all I can say is take a breath, go with the flow as much as possible, and do some research on Postpartum Doulas! We are magic fairies that come in to help make the newborn phase easier for all families.