Before my son was born, I had no idea how good my sleep life was. On the weekends especially, it wasn't unusual for me to sleep in until noon. Sometimes 1 pm if it was a really late night. (Anyone else ever find themselves kind of
hating envying their pre-mom selves? No? Just me? 🤷🏽♀️)
I remember being pregnant and everyone saying, "Get as much sleep as you can now." I knew that having a newborn meant sleep deprivation, but I felt like everyone was being so extreme in their advice to me. Yeah, you don't sleep, but they start sleeping through the night eventually right? Like at 2 months old, right?
(Oh, pre-mom me. You naive, sweet soul.)
Let's say those first two weeks home were truly eye-opening. Literally eye-opening because it was a rare moment when I could actually close my eyes. The first night home was especially brutal.
I had not slept well in the hospital—not being able to get used to the low buzz of the hospital sounds, having random nurses or doctors come in and out of my room, and oh yeah, staring at this squishy little newborn alien that was now mine to take care of and be completely responsible for. (That thought alone is enough to keep any woman lying awake when she should be sleeping, regardless of her child's age.)
So that first night home, I craved sleep. All my tired mind and sore body begged for was rest. In my own bed. For at least 12-14 hours straight. I went to bed earlier than I ever had before. The baby was sleeping soundly in his bassinet next to me and I thought it was my chance to catch up on what I was owed.
One hour later, the little one was crying and hungry. I popped out of bed to feed him. He settled down, I changed his diaper and got him back to sleep. Back to his bassinet. Back to my bed.
Thirty minutes later, it happened again. How can he possibly be hungry again? I thought. I stared at my husband and that's when we both realized we had a long night ahead of us.
The next morning (or really, what felt like the continuation of one very long day), I got up and wondered how I was going to do this. I hadn't slept. I felt like a shadow and my mind was as foggy as ever. I was walking around in what felt like a completely foreign postpartum body, and now my sleep-addled brain was going, too.
How do people 'mom' like this? I thought.
They just do, I would later realize.
Moms who are sleep-deprived just get through the day and do what they need to to keep their family's world—and their own—spinning on its axis.
Even though they're sleep-deprived, moms get up and make breakfast. They get their kids dressed for school, buckle them into their car seats and make it to preschool drop-off on time.
Even though they're sleep-deprived, moms remember to bring their pump to work. They get dressed for the big meeting, pat each hair perfectly into place and walk into the building looking and acting like the boss they are.
Even though they're sleep-deprived, moms serve up the no-foam, double-shot mocha latte with Stevia instead of sugar the customer orders. They remember to hold the bread, serve the ranch on the side, and ask the cook if there are any peanuts in the recipe.
Even though they're sleep-deprived, mamas tame the tantrums. They soothe their 2-year-old in the middle of the aisle in Target during an epic meltdown and they still don't forget to grab the milk they went shopping for in the first place.
Even though they're sleep-deprived, mamas sing funny songs to make the baby laugh. They tickle chubby baby bellies, they rock their precious one to sleep for as long as it takes to see those soft baby eyelids flutter closed and content.
Even though they're sleep-deprived, mamas get themselves ready for that first day back at work from maternity leave. They sit at their computer facing a blank screen and know that they can do this today, even though they miss their baby desperately. Because they are ridiculously good at their job.
Even though they're sleep-deprived, moms change that 6th diaper of the day. They wipe up the 50th time the baby spits up. They put away the same toy for the 8th time that day.
Even though they're sleep-deprived, moms ask their friends or partner how their day was. They listen intently to the problem or great thing that happened and commiserate or celebrate accordingly.
Even though they're sleep deprived, moms rally to go out for girl's night. They answer the distraught message their best friend sent them—even if it is a day (or three) later. They cook up an extra meal for the neighbor who just had a baby.
Even though they're sleep-deprived, mamas check their babies' temperatures. They wait for fevers to break. They call the doctor in the middle of the night. They lay beside their children on tiny twin mattresses, offering comfort for stuffy noses and worn-out little bodies.
Even though they're sleep-deprived, mamas want to feel like themselves. So they stay up late. To get a little bit of me time and binge-watch Younger or The Bachelor or finish reading that novel or listen to that podcast that she'd heard such great things about.
Even though they're sleep-deprived, mamas push to check off everything on their to-do list. They squeeze in one more load of laundry or finish cleaning that last pile of dishes so it won't be waiting tomorrow. They go around the house checking windows and doors to make sure everyone is safe. They stay up worrying even though they desperately need to sleep.
As my newborn grew into the toddler he is now, I learned more and more what I could accomplish on two, three, four, hours of sleep. I became amazed—and still am—by what I see my fellow mamas and myself achieve.
Just imagine how much more we could get done on a full night's sleep.
You might also like:
- How to cope when you've had no sleep 😴
- You're not imagining it: Mothers are sleep deprived for the first 6 years of parenthood
- From one sleep-deprived mama to another, please rest