It is fair to say that I had never obsessed about sleep so much as I did in the early throes of motherhood. In fact, I had never obsessed about anything as much as I obsessed about sleep in those first few months. Sure, I was told umpteen times during my pregnancy to make the most of a full night’s sleep now, whilst I was still able to. So I can’t say I wasn’t warned – but it doesn’t really work like that does it?
With so much else going on, my thought was to just deal with it head-on when the time came. After all, if generations of parents before me had tackled these hefty shortfalls of Zzz and survived to tell the next generation of pro-creators to ‘make the most of their sleep whilst they could’, then how bad could it be?
I have to admit, the first night was hard. My body clock was not prepped for the onslaught that was about to take place; neither did it want to be. We stayed in hospital that night, just me and our brand new daughter. Feeling slightly over confident, we decided it would be best for David to go home, prepare the house and, ha, get some sleep. I had been in latent labour for 5 days (and nights) so we had both been suffering the adverse effects of sleep damage already.
Since being born at dawn, she had pretty much slept all day. My head still buzzing from the enormity of what had happened that morning, there was no way I could catch up on my misplaced sleep. I lay on the bed beside her, watching her sleep. As the lights went out in the corridor, I was looking forward to a night, free of the pains of labour. As I shifted down in the bed and pulled the sheets up over me, she suddenly woke with a small but very persistent cry. What’s this? Barely a murmur all day and now that it’s lights out…. What followed that night was a series of precautionary nappy changes, cluster feeds and general pacing around the room in a bid to soothe her tears. As soon as it got to a reasonable hour – 6am – I rang David “We’ve been awake all night, you have to come in now”. Of course, by the time David arrived back at the hospital, all was calm once more. I may have been warned about the general lack of sleep but I hadn’t anticipated the full-on nocturnal nature of it all.
Feeding times were frequent and sometimes just for comfort. I found it near impossible to transfer her from my lap to her basket without her waking and requiring the full feed cycle over again. As sheer tiredness took hold, I would grab every opportunity to pass her to David so I could make a break for it. Diving under that duvet and closing my eyes, if only for a few minutes, felt so good.
The sleep destitution continued into the coming months. I wanted to sleep so badly but at the same time, didn’t want to miss a single moment of the precious roller coaster ride that I was on. I somehow found the tenacity to power through the days and nights with all the nervous energy and excitement that a new baby brings. There is very little that can prepare you for this life-changing event, but one thing I do know, it is worth every moment.
Posted in: Sleeping