It’s been three-and-a-half months since I’ve slept through the night.
July 2nd. That was my last FULLY restful night. That’s insane, right?! AHHH!! (I’m exhausted just typing this, guys.😴)
I’ve always valued my sleep. I freaking love to sleep. Who doesn’t, right?! My aim has always been 8-9 hours/night. Anything less than 6… don’t EVEN with me! 😜
Anyway… no one really tells you how much sleep deprivation will mess with you once you have a baby. Sure, you know you’ll be up a lot and that you’ll be exhausted, but until you’re IN the thick of it, it’s hard to know the affects it’ll have on your mind, body, emotions, patience, and ability to cope with simple, every day things like making meals, holding conversations, running errands and exercising (hello, balance!).
(Jeeze, Ari… this is sounding like a harsh post!)
I’m just trying to keep it real for you new moms and mamas-to-be.
Prepare to sleep a LOT less than you ever have before (sorry!) for these reasons:
– Baby is hungry (duh!) Get ready to nurse/feed every hour or two in the beginning. Then it’ll start to space out once your baby grows a bit and can hold more food to keep them satisfied throughout the night.
– Baby needs soothing. If you’re swaddling, using a pacifier, or have any noises that can startle your LO, get ready to hold, rock, and soothe them back to sleep.
– You’re engorged. It’s SUPER uncomfortable in the beginning when your milk is starting to come in. Sleeping on full boobs hurts, guys. So even if you wanna sleep, you’re gonna have to nurse or pump…
– Pumping. If you’re a breastpumper like me, you’ll be doing a MOTN (middle of the night) pump to keep your supply up. So even if your baby is sleeping, you should be getting up to pump. I know… rough.
– Cleaning up. If you have a spitter on your hands like me, you may have a mess that needs attention like wet sheets. It really blows but who wants to sleep on a puddle?! I’m not gonna lie… there was a time we just put a towel down. We were too tired to change anything.
– Diaper change. We’ve learned our lesson now about this one. There’s really no need to change a diaper at night unless it’s sopping wet or a dirty one. But of course if your baby isn’t hungry, the reason they could be crying is because of that.
– Baby didn’t get enough daytime sleep/naps. This one’s important. Babies nap… a lot. Like, hi, jealous! So when they don’t get the best naps in during the daytime hours, their nighttime sleep can suffer. You’d think they’d be overly tired and would knock out for the night, but it is, in fact, the other way around. Make sure your LO naps HARD.
– General anxiety. Yep… even if your newborn is sleeping well one night, you could be struggling because, ummmm, you’re worried about their breathing, their sudden, weird baby noises (totally normal btw), their swaddle and if it’s covering their mouth, if the AC is too loud and will wake them, if your husband’s snoring is bothering them (because it sure is getting to someone else ;)), if you disabled your phone’s morning alarm clock. You get it…
And, if you’re anything like me, you can’t just fall right back to sleep once you’re up. You’re too stimulated. My mind starts going to work and I can’t knock out. (Are you one of those lucky ones who can drift right back into dreamland? Errrr!!)
What I’ve found that works best for me during those MOTN wake-ups is this routine: Keeping all the lights off (minus one super dim one we use to just see around), not talking to Henry or Sam, not using or looking at my phone, and keeping calm and quiet the whole feeding/changing/soothing.
Those early weeks are rough, man. ROUGH! Just as you fall asleep, you’re up again. And again. And again. And the next day feels like a blurry, foggy haze. You’re emotional and tired AF, and when other people murmur “I’m just soooooo tired today,” you wanna go OFF of them, lol!
You wonder if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You Google the hell out of “baby sleep”, “sleep training”, “baby development”, “baby sleep cycles”, “night feedings”, “newborn sleep schedules” and so on…
You cry a little. Ok, a lot. And wonder when you’ll ever sleep again. You nap when you can during the day, but it doesn’t add up to a solid night’s rest. Or, you nap and as soon as you drift off into well-deserved lalaland, LO wakes and you’re back into mom mode.
You honestly start to go a little crazy. You forget to shower or brush your teeth, your coffee’s gone cold, and your fashion sense has seen much better days.
And there’s a but.
The weeks turn into months and that little newborn is starting to grow LOTS and thrive a little more, independently even, and one night… maybe soon… you look at the clock and your mini me has slept maybe 3, 4, 5, 6, dare I say SEVEN hours!! One long chunk of a good night’s sleep. You smile to the ceiling, turn to poke your partner in bed, and say…. “Oh my god, it’s 3am!! We just slept 6 hours!” It’ll feel like a dream.
Baby’s learning to sleep. Their stomachs are bigger, holding more food. Their sleep cycles lengthen. They become familiar with what their bedtime routines is. They value their sleep and can even self-soothe a little bit. Bless UP!
Sure, there are sleep regressions, “off” nights, and growth spurts where the wakes/feedings are more frequent again, but man, when you CAN get that sleep and when it DOES happen…
It. Is. Glorious.
You’ll want to sing out loud while doing a little shoulder shimmy, “Man, I feel like a woman!!!” 😂🙌🏼
Good sleep changes everyyyyyything.
Your mood. Your attitude. Your ability to function. Your relationship with your partner, family, and friends. Your appetite. Your drive. Your happiness.
And truly, when your baby smiles, giggles and stares into your soul in those wee-hours of the morning…. you know you could NEVER be upset or mad at them for needing your love, nourishment, and affection like they do.
You’re their world. Their best friend. You’re all they know.
Here are my tips for more restful night sleep once baby arrives:
– Try to go to bed as close to the time that they do, even if it seems crazy early like 7/8pm. You might surprise yourself and knock out because of how tired you are. We tend to go to bed an hour after Henry does. Gotta soak up those hours! Plus, I’ll take sleep over Netflix binging ANY night.
– Take sleep shifts with your partner. Maybe you sleep 8pm-1am and do the first feeding (if using bottles) while your partner grabs the second half of the night. Sam and I did this the first couple months and it was really great for our sanity.
– If you are home with baby during the week and your partner works, ask for more weekend help. Sam will help me out TONS on the weekend and it gives me so much more time to sleep. It’s heavenly!
– Use a co-sleeper bassinet. It can attach to the bed for easy access to baby for nursing/feeding. This is what we use still and it’s so easy to pick up Henry and soothe him without having to get all the way up and out of bed. Believe me, if you keep having to get up and down from bed, you’ll start losing your patience FAST.
– White noise. I find it not only helps the baby sleep but also offers a nice noise for me to drift off to. We just use our fan/AC, but I know tons of people who swear by white noise machines.
– Ask for help from family. If you live near family and they can cover you for a night here or there, take them up on it. Seriously.
– Try to remain calm an relaxed. Get into a sleepy mood and look forward to bed. Don’t think about how the night MIGHT turn out. Go to sleep happy and grateful.
Lack of sleep is just part of the whole new mom lifestyle. We’re all in it together. (That’s kindaaaaa nice, right?!) It’s a chapter. A phase. A shitty reality. 🙃
“This too shall pass.”
Man, that quote has helped me so much lately. With many things.
Get those zzzzz’s in where you can. Cry if you want. Bitch a little if it helps. Ask for some DAMN help, girl. And know, in just a few months… it’ll get better and you’ll be sleeping more and worrying less.
Ahhhh, the glory and the lack of sleep. This is parenthood.