Before I had Little E, just about a month ago, I would have killed for a full night’s sleep. My back hurt, I couldn’t sleep on my stomach, I was waking up every few hours… I would look at my peacefully sleeping husband and think horrible, horrible thoughts in my sleep-deprived jealousy. I couldn’t wait to give birth and be able to sleep again.
I know what you’re thinking: “How did she think she was going to sleep with a newborn?” This is not my first rodeo, folks. I knew what I was getting myself into. But the first time around, I did it alone. My daughter’s father was not in the picture. I woke up for every feeding and diaper change. I was there for everything. I dealt with sleep deprivation like a champ. But this time around, I had my loving husband by my side. Surely I would be able to alternate middle of the night feedings with him. Together we would get through this without a hitch.
Sure, I remembered how hard it was. Sure, I had read about women who wanted to strangle their husbands in their sleep. But my husband and I are a team! We were going to beat those odds.
The two days after I had Little E, while we were still in the hospital, confirmed everything I believed. My husband was the epitome of what new dads should be. I couldn’t get out of bed so he changed every diaper and was hands on with all of the feedings. It was a beautiful thing to watch… this transformation that he made. Before, he was the man who wouldn’t hold anyone else’s baby – ever. But here he was, so involved in our own fragile little newborn. It’s still beautiful to watch them together. But I digress.
We came home from the hospital and things stayed roughly the same. I would wake up for the midnight and 3am feedings, then T would take the 6am and 9am shift. Or vice versa. I would get up with the baby for an entire night so that he could catch up on sleep, then he would do the same for me. His nights became increasingly more difficult, as the baby wouldn’t seem to go back to sleep for him, so I tried to take a couple nights in a row to his one night.
Then I told him that I was mostly recovered from my c-section and he went back to work. The babymoon was officially over.
Please let me preface this by saying that my husband is still very involved with the baby. It is not me against the world, even when I’m so tired that I feel like it is.
Depending upon his work schedule, he still tries to help out in the middle of the night, which I am eternally grateful for. Then there are the nights that he can’t help and even though these nights are not his fault, I look at him peacefully sleeping and I wish harm on him. Not death or dismemberment, but at the very least the same excruciating calf cramps that would wake me up from a deep slumber while I was pregnant. I’m sure he’s wished the same upon me those nights when the baby gives him a hard time and I’m fast asleep. I’ve snapped at him over the stupidest things… something I was hoping would end after the surge of pregnancy hormones had escaped my scarred, shriveling body. We often go to bed barely speaking now, not because we’re angry with each other (as far as I know) but more out of sheer exhaustion. There’s a good chance that at any given moment in our house either someone is sleeping (the baby) or someone needs a nap (either one of us).
To the teenagers out there thinking, “I want a baby so that I have someone who loves me forever,” or the early 20-somethings thinking you’re ready, I say this: This is how you know if you’ve found true love or not. When you are so tired that you want to physically harm the person you love, but you stop yourself because you would miss them and your life would be infinitely worse without them in it, that is true love. I have found that with the man of my dreams… even on the days when I’m fighting for 5 more minutes of sleep.