On the 19th of February this year I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. He is absolutely perfect. He is the most amazing thing I have ever seen and he makes me want to write poems and sing songs about him. The love I feel for him is immerse and indescribable.
My baby boy however did not, until recently, know how to sleep for more than 1.5 hours. I did what I thought were all the right things but I rarely could get him to sleep longer than that. Sometimes he’d throw me a bone and sleep for three hours but this was rare and unpredictable. For the first 4 months I handled sleep deprivation quite well but as the months dragged on my desperation grew.
Like a lot of people, while I was pregnant I read a lot trying to prepare myself for what I was in for. I never found anything on sleep deprivation. I found a lot on the sunshine and rainbows that is having a baby and quite a bit on PND, but not much on sleep deprivation. People I spoke to would jokingly say ‘get plenty of sleep now’ but that was about it. I actually remember internally rolling my eyes and thinking ‘gosh people carry on, it’s not going to be that bad.’ Oh my dear past self how very wrong you were.
Sleep deprivation deserves so much more of an explanation than an off handed remark. It deserves public funding to educate new parents! I’m all about mental preparation and although you can't truly appreciate sleep deprivation until you're living it, something, anything on the subject would have been nice. It is a level of desperation that I have never faced before. It is feeling so alone at 3am when the world is at its quietest. It's feeling so tired you can feel it in your bones. It's being frustrated with your snoring partner. It's praying to a god you don't believe in.
It's begging your baby to not wake up when you put them down and shoving your nipple in their mouth to make them quiet. It's learning to feed lying down. It's considering letting them cry it out. It's reading Tizzie Halls stupid book. It's going to a wedding, telling the baby sitter you'll be home by midnight and having your husband whisper to you 'let's leave early and go and sleep in the car' and actually considering it. It's being anywhere and thinking I'd rather be sleeping right now. It's weighing up anything to decide whether doing it is worth the 5 minutes extra sleep you could have - "I could wash my hair for the first time in 3 weeks. Nah I’d rather sleep".