I was only pregnant 12 days ago, and if you recall, I moaned about insomnia being the worst of my end-of-pregnancy side effects.
At the time, having been to this party before, I knew it would pale in comparison to the sleep deprivation ahead … but I think I had on rose-colored glasses and forgot just how truly awful those first couple weeks at home with a newborn can be (not for everyone, but for a lot of us!)
Don’t get me wrong: newborns are miracles in every way, shape and form and I know how blessed I am to have such a sweetheart in my life. They’re adorable and cuddly and smell delicious and so snuggly and warm and my goodness, their little fingers and toes are edible and every little face they make is cause for clapping and photo ops!
But under the surface, let’s be honest … a screaming, hungry baby waking you every two hours to eat does not a happy, well-rested mama make!! Especially when that mama is recovering from major abdominal surgery and battling a nasty cold (for which she can’t take anything!).
Suddenly all those sweet, milk-drunk smiles you get during the day feel a million miles away as you head into the nursery for the umpteenth time that night in a total fog, trying to remember what time the last feeding had been and what day of the week it may be because it all blurs into one.
Welcome to the first six weeks of parenthood, part deux, Melissa.
Fortunately, Luis is a huge help and will change Ben and bring him to me a good bulk of the time … but since I’m breastfeeding, meal-times fall almost exclusively to me (unless I have pumped a bottle). Unfortunately for me, though my supply is fine for the moment, I don’t have enough to pump a feeding or two ahead. So that means roughly every two hours or so, I’m up either nursing or pumping to make a bottle for Luis to feed Ben.
Read as: I don’t get a break.
And it’s exhausting. It’s a million times worse than the insomnia I complained about because it doesn’t end — well, not until Ben outgrows this newborn stage and is eating more regularly in the middle of the night: every 4 hours, then every 6 hours, and then 8. Maya hit the 4-6 hour stretch around 6 weeks if I remember correctly, and she began sleeping a solid 7-9 hours at 11 weeks … and from then on it was 12 hours. (To this day, she is still an amazing sleeper … she never wakes even though she’s right next door to our screaming little monkey).
But Ben? He’s in that lovely newborn stage where his days and nights are still mixed up, G-d bless him! He’s awake a little more each day — which has been awesome! — but he tends to sleep longer stretches during the day than the evenings … and the thing is, he physiologically needs to eat … so it’s not like I can just soothe him back to bed at this point without a feeding.
I try to remember the adage, “this, too shall pass.” And hopefully within a couple months, we’ll have two champion sleepers on our hands.
When I get frustrated, I stare at this little face and into those deep blue eyes and it’s hard to feel anything but enormous, deep love for this little boy … even if he does keep me up all night long. 😉