Everyone knows that newborn babies mean a lot of sleepless nights, but you don't really know what that means until you live it. In my experience, nothing can adequately prepare you for what a life without a good night's sleep is going to be like, but it's my duty to try to prepare you. So I asked dads what it's like to stay up at night with their babies for the first time, and they kept it real.
My husband and I tried to be as equitable as possible about nighttime wake ups with our kids. Considering I was breastfeeding, this was often quite difficult, but whenever possible my mister was up with the baby. Something you should also know about my dude: he places a premium on sleep. Some people (yours truly, for example) are OK with very little. Other people (my dear husband) will get a solid 10 hours and still get to a point in their day when they think: "Man, I'm exhausted. I could use a nap."
So when I asked him what that first night up with our son was was like, he just sort of looked at me with a face that simultaneously said "You were there. You remember," and, "We do not discuss such dark, dark days."
OK. Far be it from me to bring up past unpleasantness. But what did other dads have to say?
"It was like having identical twins, because I was seeing double by the end of the night. It was like boot camp. The first week was worst, and then it got better, but then the build up of months and months created a new kind of challenge."
"Did you watch Jumanji as a kid? Do you remember when Robin Williams pops out of the game and was like, 'What year is it?!' Like that."
Writer's note: this might be the most accurate description of my own personal experience that I've ever read.
"I'm embarrassed to say it wasn't until my baby was about 3-months-old [that I got up with them at night]. My wife placed a lot of undue and unfair expectations on herself at first: she was going to do everything, including every wake up. I should have pushed back harder, sooner. It finally came to a head and we both admitted what was happening was unsustainable. It was tough. That baby did not like sleeping and I wasn't used to being up all night and going to work the next day. But once we started switching who got up it became easier. Not easy, but easier."
"It was hard, but really exciting. We'd waited so long for our son (literally years) that it was cool to just sort of spend all night with him. Of course, the charm wore off over the course of the next days, weeks, and months."
"It's all about the tag-team. It's still exhausting, but at least there were two of us and one baby."
"In a way I lucked out because I was eased into it. I have a stepdaughter who, to this day, is a sh*tty sleeper. She's not as bad as a newborn, but I'd done my share of nightmare and bed wetting duty before my son was born. That first night home with him was way more intense, but I wasn't completely in the dark like I was with pretty much everything else."
"Awful. It was our first night home from the hospital and I was paranoid that he was going to stop breathing. So even when he was sleeping I couldn't, and then when I finally thought I would close my eyes he would wake up."
"The first night was OK, because you're running on adrenaline and good intentions. By night four or five I was actually mad at her. My wife handled most of the wake ups because they were also feedings (she breastfed) but whenever she'd wake up for another reason that was on me. I was convinced it was personal and that she was mad I was holding her instead of her mom."
"Let's just say I was Googling 'How early can you sleep train a baby' while holding my screaming child within a few hours. Turns out it's not something you can do right away, just so you know."
"It was the longest day of my life. Coming home from the hospital, not getting a chance to settle in because of unexpected visitors, and then having her just scream all night because we didn't know what we were doing. We got so little sleep that the next day just felt like a continuation of the one before... it was like that for a while, but it got better."
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