I was the lucky recipient of endless pieces of unsolicited advice when I found out I was going to be a mom (you know, like most mothers are). How to give birth and where to give birth and what to eat and how to handle pregnancy ailments, all discussed endlessly. Some helped, some didn't, but by far, hands down, the most frequently piece of advice I heard was, "sleep when the baby sleeps.” It’s almost as if it’s ingrained in well-wishers' minds as something quick and easy to offer new parents, sandwiched between "congratulations" and where to register for baby gifts.
Now, I don’t mean to turn my nose at anyone who’s trying to help and offer genuine suggestions. Honestly, it can be super helpful and I think the majority of advice, unsolicited or not, comes from a genuine place of excitement and a willingness to help. Having said that, and the truth is, sleeping when the baby sleeps would have required a mysterious state of enlightenment that afforded me the priceless ability to stop doing and thinking long enough to simply rest. As a new mother, exhausted but anxious and nervous and excited and attempting to adjust, that "state of enlightenment" was never going to happen.
I’m not sure about everyone else, but I was much more inclined (ahem, willing) to sleep when the baby was in the care of someone else, specifically his dad or a grandparent. Not that I never slept when the baby slept, because I totally did, but building a routine around that piece of advice was not realistic. At least, not for me. And so, on that note, may I offer a tiny sample of some of the silent, mental responses a new mom just might have when someone tells her to “sleep when the baby sleeps.”
"Yeah, That Sounds Like A Good Idea..."
Is it really that simple? Can someone please tell how I can turn my body off at the exact same moment my child does? If only.
"...But Who Is Going To Watch My Baby Breathe?"
Priorities. If I'm sleeping while he sleeps, I will miss out on precious, rhythmic chest raises.
"Who Is Going To Stare At My Baby In Those Adorable Pajamas?"
You mean to tell me I should miss out on the opportunity to stare loving at my son and his adorable pajamas? Yeah, no. Sorry. Not interested in living in a world that dark and depressing.
"When Am I Going To Eat? And Do Laundry? And Eat? And Shower? And Eat?"
Speaking of what I would do while my child slept, please allow me to mention every other thing that needs to happen to allow me to function as an adult.
"I Don’t Have RBF. You’re Just Seeing My Response To That Statement Via My Face."
I really don't mean to be rude but, you know, please stop talking immediately.
"What About All The Texts I Want To Send?"
Actually, wait. I can do that while I breastfeed, never mind. Texts are under control.
"That Will Work Only If You Feel Like Coming Over To Fold Some Laundry And Vacuum And Wash Bottles"
Actually, hang on, maybe you shouldn't come over, my house is a mess. I'm really behind on chores because I've been awake for eighteen days straight.
"Have I Mentioned That My Baby Sleeps For 40-Minute Increments?"
Last I checked, sleep cycles of newborns and adults are ever-so-slightly different. I never thought I could feel worse after sleeping, but it's definitely possible.
"Who Are The Sorcerers That Can Actually Accomplish This?"
If there's anyone out there who can efficiently sleep when their baby sleeps, please show yourself. I'd really like to know more about your diet and exercise routine.
"Thanks, Anyway. Offering People Unsolicited Advice Usually Works Out Well For Everyone, Doesn’t It?"
Is there anything else you'd like to get off your chest? Perhaps on vaccines or circumcision or other controversial subjects? I'm so sleepy there's no way I can handle a debate, so everyone wins.