There's a reason sleep deprivation is used as torture. Not getting enough sleep can impact your health, ability to function, and, in my case, mental health. Each time I have a baby, I seem to forget how hard the first few weeks were the last time. I didn't get close to enough sleep and what little I did get, was fraught with bad dreams and waking up every time the baby made a sound. There have been plenty of new mom moments where I honestly thought I was dying, but really, this new mom just needed some sleep. Seriously.
The first night after your baby arrives everything seems OK. So peaceful, in fact, that you are literally lulled into believing that the stories you have heard about new parenthood are lies meant to scare you. Then comes the second night, and the baby needs you to hold them or feed them at all times and you find yourself becoming a human pacifier or walking a rut in the floor across the room and back. You might manage to convince yourself that you'll actually be able to "sleep when the baby sleeps" the next day, or some other lie someone has told you. See also: "you should co-sleep to get more sleep" and "if you give her a bottle, she'll sleep through the night." All lies.
So, what now? You are only a few days into this motherhood gig and already are 17 hours behind on sleep. Or is it 20? After all, you've completely lost count. What happens when sleep deprivation catches up with you? A. Hilarity, B. Delirium, C. Death, or D. All of the above?
When I Honestly Thought I Was Still Pregnant
Believe it or not, this has happened to me more than once and generally while trying to fall asleep or waking up in a moment of panic, having forgotten that I have already given birth.
"OMG you are sleeping on your stomach. You can't sleep on your stomach, you are pregnant," or "I haven't felt the baby move. Is there something wrong?" and even, "Stop kicking me."
Then you realize that you are hallucinating, the baby is asleep in their crib, and you are so tired you forgot they exist.
When I Wept Uncontrollably
Everything seems worse when you are sleep deprived. Everything. A tiny slight becomes the worst insult. A small worry becomes an obsession. A tiny pain, becomes a symptom of something deadly. Then you weep uncontrollably, because your husband brought you the wrong thing from a restaurant.
Sleep deprivation turns me into a total emotional mess.
When I Changed My Mind About Becoming A Mother
There have been so many moments where I was sure that I was the world's worst parent. Like the time that I didn't hear the baby crying in the other room, while I was finally taking a shower or when I accidentally clipped her tiny finger when cutting her nails (pro-tip: I used a file the next time). Or when I couldn't breastfeed and my daughter had to be readmitted to the NICU.
I felt so terrible that I was sure my kids would be better off without me. Luckily, I got some help and some damn sleep and realized that this was far from the truth.
When The Baby Cried As I Was Falling Back Asleep
Then, there are those moments when you set your baby down gently and slowly back away or ease back into bed. As soon as you drift off to sleep, they start to cry again. "Nooooooo. It's too soon. Go back to sleep. You can't be hungry or wet. Please, let mommy get some rest. I can't do this."
When I Forgot To Take My Pain Meds
"I hurt so bad. I never hurt this bad at the hospital. Maybe I'm dying? Let me Google my symptoms to be sure. OMG, I am dying for sure."
Then, you realize that you totally forgot to take your pain meds now that there's not a nurse to come in and remind you every four hours. Time to set some alarms on your phone, after you get some sleep, that is.
When The Baby Wouldn't Let Me Put Them Down
"Did you know that people can actually die from lack of sleep, dear child? Please go to sleep. Pretty please."
When I Forgot To Wear A Pad
Then, there was that time that I was so tired that I forgot to replace my postpartum pad after using the bathroom, and bled through my clothes. I was sure I was hemorrhaging to death when I woke up a bloody mess. Nope, just tired AF.
When I Forgot To Eat
One afternoon I felt so dizzy and lightheaded that I was sure that I was dying or sick with something that might kill me. Of course, not eating in a day will do that to you. Time for lunch. Oh, and some damn sleep.
When I Picked A Fight With My Partner
When The Baby Finally Fell Asleep, But Now You Have Insomnia
Oh yes, I felt like a freaking superhero the first time the baby fell asleep and stayed asleep when I put him down in his bassinet. He didn't even stir. Badass. Then, of course, I snuggled in and couldn't sleep.
First, I started rationalizing with myself. "If you go to sleep now, you'll get a couple of hours of rest, before the baby wakes up again." Then, I gave myself a pep talk: "Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths. You can do this." Then, panic set in. "You will never sleep again. Please stop thinking brain. I need sleep. My precious. I needs it."
Maybe, I will finally get some sleep soon, like when he starts Kindergarten. One can only hope.