New parenthood tries to break parents in so many ways. I'd like to think it's evolution at work. After all, if you can get through the first few weeks with a newborn, you can probably get through just about anything (at least until potty training). For me, the hardest part about postpartum life were the moments when it felt like my baby was breaking and I had no freaking clue how to fix her. For breastfeeding parents, this moment usually happens on night two, because second night syndrome tries to break you. Seriously.
No one told me about second night syndrome — also known as the longest night of your life — when all your baby wants to do is nurse, cry, and be held, all night long. Not only did no one warn me, but since my daughter's first 24 hours were so calm by comparison, it totally freaked me the hell out. So I rocked her, nursed her, and nursed her some more. I started wondered if she would ever sleep. Then, she fell sleep against my chest, and I tried to lay her down in her crib, like Indiana Jones gently placing an artifact back in place to avoid a giant rock crushing him. Yeah, her eyes popped back open.
I thought I would go insane, so I woke my husband up to help, and we ended up having a huge fight about the fact that I had the baby in bed. However, I was so tired and had no idea what else to do. He tried walking around the room with her and swaddling her tight, just like the nurses showed us at the hospital, but alas, he didn't have boobs, so she didn't want him. The next day my mom went out and got us a co-sleeper that attached to the bed. Best gift ever.
I have no idea how I got through our baby's second night, because it totally tried to break me in ways I couldn't have possibly prepared for.
When Your Baby Cries
There's no way to describe how much your heart breaks when you hear your newborn cry. Especially when you think you are doing everything "right." Breastfed? Check. Diaper changed? Check. Snuggling her skin-to-skin? Check.
Once you've checked everything off your mental list, you're left wondering what in the hell could possibly be wrong.
When Your Baby Wants To Eat All Night Long
While I was clueless at the time, I now know one of the reason my newborn daughter was so fussy was because my milk hadn't come in, and she was hungry. Next time around, with baby number two, I knew it was OK to supplement with a bottle of formula or pumped breast milk. That helped everyone get through the longest second night it and to continue to breastfeed. Who knew?
When You Forget How Long It's Been Since Your Baby Ate Last
At first, I was so diligent (and maybe a bit too diligent) about tracking every time my baby ate and every time her diaper was changed, but then those moments all started to blend together. I blame sleep deprivation.
When You Worry That Something Is Wrong
As a new mom, it's hard to know what to do when something just doesn't feel right. On one hand, most breastfed babies have a hard second night. After all, they're totally new to the planet and are trying to figure things out. On the other hand, according to Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi of the Fed is Best Foundation, a fussy baby who wants to nurse all of the time could be showing signs of jaundice or dehydration, has lost weight, or doesn't have enough wet diapers. If that's the case, they might need supplementation until your milk comes in or your supply increases.
When You Start To Feel Like A Zombie Pacifier
For over 24 hours it felt like my baby had my boob in her mouth. I hadn't slept much in two days. This mom needed sleep and my boobs needed a break.
When Your Baby Won't Sleep Longer Than A Few Minutes
My daughter would fall asleep and then wake whenever I went to put her down. I continued this seemingly endless cycle for hours before just resigning myself to holding her all night. Surely, I would be able to sleep the next day, right? Nope.
When You Pick A Fight With Your Partner
I was worried there was something wrong with my newborn baby, so I woke my husband up. He critically asked me why the baby was in the bed with me. WTF? I was too tired to keep walking the same path back and forth to her crib, my exhausted body swaying to a silent lullaby. I shouted, "If you have a problem with this, you take her." To give him credit, he tried. She broke him, too.
When Your Baby Wakes Up As Soon As You Lay Them Down
When You Start To Hallucinate
There's a reason sleep deprivation is a torture technique. After a few hours of nursing, drifting off, and waking back up to do it all over again, I was seriously losing my mind. I started to question whether or not anything, and everything, was real. Maybe, hopefully, I was still pregnant and this was all a dream?
When You Think They've Fallen Asleep, But No
Then, that moment comes when she's finally asleep, and you sigh with relief when you think that maybe you are going to get some sleep, too. Nope. When you unlatch your newborn from your nipple, he or she is totally wakes up.
Mommy: 0, Second Night Syndrome: 52.
When You Start To Question Everything
You start to ask yourself some pretty intense questions when you're tired and overwhelmed. Is this normal? Will my baby ever sleep? Is my baby getting enough? What's wrong? Why won't my baby stop crying? Am I doing this right? Why did I even have a baby? Am a terrible mother already? FML.
However, and as the song goes, the sun will come up tomorrow, and it did. The next day I was able to get some help with breastfeeding and figure some things out in order to establish sleep schedules and arrangements. Second night syndrome didn't break me entirely, or maybe it did and that's why I'm such a hot mess most of the time. Regardless, if you can make it through the second night without completely losing your sh*t, you owe yourself a high five and a latte.