As many new moms know, one of the worst aspects of #MomLife is the never ending torture of sleep deprivation. When you're pregnant, everyone (or pretty damn close) comes armed with jokes like, "I hope you hate sleep!" and you'll throw them a chuckle, unaware of what it really and truly means to go without sleep while simultaneously caring for a newborn. One of the many things no one warned me about when I was a new mom was the hallucinations I would have from not sleeping. Thankfully, those hallucinations are pretty hilarious, so at least I had a solid form of entertainment, right?
Granted, sleep-deprivation-inspired-hallucinations didn't happen to me right away. In fact, they kind of snuck up on me. During those first few days with my newborn, I was fueled by pure adrenaline. My son was a colicky baby who didn't sleep so much as he screamed and cried for hours with short rest periods in between. Some might call this "sleep," but I think that would be far too generous a term. My husband and I operated in a permanent semi-conscious state for the first few months of our son's life, and it was just about the worst thing we have ever physically experienced.
It seemed like every time we were just on the cusp of falling into that comfortable soft cloud of sweet, nourishing sleep, our baby's soul-crushing cries would fling us out of bed, body first and consciousness later, to answer to his demands. We can laugh about it now, but at the time the toll it took on my body was anything but hilarious. At least I had the following funny hallucinations to get me through my most sleep-deprived state as a new mom. You take your wins when and where you can get them, my friends.
That An Intruder Was Sitting At The Edge of My Bed
If I was actually able to "sleep when the baby sleeps," a thing I'm positive only a few of us can do these days, it usually resulted in terrible anxiety dreams. Many of these anxiety dreams included some version of an intruder coming into my house and threatening me or my family, or simply sitting at the edge of my bed and staring at me in a sinister way while me and the baby napped.
While I'm a cheerful and seemingly normal person by societal standards, on the inside I'm kind of a mess so my default switch is basically pure panic mode. Give me a resting moment and my sleep-deprived mama brain will resort to imagining that a stranger is in my room and planning to murder me and my kin.
That My Newborn Baby Was Speaking In Full Sentences
One of my earliest hallucinations was that my newborn, who at the time was sleeping soundly, was communicating to my husband and me in complete sentences. I remember the intense feelings of relief washing over me as he plainly explained to us exactly what he wanted from us that morning, and how he reassured us that we were doing a really excellent job taking care of him so far.
I was so excited about this crazy turn of events, that I shot up in bed and slapped my husband awake at some ungodly hour in the morning. He clearly needed to bear witness to the miracle that was happening in our bedroom. As my husband looked at me in that new parent, "Oh my God is he up already kill me now," way, things started to become clear and I realized that I might be completely bugging out. "Sorry, go back to sleep," I said.
(But I have to admit, for part of that morning I wasn't absolutely sure I'd imagined the whole thing. A part of me held out hope that it really did happen, and that the baby was just keeping it a secret between the two of us, like one of those dolls that only comes alive when the grownups aren't looking.)
That It Was Perfectly Reasonable To Use My Pumped Breast Milk In Our Morning Coffee
One morning I was up making the coffee and there was no more half-and-half in the fridge. No matter, I thought, because here was some delicious and freshly pumped breast milk for the taking. Organic and straight from the source, right?
I happily unscrewed the bottle and was about to pour it into the two coffee cups I'd placed on the counter, when my partner came around the corner and was like, "Excuse me?" He carefully took the bottle of breast milk from my hands like it was a loaded gun, and placed it back in the fridge where it belonged. (We took our coffee black that morning.)
That My House Was Clean And That I Had Showered
This is what I like to call the "wishful thinking" phase of new motherhood and sleep deprivation. Once I had fallen into a semi conscious state as my baby nursed for one of his many marathon nursing sessions, and as my eyes glazed over, I watched as my living room transformed into a scene from an animated Disney movie.
Little woodland creatures and sweet chirpy birds descended upon the mess and picked up all the scattered burp cloths and pacifiers as I stared in wonder. A bunny scampered across my coffee table — or maybe that was my dog — and wiped away a ring left from my water glass the night before. My reflection in our oversized flat screen television revealed not a disheveled ogre (me), but a glowing beauty complete with a heaving bosom and long flowing hair that had been tended to with shampoo and some sensible hair products.
Then my baby unlatched and my breast milk hit me in my own eye and I saw myself for the ugly swamp creature that I was, living in my own little hell hole, and the reverie was over.
That I Was Completely Paralyzed
This is something that happens to me whenever I am in extreme sleep deprivation mode – be it when I pulled all nighters back in my college days or when I'm going through horrible sleep stuff with my toddler.
When I am in a state of constant sleep deprivation, and I do manage to catch a nice long stretch of sleep (say, when my husband takes the kids out for a weekend morning and lets me sleep in) my brain sometimes tricks me into thinking that I am completely paralyzed. So I'll wake up, or I'll be dreaming that I'm waking up (I'm still not clear on how this actually works), and I'll be conscious of being in my bed and of my surroundings, but I won't be able to move a single muscle. I will attempt to yell, but no words will come out. So yeah, sleeping in isn't all it's cracked up to be.
That I Had Left My Baby On The Living Room Floor
Several times after having been awake half the night nursing, swaddling, bouncing, and changing my baby, I would wake up for no reason (the baby would be fast asleep in his room or in his bassinet) and I'd think I could see the baby lying in the middle of the living room floor from the vantage point of our bed.
I would squint my eyes to be sure, and wonder if maybe it was the dog, or a blanket we may have dropped there at some point in the night and then say to myself, "Huh. Guess that is the baby. He looks fine there though. I go back to sleep now."
That My Dog Needed To Nurse, Too
I was so used to nursing my baby every 10 to 20 minutes that it almost seemed unnatural not to be nursing. So, in the middle of the night I would often take whatever small object was near my person (a pillow, a milk-soaked shirt), grab it, and bring it to my breast.
Nursing the baby was such a reflex, that quite a few times I mistook our small dog for my baby. He was more than happy to have a lick at my sour-milk-covered nipples – which was enough to snap me back to reality. Gross. Thanks, motherhood.