A male friend of mine reached out to me the other day via text during the wee hours of the morning. His text simply read, “I’m smoked. The baby isn’t sleeping well.” The baby was four weeks old and his third child.
When I got the text it was 8 a.m. and I was having my first cup of coffee of the day. My kids – now 4 and 2 – were finished with breakfast (one had Cheerios, the other one pancakes) and were sitting in the living room playing and watching PJ Masks.
I let my mind wander back to those newborn days. It had been four years since we brought our daughter home. It was difficult to remember everything about that experience except that I was clueless about babies in general and had no idea how to do anything.
But I will always remember that first day we were back at the house with her.
I walked in and went upstairs to her nursery to change her. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were there, tending to the dogs and the house, making sure the fridge was stocked with everything we needed. When I walked in the room, my mother-in-law took one look at me and said, “Go to bed.”
I burst into tears and did exactly as I was told.
When I was a first time parent, we were the first of our friend circle to have kids so no one told me how those first days were going to go. Basically, you spend nine months or so carrying around a bowling ball of weight and after you go through labor and delivery you will hurt. You will have pain of all sorts. You will suddenly have a tiny human that you are now entrusted to take care of for all their basic needs – feeding them, changing them, getting them to sleep, and so much more.
You will finally understand the true meaning of words such as TIRED, SLEEP DEPRIVED, EXHAUSTED.
When I woke up from that first real nap after I had my daughter (because honestly, there was ZERO sleep in the hospital for the two days we were there), I felt a bit more human. I walked downstairs to my family who had prepared a lovely meal in the slow cooker and was handed my beautiful baby girl.
Two years later we were crazy enough to have our second child. This time I was prepared for the exhaustion. I was prepared for the transition. Except now we didn’t just have a newborn – we had a toddler who still had random wake-ups and rough nights. Our son was a better sleeper than our daughter – we did everything the “right” way with our daughter and everything “wrong” with our son. Funny how that happens.
There were still mornings I was a zombie. Where I couldn’t believe I was actually going to be able to function long enough to keep my children alive. It may get better for you, but for us, we still have days and weeks of sleep deprivation with our two. Like the three weeks of HELL after Daylight Savings Time, an undiagnosed ear infection, and hand foot and mouth.
I will say being a parent of any age is exhausting at times. But those newborn days were sometimes dark. I sent a heart emoji to my friend which was encompassed with the following message of encouragement and truth. I hope you take these same words to heart too.
“This too shall pass, my friend. There will be a day when we will miss these nights of constant rocking and inhaling that new tiny human smell. Get some help from a trusted friend or family member to give you a break. A few hours of solid sleep will help, I promise. Take care of yourself when you can. Give yourself grace to be tired and be crabby and not do every single thing that you should do everyday. It will get easier. It will get better. You CAN do this. I am here for you.”