I recently heard a young mother say something so sadly misguided. She said, “I guess I can survive on less sleep. He’ll be sleeping more when he is 6 months old.” That poor, sweet, naïve dear. One thing that all parents can agree on (unless they are LYING) is that babies and children don’t sleep. They need to sleep but they just won’t so you won’t be sleeping either. This goes on for much longer than six months. Based on my estimates I can safely say that around the time the children sleep all night, they will start staying out all night. My estimates also tell me that my husband and I will not be sleeping until we are of retirement age and I can promise you that I’m going to sleep all the freakin’ time because this shit is ridiculous.
Last night I went to bed at 11:45. By 12, I was up nursing the baby. 1:30 found me up again, changing the very wet diaper of the toddler. 4 up to nurse again, baby wouldn’t stop nursing, we nursed for two hours off and on. At 5, husband got up for work and he is big and noisy and wakes me up every time because his alarm is really loud but he can’t seem to hear it. So I wake him up by hissing in his ear since I don’t want anyone else to wake up. 6:12, toddler is awake and singing. I calmly explain to him that we are not getting up at 6, tuck him back in and miraculously he goes back to sleep for 45 minutes. My calculations are telling me that that is not enough sleep. Oh well. Sometimes, on the weekend, if the stars are aligned, I get to take a nap! But lots of times, we nurse through the nap so that doesn’t even count. That is a picture of every night.
I will warn you now; there are parents out there whose children sleep. These people are either a) incredibly blessed and smiled upon by the heavens; b) liars; c) they are using the Ferber method. The Ferber method is a system in which babies are left to cry it out until they go to sleep. The idea is that they are then trained to sleep through the night after just a few excruciating nights of this method. People like me can’t let their children cry it out because it is too heartbreaking. And I want my kid to know that I was there all night long every night and they can count on me from the time they are 1 minute old until I drop dead from exhaustion.
The lying parents have hair and makeup people and a maid. I know this because they always look awesome and their house is very clean and organized. These are the moms that not only go on Pinterest but actually make a pine cone and ribbon wreath to hang on the front door. They probably also make all the wonderful casseroles that are found on Pinterest but some of us are too busy cherishing each moment with our children; translation: trying to do a single chore while baby wearing or breastfeeding. The idea is that we put in a lot of work now and sit back and relax while everyone else’s children are in rehab. At the very least, they will be grateful when they too have children and I remind them relentlessly what a saint I was for being such a wonderful and supportive mother.
At any given time, there are three people on the earth whose children who were born easy going. They sleep through the night without crying it out and are super chill about things. Keep in mind that two of these people are married to each other and one is a single mother and that means there are only two children in the whole world that are this easy. They will also potty train easily and their parents will seem confused about what the big deal is. Rest-assured, parents with dark circles and hair so greasy that you could cook up something that requires a lot of grease, these people will be blindsided when their second child comes along. These are the people that say to and/or about their second child “If you’d been born first, we’d never have had any more children.” They are whirling dervishes. The rest of us keep procreating in hopes of getting an easy going kid and then we have a houseful of actual children. These kids are also awesome eaters. So you know they are nearly mythical.
So say goodbye to your pillow, you won’t need it! Pillows are not super safe when your bed is full of babies so you will be downgrading to a flat dollar store pillow. You will pretend that you really always hated that big, fluffy pillow that felt like sleeping on heaven. You will also need to get a rock hard mattress. This way you’ll be prepared for co-sleeping and also who wants to sleep on a rock hard bed? No one! This will ensure that you don’t want to lay in your bed and so problem solved!
The amount of sleep you get is also a contest with other parents. If you slept all night you are not allowed to play. The rest of you will stand around measuring your love for your children on how much you didn’t sleep.
“I rocked Skippy all night because he was teething,” says mom #1. She is wearing two different shoes and has the crazy eyes.
“I tandem nursed in bed with Muffin and Ginger,” says mom #2. “I slept probably three hours last night.”
“I slept all night! My little Brayden slept for 14 hours last night!” says mom #3.
Moms 1 & 2 punch mom #3 in the face.
There are a lot of other factors that might contribute to sleeplessness. Cats. They choose nighttime to act like buttholes and bang doors and cry and wreak havoc on your house. So if you run across a cat and you think “oh having a cat might be nice” think again and keep moving. Just get a goldfish. Honestly.
Anxiety. I am so anxious about when a child is going to wake up that I have trouble going to sleep. This is true.
Husbands. Mine snores, thrashes, talks, and most recently punched me in the arm in his sleep. Don’t worry, I’m ok. He is not trying to be abusive; he just keeps dreaming that he is Bruce Lee.
Don’t get all depressed! Everything is going to be fine! There is a secret to getting some rest! You just need to get a hotel room.