By the end of my pregnancy, I was tired of a lot of things. I mean, honestly, I had a relatively easy pregnancy, but I am sure women with easier and more difficult pregnancies than mine can all agree that they were just over everything by the end. I was ready to not be lugging an extra 30lbs around. I was sick of being nauseated (though my nausea was only occasional at the end of my pregnancy). I was tired of misjudging how enormous my belly actually was and therefore bumping into things when I would try to squeeze through a space I was apparently too big for. I was over the fact that I needed to pee about every fifteen minutes. The list could go on.
But most of all, I was tired of people telling me to “get sleep now, because I would never get to sleep again.” That was the advice I got over and over and over. I mean, really? It’s not like I was some 3-year-old who thought that I didn’t need naps. I love my sleep, and Craig LOVES his sleep, and we were already sleeping when we could. Did people honestly think I was going to get more sleep because they told us that, or were they just trying to be funny? But time and time again, I would hear this advice from men and women who already had kids…they would tell us with something in between a smile and a smirk on their face, like they knew something we didn’t. They were in the “parent club,” and Craig and I had yet to be initiated, and it drove me crazy.
Well here we are now, with a three-month-old, and I am pretty certain Craig and I have been initiated. I don’t know exactly when our initiation took place. Was it the first time we got spit up on? Was it when we hit the hundred diaper threshold? Was it when I had to take Hadley to get her first set of vaccines? Or was it this morning, midway through January, when I dressed Hadley in “My First Christmas” clothes, because that’s what was clean in her drawer? I don’t know. But I will tell you this, the night of October 7 is the night when I finally understood what all those parents had been talking about before. Craig and I had been very sleep deprived up to that point, but until October 5, my parents had been in town to help us. Now, we were all on our own, and the sleep deprivation really kicked into high gear…
A Baby, A Cellphone, and Sleep Deprived Parents
So newborn babies have to eat all the time. I mean ALL. THE. TIME. At first, we were having to feed Hadley every two hours, and that is from the beginning of a feed to the beginning of the next feed, not two hours in between. While Hadley had a good latch, we were still getting the hang of breastfeeding, and she was constantly trying to stick her hand in her mouth instead of eating, so it was a bit of a struggle. From beginning to end, with burping and everything, feeding Hadley could take over an hour. We would finally finish, and then we’d have to start again 45 or 50 minutes later. This was around the clock, so you can imagine we were quite tired. Craig was trooper. Since I had to feed Hadley, he would set his alarm, get up to get Hadley, and bring her to me. Then he would lay down while I fed her on one side. When I was done with the first side, I would lay down while Craig burped Hadley in between, then he would give her back to me for the other side before he burped her once more and laid her back down. We had what we thought was a flawless system.
No system is actually flawless.
In the middle of that night, early in October, I laid in bed as I listened to Craig’s cellphone alarm going off, knowing that it meant I had to get up in a moment to feed Hadley yet again. So I waited. And I listened to his alarm. And waited. And listened to is alarm. And waited. What was going on? The alarm had been going off for a couple minutes, and Craig hadn’t even hit the Snooze button. Now I was starting to get annoyed because I was the one awake during his “shift,” and Craig was clearly sleeping through the alarm. I opened my eyes and rolled over to wake Craig up, and my jaw dropped. I could not believe what I was seeing.
There my sweet husband was, doing the jiggle walk that new parents quickly learn and old parents never forget, sweetly Shhhhhh-ing in the ear….of his cellphone. In case you don’t have the picture in your head…imagine a man holding a baby and gently bouncing the baby as they walk, with his mouth right next to the baby’s ear to give the baby a soothing “Shhhhh, it’s ok, Daddy’s here.” That was Craig, except with his ringing cellphone. He thought his cellphone was a crying baby.
I couldn’t believe my eyes at first. “Craig!” I said in that stern whisper-yell thing that people do sometimes. He looked over at me. “I need to nurse the baby,” I told him. With that, Craig handed his phone to me, the alarm still ringing loudly, so that I could nurse it. My jaw dropped lower. I turned off the cellphone alarm.
“Craig! Where is the baby?!” Craig jumped. I could see the panic in his eyes as he looked around on the floor. His mind was easy to read at that point. Did I lose the baby? Where did I put her? “Craig!” I was still trying to get him awake enough to enter the real world. “Check the cradle at the end of the bed.” And there Hadley was, still sweetly sleeping through all of the chaos. Craig picked up Hadley, happy to know that he had not actually lost her, and handed her to me. “Go to sleep, Babe,” I told him, “I will handle the burping and everything this time.”
I took Hadley and watched my adorably exhausted husband crawl back into bed. Then I thought back to all the “sleep now” advice I had been so tempted to roll my eyes at before. Wow, I thought, They were right, after all. I finally get it.