Newborns sleep all the time. New moms? Not so much. I had been warned of the sleep deprivation by every parent I know. The end of my pregnancy prepared me as best as it could. By the time I reached the third trimester, I was no longer sleeping well. The frequent bathroom trips, discomfort and anticipation kept me awake. I continued to work until the night my water broke. Most days, I was up on my feet while I worked – my tired, puffy, and swollen feet. I was certain that there was no deeper level of tired than what I was feeling in those final days. Once again, my expectations were off.
While it’s true that I managed to function extremely well with little sleep prior to his arrival, I forgot to factor in one important detail – the baby – a little man with needs that were to be met exclusively by me! Every sound, every motion, the cleanup, the loving, the comforting. Me, me, me, me. (Ok, Daddy helped, but as a nursing mom, I reserve the right to take the credit!) I was not as prepared as I thought I was. My coffee table was filled with the essentials, and I had read them all, front to back. This new mama was well-read and thought the girlfriend’s guide had prepared her for what to expect to raise the happiest baby in the neighborhood. You can read until the words look blurry, there is nothing you can do to remedy the heartache you feel when your baby is crying and you can’t fix it because you don’t know why. All that heartache is tiring!
There is no book that will convince you that you are doing everything right. No handbook exists to quell all those fears that new moms have. All the reading acted as a guide, a foundation of information to help me through the days, but it was up to me and Hubby to write the guide on our baby. Let me tell you it is exhausting trying to write that manual—it takes a lot of trial and error. How does he like to be held? Does that cry mean he is tired? Maybe he is hungry? Does he seem extra gassy? Maybe he is sensitive to something I ate? When is the last time I ate? Have I slept since last Wednesday? The physical toll of sleep deprivation and the emotional fatigue are grueling. The sheer determination of wanting to be the best mommy kicked my adrenaline into overdrive, and I managed to get through each day.
With every passing, sleepless night the manual of Micah was filling up. We learned how to take care of him as only a mommy and a daddy could. We became the experts. It seems that you have to lose the sleep to gain the insight. That’s a trade-off I will gladly take from now until forever.