Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You don't need sleep - You have a BABY!

My beautiful, brave, intelligent, courageous, friend Lena, has just given birth to her very first child. This morning when I logged on to Facebook I read a post on my wall from her -- typed at some ridiculous hour of the night:

my. god. how did you ever sleep?

My Dear, Sweet, Silly Lena,

Forget about sleep. You will never get it again. At least, not in any regular and discernable pattern. In time, you will find yourself scheduling unnecessary dental procedures for the 20-minute nitrous oxide gas nap and announcing you've got a bad case of irritable bowel syndrome which will provide you exactly twelve minutes of pretend diarrhea time while you actually sleep on the bathroom rug (any longer and someone will come looking for you, blowing your cover), but for now, at this moment, sleep is utterly elusive.

Sure, people will tell you to nap when the baby naps, but let's be honest: four days of old sweat, rank body odor and dried breast milk caked on the inside of your used-to-be-white-now-dingy-grey tank top is going to convince you otherwise.

Not that you'll enjoy that little shower of yours because forty-seven seconds into it you'll convince yourself the baby has stopped breathing, suffocated on his own vomit or has been kidnapped by super stealthy ninjas that entered the home through the garage door that you swore was locked but now you aren't so sure so you'll have to get out of the shower and check right now this very second. Then you'll slip on the kitchen floor because how could you dry off when the baby's life is in danger? While you're moaning naked beached whale style on the dirty linoleum the baby will wake up and start crying. Guess who wants to eat? Now you're spraying breast milk across the floor cursing the fact you drank that whole bottle of wine and did those tequila shots eleven months ago.

When the baby is tiny, like yours is now, you'll actually get more accomplished in your day because they sleep. Yes, I said sleep. I know it doesn't look like their two hour intervals of infant-immobility mirrors our adult version of sleeping, but it's the closest thing to it. You'll be able to swaddle the baby and then actually walk away and across the house to grab a cup of coffee, bottle of NoDoz and recreational methamphetamines... give it a couple months and that bundle of cuteness isn't going to let you walk out the room without wailing. (That's when it really gets tough.)

But, I promise you, you will get through it.

You won't think that you'll be capable of it, but you will. Because you'll be able to pull your husband to the side and say (with much conviction) things like if you do not allow me to sleep for the next seven hours uninterrupted I may chop off all my hair and run naked through the streets screaming quotes from Edgar Allen Poe and as sexy and thrilling as that might sound to you, I can assure you the police will see otherwise and I'll be sent to the local insane asylum while you are left all alone with the baby for three full days. THREE. FULL. DAYS!

You will also realize that things like dishes and dusting and ironing do not have to be completed. Ever. Or at least for the next 14 months or longer.

And one day, even though you haven't had sleep in what seems like years and you're sobbing at the fact it takes too much physical energy to brush your hair, it will suddenly hit you: my God, how beautiful my son is! And you will forget all about your hair. And you will forget about lack of sleep and you'll just revel in the grand awesomeness of being a mother. And then you'll snap quickly back to reality and start bawling because what kind of mother am I if I can't even brush my own hair?!

I know because I've been there.  We have all been there.

On a serious note, my advice to you would be this - do not be afraid to ask for help. Every mother will say the same thing: Ask for help. We know this because we could all use it. Mothers of older children will tell you that looking back they wish they would have exercised their right to ask for help more often than they actually did. So, ask for help.

No matter how independent, how in control or how all alone because I just moved to an entirely new corner of the world you happen to be... ask for help. You will be surprised at how many people feel good helping someone else. (Especially new mothers.) Believe it or not, people will want to send you dinner, drop by a gallon of milk, pick up your dry cleaning, and dust and vacuum your house just so you can spend a few extra stress-free moments holding your baby. And then, when he sleeps, you can sleep... because everything else has been done for you. But know that nobody will know what you need unless you speak up and ask for help.

If I were you I'd invite every single mother, aunt, cousin and friend you have to stay with you for a week. In exchange for free room and board they have to get up with the baby in the middle of the night. (With your family & friend's list you'll be booked well into the kid's third birthday.)

I'll leave you with this Twitter post from @Katecake:

So when my husband asks me what I did today
I'm going to tell him I kept a human being alive
using my breasts.
Beat that, employed man!

PS: I'm totally kidding about the methamphetamines. It's actually a pretty bad idea. Just thought I should clarify since lack of sleep can make you do some pretty crazy things....


Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leigh said...

giant, resounding "LIKE"

Rebecca said...

Oh dear - now it looks like I said something naughty. :D

Brenna said...

Yes yes yes! Ask for help. Ask for help from people you don't even like, let someone else do laundry or dishes. For real, best bit of advice ever.

Johi said...

I second Leigh's sentiment.

Getrealmommy said...

okay, I am expecting baby number three. Somehow I forgot about all that. Now you have me crying in anticipation of sleep deprevation. Thanks a lot. :)

Nari said...

That was The. Best. Advice, EVER!

That post should come attached to every single newborn, kind of like care instructions.

I mean, there are care instructions on my sweat pants, but for babies, they want you to wing it?