Momma Needs Sleep, Too!by Erin Edgar
The other day, my husband said a few words to me that stung. They stung hard! I didn’t sleep well that evening (and either did he), but he woke up extremely early. Our son decided to wake up a little earlier than normal that morning, too. Now, one would think with my husband being awake, he would be able to take care of the morning routine. But, no. Instead, my husband grabbed my son out of the crib and brought him over to the bed with me -- while I was still sound asleep.
I growled at him -- I mean you never ever wake a sleeping bear -- especially when papa bear is quite capable of handling the morning routine. So, what really ticked me off? He said, “Hunny, you are a momma now...you don’t get to sleep in…”
Seriously, buddy? You really want to remind a stay-at-home mom that they are a mom? Did I forget that tiny little detail on my resume? It seriously took everything inside of me to not attack with words.
While women are pregnant -- one of the most annoying things we hear is, “You better get all the sleep now -- because here in a few short months you won’t get ANY sleep!” I am pregnant, with my feet swollen and none of my clothes fit me -- and here you are thinking that I have a sleep bank that I can just add sleep to and withdraw it when I need to use it once our child arrives? Thanks for the advice!
Sleep is probably one of the most touchy subjects of parenthood. Before being released from the hospital after giving birth, most hospitals will have new parents read a safe-sleep guide and sign it before we bring our newborns home -- there are multiple debates on what is considered safe sleep --- and there will always be grandparents that haven’t had children in 30+ years reminding you how they had you fall asleep and you “came out fine”.
All I knew was that when our son came home from the NICU -- I did not want him in our bedroom & I wanted to get sleep and prove the naysayers wrong. So, I made sure his sleep area was the best I could do and follow the safe sleep regulations set in our country. Even that was met with a lot of people telling me I was doing it all wrong. But, you know what? After being home less than a month -- I had a newborn that was sleeping through the night and I was getting some of the best sleep of my life.
Just because you have a new child does not mean YOU have be sleep deprived. I was more sleep-deprived when our son was in the NICU for 92 days than what I was when he was home. But, how did I make that happen? How on earth was I able to get sleep?
Work -- a lot of work. I should also add that all the sleep work was on me! Don’t get me wrong, my husband has been, and always will be extremely helpful, but he has to support our family. Since I was no longer working, I had to do all of the work to take care of our son.
Through the newborn stage, I did it all. I fed our son, changed his diapers, did all of his laundry, cleaned all of his toys, played with him, cleaned all of his bottles, sterilized, gave him his medicine -- I was everything to our little boy. On the weekends -- I may have got my husband to give Luke a bottle -- but, to my husband, our little boy was still this fragile child in the NICU -- and it took a long time for him to learn how to be a “daddy”. Which, I have learned is very common with new dads. So -- add trying to help daddy become the daddy he is today -- my work was cut-out for me.
Patience was another key factor. I had to explain to my husband why I wanted to do things the way I did. Again -- it was me against what other people were telling him was right & wrong. Neither one of us wanted to co-sleep (it is against safe sleep regulations anyways), and I did not want a bassinet in our room and having to have an excuse to wake up all the time. So -- my husband and I got a new La-Z-Boy to put in Luke’s bedroom with the intention on when he gets older to move it out of his bedroom and use it in our living room. This gave me a comfortable spot to sit with Luke at night to comfort him and it also gave me a comfortable place to sleep if needed -- instead of waking my husband.
I also stuck to the same exact routine. Look -- we are all creatures of habit. We tend to eat dinner at certain times, clean our homes on certain days -- hell, we even order the same things at restaurants because we know it is a safe option. Babies are much the same. They become creatures of their environment. You have one chance to truly mold them and adjust them to the way you would like things to run in the future.
At the end of the day -- if you look at the full picture -- sleep does make us better parents -- and sleep makes our children, well, better children. We will have plenty of sleep battles in the future, I am sure of it. But, for our almost one-and-a-half-year-old child -- he will sleep between 10-12 hours straight most nights and he has done so since he was a month old. He also takes one nap a day that will go between one to three hours depending on his mood (and his teeth). But -- the one whole month that I was sleep-deprived and extremely exhausted has moulded our son into a sleeping machine.
Now, to just mold my husband into understanding that mommas can sleep in, too.