According to Kristen Bell’s #momsplaining, sleep deprivation is the equivalent of drinking alcohol. It affects reaction time, the ability to multitasking, and short-term memory. Sleep survival for mothers can seem impossible.
The first year of being a mom can feel like a bad break-up with sleep. Back and forth. Together, not together. Missing one another, spending just one night together… you get it. It is a constant tease, but nothing gets established.
Cry it out, sleep consultants, or co-sleeping – choose your own adventure. In the meantime there is coffee and confusion.
A survey found that a new parent loses about 6 months of sleep in the first 24 months of life. So how does one cope?
Short answer: The best you can.
Ladies and Gents: The Night Doula. At approx $300 a night, this lovely lady costs more than a nice hotel. Her job is to take care of your baby overnight so you can get some rest.
My partner and I tried this out in our most vulnerable hours. Two months into our new son’s life, we couldn’t handle not sleeping. My partner was back at work, and I was falling into depression.
I could barely speak after some nights of trying to soothe my son.
A Night Doula comes over around 10pm. You set her up with bottles of pumped milk and your baby. If you want to breastfeed, she can bring your baby to your for the feed, and take baby away after the feed.
She will rock your baby, change your baby, burp your baby, and hopefully move like a ninja in your home. She stays for 8 hours.
These women are angels on earth. They love your baby because who else would stay up all night caring for a crying infant? It can be scary to leave your baby with someone – the What-If’s are real! But if you can get over this, it might be the best sleep you have had in awhile.
Start saving now. Even for one night a month.
It is hard to sleep as a new mom – you feel your baby. You need to heal, mama. This is what is best for you and your baby.
If a night doula is not in the budget, or perhaps it makes you uncomfortable, then the next best thing is a family member. Grandma might not want to come stay at yours for the night. But you could persuade a family member to come over on a Sat morning and stay for 3-4 hours while you rest.
Your hubs might not have nipples. But he does have a bottle. Take shifts. He does 6 hours. You do 6 hours. (Intro-ing your baby to a bottle is a good thing – it allows you rest.)
This is the time to ask for help.
If family or doulas are not an option, there is the good ol’ surrender technique.
Do NOTHING but rest and eat. Let your house fall apart. Let your laundry pile up. Order food. Find a maid (this is much cheaper than a doula).
We live in a world that you can have pretty much anything delivered to your door. You can find everything from a maid to someone that can run a task for you. Yes, it costs money. But it is a small investment to keep your mental health.
How do you survive this time? Well the reality is there is no other choice.
The first three months with a baby are hard.
Laugh at the chaos. Roll with the punches. Know this will pass. Ask for help. Expect nothing of yourself. Be patient and kind to your partner. Be patient and kind to your baby – they don’t understand. Mostly, be patient and kind to yourself.
When I look back on those moments, it is all a blur. I remember crying in my gnocchi, completely overwhelmed. I thought many times I had reached my threshold. I was tested and failed many times.
But I found something inside of me that kept me going. A strength I didn’t know I had. A strength you have too.