The one thing you can’t really prepare yourself for when a new baby arrives is the exhaustion from the sleep deprivation. By design, they are needy, warmth-seeking, fragile things that we are hardwired to protect. There is something deep down in our DNA that reacts so viscerally to a newborn’s cries, something so alien sounding that you’d think we’d have the opposite reaction. But no, we run toward it, every fiber of our being surging with adrenaline, as if some primordial creature would find us hidden in the brush and eat our whole family.
The loss of sleep, if you’re lucky, will be minimal. With this baby, he’s actually a pretty good sleeper. He prefers to be in my arms, of course, but unlike his brother, he will let you put him down and he will sleep on his own. But it’s only for a few hours, and although I had forgotten what a real full night’s sleep was like with my older child, this is still difficult to adjust to.
When you’re sleep deprived, the mind plays tricks on you. One night, as I struggled to settle back down to sleep because I wasn’t sure if the baby was actually done eating or not, I swore I heard my older son sneak out of bed because I heard him in the kitchen. But he never came downstairs, there was no creaking of floorboards, nor heavy footfalls or normative chaos that accompanies a 3 year-old’s descent into a room. My mind perfectly conjured it, and it felt like I was going insane.
Daytime blurs into night time, the sunrise surprises you and then it’s somehow noon. Days smear together, and without having my cell phone to tell me, I honestly have no idea what day of the week it is. The adults have fleeting conversations, nearly all sentences go half finished and so many assumptions just simply have to be made in order to make the household run. We lean heavily on each other nowadays. This is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t imagine it getting easier either, as the little one gets bigger and begins to do more than just eat, sleep and poop.