You might think you’re prepared for the lack of sleep that comes with a newborn. But once that baby arrives, you’ll realize that sleep deprivation is only the tip of the nightmarish-nighttime-struggles iceberg. Before baby comes, we wanted to prepare you as best as we could for how sleep changes with baby in the house because it can be brutal if you’re not warned. We know that the baby doesn’t sleep well, but had no idea how much it was going to change for us.
1. Say goodbye to sleeping braless.
I had heard of women springing leaks at inopportune moments, but it never occurred to me that it might happen at night. On my second night in the hospital, I woke up to a milk-drenched pajama shirt.
2. Soaked PJs
In addition to milk stains, prepare yourself for a few weeks’ worth of sweat-soaked pajamas. Maybe you have always been the kind of person who is constantly cold, but thanks to breastfeeding and hormones, you now get to experience the joys of postpartum sweating.
3. The Roller Coaster
The first time your baby sleeps through the night, you will go through a roller coaster of emotions. First, you’ll do a double take when you check the clock. After some quick mental calculations, you’ll panic, fearing that your baby has stopped breathing. Finally, you’ll run to their side and check their pulse, only to wake your baby up from a rare peaceful slumber.
4. It’s Kind of a Lie
While we’re on the subject, “sleeping through the night” is a misnomer. We’re not talking about your baby sleeping for ten blissful, uninterrupted hours. Try more like five.
5. Babies make a hell of a lot of noise when they sleep.
Have you ever watched a dog sleep? You know, when they dream, their noses quiver and they sort of wheeze and twitch their paws? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. Plus some farts.
Let’s just say there’s a reason sleep deprivation is considered one form of torture. You might think you know what it’s like to lose a few hours of ZZZs, but until you’ve slept no more than an hour at a time for the last 30 days, don’t talk to me.
7. You Lose Care
The first time you leak breast milk on your $500, 1,000 thread count, Egyptian cotton sheets, you will immediately strip the bed and wash everything. After that’s happened a dozen more times, you’ll strategically move your pillow to cover the stain, and then you will fall back asleep.
8. Sleep Where You Can Get It
You will learn to fall asleep anywhere and everywhere, no matter the situation. Even if you haven’t actually napped since kindergarten, you’ll soon master the art of catching a few blessed moments of shut-eye whenever you have the opportunity.
9. No Energy for Sleep
There comes a point when trying to fall back asleep requires more energy than just getting out of bed. Don’t be too surprised if you find yourself becoming well acquainted with the 4 a.m. news anchors.
10. Wasted Money
You know that fancy crib you just spent hundreds of dollars on? You shouldn’t use it for at least a year. According to safe sleeping guidelines, your baby should sleep in the same bedroom as you for the first year of life. For most parents, that means buying a bassinet.
Of course, you can always put your little one in the crib during nap time, but my baby always preferred the snug bassinet until she finally outgrew it.
11. Now What?
Although you’ll count down the minutes until you can put your baby to bed each night, once they’re down, you will be mind-numbingly bored. Once your baby has a more regular bedtime, you’ll essentially have to lock yourself in the house every night from about 7 p.m. onward.
You can only watch so many episodes of MasterChef Junior before you have memorized every variation of Gordon Ramsay’s go-to critiques.
12. Sleep gets worse before it gets better.
That might be hard to believe on your third night home with a newborn, when you’re on the bedroom floor trying to change your screaming baby’s diaper at 3 a.m.—but there are also these awful things called sleep regressions that you have to look forward to.
13. But it does get better.
You start coping better with the lack of sleep. Your baby starts waking less and less during the night. And when they do wake, you know exactly how to soothe them and get them settled again.
Basically, everyone learns how to deal.
Anything else you wish you knew about sleep before you had kids? Lay it out for us!
(Image: Image: YouTube / Story of This Life)