new born baby
9 Things I Didn’t Know About Sleep Deprivation Before I Had A Baby
When I was pregnant with my twins, other parents would warn me about how little sleep I would soon be getting. I heard them, and I believed them, but I thought I could handle it. Here is a real thought that went through my mind: I pulled all-nighters in college all the time, and I was fine. This can’t be that different. I know. It’s hilarious.
Besides the fact that statement is just wrong because at some point you get to go to your dorm room and crash for the next ten to twelve hours, when you have a newborn it never stops. You go months without a full night’s sleep. I thought that I would just be really tired. I had no idea that sleep deprivation would also cause the following:
1. I had hallucinations.
I think my first hallucinations started somewhere around week two. I was laying in bed and noticed a rolled up bundle on my nightstand. I thought, why did I leave a baby on the nightstand? And then I laid there and thought some more: I should probably get the baby off the nightstand. Then I laid there a little longer and thought, nah it looks okay.
It was a bundle of burp cloths, by the way. But it was good to know I had faith in my children’s independence when they were ten days old.
2. I was too tired to eat.
I have never in my life been too tired to eat food. But after I had my babies, there were days when I would barely finish a carton of yogurt. Why? Not because I didn’t have time to eat, but because I didn’t have the energy to get food. I remember sitting at my dining room table, staring into my kitchen, wanting something to eat, but being unable to come up with anything that required zero steps to make. It was much less tiring to keep sitting.
3. My lack of sleep impaired my judgement about my lack of sleep.
When my kids were one week old, my two sisters and my mother came to visit. I had three grown women in my house telling me to go get some sleep, and I said no. No, I wanted to hang out. I wanted to talk. I wanted to see my family with my new babies. I should have devoted a good ten minutes to that horse shit before leaping, gazelle-like, to my bedroom.
4. I had no motivation to do anything beyond keeping my children alive.
In addition to being too tired to eat, I also had no desire to do anything for myself beyond the basics. And I mean, the extreme basics. Eating didn’t even make the list, so you know that the day my daughter vomited down my back at 8am I was not getting up and getting a new shirt on. Nope, I was in that thing till my husband got home at 6pm.
5. I thought I looked okay. I did not.
Looking back at photos of myself during those days, I did not realize how very pale and exhausted I looked. There’s a picture of me on the day I brought the twins in to my husband’s work, and the circles under my eyes were purple and extended down to my cheekbones. It was not a good look. Well, at least my shirt wasn’t on backwards. Which reminds me of number six…
6. Getting dressed in the morning took on a different form.
After the babies, getting dressed in the morning meant pulling a pair of maternity pants on under my nightgown and getting on with my day. Long nightgown on top, sweatpants and socks on the bottom. And I have never been more comfortable in all my life.
7. I now understand why it is used as a form of torture.
Now that my kids are six, I covet sleep like it is my precious. If I am ever interrogated about my many secrets, I will break at the mere threat of not getting any sleep.
“Tell us where the plans are, or there will be no napping today!”
“No naps?! Fuck that. They’re in the crawl space.”
8. I thought my babies were cute, but they really really weren’t.
Mother Nature is really something; she tricks you into taking care of these babies because you’re so tired that you think they’re cuter than a basket of puppies. The truth is, they look like horrible little wrinkly aliens. All of them. Sorry.
9. I would start weeping for no reason whatsoever.
Sleep deprivation also made it impossible for me to control my many, varied feelings. I would start crying when I heard the music coming from one of the baby bouncers. I would cry when the washing machine got out of balance. I cried on a day that I thought was “too foggy.” Turns out that being super tired makes for super sad times.
(photo: PathDoc / Shutterstock)