They say pregnancy insomnia is nature's way of preparing you for life with baby. Well, I'm here to tell you that nature lied.
Nothing in the world prepares you for the sleep deprivation.
I remember when my daughter was born, a friend of mine with older children texted me "Welcome to Motherhood, you will be tired for AT LEAST the next five years." At the time I rolled my eyes at the DRAMA of it all, but unfortunately, it was all true. If you are in the midst of those early days, when one night bleeds into another, you have my sympathy. I remember that pang of dread when night fell, knowing that although my body NEEDED to sleep, my only rest would be interrupted, fitful and with one ear always open. When you finally do fall into a dreamless, unconscious state, you can be guaranteed that:
(a) It will be at three minutes to seven in the morning or
(b) Your toddler decided it would be a good time to come in and wee on you.
At least when the children get slightly older, you get more practiced at doing everything in full ‘mombie’ state.
Here are our top tips for getting up and at them when you have had NO SLEEP:
1. Change it up
Mooching around the house when you have no energy to tidy up, or even shower, is NOT a good idea. Your body will convince you it is the best idea EVER to lie on the sofa and eat Nutella from the jar for four hours. (Don't get me wrong, that was my M.O. on all three of my children) But after a certain amount of time you realise that just getting out into the fresh air, or even going to visit a friend will make you feel SO much better in the long run.
2. Take the help
Who minds the minders? Your loved ones of course. If your Mum offers to take the baby out, say yes. If your Baby Daddy wants to cook you dinner, despite not being able to cook, say yes. You also need to feel minded. Try to eliminate things from your life that are unnecessary. Those thank you cards can wait, and a 'from scratch' dinner on the table each night is way too ambitious for now.
3. Stay Well
There IS one thing worse than having zero sleep and having to function. Having zero sleep AND being sick. Where possible, try not to overdo it, sleep whenever you can. And chocolate, always have chocolate.
4. Enjoy the little things
When my son was a baby, I had a giant puffy coat, literally down to my ankles. It was like walking around wrapped in a giant sleeping bag. Somehow, no matter how tired I was, I felt everything would seem ok once I could wrap myself up in my coat and go out. Obviously, you can't do that in summer, but don't underestimate the power of a comfy hoodie or new pair of shoes.
5. Sleep training (for yourself)
I found myself putting off going to bed in the evenings as I knew it meant teasing myself with the sleep/no sleep game. Despite being exhausted, I would doze on the sofa in a very unproductive manner. Training yourself to go to sleep at the same time each evening is surprisingly hard, but it helps towards getting into some type of routine for yourself. This, in turn, can help ease that upside down feeling that can be common in the early baby days.
The good news is that that groggy, tired feeling does eventually fade.
One day soon you will wake up at 8 am bright and refreshed and realise that the baby slept through the night. Then, of course, you will rush into their room in a blind panic to make sure they are alright. You will feel like a new person, a rested person.
Welcome back to the world.