When you’re a new mom, one of the first questions you’re frequently asked is: “Does (baby) sleep through the night?” And while it may seem nice to think that another mom truly cares about your baby’s sleep patterns, the truth of the matter is: it’s a test.
If you respond with an eye roll and spew out a sob story about how you’ve been up every two hours and haven’t slept in months, you’re in. If you respond with a confident, “oh yes, at least 8 hours, my baby is a fabulous sleeper!” you’re not only out, but you’re being judged by doubting moms who secretly think your time is coming. I’ve been on both sides.
The thing is, sleepless nights with babies can be worse than child birth. And like child birth, mom friends who have “been there, done that” will never tell you everything about what goes down.
So moms, I’m here to share with you the 10 stages of crazy that you will likely experience when struggling to survive a long night with a fussy, sleepless baby. And please note: the stages may vary depending on your comfort level, tolerance level, and amount of coffee/wine you’ve consumed before bedtime.
1) False Hope. It starts with a midnight waking – as your head finally hits your pillow after a long and exhausting day, your baby squawks and your night from hell begins. You pick her up, and rock her in your arms lovingly, convinced that a few kisses will coo her back to sleep.
2) Denial. She doesn’t stop crying, so you start the bounce walk. Looping around the dark hallways of your house, humming a tune quietly in her ear, you think to yourself: at least I’m getting some exercise. She’ll fall asleep soon.
3) The Bandaid. She doesn’t fall asleep, and your legs are tired so you give in and nurse her. Gently rocking your baby while she suckles, you fantasize about the slumber you’ll enjoy once she feeds herself into a milk coma.
4) Acknowledging You Have A Problem. She finishes nursing, wide eyed, and starts to cry again. You sit down in the rocking chair in the unnerving darkness of her room, and you start to rock as she thrashes in your arms, wailing like a cat in heat.
5) The Horror. You lull into a mad, sleepless coma. You sit there, rocking, eyes wild, and stare straight forward as you wrestle with the possessed babe in the dark who continues to howl like a coyote at a full moon. Rocking like a madwoman in a horror movie, you stare. Lifeless.
6) False Hope (Part 2). She suddenly stops crying, and her head flops lifeless on your chest. You’ve done it! She’s out! You celebrate with a series of silent fist pumps as you prepare for the final transfer. You’ve survived.
7) Remix. No you haven’t. Because as you begin the ascent out of your chair, she stirs, looks down at your slowly moving arms, and screams a blood-curdling cry worse than the ones before. Back to #1.
8) Doubt. You’ve been walking, rocking, cooing, wrestling your baby now for 2+ hours. You’re mentally, emotionally, and physically drained, and you are back to rocking your wildly kicking goat in the rocking chair again. You’re in a daze, perhaps making lists in your head of the places you’d rather be, or the things you’ll never get done in the morning because you’ll be so tired.
9) Full Submission. You doze off while the baby’s still crying in your arms. When you come to, you realize that she’s stopped and is dead asleep in your arms. Doubtful that it’s over, you get up, and apathetically transfer her into her bed. You pause. She’s still sleeping. Could it be?
10) Ninja Win! You ninja roll the eff outta the room, slowly closing the door like a thief in the night. The floor creaks as you step away, and you pause with an overwhelming fear that you’ve ruined everything – that life as you know it will truly come to an end and your days in the solitary confinement that is a night alone with a sleepless baby is all you’ll ever know. But she’s still quiet. Success.
Your baby has finally fallen asleep and you’re free to tuck back into bed. You have 2 full hours before it’s time to wake up to start your day, and you can’t sleep. What if she wakes up again? Why bother falling back asleep if I’m going to have to wake up again anyways? You lie there. Half dead. And watch the sun rise through the curtains.
Your alarm goes off, waking the baby, and your day begins.