Monday, January 25, 2010

Parental Mutterings Amidst Colicky Nights

If there is one piece of advice/word of warning/overshare that I feel strongly about professing to expectant first time parents, it is this: You will say the ugliest, most vicious things you have ever said to each other after your baby comes.

No, I'm not talking about those blissful first moments after babies arrival when you are in awe of those tiny fingers. No, despite a three inch needle being used to stitch up previously personal areas, you will smile and kiss. That glow will likely even last you throughout the first few weeks of baby's life.

However, somewhere around weeks six to eight, the new car smell will begin to dissipate, and the late nights will take their toll. You will once again hear the baby cry out at 3 AM despite having placed baby in bed at 2:45AM with a full belly. At first, you will quietly pray, "Please let him go to sleep. Please." Then as the crying escalates, you will put forth an Academy Award-winning performance of unconsciousness just hoping that your partner, who always seemed to adore you, will leap up and attend to baby allowing you to sleep.

As the crying ramps up, the storm brews. "Does he not know that it is HIS turn?!? How does he sleep through this?!?"

It all comes to a head when you, lying there with eyes closed and forced steady breathing, suddenly realize your partner is doing the same thing. He is lying next to you vying for that performance Oscar.

Oh, the things that were spewed from mouths that previously whispered sweet nothings.

The good news is, it can all be cured. All everyone needs is a little rest. And in another 4-6 weeks, if you're lucky, baby will start sleeping longer stretches and sleep will be yours*. Yes, 4-6 weeks may sound like a massive amount of time, but never fear; in your haze of sleeplessness, you won't even know what day it is and that 4-6 weeks may just past by unnoticed.

You may ask what are my intentions in sharing this story with expectant parents? Well, first to encourage them to load up on the sweet nothings before delivery and second, to let them know that their relationship will survive and thrive despite muttered cruelties like "What kind of parent just leaves their child?**"

*You know, like 5 straight hours, a previously forgotten stretch of sleep.
**Gender identifiers removed to protect the normally loving party who used this one after the other loving party left new baby with him/her and drove once around the block.


Of course, maybe we're alone in this. Maybe you and your partner only had kindness for each other. (We did after all, have a colic sufferer.) If not, what's one of the worst things you uttered in the darkness of night during round 27 of baby rocking? It could have been actually directed at someone or it could have just been shared in a sweet sing-songy voice with your newborn who had no way of passing it on. Come on, spill it.


Chelsea + Jonathan said...

These stories scare me. I don't do well on little sleep. I start cursing like a sailor and crying when one hair on my head is out of place. It's not good.

Convertible Girl said...

Brilliant! And oh so painfully true. I can vividly remember saying (sobbing) to my husband, "If I could just get 3 hours of sleep, I think I'd be okay" as I rocked back and forth and bed holding our son who only ever slept if someone (usually me) was holding him, even at night. Wish I had a gem of a quote for you, but I think I was probably trying too hard not to cry to be able to say anything.

The scary part? Our kids are now 4.5 and almost 2, yet we still put forth our Oscar-best sleep performance, hoping the other parent will get up with whichever child is suddenly hungry/thirsty/wet/needs to pee/lonely/just awake, etc.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Totally true. I forgive all mothers who abandon their brood after I had my own and hit that wall. And I'm a gal with a lot of resources--including a spouse and a full checkbook. My heart breaks for those mothers who do so much with much, much less. Stress-inducing indeed.

Missy said...

Oh so true! The ugliness definitely comes out - imagine twins and two young parents! It was very ugly at times (even with just one 8 years later there were some nasty times)...but you're right, you do get through it and the sweet nothings do resurface. We still play the sleep game to see who will move first and the kids are 11 and 3 - hahahaha!