There are many things about parenthood that are hard to explain until you become one: the way you can unconditionally love someone you don’t really know yet, the new fears and anxieties that take up space in your brain and even the common parenting struggles are understood on a much deeper level.
Ask any parent of a newborn what the hardest thing is and they’ll probably tell you that learning to function on near-zero sleep is top of the list. It’s a common theme parents-to-be hear when they’re about to welcome their new bundle -- that they should sleep now while they can. But it’s hard to grasp until you’re a few weeks into getting less than four hours of sleep a night.
One of the biggest milestones for a typical new family is when their baby starts to sleep through the night and sanity resumes after months of being a sleepless zombie. For some parents, the glorious occasion happens when their baby is only a few weeks old. Other parents wait well into their child’s second birthday before sleep is restored.
Either way, the first time a parent’s child sleeps through the night, the inner dialogue holds consistent themes.
9:03 p.m.: “I am so glad he is finally asleep.”
9:05 p.m.: “I am going to eat something. I’m sure he’ll be up again in an hour.”
10 p.m.: “Oh, he’s being nice to me tonight. Maybe I’ll take a shower.”
10:15 p.m.: (In the shower) “I just heard him, didn’t I? I’ll get out now I guess.”
10:20 p.m.: “Weird. He’s still sleeping.”
10:45 p.m.: “OK, I’m going to check on him…”
10:48 p.m.: “I need to relax. He’s fine.”
11 p.m.: “WHAT IF THIS IS THE NIGHT HE SLEEPS?!”
11:15 p.m.: “Should I wake him? What if he’s getting sick?”
11:25 p.m.: “I’ll never forgive myself if he’s stopped breathing.”
11:26 p.m.: (In his room) “Aw, he looks so sweet sleeping. WHY AM I IN HERE?”
Midnight: “Well, I guess I will try and get some sleep. This could be awesome!”
12:45 a.m.: “Oh no! I fell asleep. Did I forget to turn the monitor on?”
1:00 a.m.: (Sleeping again)
2:37 a.m.: (Panic) “I should go check on him!”
2:38 a.m.: “OK, he is still sleeping. This is amazing. I can actually sleep for more than three hours. This is awesome -- I’m going back to bed!”
2:40 a.m.: “What if he’s getting sick? Is that why he’s sleeping still?”
5:43 a.m.: “DID I JUST SLEEP FOR THREE HOURS?!”
5:45 a.m.: (peeking on the monitor) “Look at him, he’s still sleeping?!”
5:47 a.m.: I am going to brag so much about my baby finally sleeping through the night!
6 a.m.: (baby cries) “Awesome, he’s awake! I miss him.”
6:30 a.m.: “Why am I still so tired? Why did I waste so much time freaking out last night. I could have slept so much longer.”0comments
6:35 a.m.: “He better sleep like that again tonight. I know he knows how to now!”
Waiting for your child to figure out a milestone like sleep is something every parent hopes will come soon. But, the funny thing about parenthood is getting a harsh reminder of how fast they grow up every time your child reaches each milestone -- even when doing so helps you.