My first five babies were sleeping through the night by 4 months old, but number six was now seven months old and just didn’t want to sleep more than 3 or 4 hours at a time! Before becoming a mom, I knew that the whole baby gig required sacrifices – my body as I knew it, free time, warm food – but sleep is the one pesky little thing that I never knew I would miss so much.
So, he was seven months old, and after more than a week of waking up every 2 or 3 hours, I found myself less than cheerful, which is to say I became grumpy, mean, depressed, unmotivated, and overwhelmed. At first I thought postpartum depression was hitting me really late. A call to the doctor nixed that theory. For the following 2 weeks I knew that pregnancy was the cause. That lasted until the second negative pregnancy test. And then, unexpectedly, I awoke having had seven gloriously uninterrupted hours of sleep! Overnight the world had changed to a better place; I was kind again, and everything looked better, sounded better, smelled better!
This got me thinking: Everything is better when you sleep! Allow me to give a few examples:
Screaming Toddlers Fighting Over Every. Little. Thing.
With Sleep: You gently defuse the situation, distracting, encouraging, and quietly teaching your sweet littles to play together like Jesus would have us do.
Without Sleep: You grab toys out of hands, threatening the toys-in-the-trash verdict. Or you lock yourself in the bathroom until you’re calm, emerging when you can speak quietly enough that neighbors don’t call CPS.
Dirty Dishes, Piles of Laundry, Dirty Floors
With Sleep: You tackle a little at a time, approaching each task cheerfully. You invent games to get the kids involved, and by the end of the night it doesn’t look so bad; it’s not super clean, but it’s livable.
Without Sleep: You internally cuss at your husband for not helping more (knowing full well he’s a gem). You grumble at the laundry, convinced that your kids simply dropped last week’s clean laundry into the hamper without wearing any of it. You feel like a complete failure, convinced that your kids will grow up needing expensive therapy because of the OCD they developed as a reaction to the pig sty they grew up in.
Natural Family Planning (Your Sex Life)
With Sleep: You thank God for the beautiful gift of marital love. How kind and good God is to give you a cycle you can track. You don’t recoil when your husband touches you, and you think about how much better sex gets the longer you are married.
Without Sleep: You get dressed in the bathroom as fast as possible. Although you can’t imagine why, your husband still finds you attractive, and he’d probably want to have sex if he sees you naked. You walk into the room, and he has that “look.” You want to scream, “You want part of me too?! All I want is five minutes without someone needing something from me!” You can’t make heads or tails of your stupid cycle, and cry at the thought of another baby. You resolve that the only sure way to avoid this is to never have sex again. Ever.
Well, friends, you get my point. To all you sleep-deprived mothers out there, know you are not alone. And for God’s sake, go take a nap!