No Sleep

Had someone asked me years ago that the cold-blooded eyes staring back at me in the dark would be my newborn son I wouldn’t have believed them. But there he was, and he was trying to kill me. I just knew it.

My bundle of joy came more like a bundle of mayhem trying to murder me. Happily my love for him outweighed my sheer illogical terror that grew from lack of sleep.

My beautiful son was not a typical newborn. He hated swings, hated his car seat, hated sleeping, and hated eating. He was the kind of awful at eating that I’m certain would have caused his death in centuries past.

He tried and failed miserably to feed every hour for 45 minutes. This gave me 15 minutes to worry about him not sleeping and then hear him crying because he was hungry. The good news is I was also not sleeping, which put me in the best mental state of my life…100% insane.

Sleep when the baby sleeps they said. That would have been a fine idea had he ever slept…ever. Newborns will sleep all the time they said. False. Put him in a swing they said. A car ride will zonk your angel out in a hurry they said (exact words). If by “zonk out” they meant ear-splitting screams due to car sickness/hunger/whatever the blue blazes is wrong with this kid, than that was absolutely correct.

So, as I stared into the darkness at this demon child glaring back at me I thought, I’ve given birth to the anti-Christ. And what do I do with this realization? Because I’m smitten with the devil, I love this little demon, but I was sure with all my heart that he would be murdering me upon my descent into sleep.

Sleep deprivation will do that to a person. If you think you are going crazy, or that people are out to get you, especially if that person is a 9-day-old baby, you probably just need a good nap. You also probably need someone to say “Jen! Calm down, he’s just a baby!” and slap some sense into you.

Something else that might help if you’re sleep deprived – don’t look at your baby in the dark by the glow of your phone…if the precious child is awake he will look creepy no matter what…those glowing eyes.

When you’re terrified of being murdered by your beautiful new baby you love more than life, it may be time to change tactics. After six weeks of painful attempts to give my boy all the benefits from my breast milk, I acquiesced to switching to formula. It broke my heart temporarily, but then something wonderful happened.

My child turned back into a child. I slept. He slept and didn’t squint his beautiful face up in pain. He was happy and alert and slept for more than 10 minutes at a time.

I think we mothers just try to do what we think is best for our children. Part of me wishes I would have switched to formula earlier, part of me is glad I didn’t. The most crushing sorrow of giving up breastfeeding was the loss of my Dolly Parton enhancements.

The only advice I’ll offer is: if you are so tired from lack of sleep your brain sees flames coming from the glaring eyes of your child…do something different. Don’t turn your innocent baby into a monster in your mind; you don’t have much time to spend at this stage.

I urge anyone with a newborn to love every spit up, crying, long night, rocking, exhausted moment you have with your bundle. The real insanity is how fast it goes. When you’re in the middle of the fight for your sanity it seems as if it will never end, but it will.

Sure, I might have more children, but they’ll probably nurse just fine and sleep all the time, and what fun would that story be? I will never again get to hold my small 6-pound firstborn. I will try to soak in every moment, including the annoying ones.

Because I know all too soon he will be 16 and no longer interested in me, rolling his eyes and walking out the door with some girl (she-devil) who will try to steal away from me the boy who tried to kill me all those years ago.