sleep deprivation is scary.

by Liz on 07.28

I get migraines.

Not “migraines” as in everyone who gets bad headaches likes to call them “migraines” so they sound more severe. I’m talking diagnosed, no medication can cure them, migraines.

One of the triggers for my migraines is lack of sleep.

So you can imagine my terror when friends would jokingly nudge me, “Better rest up now!” Ha. That’s… funny.

The sleep deprivation- and really, adjustment to the baby in general- was at its worst for the first two months or so. I assumed this was the beginning of my new life- that I was looking forward to sleepless nights in my future with no end until I sent Little Josh off to college. That very fact alone made it hellish. I don’t know how much we can blame on hormones, or postpartum, or general short-tempered-Italian-ness, but I was not a pleasant person, looking down the winding tunnel of my imagined future and seeing nary a bed.

When I look back, I realize how much easier that time would’ve been if I had known an end was in sight. The general consensus seemed to be that I WOULD NEVER SLEEP EVER AGAIN. So the adjustment to those sleepless nights was difficult. “I can’t do this the rest of my life,” I sobbed to a sleepy-eyed husband.

So here’s where I tell you- IT DOES END. And even before it does, IT QUICKLY GETS BETTER.

After two months of hell, my little weary body had fully adjusted to this new system of sleeping. The baby was still waking every three hours, but it was less devastating. Rather than begrudgingly fighting off sleep, rubbing my eyes, stumbling across the room and muttering profanities- I am now able to fully wake up with a blink, and fall back into a deep sleep just as easily. It’s like our bodies can adjust to any situation- even what seems to be the least livable. I won’t say that I’m not tired- but I’m not daydreaming of murdering anyone with an axe, either. (see: first few weeks of hell)

Two months. That’s all. Eight weeks, tops, of fully adjusting to the on-again-off-again sleeping pattern. Really, it sounds like a lot more than it is, when you’re in the depths of despair imagining a lifetime without solid rest.

Two of my saving graces were: Naps and My husband.

I was able to wake up in the middle of the night no problem, and still get up at 5am to get ready for school. I still showered and wore mascara and was a generally presentable person, appropriate for mingling in civilization. But by 3pm, I was wiped out. Being able to come home and catch an afternoon nap with my son was really the only means of survival. This, of course, means cooking dinner and cleaning the house was limited. But I learned to forgive myself for that, too. Time during the day while I was working was scarce- so it became a matter of priorities. Resting was important, and so was spending time with my husband and friends. After making time for those two things, I cut myself some slack on the usual responsibilities to which I held myself. This may not seem ideal, but it’s realistic.

Meanwhile, nighttime wasn’t so bad because while we were both working, we agreed to switch off shifts. Josh would take one night, and I’d take the next. This means a FULL NIGHT of (mostly) uninterrupted sleep every other night. Priceless, really.

But, like I said- it DOES end. After about four months, Little Josh started sleeping through the night. We often have nights wherein he sleeps from 8pm til 8am. There are always one or two flukes interspersed- this weekend, for example, he woke up at 1am each night. No idea why, but like I said- it hardly even bothered my little adjusted body.

I can’t say for sure if this is how it works for everyone, but DAMN do I wish someone had told me that the sleep deprivation would improve in those first adjustment weeks.

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