My daughter will be 5 in just a few weeks and I have been reminiscing lately. I was scrolling through my phone and looking at pictures and videos from when she was just a baby. Of course, I thought the most cliche thought, where did the time go? But, the pictures and videos reminded me of how hard being a new parent was. It reminded me of the whole adjustment, the anxiety to get everything right, the fear that I might mess up. And most of all, the sleep deprivation. Although sleep is still a luxury, it was the hardest during the first year. Sleep deprivation sounds easy when you’re childless and carefree. In fact, I thought it would be the easiest part of parenthood since I used to brag about staying up late and still making it to school or work the next day. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As I took a trip down memory lane, I remembered how many dumb things I did as a sleep-deprived parent.
Spending hours researching how to get my baby to sleep more.
Instead of trying to sleep or resting, any chance I got, I was researching techniques to get my newborn to sleep. I had anticipated a few weeks or months but was not prepared for the long run at all. One of my biggest regrets was trying to find the right technique or combination to get my daughter to sleep. In the rare occasion that she slept longer than normal, I’d go crazy trying to recreate that day in order to get the same results. Little did I know that’s simply just not how it works.
Making ridiculous online purchases.
Along with researching techniques and tips to get a baby to sleep, I would stumble upon an item promising to help. I was so desperate for sleep that I bought dozens of toys, outfits, and items that claimed to help babies sleep more soundly. Some were even suggested by other parents and had rave reviews. I found a sleep suite on Amazon with thousands of positive reviews. It claimed to help babies sleep better by making them feel “cozy and secure.” I ordered one and eagerly awaited its arrival. I thought I had finally found the secret weapon to get more sleep. It was the dumbest purchase I’ve ever made. Not only did it look like a ridiculous snowsuit, but it didn’t work. I was embarrassed that I even purchased it.
Losing my mind and my things.
Sleep deprivation can make you do some pretty wild things and cause a lot of issues. For one, I had brain fog. I had trouble concentrating, focusing, and remembering things. I felt like I was losing my mind at times. Not only was I losing my mind but also my things. I would constantly misplace things or forget where I put stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I lost my phone or placed it in the fridge. Or how many times I left the keys on the door. Sometimes I’d even put cereal in the fridge and put the milk in the pantry.
Staying up late to get “me time”.
Although I think “me time” is super important for everyone, especially new parents, I don’t think I went about it the best way. Sometimes the only guarantee that I’d get to watch TV, relax, or have an adult conversation would be at night. Quite a few times, my husband and I stayed up to spend time together or to watch TV and we almost always regretted it. I wish I had just went to sleep early and figured out another way to get time for myself and for my husband and I to spend time together. Although in the moment it felt right, I was sacrificing hours of much needed sleep.
Overloading on advice.
I was always looking to other moms, especially online, for advice. Although I think having a circle of parents to bounce ideas off of and to get advice from is important, I definitely overdid it. I got advice from articles, parents, books—anything and everyone! I had so many tips, theories, and techniques in my head at once that I was a mess.
I marked my calendar.
Speaking of advice, other parents would always tell my husband and I the “magic moment” when we could expect our baby to start sleeping more. The average answer was around 3-6 months. I marked our calendar for both milestones. I eagerly awaited the 3-month milestone. Nothing. Then I waited for the 6-month milestone. I had to learn the hard way that not all babies are the same. I also had to learn that some people were liars or gave bad advice. Most of all, I had to accept that there was no magic moment and that babies were not meant to sleep like adults and our baby wasn’t on our timeline. I had little to no control over it.
Sacrificing my health.
I would put off doctor appointments and ignore signs that I needed help because I felt like I was too busy to take care of myself. I put myself last always. MY biggest regret was not seeking help for postpartum depression sooner and for putting off important appointments for myself. If I could do it all over again, I would prioritize my health just as much as my baby’s.
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