On the third day with baby, my doula gave to me,
3 hours of napping!
She helped me feed my baby.
And she sat down and listened to me.
Ah, sleep. Deep, peaceful, unbroken sleep. That elusive unicorn of parenthood.
"Sleep when the baby sleeps," they say. Yeah right, and you'll cook dinner when the baby cooks dinner, take out the garbage when the baby takes out the garbage, and call to contest the hospital bill when the baby does too!
Despite feeling weary to the bone, most adults are not accustomed to taking a midday nap. It can be really tough to drop everything and fall asleep. Your baby is the most beautiful creature in the world and you might feel like you can't possibly stop staring at them long enough to fall asleep. Many parents feel like it's just too hard to put down the mental burden of all the stuff they "should" get done.
When I arrive at your house, part of our check in will be for me to determine your goals for the day. Shower, eat, sleep are popular with everyone! While you get to those basics, I will take care of that other stuff. I'll cook and bring you food. I'll collect and carry out the garbage. I'll go fetch the mail. It's vital for your recovery for you to rest as much as you can. Sleep may come if we give it a chance. Hanging out in a laid back position in bed or on the couch maximizes your chances!
Another huge disappointment can come when all the other parents around you seem to have babies that "sleep through the night." Ugh. You're staggering around like a zombie and some jerk asks, "Are they sleeping through the night yet?" It's like the standard question for people who know you've had a baby, but aren't clever enough to think of anything else to say. It might ignite a feeling of white-hot rage inside you or a pit of bottomless despair.
You might start to feel like you're doing something wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth! Babies aren't reading the books and they certainly aren't listening to what other people are saying they should do. Your baby is sleeping LIKE A BABY!
"Many parents just need reassurance that their baby is normal, and that their baby's sleep patterns are developing as expected.
In cases where we are unhappy with our infant's sleep development it may not be the baby that is problematic, but our expectations regarding sleep and babies' needs."
It can really help to go into parenting with lowered expectations for your own sleeping. Less sleep, but not forever. It might help to lower your expectations for other non-essential activities for a while too! Less frequent mopping or vacuuming, the dirt will keep. Infrequent sit-down dinners, but maybe more laying-down-in-bed dinners! If you have the luxury, consider asking what others could do for you. Can somebody else wash your laundry? Bring you groceries? Walk your dog? What things can go un-done or at least done less often for a while?
I can't rest or eat for you! But I can do your dishes, laundry, and cooking. I'll take care of all that other stuff so that you can focus on yourself and your new baby.