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If there is one piece of advice I was given by everyone as I approached my due date it was, "Sleep when the baby sleeps."
This seems like a logical suggestion. After all, you need to rest and you need to be awake to take care of your little one. But when you realize how much an infant sleeps, it becomes an impractical suggestion.
If I took three-hour nap after being awake for just an hour all day long, I would never get anything done. Now, I do nap. Mostly I nod off in the recliner after getting out of bed in the morning or just before going to bed at night. These little power naps are great, but I still haven't embraced napping during midday.
This will likely come in time. I will likely reach a point of exhaustion where I will take a three-hour nap in the middle of the day. But currently, I am trying to be productive and get my chores and work done during the day.
You reach a certain level of exhaustion after the first few weeks where it almost becomes normal. Waking up at 3 AM and 6 AM to do feeds. Crawling out of bed in the morning to start your day. Drinking two or three coffees before you feel human again. Laundry and dishes and vacuuming. Feeding the dog. Feeding the other kids. Taking care of work things.
You become almost high functioning in your exhaustion. It reminds me of when I was in school and working and volunteering. I used to function really well on four to six hours of sleep. I was productive, potentially more so than I am on a full night's sleep.
It's interesting to be back in this stage because it is not the same as it was before. I am not necessarily more productive. I am occupied with my little boy. I am occupied with cuddles and feedings and just watching him sleep. There is a need to try and savour every moment I have while he is this small.
I am not as focused as I was before. I jump between tasks rather than just staying on one until it is completed. But I usually get everything done by the end of the day. I may be absent-minded and easily distracted, but I still get things done.
I know that sleep isn't going to be a big part of my life again for a while. I know that this will become my reality. Coffee and naps and exhaustion. I am more than okay with that reality. I am learning to embrace it and cherish the sleep I get.
It is all about balance. I choose to be awake. I choose to work instead of sleep. I choose to do chores instead of sleep. And there is nothing wrong with the people who choose to sleep. I don't blame you. Sleep is a wonderful thing.
There is no right way to handle being a first-time mom. There is no right way to juggle your new parenting responsibilities and your regular life.
It is chaos. It is exhausting. It makes your head spin. But there is something wonderful about it all.
People keep telling me that I will miss this stage. And perhaps that is true. Perhaps I'll miss the crying and the late night feedings. Perhaps I'll miss the exhaustion and the naps. It's really hard to say. It's hard to predict.
Life is going to be an adventure from this point on. It's going to be chaotic but what's the point of living life if you aren't going to embrace the adventure and the chaos. I would hate for life to be boring, and if I have to accept a little less sleep in order to achieve that, then so be it.