Do not allow me to operate heavy machinery.
Do not permit me to get behind the wheel of a car past 6 pm.
Do not let me have that second glass of wine.
I have post-baby sleep disorder.
They say that the restless last months of pregnancy—when there is no comfortable position to sleep in and, try as you might to sleep on your side, you wake 40 times/night to find you’ve rolled onto your back again, a full-term baby pressing against your spine—prepare you for the early months of parenthood. And it is true. Long before I had Sophia, I fell into the nocturnal rhythm of waking every two hours. I wouldn’t say that rousing to feed her every other hour was easy, but my body had grown accustomed to it, like a shift worker snatching a few moments of deep sleep before shuffling off to labor in darkness.
And if the third trimester is training for the first months of infancy, then infancy is training for life.
I have not slept soundly since Sophia was born. Once the kind of person who could sleep anywhere, whose eyes closed seconds after her head hit the pillow, I am now the kind of person who fantasizes about mowing down the cheerful chorus of birds who greet the dawn outside my window every day at 5:30, who wants to throttle my neighbor for warming up his car at 6:00 in the summer heat, and who is ready to give a piece of my mind to the teenager who, waiting for her BFF, impatiently honks her horn at 7:37 every morning.
If Sophia takes an uneven breath, I stir. If she cries out, I am rigid with deliberation over whether to go to her or let her soothe herself back to sleep. If she makes no sound, I fret that she has finally succumbed to sudden infant death syndrome.
And so, I am perpetually tired, maintaining alertness only by keeping a constant level of caffeine in my veins. I am comforted by the thought that I am not alone. I walk among 100’s of thousands…maybe millions of zombie mommies (mombies?) who run on coffee and crazy baby love.
Today, at the playground, when my yawn at 6:00 pm triggered a chain reaction among my exhausted mompatriots, I said to no one in particular, “this is why I don’t think I can have another child. I’m ALREADY too tired.” One nodded her head in agreement. Another with two children added, “It’s exponentially more work. Don’t think for a second that it’s not.” I turned my eyes to her two tow-headed children tumbling joyfully down the slide. “But it is worth it,” she added, her voice trailing off, as if the words sapped her of her last ounce of strength.