Arguably the thing that any soon-to-be parent dreads the most is the sleepless nights. Or rather, the nights where you attempt to sleep just like you did before the baby arrived, only there’s a crying baby punctuating your rest every two to three hours — if you’re lucky. If you’re not so lucky, you might find yourself awake for hours trying to settle that baby down when it seems like the rest of the world is getting their peaceful slumber. This may also bring you to tears.
My third baby was born last fall, four years after his next oldest brother. I was anticipating great sleep deprivation and a resulting decline in my overall mental health. It had been so long since I had my sleep so disturbed, I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope. What I wasn’t anticipating was savouring our nights together.
At 4 a.m., the house is muted grey and quiet. Well, except for that baby squawking. I’d pick him up and start to feed him, feeling his warmth and weight in my lap. I’d look around as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, notice the LED light on the powered-off television or my blinking Blackberry. I’d hear the snores of my husband, another child turning over in their bed downstairs, the dog chasing rabbits in her sleep. I’d hear traffic and wonder where the driver had been. Or where they were going.
But really, it was him and me, alone together, in the dark and still night. Not him being dragged to school in the stroller for the second drop-off of the day. Not him being left in his playpen so I could unpack the dishwasher. Just him and me, against the world, with his immediate needs being placed before everyone else’s. When you’re the third baby, that’s a bit of a rarity.
Even if it’s your first baby, know these nights will pass quickly. Know that very, very soon, that small noisy baby will sleep 12 hours a night in his or her own bed, and so will you. You won’t see 4 a.m. as often as you might think. You may also find the joy in your time together in the darkness.