I’ll never forget that first night when we brought our bundle of joy home from the hospital. It was, without a doubt, the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had. And it’s something that all first-time parents will go through, guaranteed.
It’s not bad enough you’re up every two-to-three hours to feed, change and burp your baby, there will also be the inevitable interruptions when you’re trying to sneak in an hour or so of shut-eye between your attempts to set up the routine.
Here’s the reality: you’re going to sleep with one eye open, watching the movement on the LED lights on your bedside baby monitor, hoping to goodness that the apnoea monitor doesn’t go off.
You’ll check the volume about ten times before you go to bed, and while you’re lying there dozing off, every single little peep and sigh that your baby makes will have you out of the bed, down the hallway and at the crib side checking to see if the baby’s alright.
90% of the time, the baby is fine and all you’re reacting to are the natural sounds that the baby makes when it’s sleeping (they’re noisier sleepers than you think).
Trust me, if something’s wrong, the baby will scream – especially in those first two or three weeks when your baby only really has two settings: Awake-and-feeding, or asleep.
Funny story – because my son was born 7 weeks prem, he was pretty small and sometimes his weight and movement wasn’t enough to keep registering “life” on the apnoea monitor, so the alarm went off more than once (even though he was perfectly fine) and that was just game-over for my wife and I for the first few weeks before he actually started to bulk up a bit.
I can guarantee that even after reading this article, as a first-time parent you WILL feel hung-over the next morning, your eyes will look like a map of the Witwatersrand and all you’ll be capable of for the rest of the day will be as an extra in Season 2 of Walking Dead.
But rest assured, it’ll get better with time. It took me and my wife a good few weeks to get over the fears that come with new parenthood. As you learn the sounds that your baby makes in his or her sleep, you’ll calm down a little, but those two-to-three hour feeds will be the killer until your baby’s sleeping through.
One thing to resign yourself to: from the moment you bring your baby home, sleep will become a mythical creature.
Bottom line: You’ll get over the nervous parent phase. For some it takes a bit longer, but if I can say one thing, you’re not alone. Every parent will go through it and the sooner you learn to identify when your baby needs you vs. when your baby is just being a baby…the better.