Let the Sleep Deprivation Begin
The first night has finally arrived. You and your baby are home for the first time.
Your baby is finally unplugged and fully your responsibility.
There are no nurses looking in on your baby while you are out.
Nobody is looking over your shoulder while you are learning how to hold, feed, change and swaddle your baby. It is all on you!
Whether you realize it or not, if your baby was hooked up to a monitor for any length of time, you have likely become monitor dependent. That means that you have become reliant upon the readings and alarms monitoring your baby’s vitals while they are in the hospital.
Although the nurses had advised us to, “Watch the baby not the monitor,” we had become a little reliant on all the bells and whistles.
So, we weren’t completely ready to just trust our instincts.
The First Night
It is time to put your baby down for the night for the first time.
Most parents will opt to have their new baby sleep in a bassinet or cradle, next to their bed in the master bedroom.
Some parents will opt to have their child sleep with them in their bed.
Expert opinions vary on the subject of sharing a bed or co-sleeping with your baby. I am a firm believer in parents making decisions like this for themselves and their children.
Either way, prepare yourself for a night of no sleep. Many of my friends joked about this, but I thought, “I’ll be able to sleep!” Yah, that happened, only in my dreams. That is if I was even asleep long enough to have dreams.
Here is How Our First Night with Danny Boy Went Down
We all went to bed around 11:30 p.m., after Daniel’s scheduled feeding and changing.
We turned off the lights and then the horror began.
Daniel was still making a little noise. He is primarily a grunter, not a crier and he was grunting every minute or so. With each grunt, I was thinking to myself, “Is he okay?”
With every moment of silence, I was thinking to myself, “Is he breathing?”
With each grunt and movement combination, I thought, “Should I go over and check on him? Should I pick him up?”
Lynn was lying silently next to me, having the same thoughts, but neither of us said anything, not wanting to wake the other.
This went on for a couple of hours, however, I may have dozed off during a diaper change and a feeding.
No Bed Sharing, So We Thought
Before bringing Daniel home, we had decided that we would not have him sleep in our bed. Well, that lasted about four hours or so.
Although I had shut my eyes for a minute or two, I couldn’t take not being closer to him. I had to pick him up and hold him for a while.
In my mind I thought, “I can bring him to bed and he can sleep, as long as I stay awake, right?.”
So, I propped my pillows up, picked up Daniel and I leaned against the headboard with Daniel lying on my chest.
Justifying some more, I told myself, “This is a great bonding opportunity for Daniel and me!” This actually worked for Daniel. He quietly fell asleep as soon as we laid down.
A New Method of Torture
He shifted his weight, rolled his head a little bit and then he grabbed hold of my chest hair. Trust me when I tell you that I wasn’t going to fall asleep as long as he had two hands full of chest hair. In fact, I would like to take this opportunity to suggest that the CIA consider ‘chest hair pulling’ as an enhanced interrogation technique.
I held DJ for about two hours, having watched most of Mr. Holland’s Opus when Lynn woke up.
She was on a tight breast milk pumping schedule of eight times a day, so at about 5:00 a.m. she awoke, looked into the empty bassinet, turned and found Daniel sleeping on my chest.
I was secretly thrilled. Essentially, in my mind, it was Lynn’s shift. Daniel was returned to the bassinet, Lynn went to pump in the nursery and I finally fell asleep.
I am sure that Lynn fed DJ and changed his diaper, but I was finally in dreamland. I have noticed that all of my dreams feature Daniel now. Is that normal? I am sure that it is.
The Morning Has Arrived
It is 8:00 a.m. and it has started all over again; pump, feed, change, sleep, repeat …. I knew that parenting was a full-time gig, but it never truly occurred to me that it was 24/7.
There is no way for you to understand how exhausting and rewarding the first night, first week, first month, etc. can be until you live through it.
For us dads, there is nothing like spending that quiet time with your baby, lying on your chest. It is another rite of passage for us first-time dads.
By Bill Robertson