NEW CASTLE — I have not always been the best sleeper in the world, but I have NEVER experienced such unrelenting fatigue as I have as the mother of a newborn. In the days and weeks following both of my daughter’s arrivals I have had to go on auto-pilot and have considered it a modern miracle that in my constant state of fatigue I have managed to not burn the house down, feed my toddler cat food as a snack or start the dryer with no clothing In it (okay, I may have done this, but only a few times). After my oldest daughter was born people kept telling me that while in the hospital I should let the nursing staff take her to the nursery at night and just bring her to me to eat. At the time, I found the notion of this to insinuate negligent parenting. Let some strange nursing staff whisk my brand new bundle of joy off to some brightly lit, unfamiliar room? Not my daughter. After my SECOND daughter was born I felt so exhausted that I would not have minded if a random nurse from another hospital wanted to take my new born to Kennywood for the day just so I could get some shut-eye.
Sleep becomes such an object of extreme luxury when you have an infant. At night-time, my husband and I became ninjas…tip toeing around our own home like intruders. There is no room for error and everything must be precise. The bassinet must be turned a certain way, the fan must be turned on and pointed away from the baby. The cats are “escorted” out from under the bed, with the help of a yard stick being tapped on the floor next to the bed and the door is shut. Then it’s time. The baby is wrapped, fed and rocked and ready to be placed in bed. However, I am not standing, I am sitting on the edge of my bed across from the bassinet. This is a problem. You don’t realize how loud your everyday tasks are until you have a newborn, and the simple motion of going from sitting on a mattress to standing seemingly elicits a cacophony of cracks and creaks that you never even knew could be emitted from a simple pillow top mattress. Finally, however, I am standing and the baby is still fast asleep. Bending over stiffly as to not change her position, I gently place her in the bassinet and just stand there. I am waiting for a whimper, a cry or the scariest and most horrifying reaction, a wide awake smile. But, to my surprise I get nothing and it seems safe to exit the room.