“Are you sure you don’t mind me holding him so long?” A friend from work asked as she rocked Peter after feeding him. He was fast asleep in her arms as we talked in our messy living room. Most of the house is like that right now. There’ll be time to pick up later.
I looked at Sara and she gave the same bleary eyed smile I’ve seen every day for the last month. “It’s absolutely fine,” she said. “Hold him as long as you like.” She could have stayed and held him all night if she’d wanted to. We’d have just locked the doors, set the alarm, and sneaked upstairs while she wasn’t looking. Stolen sleep is still sleep, right?
Our definition of a good night’s rest has whittled down from a solid eight hours to counting the number of blinks in a day as sleep. Sleep has become the number one traded commodity in our house. I’ll clean the kitchen for an extra hour from Sara. She’ll agree to me seeing a movie with friends if I’ll take two feedings that night. And so it goes. I’ve begun to see why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. A couple of weeks ago I offered someone “so much money” to watch Peter one night. Not sure what I would’ve done when that bill came to call.
Sunday began with Ben Franklin stealing an hour of my already precious sleep thanks to Daylight Savings Time and it ended with me quickly laying my screaming child down and leaving the room before I lost my mind and my temper. Sara took over, no bargaining needed, and sent me to the guest room for the rest of the night. Nearly snapping in in the nursery was hardly my finest moment as a new father. It scared Sara, it scared me, but in the light of day I was glad for her steady hand and for so much advice given for just such an instance. Peter was fine and I’d done the right thing by simply walking away.
I know this is just a season. We’re already over a month into what’s known as the “4th Trimester.” We prayed and waited and prayed and waited some more for this baby and a few sleepless nights could never do anything to make me any less grateful for Peter. But if he could just sleep for a few more hours at a time that would be great. Given the choice between winning the lottery and Peter sleeping through the night? I’m pretty sure I’d choose sleep.
Like any new parent I’m often asked how life is with the new baby. It’s exciting and exhausting, I say nearly every time. And that’s true. But it’s also scary, like swimming in the ocean and getting sucked under by the tide. You hold your breath and try to remember which way is up, try to see where the light comes from. Oh, and you’re holding a baby.
With all that being said, with the exhaustion and the shortened fuses and the wondering if life will ever feel normal again, my son falls asleep on my chest and I realize I’m learning how to love in a way I’ve never known before. I will never be the same.