The Light at the End of the Sleepless Tunnel

Emily Elling

Posted By: Emily Elling

Emily Elling lives downtown Indianapolis with her husband of 10 years and her four unintentionally hilarious children, Piper, 7, Nola, 5, Gage, 2, and baby Paul, born January 2012.

I love new babies. I love everything about them. The snuggles, the feedings, even the bitty baby diaper changes. But if there is one thing that I absolutely do not handle well, is the lack of sleep that comes with that new baby bundle of joy.

The lack of "real" quality sleep kills me dead every time. Those first few weeks and months, I become a zombie mom. Fully and completely worthless of functioning like a normal human being.

But fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It might be a long tunnel, and the light might be very dim, but there is a sleep-filled end, eventually.

Paul gave me the best gift of my life when he slept through the night at only seven weeks old. Despite that I woke up with the biggest and most engorged breasts ever, it was the most magical thing I had experience. In hindsight, I wish it had never happened, because suddenly the bar had been set. I knew what he was capable of, except, it never happened again, or at least not for a very long time.

Through his 2nd-5th months of life, Paul easily got up every 3 hours to nurse. This translated into me going to bed very late, getting up twice through the night, and then getting up very early to feed him. I was miserable, and felt like I was waking up with what I can only call a "newborn hangover" each and every morning.

And then, around the end of his 5th month, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Magically, he started sleeping more in the evenings, thus making me a very happy mommy.

Paul is now seven months old this month, and I think we've hit a rhythm that works well for both of our schedules. His last feeding is around 8pm every evening, and he can make it until around 6:30 in the morning.

Looking back during those very tiring months of my life, the best thing I did was give myself grace to let things go. My house was dirty, many of the meals were prepackaged or made by someone else. And as a whole, my family stayed home a lot.

The best cheerleader I had during this sleepless time was my husband. Since I breastfeed exclusively, I'm the only one who was ever able to get up to feed Paul. So in return, the moment he would get home from work, he would take on all the responsibilities of the other kids. I was oftentimes able to take a bath, relax, or simply retreat to bed at 8:00pm, hopefully to catch a couple extra hours of sleep before the next feeding.

Looking back, I'm so glad those days are behind me (or at least I think they are). If you're going through them right now, I feel for you. I really do. Being tired is a horrible feeling. But don't forget to look towards the tunnel.

9:00am on Thursday September 6


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