The sleep process or lack there of (Follower Requested Post)
Welcome back baby sports fans! Today, I am going to talk about the "night time process". About a week ago, I posed the question, "What's a topic you would like to learn about from the dad's perspective", on my @thebrandnewdad Facebook page and one of my followers, Renee, posed the following topic to me:
"Dad's perspective of sharing nighttime responsibilities during first month or 2 for formula/bottle fed babies.
Which way would you prefer: taking turns every night OR alternating nights (dad takes all duties this night and mom takes all duties next night).
I liked alternating nights, that way i can get a full night's sleep one night and hubby can get a full night sleep the next night."
So Renee, this post is for you! I really liked the topic so I decided to devote an entire post to help shed some light on my thoughts on the night time process.
Side note: My wife and I, probably talked at great length how we were going to handle the first few days, weeks and months (series coming soon). Our situation was very different from most folks but I do think we came up with some sort of routine.
I'm thinking back about that very first month and letting my morning coffee do it thing. To answer your topic Renee and while I'm waiting for my dirty bean juice clear my morning brain fog, I think I am going to start with the few months before Mom and baby came home to better illustrate our situation.
It's important to point out that we are also blessed with a baby that didn't give us any trouble at night either.
While my wife was pregnant, I decided early on that a career change was in order. I was doing what some believe is a relatively dangerous job and was working odd hours and weekends. So after learning that my wife (future wife at that time) was pregnant, I decided a little change was in order.
I ended up landing a new gig (probably the best gig I have ever had) that allowed me to have weekends and holidays off. This was a concept that was completely foreign to me at the time, but it was something that has ended up paying dividends in the long run.
So in July of 2019, about 3 months before baby was expected I started at my new job. Unfortunately, with the timing, I was ineligible to take an extended leave or FMLA for the birth of baby. So that meant, I would have to return to work much sooner than I would have liked after baby was born. I ended up only having 3 days off, the week my little bundle was born and had to return to work the following week.
My wife and I got married the next month. In August of 2019, my wife and I got married, so I ended up burning precious few PTO hours the day before our wedding to help get things ready. That choice to use the little PTO time I did have at the time also paid dividends as we wouldn't have been able to pull off such an amazing wedding like we had.
Also during the time leading up to baby day was our adventure in finding a new house. The house we had been living in was a bachelor pad at most and not set up for a new family. So my wife and I decided we were in the market for a new house and set off on a last minute adventure to find our new place. We ended up landing a fantastic house at a fantastic price in a fantastic neighborhood (thanks to my amazing sister, Stacy!).
The down side of buying a house during the last trimester of my wife's pregnancy was the fact that once we went under contract we learned the closing date would be real close to the time baby came. In fact, once we got even closer to baby day, closing fell on the Friday, three days after baby was born.
So needless to say we had an adventurous time leading up to baby day and even then some after. Mom and baby came home from the hospital as the moving company was moving us in the new house!
Now that the backstory has been set up and everyone knows how chaotic our third trimester was, on to the meat and potatoes of the post!
The first few days of mom and baby being home were rough to say the least. We had a house full of people, scurrying around to get the house in order. Cleaning, painting, unpacking, you name it, these people were doing (I am mighty grateful, I might add).
The first night few nights were kind of rough. My wife was unable to walk up the stairs to our master bedroom, due to having a c-section delivery. Between the surgery and the meds she was on, it certainly made for a trying first few days in the new house, with the new baby.
Let's fast forward about a week from there:
I think my wife and I did a sort of hybrid plan between alternating nights and alternating getting up for awhile before we established a sound plan. I remember some sleepless nights and I remember getting sleep. I think it really depended on the particular night itself, as I believe we both were afraid to go to sleep completely. Every little noise our baby made had us on edge and checking on her (her bassinet was bedside at the time).
Once we had a rhythm developed our plan was really something like this: One of us would get up and one would sleep. Then we would alternate at feedings. So at maximum, either of us were only getting a few hours of sleep at a time during the night. As time went on, I think we ended up switching to the strategy of "you stay up with her all night and I'll sleep", vice-versa. We were also and still are, very fortunate in the fact that our baby sleeps really good at night, even from the beginning. We didn't have too many, if any, nights were it was truly unbearable. I recognize this isn't true for everyone because I know that people have it much worse.
I personally prefer alternating each night, but that comes with a cost. I like to think that was pretty fair in our house. But it's kind of one of those things that could be construed as selfish I guess, but I remember a lot of feelings of, "If I'm not getting any sleep, neither are you". I have a hard time falling as sleeping anyway, whereas my wife is out in 5 minutes and could sleep through a nuclear blast outside our window. Needless to say there was probably a little jealousy on my part, early on, but that was out weighed by the needs of our little girl and mommy. I tried to make sure my wife got more sleep than I, even at the cost of my needs because I understood the needs were different. Mommy a) carried the baby for 9 months, b) had the baby, c) physically fed the baby with her body, and I was just a spectator for most of that. So I made sure my wife had more time to sleep, but like I said before it was just dependent on the particular night itself.
I believe there are pro's and con's to both strategies. These strategies definitely need to be communicated well in advance of baby because the last thing you want to do as add unneeded stress in the environment when everyone is already tired and dealing with their own form of "shell shock". I can't really outright say this way is better than that way because each family is different, each baby is different and each situation is different. Everyone already knows, or should know, going into the post-pregnancy stage, there is a certain level of sleeplessness going to take place regardless of what strategy you use. Even if you are "sleeping", you may experience a poor quality of sleep because your subconscious is too nervous to completely disconnect for the night to allow for a truly restful sleep.
Planning is key. I'll have another post on planning soon and every little detail to think about, but it's really important to understand what is going to take place early on like the frequent feedings and sleepless nights. If the parents can get together and plan it out, or at least talk it out, it can lead to a better first month or two and both will understand each other's needs, thoughts and feelings.