When we had our baby a few months ago, my husband and I agreed that I’d handle the night feedings. After all, I’m the one with the boobs. He’s the one with the full-time job. There’s no point in him falling asleep at the wheel on the way to work just to show me moral support in the wee hours. But, this past weekend, my husband — who routinely gets eight hours of sleep while I get something more akin to a nap on an airplane — did the unthinkable. After kissing me good morning, he rolled over and went back to bed until noon. Apparently he was tired.
If my husband is murdered in his sleep, please save the taxpayers the time and expense of a police investigation and just send the authorities right to me.
So when the love of my life came downstairs to have lunch (he’d slept through breakfast), I assumed there would be some sort of apology slash outpouring of gratitude coming my way, but no — just a request to pass the salt. I couldn’t keep quiet. I informed him that I’d been up at 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. only to rise for the day at 5 a.m. and that if anyone around here deserved a lazy Sunday, it was me! Me! He was taken aback. Isn’t this what I wanted? Wasn’t I overjoyed to wake up all night with our so-desperately-desired-and-extremely-cute little baby?
Yes. And no. Come on, it’s a mother’s right to be two-faced about child rearing. Complaining about the hardships (and lobbying for a little help) does not diminish how much we love our kids.
The truth is, I don’t really mind getting up with the baby. I kind of love when it’s just the two of us all alone in the dark. Her squeaky noises. The sweet relief of her latch. Her warm body snuggled against me. There’s nothing like it in the world. What I don’t love is the wobbly feeling I get mid-afternoon, like I’m going to face plant from the sleep deprivation. It’s scary being so tired.
Of course, when I bring up how exhausted I am, I’m forced to concede that my schedule is more flexible than my husband’s. Technically, I can sleep when the baby sleeps, but we all know that much-touted advice is way overblown. Naps are the only times moms get to work, pay bills, clean up, or eat food that’s too hot to risk dropping on a nursing baby’s head.
My husband encourages me to hire help if I need it, so I do have a sitter come once in a while to spell me. I know that makes me pretty lucky. If he’s willing to throw money at the problem, why am I complaining?
Because I want to feel acknowledged. I want to be seen. I want him to wake up in the morning and ask, “How did it go last night?” and “Is there anything I can do?” I want him to hold the baby while I take a shower, without me having to ask. If I do ask, and I hear that slight hesitation, I feel all murder-y again.
And the truth is, I’m lonely when he goes back to sleep. I parent alone all week while he’s at work — I shouldn’t have to do it on the weekend, too. It may not be realistic for a breastfeeding mom of a newborn to expect to actually sleep in, ever. But during normal daytime hours, I don’t think it’s too outrageous to expect some company from my husband, who in theory should enjoy being with his wife and baby, despite how hostile I may sound mid-rant right now. Trust me, I’m a lovely person! Okay, well, the baby is undeniably cute.
I may not be able to change my husband’s love of sleep, but I can certainly impact his ability to take a nap (“Oh I’m sorry, was I singing ‘Old MacDonald’s Farm’ too loud?”). The next time he rolls over and tries to sleep in, he’s going to find a gurgling baby on his back.
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