Soon after I gave birth to Peeper last year, my grandma told me a story.
She had just had my mom and uncle, a set of big twins who went to 40 weeks. (My mom weighed about as much as Peeper did—and she was only half the load!) My grandma was doing her best to take care of them and an older daughter essentially by herself—my grandpa was of the generation that thought that he would work during the day at the bank and she would take care of family and home.
My grandma struggled but told me she was overjoyed at having twins, which had always been a dream of hers.
One night, they got a sitter to watch the children at home, which was a rarity. They went to a party. My grandma took their coats to the host’s bedroom. And then—then she lay down and fell asleep.
They hadn’t been at the party five minutes before my weary grandmother was collapsed on a pile of strangers’ coats.
I know that kind of exhaustion too well. Chances are that you do, too. Maybe you zonked out in an inappropriate place. (I fell asleep on the exam table while waiting for the midwife at my six-week postpartum appointment, for example. Awkward!) Maybe you canceled plans because you were too sleep-deprived to drive safely. Maybe you’ve feared dropping your baby while trying to get her to sleep because you could pass out at any moment.
I’m so thankful that Peeper and I have moved past that point, at least for the time being. I was reminded of the bleary reality of many other parents, though, when I read this article about a woman who happened across another mother who had fallen asleep at an indoor play gym.
“I won’t leave ’til you wake up… hopefully rested and ready to face the weekend with the warrior-energy us mamas need to parent with a smile on our faces,” she posted later on Facebook. She had kept an eye on the sleeping mother’s kids while the tired mama caught some apparently much-needed winks.
To the woman who slept slumped against the windy slide, and to any of you who have never felt more like a zombie, I get it. I feel you. I’ve been there, too.
It’s miserable to feel like a shell of yourself. It’s embarrassing to nod off in public. You might even feel a little shame that you can’t “keep it together” enough to parent your baby and manage to sleep—I know I did.
I’ll say it gets better, though you might not want to hear it.
But I’ll also say that you have my full empathy and compassion until it does.
As new parents, and especially as new mothers, we have to stick together. I’ve got your back, tired one. If I can do anything to help, give a shout. If not, I’ll continue to look out for you and hope your baby finally goes to sleep!