What is it about having a newborn that everyone tells you that they hope you are “getting some rest”? I have heard it a few times today already, and that was just today. While I appreciate the sentiment (ok, maybe I honestly don’t), it’s actually something that stresses me out even more than having a newborn.
When I had my first baby, I was able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat. I would put her in the swing (her favorite nap spot), turn it on, and then pass out immediately on the couch. Most of the time, she was still wide awake when I feel asleep, because I could hear her cooing and squeaking until I dozed off. I didn’t have anyone but myself and her to take care of, which meant that I was able to sleep when I needed and wanted, and not do much else.
Second baby, it was a little different. My mind was always going. I could never fully rest because I had at least four other things on my mind and often it was something to do with my eldest. I worried about work while I wasn’t there, and lack of sleep definitely affected me. My postpartum was difficult and complicated everything, too. I tried to figure out the best way to deal with it, and “resting” just didn’t happen the way I wanted it to.
Since those two times, I feel as though I have evolved. I have learned to be “ok” with less sleep, slept when I could during my pregnancy (I wasn’t making the same mistake I made with my other two, thinking I could catch up at another time – I never caught up!), and went into things just knowing that resting wouldn’t happen. So now, I sort of laugh when I get those. “I hope you are resting!” someone texted me today. If by resting you mean still trying to put away Christmas decorations, holding the baby so she can relieve some gas and sitting in front of some bad tv shows, then BAM, I did it. If by resting you mean to lay down and take a nap because everything is blissfully working for me and I can sleep when the baby sleeps (another hateful phrase to be told), then fuck that, it’s not happening. Being a parent of three kids has changed the ballgame. Big time.
My husband has been great. He’s taken on the responsibility of our other two so I can focus on getting into a routine with the baby, and still offering to help when I need it. The other two are being good around the baby, very gentle, loving, checking on her constantly, so that’s been great. The one thing I realized was that as much as I remember about birthing my other two children, I can’t remember how long it took to get into a routine. And until that time, I can’t “rest”. Hell, I may never rest again. I can take sporadic times of not doing anything because the baby is quiet, the kids are happy, and my husband is doing everything to keep me sane. But believe me, I wouldn’t call it “rest”.
Please, people, don’t say to any new mother, or a mother who just had another child: rest. Cuddle the baby, stay sane, or survive are probably better options to say to a new parent. Because, let’s be honest, we don’t rest. Once you have a kid, resting is not an option.