I am awakened from a deep slumber by my son, who begins to cry. Beside me, he lays with his eyes wide open and his hand at his mouth. It is his way of telling me that he is hungry. He is two months old and already a wise baby. I pull out my breast and struggle to stay awake. Glancing at the clock, I notice that I have only been asleep for twenty minutes. After he is fed, I burp him, then change him. He falls back asleep right away and I once again doze off. Two hours later, I am awakened again and this time it will be much harder. I go through the same routine but this time he doesn’t go back to sleep. Instead, he is wide awake and full of energy.
It takes me two hours to get back to sleep and by that time, the sun begins to rise. I try to fall back to sleep but find it to be a losing battle. When I do fall asleep, he quickly wakes up and begins to fuss. I have forgotten what it feels like to sleep through the night. When I learned I was pregnant, I knew my life would forever change. Sacrifices would be made and I would no longer have the freedom I once did.
At twenty-six, I have achieved a great deal. A college degree hangs on my wall as a reminder. Now I was embarking on the journey of single motherhood. A journey that would be never-ending. Ahead of me would be sleepless nights and a child to take care of. Around the eighth month of pregnancy, it became hard for me to sleep. After all, I had someone poking me in the ribs every night. Everyone warned me to get as much sleep as possible, for once the baby arrived, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Well it proved to be difficult and by my ninth month, I was lucky if I got four hours of sleep.
When the baby arrived, I said goodbye to sleep. I found myself constantly waking up to make sure he was still breathing. I also ran into trouble when it came to sleeping arrangements. My son was against sleeping in a bassinet and baby bed. He instead insisted on sleeping in bed with me. So I found myself sleeping on one side and my son sleeping on the other. It hasn’t been an easy task, as he still insists on sleeping with me. It is not an easy task as I find myself having to stay on my side of the bed.
Between the feedings, changings, and his sudden burst of energy, I am lucky if I get three hours of sleep. Napping during the day proves to be a quite difficult. With no washer or dryer, I find myself standing in front of the sink and scrubbing clothes all day. I also have cleaning and errands to run. When I do decide to lay down, my son only lets me sleep for a half hour. He then wakes me up and insists on me staying up with him. His naps never last long. I often wonder what it feels like to sleep.
They say that once a baby hits two months, he/she begins to sleep through the night. However, my son has started to teethe, which means nights of screaming and crying. I find myself having to soothe my son the best I can. As I cradle him in my arms and try to get him to sleep, I am reminded that this is only the beginning. I have no husband or boyfriend to help me out. I get no breaks and barely a chance to breathe. Sleep is a precious gift I long for. There is no more sleeping in or napping in the afternoon. There are no more quiet nights of sleeping in peace. When I am ill, I must put it aside and focus on my son. After all, he can’t take care of himself. The main thoughts that go through my mind are, “How do I keep him from getting sick? Is that possible? How do I get him to one day sleep in his own bed? How do I get him to sleep through the night?”
My mornings start as early as 7 a.m., as my son is wide awake and lonely. He of course likes for me to be awake as well. He taps me with his little hand and when I doze off, he starts to fuss. If I still doze off, he then begins to scream. So I find myself having to stay awake and entertain my son, thus ending the days when I had the privilege of sleeping in. I have grown used to the sleepless nights and early mornings. I find it to be a great time to think and bond with my son. I am no longer lonely, as I now have someone to talk to. Before we sleep at night, I always read to my son and its always three stories. In the morning, I tell him stories of my childhood. It’s been two months of the same routine.
Now it’s no problem for me to get awake. It’s almost like clockwork and I find myself going through the motions. It often feels like my body is an alarm clock. I often get awake the same time as my son. Sleep is something I cherish, but also a sacrifice I have made. However, I am thankful for every free moment I have with him, for I know he won’t be little for much longer. Soon he will be crawling, then walking. He’ll grow up fast and these precious moments will be in the past. My sleepless nights are no longer a burden but a blessing. Sometimes I watch my son sleep and when he begins to fuss, I draw him close. I hold him in my arms and sleep with him close to my chest. With every breath, I am thankful for the gift I have received. Even if it means losing a bit of sleep.