New Mom Tired

It will be 10 years ago in October that I peed on a stick and saw 2 pink lines staring back at me. Glenn and I had been married 2 months when that pregnancy test turned up positive. 2 months! We both started and stopped using birth control within a month of marriage because I had a terrible allergic reaction to it. At that point we weren’t really concerned about preventing it so we figured, whatever happens is fine. We oh so naively believed that thing people tell you about it taking a year to get pregnant. To that I now say, ha, with a side of shut your mouth. The following is a picture of our “it takes a year to get pregnant” baby, born 10.5 months after our wedding.

Mateo, July 2005
Mateo, July 2005

Then babies numbered 2, 3, and 4 arrived every 2 or 2.5 years like clockwork.

Andreas, September 2007
Andreas, September 2007
Olivier, February 2010
Olivier, February 2010
Rosalie, February 2012
Rosalie, February 2012

4 babies into this gig, we are a happy family of 6 with no more babies in my tummy, our arms, or the plan. (You know the plan? The thing that God laughs at? Well we are sticking with it anyway and you know what Juanita, you can just keep that smirk to your own self.) Our smallest baby is 4 months shy of 3 years old. THREE. I have no more babies. No-more-baby land is a shocking place. I’m still adjusting.

But one of the lovely things about this new land in which I am living, is the view. From here I can so clearly see the fatigue and exhaustion of all of my new-parent friends and family as if it were me living it. And there is something I think you all living in shut-up-about-your-no-more-babies-land need to hear. I want to talk about being tired. I know a thing or two about the subject and I just want you to know that there is no tired like new mom tired.

You really are that tired. You are. And just when you think it’s not possible to be any more tired, it is going to get worse. People around you will try to compare it to shift work or pulling all nighters or being hung over or working long hours or having a demanding or complex job. (My Dad, who has been a roofer for like 30 years will be happy to laugh in their faces for you as he is on Team Mom on this one.) And you will smile sweetly or possibly roll your eyes while suppressing an almost Hulk-like urge to smash those morons to smithereens. Then you will consider crying yourself to sleep because nobody understands, but you will be too tired for the energy it takes to cry oneself to sleep.

There is no tired like new mom tired.

Maybe it’s your first baby and the parenting book you read and swore by, was so wrong that you’re considering writing the author hate mail. Maybe it’s your second baby and you thought that you knew what you were doing this time so it was supposed to be easier. Or maybe it’s your third or fourth or whatevereth and your other ones were easy-ish but this baby has its photograph on Snopes because its crying has become an urban legend in your neighbourhood. Whatever you thought, you were probably wrong.

I have had a c-section, a vacuum and then forceps assisted delivery that resulted in hemorrhage and tearing in places I didn’t know babies could tear up, and two perfectly natural, quick, and uneventful deliveries. It doesn’t matter which way you swing it friends – a baby (or babies) just came out of your body by forces of medicine or nature beyond your control. Whether you were chanting affirmations or screaming obscenities during that process is irrelevant to the fact that you now need to recover. Physically, mentally, emotionally.

I had surgery last year when my youngest was 14 or 15 months old. 4 babies in 6.5 years left me with an epigastric hernia that required repairing, so under the knife I went. I remember being at home afterwards, high as a kite on pain killers, wondering how I did this after I had Mateo. How did I have surgery (and a much bigger surgery than a simple hernia repair), and immediately afterwards take up nursing and caring for a newborn? Then I took another pain pill and went back to sleep because the thought of caring for a newborn in that much pain was too much to bear.

That’s how fast we can simultaneously remember and forget.

The total absence of a sleep routine is a big deal. Sleep deprivation causes car wrecks and plane crashes, yet here we moms are having babies, not sleeping for weeks and months and sometimes years on end and still somehow functioning or being expected to.

After my fourth baby it took a year and a half to get my head on straight and stop feeling tired every minute of every day. In that year and a half Andreas split open the inside of his mouth jumping on the couch, and had to have surgery when she was 2 weeks old, Olivier severed his toe in my elliptical and had to have surgery + 2 months of follow up when she was 5 months old, I got diagnosed with low thyroid when she was something like 9 months old (and then spent another year finding the right dose of meds), Andreas went through assessments for and was subsequently diagnosed with autism when she was 8-12 months old, I had that surgery to repair my hernia that gave me daily pain in everything I did when she was 14-15 months old and we moved when she was 17 months old. It was a busy year and a half. New mom tired lasted a really long time. Which is why, a year later and we are still so, so good with not having another baby. Whenever people ask, I just tell them that 4 is a good number and leave it at that.

Lord have mercy. I was so tired. So. So. Tired.
Lord have mercy. I was so tired. So. So. Tired.

You need to give yourself grace. You really are that tired. You really haven’t slept in that long. And your baby really is going to keep at this for a while. And it is really going to be okay and get better. Not now. Not for a while. It just will, eventually. Maybe slowly or all of a sudden. It’s one of those mysterious but not in a good way, types of things.

My sister just had her second baby, and I was telling her about how strange it is when I have all my boys in school every afternoon and Rosalie is napping. I almost don’t know what to do with myself. Sure, there is a list of things a mile long to work on, but not in very many years have I had regular, consistent time in which to do anything without kids in tow. She was all, “OMG you could totally nap.” She is a new mom for the second time and she is so, so tired because now she’s got a newborn and a 2.5 year old to chase after at the same time and that is just a whole other level of insanity and fatigue. It made me think though, because I realized in that moment that I am now able to nap, I mean if I wanted to or needed to, but I don’t want or need to. After so many years wishing desperately to be able to just sit down and close my eyes for a minute, I don’t need that extra rest anymore. When I told her that I think she wanted to slap me hard right in the face. It’s not fair.

So yeah, sure I’m tired. 4 kids is exhausting no matter their age or stage. But I am definitely not new mom tired. I am not functioning on a sleep debt so profound that I am on the verge of an energy crisis and rolling blackouts. At night, my kids sleep. In the morning, they wake up. When we do have nights where one or the other is up we feel as though we’ve been hit by a bus the next day. And I just want to tell you who are living in that purgatory every day that you are going to get through it.

There is no tired like new mom tired. It passes, but it takes time. You are not crazy. It really is this hard. You really are feeling it in your bones and throughout every fiber of your being. Give yourself grace. And if you want someone to hold your baby while you pass out into the best half hour long coma of your life, please call me. No-more-baby-land is fun, but there aren’t any babies here and that is also kind of something I miss – minus the fatigue of actually having one.

copyright (c) 2014 Jenna Pelias // all rights reserved

5 thoughts on “New Mom Tired

  1. Oh, do I remember those days.
    I had one that had colic and cried from 10 PM until 5 AM when hubster had to go to work and our other kid and Grandpa got up. I survived 10 months-10 MONTHS-with maybe two nonconsecutive hours of sleep in 24 hours (and that was only because I’d fall asleep cooking, vacuuming, talking or whenever my body cried stop!).


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