Sleep deprivation is one of the hardest things about parenthood. Nothing really prepares you for it. The mind-numbing, all-consuming exhaustion that comes with a repeated lack of quality sleep. The way it affects your mood and your sanity. Those moments when it seems almost everyone else is sleeping and you feel alone. Alone, and utterly exhausted.
When you wonder if you will die from tiredness and really appreciate why it’s a method of torture.
When you resent your children, your children that you love more than life itself, for taking something so essential from you.
When you sleep on the floor, or one of the children’s beds, or the sofa. Anything to attempt to get any kind of sleep. Then you lie awake anyway feeling wound up and angry because you just want to sleep in your own bed.
When you cry at night through the sheer futility of it all.
When you hear your husband snore and think murderous thoughts.
When you are Angry Mummy during the day and shout at the children because you are tired and grumpy and then you hate yourself for being so much less than you hoped you would be.
When you start the day feeling like you’ve been hit by the tiredness truck and are more tired than when you went to bed.
When your back aches from being unable to find a comfortable position because two small children have made themselves comfortable and now your back ache is stopping you from sleeping.
When even once you have your own space you can’t sleep because your back hurts from sleeping in cramped positions.
When you feel like you would do almost anything to have one good night’s sleep.
When you have forgotten what it is like not to feel tired.
When it feels like there is just not enough coffee in the world to make you feel human again.
When you see the clock counting down the hours until morning and know that even if you do get some sleep it won’t be anywhere near enough.
When you find yourself wondering if you should just give up and start your day at 3am because you’re awake anyway and it feels easier than fighting a losing battle to grab a couple of hours at best of poor quality sleep.
When you fantasise about checking into a hotel alone just to sleep.
When you find yourself muttering things that you know you don’t really mean. You hate yourself for saying them, but you’re so frustrated and angry from sleep deprivation.
When you think if only you let me sleep, I could have a chance at being a nice mummy. Instead of being a grumpy and cross mummy and hating yourself for it.
When more than two nights of poor quality sleep instantly throws you back into the dark place of postnatal depression when you thought you’d conquered it.
When you remember acutely the sheer hell of the early days and forget the joys that came with them.
When every single little worry you have decides to fill your brain and push sleep even further away.
When the children are finally sleeping but you’re not because your brain is now too busy.
Nothing prepares you for this. That overwhelming, all-consuming tiredness.
Somehow you learn to function, to parent through the fog of exhaustion. You smile, you laugh, you get through the day. Then, when you finally fall into bed at the end of the day, you silently pray “please let tonight be a better one.”
Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. But gradually those better nights get more frequent and the tough ones ease off. When you finally get that good night’s sleep you long for, you feel like you can take on the world.
It’s just hard to believe it will happen when you’re right in the middle of it all. But it will and the hope of it helps get you through.