Hard To Parent a Newborn? It’s A Lie.
You know how the story goes, every parent has always told you that it’s hard to be a parent to a baby and your whole life changes. Well, they are lying. I always said I didn’t believe this idea and I still don’t. I can’t speak about parenting as a whole for the entire duration from birth to adolescence but as far as a newborn baby goes, it’s really not that hard. You change dirty diapers, keep him clean, feed him when he’s hungry and comfort him when he needs safety and closeness. That’s it.
Between breastfeeding, swaddling (the art of wrapping your baby like a burrito to create the feeling of a safe cocoon), shushing (creating white noise that resembles the flow of blood inside the womb) and an inevitable master skill level at changing diapers (yes, even if you use cloth diapers, it’s easy peasy after a week or so).
So what’s the big deal with becoming a parent? The answer is simple: Sleep deprivation.
I’m a man of very little need for sleep. If I get 4-5 hours, I can function just fine, give me 5-6 hours and that’s my standard need for sleep. However, decimate that to 1-3 hours of sleep on a regular basis for an extended period of time and you have a catastrophe on your hands.
If you’re one of those who needs 6-8 hours of sleep you’re even more screwed. Finding it hard to take siestas during daytime? You are absolutely fragged. The golden rule of newborn parents is: Sleep whenever, wherever you can!
I don’t care how great a person you are, you are always better when you’re well rested.
In all my preparation for becoming a parent, this was the one thing that was overlooked. Sure, it was mentioned and it’s well known but never really digested and understood. Perhaps that was just my mistake and I’m an idiot, that’s always an explanation too but it didn’t register on my radar because it was bunched up with the “OMG the diapers, and this and that” so I simply dismissed it just as I dismissed the things initially mentioned in this post. Dealing with feeding, comforting and keeping a baby clean is a learning curve, it’s a skill you aquire. Sleep deprivation however, is a torture to the system on all levels and it’s not something you should take lightly on. Cleaning the house? Staying in touch with family? Catching up on work? NO, unless it’s absolutely vital… sleep, must, come, first (second, and third).
I wear a health tracker and below are some stats for you to see to compare two important things, resting heart rate and amount of sleep. My actual resting pulse was initially 62 bpm but in the summary it took 65 as the average.
You can clearly see the impact on my heart health (and along with that, the psychological effects) and looking beyond the numbers, this is like Chinese water torture. You start to mix up words, thoughts get blurred and it becomes increasingly hard to put together a sequence of logical thinking. It’s a constant state of being drunk with none of the pleasure. I mistook the sunset for a full moon, I rotated around my own shoulder looking for something and forgot what I was looking for. It is absolutely hilarious, aggravating and it will turn the most patient man on earth into a ranting lunatic.
So, in summery… don’t worry about poopy diapers and other things. Worry about and maintain your sleep to the best of your ability (and don’t forget to ask your friends and family for help. Even if it’s just a quick cleaning, or keeping an eye on the baby while you catch a few recovery hours). I don’t care how great a person you are, you are always better when you’re well rested.