Tiredness when you have a child does not disappear. It stays with you like eczema. I haven't had a dream in 18 months. In fact, I haven't slept in 18 months. I am currently defying medical science. My brain has basically told its replenishment team to take permanent annual leave as there is no point in replenishing brain cells and restocking my general well-being. They agreed.
I never knew what tiredness was until our daughter was born. Continuous disrupted night's sleep soon begin to take its toll on you. Early baby months are fine as you mentally prepare yourself to wake up for the feeds (See, Welcome to the Unique World of a Baby's Night Feeds). It is the nights when your baby every so often begins to sleep "all the way through". This is when they lull you in to a false sense of security. You get annoyed when it doesn't happen every night. You begin to argue with your partner. A war brews.
The Tired War was declared soon after I returned to work and mummy remained on maternity leave:
Mummy sees to crying baby up to three times during the night; daddy is required to get up early for work in the morning; daddy hears everything, he is awake but with his eyes closed; daddy rises for his early shift and works for nine hours; mummy looks after baby all day; daddy returns home:
"Can you just take her for a few minutes"? Tired mummy asks.
You both lay-out your own sob story to claim your tiredness is far greater.
"I am so tired, dear - can I just sit down for a few minutes"? Tired daddy replies.
"But you didn't have to get up in the night and look after her all day".
"Nope. But I heard everything during the night, then I had to go to work, therefore I am more tired than you".
Exhausted mummy and drained daddy freeze momentarily to do some calculations to see who has had more sleep. To the exact minute.
In actual fact, no-one is more tired than the other.
War continues nonetheless:
"But you haven't had to change s****y nappy's all day". Worn-out mummy explains.
Knackered daddy fights back, "But you haven't had the stresses of work all day. I need a 10 minute sit down".
"But what about me? When do I get a rest"? A fuming, but fatigued mummy rages.
And so the war is now in full flow.
You reach deadlock. No leverage is offered by either party, your heads are firmly locked. No movement. No backing down.
This is common practice in ours and probably millions of other homes around the world. It is a biological fact that if you do not sleep well, on a consistent level, you will both turn into pr**ks. Your brain shuts down, you experience intense mood swings, your eyes feel as though are on fire. You have a hangover...Every. Single. Day.
Our baby has not been too bad compared to stories we have heard of others, but when you are woken up 1-3 times every night you enter a war inside your head and with your partner.
"Ok, ok, give her here for 10 minutes". Daddy accepts defeat.
"Thanks, don't break your back though will you"! Mummy sarcastically responds.
"Eh? You said 10 minutes, so that is what I will give you". Before mummy can get a word in, daddy needs assurances he will also receive 10 minutes. "When can I have my 10 minutes, then"?
"It is not a competition".
You are constantly reassured by 'experienced professional parents' that you will "get used to the sleep-less nights".
No you don't.
How can you get used to not sleeping? The adult-human instruction manual clearly states, "Where possible, close your eyes and sleep for a period of 8-10 hours non-stop". It doesn't say, "Ensure you never drop in to a deep sleep, instead close your eyes lightly for 1-2 hour intervals for a period of 8-10 hours", you utter cretins. Sorry, I am tired and in a stinking mood.
Society has no sympathy for tired parents. "Get on with it" is the silent attitude of most. Yep, cheers. Sleep deprived parents should get a government allowance of 'sleep days' to recover. Maybe 6 days per week. We could put our baby's in to some kind of hyper-sleep for these periods whilst mummy and daddy recover. We would become so much more productive. I have lost count the amount of times I have arrived for work in a stinking mood because of tiredness. Completely unable to function; unable to walk, talk, smile, or see any happiness in the room. I see monsters. Monsters who have probably slept eight long, peaceful hours.
"Good Morning, Andy" A colleague whispers. "Is it? I'm f****d. I have been up twice in the night; I have heard wife get up twice, and our cat has sat on my head. How can it possibly be a good morning? Don't talk to me, in fact, don't even look at me". You of course do not utter these words, instead, your eyes and facial expressions have done all the talking for you. You are f****d.
"It is the tiredness talking, not you". A sentence commonly used by others. It is me, otherwise I
would be locked up in some mental institute, you idiot.
Next battle: You both wake up in the morning (with baby fast asleep in the middle of you):
"I am so tired". (Mummy).
"So am I". (Daddy).
"Oh for goodness sake, can't I just be tired on my own"? (Mummy).
"But I am tired, I am stating a fact" (Daddy).
"That is all you ever talk about now". (Mummy)
"You started it". (Daddy).
"Yes because I am tired, I have been woken up throughout the night with her". (Mummy).
"I heard it all, so I am equally tired". (Daddy).
And so the war carries on indefinitely.....
[We love each other very much].