A few weeks ago, I posted an “Ask Me Anything Box” on Instagram Stories. I was shocked that several of you asked, “What did sleep look like during the first two weeks?” By no means is this post advice, unless you’re into the blind leading the blind. But, I will share our experience during our first two weeks with Benny. Our schedule seems to change by the hour, and it’s a humbling thing to embrace. Seasoned parents have been telling us, “You’ll be surprised how you function without sleep. You just figure it out somehow and sleep when you can.” I’m coming to understand that.
He’s here! Um, now what?
I remember being overwhelmed and confused at the hospital as soon as we got to the maternity wing. Benny was just a few hours old. I was running on adrenaline, something that lasted for the first few days. We spent time enjoying all the snuggles and getting comfortable holding Benny. Ben and I both had a lot of questions. When do we feed him? When do we change his diaper? Are we supporting his neck enough? The list goes on.
Sleeping in the Hospital
Benny snoozed like a log for our entire two-day stay. We had to work hard to wake him to eat. I think I slept a total of 2 hours between Friday night and Monday morning. I rested during labor and each of the two nights we stayed, but didn’t sleep a wink. Since the nursery was closed at our hospital, Benny was right next to my bed for those first two nights. While he slept, I couldn’t help but stay awake staring at him. You know, checking to make sure he was breathing. I was exhausted, but somehow I exuded energy. I knew I would eventually crash. Honestly, I had never been so long without sleep in my life.
Night 1 At Home
In one word- disaster.
We had decided we would get up together for the first night to support each other. After that, we would figure out a way to divide and conquer. We tucked Benny into his Snoo around 10pm and got into bed ourselves. I set an alarm for every two hours so we could wake to feed him. We had to supplement with formula at the hospital. So, once we got home, this did make feeding a bit easier. Ben could give Benny a bottle.
At midnight, the first alarm went off. I looked over at Ben, and he was in a deep sleep. In that moment, I realized there was no point in us both being up. As envious as I was, I knew it was important for one of us to have energy. I decided to let Ben sleep and go it alone. The next five hours consisted of feeding, diapers, crying, tucking Benny into the Snoo, and laying in bed restless. I did not sleep at all and neither did Benny.
Our Turning Point
The next afternoon, our wonderful lactation consultant came over to evaluate our situation. Benny was having a lot of trouble feeding and my milk supply was less than adequate (more on that another day). He had also developed jaundice which led to another hospital visit and a series of pediatrician visits (more on that another day, too). She gave us homework for Night #2. I was instructed to sleep from 8-12 or so. I would breastfeed Benny before 8 and Ben would offer him “dessert” in a bottle and handle the 10:30pm feeding with formula. We knew that I couldn’t fall asleep with Benny in the Snoo right next to me. I just couldn’t settle my mind. Having Ben downstairs with Benny as I slept truly allowed me to relax and get a few hours of sleep.
The alarm goes off two and half hours after Benny’s last feed with Ben. Depending on how the day went, this could be anywhere from 12:30-2:00. I get up, move to our downstairs and start our next feeding. By the time we finish our lengthy feeding routine, it is almost time for the next one. I stay downstairs until about 5am with Benny. Then, I tuck him back into his Snoo and crawl into bed for another hour of sleep before it is time for the next feed. We “wake up” for the day around 7:30.
So, I’m sleeping 8ish-12ish (4 hours) and another hour or two around 5am. During the afternoon, I also take a 20 minute nap when Benny is sleeping. I’m very tired, but it is completely manageable. In the last few days, Benny has even started to sleep for 3-hour stretches at night. It is incredible! Ben sleeps from 11ish until the morning. Since he is given just one week of Paternity Leave, we knew we wanted to try and figure out a plan to make the transition a bit easier.
Benny’s Sleeping Stations
We rented a Snoo for Benny to sleep in during the night and for occasional naps. It sits right beside our bed, and he has acclimated well to it. On the main level of our house, we have a Pack n’ Play set up with a changing station attachment. This is where Benny sleeps during the day if he isn’t being held. For naps outside of the Snoo, we saddle Benny using a Halo Sleep Sack. We also love our Dockatot as a resting place when we are sitting on the couch next to him.
Once Benny’s weight is established around one month, the pediatrician will not expect us to wake him to feed. Benny is a very sleepy baby, and I’m sure that will change in the coming weeks. So, we could be sleeping a lot less or things could remain status quo. Only time will tell! For now, we have figured out a schedule that works for all three of us. Benny is teaching us that schedules and plans are great, but only if you’re willing to pivot them when things go awry.
So, my pregnant friends who are nervous about sleeping, I will give the following advice. I’m finding that it is true what they say, you’ll figure it out. Some nights will be easier than others. Some days you won’t wash your hair or change out of your pajamas. That’s okay. Ask your pediatrician for help as insurance often partially or fully covers things like lactation support. Listen to what has worked for others, but be willing to do what you think works best for your family. Come to terms with the fact that you will mess up. I’m confident one day we will laugh at the blunders we made during Benny’s first days home. Make plans and organize schedules, but be willing to pivot when necessary.