Sleep deprivation is a tool for torture. The victim is kept awake in various ways until their minds snap.
Welcome to early parenting.
Looking back at the first six months is a blur. If it wasn’t for writing the book I would have little recollection of the pressure I was under to take care of our newborn’s and hold a job down. It was a tough deal.
The one blessing was that we had healthy babies but that didn’t make our situation any less difficult. There were countless mornings I drove to work with my head stuck out of the window so as to stay awake. How I didn’t have an accident is a miracle.
At work I could literally fall asleep stood up if I stopped to rest. I worked a physical job that kept me busy, I still began to make small mistakes on the job though out of sheer tiredness. Thankfully I have an understanding boss who was aware and supportive of my situation. I worked every day because I needed to earn. I had two weeks off when the babies were born, I couldn’t afford any more time off.
There were day’s I drove home from work and just sat in the car outside of my house feeling crushed. Knowing that when I walked through the door it was my time to deal with the triplets. My wife some night’s was just sat at the bottom of the stairs in exhaustion waiting for me to walk through the door. I felt I was on a roundabout that showed no signs of slowing down.
There were two thoughts that kept me afloat during those early day’s of parenting.
1. These girls are a gift
2. I cannot let them down
I hit a period of deppresion driven by frustration. I couldn’t meditate most of the time because every time I closed my eyes I fell asleep. So I was out of consciousness and overwhelmed by negative thinking. Thoughts of self pity and resentment became prominent in my mind. There was also fear that my marriage was on the rock’s because of my deteriorating mental state.
But it wasn’t all bad. There were times I cherished. Like when they were awake and not crying. I would play them my favourite music as way for me to mentally and emotionally bond with them. I loved bath time because they loved the water and would smile and giggle. These were little islands in the day that I would pull myself back up on. Bonding was so important to my mental state.
If you are in the trenches of early fatherhood and are struggling my advise would be to keep trudging. Practice patience with yourself and know that your situation now isn’t permanent. Before you know it they will drop the night feed and you will sleep again. The insanity you feel in your mind will subside with rest.
No one function’s properly with sleep deprivation. You may have to stay in that zombified state a little longer but you’ll survive because you have to. Your partner and children need you strong and emotionally stable. Any way you get through it is good, sleep when you can and don’t resent your situation. It’s something we dads all experience and it’s a tough deal, but the rewards are endless.
And just remember, apparently this gig gets a lot easier when the kids hit 45 years old.