Is sleep deprivation really a "rite of passage" for new parents?
When I became a mother, I knew that sleepless nights came with the territory, but had no real idea of what sleep deprivation really felt like. Sure, I had my college days during finals where I stayed up hours on end studying for some exam, or Friday and Saturday night outs with the girls when I had to work the next day and get through an 8-hour shift. But motherhood? Now that was an entirely different world when it came to feeling tired. To be completely honest, sleep was entirely trial and error when it came to my first daughter, and it didn't take very long until she was sleeping in our bed every single night, and waking up multiple times to feed. I looked to friends and family for advice and support, but where I really got most of my insight was from mama groups that I had joined on Facebook (if you are a first-time mom, please beware of many of these groups online, as they can often give terrible advice or just make you feel like a terrible mother in general). I discovered that most moms truly felt that sleep deprivation was completely normal, and even a rite of passage. Sleep was something to say goodbye to, according to many of them, and I too began to believe that it was completely normal that my 15 month old still couldn't sleep independently or get a full night's sleep. When asking for advice, many moms would respond with, "my 3 year-old still sleeps in our bed, and we've given up on trying to get them out, or something like, "that's completely normal, and no 18-year old is still sleeping in their parents bed or waking up multiple times to eat at night." So encouraging. When our second daughter was born (18 short months after our first), I promised myself that I would do things completely different and really focus on healthy sleep habits, and honestly it changed the way that I think about sleep and parenthood completely. Being exhausted is mostly likely something you will experience when you become a parent, but this is not supposed to be a continued state of being after a short amount of time with your new baby. Healthy sleep habits are so important for babies, children, and adults and just because you are a mom, this does not mean that you shouldn't be getting your well-deserved sleep. After all, a well-rested mama is a much happier mama in my opinion.