The sleep-deprived new parent haze

"Our daughter has not eased us into sleepless nights. She has sent my husband and I hurtling into a week without sleep" ...
"Our daughter has not eased us into sleepless nights. She has sent my husband and I hurtling into a week without sleep" ... Kiran Chug Photo: Getty Images

We are one week into life with our baby daughter, and we're tired. Really, really, tired. It's the kind of exhaustion I'd not known existed before we had our son 18 months ago. It's also the kind of exhaustion that I tried to erase from my memory. Perhaps by denying its existence I thought I'd never experience it again? I was wrong.

With our son, the first week was relatively straightforward in terms of sleep. He seemed to have the hang of it, and I even had to set the alarm at night to wake him every four hours for feeds. Things did, however, go downhill rapidly from there, and the next few months were a hazy blur.

There were days when I moved through life but felt only half there. I couldn't remember when I had last eaten. Whole chunks of conversations I'd had only recently seemed to be erased from my memory. I couldn't concentrate on anything, and I didn't really want to spend the energy doing that anyway.

Life became an almost endless pursuit of more than two hours sleep in one stretch. I snatched sleep whenever I could, at the expense of almost all else. If the baby slept, so did I.

It did, of course, get better. The long days and nights came to an end, and finally my baby slept 'like a baby'.

I thought things might be easier the second time round. Then I had our daughter

She has not eased us into sleepless nights. She has sent my husband and I hurtling into a week without sleep and it's been a dizzy, reality-defying ride.

At the start of each sleepless night, I try not to wonder how many minutes we'll get in the hours ahead. At the start of each day, it can be almost impossible task to drag my tired limbs out of bed and rub my bleary eyes to do it all again.

There are, however, some things that are making this easier. Firstly, my parents seem endlessly available to help, be it with cooking meals or looking after our toddler. They have lightened the load by so much that I doubt we could do any of this without them.


Secondly, my toddler and baby are, quite simply, wonderful. They have us wrapped around their little fingers, and can do no wrong. My baby isn't staying awake at night just to be difficult. She is just a baby. So of course I forgive her for this lack of sleep.

Thirdly, having been here before makes coping so much easier. I know that my baby girl will soon figure out night and day - and we're doing all we can to help her along the way. I know she's still having to adjust to life outside the womb. I know that making her feel safe and secure (in this case, using a swaddle and having her Moses basket next to our bed), will help in the transition. I know that she is so, so young; she needs lots of regular feeds, and she needs lots of regular cuddles - which I am of course delighted to give at every opportunity.

Knowing all this, and keeping it in my mind in the long wakeful nights, helps me. I know this phase shall pass. My baby will grow up too quickly and one day I will miss this night-time closeness. But one day, I'll be less tired. I'll be able to hold conversations, concentrate on things, and get out of bed feeling refreshed.

I know that all this is unquestionably worth it. My baby is only a week old. It will probably get worse before it gets better, we will probably all feel more tired before we get more sleep - but that's okay. We're trying to rest when we can, sleep at every snatched half-opportunity, and be kind to each other when we're tired. Our little girl is just a baby. She needs us at all hours - and that's fine by me.

Kiran Chug moved from Wellington to London earlier this year. You can follow her parenting journey on Twitter and on her blog, Mummy Says.