As an expecting mom, you probably received the warning, “Sleep now while you still can.” (Umm, as if you can bank extra sleep and save it for when you need it? Like you can even sleep for more than a couple hours at a time while your 8-month-old fetus is kicking your bladder?)
As a new mom, you probably heard, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Yeah right. We’ve heard it all.
I knew going into parenthood that I was going to be tired. I knew that my husband and I would be exhausted taking care of a newborn. And we were, but we survived. We didn’t know what the hell we were doing, but we made it.
Sure, in the early weeks, we fumbled through the days of endless feeding, sleeping, and diapering. But we squeezed in time for eating proper meals and taking showers. We even went for walks around the neighborhood, which most often coincided with our baby’s crazy witching hour. We were tired, but for the most part, we managed to feel almost human.
When our son was about a month old, we had a little get together at our house, and I had several people remark with surprise, “Wow, you look good. You actually look rested.”
And you know why I looked so damn rested?
Because taking care of a newborn is nowhere near as tiring or exhausting as chasing after a 6-month-old when they learn to crawl.
A few weeks before Christmas, I was on the floor wrapping presents while our son was doing some tummy time. He hoisted himself up onto his hands and almost on his knees, which was something new. And then he kind of rocked to and fro. I stopped wrapping, and my husband and I made eye contact. Something was happening. This was different.
Our son inched forward.
Is he… Wait… Does that count? Is he…
And the next thing we knew, he was scooting his way across the carpet and mangling a roll of wrapping paper. Needless to say, Christmas became a constant cycle of sweeping up pine tree needles and firewood splinters, moving ornaments out of reach, and rewrapping presents.
After a few weeks of army-crawling his way around, my son approached the stairs. We were in the kitchen on the bottom floor of our split-level house. I was cooking dinner and figured he was safe, since he couldn’t really go anywhere.
I was wrong.
I watched him reach up and place one hand, and then the other, on the first step.
And then his butt lifted off the ground.
No, he can’t.
And then he got to his feet.
No. No. Nooooo!
I ran up behind him as he lifted a knee onto the bottom step and reached one hand after the other up onto the next one. I supported his butt with my hand and climbed the stairs with him. The whole damn flight of stairs…without stopping…on his first try. At the landing, he crawled to the front door and banged on it. I opened the door and we sat, looking out. Months later, it’s still one of his favorite activities.
This little milestone sent my husband and I into sheer panic. Now that the kid was crawling and going up the stairs, he was also beginning to pull himself up on everything—the couch, the coffee table, the bouncer, my pants, the brick fireplace. Unfortunately, that meant he took his share of little tumbles, too. As a result, we ended up with a custom-made cushion on the fireplace and yard and yards of foam edging on the corners of tables, cabinets, and the kitchen island.
The kid’s belly crawl quickly evolved into a full-on hands and knees hustle. He’s into everything now. Up the stairs. Down the hall. On the coffee table…on it. Climbing up the kitchen drawer handles. Unraveling the roll of toilet paper. Flushing the freaking toilet (bathroom doors are now just closed at all times). Grabbing the edge of the dining room table like he’s trying to do chin-ups. Attempting to climb headfirst into his bouncer. Cruising from the coffee table to the end table to the pack ‘n play to the chair.
Now I’m tired.
No, I was tired when we first brought him home from the hospital.
Now, I’m fucking exhausted.
And now it looks like he’s just about ready to start walking.