One of my best friends is pregnant with her first baby and will deliver her little girl in about a month. Aside from the fact that she is just plain awesome, one of the reasons this particular friend is so great is because she has witnessed first-hand just how hard this parenting thing is. She has seen, ahem, how active my children are, and she is aware of just how little sleep I have gotten over the past three years. She saw me struggle through colic with my first son, and then attempt to chase a toddler while dealing with a newborn just two years later. So perhaps more than most new moms-to-be, my friend has a good idea of what she’s in for when her daughter is born.
When it comes to things like sleep deprivation, however, you really have no clue how unbelievably hard it is until you’re living it. Not sleeping for months and months is nothing short of torture. As I write this, I haven’t had more than about four or five straight hours of sleep in the nearly 10 months since my second child was born. I don’t even remember what it feels like to be “rested.” I alternate between “I’m so tired but maybe a few cups of coffee can convert me into enough of a human being to prepare breakfast for everyone,” and “I’m so exhausted that if anyone looks at me the wrong way, I’m going to become a raving lunatic.” My poor family.
Thanks to Hillarys, a UK-based company, I now have actual statistics that I can look at in order to explain my exhaustion. Its “Lost Sleep Calculator for Parents” offers an easy way to figure out just how much you haven’t slept since having children. And it is pretty depressing. All you have to do is input the ages of all of your kids and presto! An unpleasant reality of parenting appears before you on the screen.
Between my 3-year-old and 9.5-month-old boys, I have lost 6,660 hours of sleep, or NINE MONTHS. A woman can carry a baby to term in the time that I have spent awake feeding/rocking/burping/tending to fevers/ pacifying/shooing away monsters/calming bad dreams. And before anyone comments, YES, of course, it is worth it. My children are beautiful little humans whom I adore and I would do absolutely anything for them.
BUT I AM TIRED, DAMNIT! And nine months is a lot of lost sleep. The calculator that Hillarys created is based on research that the company has done on all things relating to parents. It doesn’t stop with sleep. For fun, you can learn how many diapers you’ve changed (11,880 for me), how many bedtime stories you’ve read (291 — although this seems fairly low considering my son’s elaborate bedtime routine…), and how many lullabies you’ve sung (8,880).
The site also shows you just how much parents are affected by their sleep deprivation. According to Hillarys, 1 in 4 have put their mobile phones in the fridge, 1 in 3 have worn mismatched shoes, and 1 in 2 have put their clothes on inside out. (This last one happens to me fairly regularly…) I can also admit to having left the house on more than one occasion without shoes and to leaving the keys in my front door — and to washing my hair twice in a row in the shower because I forgot about washing it the first time just seconds before.
So while my best friend has a pretty good understanding of how her life will change when her child is born, I hesitate to show her this sleep calculator. Such things are better to be learned in due time.