When I enthusiastically announced to family and friends that my husband and I were expecting everyone congratulated us. Then they gave me the piece of advice that still resonates in my mind today: "Get plenty of rest!"
I've worked various shifts in the news business over the years (my current shift is midnight to 8 a.m.). This schedule requires a few adjustments but I always manage to make it work. However, I must admit, everyone was right! The best sleep you'll ever have is the sleep BEFORE children invade, er, I mean become a part of your home life. I adjusted my schedule to get MORE rest, but I have come to the realization that it will be another 17 years before I get another full night of sound sleep.
Of course, sleeping while pregnant posed its challenges. Then once JP arrived, I entered the heavenly haze of sleep deprivation. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this state of being, it's when your newborn decides to take a 20 minute snooze instead of a three hour siesta. I made the mistake early on of trying to catch up on household chores while he slept. Needless to say, I quickly learned my lesson and took my nap when he took his.
Upon my return to work, I was forced to revise my schedule, yet again. Historically, mothers of every culture have done this, so who am I to complain?
But I must admit this adjustment was definitely a shock to my system. My schedule went something like this: come home, change clothes, feed child, sleep one hour. Clean house, eat snack, feed child, go through carpool. Feed child, cook dinner, bathe child, sleep, go to work, then do it all over again.
In the early months I averaged about five hours of sleep per day and somehow still managed to get to work wearing matching clothing. There were times when some tasks fell through the cracks and it would literally drive me crazy. But when given a choice between catching a few z's and doing house work, guess which one wins? Ding, ding, ding… good answer!
I learned that once I stopped trying to be "Super Melvin Mom: Cleaner of all dirty dishes, Washer of all laundry, Caretaker of all Melvin Men"… the calvary could arrive. My loving husband stepped in and picked up the slack.
JP's sleep schedule is now regulated (imagine me dancing a jig here) and I am back on a semi-regular schedule. But for the record, if my husband and I decide to take this journey again there are a few things I'll do differently. First, I'd find out the sex (I've had my big surprise already). Secondly, I'd stock up on SLEEP! Finally, my next baby will not spend one waking moment in my bed. (We'll examine that issue in a future edition.)
Miriam K. Melvin is the mom of two boys, a 13-year-old and a 19-month-old, and a producer for WRAL-TV.