First of all, I would like to thank all the other young parents in Whistler for some of the advice and stories they’ve shared with my wife and I leading up to the birth of my daughter Eleanor on Feb. 6.
I say “some” because a lot of the information that people have shared — however well intentioned — didn’t do much to calm our nerves leading up to the birth, or reassure us afterwards.
Let’s face it, human childbirth is a violent and sometimes bloody experience. The term “labour” doesn’t really cover it — it’s kind of like calling torture “enhanced interrogation techniques”.
We knew going in to the hospital that it would be at least a little traumatic, but we didn’t need to know all the dirty and horrific details — 40 hour labour sessions, broken pelvises and tailbones from strong pushes and contractions, tissues tearing and emergency episiotomies, waters breaking in the car on the way to the hospital, wives being bumped from one hospital to another because of complications, or giving birth in hospital hallways because of crowds, the arrival of sick or injured babies, and colicky infants that won’t eat or sleep or stop crying for the first three months.
All of these stories were definitely on our minds throughout the whole ordeal, and would probably be better to hear after Eleanor was born.
One strange piece of advice we often heard was to “sleep now, because after the baby comes…” I really can’t tell you how many people shared that nugget of wisdom, but here’s the thing: you can’t bank sleep. You can’t stay in bed an extra hour in December and January, and use those stored ZZZs to feel better on a February morning after waking up at midnight, 2:30 a.m., 4:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. the night before.
I think people were trying to tell us to enjoy our sleep while we still could, because we were going to miss it when the baby arrived. I did, and I do — but not nearly as much as I expected.
That’s because I know that this lack of sleep is an all too temporary situation. In a matter of months Eleanor will most likely be sleeping for 12-hour stretches while her body grows and her brain takes shape, and when that happens I know I’m going to miss holding and comforting my tiny, squirming, and sometimes howling little girl in the wee hours of the morning. I know I’ve lost a lot of sleep over the years for far worse reasons than spending time with Eleanor.