Wednesday, October 15, 2014

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It’s Okay For Dad To Be Tired


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Mel and I were driving across Small Town Oregon to drop our son off at a birthday party. Mel was driving, I was in the passenger seat, and all three kids were in the back. Our newborn, Aspen, was about one month old.

“I only got about three hours of sleep last night,” Mel said. “I don’t know where you get off posting something like that on Facebook.”

She was referring to earlier that day when I posted this on my blog’s Facebook page: “I am NOT going to say that I DIDN'T just fall asleep at my desk. ‪#‎newbabyproblems.”

“You only had to get up once or twice in the night. I sat up and fed the baby for an hour four times. If you are tired, it’s not the baby’s fault. I’m the one who’s tired.”

She said it like my Facebook post was a personal attack.

We’ve been having a lot of conversations like this lately. With our first two kids, we bottle-fed. This meant that we split the night feedings equally. But with Aspen, Mel has been breast-feeding, which I completely respect. However, it has placed the majority of the nighttime burden on Mel.

This is not to say that I don’t get up two or three times in the night to change Aspen’s bum, or wake up when the baby cries and struggle to go back to sleep, or walk down the hall to soothe one of our other two kids in the night. And it’s not to say that I don’t struggle to get up at 5:30 or 6AM every morning for work. Fact is, I am still not sleeping well, and I am still sleepy during the day. I struggle to stay awake on my commute, and at work. Everyday I hear, “You look tired” from coworkers.

But I am sleeping better than Mel. It’s a fact. Naps aren’t aways possible because we have three small kids, but when one is, I give it to her. On Saturday morning, I get up with the kids and let her sleep as late as she wants. Any opportunity I can to help let her sleep more, I give it to her. But none of this changes the fact that having a new baby is stressful and exhausting on both of us.

Mel is still tired.

I am still tired.

I reached out and gripped Mel’s hand. “Babe, I get it. You are getting way less sleep than I am. I know that. But I’m still not sleeping as much as I’d like. It’s getting to the point where I sometimes drift off at my desk. I don’t know what else to say. This isn’t a competition. It’s a partnership. Just because you are sleeping less than I am doesn’t change the fact that I’m still tired.”

We drove in silence for a little while. Mel didn’t say that I was right. She didn’t show that she agreed or disagreed.

Once we reached the birthday party Mel walked Tristan to the door while I waited with the kids. Once she got back in the car, I said, “I really respect what you are doing. You don’t have to breastfeed, but you want to, and you have stuck with it. I know that you aren’t sleeping well because of it, and I’m sorry. But I am really impressed.”

“Thanks,” Mel said. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“Can we stop making this out to be a competition?” I asked.

Mel thought about it for a moment. Then she said, jokingly, “I’m not saying that I will try. But I will try to try.”

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