Ok, maybe the title of this post is a little harsh. You will sleep. We need to sleep in order to survive. But you will never sleep the same again once you are a parent. If you are a woman, your sleeplessness (I totally made up that word) will begin while you are pregnant. And from that point on, you won't sleep, like really really good sleep, again. You'll get used to this new way of sleeping, and eventually it will be all you know. It's been a little over 9 years since I found out I was pregnant the first time. I barely remember what sleep was like before that time.
So, when you're pregnant, sleep sucks, at least at the end anyway. If you're lucky like me, it sucks most of the way through. In the beginning I was up to pee 157 times every night. When that wore off a little, the most insane heartburn kicked in. I slept with antacids on my nightstand. I would wake up with acid in my throat like I was choking. That lasted through the end of the pregnancy. This last time, I had horrible hip and leg pain from 5 months to the end. I'm assuming it was because of being pregnant for 2 straight years. Then I had sciatica on top of all that. My hips and legs would hurt after a half hour or so, so I'd have to roll to the other side. It's like trying to roll a beached whale back into the ocean. Add in three or four other kids who randomly wake up at night, and you're screwed.
Then you have the baby and sleep in the hospital, but let's be honest... hospital beds aren't ideal. To me, getting home in my own bed and finally being able to sleep on my stomach is like heaven. Except there's a newborn sleeping in my room who wakes up to eat every three to four hours. With Princess, my husband and I were novices. We both got up every time she cried that first night home. We didn't know what we were doing, bumping into each other in her room, making her bottle, trying to figure out who should feed her and change her. When she would go back to sleep, I would get this panicky feeling that she wasn't breathing or that she might stop breathing or that something might happen to her. I think I stayed awake all night worrying about her being ok. The next day my mom gave us this amazing idea where we could take turns at night. That way one of us could get a few hours of sleep while the other one got up. It helped us a lot. But when the baby wakes up, regardless of who gets up with her, the other parent wakes up too. So, you're not exactly sleeping through the night.
By the fifth baby, the first night home wasn't as scary. I went to bed at 8:30 right after the other kids, so I had a solid four hours before he woke up for my feeding. When you have a baby sleeping in your room, you're always aware of the baby's presence. You hear all their noises. This time, 5 would start to grunt as he was waking up, right before he would cry. That was the cue to get up and get him out of the room before he woke everyone else. Having a lot of kids makes nighttime trickier. We have the three older kids in one room, and the babies in the other room. We kept the baby in our room for the first two months, so Donkey basically had his own room. He's a really light sleeper and we were concerned about having to go in his room to get the baby. We didn't need two babies awake at once. When 5 started sleeping through the night, we moved him to his crib, and for the most part it is working out well.
But we still aren't sleeping normally. We get the new baby to start sleeping all night, and of course one or two or sometimes three of the other kids starts getting up. Trouble wakes up crying during the night because he has kicked off his covers. The kid who opens the front door and escapes, climbs onto the dining room table, and tries to fix his own snacks, can't pull up his own blankets? I don't get it. But he wakes up crying for us to cover him. He was also waking up crying last month because he had molars coming through. Expert mom that I am didn't realize this until I got a BabyCenter newsletter saying 'your two and a half year old may be getting molars at this time'. No wonder he was shoving toys in his mouth all the day. I just equated it to him being trouble. At the same time, Donkey's first set of molars was coming through, so he was waking up crying at night too. Then there are the normal night time wake ups where Princess or Pirate have to go to the bathroom or need a drink. Twice in the last 3 weeks, Pirate has fallen out of bed, so we have to go put him back in his bed. Princess and Pirate have bunk beds, and Pirate is on the bottom. He has plenty of space. Like my husband has room to lay with him in the bed and still have space. But as I've mentioned before, Pirate is a hoarder, and has about 286 stuffed animals in his bed with him. The other night I seriously caught him taking Donkey's stuffed dalmatian out of his crib because "I just love this puppy so much and I need to sleep with him". Apparently the other stuffed animals weren't enough and his hoarding has turned into stealing animals from his brothers. Anyway, the animals took over more than half of the bed, and Pirate fell out. Twice.
Now we've also hit the times where the baby wakes up Donkey or vice-versa, so we have two babies up at the same time. We get 5 when he wakes up because we don't want him to wake up Donkey, so we take him and give him a bottle. Or we'll grab Donkey real fast so he doesn't wake up 5. But we're not always quick enough, and sometimes they're both up at the same time. That's a blast because we both have to get up to deal with them.
So, yes, we sleep. But nothing like we used to. I can vaguely remember being a teenager and sleeping until noon on weekends just because I didn't feel like getting up and I had no responsibilities. Now, if we stretch it, staying in bed until 8 on a weekend is a treat! This usually involves having at least two of the kids in our bed watching tv. Last Saturday we had all five in our bed. But they were happy and weren't rushing us to make breakfast. Most nights when they wake up they end up sleeping in our bed for at least part of the night.
I know things will calm down and at some point in time, they will all sleep all night with occasional bad dreams or trips to the bathroom. And one day, they'll be teenagers going out at night (shudder), getting home after we are in bed. My guess is that I still won't sleep soundly, and I'll be worrying about where they are and if they are safe. I think once you're a parent, you never sleep the same again. I'm in no rush to find out for sure. For now, I'll take the sleep how it comes, because I know my babies are all safe and in the big picture, I'm lucky to get to wake up with them during the night. But I do still miss my good sleep!