I've always known that becoming a parent changed your life, but I didn't realize how until I had my own child. There's a big secret that nobody tells you before you have kids: Parents have superpowers. Somewhere between the time you are pregnant and the time the baby is born, special powers are bestowed upon you. I'm not saying I can scale walls like Spiderman or fly through the air like Batman, but if you ask me, the superpowers I've acquired are far more useful than any superhero you see in any Marvel comic book!
These three special powers have managed to keep me, a first-time parent, alive:
• The ability to sleep without really sleeping: Growing up, I was a relatively light sleeper. My mom would simply stand in my doorway and say my name to wake me up. This all changed when I went away for college. Somewhere along the way, I learned to sleep through 3 a.m. fire alarms being pulled, the neighbor's parties, my roommate's alarm clock and, sometimes, my alarm clock. When I had my daughter, I was concerned that I wouldn't wake up to her cries once we moved her out of the bassinet and into the crib in her room. Man, was I wrong! Not only do I wake up to her crying, but I wake up when she moves, when her breathing pattern changes, when she runs her fingers along the sheets and lord help me, when she sneezes in her sleep. It's as if a freight train is going through my bedroom. I asked my mom when she was finally able to get a good night's rest, and she said that she still wakes up in the middle of the night with the urge to check on me and my sister. So there's that. It's pretty amazing that every night I get in bed and "go to sleep," I am still fully aware of my daughter's every move.
• And on the topic of sleep....The ability to make it through the day on little or no sleep. Any seasoned parent will tell you to, "sleep when the baby sleeps." That sounds like such a great idea, and in theory, it really is. But reality is a little different. When we brought my baby home from the hospital and put her in the bassinet for the first time, she rolled completely to her side, face touching the inside wall of the bassinet. This made for a very scared new mom and dad. As a result, we spent the first week (okay, first two weeks) watching her sleep. We moved her bassinet into the middle of the living room floor and took shifts watching her. I would sleep from midnight to four and my husband would sleep from four until mid-morning. Mind you, we both were on opposite ends of the couch, so if we needed each other, were weren't far away. Of course, there were the occasional feedings in between, but for the most part, all we did was stare at her to make sure she was still breathing. I read a lot of books on my iPad during those first few weeks and managed to operate like a normal person who had actually gotten a full night's rest. Eventually, we finally felt confident enough that she would, in fact, still breathe if we weren't watching her, and were able to get some sleep. I look back now and still don't know how I wasn't walking around feeling like a zombie, but I wouldn't change a thing about those first few weeks.
• The ability to go without sustenance. If you ask any new mom what her real secret is to losing the baby weight, if she's honest, she'll tell you this; "I don't have time to eat." I'd say five out of the seven days of the week, three o'clock rolls around and I realize that I haven't eaten lunch or breakfast. And at that point, it makes much more sense just to wait until dinner, so I choose not to eat a snack. Dinnertime rolls around, my husband is finally home to help with the baby and the choice arises to eat dinner or shower and sleep. Hands-down, sleep comes first. If I'm really lucky, I'll sneak in a nice warm bath and crawl into bed to close my eyes until my daughter blinks and wakes me from my semi-slumber. Every day is the same, wash-rinse-repeat. I lost all of my baby weight within the first few months and have yet to exercise. Eating has somehow been pushed to the bottom of my priority list and I still have enough energy to make it through the day on a bowl of cereal, or sometimes less. Unhealthy? Maybe. Superpower? Absolutely.
What superpower have you acquired as a parent? Please share!