The countdown to the arrival of grandchild number 7 is now close to single digits. Phones are constantly on. Car seats are loaded in case we need to pick up other grandchildren from school or daycare while the baby comes “out of Mommy’s tummy.”
We’re ready – sort of.
For all the other grandchildren we were prepared but not. Some came terrifyingly early! Others delayed; and others, while expected, still seemed to prompt a response of “This is it! This is really it! She’s in labour. It’s happening now!” And the inevitable response from my wife, “I need to go.”
That said there does seem to be a greater sense of calm around this third child in our daughter and son-in-law’s family. Perhaps the relative calm exists because the two previous children have stretched the spectrum of the impact of newborns on what was once considered a “normal life.”
Sleep seems to be the key variable in how everyone fares.
It feels unkind to tell new parents that, after the baby, “you’ll never feel rested again.”
Within the family we have our own collection of “baby brain” stories ranging from the usual coffee cups left on the roof of the car to forgetting to pick up a child from dance class.
While once considered to be peculiar to the new parent the impact of sleep on life now fuels an exploding amount of research. No longer does the declaration “I only need 4 hours sleep a night” generate admiration; now the response conveys a sense of “Boy, you must not be in touch with your body or modern science!”
Magazines are full of brain research detailing the complex impact of sleep upon brain chemistry and functioning, acuity, problem solving and social interaction.
The new norm seems to be 7 hours of shut-eye a night with the more REM the better. Much less is dangerous. Too much poses equal health risks.
Undoubtedly individuals differ but the consensus formula for productivity and a healthy life includes good nutrition, exercise and adequate sleep. All of which can be a struggle for parents of new born babies.
But I guess that’s why grandparents were invented.