When you're pregnant, other parents have a tendency to smugly look at you and smirk about how you'll never sleep again. They offer annoying bits of advice, like “sleep when the baby sleeps.” That is, they offer advice like that once they're past the sleep deprivation stage. Those who are still in it simply nod and smile, members of the same bleary-eyed army that you've just joined.
There is no magical way to get around sleep deprivation and it is no joke. I've nearly walked into walls on more than one occasion because I was so sleepy and I have no advice. I thank my lucky stars that my daughter didn't have colic and sleeps relatively well. That's not to say that we didn't have our nights where I walked around the house nonstop for hours, silently begging her to sleep with tears of fatigue streaming down my face. I think every parent has had those nights and those who say they haven't are lying.
Sleep deprivation is much like running a marathon, or how I imagine running a marathon would be since I have never actually done one and have no plans to ever participate in one. Nonetheless, the principles are the same. It's an intense experience. Sometimes you hallucinate. Sometimes it gets to a point where all you can do is put one foot in front of the other. You may want to vomit at some points. You may feel like it'll never end. You feel physically spent and you're positive there is no way this is ever going to end. And just when you have no more gas, when you're sure that the last step you've taken is the last step you're able to take, it's over. They sleep and you can finally, carefully and slowly lower them into the crib and just as slowly back out of their room and make your way to your bed for a few precious moments to close your own eyes, praying that they sleep for just enough time for you to recharge so the pounding behind your eyes will finally subside.
Parenting is rarely glamorous and going without sleep will make you downright filmy. It's during those times that you have to simply put one foot in front of the other and try your hardest to remember that eventually all children sleep through the night. I imagine that first uninterrupted night of sleep feels much like crossing the finish line. Personally, I haven't crossed the sleep finish line yet, but I know that day is coming. Until then, I'm putting one foot in front of the other and yes, sometimes I do sleep when the baby sleeps. I said it was annoying advice, I didn't say I wasn't taking it!