My Husband + My Insomnia + Parenthood

My husband is the most kind, compassionate, understanding person I've ever met.

My husband is also unable to change the reality of my life with insomnia. Let me explain.

My husband knows the effects of insomnia

In the early days of our relationship, through our dating, living together, and early marriage, my husband became intimately familiar with how insomnia affects me. He learned some of my triggers, some of my reactive behaviors, how to help, and when to let me just be.

He stopped being surprised when he'd wake up in the morning and find me asleep on the couch or re-organizing the pantry. Both options were always available, and well, this was just our normal.

He took the morning shifts with our puppy

When we got a puppy, my husband always took the morning shift. I was happy to take out our pup during the night, especially when I was struggling to sleep, but I often felt too groggy to function in the morning.

If I'd slept well, but he'd bark right in the middle of a good sleep cycle, it would make me a really unpleasant human to abruptly get up with our pup. If I'd slept terribly, odds were I was probably in some phase of dozing when the morning came around, and interrupting that too made the rest of my day pretty rough. So, my husband did the early mornings. No problem.

That changed when we had a baby.

Parenting and adjusting to a new normal

A baby that, for the first 6 months, I was physically feeding with my own body. My husband couldn't take the early shift. In fact, it took a lot of logistics for him to take any shift, really. So, we learned a new normal.

We found a way to integrate parenthood with my insomnia. I wrote more about the newborn stage here, and the toddler stage here.

Unrealistic demands on ourselves and each other

But something transitioned in our life and our understanding of each other once our daughter arrived. It was like, both of our plates expanded, and both of our demands on ourselves and each other became nearly unrealistic.

I felt resentful when I was beyond exhausted and would catch my husband napping on the couch. There was so much that had to get done, and someone had to care for our daughter nearly around the clock, and yet we were both still supposed to get rest?

Insomnia makes life harder to navigate

During that time, I felt like he forgot I was also living with a sleep disorder.

Or maybe, he was just too tired to remember.

Then, he would get frustrated when it would be my turn to sleep and I was unable to do so. When insomnia prevented me from drifting off into dreamland, and then I had to turn around and care for the baby again without any reprieve in-between. I'd be lying if I said it was anything but difficult to navigate for a long while.

Taking it one day at a time

Our daughter recently turned 2 and has slept through most nights for the last year. My insomnia has returned to some sort of sleep baseline for me, and again, there is more time and space for communication with my husband about my needs and his understanding.

We've discussed often what it will be like if our daughter develops insomnia or another sleep disorder, but for now, we're trying to just take one thing at a time.

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