People love to tell moms-to-be about how exhausted they are going to be. Some almost seem to get a thrill from teasing about the sleepless nights that lay ahead. “Just you wait,” they’ll say with a knowing smirk, “life with a baby is exhausting.”
I wonder if they know that life without the baby is also exhausting.
Mothers who come home with empty arms will face many sleepless nights. Just like those mothers who are up all night soothing a fussy baby, these heartbroken mothers will know the experience of complete exhaustion.
Instead of rocking a baby to sleep, they will sit up for hours–their eyes red and stinging from too many tears.
With the TV on to drown out the silence, they alternate between pacing the floors and starting into the emptiness. They will be exhausted, but they will find it hard to sleep. They know that waking up means living in a nightmare.
It is exhausting to be up all night without your baby.
It is common knowledge that being up all night with a living baby is hard. No one would dare say otherwise. But, it’s a different kind of hard. There’s something about feeling their warm breath and hearing those tiny sighs that makes the most difficult nights bearable.
There’s something about having empty arms that makes the most difficult nights that much worse.
Sleep will not always evade the mother who has lost her baby. Some will sleep to escape reality. Others will spend a night plagued with nightmares of what happened and dreams of what can no longer be. It’s hard to wake up feeling rested. Instead, they trudge out of bed to face another day in the life they never asked for.
Because it’s not just the nights that are exhausting for the parent who is grieving.
It’s the days and the nights. It’s the afternoons and the in-between hours. It is every minute from the time your feet hit the floor to when your head finds the pillow.
Grieving the baby you came home without is utterly exhausting.
Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter if you’re able to sleep or not. No amount of sleep will change the fact that the nights (and days) can feel so long when your arms are missing someone.