The Waking Dread

Brynn Lewis essays

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Before my husband and I ever planned (a term I use loosely) on having a child, we were pretty realistic about those mid-night wakings. I knew they would suck, and I knew we would be constantly tired, and take lots of naps, and drink lots of coffee, and whatever the hell else.

But, we knew our strengths and were prepared to play to them. He was a night person, and I was a morning person. He’d take the first half of the night shifts, and once 2:00 a.m. rolled around, it was my gig. Done and done. 

Fucking genius, we thought.

We gave high fives all around.

But, you know, then she was born. And shit got real. Turns out, after a few sleepless nights, we were no longer morning or night people. We were just grumpy people. Eh, the first few nights we both rushed to her side if she woke. You know, solidarity and stuff. I’d pump and feed, he’d wipe bum and soothe. Together we’d swaddle and put her down.

We are such a great team, we’d boast.

I’m so lucky to have you and we’d kiss.

Gag. Who are those people? I don’t even know them. In fact, those obnoxious people disappeared sometime around week two, and they aren’t coming back.

Good riddance. Those assholes are full of shit. And naive.

So completely naive. I mean, seriously, who does that?

Well, we did. And, I bet you did. And, if you are childless, I’m letting you know that you will do it, too. No worries. You’ll quickly gain the wisdom necessary to raise another human. A little insight for you—it’s dirty, and exhausting, and hilarious, and aggravating, but it’s also pretty awesome. They make them cute for a reason, it’s true. Because sometimes it will be hard to like them.

Your spouse, I mean. You better really, really like the person you’re having children with. 

But he’s my everything, you insist.

I’m so in love with her, you say.

Well, contrary to popular belief, love is not enough. You have to like them. Loving them is easy. Hating them is a piece of cake. Liking them is the real battle. Because, in the middle of the night, your beautiful, sweet baby will scream like a crazed animal. And someone has to get up and figure out what the hell’s going on. Is she hungry? Is there poo? What do you need, adorable baby who can only communicate through earth shattering sobs? I don’t understand your language, and I am deliriously tired, and you just threw up on my boobs.


Yeah, you better like that person you’re sleeping with. I’ll tell you, when its 3:00 a.m. and your monitor starts wailing, it’ll become a game of chicken. You’ll both pretend to be in such a deep sleep that it would be too cruel to wake you. Every damn guilt card you own will be thrown.

Stomach troubles? That dinner you made, honey.

Explosive diarrhea? I had a bad dream, babe.

Pulled muscle? I tripped on your shoes, my love.

However valid the excuse, it won’t matter. Expletives will fly. Death stares will linger. A middle finger will appear. The point is, you will be mean. Meaner than you’ve ever been. And even though the middle of the night wakings are frequent and grating, they don’t last forever. Really, they don’t. Like childbirth, you’ll forget the pain.

In hindsight, it wasn’t so bad, you’ll think.

But in the moment, it will feel like the worst thing that has ever happened to you.

Melodramatic much? Yep. But, that’s the truth. Luckily, those precious babies grow, and (eventually) sleep through the night. The point is it’s short-lived, I promise. You’ll get through it, I promise. You’ll like your partner again, it’s true.

To mine, I say:

I’m in love with you, husband. That, you already know.

But, to be clear, I’m in like with you, too.


About the Author

Brynn Lewis

I'm a new parent to an incredibly hyperactive child. I think a lot of moms lie to each other, and I want to provide the truth in parenting, with a spoonful of humor at .

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