Earlier this week, Lauren Eberspacher woke up in the middle of the night to nurse her 6-month-old baby, Deacon.
In an interview with Dearly, the Nebraska mom-of-three explained she had been playing “musical beds” all night with her husband. “And we were both exhausted,” she said.
Unexpectedly, her husband, Eric, poked his head into the nursery and saw her feeding the baby. He said, “Good job, babe. I love you.”
Lauren sat back and smiled as she thought about his encouraging comment. She was suddenly inspired to write about the many sleepless nights they’ve spent together. She told Dearly:
“His encouragement to me in these sleepless years means the world to me and empowers me. Not only as a mom, but as his wife.”
She wrote a heartwarming post on her blog, “From Blacktop to Dirt Road,” to remember their journey as new parents.
Her powerful first sentence is a good reminder to moms and moms-to-be that “These are the years that we don’t sleep.” But they are also the years that shouldn’t be forgotten.
The “sleepless years” are filled with “tired eyes” and cries in the night, she explained in her post. Yet even though her new life was chaotic and tiring, she was happy to spend the sleepless years with her husband:
Yes, these are the years that we don’t sleep. The years that they say that someday we will miss. But this morning, this is the morning that I’m thankful for you, my partner of musical beds and up all nighters. This morning I’m thankful that I have you for the years that we don’t sleep.
Statistically speaking, new parents have it pretty rough. A survey from baby monitoring company Owlet suggests that only 5 percent of parents with children under the age of 6 months old receive the daily recommendation of eight hours of sleep per day.
According to a study published in Sleep Medicine, interrupted sleep can lead to “compromised cognitive abilities, shortened attention spans, and negative moods.”
New parents often “race through these years, wishing for them to be over,” Lauren told Dearly, but there’s so much to learn during this time about the person on the other side of the bed:
“One of the things that I want other couples to remember is to not lose sight of each other in the sleepless years at parenthood.”
She feels fortunate her husband has been supportive even when parenthood has been difficult. They try to work as a team to get through the sleepless nights together:
“We also have to remember the importance of ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I forgive you’ during these sleepless years. Tiredness can turn our emotions into a grumpy puddle during these years, by remembering to meet each other with grace is life-saving to our marriages!”
Lauren told Dearly that two things, in particular, have helped their marriage to grow during the sleepless years, a continued pursuit of a relationship with God and a healthy sex life, though she recognizes the recipe will be different for other couples:
“Both of those things have taken quite a bit of intentionality but our marriage has only gotten stronger because of it!”
Since her post was published in Love What Matters, she’s been paying close attention to the comment section. She’s happy to see so many parents commenting and tagging each other to show their appreciation for all the help and encouragement during the sleepless years:
“I think we could all use a bit more of that kind of affirmation in our marriages, right?”
She hopes her post can encourage other couples to look for each other when the sleepless nights are long and difficult.
Personally, as a married woman interested in starting a family, I know I’ll be bookmarking this post for the many sleepless nights to come.