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Tidewater Parent

Parenting

Trying for a good night’s sleep as a new mom can be a disaster

*Tbd is a new section on PilotOnline.com that’s all about the stage of life people in their 20s and 30s are in – the transitional phase that feels both adult and not adult.*

When Hurricane Matthew hit there were stories of homes flooding, cars submerged and plans ruined.

For me, a 33-year-old new mom, there were perks.

I was working an evening shift at the copy desk at The Virginian-Pilot and we were all starting to panic about how we would drive through Norfolk’s swampy streets.

I left early, around 8:50 p.m. My initial plan was to head east and then drive west to avoid all the low-lying roads in downtown Norfolk I would normally take to my Hampton home.

But I decided with my 5-month-old daughter at home, I shouldn’t take unnecessary risks. So, I drove to my mother’s house in Virginia Beach.

Once I arrived, armed with over-the-counter sleeping pills from CVS that I might be on the brink of becoming addicted to, a realization hit me —  I’d have a good night’s sleep.

“Is this really happening?” I thought. “Shouldn’t I feel more guilty?”

This was an accidental vacation and I was going to take advantage of it.

I called my fiancé to tell him of the change of plans. I also wouldn’t be rushing home in the morning because I’d booked a wedding dress appointment in Virginia Beach. We’re getting married in May.

“You’re kidding?” he said.

“Nope,” I said.

My mother, listening in, piped up. “I left you and your younger sister with your dad when she was 9-months-old to stay at a hotel for a few days and sleep.”

I repeated the confession to my fiancé.

Johanna Somers and her daughter, Amelia.

Johanna Somers and her daughter, Amelia.

“You’ll never do that,” he said.

My man is a bit dramatic — even his mother says he speaks in hyperbole — so I told myself he’d get over it and told him, “I love you,” before hanging up.

My mother offered to let me sleep in her bed while she slept on the crappy mattress in the guest room.

But first, I had to pump my breasts to get whatever little bit of milk I could gather. Being a part-time working mom in the evenings means I struggle to provide enough breast milk for my daughter. Full-time, which I did for about a month, was even harder.

Sure, it cuts down on my already precious amount of sleep, but I believe it’s important.

At my mother’s — where there was no crying baby waking up at all hours — I managed to get 10 hours sleep.

This accidental vacation was a big deal.

“Now I know how much I miss sleeping,” I thought.

Anyone with a new baby knows what I mean. But just in case you don’t have one, I will spell it out: You sleep about four to seven hours a night for months and after awhile, you feel like your brain is slowly decomposing.

I once poured a bag of cereal into the cardboard box, not my bowl.

When I went to look at wedding dresses, I had two happy surprises. First, the shop was open despite the storm. And second, I found a dress. It must have been the solid night of sleep I got that gave me the clarity to decide.

When’s the next natural disaster?

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