When you look closer, you'll notice you're not actually gazing into your baby's eyes so much as slumped back against the headrest asleep while nursing your baby for the eighth time in as many hours. Note the serene sounds of your snores and the way the soft light bounces off the drool collecting on the corner of your mouth. Now don't feel bad-every woman in our ranks has fallen asleep while nursing at least once. In the first few weeks, probably once a night. You'll be fine though-new moms develop their own startle reflex. You'll find yourself waking up even in those brief hours when your baby is actually asleep and you won't know why-but it's the mom startle reflex reacting to your baby's eyelashes fluttering or them making sucking noises in their sleep. Go ahead and check on them-you won't be able to sleep otherwise-but at least try to resist the urge to wake them up just to make sure they're okay. You'll really be sorry if you do.
I know what first time pregnant women and men are thinking-why would a new mom want to wake up their baby to check on them? It's all a part of the package I assure you. The sleepless, neurotic, loving, attentive, exhausted new mom package.
That's why I have to share this to save your nerves new moms-don't fret when your baby cries. I would never, ever tell you not to tend to your newborn immediately, but don't end up like I did once-bawling too hard to nurse because your heart broke at the sound of your baby's cry. Try to think of crying as baby language. As newborns, it's not that they're sad or angry-crying is just the only language they know at that point. I realize it's hard, but if you can keep yourself from taking it personally you'll save yourself a lot of stress.
My last piece of advice, and the biggest stress reliever I can give you, is to remember that you're not perfect...but neither is anyone else. You turned out okay, right? Well at one point your mom was just as crazy and panicked as you are now. Mother Teresa's mom was neurotic and high strung and sleepless once upon a time-leaving whole gallons of milk on the counter to rot, walking into rooms and immediately forgetting what she was doing there, praying for ten minutes of sleep uninterrupted by the cry of the baby, her husband asking what to do if the baby does XYZ, or the mom startle reflex...and look at Mother Teresa. Great lady. Your baby will turn out great too, no matter what mistakes you make or how exhausted you are, because the truth is babies only really need one thing from their mothers...
If you trust in your love for your child and make every decision with their best interest in mind, nothing you do is going to mess them up too much (no matter what they say to you as teenagers).
Trust yourself. Love your baby. Sleep with you can.
Welcome to motherhood.