Although I don’t work as many hours as most night shift moms these days, I HAVE been there and I DO understand completely. I’m writing this for my friends who do this on the daily and power through like a boss.
I’m a SAHM (stay at home mom) by day and a RRT (registered respiratory therapist) by night.
The struggle is real. Like really, really real. What struggle am I taking about? Working the night shift as a momma bear.
I started night shift working three 12-hour shifts a week the exact week I found out I was pregnant. Talk about hormone overload mixed with caffeine deprivation. The tiredness I felt as a newly pregnant person was enough by itself, let alone throwing in the graveyard shift on top of it. I slept a lot. Like all the time. Unless I was throwing up, of course, which happened most days for me.
Then 9 months later, out pops baby and an entire new level of sleep deprivation arrives. You all know what I’m talking about. When you cry just because, well you can’t help yourself. And you sleep any chance you get. And you have this new baby that needs you every second of the day, and even though it’s the best feeling ever, it’s extremely exhausting. Now take that and add back in working night shift when your FMLA is over and you have psychological torment brought on by lack of sleep with a side of mood swings.
Now, I will be the first to admit I have been very fortunate. I have had help while the husband was at work, most days, from my mom to let me sleep for a few hours after working a 12-hour shift. It was very rare for me to get off at 7:30 a.m. and have to stay up all day to only sleep when baby sleeps. And I am even more lucky now that I have been able to cut back my hours because of the amazing support of my husband. But even if you work 1 night or 4, you understand what the lack of sleep can do to you.
It goes kind of like this: Say you didn’t work last night but you work tonight. You don’t drink your coffee this morning so you can make sure you are able to fall asleep during nap time. You play, feed, clean, read, do laundry and patiently wait for nap time to arrive. You lay your little one down and check the monitor ever 5 seconds to ask yourself, “Is she sleeping yet!?”
FINALLY, she’s out so you can nap and hope to get that 1-2 hours in to hold you over for the shift ahead. No, no you don’t, because if you’re like me, you stay awake because you know you would be worse off only having a tiny nap before conquering the day with your little one. Even getting off at 3:30 a.m., like I tend to do nowadays, it’s still hard. Get into bed by 4 a.m. and hope they sleep ‘til 9, which most likely is not going to happen. My almost 3-year-old still wakes some nights, sometimes several times. After working my last shift, I think I got a total of 2 hours of sleep.
This just is NOT healthy for us mommas. We need our beauty rest, too. But we sacrifice that to spend as much time as we can with our babies while we can, which just happens to be during our nighttime. Sacrifice sleep. Sacrifice rest. Sacrifice energy. Sacrifice our health. And most importantly, we sacrifice having no dark circles under our eyes! But being able to be there with our kids during their day makes it’s all worth it.
I am not saying I have it bad by any means. I know I’m in a good situation with my family/mommy/work life and I’m forever grateful for the people who help me day-to-day. I also am not saying moms who work night shift have it worse off than a SAHM who doesn’t work or a full-time day shift working mom. Most people only talk about or compare those two kinds of moms. I am simply just helping people relate to the more uncommon working mom situation... A mom who is BOTH a SAHM by day and a working momma by night.