Sleep deprivation, parenting puppies and newborns

So last night I learnt that my cousin has suddenly (and rather unexpectedly) became a parent – to an orphaned puppy!!

At 35 years old Joby is single and waiting to embark on having his own children – we just hope that this experience doesn’t put him off forever!  Just a year ago I bought our new puppy Luna home and I couldn’t quite believe how many similarities there were to having a newborn baby.

Joby’s puppy has been given the name Oliver (I guess living out in Sri Lanka he just wanted someone else near him with a western name?), and his basic story is that his mother died protecting him from a cobra when he was just one week old.

So the one decision Joby hasn’t got to take on board is how to feed Oliver.  He has only one option – I guess there are better options than baby formula for a pup – but you have to make do with what you have in the middle of no-where.

However, he is going through so many other similarities to many of our new mums – the primary one being sleep deprivation “I am so ridiculously tired” – and this is just day 8.  Would it be wrong of me to suggest he pays my air fare so that I can give them overnight postnatal support?

“He was crying through the night, which made me cry too …. how long can a human being survive without any sleep?” – mm, I think I can feel the sand between my toes already!

Daddy Joby has already wondered about teething and dummies (do they make them for puppies?) and is winding and toilet assisting Oliver throughout the day – you actually have to rub their bits to make them pee and poo in the early days – at least we don’t have to do that with our babies!

He has even fallen straight into the “comparison trap” that we were discussing at our coffee afternoon last week.  Most pups open their eyes by two weeks – yet Oliver is two weeks and one day and still as his eyes closed – the problem with knowing averages! – does all of this sound painfully familiar to new mums?

The phrase in his blog that sums it all up for me is “Am I suffering from post-natal depression or is this feeling of helplessness perpetuated by lack of sleep?”  Now of course we all know he can’t be suffering from PND – BUT I totally recall that feeling in the middle of the night – isn’t it amazing what sleep deprivation can do to you?

We always tell our parents in our courses that the first 6 weeks are the toughest.  You are recovering from the physical exhaustion of birth, or the invasiveness of surgery – either way, you are pretty knackered to start with.  Then you have to get to know a new little being and are expected to learn to love them (which may take a little longer than you think).  You will make major decisions on how to feed your baby and provide nourishment just about every 3 hours, never mind fitting in food and drink for yourself – every experienced mum will tell you that hot drinks are a long and distant memory. Nappy changes, occasional bathing, visits with midwives, health visitors and doctors – not to mention the visits at home from everyone that knows you!!

But the truth is .. Nothing can prepare you for the emotional highs and lows, sometimes the loneliness and the absolute exhaustion that you are likely to feel.

Fortunately there will often be those moments when you gaze down at a sleeping baby (or puppy) and think “Wow – you are SO beautiful!”

What were your favourite ways of coping through sleep deprivation?  Were the nights harder than the days?  Would you do it all again?

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