Were you scared too?

I know I should be happy – and believe me, I am – about the fact that in less than two months we are having a family expansion.

But can someone please tell me that it’s perfectly normal to be scared shitless?

Before the birth of our first, I was happy too. I had just finished my doctoral thesis. The baby was about to pop out. We prepared everything we could (well except the name, but you have to believe me that that was an exception). Life was pretty good. I wasn’t even that nervous about what was ahead. I just felt ready at the time.

Nothing had prepared me for what was about to come. A parenting tsunami of epic proportions. A wave that was not only giving, but also taking, a lot of our energy. Perhaps we were doing it wrong. We decided to move to another country with a three month-old baby. At the same time I was still rounding up my PhD and starting a postdoc position that – well – may have been better suited to someone with more experience, at least at that time. It was a rough start, and in all of that, Heike and I had only each other to rely on. They say it takes a village to raise a child. We didn’t have a village. To be honest, we didn’t even really have friends close by to share it with. We were all alone. Now Rafa really wasn’t the best sleeper. (But I have not seen the worst!) He never slept a full night until he was 18 months or so, and even now, he rarely does so. He would often wake up at night three times or more. At some point, my brain just gave up on sleep, resulting in the most horrible bouts of insomnia that sucked the life out of my mental well-being. As a result, I just wasn’t functioning in the way that I expect of myself. And for this, I have felt a lot of guilt. I have learned the hard way that I always took for granted that I was an excellent sleeper. I know now that I need my sleep. Good sleep is not a given, it’s a privilege. My wife was a bloody champion through all of this. I at many times felt like a hopeless pile of horse crap. At present, I have recovered in many ways. I now just feel like a hopeless pile – and that’s okay, this is just something I need to learn to accept.

What scares me in all of this, is that Rafa was not really much of an exception. He’s pretty average in terms of sleeping, and to be honest, with everything else he is super easy. Chances are that the second kiddo will not sleep any better, or be easy in any of the other aspects. I know I will again be losing a lot of sleep. I know, this is by choice. Of course we considered all these things in our decision to have a second child. We now have a much more stable position, including a permanent roof, some friends and neighbors to rely on, and a more established spot in our new home country. We should be in a much better position to handle this. I am happy, and excited and curious to get to know our new family member. Nevertheless, now that count-down is starting, it is starting to scare me. I can smell the horse crap also coming closer, and I don’t like the stench.

How do other parents of several look so energetic and awesome? Do you also feel like hopeless piles of horse crap? Have you grown accustomed to sleeping shitty nights? Were you scared? How the hell did you handle this pandemic?

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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