I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: Life As a New Dad

The life of a new dad who works nights and may be experiencing Stockholm syndrome




My daughter was born on April 16 at 12:21 a.m.  I have no idea what is happening. I do know that I haven’t gotten a good night of sleep in years. You see, I’ve worked nights as a bartender for the past 13 years or so.  



Doing this job for so long, I’ve never been the type who goes to bed at 10:00 p.m. after watching my quota of Dancing with the Stars or Shark Tank. In fact, thinking about an existence where people map out their nights not based upon trivia, karaoke, and pint nights but upon NBC Universal's nightly lineup scares the hell out of me. I look around at other people in their mid-thirties who work 9–5 jobs and wonder “how are you the same age as me but such a boring person?” and “how do you try and cram all of your passion into a weekend?”


Nineteen days ago, I would’ve shut the bar down and come home, taken a shower, and read until I fell asleep around 4:00 a.m., then woken up around 9:30 a.m. I now have a whole new set of circumstances to deal with. My wife (who’s still on maternity leave...fml once that’s over) is usually half asleep once I come home. She and the baby are in bed together, usually sitting upright. I’m not sure if they are awake or asleep, but my giant self tries to imitate a ninja and not make any noise lest I wake them. I jump in the shower to quickly rinse the bar off me. Then, it’s hustle back to the bedroom to grab the baby.    


The baby needs to be changed. At this point, I hope first and foremost that the baby sleeps through her diaper change. I'm only 19 days in, and I’ve been peed and pooped on more times than I can recall.  And newborn poop can rocket out their butt like there’s a tiny Super Soaker hidden up their rectum just waiting to paint your walls. So I change the child, who inevitably wakes up and cries. 
The child has now cleared room for more food. I can’t feed the child at this point as we (we? my wife) are breast feeding, and there is a wait before we can switch over to bottled breast milk and I can feed her. The wife has a look of a caged raccoon that hasn’t slept and has one boob just out. 
There’s been a lot of toplessness in my apartment lately. If you told me that two years ago, it would’ve sounded awesome. It’s the worst. The wife’s boobs look amazing right now, but I know better than to think that I’m getting anywhere close to them. There’s a force field surrounding the boobs. I accidentally grazed one in a rare moment of spooning one afternoon and my wife turned into Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and almost killed me. I don’t blame her. She’s got a living thing sucking on her boobs like eight hours a day and a mechanical thing sucking on her boobs for about eight more hours.
So now I have wake the wife up, who has been asleep for 15 minutes, to feed the baby. I have two choices now: sleep for 30 minutes or stay up. I choose the latter. This gives me time to tell her what has happened at work. (Example: well, the Dig South festival is in town, so a bunch of nerds came in and ordered dumb drinks, danced to the rap hits of 1992, and scared off my regulars.) I now get to stay up as long as I can, holding the baby, watching those TV shows I hate, and hoping that my wife (who I left home alone) can get a couple of hours of sleep before my amazing, beautiful poop monster wakes back up and wants to feed. Or I just hit a wall and need some sleep. Bless the women who have born and raised us. Bless the woman who is feeding my child. She’s the one really getting no sleep.