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  • Anna Gates Ha

To a Writer, Whose Baby Will Not Sleep

Oh, mama. Things haven’t gone as you’ve planned, have they?

It’s eleven o’clock at night, and your baby has been screaming for the last three hours. You’ve gotten exactly seven hours of sleep over the last three nights, and your computer has been reassigned as the new cat bed. And, the thing is, you’ve sort of built a life—let’s be honest, many lives—inside your head. Some of them, you even put on paper, and these worlds, they feel neglected. They are being inhumanely neglected.

Maybe you thought writing and new parenthood would meld together, like two saplings planted closely together, becoming one knotted thing. Did you imagine yourself writing on maternity leave, peacefully bashing out a novel, while your baby snored in an electric swing?

Me, too.

And all those other mamas and their blogs?! So many blogs! “Write when the baby sleeps,” they write, except yours will not sleep unless attached to your nipple, and even if you enjoyed writing on your phone with one thumb, you can’t, because your phone is on the kitchen table, and you are on the couch, and if you move, your baby will wake up, and you will miss out on these precious minutes of silence when you can live inside your own head.

Mama, I hear you. And I know you’ve heard this before, but let me tell you, again, because I’ve been there and back. Your baby, I promise, will sleep.

And you will write, again.

It may be two days, or two months, or two years from now. But when that day comes, when he does sleep, when he begins to walk without needing your hand, when he begins to feel solid in whom he is, in whom he is becoming, you will remember the advice a writer once gave you (although, at the time, you did not like it): There are more important things than writing.

And when this makes sense, when this, in fact, becomes fodder for nourishing your self, your inner artist, which is different than the words you type, and when you have gotten enough sleep to see, to truly see, the world in front of you, then, dear mama, you will set those fingers to the keys, and you will find yourself new—with less ego and more lightness—and some of that old fear you felt will be gone, and in its place, a genuine search to find and be present for what is really here.

And the words will come.