There is really no way to describe the depth of the sleep debt you reach as a new parent. I try to explain to client the exhaustion that comes with parenting, but there is nothing to compare it to.
As a pregnant young women I thought to myself, oh I partied hard in my 20's I got up.and went to work all hung over all the time. I can do this! Boy was I misguided.
Now at first it's not that bad at all. Brand new newborns are cute and sleep all the time. They may wake up every couple hours to eat, but they go back to sleep easily and aren't all that interested in interacting with the world.
Then they grow, hit developmental leaps which keep them from wanting to sleep. They just wanna practise their skills all...the...time. Then just as you feel you can't handle it anymore they sleep really great for a few days, and the cycle repeats.
I get asked all the time "when will this get better?", " when do babies str sleeping through the night?" and the only answer I have is, with my tongue in cheek "I'll let you know".
Seriously though some kids sleep through early and are born sleepers. In all honesty the odds aren't good. Out of 4 kids we got ONE sleeper. We didn't do anything different with any of our kids. He slept 7 hours straight when he was 2 months old. Miracle baby! We lulled us into having our third baby, who is, still to this day, our worst sleeper. (Insert snoring noise)
Just a few weeks ago I was with a client who was in the depth of harsh 4th trimester exhaustion say to me. He's only getting 4 hour stretches once a night. Then up every couple hours! Now being a professional I showed her empathy and commiserated. Inside I was envious as my 2 year old was in a similar pattern. I was working in just 3 hours TOTAL sleep that day, thanks to teething. I wanted to tell her "yep, just wait 3-4 more years and you'll start getting now sleep!" But in the trenches of the 4th trimester that is the last thing you would want to hear.
While I do agree that the years are short, the flip side is that the days are long and the sleep deprivation (memory loss, fussy headed, zombie mommy-ness) is real and we can complain about it! Darn right I'm gonna look for someone to commiserate with!
To everyone who lucked out with magic sleeping babies. You are lucky and often the exception! Other parents aren't doing it wrong they just got a normal baby.
So heres too all the sleep deprived parents out there. I see you!