I'm not sure what I thought having a baby would be like, beyond lots of adorable snuggles and, sure, some sleep deprivation at the beginning. I've done a lot of babysitting. I have a sister who is almost eight years younger than me. I've been around some babies, is what I'm saying.
I think I envisioned a nice cosleeper attached to the bed where the baby would sleep quietly until he needed to nurse, and then I would pull him out and sweetly let him nurse while I stayed in bed, and then put him back, where he would sleep quietly again, satisfied.
We do not, I should note, have a cosleeper attached to the bed, so I'm not sure how my vague mental image could possibly have become reality.
We did have a bassinet that swiveled, so you could move it practically above the bed, and the side pressed down, so I could pull the baby out that way and sweetly let him nurse while I stayed in bed.
I could pull the baby out that way and sweetly let him nurse while I stayed in bed, that is, if I did not have a C-section, which I had, so I did not have the core strength to turn and lift him.
I could pull the baby out that way and sweetly let him nurse while I stayed in bed, that is, if he was any good at latching in his early days, which he was not, and I needed a light to see what he was doing and had to sit up with the nursing pillow to get him in exactly the right spot.
I could pull the baby out that way and sweetly let him nurse while I stayed in bed, that is, if nursing was enough to keep him fed, which it was not, thanks to my biology or his latch or the massive amounts of synthetic oxytocin they gave me after the birth to keep my uterus from staying full of blood that it was not ejecting, so he had to be supplemented with a bottle after every feeding, and he hated and fought the bottle. (Still does! Still hates the bottle! Even though most of his calories come via the bottle!)
So the first three months were an endless cycle of waking up to a screaming baby (this one ramps up fast), nursing for 20-30 min to try to build my supply, giving the baby a bottle (resulting in screaming), and then attempting to get the now-wide awake baby back to sleep. It took about an hour and a half, and then he woke up an hour and a half later.
I keep expecting it to get easier - it seems to have gotten easier for most parents with babies his age - and it has gotten easier, but it also sort of hasn't. He still doesn't sleep longer than maaaaaybe a 4-5 hour stretch at the beginning of the night, and then needs comforting at least once an hour after that, unless I pull him into bed with me and let him nurse as much as he wants the rest of the night. He naps about 45 min at a time, and only recently is that anywhere but in my arms. He knows what he needs, which is his mom or his dad, and he will scream until he gets that, day or night.
I keep joking that I should have screened the guys I dated for how they slept as babies, because I didn't sleep through the night until I was 9 months old... and J. not until he was two years old. Who knows how long this kid will need?
When people meet him now, they say, "He's the happiest baby!" And it's true. When this baby is happy, he is the happiest being on the planet. He loves people. He loves new faces. He loves new places. He loves the dog. Just keep him entertained, and he's the happiest baby.
Of course, when he's mad, he's the maddest being on the planet. You've never seen such a mad face in your entire life. It's all or nothing with this one.