A few nights ago London, who started sleeping through the night months ago, woke up at 2 am. Admittedly, I was a bit angry at first. Aren’t we over this part? The answer most nights is yes, but that did not make it any easier to get up and feed her.
After I put London back in her crib, turned the oxygen back on, put her nasal cannula in, and compulsively checked the flow of oxygen, I asked Kate, “How did we function that first month after London was born when we would both get up every three hours back when you were pumping breast milk?”
“We were in survival mode,” Kate answered.
I guess I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Survival mode is a term I think of in a similar way as I used to think about PTSD. I just thought it applied to different situations from ours, even though what we went through is the most intense situation of my life.
Survival mode is exactly what enabled us to carry on. It turns out, we owe Noradrenaline (norepinephrine) a big thanks.
For a time we were able to survive on a few hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. If you asked me to do that right now, I would collapse midday.
Survival mode played a role in my curious ability during London’s NICU stay to forget about meals, mostly breakfast and lunch, if it was a particularly busy and stressful day at the hospital. Nowadays, I don’t forget about meals.
So, thanks noradrenaline for making the impossible possible. I will say, it would be nice to have higher concentrations of you around on those days I wish I could get by with just three hours of sleep, but I will forgive you for calming down and going away until I need you next.