When I was working on ships, I worked two four-hour shifts, with eight hours between them, every day, for the 180+ days I was on that ship. When we would come into port to pick up supplies, if we were in for more than 24 hours, we’d shift into “in port” watches. That meant I would work a shift of eight hours straight. Occasionally, we would be in port for a few weeks or longer. During these times I would work 3 days of the 1600-2400 shift (4pm to midnight), followed by 3 days of the 0800-1600 (8am to 4pm) shift, and 3 days of the 2400-0800 (midnight to 8am). Doubling back every 3 days (working 8 hours, being off 8 hours, and then going back to work for another 8 ) was tough. Between the schedules at sea and in port, working possibly 200 days without a day off, and dealing with whiny mariners, I felt well prepared to deal with the sleep deprivation of early motherhood. I also thought I was at least a little bit prepared to deal with whining and complaining from a kid.
What I didn’t realize was that when motherhood begins, you are totally sleep deprived before the baby even arrives, because of not being comfortable and having to get out of bed and pee every other hour. And after the baby arrives, you are on the biggest hormonal rollercoaster of your life to date. I had no clue whatsoever!