My husband and I began sharing nighttime shifts when Abe was 5 weeks old. David came home one day from work and I was a used dish rag on the floor with Abe, crying and probably rocking back and forth like a mental patient. My husband had just begun giving our son bottles that week and I incoherently explained to him that he would now be giving Abe a bottle during one night feeding so I could sleep. Swiftly he realized his wife had been diminished to a babbling pile of milk ducts, so he agreed.
Nights at our house then: Dave came home at 5:30 while Erin was finishing dinner. We'd sit down, watch a tivoed show or just chat at the dinner table with dogs at our feet and wine glasses full. After dinner we'd clean the kitchen and catch up on house projects, movies, or maybe a nice long walk with the dogs. We'd get in bed around 10 and read for a half an hour or so before hitting the hay. Sometimes on a weekend or special week night we'd go out to dinner with friends of maybe catch a movie!
Nights at our house now: I feed/fight with Abe through his crankiest hours until about 8:30pm when he finally begins to give in to exhaustion. I feed him one last time, swaddle him, and put him in his crib by 9pm. I rush to brush my teeth and get into bed so that I am sleeping while he is sleeping. I put in my ear plugs and this begins first shift. (We trade off first shift every other night.) At around 1am, sometimes earlier if it's a crummy night, I am woken up by David informing me that Abe is squealing into the monitor. I take out my earplugs, walk upstairs and put the pacifier back into his mouth and fall asleep in the bed in Abe's room. I usually wake up once or twice more to put the pacifier into his mouth before he actually wakes up to eat. Between 2 and 4am, Abe eats while simultaneously sleeping for about 20 minutes. Once he's back in his crib, I then walk back downstairs and get a bottle ready and set it on the counter. I go back to bed and put my earplugs back in. Second shift has begun. David gets up between 4 and 6am when Abe, again, announces he's hungry. He walks to the kitchen and gets the bottle I've prepared and walks upstairs. Most nights he trips or stumbles up the stairs and wakes up the dogs. He feeds Abe several ounces and then changes his diaper. This is when he begins to pray that Abe has not peed through his diaper. If he has, he then changes his entire outfit while repeating, "Please don't wake up, please don't wake up." He gives Abe the rest of the bottle and puts him into the crib. Then he comes back downstairs and gets back into bed. And finally, at 7:30am, he wakes me up to tell me he is getting ready for work and I have to take out my ear plugs to listen for Abe. Every. Single. Night.