Let me tell you how I feel about sleep.
I love it. It makes me a nicer person. Please give me 8 hours + a night and I will be a better person for it. I think I have pulled two all nighters (not including labor – lets be honest – those are different kind of all nighters) my entire life, and I felt wretched for days as I recovered from the lack of sleep. Naps are also a glorious thing. Period. Sleep is wonderful.
In year two of my daughter’s life, I was anticipating more and better sleep than I had the previous two years. Although pregnancy lends itself to exhaustion (creating a small human and all) – feeling good, not peeing every two hours and finding a comfortable position to sleep in, can be a challenge. Everyone knows that year one is a haze, even if you have a miracle baby that sleeps through the night at month 2. So yes, I was excited as baby girl got older and began sleeping in larger chunks.
Tangent: Year 1 for baby girl was actually pretty good for sleep (please don’t hate me). We breastfed and did the every two hour feed thing for a while. We did a stint with a co-sleeper side car. And then at month four sleep regression, we moved her out to her own room, discovered a fantastic contraption called a zipadeezip and my partner and I eventually slept in the same bed together at month 6. I think that all of this didn’t seem so bad because we went 6 days or so without sleep while laboring and in the hospital after a c-section. So when I finally got in our own bed, not pregnant, sans IV, without wonderful (though persistent, and if we can be honest, a little annoying) nurses checking in on me – any sleep seemed glorious. My partner was also amazing – after paternity leave, he still insisted on changing her diaper multiple times at night and handing her over to be nursed.
All this being said – I love to sleep. It is a glorious and very important thing.
Tangent 2: I recently saw a friend (who just had a baby) post this article from themotherish.com – We are torturing new mothers and then wondering why they get mentally ill. – a fascinating read on how sleep deprivation is used as a torturing tool and we need to find better ways as a culture to support new moms. YES. I have lots of thoughts on getting lost in year 1 and how we need community and support and change for mums. To be continued.
So a month or two ago, baby girl decided she was done and weaned completely. I knew it was coming. I was ok with it. For the most part… But now we’ve entered back into “the cycle” and the hormones are unlevel again, and its all weird and mixed up in there. Pregnancy, birth, nursing and mothering – its a wild ride y’all. This, coupled with the anxiety and nerves of traveling with an infant and Christmas, and the night before our trip – I just laid there. I thought – SLEEP. SLEEP. I counted. I tried to relax all parts of my body starting with my small toe. I took a shower. At 4:30, I got up and watched old Doctor Who episodes because I thought I was going to lose my mind. At 6, I woke up my daughter and tried to mentally prepare myself to travel across the country without any sleep.
I did it. And I was a fairly decent person. I was also not alone – my partner was there and he had slept and he was great. We get there. That night I lay down. And I think – SLEEP. SLEEP. At 4:00 I go downstairs at my MIL’s house and fall asleep (THANK GOD) on the couch for 4 hours.
And since then it has been touch and go with this sleep thing. It’s a strange beast. I have never struggled with sleep – I’ve always been one of those – lay in bed, think about my day, go make sure the door’s locked, lay back down and pass out kind of people (15 minutes tops). And now, every couple of days I have these bouts of insomnia and I feel a little off kilter for a few days as I pull myself out of the hole that is exhaustion (+anxiety +depression +hormones). Side note: feeling great today. Two nights of actual decent night sleep and I feel like a new person.
So I’m not pushing it, y’all. I’m asking for help, I’m giving myself grace, and I fortunately have an encouraging partner, a few good friends and time to take a nap here and there and grab a coffee to tie me over.
All this to say 3 or 4 things.
- Being a parent is hard.
- Go reach out to a new or not so new mom. They could use a coffee. Or a pizza. Or a hug.
- I’m so sorry if you suffer from chronic insomnia. Yowza. Ask for help, loves.
- Give yourself some grace.
I think thats a big part of where I’m at right now. Learning what to let slide and what to focus in on. Giving myself grace on accomplishing all of the “things” and learning how to take care of myself so that I can take care of others. Not a common mantra for women unfortunately. And it feels a little weird saying it out loud. It reminds me of this mural I pass every week –
So on this beautiful Saturday, I encourage you – Take care of yourself, then help others.