Sleep(less)

I didn’t write about it for fear of jinxing things, but right around the holidays Charlotte’s sleep suddenly improved. She slept through the night on two separate occasions, and on a normal night she was only waking once—sometimes twice. Those of you with babies who sleep well probably think that still sounds awful, but remember—I was getting up with her 3-4 times a night prior to that (and 5-6 times prior to that!). 1-2 wake ups was heaven for me.

I started to notice some changes in myself. I was less anxious. Less uptight. It was easier for me to let things go. The holidays were enjoyable even though we spent them running around from point a to point b. Normally that alone would have had me on edge. But I wasn’t. I was having fun.

I don’t have to tell you that the first 9 months of Charlotte’s life were exceptionally hard for me. Mentally, I was a wreck. I should have sought medical help, but I was in denial.

I also had a baby who despite our best efforts often wouldn’t sleep longer than 45-60 minutes at a time for a very long time. The most common reaction I get when I mention that is, “Wow—you must have been so tired.”

Yes. I was. We were. But for me, the side effects of extended sleep deprivation didn’t end with exhaustion.

Sleep deprivation intensified the postpartum issues I was experiencing. My anxiety was through the roof. It was like anxiety and depression were fighting for the little space left in my brain. Sleep deprivation took a situation that would have been difficult all on its own and made it downright impossible.

I mention this now because Charlotte hasn’t really slept since Thursday night. That’s four nights of bad sleep that’s getting progressively worse each night. Last night, I was up with her somewhere between 6-8 times—I honestly lost count. This morning, Catch hugged me goodbye and I started to cry.

In that moment, I felt desperate. Hopeless. Anxious.

What are we going to do? I can’t live like this. Is she ever going to sleep again? Is it really just the teething or is this a bigger problem? How am I going to get through the day? Is this my fault? Do I need to wean her? What did we do to deserve this? Why did we do this to ourselves?

That’s four nights of reasonably severe sleep deprivation talking—nights where I get about an hour of sleep and then I’m up for 20-30 mins. Then down for maybe an hour and up again. Four NIGHTS. And yet there I was at Christmas time in 2015—a period of time that stands out as being exceptionally low—and I’d been dealing with Charlotte’s sleep problems for five MONTHS. Then six months. Then seven… you get the picture.

In hindsight, I can look back and say it’s no wonder.

Now that I’m awake and caffeinated, it’s much easier for me to have a bit of perspective over this latest round of sleep trouble. I know it’s not going to last forever. I know she’s hurting and she just wants comfort. I felt that lump under her gums this morning and shuddered. It sucks (for all of us) but it will pass.

I know it’s probably going to be a challenge to keep my shit together over the next several days. (And my in laws arrive this afternoon for a 4-5 day visit, so…) I’m hoping that this revelation about sleep and my mental health will help me cope.

What would well-rested Molly do?

I think I need to make that my mantra until we all start sleeping again.

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16 thoughts on “Sleep(less)

  1. Oh friend I am so sorry! You should message me when you are up. Mine think its play time from 2-5 AM. When I am BEGGING 2 20 month old children to please just go to sleep I think what the hell is going on?!? Hang in there. We will all make it through but until then let there be LOTS AND LOTS of coffee.

  2. Oh no!! Hang in there… I can’t help you to get more sleep or to prevent the negative mental consequences of sleep deprivation, but I can tell you that you aren’t alone at the moment… Avery’s going through the 4 month sleep regression. Normally a 2-3 times per night waker, she has been waking every 45 min to an hour for the past 2 weeks. I’m also finding it hard to hold my shit together. I know you’ve been through this all before so you know this – but it’s only temporary. Just gotta get through this phase… Good luck!

  3. I honest to god have no idea how you’ve been functioning with such little sleep for so long. I admire you for surviving it, not that you’ve had much choice, but still.
    I wish I had advice, but I have absolutely non. Just know that I am thinking of you and sending my love and hope for more sleep immediately!

  4. I feel you. 21 months over here and singing the same song. And the anxiety you describe? It’s the worst when your kid actually sleeps for 6 hours straight as u wake up with a horrified gasp and run to their room because obviously something is wrong. Of course baby is fine but now mama all amped up and unable to sleep. It’s maddening. I like your mantra, stealing. ☕️

    • Yes! I have been known to zoom in on the monitor in the middle of the night because she’s just been too quiet! And then, like you said, I’m wide awake. Even on the rare occasion she sleeps well these days, it’s like my body has forgotten how to sleep and I still wake every couple of hours.

  5. Awareness is so good here! I’m not just glad you had good sleep for itself, but also for the realization that comes with it. If
    depression lies (as the mantra goes) then sleep deprivation twists the truth. I like your mantra. Good luck with the latest round. Like Gloria Gaynor reminds you, you will survive.

  6. Wolfie has never been what anyone would consider a “good” sleeper. I sometimes wonder why I feel like crap all the time, and then remember I haven’t had a single good night’s sleep in 18 months. We usually get one good stretch of 3 hours or so at the beginning of the night, but then he’s usually up every 1-2 hours after that.

    Co-sleeping saves us a little. Because when I say he’s “up”, it’s usually that he wants to roll over, latch on, and we can both drift back to sleep. He’s not usually awake for long, and I’m not actually having to get up. But still, having your sleep interrupted every hour for half of your night isn’t totally good for your well-being.

    Then there’s the nights when he tosses and turns for two hours straight, or more. Those are the hard ones. They mostly happen when he’s teething, which he’s been doing almost constantly for the last 6 months. Sometimes in the middle of the night, when he’s been nursing (and playing with the opposite nipple) for an hour or more, it’s really hard to keep my shit together.

    So basically what I’m trying to say is… solidarity, girl.

  7. Ugggh. I’m so so so so so so sorry. This makes me feel like such an ASS for my fb post the other day. I’m sure you mentally bitch slapped me for that one. i’m PRAYING for you that it gets better IMMEDIATELY.

    • Haha… I promise I didn’t mentally bitch slap you! She’s actually really easy to get to sleep (most of the time–knock wood) so I count my blessings for that. Thanks, friend. ❤

  8. Friend, I love you…and Ihope this sleep situation gets better for all of you soon. I don’t have any advice, but I did want to say, TheLadyKing and I have our own mantra for dealing with what seems like a million kids at any given second, ” It wont always be like this! It wont always be like this! It won’t always be like this!” We may not miss the sleep deprivation we feel right now, but in 8-10 years when we have preteens who would rather play video games or their friends, those 3am snuggles are gonna be so, so missed. Hindsight though…

    • I think hindsight basically rules parenting. But I’m with you on that mantra! I can’t count how many times we’ve said that to each other! I do try to just soak up the baby snuggles… like you said, someday I’m going to miss them like crazy. They grow so damn fast.

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