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.