Because Life Is Full Of Hills And Valleys
I can honestly say that nothing could have prepared me for just how intense sleepless nights with a baby could be. I’ve always been a big fan of sleep (who isn’t, right?) But now that I’ve had two babies who have gone through sleep regressions and teething and growth spurts and general “I don’t feel like sleeping, let’s play at 2am”, I can say that the middle of the night hourly wake up struggle is SO real. My son is about to turn 6 months, and right on schedule, his sleep started to get all crazy again. Gone were the beautiful 3-5 hour chunks of sleep. Hello hourly wake up and me crying into my pillow because all I want to do is sleep without a toddler telling me about her nightmare or a baby wanting to nurse throughout the night. And don’t get me wrong, I love my children and would do anything in the world for them. Anything! But when it’s 1am and the largest chunk of sleep I’ve gotten is a half hour, I say some pretty off the wall stuff.
I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: I always aim to be as honest as possible in my blog. So let me break it down for you. The last two weeks of my horrible, hourly wake up interrupted sleep, I have done all of these things (not in consecutive order): I have screamed into my pillow, cried into my pillow, bit my pillow to keep from screaming, cried on my husband’s shoulder about how I just want to sleep, demanded my baby to sleep more than an hour (he promptly teethed on my shoulder and shut that notion down), coaxed my toddler to fall asleep after hearing about how a bear was coming after me 16 times in a row, debated just staying in my clothes because there is no point getting in my pajamas if I’m awake all night, deliriously fantasized about how if I just was in a hotel room all to myself and my husband had the kids I could sleep all night by myself and not feel like death warmed over the next day. So yeah, as you can see, a whole lot of emotions come out when you are delirious and exhausted and insanely sleep deprived. I went to church yesterday and burst into tears when a song was sung about giving your worries up to God. Picture me, rocking my almost 20 pound baby in my Ergo carrier, full blown tears streaming down my face, and when someone asked if I was ok I’d just say “I’m fine! Just tired!”.
So here’s the thing: I was talking to a friend about it and she pointed out “Yes, you have every right to be this tired, but please remember it’s only for a season”. And for some reason this really resonated with me. It IS only for a season. And somewhere in the back my sleep deprived brain, I know that! My almost 3 year old was the queen of hourly to two hourly wake ups. Hate to be Debbie Downer, but she did this for a year straight. That’s right. One. Entire. YEAR. I apparently blocked this out because now that I’m back in the thick of it, sometimes I just feel like there’s just no end in sight. That there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, and that I’ll just be a sleep deprived cranky zombie for the rest of my life. But then I look at my older child and I see how she sleeps through the entire night. Yes, occasionally she’ll have a nightmare and want to crawl in bed with us, but to be honest, it is rare.
So I just want to say for all of you moms and dads that are exhausted: It’s ok and you’re not alone. There are SO many other parents that are going through exactly what you are going through. You have done nothing wrong. This isn’t something that you have caused. There is nothing wrong with you or your sleep avoiding child. And of course, you will undoubtedly hear from other people “Is your baby sleeping through the night? My baby is and she’s only 3 months!” Or “Oh you poor thing, did you know So-and-so’s baby sleeps in until 8?” I feel like these type of unhelpful, passive aggressive comments are rude, annoying, and spiteful. What are we supposed to say to that? “Oh hallelujah! Can you tell my baby that? Maybe once he knows your perfect baby is doing that, he can get on board too! Thank goodness you so helpfully pointed that out to me, as I’m standing here, swaying from utter exhaustion in mismatched shoes and eyeliner on just one eye because the pencil broke and I’m too tired to hunt for a new one. Seriously, how could I have gone on with my day without hearing this asinine and annoying as hell comparison?”
Just, keep on doing your own thing. Parenting shouldn’t be a competition. Or a comparison. No one is going to win a “best parenting award”. Just like there isn’t some magical sleeping through the night baby who is going to win a “best sleeper” award. Let’s be just try to be kind to each other. Let’s support each other. Let’s work on building each other up instead of tearing someone else down. I can almost guarantee you that no one will ever say “Oh that’s so good to know, tell me more about your perfect baby!” upon hearing that someone else’s baby is sleeping through the night, after just expressing how tired they are. And that’s not to say you can’t talk or brag about your child, but there’s also a time and a place. Just remember that this won’t last forever, it’s only a season, and it’s ok to be frustrated and exhausted. Take time for yourself, try to nap when baby naps, invest in some good quality coffee and hang in there. You’ve totally got this.
*Note: upon writing this piece, the next night my son only woke up 3 times instead of his usual 8-10 he had been doing 2 weeks in a row. It WILL get better. Just hang in there and know that there are always hills and valleys in life. I’m enjoying this hill for today, but tonight could be another valley. Just take each day at a time.