Monday, March 21, 2011
I've been absent, I know! Just as I thought motherhood was getting easier at around the 3 or 4 week mark, week 6 marked a change in her sleeping habits and a return of the "baby blues".
Supposedly 70% or so of first time moms experience the baby blues, or a mild form of postpartum depression. It usually begins a few days after the birth, and tapers off around week 2 or 3. That's exactly what happened to me. It is so hard to explain what I was feeling those first few weeks. Let's just say, at one point I wanted to give my baby away. I wept every single night as soon as the sun went down, just knowing the night would be soooo long. I cried as I breastfed, not just because it hurt, but because I thought I was doing it all wrong and that we'd never get the hang of it. My back and shoulders ached because they were so tense. And you don't even want to know the things I told myself in my head- that I was a horrible mother, that I would never get used to this, that Siena was so unlucky to have me, that this was the end of my life.
Suddenly at 10 days the anxiety began to lift a bit, and by 2 weeks I felt happy to be a mom. I was taking long walks with her in the sling, meeting friends for lunch, and sweet little Siena was usually happy to come along for the ride, zoning out in the sling or carrier.
Then 6 weeks hit, and Siena became more aware of the world. Other moms assured me that 6 weeks would be a positive turning point for me, when she might give me a big grin and connect to me more. Yes, she started smiling and showing interest in her toys, which was so much fun for me. But at the same time, this began the "I won't nap for longer than 30 minutes even though I'm so tired that my eyes are bloodshot and I'm fussy as all heck!" stage. She emerged from her newborn daze, and now it's nearly impossible to get her to nap when she's clearly tired. It's like I have this magic window of 5 minutes to rock her to sleep, and if I miss it, then she's already caught a second wind, only she's grumpy and miserable from being tired. It's been hard, y'all!
I've read maybe 5 or 6 sleep books, and all of them make me feel like the most cruel mom for not being able to make my daughter get the daytime sleep she needs. Remind me to stop reading books! I've asked advice from many friends, and they all have different strategies. Some say I need a concrete bedtime and nap schedule. Some say she's just a small baby and there is no way to form a schedule yet, just read her cues and do what she says. Some say this whole catnap business is just a phase that will pass, and some say it is the beginning of bad habits and sleep problems if I don't do something about it right now! Talk about pressure, right?
All this has led to a reemergence of the baby blues, and I've got it bad. Like clockwork, at 6:30 pm I'm a weepy mess. That happens to be the time when Joe comes home from a long day of work. Instead of a happy wife and baby, he comes home to me crying and a very tired, somewhat fussy baby. She still sleeps pretty well at night, thank goodness! Usually giving me a 6-8 hour stretch of sleep, and going back to sleep pretty quickly after her night waking. Yes, I know I'm blessed!
So I'm begging my friends and family, please take it easy on me the next few weeks/months/however long this phase lasts. Please understand if I haven't called you back. Please understand if I need to cancel plans with you because I'm rocking my daughter to sleep, praying for her nap to last longer than 30 minutes. Please understand if I need to leave the restaurant early to try to get Siena to sleep at a decent hour, since she's not as on-the-go as I hoped she would be, and getting her the rest she needs is my #1 priority. Please understand if I burst out into tears randomly, or if I don't seem grateful enough for this beautiful, sweet, lovely infant God has given me. I'm really trying!
Some things that have helped me feel a little better each day:
- reminding myself that there is no perfect baby, no perfect mom, and no perfect childrearing strategy
- reminding myself that babies go through lots of phases, and the one I'm in will not last forever. (ie, I remember when breastfeeding was such a huge issue for me, and now it's not so bad at all.)
- taking a shower every day with my favorite shampoo and body wash (simple pleasures, right?)
- praying in the rocking chair while I let Siena sleep on me (I can get her to sleep a little longer if I'm holding her.)
- talking to other moms who assure me what I'm going through is normal
- listening to a lullaby cd while I rock Siena to sleep- the music is really cheesy, but the songs are all about how God created this perfect tiny being and made me a steward of her. It's a wonderful reminder!
- my husband, who talks me off the cliff every night, cooks dinner, and makes sure I'm taking my vitamins.
- reminding myself that as long as she's still breathing at the end of the day, I haven't failed. Actually, I do have to admit she's thriving in every way, besides the occasional overtired fussy periods. And she's entitled to some fussiness I guess! She rarely cries, and is pretty mello for the most part.
A few questions to all you mommies, did you ever experience the baby blues? Also, when did you feel like motherhood was getting easier? Ever? Lastly, did your baby ever go through a catnap stage where they couldn't get themselves back to sleep after 30 minutes?