Motherhood Slaps Me Upside the Head

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. 
Here are some recent pics of my beautiful baby girl, at exactly 2 months.  It's crazy how huge and pudgy she's gotten!  Already doubled her birth weight, and wearing 3-6 month clothes!  I guess my milk is quite nourishing, and that's good to know!  I think she looks like a mix of me and Joe now, she's not a mini-me anymore. 

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? 


Trista March 21, 2011 at 10:47 PM  

Oh Kristin! I'm sorry you've had a rough few weeks! You know I'm just a phone call away if you need anything...ANYTHING!!! Based on these recent pics of Siena, I would say you are doing a fantastic job of keeping your baby alive & well :-) She is so precious and I know being a mom won't be this hard all the least that's what I hear from the moms I know! Hugs!!!

Matt, Faith 'n' Liliana March 21, 2011 at 11:43 PM  

Kristin, she is ADORABLE! The emotions you're feeling are totally normal. I didn't get the baby blues, but I had my breakdown moments. If Liliana's fussiness/crying was too much to take, I would close her bedroom door (while she was in her crib), close the hallway door, and turn on music. If I had to do it over, I might have tried harder to make myself call a friend to take her for a little bit. She's only 2 1/2, but I vaguely remember whether she went through catnap stages. I do remember that I would put her on our bed and sleep next to her sometimes. I would also lay next to her until she was fully asleep, put pillows next to her on our bed, and then watch/listen to her on our baby video monitor. I'd mostly try to put her in her crib. She reached a point when she'd sleep for 1-2 hours and she can still nap for 2 hours.
I'm getting sleepy, so I hope some of that helped and made sense. :o) It does get easier, but each stage still has their challenging moments.

Gina March 22, 2011 at 7:50 AM  

Kristin!! Read this post this morning and honestly, I was moved to tears. Thank you for being so vulnerable and so open about motherhood! It is not as glamorous as it seems! Just wanted to let you know that you are in my thoughts and prayers today. You are loved!

P.S. Sienna is bea-u-ti-ful!!!

shelby March 22, 2011 at 7:53 AM  

Hey Kristin,

Don't put to much pressure on your self, your doing the best you can and sounds like you doing even more. You sound like an AMAZING MOM!
Once you get one phase down with her she'll change and you have to figure out a new phase. and it will always be changing.
I never worried about nap schedules when my kids were little. They were on my schedule. They slept when and where ever they fell asleep.
It will get better, your a new mom and still trying to figure it out, im a mom of only 7 years and I'm still trying to figure it out!
SOme days are good and great other are little more challenging. you just have to try your best every day.
And knowing you your going to give all of your self every day.
Just dont be to hard on your self!

sara March 22, 2011 at 10:07 AM  

I hear you on the sleep thing! There are so many different "right" ways to do it, and I am doing them all wrong.

And yes, showering is often my favorite part of the day. Sometimes I take two showers.

(I'll email you when I have some time. Ronan has introduced me to a whole new world now that he's a speedster crawler!)

Rachel March 22, 2011 at 11:01 AM  

Oh, Kris! I'm so sorry you're having a rough time right now! You are a wonderful mother, so don't doubt yourself. Siena is so lucky to have you. You're allowed to be exhausted and frustrated and confused sometimes. I think it comes with the territory. You have to give Siena what she needs, but you also need to get what you need.

Maybe I sound like a horrible person (and I have zero experience, obvs), but have you tried letting her cry it out when she gets tired, just to see if she'll eventually fall asleep?

We should arrange something soon, for all the girls to get together. Just let me know what works best for you (your place, someone else's place, a restaurant, anything).

Kirkette March 22, 2011 at 10:22 PM  

If you need a break, or someone to do dishes/ keep baby occupied so you can have some time to yourself, please give me a call. Really, we'll be there just let me know.

I quickly learned to avoid baby books. All they do is spark fear so the reader will buy more books.

Lacey March 24, 2011 at 1:28 AM  

Ugh -- I have not read a book that has helped me yet :-) You are doing a great job by the sounds of it. I had visions of being this awesome, capable, on-the-go, take my baby everywhere mother and it just didn't happen. I had to readjust to staying at home way more than I'd anticipated and rocking my baby to sleep far more than what felt like it was healthy.

But you know, the stage lifted! My baby now puts herself to sleep without too much fuss and is a delight. My mantra? Nothing lasts forever! You will turn a corner, for sure.

Nga March 24, 2011 at 3:11 PM  

Kristen, you're doing an amazing job! Just look at your sweet, adorable, happy baby! I went through the same thing with my boy, Christian. I realized it got better when I didn't let him fall asleep in my arms, but put him down, drowsy, to fall asleep on his own. Keep it up! You're doing fantastic! Good luck :)

christina {simply modern weddings} March 24, 2011 at 5:21 PM  

krissy you are such an amazing person and mommy!! and sienna is looking beautiful & healthy as you are doing something right over there!

i don't have any mommy advice, but please know that you can always call me...when you need a fresh air break, someone to chat too, anything! i am here for you girlie!

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