Whew, this past week the lack of sleep really caught up to me…
I’ve been having a hard time going back to sleep after the middle of the night feeds and it’s not always easy for me to fall asleep for naps throughout the day. On Saturday, after a blurry day of random feedings and naps (hers, not mine – because I chose to shower and wash my hair instead of nap at one point) I lost it. I spent much of the afternoon sobbing to Jeremiah and my dad about how tired I was and thinking about how I wanted to die. It didn’t help that Jeremiah and I both had gotten a cold at some point on Friday – thankfully not Covid! But that did not help the not sleeping and crying part, since it made it very hard to breathe. Junie not napping well (or without being held), her sleep in general, and my sleep in general are apparently very triggering topics for me, and hearing her cries get louder and louder because I don’t know what she wants often makes me shut down.
So that’s been my last few days. Saturday night and last night Junie actually slept pretty well at night, but again it’s been hard for me to fall back asleep when I wake up wondering why she hasn’t woken up to eat yet. I really hope Saturday marks the lowest of lows for me and that things can look up from here, because that really was a deep, deep low. Truthfully, the lack of sleep may be contributing to postpartum depression, but when I do get more sleep I feel more able to control my emotions so is it just a continuation of baby blues? Postpartum anxiety? A mild case of postpartum depression? Unsure where I am on this mental health spectrum. We’ve been trying to figure out how to have me talk to someone, but that itself is a whole process. Thank God for Jeremiah and my parents who have been very kindly supporting me during these trying times and not judging me when I am literally curled up on the floor crying (but at least with clean hair). And for holding Junie, playing with her, getting her to sleep…
I think there are a couple of things that I can attempt to do right away to help myself out.
- Google less things, and not read too many social media captions on how to get baby to sleep and feed better. Googling nonstop has been a bad habit since day one. Sometimes it’s helpful to google something, and then google that same thing but add “reddit” at the end just to confirm that other people are either going through the same thing or have many different experiences – but for the most part I think this has just contributed to me having too many expectations. I will try and remember that every baby is unique.
- Focus on the bigger picture. Junie had her wellness checkin, and is growing well (almost 11 pounds! No wonder my forearms hurt…) That is what is important! Jeremiah often tells me that Junie is doing great, and I have to keep telling myself that too. And I know it’s cliche, but even when it’s 5am and I am super tired, seeing her smile at me (directly at me!) makes everything feel… slightly more worth it.
- Remember to use cushions and back support when feeding. A small thing, but something that I think actually makes a big difference.. I had stopped using the My Brest Friend/Boppy pillows a couple weeks ago because it was such a hassle to wedge myself into the chair with the pillows and set everything up, especially when trying to balance a crying baby in one arm while making sure she doesn’t fling herself off that very arm. But as she got heavier and heavier, I didn’t realize how much of a strain it was on my upper back, chest, and forearms. This led to me not wanting to hold her to sleep because it just hurt so much, which in turn led to more resentment and tiredness. Thankfully my parents and Jeremiah have held Junie for her naps the last couple of days so my forearms are no longer sore, and Cathy gave me free OT advice on how to stretch out and relax my tendons.
Sam asked me the other day how I was doing physically, mentally and emotionally, and while answering him, I realized that as an enneagram 5, not knowing what Junie wants or what is best for her is very, very hard for me. I don’t want to use the enneagram/personality types as an excuse for my behavior, but it was insightful (and maybe embarrassing?) to remember that my issues with control and not knowing things cover more things than just raising and taking care of Juniper. So that’s something I can work on too.
I really really hope that my baby-related posts are not making people feel differently about having kids!! Honestly, I can barely remember what it was like 6 weeks ago when we first brought Junie home from the hospital and the sleepless nights then. So I’m sure in a few weeks, I will not remember the craziness of this 7th week as well. And like I wrote last week, I want to do my best to try and savor this time while she is still small and discovering the world around her. She’s getting more fun every day when she is awake – smiling at us and cooing at us. Her favorite phrase is “ah-gung”. She loves to kick her feet and stretch and have independent play time – which is actually really great!
Have to keep the big picture in mind…