Motherhood is one of the most giving things you can do but it is almost one of the most challenging. Everyone tells you about the pain when giving birth, the tiredness, the fact you will never have fully have alone time again. But what about the other challenges of motherhood? What about the roller coaster of emotions of trying to find the answers to problems that don’t really have answers, like sleeping. But then at the top of these hills when you are not experiencing mummy guilt you are so elated that you’ve cracked it. Feeling like you’ve cracked an aspect, and then a couple of days, a week, a couple of weeks later the baby decides ‘Nah, this is boring’ and moves the goal post again. And you are left there like ‘mmmm, what’s just happened?’. Worrying that you aren’t doing enough for your baby and failing at being a mother, because you are always chasing the high of feeling like you know what you’re doing.
My daughter (PJ) has never been a ‘sleeper’ before lockdown she was a serial cat napper and was up 3x a night. I’m a breastfeeding mummy, and my partner doesn’t do getting out of bed at stupid o’clock, so those feeds were all mine. But then, out of the blue, she slept 3 nights with only 2 wake-ups, I couldn’t believe my luck. I tried not to get my hopes up that I was on the cusp of having a full night’s sleep. And then!! We had a couple of nights of only one wake up a night, but then, but then, we went back to 3 feeds a night. Of course, the first thing I did was to blame myself. I saw it as a failure that potentially PJ’s sleep had gone backwards, especially from the high I was on. So for a day or so I was in a slump, wondering what had changed, wondering what I had done wrong. Had I got her naps wrong, was I not feeding her enough, solids and/or breast milk. I mentioned how I felt to my partner and he just reminded me what my Health Visitor said during one of her visits, that something changes in a baby every 3 days. We might not notice it but some thing about her, physically or mentally has changed. I get he might find this helpful but for me its not an answer. In times like this I’m looking for an answer, I want to know what’s changed, why has her sleep changed and how do I get it back to how it was? Also with the worry of is this just a blip or has she actually resorted back.
It turned out, it was only a blip and now constantly she is only waking 2x a night. With the occasional 3 times. I am still hoping that I will have more nights where she only wakes just the once in the night. But for that 24 hours I was really second guessing myself. What had I changed? What could I change? Did I do something wrong? Did I forget something? Did I miss something? I asked all these questions on repeat. Why do I do this to myself? Why is it as soon as something is not normal or in the ordinary for our baby, the mum automatically blames herself. Being a mother is so much more than hard work, it’s tiring, it’s time consuming, you lose your personal identity then there’s the mum guilt but there is also the feeling of overwhelming pride and happiness when your baby does something new and you want to shout it from the roof tops ‘my baby climbed into the shower today’. It is all consuming and so many times a week we might wonder why we have we done this to ourselves but the thought we probably have more ‘where is time going? She’s growing up too fast’. And we probably wouldn’t change a thing. Apart maybe more sleep ;-)