I thought I had my thirties all worked out. I got married, bought a house, started a business (a side-hustle while working a full-time job to keep the dollars rolling in) and had a baby. Sure, a few years in, my marriage was not exactly what I pictured it was going to be, the house was seriously hard work and financial stress began taking its toll, but that’s what adulting looks like, isn’t it?
When anything went wrong I could always find the silver lining. Think positively and it will all work out, right?
I was in for the shock of my life.
Nothing had prepared me for what my reality was about to become.
In 2010, I had my son Isaac. A few weeks later, his dad moved interstate for work. We would be lucky to see him one weekend a month. Our already strained marriage was about to become seriously tested.
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The newborn stage was a blur of sleep deprivation and learning what this little piece of delicious needed from me.
It became sink or swim in trusting intuition.
I was not blessed with a ‘sleeper’. I was, however, blessed with a mostly easy breastfeeding experience. Which as it turned out was lucky in ways I could never have imagined at the time.
In August, my six-month-old baby had an anaphylactic reaction to dairy. I had tried him on formula when he was about three months old, in the hope that it might help him sleep longer. Maybe what I was giving him wasn’t enough? He took the bottle without any problem, once a day for a week.
Then, on day number eight he refused, pursing his lips shut. Cemented shut. He never took the bottle again, no matter what I tried.
So at six months, beyond exhausted from the accumulated nights of sleep deprivation, I added some formula to his rice cereal, hoping to bulk it up and maybe give us both the good night sleep we so desperately needed.
Listen: The Sleep Whisperer shares some sanity saving tips on teaching your baby to self-settle. (Post continues after audio.)
I’d had a particularly tough couple of days. I hadn’t even managed a shower. From a two showers a day woman to a shell of my former self. The smile I plastered on my face for the world to see disguised the desperate pain I loaded myself with inside. My mother had always spoken of how much she loved being a mum of four. She’d told us that when we were little was the best time of her life. I really wasn’t feeling like this was the best time of my life. Deeply in love with this little sleep deprivation machine yes, but not feeling like it was the best time of my life.
My eldest sister Simone has five children, my other sister Wendy had two, and here I was not coping with one.
The day in question started like all the others, me bleary-eyed after seeing every hour on the clock, again, and Isaac pretty much screaming unless he was feeding or I was holding him.
By the time a knock on the door came mid-afternoon, it was safe to say I was a basket-case.