She once wrote about how she was happy to share stolen moments with her baby in the middle of the night. But then…
It was a bright and beautiful afternoon. The sun was out, not a cloud in the sky and the children in the park across the road were playing chases. Not that I knew any of this. I was inside, still in my pajamas trying to get my baby to sleep. I banged my head hard against his cot in frustration.
Fast forward a few days.
It was midnight. I was sitting on my bed trying to feed my baby a bottle of expressed milk. He didn’t want it. He also didn’t want to go to sleep, and nothing I could do would make him close his eyes. I threw the bottle across the room in frustration.
Fast forward a few more days.
It was 6am. I had been awake since 2am trying to get my baby to sleep. I was sitting in front of the fireplace in a recliner arm chair, ABC kids had just started on TV. My baby finally drifted off to sleep. I didn’t dare move. I slept sitting up right in that recliner for another hour and a half until he woke up. I was exhausted. Utterly exhausted…
I once wrote a blog about how happy I was my baby didn’t sleep through that night. I loved the sense of closeness those night feeds brought us. Just bub and I, sitting up feeding while the world slept around us. I longed to be that person again. But I didn’t resemble her. Not now.
I was sleep deprived. I understand now, if only in a small way, how sleep deprivation can be a form of torture. It is hard.
“I walked around with a forced smile”
Usually I am calm, understanding, empathic, tolerant, friendly, approachable. Sleep deprived, I am cranky, short, irritable, intolerant, and walk around with a forced smile on my face. I never knew this person existed. If I’m honest, it frightened me. It made me sad.
It came to a head when hubby went overseas for work and I went to stay with my mother. I knew it was going to be difficult without him. I was already so sleep deprived when I landed on my mother’s door step.
“You need to get some sleep or you’re going to crack”
Mum was great. She got up during the night to help, but this was also difficult as bub only wanted his mummy. She let me sleep in when she didn’t have to work – one day she got bub up in the morning and let me sleep in, I woke at 11am! I felt drowsy and guilty, but appreciated the chance to sleep.
“I felt like a failure as a mum and needed my own mother to help me be a better mum”
Three weeks after we arrived, three weeks of still hardly any sleep, my mother said to me something to the effect of, ‘we need to do something, you need to get some sleep or you’re going to crack’. I wondered if I already had. She told me I was doing a great job and that I was a wonderful mother. I cried. I didn’t feel like one. Ironically, I felt like a failure as a mum and needed my own mother to help me be a better mum.
As a coping strategy I ate my mother out of house and home. Every ounce of chocolate I could find I ate. And when there was none left, I bought some more and ate that too.