Survival Mode Part II: Relief

When I wrote Survival Mode, I was a bit broken…little did I know it would get worse. Everyday, I woke up and genuinely had hope my baby would go back to how she used to be: a self- settling good sleeper…or that I wouldn’t be so stressed that she doesn’t sleep anymore. But each laboured bedtime was wearing me down until the other night I was a sobbing mess at another failed settling attempt. “I can’t do this anymore!” I whined. I don’t know what I thought the alternative was but something had to change. Continue reading

Survival Mode

I got to leave the house today, by myself, and promptly burst into tears upon being asked how I was. Whoops.

There’s nothing wrong with Jessica, she’s not sick anyway, and for that I count my blessings. Yet I’m feeling extremely sorry for myself. Tears are pretty normal at home for Jessica and I.

It’s hard for me to write this without seeming ungrateful. I have a beautiful daughter who we have wanted for some time and she’s adorable! But she’s also going through something right now which is testing us all. We’re on Day 9 of rare, short day sleeps and resulting irritability  (her and I); no more self settling – it now takes between 25 mins and 2 hours for us to settle her into sleep or back to sleep which includes shushing, rocking, up to two Baby Sleep Sounds apps running at once, one hand on her chest – perhaps rocking, with a restless and very tired baby valiantly fighting every loving attempt; waking up, rolling, getting stuck on her stomach and crying; and numerous overnight wakeups, including now always 40 mins – an hour after finally getting her off to sleep, giving us a tiny window to make and scoff our dinner in shellshocked and fearful silence. Midnight seems to be another constant favourite wide awake hour and so we play with her in our bed for 90 minutes, grateful she’s not crying.

I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic about all this, but this phase has left us both not just physically tired, but also emotionally drained. I have been at my worst this past week: frustrated, angry, weepy, teeth grinding, self pitying, and anxious that this has become our new normal. Two weeks ago we had a mostly happy girl who self settled and slept through from 7pm – 7am so you could say we were very lucky. I have sworn in my head, under my breath and at the ceiling and of course at my poor and equally bewildered loving partner. Her awake times bring us immense pride and joy with her big smiles and neverending mastery of new skills (including giggles just tonight!). We have been through crisis periods where we have to dig into survival mode before and wondered how we can sustain ourselves. For myself that includes:

– the first 5 days post partum when I had no chance of sleep while recovering from the c section in hospital and trying to care for my precious newborn.

– when we called in a Karitane Nurse and saw a Paediatrician in the same week after at least a month of living in survival mode when it was my supply which was determined to be the issue

And probably at least a few other times, the details of which I can’t quite remember, except for how I felt.

I ask myself:

– Is it something I’m feeding her? Or something I’m not?

– Is she getting enough water? Or too much?

– Is she too hot?

– Is she too tired? Not tired enough?

– Is it teething? Or is she in some other pain?

– Am I stressing her out? Am I undoing her self settling?

So surely this too will pass, but until then, I’m quite fragile in my survival mode. Doing my best to get us through each day with as few tears as possible, savouring the happy times and trying to stay calm when someone asks after Jessica or I.

Getting Support and saying YES

Your partner has gone back to work. It’s you, your mini-human and the four walls of your lounge. Your life is now a series of 3-hour cycles and you might start to feel like you’re losing your mind from sleep-deprivation. You crave a long sleep, a delicious and uninterrupted meal and a holiday…but none of those things are going to happen anytime soon. What you need is a team: a support network. Continue reading