“My Year of Healing” – 6-month update
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…Sleep deprivation is its own brand of torture.
In my experience, it is incredibly difficult to be the peaceful and present parent you want to be with your child when your head is pounding, your eyeballs feel like they are on fire, and your life is a scene straight out of the zombie apocalypse.
There may be moments when you lose your temper (I have pounded a pillow or to in my day), or fall behind on work, self-care or your daily domestic duties because you cannot muster up one extra ounce of energy to do anything beyond what is absolutely necessary to survive the day. Relationships suffer. Both the friendship kind and the romantic kind. It can be challenging to feel sexy or operate from your “higher self” when you are simply…
SO. F*ING. TIRED.
The cruelest joke ever played by the Universe is when baby sleeps through the night for the first time, but mama can’t catch a wink.
After 2+ years of multiple wake ups each night, my adrenals were shot, my nerves were fried and coffee was a necessity for daily survival.
As a kid, I was a champion sleeper. You know that phrase “sleep like the dead” Yeah, that was me. My mom would sometimes squirt me with water and my dad would threaten with “the tickle monster” to get me out of bed for school in the morning. In hindsight, I probably had adrenal fatigue as a kid, but had enough reserves stored up to be able to stay up late and still function the next day.
After becoming a mama to a son born with health challenges and special needs, there were no more reserves. You’d think being as exhausted as I was that I’d be able to nap during the day or sleep at night, but NO.
Since the day we came home from the NICU, I have co-slept (mostly separate beds, in the same room) with my son. I could hear every single sniff, snore, snort and roll over. And no matter how hard I tried, I could not get myself into a deep sleep. Through the ambient white noise, I would hear the faintest rustle and feel my entire system go into fight-flight-freeze mode.
Perhaps becoming a light sleeper is the fate of all new mamas. I felt especially prone to this, having a baby with breathing issues. Sometimes I would wake in the night and wonder “Is he breathing?!” and get close enough to hear his breath. Double damn for the times I accidentally woke him up while checking to see if he was, indeed, alive.
“Oh no…Is he going to wake up?”
“Please, please, please go back to sleep!” I would silently beg.
Every wake-up requires nursing to get him back to sleep. Consider this baby with sleep apnea, waking up 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, sometimes 7 times per night, and needing mama milk to get him back to sleep. (He refused a bottle, so pumping and having someone else feed him was not an option for us). Once he was down again, I would often lie there awake, anticipating the next wake up, because it seemed less painful than falling asleep only to be woken up again.
For the past 6 months, we have been actively implementing a gentle sleep training rhythm that has helped tremendously with Jacob’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. And it works about 85-90% of the time.
During this time, I have been stacking nights of better and deeper sleep, and diving into my own healing on all levels.
And as of two weeks ago…. Jacob has HIS OWN ROOM!
This is HUGE!
I am sharing all of this because there might be another mama out there with a baby with sleep difficulties. If you are reading this, I want you to know…You are not alone.
Check out my posts about what has been helpful for me in teaching my son how to be a good sleeper and re-training my body how to sleep again, in hopes that it might be of service to another exhausted mama (or papa) out there.