I’m going to get real with you guys here. I’m exhausted, and I didn’t see it coming. There aren’t many things that I’ll complain about as a mom, but sleep deprivation is the worst for me. I’ve always liked my sleep. Of course, I heard the warnings. Everyone says that you never get to sleep as a “new” mom, but what about a mom of a toddler and sixth month old? The difference about sleep deprivation when your baby is a newborn vs. when your baby is older is simple – no one has sympathy when your baby is older!
When you have a newborn, little sleep is just expected. Time and time again you hear questions like, “Are you getting any sleep?” or “How’s she sleeping for you?” The worst one seems to be, “Is he sleeping through the night?” You kind of just “get through” those first few weeks and sometimes months. Well, here I am, six months after the birth of my little angel and we are still not sleeping. I wasn’t ready for this! James was a pretty good sleeper from early on, and has slept through the night for as long as I can remember. Obviously I am aware that some babies don’t sleep through the night until close to a year, and luckily for me, Ella has always been good about going back to sleep once she is comforted or fed, but the addition of toddler sleep issues on top of this has me wanting ALL the coffee these days!
Whether it’s a sleep regression or teeth or a tummy ache or a bad dream, and I could go on and on, I feel like I never get a good night’s sleep. No one tells you how sporadic sleep will be when you have a baby and toddler. Most nights James sleeps right through. Recently though, he has been waking up around 5:30 give or take, and it’s killing me! I was always able to get Ella back to sleep and we all got up for the day around 7. If I don’t allow James to get out of his crib, he gets upset and wakes Ella, making my life ten times worse. Or there are days like today, where he decided he wanted to get up at 4:45! WHAT?! He was content laying in bed with us, and almost fell back asleep, until Ella woke up 15 minutes later! Ugh. I actually burst out in laughter, wondering if they secretly plotted this. I wonder, seriously, if I will ever sleep again. Some days I fantasize about a night away in a hotel where I can go to bed whenever I want and wake up whenever I want. Someday…
I’m usually a pretty put-together mom. Although I don’t shower every day and my hair, nails and complexion have definitely seen better days, I still care about what I look like, and I put in the effort to look somewhat put-together when we leave the house! I have had a lot of experience caring for two babies now, and I usually have some words of wisdom, but when it comes to sleep deprivation, I have no words. Just shock. This is tougher than when I had a newborn. Both times. Sleep deprivation hit me like a ton of bricks.
As a mom, it is engrained in you to put others needs before yourself. I don’t mind, and I love my babies to death. Most things about motherhood don’t bother me, and I see more positives to my babies being little and close in age than negatives. The worst thing for me is the lack of sleep, and the unpredictability of sleep. Even if each kid only wakes once throughout the night for a few minutes each, I still seem to feel exhausted. I guess it’s something I’ll get used to!
Here’s why I think sleep deprivation is the worst:
1. No one has sympathy for you.
Especially stay at home moms. I don’t have to work, remember?! haha… like I mentioned above, everyone seems to rush to your side when you have a newborn. Life was a breeze back then! My mom actually lived with us then too! I had a c-section, so I had to rest for a few weeks, and the baby slept a lot more. Now, people expect the baby to sleep through the night and it somehow seems like it’s my fault if she doesn’t. Also, my amazing husband who helps whenever he can still doesn’t really get it. He gets to sleep most nights.
2. It makes the day very long.
When my kids wake up early and have had multiple wake-ups throughout the night, the day is very long. By the time lunch is here, I’m ready for bed! So is my toddler. He actually begs for “night night” by 10 am if he’s had a bad night sleep.
3. It makes me more agitated.
Sleep is necessary for our well-being. Sleep is necessary for a healthy and happy mind and body. Science has proven it time and time again. Here’s an interesting article on new parents’ lack of sleep. The funny thing is, people only seem to have advice for parents of one child (“nap when the baby naps” etc.) and for the first few months of a baby’s life! All in all, my kids’ sleeping habits aren’t that bad. As I mentioned above, they will both go right back to sleep if they wake up, thank God! Still, the lack of sleep I’ve been experiencing lately makes me so much more agitated. It also makes my toddler more cranky!
4. There is no end in sight.
I know the baby stage will end, and to be honest I love the quiet baby cuddles in our rocking chair. But even parents I know with three-year olds tell me they are woken up by their kids occasionally! And older moms tell me that when your kids are teenagers, you wake up from worrying, so there’s really no end in sight to this sleep deprivation that comes along with the territory of motherhood.
By the way, this video of Jennifer Garner is hilarious. It just shows us how we’ve all been through it, celebrity or not.
As with other aspects of life, I try to see the positive when I’m having a hard time.
The things that I am grateful for include simply being a mom to two amazing children, and realizing that they are not deliberately trying to make me crazy by waking up throughout the night! Also, it means more cuddles during the day. I’m lucky I can stay in my pj’s if I want to when I get a bad night’s sleep. I’m also lucky that exercise energizes me and makes me happy too. Remember, do what makes you happy!
This experience with my lack of sleep recently has made me realize that in order to take care of my kids, I need to take care of myself too. I think as moms we often forget this, and when we realize it, we are at our breaking point already.
It is definitely one of my favorites so far, and I don’t get much time to read these days.
I highly recommend it to any mom out there, or anyone who is interested in how another country views parenting and motherhood, etc. Druckerman gives a great perspective on parenting as an American who is new to France, and an honest comparison between parenting in the U.S. and in Paris. One of my favorite parts of the book is where Druckerman mentions how French women care about themselves first. They find taking care of themselves as women, including exercise and physical appearance, as important as being a mother. She states, “They grant themselves guilt-free windows to go to yoga class and to get their highlights retouched. They also allow themselves to mentally attach themselves from their kids.” So interesting! We could learn a lot from these French women ;).
When I get a chance to take an hour for myself, I can hardly decide what I want to do. This is me, except substitute a glass of wine for the vodka!
Being a mom is the toughest job I’ve ever had, and lack of sleep makes it even tougher. Here’s to all the moms out there; do your best to get through the day if you’ve had little sleep, drink lots of water (and coffee if you need it), and take care of yourself too!
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