Any new mom knows the hell of sleep deprivation. Those first postpartum weeks can make us feel like a hot mess, and we may literally be hot and messy with all those hormones running wild, full on nursing sweats, lack of showers and dark circles invading our once vibrant, glowing faces. Ah yes! To have a new-born. ❤
It can drive you mad, make you cry, become irrational, and realize how your life has changed forever.
Around week 2, having no respite with 24 hour baby care, I found my agitation and resentment growing. I had been hesitant to wake my husband because I knew he had to get up and go to work in the morning. Only when I was exhausted to the point that I feared I might drop the baby or fall asleep and have her slide off my lap would I then insist my husband take over. But this was always a battle and I usually just decided it wasn’t worth asking him. So when I started to bubble with anger at any living creature in the house (man, child, dog , or feline) that was sleeping in the deep of night, I knew something had to change!
I decided that I was no longer going to hide downstairs in the home office with the door closed in an uncomfortable swivel chair freezing my butt off at 2am with a crying newborn so that everyone else could sleep. Screw that! I am not the only one who had a baby…WE ALL had a baby. We are a family and I did not need to shoulder this alone or care for our new baby by shielding everyone from her middle of the night crying.
Once I changed my belief system, the nights were no longer something I dreaded.
Instead, I started growing fond of the wee hours in the night. A 2 AM cry for milk was no longer daunting. Rather than feeling angry about the lack of sleep, I replaced the anxiety and resentment with great memories and warm fuzzy love vibes.
How did I turn hell into a little slice of heaven?
First, I bought a second nursing pillow. I took advantage of one of the many, many “free” or “discounted” online offers women get when we become a new mother. I just paid $5.99 shipping & handling and a new nursing pillow arrived in a week. This way I could have one upstairs in the nursery and one downstairs for middle-of the night feedings.
Second, I subscribed to Netflix. I want to formally thank Chuck Lorre for his quirky Dharma and Greg episodes, Lorelia and Rory Gilmore, the cast of Call the Midwife, and the brave women (and men) who created documentaries about babies, nursing, and childbirth. When you have one hand free and you are soothing or nursing your baby, scroll through Netflix and cue a bunch movies and shows you want to watch. This way you have a list all prepared and you don’t need to “think” about what to watch when you are half asleep.
Third, before heading to bed for the night I would fill a glass with water and grab a snack (piece of fruit, pretzels, or other snack) and put it on the coffee table next to the remote control.
The fourth thing I did – also before bed -was line the couch or my seat of choice with plenty of fluffy pillows, lap blanket and a burp cloth. I used the pillows to help support my arms when they were cradling my daughter for long periods of time. This helped with the arm cramping, shoulder pain, and wrist pain that can nag a new mom. It also allowed me to create buffers around me and my lap so if I did fall sleep while nursing my daughter, she would not roll off of my lap.
The decision to put my own comfort at the front of the line was a game changer.
Postpartum sleep deprivation is REAL and it is difficult. For me, it boiled down to self-care in the form of comfort. If I was going to be up all hours of the night, I should at least be comfortable and try to enjoy myself. Watching TV shows and movies I had been wanting to see, helped relax me and gave me something else to focus on. It also gave me and my newborn daughter our own “thing” that just she and I did together.
And honestly, at two years old, if she hears the theme song to Gilmore Girls, she looks at me, smiles, and starts to dance. Obviously, the late night feedings and my ability to relax and enjoy these times has left a positive impression on her too!
Sometimes it has to be all about you mama.
Self-care sounds time consuming, but it can be as simple as pouring yourself a glass of water to have available in the night so you don’t have the added struggle of balancing a crying baby and pouring a glass of water by the glow of a refrigerator mini light bulb. Sometimes it has to be all about you mama. Take time to self-care and if you have too, ask your partner for help. And remember, this too shall pass.
How did you survive postpartum sleep deprivation? Please tell me about it below.
*Photo credit belongs to ichoosehappynow.com.