To the Sleep Deprived Mother
I see you. I see you over there with deep, dark circles under your eyes. I see you with messy hair, a large but cold coffee in your hand and a look of desperation on your face.
I see the sighs of exhaustion, the eyes that weigh a ton and the fluttering lashes that just wish they could stay together to rest for a bit.
I hear the thoughts rambling through your mind. Wondering why doesn't your baby sleep better. Is it something you did? Is there something wrong? Maybe it's his ears or maybe it's another growth spurt? But how will you know, right? Why can't he just tell me what is wrong?! I hear you.
I know the thoughts of comparison to others. So and so has a baby who sleeps all night but she formula feeds, so maybe it's just that breastfed babies wake more. Another friend has a breastfed baby who sleeps pretty decent though, so maybe your milk just isn't as filling as it should be. Your grandmother claims her babies slept all night from the age of six weeks, so clearly you're doing it all wrong, right?
Stop thinking that YOU did this. Stop the horrible game of comparison, stop the endless mind games of wondering where you went wrong.
I have news for each and every mama out there who is struggling each and every night. There is NO textbook perfect baby. There is no perfect solution that can work for every baby. In fact, most doctors and research will prove to you that babies are not supposed to sleep through the night before one year old.
That's right. You read it right. Babies are not supposed to sleep through the night. There's way too much going on in those brains, in their bellies and way too much comfort to be had that there's no way in heck they are supposed to sleep through the night. And for the ones that do, it's simply luck.
Do I believe that certain things can make a baby sleep a little better? Do I believe though that you should do them if they go against your beliefs? Hell no. Do I believe it'll even work for every baby? Nope.
Again, each and every baby is different.
So my dear, tired mama. I know how you feel. I know how your heart yearns for sleep so much and I know how much you need some sleep just to function and feel like a normal, happy human being. I know that the days where you feel rested are some of your best days as a parent. And I know the feelings of short patience, grumpiness and even anger on the days where you are functioning on little to no sleep.
Motherhood is the greatest gift ever imaginable but there's no doubt that it is THE MOST sleep depriving job. There's no amount of coffee to fix it, there's no amount of, "I'm sorry but it will get better" that will comfort you, and there's probably not one correct sleep book out there within the mounds of books that is just right for you.
Just mother. Just mother like you know how, like you want to and how your heart guides you. Follow YOUR instincts and no one else's and just remember that you will sleep again one day. You'll then be able to use your parenting wisdom in the future as you support another tired mama by not telling her how awesome your babies slept and making her feel awful BUT by telling her she will get through this somehow. You don't know it now, but your lack of sleep will one day pour over into support for others facing the same sleepless nights.
From one exhausted mama to another, I know we'll get through this.
See you on the other side of the sleep tunnel my friends.