Remember when you used to wake up when your body said it was time? When you slept in a little later on Saturday morning after one too many glasses of wine the night before with your husband on date night?
Remember when you stayed up until 11pm to watch just one more episode of your favorite show and you weren’t worried about it because you knew you’d still get a solid eight hours of sleep?
Now here you are. Holding your beautiful, perfect baby. Your entire world has changed. After much anticipation, your little one is staring back at you and you are bursting with joy.
But why, if you are so happy, are you also feeling sad and irritable?
Why did you snap at the store clerk earlier for something that didn’t really bother you that much? Or cry when you realized you were out of coffee creamer?
How can you possibly feel so much happiness and at the same time anger and frustration?
Oh yeah, because you never sleep.
Your day consists of feeding and changing and loving on that perfect baby. And you are doing a fantastic job.
But even though you were “warned” and even though it’s worth it, exhaustion is even more intense than you thought it would be and you are smack dab in the middle of it.
Let me tell you a thing or two about exhaustion—
Exhaustion by its own definition is a state of extreme physical or mental fatigue.
Exhaustion affects you in every conceivable way— mentally, physically, spiritually, sexually—the list goes on.
Exhaustion can cause your mind to feel jumbled, your blood sugar to spike, your heart rate to increase, your speech to slur; shall I go on?
You are running on fumes (and probably adrenaline) because you have this really important job you have to do. You have to be a mother! Arguably the most important job there is, and there is so much pressure to be the BEST mom to that sweet little nugget of yours.
But listen, I am here to tell you that NOBODY can operate at a normal capacity without sleep. Not your super-mom neighbor, not your sister, not your OBGYN, not Giselle—no-one!
Sleep is vital to restore our bodies and our minds, and every single person that is living and breathing must get rest in order to function like a normal human being, including you.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “yes I know all of this but how do I get it, I have a small child, remember?”
I hear you Mama, and I’ll get there, I promise.
First, let me tell you that I’m not only writing to you from a professional stand-point, as a sleep specialist, but more importantly as a mom who has been exactly where you are right now. Wondering if I would legitimately ever sleep again. In fact, that’s what led me to this profession.
So believe me when I say “I get it”.
I wish I could sprinkle fairy sleep dust on your entire household. If only. But I do want to give you a little bit of hope and affirmation that this sleep misery will end.
Listen, I know you want to be the perfect mom. You probably feel this intense pressure to keep up with all of it. The laundry that is piling up, the dishes that are waiting to be done; all of those things that feel important and seemingly are your responsibility. This is your moment, when you want to prove that you can juggle anything and everything even on minimal sleep. Yes, you have super-powers and yes you can do all of that.
But, you have got to make sleep a priority.
This means, sometimes letting the laundry go.
Sometimes ordering pizza three nights in a row because instead of preparing dinner you are sleeping.
It might mean skipping your afternoon walk some days or missing every single social event for a few months because you are just too damn tired.
It also means asking for help!
Being honest with your husband and letting him know if he ever wants to have sex again he has to share middle of the night wake-up duties. Kidding… sort of.
Utilizing friends and family and graciously taking all of the help that is offered.
Girl, you better believe I accepted every single meal my church told me they would bring over! And when people asked me “what can I do?” I basically broke out the list. Asking for or accepting help does not make you any less of a Rockstar!
Your new, sweet little sunshine needs you at your best, and I for one realized that once I started accepting help, in any form or fashion, I felt like I could actually enjoy more moments with my baby.
Stepping out of survival mode is sometimes easier than we think if we stop trying to live up to everything society tells us we are supposed to be, or worse, the standards we have set for ourselves.
Lastly, remember that this too shall pass. Although it doesn’t feel like it, this is a relatively short period of time that you might feel way out of sorts but I promise you will experience a full night of glorious sleep again.
Have grace and forgiveness for yourself and ask others to do the same!
I once got home from getting groceries and left them all in the car while I went inside, and remembered 3 hours later once everything had pretty much melted.
Another time I drove to the wrong house, thinking I was home, and couldn’t figure out why the garage clicker wasn’t working.
We do crazy things when we haven’t slept! At least I had a good laugh.
Right now you’re in the thick of it so cut yourself some slack and remember how amazing you are!
You’ve got this.