If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that at the beginning of December we had a sweet little bundle of joy join our home. (If you haven’t, you can read my birth story here.) These last 3 weeks have been filled with so much love in our home. The older 4 children all love the baby to pieces and are great helpers. And I just can’t stop staring at her cute face or kissing her chubby cheeks.
Unfortunately, I also haven’t been getting much sleep. It seems like when you decide to have another baby, all you can remember is the good. Our brains (at least mine) tend to block out the sleepless nights, the hours on end when your baby just wants to cry, and any other not-so-easy parenting struggles that come along with your sweet, squishy little one. Which is good, because if all we remember are the tiny fingers curled around ours and the smell that only new babies possess, we want to have more. Maybe God gives us “mommy brain” for a reason!
I should have known this baby was going to have her days and nights mixed up. From the time I felt her first movements in my tummy, they were always at night. I would go all day not feeling a single kick or roll, and then come evening time it felt like she was running a marathon in there. So I should have been prepared for her to stay up all night, right? Wrong!
Luckily my husband was able to take time off work for family bonding, and he is great about letting me hand the baby off to him when I have been up for hours and just. have. to. sleep. But for a good chunk of her night time wakefulness, she wants to eat. And that is my department, since she is nursing.
I guess what I am really wondering is how come I don’t remember being so sleep deprived with my other babies? You would think that by baby #5 I would be a baby-sleep professional, but this little stinker is my hardest one so far. So what is different? I think it’s because with my first baby, I took lots of naps and slept when she slept (great advice, by the way!), and since my son wasn’t born until 8 years later, I also slept when he slept. Plus my 8 year old loved holding him, so I would sometimes snooze while she played with him. Then when baby #3 came along, I was in college so she took bottles right from the start, which made it easier for me to get sleep, since I wasn’t nursing all night. Plus she was a super easy baby and always wanted daddy. Then baby #4 was just a great baby. I hardly ever remember her crying very much. As long as she was fed, she was happy! And as long as she was beside me at night, she would sleep for hours.
For some reason, I have been feeling guilty about sleeping during the day. Which is silly on my part, because even when I was pregnant I took naps. Maybe it is because I feel like I should be present for my other kids during the day, since so much of my time is devoted to the baby now. On Christmas Eve, I stood in the kitchen just crying-for no reason other than that I was so absolutely, to the bone TIRED! I knew then that I had to get over my self-imposed no nap rule. On Christmas day we had planned to go sing at the local assisted living community for the elderly, but we never made it. I took 3 naps that day with the baby. My body really needed the sleep! And since then, I have felt better. Since I am taking care of myself now, even if that means taking naps, I can take better care of my family. Because when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
So to any new mommies out there, trudging through the days with a baby who won’t sleep at night, or who cries all the time, take heart! It doesn’t last forever, and that sweet little baby is definitely worth it. Remember to take care of yourself. A drowning person can’t save someone else. A tired mommy can’t be the best mommy for her kids, either. Hand that baby to daddy, or call a sitter in for a couple hours so you can get some uninterrupted shut-eye. You will feel better and be a better mom for it, I promise!