The past three days have been very difficult days. Our dear son must be going through or heading towards a growth spurt because he is a cluster feeding machine! Unfortunately, this along with heat perpetuated eczema on his poor little face and body, gas, and mom trying to keep up her milk supply, make him one fussy guy!
Before pregnancy, I LOVED my sleep. It was not unusual for me to sleep 10-12 hours each night, and anything less would make me very cranky! By the end of pregnancy, mother nature prepared me for the inevitable and the amount of sleep I was able to get was significantly reduced. However, nothing prepared me for the past days/nights. You see, not getting sleep is one thing, but not getting sleep AND having a cranky baby feels like the whole world is plotting against you…just you. Needless to say (as I am sure this post demonstrates), this diva mom has had extremely little to no sleep in three days.
There were many times during the night I found myself saying to my 5 week old, “please, please, please just tell me what you need. Tell me how to help you”. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful for him to reply, “Well, Mom, if you could please let down more milk, pat my back on this specific spot, and it’s actually (insert irritant here) that’s bothering my skin”. Something tells me that even when he’s 18 he’s still not going to be that specific. I feel like dealing with infants is a guessing game. In fact, when I took my son to the paediatrician because his rash seemed be getting worse, the doctor said “It’s a bit a guessing game as to what this is”. What? You’re the doctor. I came to see you to give me, the new-worried-and-clueless-mother, some answers. But alas, my son cannot “use his words” and I just do what I can to make him as comfortable as possible and hope for the best. I will be the first one to tell you, when you are sleep deprived and drained, “hoping for the best” seems like an impossible task!
To make matters worse, everything becomes a vicious cycle: he’s uncomfortable, we don’t get sleep, we become stressed and sleep-deprived, the stress and fatigue affects your let down reflex (breast milk production), he becomes hungry and cranky, and the cycle begins again. All the while, I keep thinking that the first weeks are prime time for mother-child bonding. Ugh. Pressure much?!
I guess what I’ve realized is that my usual A-type, over-achieving personality needs to take a permanent backseat when it comes to parenting. Benchmarks are out the door, goals are just lofty ideas, and there are certainly no right answers. This is all especially true for the first three months (or so I’ve been told). The first three months are infamously known as the “fourth trimester”, and I now understand. It’s a 100% give relationship; there is no take. After cluster feeding for a few days, I physically feel how much I’m giving – and let me tell you – it’s draining. So what’s an over-achieving, recognition-seeking type mom supposed to do? This diva mom did what I needed to do. I asked for help (my hubby is now giving a bottle for one of the nightly feeds), I gave myself permission to “take a break” (I place our son in a safe place for 5-10 minutes when needed so I can step away and just breathe), and I focused on the tiny but ultimately most meaningful rewards that our son gives me. So, to end this post on a positive note, here are just some of the new rewards that help me through these difficult days:
-He maintains eye contact with you and will follow your voice
-He smiled at his dad the other night (and I’m almost positive it wasn’t a reflex)
-On a daily basis, I continue to see how much of my personality he has (stubborn and expressive!)
-One of my favourite moments during the day is when he falls asleep on me and we both take a short nap
-He’s grown 7.8 cms in 1 month (he’s so long!) and has developed the cutest baby rolls on his arms and legs (yay! The cluster feeding is getting put to good use!)
Like all other difficult days in life, I continue to remind myself of the mantra, “this too shall pass”. And I have no doubt that in a few months, I will look back and somehow miss these days. So, for now I will focus on the beautiful sleep that I will one day have and just enjoy the tiny little miracles that make all the difficult days worth it.
A question for all my fellow moms – what helped you during the “difficult days”?