Setting the scene… It’s a night like any other you’ve had for the past couple of months – your newborn gem has awoken at the typical hour of 5am after you had just gotten back to sleep following her prior wake-up and feed at 3am. Except that this time, you feel ready to cry, and wish fervently that she would somehow feed herself and go back to sleep all on her own. Knowing how unrealistic this is doesn’t help. And having your partner snoring away on his side of the bed as if nothing has changed in his life drives you insane. You just want to sleep. Or have someone else deal with it – just this time. You’re not going crazy… …but you feel so close to it, you could reach out and touch it! Sleep deprivation among new Moms is so powerful that it affects the way we think and act. That’s why we sometimes have crazy thoughts of leaving our newborn alone and hiding under the covers to escape having to deal with them. It’s why we have thoughts of sitting on the doorstep and crying ourselves, instead of having to deal with the little gem upstairs who just won’t sleep. It’s OK – I don’t know any new Mom who hasn’t had days like this – who wants to say “Wait! This is not what I signed up for!”.
The Breaking Point
Getting to this point is one thing – recognizing it and doing something about it is quite another. I’m not talking about Postpartum Depression, although if you find yourself feeling this way frequently (ie. every day for more than two weeks), you should check in with your GP. I’m talking about that moment before you lose control and make a decision you may regret (e.g. rough-handling, shaking or shouting at baby). Here’s what may help – put the baby down in a safe place, close your eyes, breathe, and count to ten. This will do 2 things – 1) give you that much-needed space to calm down, and 2) bring oxygen to your brain. When you are calm, go back to baby and try something different.
Talk to someone
Preferably someone you trust and who will not judge you, because you are likely already really good at doing that yourself. Preferably another Mom who has very likely been there herself. Then, keep talking to people and find a good support network – a new Moms groups, an online chat group, a fitness class, or your own Mom. Giving yourself a break is another good way to “get perspective”, as we can very easily get caught up in the cycle of “I’m the only one doing this”. Rest assured that you are not alone – it will get easier, I promise. And just when you think you’ve got them figured out, there’ll be new challenges….like potty training…
– by Meralon Shandler