02 Nov This too shall pass
I never expected it would be like this. As I write, I can hearing you crying – inconsolably – in the next room. You are with your daddy; I would never leave you to cry alone. But sometimes I wonder what difference that would make anyway… I have spent long days, and long nights, holding you in my arms whilst you cried endlessly. Your daddy seems to settle you eventually, your Grandma has managed it on occasion, but me? Nothing works.
When it’s not sleep-time, you are the happiest, most content little baby – and you are thriving. You have never lost weight since birth and you are so strong and eager to sit-up and get moving. You are now 3 months old and you have such personality; you are a pleasure to be around and everyone adores you. I am so proud of you. But you fight sleep. ‘He will sleep when he needs to,’ they say. Well, you don’t. You have gone 8 hours without sleep in one go (babies your age “should” be sleeping every 1.5 hours) – and there’s no one can tell me you don’t need to sleep, when you are so tired your eyes are pink and swollen and your face is deathly white. Yet you whimper and bleet and fight with everything you have to keep your eyes open, no matter what I do to help you. I have begun to worry if you have bad dreams, as you genuinely seem petrified of sleeping.
There have been horrendous days where you simply wouldn’t stop screaming in my ear, that I have yelled at you to “just shut up.” I swallowed my guilt like a bitter taste as soon as the words came out… but you were crying so loudly that a space-shuttle launch could be going off in the back-garden and you’d have missed it. Still, you would have felt my anger, if not heard it. I am at my wits end.
In 3 whole months, you have never been able to settle to sleep easily, and wake often when you do. Sometimes it can take me all day to get you to nap, and all evening for us to settle you. I have tried everything. You have suckled me until I am sore and bleeding. We have swaddled you, bought you various sleeping bags, had you in our bed, had you in our arms, put you in your push chair, rocked you, cradled you, patted your bottom, shushed and sung and played you white noise, bought you a $500 hammock which remains unused, bought you sleep drops from a naturopath, taken you to see a cranial osteopath, a chiropractor, a doctor to rule out illness, colic powder which saw me hunched over the kitchen bench at 3am squeezing milk into it and then spilling it all down your neck when you rejected the spoon… I have been calm. I have been angry. And I have cried with you. A lot.
There was a time I thought, genuinely, that you could die from the crying and lack of sleep. This notion was put to rest, so I am now in the dilemma of… now what do I do?
There are days when you surprise me, when you might sleep for 4 hours at night before waking up for a feed and then going back for another few hours… and you might have a couple of 2 hour naps during the day… and then I think it might be all in my head. But then we are back to the days you won’t sleep and wake every 2 hours in the night… I am so sleep deprived it takes me over an hour to fall asleep myself, then as soon as I do you are awake again and needing me. I always go to you, baby, I always will. But I am breaking.
In some way I feel certain I have/am letting you down. I feel wretched about your caesarean birth, our breastfeeding troubles, your belatedly diagnosed lip tie, your tummy aches when I ate dairy foods, my sleep deprivation and irritability, being there too much, not being there enough… I feel wretched about everything. I feel wretched about feeling wretched.
For every moment I hear you crying, my heart breaks. You can only imagine how many billions of pieces my heart has broken into. ‘It’s normal,’ they say. ‘It’s the only way babies know how to communicate,’ they say. But what are you trying to tell me, baby? Why, when you haven’t slept for hours, when you are fed, clean, dry, warm, and held lovingly in my arms, do you still fight your closing eyes? What am I doing? What am I not doing? I feel as though I am at wits end… and this is only the beginning.
I love you so much it hurts. I look at your precious face, smiling up at me, and I have never known such pride, such joy.
Becoming a mother has been my undoing, but maybe, just maybe, it will be the thing that will make me, too.
As I continue to listen in… 20 minutes later, and you have peacefully fallen asleep in your daddy’s arms. My hearts breaks further as I resent you both for it. I am your Mumma. Why can I not soothe you baby? When you wake up in a couple of hours, I will try again.
It is all I can do.
Please know how much I love you. Please know I am trying my best. I never expected it would be so difficult. I was so naiive to think that loving you would be enough. Loving you doesn’t help you sleep. Loving you doesn’t seem to soothe you when you cry. And your daddy’s loving me doesn’t help when he sees me come apart at the seams. But, this love is something powerful. Love is holding us all together. And so, as I join the chorus line of all the other new parents out there who have gone before me, this too shall pass, and only the love will remain.
your devoted Mumma.