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It’s a huge topic in these first few years of a baby’s life. Beginning when they were in utero. For most of us there is definitely an insufficient amount of sleep. Always.
One of my biggest symptoms of pregnancy is fatigue. In fact my husband always knows when I am pregnant before I take a pregnancy test because I will fall asleep anywhere at anytime if I slow down long enough.
Then baby comes out and we gage whether that baby is good enough by if they sleep well. I guess you would describe every single one of my kids as bad kids/sleepers. For years I have woken up multiple times a night to either comfort a screaming child, or to return a child back to their bed who has been in my bed for who knows how long.
In fact I am writing this at 4:45am while I feed my baby, I just sent my oldest (almost 8) who was snuggled up on the other side of my bed, back to her bed. She still sneaks into my bed semi-regularly.
This week I focused on sleep, and how grateful I am not to wake up or grunt and grown every time I turn over. I decided to express sincere gratitude for my current situation that I can get comfortable, that it feels so good to lay down. That I can lay on my belly! I hurt so significantly only 2 months ago even when I laid down, it's crazy how quickly I forget how badly I slept when I am pregnant.
I love that my baby sleeps in my room and although I hear every little sound she makes I am so grateful that I can nurse her. I get to just pick her up when she is hungry, take two steps back to my bed, latch her on and I doze off. Sometimes I even nurse her while laying down and for sure fall asleep while she’s nursing. I am so grateful that her night time feedings hardly disrupt my slumber at all.
The crazy thing, I had no expectations this week for my kids or myself when it came to sleep, in fact I resolved that I probably won’t sleep through the night for another few years, and decided that that was ok. I just felt so grateful for any sleep, any amount of consecutive hours I got. Or if I passed out on the couch in the middle of the day while we watched a movie.
As the week progressed, all of my kids had better nights sleep! And the other night.... I slept 7 hours in a row!!!! Not one of my kids woke up and I slept hard. It was wonderful.
Just because it happened I am not going to set my expectations that it should be the norm, if I do I usually just get super mad if I don’t get 7 hours of sleep and I consider myself deprived. And you know what? Things happen, sickness, teething, sleep regressions, bad dreams, etc. and I want to be there for all of my children in the night if they need me, instead of resenting them.
My second child really struggled sleeping for a long time. It also happened to be a time when my husband was traveling a lot for work and wasn’t around to help me. I remember being in the thick of it rarely getting two hours of sleep together, walking with her, bouncing her, holding her as she constantly screamed. (There were lots of factors going on). I had such anxiety going to bed because I knew she was going to start screaming at some point and it was easier to get up with her if I hadn’t fallen asleep yet. Which was just perpetuating the problem.
I remember standing next to her crib as I patted her back to help her back to sleep and instead of thinking my regular thoughts of “why aren’t you sleeping?? I’m so tired! This is the worst! What the heck is wrong!? I’m so angry!” I consciously thought over and over “I love you. I love you. I love you.” I had to think it constantly or the other thoughts would creep in.
It physically transformed me with those thoughts. I noticed a significant difference in outcomes when my thoughts were love. And I even had the awareness that there would come a time I wouldn’t be hunched over her crib trying to help as she screamed, that this phase would pass. Although there was literal years of her intensity at night she is now 5 years old and is my best sleeper.
That phase, this phase, every phase eventually passes. But life still happens and there is always something to stress about if I want to. Or I can choose to see the gift in every situation. Both “good” and “bad” are always present.
I think I am going to write that down as a reminder, put it on my wall, and ask myself everyday; “what is the gift in this situation?”
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Education is KEY to setting yourself up for your best possible birth. Knowing your options and how to advocate for yourself makes a huge difference.
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