Parenting is rewarding in many ways. The first time they say “Momma” or “I love you” is absolutely the most amazing feeling. What’s not super amazing is getting up at 3am. There’s something about 3am that pains the soul. Your mind is not right, you can barely see, and I’m pretty sure you have just been woken up from your best and deepest sleep cycle, which you need desperately right now. So how do you survive it? How can you make it through the 3am feeding and the next day without wanting to gouge your eyes out? Keep reading to find out.
The early months.
I believe that the early baby months are the hardest. That’s just me being honest. When they first come out, you are overwhelmed with love and excitement. For the first week or two of their lives (you know… when you have your husband and mother-in-law help) they usually sleep often and are pretty peaceful. That makes you confident! I’ve got this! Babies are easy! They just sleep, eat and poop! Right…
You can do this.
After the first-week sinks in and you realize you may never sleep another consecutive six (or four) hours in your life, it gets a little bumpy in new baby land. If you are currently in the thick of this, I’m sorry. I promise you you’ll make it through. And you will, in fact, sleep again.
Here’s how to survive the early baby months:
Step 1: Drink caffeine.
Some people are against drinking coffee while breastfeeding. I say it’s a go. Ask your doctor for advice on this one. The general rule seems to be up to three cups of coffee a day while breastfeeding. My advice is to drink one cup in the morning and then supplement with decaf throughout the day. I get comfort in holding a warm coffee mug in my hands, caffeine or not. Give it a try!
Step 2: Find a friend that can relate.
When I was up all night with my daughter, I noticed that a Facebook friend seemed to always be up at the wee hours of the night when I was. She had a new baby as well. We started messaging each other throughout the nights, days, weeks and months of baby sleep deprivation. This was my saving grace. We complained to each other. We shared special moments together. We sent messages to one another at 3am, or whenever we happened to be up feeding our children. When she or I woke up for a feeding, there would be a Facebook message waiting to be read. It saved my sanity. Find a friend. Just do it. (And to my friend, thank you for being there for me. You know who you are. xoxoxoxoxo.)
Step 3: Eat chocolate.
This is not the time for counting calories. I know you want your figure back. I understand you can’t wear your size six jeans yet. But seriously, do not worry about this for at least eight months. Don’t let anyone else make you feel like you need to worry about this. You are sleep deprived and have a baby to take care of. That’s all you need to worry about. In fact, have a stash of DOVE Carmel & Milk Chocolates readily available. When you start feeling like crap, pop one of those delights in and let it melt in your mouth. Take a few moments to really enjoy it. After what you’ve been through and are going through – come on! DO NOT count calories right now.
Step 4: Keep your mind occupied.
If you have a frequent feeder or child that won’t fall back asleep, do something to keep your mind occupied. When you’re up at night with them, suffering silently, watch a good show on Netflix (perhaps dangle one earbud as to not make noise). Pause it when your bundle of joy falls asleep. Then pick up where you left off when he or she wakes again. Read a book. Look through a magazine one handed while breastfeeding. Listen to music. Do what you can to pull through. Also, it’s a wise idea to invest in hands-free pumping equipment. It really is life-saving.
Step 5: Ask for help.
Do not be afraid to phone a friend (or bossy older sister that thinks she knows everything). Now is the time to get as much support as you need. Some people have their mother a phone call away. “Mom, get over here! She just pooped and it has yellow mustard seedy-like stuff in it. I saved you a diaper to investigate!” Yeah, those moms deserve a medal. But some people do not have that type of support. So who do you have? You have your husband, in-laws, friends, neighbors, church friends, and fellow mother-strangers that are willing to hold your baby while you search your purse for your debit card in line at Hy-Vee. And why didn’t you just bring them inside in their car seat? Yeah, right. Not this kid! The point is that you should never feel alone. Don’t do this by yourself. There is someone out there that will help you through this! Message me if you need someone to talk to. Mothers help mothers!
Step 6: Complain to the right people.
We all know people that have struggled with infertility or have lost a child. My heart is with you. But the fact is, even though we love our children and they are the biggest blessing on the planet, it’s still hard. We still need to complain about the sleepless nights and nonstop crying. Parents in the thick of new babydom should be able to vent. I believe this. It’s a form of therapy. Complain away! But complain around the right people. Get out your frustrations and feelings. It might help you through this hard time. Sleep deprivation and a huge life change is no joke.
Babies are little blessings. I love my children deeply. That doesn’t change the fact that lack of sleep and waking up at 3am is incredibly painful. Don’t forget the coffee. Find a friend or two, and complain to the right people. Lean on your husband for support. With my children it got much easier around six months of age. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.
Note: Some babies are easier than others. My children did not sleep through the night until about eight months of age. I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I made it through and you will too. Remember that you are not alone in this. And for those who have lost a child or struggle with infertility, you are not alone either. If you find yourself struggling deeply with any of this, talk to your doctor about it. Do not be afraid to reach out for help.
This post was written on my phone while drinking coffee intermittently, a child on my lap reading board books in between sentences. It took longer than I will admit.