As a first-time mom of a 16-month-old daughter, this past year has been the most rewarding, challenging and exhausting of my life. From the time my precious R was born, we have struggled with sleep issues. First, she woke every hour letting us know that being put down was overrated. The next few months she could only sleep while breastfeeding which usually resulted in my being pinned to a chair (or bed) with my breast in R’s mouth. By month 7 we saw a sleep specialist, made some changes and things improved with occasional setbacks.
But this post isn’t about sleep training or my complaints, it’s about how I’ve taken care of myself during this year plus of sleep deprivation. The answer is two-fold: First, I created a network of support for myself that I rely on when I feel like I can’t go on and second, I think positively.
I cannot stress the importance of having a network of other moms. Whether it’s to say aloud, “I am so tired and I just don’t think I can go on like this” or “What did you do when your baby didn’t sleep?”- the support I have gotten from other women- some I know well and others I don’t- has been invaluable. It makes me feel stronger knowing that these women are there for me. What a treasure!
Thinking positively has also helped. When my friend’s babies started sleeping through the night at eight weeks and I was up 3-4 times a night and R wouldn’t nap anywhere but on me, I reminded myself to savor our cuddles and time together. Now when she wakes at 6 am, I think how lucky I am to take a walk with her before I go to work. Refocusing my attention on our “precious moments” gives me the energy to face the day.
Taking care of myself is good for my precious R because it makes me a better mommy.