Ok, so the title is a little misleading. I have obviously gotten some sleep since bébé was born in July. But it’s definitely nowhere near enough, which is to be expected with a baby. However, this week, it seems like it’s finally caught up with me and there have been a few meltdowns, both at home and, embarrassingly, at work. While I could say it feels like I haven’t slept in five months, I don’t really have a long period of insomnia from before to compare it to.
My monthly letters to bébé are meant to be cheerful and focus on the positive, so while the 8 to 9 hours he usually sleeps really is a wonderful thing, I don’t go into how extremely hard the 3am feedings have been lately. Because sometimes it’s 2am, or 4am, and sometimes he goes right back to sleep, other times he’s awake for 2 hours . . . there is just no way to know. He goes to sleep between 6 and 7pm, usually around 6:30, so it’s not like we’re putting him to bed at random hours. Just to see what would happen (and to get my MIL to stop suggesting it), we tried putting him to bed an hour later for a week, and he woke up at 9pm and 11pm, in addition to the usual 3am (ish), so that is definitely not the solution.
Though I’m not even sure there is a “solution” since again, getting 9 hours out of a baby this age is pretty good. What I keep reading is that 6 hours is “sleeping through the night,” and that sleeping 12 hours isn’t always a realistic goal for a breastfed baby until he starts eating solids. Also, night feeds help keep my milk supply up, so I am very reluctant to let my husband give him a bottle at night. Plus, it would be physically uncomfortable so I’d wake up anyway. There have been two nights this month when he slept 11 hours for some reason (I log everything, and the two days were completely different, so no idea why he slept so long), and I woke up around 4am anyway out of habit and because of the pain. However, at this point, I am so tired I can’t even write my name correctly, so I will probably take him up on the offer this weekend.
This week has been the hardest, so I stopped pumping at 9pm so that I could start going to bed closer to 8:30. Before I was usually in bed by 9:30. Maybe I should have made this change earlier, but giving him as much breast milk as possible is important to me. But I am starting to realize that having a happy, well-rested momma might be pretty important to him, so I’m trying not to feel too guilty about this decision.
Though in reality, I’m much too tired to feel guilty about stuff anymore. Or happy, or sad, or anything else. This week at work, I could feel my brain forcing itself to pay attention. I have never felt anything like this. We all get distracted at work, but this is very different. It’s like, I have to push my brain into shape. It’s all mushy and flowing all over the place. My head feels both full and empty at the same time.
The first month back went really well, since I wasn’t nearly as tired, so I think everyone assumed I was 100% back. I even got a comment about how much more efficient I was. It’s really this past week or two that has suddenly gotten very difficult. I can feel myself making mistakes, then having to correct them quickly. My mushy brain can’t remember anything without writing it down, but I have to remember to actually write things down. My fingers can’t hit the right keys, so I have to retype things fifty times, and I keep calling the wrong people . . . . I get very upset when others point out my mistakes, even under normal circumstances, so I have been rather short with people recently, and finally just exploding the other day when there was yet another comment on something I didn’t do correctly. I feel like because I did so well at first, they assume I’m worse now because I don’t care or don’t want to do well. (No one has actually said this, it’s just me being hard on myself.) Also, because the beginning went so well, I keep getting more and more things to do, plus people are starting to go on vacation for the holidays, so there’s even more to do in the same amount of limited time with the same mushy brain.
This sudden downturn is partly because of the failed later bedtime experiment, but also just the accumulation of such a random sleeping schedule. First, a few months months of 3 hours or less at a time. Which wasn’t that bad because all I did during the day was sit around. Now it’s sometimes 5 hours, sometimes 7, sometimes an extra hour before dawn, sometimes not, and I am asking my body and brain to do so much more than before. It really is the irregularity that’s hardest for me, not just physically, but psychologically. There’s nothing else I can do to change the situation. I’m going to bed earlier, feeding him as much as possible in the evenings, getting him to sleep on his own, not in our arms . . . It feels like I’m doing everything “right” but it doesn’t matter. There are things you just have to accept won’t get better for awhile.
But obviously in a work situation, they can’t be as forgiving. You’re hired as one person, you can’t suddenly change who you are without consequences, or tell them that “things will get better . . . one day”. (Again, no one has said this, just my crazy mushy brain freaking myself out.) My schedule is already adapted for pump breaks, and I legally can’t do overtime. But I come in early anyway to get as much done as I can, since I have the most energy in the morning. I feel like I can’t ask for any more concessions, because A) without a baby at home themselves, they literally cannot understand what I’m going through, and B) if their personal stuff doesn’t interfere with work, why should mine. I also feel like I don’t have the right to complain since I chose to go back to work full-time. I don’t feel like it was a bad choice though, since the more I see how amazing my husband is with our son, the more certain I am it was the right choice. However, part of the choice was knowing how much I like going to a job that I’m good at. So right now, I don’t like that I don’t feel like I’m good at it.
Anyway, that’s what no sleep for five months feels like. Like I’m not even close to the person I was, which I’m okay with at home, but I know work is a different story. Like my brain isn’t even there anymore. Like there is absolutely nothing else I can do but wait until it gets better, which is both very encouraging and insanely depressing at the same time.
I promise a return to cheerful posts soon, but all new moms are allowed a few rambling rants, right? If nothing else, I can look back on this in a few months and think “Phew, glad that’s over!”