Tuesday, 28 July 2015

To the sleep deprived parent

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To the sleep deprived mom/dad,

     There isn't a lot that I can say to make it better. There isn't a magical cure to heal your aching body, your sore eyes, or your constant headache that lasts all day long. There isn't a quick fix that will ease your anxiety when nighttime creeps up and your marathon begins again. There isn't anything that I can do to make  the clock stop ticking in the middle of the night as the hours roll on and you're in the dark, rocking that sweet little baby of yours or feeding so constantly that pain shoots up your back, your neck is cramped and every inch of your body hurts. There isn't an easy solution to any of this.

Because sleep deprivation is just plain hard.

But, as I've lived through two babies and toddlers who did not like to sleep and I am now again in the depths of sleep deprivation once again with our little Sophia, I have learned one valuable lesson. A lesson that I wish someone had told me when I was in the throws of being a first time mom and being shocked into the world of sleep deprivation and feeling like I might never survive it. So, to all of those parents out there who are feeling the same exhaustion...who are wondering how they are going to make it through the day...who feel like they just can't do it anymore...I'll share with you something that I've learned after years of wondering myself how I'd make it through it. It's simple and quick:

Wake up the next morning and stop thinking about it and instead feel gratitude. 

This is literally how I make it through each day on sometimes only 2-3 hours of sleep. This is how I get out of bed at 6:20am every single day with Mya and Carter, with a baby in my arms, and start our day, even if I've been up literally all night long. Because now after having three babies, I feel like I've finally figured out how to manage it.

It's not perfect. It's NOT easy. It doesn't replace those precious 8hrs that it feels like everyone else is getting all around you. But it's a good place to start. At least for me it is.

So I wake up and forget about it. I don't think about what happened that night. I purposely block my brain from letting me re-live it again. And when anyone asks me how my night was I try to say "I don't know. I don't remember and I don't like to think about it". Because whatever you say becomes your reality. Whatever you think becomes your reality. It becomes your day. It becomes how you feel. It becomes who you are. So I try to forget about it, and I instead tell myself that I'm so rested and ready for the day ahead. I literally lie to myself each morning. And it works.

And then to top it off, I don't let myself get out of bed in the morning anymore without quickly telling myself 5 things that I'm grateful for. Specific things. Not just that I'm grateful for my family or my great hubby. But instead specific things that maybe happened the day before, or in the middle of the night--because when you focus on what you're grateful for it switches your thinking from feeling tired, sore and exhausted to feeling happy and rejuvenated. Your brain is funny like that. And it works.

So I wake up in the morning now and think about how grateful I am for all of the little things in my life--and on the days when the world is so foggy and I'm so incredibly exhausted and I can't even imagine a full day ahead of me of looking after three little kids on the 2hrs of sleep that I've had, I start with the fact that I'm so incredibly grateful that I'm so sleep deprived. Because it means that I have a sweet little baby...and if sleep deprivation has to exist, there is no better reason for it. I remind myself how lucky we are. Because I know that there are people all over the world who would give anything to be kept up all night long if it meant that they could have a baby of their own. Terry and I are so incredibly lucky. So incredibly blessed. So when the night rolls on and my eyes are burning and it feels like I'll never sleep again, I remind myself of how lucky we really are and how all of these sleepless nights are worth it...because our kids are worth it.

And the good news? You will eventually sleep again. Well, a little bit. One day. I wish that someone had told me this when I was knee deep in sleep deprivation with our first baby--because I literally thought that I would never sleep again. I obsessed about sleep..it was constantly on my mind, I was constantly exhausted, I was constantly asking people how they got their babies to sleep through the night, and I was constantly reminding myself how tired I was. And when Mya was eventually 6months old, and I realized that I hadn't slept through even one single night in half of a year, I broke down. Cried. Lost it. Then pulled myself together and kept going. Because motherhood can be exhausting.

So when I'm feeling like I'm walking around in a daze, when the day ahead of me looks long and tiring, I just remind myself that our kids are worth every single sleepless night. They're worth every single nap that is too short and every single I'm so tired meltdown. So I cuddle this sweet little baby in the middle of the night. I kiss her cheeks, rub her back, nurse her and calm her down until her little eyes flutter and she is back to dreamland. And then wake up shortly after to do it all over again.

So if you're also in the depths of sleep deprivation as we are right now, please at least know that you're in good company. Call me at 3:00am to chat...I'll be up.

Hang in there, tired moms and dads. We'll all eventually sleep again. A bit.

Erica xo



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