What a difference a year makes!
I remember this day last year… it’s not true, I barely remember anything from the past sixteen months. I just remember a feeling… exhaustion. My body ached. I didn’t feel like myself. I was a milk machine, and I was resentful towards motherhood.
I love my children. I love them more than life itself, BUT…
I give them all I have, and I lost myself in motherhood. The first few months were so draining on me. I felt like I entered this dark tunnel, and it took a long time to finally see the light.
It was such a shock with my first daughter. I don’t even know how I didn’t suffer from postpartum depression. To some degree, I think I did, for awhile, when I cried because I thought my baby would be a baby forever, that she would never sleep, that I would never leave my couch again, fit into my clothes, that my boobs would never go back to a “normal” size.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I remember with my first child… I was exhausted like I had never been before. My daughter didn’t sleep through the night, or ever, and was so demanding during the day. My husband and I called her a high-needs baby.
Everyone kept telling me, “wait until she is one-month-old and she is more aware, she’ll sleep better. Wait until she can roll, crawl, walk, eat solid. She’ll get tired, or have a fuller tummy and sleep better.”
Everyone had a timeline in mind depending on how old my daughter was at the time. I am so thankful to my dad who told me when my daughter was five months old: “The first year is horrible.”
A YEAR. I had a year of this.
Thank you, daddy, for keeping it real and using the word “horrible.” You made me feel less alone. At last, I wasn’t waiting for the next ten days anymore. My expectations had changed.
It’s not only sleep. It’s baby holding, baby crying, baby whining, baby feeding, baby teething, baby bathing, baby touching, baby tugging, baby playing. It’s baby everything.
I am ever so grateful that my babies were healthy, and are still to this day. I didn’t experience hardship like some other moms do. I think I’m going through a pretty normal postpartum phase as a mom of two. But while everything is “normal”, the first year is still hard.
After the First Year
After that first year, you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. It usually happens when babies start walking. They feel more independent. They want to explore beyond the small world of their mama. They don’t want to be in your arms anymore.
You can plop them down somewhere because they can actually stand and walk all by themselves. They enter toddlerhood. That’s when my little light starts to flicker. I can finally claim some of my body back. The feeling of just being you, without anyone touching you at all times.
The turning point for me was when my husband and I were so exhausted we decided it was time to move the baby out of our bedroom and into their own room. Our kids don’t sleep. Maybe it’s because of me, maybe it’s just the way it is.
My baby, ahem, my toddler is 16 ½ months. I am still breastfeeding, and was still nursing at night. The baby still wakes up anywhere between two and 100 times at night, depending on if she is healthy or something is going on. Most of the time we don’t know what is going on.
So as we celebrated Christmas, my husband and I gave ourselves the gift of sleep. She was moved to her sister’s bedroom and my husband took over. As I slept through the night for the first time in more than sixteen months, he woke and took care her.
I am not the main comfort anymore at night. And I can sleep.
It only took five nights for our first to start sleeping through the night when we switched. It’s taking a little longer for our second, but we are getting there. Because of our experience with our first daughter, we know that our toddler will sleep through the night and will soon be more independent. It’s only a matter of time now.
So for all the exhausted mothers, please know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, the light at the end of my tunnel is shining bright. And it will for you too. Give it another month, or maybe another year, and you will see it.