There is every chance I won’t feel like this tomorrow. But when I started this blog five years ago I decided to write about ALL the bits of motherhood. The good bits, bad bits and funny bits. Today is a bad bit.
Prolonged sleep deprivation is getting the better of me at the moment. I haven’t slept longer than five hours in a row for a full year. Most nights I average three or four hours, before being woken. Even on the nights when Baby Girl sleeps all the way through (which I can count on one hand) I’m either woken up by a five year old who’s had a bad dream, a husband who is snoring or my own messed up body clock.
Aside from the occasional bout of tears, I’ve coped pretty well with the sleep deprivation over the past year. But, recently, it’s started to get the better of me. I can’t put my finger on anything tangible, but I don’t feel quite myself. Usually positive and happy, I’m finding it hard to smile. I have to make a concerted effort to force my mouth into a grin as I greet friends, trying desperately to put on a brave face and not be that mood hoover. Some days I do this better than others.
The more tired I feel the more I can sense panic setting in at the edge of everything I do. I get a nervous, anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about work deadlines or how I’m going to manage a full day of solo mothering if the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine is due late home from work. I dread the post-school witching hour period, when I need to juggle a fractious five year old and grumpy baby while simultaneously cooking tea, putting washing away and running baths. I gulp down shouts, try hard to be patient but know that, on many days, I come up short. This doesn’t help with those anxious feelings.
Of course I know it’s all relative. I’m a good mum. My girls are loved. We have a happy life. I’m loved and I love. But, on days that follow trying nights, it’s hard to remember this. On those days all I can think about is what I need to get done in the next hour, how I’m going to manage the day, how long this tired-to-my-bones feeling is going to last and why the bloody hell my house is always a tip when all I seem to do is tidy.
Part of my current fug is probably down to the time of year. We had a brilliant summer and it’s felt like a short, sharp shock to be back into routines, school, colder days and long, solo days at home juggling two children without the NLM around to help. Part of the mood swings and emotional turmoil is also very likely down to hormones. Mother Nature’s played her lowest card and brought my cycle back not once a month but twice – every other week – with a vengeance, despite the fact I’m still breastfeeding. My hormones don’t know if they’re coming or going. (TMI – sorry.)
There’s also a chance that, somewhere under this all, I’m mourning the loss of another year before I turn 32 tomorrow. But I love birthdays (especially MY birthdays!) so this probably isn’t it. It could be that it’s because my baby is about to turn one (on Tuesday) and part of me isn’t ready to accept the end of that baby phase. But, to be honest, the fact I’m readily selling the baby stuff with abandon means this probably isn’t it either.
I don’t know. Maybe I just need a break. Or a full nights’ sleep. Or… something.
Tell me, have you ever felt like this before? Does any of this sound familiar? How did you drag yourself out of the fug and feel better?
The great thing about the internet is reaching out and finding others going through similar struggles. The feelings of anxiety as a result of 9 months sleep deprivation are becoming more tangible each day. I can really relate to all the comments posted and have super admiration for mothers with 2 or more children. One beautiful child who still refuses to sleep more than 5 hrs straight has almost halted me! So so clumsy and impatient some days….
I can completely relate Catherine – you’re definitely not alone. I think sleep deprivation is the single hardest part of motherhood and life with a baby. Hopefully they’ll let us get some rest soon! x
I still find it slightly surprising to see my 7 year old asleep. Non-sleepers and sleep depravation are hard. I think it’s OK to be a mood hoover, trying to pretend it’s OK, is an extra strain no one needs. Instead, be honest – grab a little bit of extra support.
I’ve no useful words to offer. It can’t last forever.
You’re right, it can’t. I’m feeling more positive about it all now I have a sort of plan in place. We shall see!
Charlie O'Brien says
Sleep deprivation is a bitch – there are no two ways about it. I don’t think I’ve had longer than 5 hours since Noah was born and didn’t sleep all through my pregnancy either. This week for the first time since he was a newborn I actually napped when he napped. Yes the house was a mess, yes I had work to do, but I felt SO much better afterwards. I know it’s harder for you with two, but perhaps if she goes down for a morning/lunchtime nap, go with her! The work and the washing can wait. Charlie x
I’ve done this a few times since Baby Girl was born and it does really help. These days though, my work deadlines are ramped up and I just don’t have the time to sleep. I’m my own worst enemy, I know! xxx
Oh Molly. I’m so there right now too. The baby’s getting worse… last night he got me up SIX times (and mybhsuband woke me once coming to bed and the six year old woke me up crying to)
I am so tired, I don’t think I’ve had a full nights sleep in the last seven years. Trying to look after 4 kiddos 24/7, keep my house tody (ish) work and feed everyone is proving to be flipping hard work… when I’m tired everything makes me cry and my patience is none existent right now.
I think we need to learn to be less hard on ourselves, you know. You’re doing SUCH an amazing job Polly. xxx
Laura Jane writes says
Yes. I hit my sleep deprivation wall this week. Like you I feel like I’ve coped well in general but dealing with a gradual but very distinct sleep regression over the last few months has taken its toll. I can completely relate to every feeling you mention. I’ve finally admitted defeat this week and we’ve started ‘the intervention’ – our term for banning the boob at night to tackle an increasingly frequent night-waking habit. My husband is now on the night shift to ease the transition from comfort feeding to sleep. It’s a tough week for all of us but hopefully it will be a turning point. So this is my story with an eight month old. Massive respect and admiration to you for surviving a whole year. You must have the patience of a saint.
I wouldn’t say patience is my strongest trait but I’ve certainly tested my patience levels to their limit this past year! x
oh Molly, I can totally relate to those sleep deprived feelings. Lack of sleep is one of the hardest things to deal with- & when you’ve got 2 little ones to run after, I can only imagine how bloody knackered you must be feeling. But do you know hat? It’s OK to cry, it’s a bloody tough job, this being a mum lark, & we all need to shed a tear from time to time & let it all out. Hopefully next Friday brings some much needed sleep & a lie in for us both!! 🙂
Fingers crossed to that one!
Aw Molly, this is EXACTLY how I’ve been feeling lately and have been on and off since my first daughter came along 5 years ago. I don’t feel depressed, but just not myself and generally overwhelmed by everything. After avoiding it for ages due to the stigma and not wanting to be on ‘pills’, I finally bit the bullet and went to doctors. I’ve now been taking antidepressants for anxiety for 3 months and I feel like a different person; like the person I used to be. I feel so content and relaxed, and nothing is overwhelming me like it has been. I didn’t think I needed it as generally happy, sociable person, but now I am on them I’ve realised how much I did need a bit of help! It’s all the hormones related to pregnancy and having babies I’m sure! Chocolate and wine also definitely helps 😉 (I also feel your pain w the snoring husband!) Happy birthday to you and baby girl xx
YES to chocolate and wine. Although I hope if I can get into a bit more of a routine with the gym / swimming then that may help as well – and be less damaging to the old waistline! x
Ghislaine Forbes says
I’ll give you a few lie ins from Sunday..love ma x
Awww, Molly. I’m so sorry you feel like this. I do ok on the sleep front but can empathise with wondering how you’re going to get everything done in a day and the endlessly messy house..it does get you down. I am rubbish at taking my own advice, but give yourself a break if you can. xxx
We’re away at the moment and I’m really trying to switch off a bit. I even had a lie in on Sunday! x
Sarah Rooftops says
So familiar. I have no words of wisdom; it’s all still new to me.
But happy birthday for tomorrow. I hope it’s one of the happy, energetic days (when Mother Nature sods off and leaves you alone).
Thanks Sarah! It was a great day. xx
I’m feeling exactly like this at the moment. It’s awful. I have no motivation for anything. I am currently on two years and eight months of sleepless nights and it’s really taking its toll on me.
Motivation and lack of sleep do not go hand in hand! I find it so hard to focus when I’m tired, so everything takes twice as long. I know exactly how you feel. xxx