Overwhelmed

It’s nearly 2am. I’m pacing around my house, probably embedding a path through the living room, around the kitchen island and back again. I have a baby secured to my chest with a $50 piece of cloth that took me a good hour to tie correctly the first time I tried. This baby will not go to sleep, and I keep thinking to myself, “All those people who told me a second baby is easier are liars!”

Jack is now 4.5 weeks old. Over the last week or so, he’s become more fussy, mostly in the evenings around 7pm. What starts out as fussiness turns into screaming of and on until 10:30ish when he finally passes out from sheer exhaustion. After that, he usually eats and goes right back to sleep each time he wakes for the rest of the night. Well, that’s how it was until today.

The witching hour has been all day.

The baby who usually sleeps at night is awake.

The mama who thought a second baby would be easier was not totally wrong but almost. And that mama is feeling overwhelmed.

It took me 4 years to get to the point where I wanted another baby. The first one was high needs. She was born three weeks early, which I feel contributed to the jaundice and reflux issues and later colic. She didn’t sleep in her crib until she was 5 or 6 months old. Instead, she slept in a swing or in bed with my husband and me, frequently waking and taking a long time to soothe back to sleep. Yes, I waited so long partially because I didn’t get “momnesia” to the point where I forgot enough to consider going through that process again any sooner.

Three years after my daughter was born, I was diagnosed with narcolepsy. My daughter was a rockstar sleeper, yet I was struggling to sleep when I needed to be asleep and struggling to stay awake when I needed to be awake. For a while, I tried to accept that it might not be a good idea to have anymore children, but it just didn’t feel right. Being a mom is the one thing I feel I’m good at (except right now as I continue to pace, unable to get this kid to sleep more than a couple minutes at a time if at all). So we made changes to make it possible. I stopped working full time and started working part time from home. We waited until it was about the point where our daughter would be starting school when number 2 was born so I would only have 1 kid during most of the day. I tried natural ways of improving my sleep and reducing fatigue. I felt ok. I felt empowered, actually. Like I could really manage it all while living with this stupid chronic disease. But now I’m here, and Jack is here, and it is harder than I expected. Harder than I hoped. Harder than I want it to be.

Because I’m so tired and sleepy despite my husband’s awesome help in making sure I get at least one decent 2 to 3 hour stretch of sleep a night, I am having a hard time bonding with my son the way I did with my daughter. I feel like a horrible mother for saying that. I know it’s the sleep deprivation talking. I know it’s the fact that the newborn period is just plain hard and I’m a bit pissed about feeling like a first time mom again. Yet I still feel like I was damn crazy to have another kid.

I miss having routines and schedules and stability. I miss being able to shower when I want and being able to snuggle with my husband in the evenings. I miss feeling adequate and like I halfway know how to be a good mom.

All I can do is remind myself that it does get better. He smiled at Julianne yesterday, his first real, social smile. Soon, he may smile at me and maybe I’ll start feeling like I know what the hell I’m doing.

Oh, look at the time. It’s 2:30 now. I’ve officially paced until it is time to feed him again. I can only hope this little guy goes to sleep after he eats this time…

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Comments

  1. Claire Metters says:

    I was flooded of memories reading this. Like yourself, I was diagnosed after my first child was born, then waited until first child had reached school age before conceiving second child. This was followed by a complete freak out at how society lied about two children being easier than one! Its true. So some words that I hope will help…

    1. It DOES get easier, you’re a smart lady and will find routines slipping into place. If they don’t come naturally, make achievable plans to help formulate them.

    2. We naturally lose baby caring skills when we no longer need them (along side the memory of how painful labour is!), don’t be hard on yourself for having to re-learn. You’re human, even though you may feel like a machine atm.

    3. It was always going to be a tough time for your sleep. Don’t be hard on yourself. It’s perfectly OK to put a film on for Julianne to occupy herself at the same time Jack is sleeping. Make this ‘your time’ to nap. I’m not a fan of children sitting in front of screens, but needs must!

    4. Keep the baby bag always packed and ready to grab. It makes getting out the house so much easier and being out just for half an hour can help you feel a little more human.

    5. In the UK we have a technique we refer to as ‘sleepy feeds’. Basically feeding baby just before you go to bed, even if they are asleep. You my find this suggestion a little odd if you haven’t come across it before, but trust me it’s worth googling! Baby stays asleep for a little bit longer and can help them eventually sleep through the night :)

    6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m sure a lovely lady like yourself is surrounded by people who would be happy to give you a helping hand. Asking is not a sign of weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge we need help.

    7. In the UK we have health visitors (trained nurses and baby specialists) we can contact for baby advice. I would urge you to build up a good relationship with the US equivalent, even if you didn’t need to with Julianne. Nothing wrong with building up a collection of life lines!

    Take comfort that it’s still early days and it WILL settle. It’s obvious to anyone that you’re a great mum and even great mums have wobbles!

    • admin says:

      Thank you, Claire! Sorry for the delay in responding. I didn’t get a notification that I’d received a comment, and I haven’t checked my blog in a while. You’re so right. Things will get easier. I just need to be patient, and that’s never been my strong suit! :) It’s already gotten a little easier since I wrote this post. I haven’t been up at 2am long enough to write another freak-out post, so that’s progress! 😀

  2. SM says:

    Heather,

    Congrats on your new little one! I hope that since your post was about a month ago that things are going a little better now.

    I’m so excited to have found your blog! I’m 28, (diagnosed 1 1/2 years ago) & am off all meds (and subsequently no longer working) because my husband and I are ready to try & start a family. Being home full-time, I’m trying to use my time constructively and one thing I’ve found is the incredible lack of information available for pregnant women with narcolepsy. I’m in the process of trying to start up my own blog in an attempt help fill this void for others.

    I look forward to seeing more posts from you once life settles down a little for you. Good luck & congrats again!

    ~SM

    • admin says:

      Hi, there! Thanks so much for your comment. I’m not really sure if things are calming down yet or not lol! I am having a really tough time still. I really need to get us into a routine, but I can’t seem to wake up enough to do so. Ugh.

      Anyway, congrats on getting ready to start a family! It’s such an exciting time. How are you managing without medication so far? Let me know when you set up your blog. I’d love to follow along and add it to the list of resources for others. There really aren’t many/any resources for pregnant women with narcolepsy. That also extends to breastfeeding and even just general caring for a baby as a person with narcolepsy. I’ve seen lots of women that are pregnant or planning to become pregnant around the various narcolepsy groups on Facebook, so the timing of your blog is spot on!

      Thanks again for writing!

      Heather

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