Our little family is in a rough patch.
The sleep deprivation from being up for 30 minutes or (usually) more several times a night is starting to deeply affect me. Last night, there was barely an hour between when I would put Little Bird down and when he would start crying again. While I was running on adrenaline and optimism immediately after he was born, that’s faded. In the middle of the night, I’ve occasionally dozed off, awakening to the fear that I could have dropped him. While I blew through a couple of books in the beginning, I’m now too exhausted to do anything but check my social media over and over again in a soul sucking spiral. In the morning, I wake up with a sinus headache and a serious fog that I never really shake. I’ve had an on again, off again fever over the past two days.
And that’s just at night. Because Little Bird was born so little (just over 5 pounds), he’s been eating almost constantly since he was born. As we don’t want to introduce a bottle until 6 weeks, the burden falls on me. I’m so relieved he’s eating well, but it’s exhausting to nurse for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours a day, with an average of an hour between feedings. This schedule also makes it difficult to spend time with Sprout because every time we start to hang out, Little Bird needs to eat. The times when we do watch trains or go to the park, Little Bird is inevitably hungry before we return, making me feel like I’m starving him. Unfortunately, Sprout has picked up on this constant deference. While not everything is a fight – like for a few weeks before Little Bird was born – he’s been a bit of a powder keg. I think Little Bird’s crying at night has woken him up at times, which really doesn’t help.
My physical recovery from pregnancy was easy, but other stresses are kicking in. Little Bird has a tendency to chew rather than suck and greatly resents when I try to direct him. He’s already learned the fine art of swatting my hand away. I have a bit of a clogged milk duct, making nursing on that side both extremely necessary and tooth-grindingly painful. The pain radiates to my back and down to my legs.
While Little Bird slept constantly in his first few weeks, now he’s much more alert. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to like this new reality very much. Whether it’s an upset tummy or just a “meh” feeling, his crying has ramped up significantly in the past week. It doesn’t help that he cries and squirms when I burp him, no matter what position I use.
On top of the inherent sleep deprivation of having a newborn, Sprout has been skipping his nap several times a week. While I thankfully have Chris to look after him if necessary, I don’t like taking a nap when I could be eking out a little bit more time with him. So I’ve often been choosing between getting any sleep during the day or making time for Sprout.
Perhaps most of all, the repetition of nursing and changing diapers is grinding on me. Some people are well-suited for the long, difficult work of care taking for an infant. I am not, at least in the long run.
This isn’t a post to say, “I have it the worst” because I very much don’t. The fact that Chris is home all of the time makes a huge difference. In addition, I have have a substantial maternity leave, Little Bird isn’t colicky, and he is capable of sleeping without being held.
This isn’t a post to say that it’s all bad, either. I’ve had moments of great joy in the past few days, from looking down into Little Bird’s sweet face and folded hands while nursing to galloping along the sidewalk with Sprout.
This isn’t a “Please, for God’s sake, don’t tell me to enjoy every moment” post. While I do feel that way, there are plenty of posts about that, many of which are very well-written.
No, what this is is simply a reminder to myself and anyone else in a similar situation that it is just a stage. That it will get better and more fun. That this too shall pass.