This morning I was in tears. It’s the third time I’ve cried since Charlotte’s arrival. The first was when she was actually born, the second was her first real meltdown in that first week, she was crying and looked so helpless, and the third was my first real meltdown, today. The tears were a breakdown from a culmination of events that transpired the day before as well as serious lack of sleep for the past four weeks. I had taken Charlotte to have some newborn photographs done, and everything that could go wrong did – she wouldn’t sleep, she pooped on set, she peed on Chad, and she cried one hour and fifteen minutes of the two hours we were there. She had hardly slept all day long.
This morning, at 5:30AM, after feeding her for yet the third time of the night, I laid her on my chest to try and coax her back to sleep, and she puked in my hair. I’m talking puke that went down my neck and onto the pillow case and covered the blanket. I feel like I’m living in a fraternity house because it seems my whole bed is covered in vomit. After this moment I couldn’t help but cry. I was tired, my baby wouldn’t stop crying, and best of all she would not go to sleep. Chad finally put her in the bouncer in the den, shut the door to the bedroom and told me to sleep and not worry about Charlotte. So I did. Two hours worth of uninterrupted sleep, and I felt like a new woman.
I did not get to shower today or put on makeup but I got to sleep for two hours, have brunch with a friend, and work out for half an hour. That’s the tradeoff I made.
I know I am not alone in my desperation to sleep. Every parent out there experiences this lack of sleep and knows exactly how I feel. I guess what I’m really mourning when I cry about the lack of sleep is, to some extent, my old life. The life where I could stay up until 1AM and sleep in until whenever. The life where I wasn’t awakened every fifteen minutes by sounds Charlotte makes when she does sleep, that startle me, whether it’s a half cry or a slight whimper. I am blessed with a child but I will never sleep the same way again. For the first three weeks it was manageable. But reality hit me today that this was my new normal and all I could do was cry. One does not realize how important and precious her sleep is until it is gone. There is no luring it back. I cannot catch up on it, and I cannot get more of it. Now I have to learn to live without something I squandered for so many years. Who wouldn’t cry?!
This afternoon I walked to the Walgreen’s by my house with Charlotte in the baby bjorn and a burp cloth hanging out of my yoga pants pocket. The route I take goes right in front of the high school, and it was at that time when kids are leaving for the day and many were gathered by their cars or on the soccer field. I was walking past all these high school kids with a baby on my chest and burp cloth in my pocket and dog leash in hand watching them watch me. To them I am sure I looked like the mom that I am…
I just don’t know why it took me so long to see what everyone else can so clearly. I guess I didn’t want to say good-bye to the old me. I hope she’s resting in peace, wherever she is…
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About the Author: Natalie Magee writes a regular column for Happiness Series about what motherhood and beyond - from prenatal to postpartum. Her intention with her column, "Baby & Beyond - What No One Else Will Tell You" is to give practical advice and tips to the busy mom and mom-to-be. She also shares her experiences good, bad and ugly as a woman, wife, mom, flight attendant and fitness instructor. Natalie is also a regular fitness contributor on Happiness Series. She will continue to create great, effective workouts for anyone - including the busy moms out there - who wants to get fit and stay in shape.