I became a mom for the second time a month and 4 days ago – but who’s counting? I had forgotten how hard this part of motherhood is. I’m feeling like I have a human attached to me at all times of day. Our daughter would much rather be held than put down. And I’m tired!
This time around, I am much more aware of our baby’s sleep patterns. I try to encourage her to sleep after being awake for an hour to an hour and a half. I recognize that the “witching hour” that everyone talks about from around 4-8pm is probably an indication that Julia is tired. When I’m able to calm her and get her to sleep during that time, she seems happier later on. I also remember that you can’t spoil a baby this age. So I get Julia to sleep anywhere safe…on me, in a swing, bouncy seat, etc. I just make sure she’s is rested and not overtired. I really find focusing on that one piece is very helpful and important for Julia’s functioning.
Don’t get me wrong – we’re up at night with the rest of the sleepless parents of newborns! The night time wakings are tough – I feel pretty alone at 2 and 5am! (That 5 am feed seems to be the hardest – I just cannot keep my eyes open for that one!) Since my first daughter was born, Facebook and social media has become more popular. It does “keep me company” during those late-night feeds. I also have a friend with a new baby so we sometimes text late at night. Having support from friends and family does help keep me sane when exhaustion sets in.
My sister also reminded me to keep my expectations in check. While I’m longing for a stretch of sleep longer than just a few hours, babies who are breastfeeding really do need to eat every few hours until they are four to six months old. New babies also don’t produce melatonin and don’t have established circadian rhythms yet, so they live off a 24-hour clock and days and nights are sometimes meaningless. No matter how much I want to get a decent night’s sleep, I have a couple more months to go. So for now, I try to sleep when I can and rely on support from my husband and other friends and family to help out.
It’s been an adjustment. Life with two kids is certainly challenging – especially as a working mom. But it’s also pretty amazing. Every once in a while I just stare at my baby and am baffled that we made her. She is sweet and snuggly and smells amazing. And at 3am, when I’m so anxious about how little sleep I’m getting, I just put her on my shoulder, rub her back, and think about how lucky I am.