Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Wear what fits

I haven't been getting much sleep. I think this must be a universal truth spoken by all parents. My husband and I have been trying to find ways to get a bit more. And it is a tricky business. There is so much advice when it comes to sleep and so many promises but few actual guarantees. What I have found is that it isn't just the technique which matters but whether that technique feels right and fits my way of being a Mum to Ella. I already knew I wasn't happy to leave her to cry but even that isn't as simple as it sounds. What is crying? Is it a grizzle or a hysterical sobbing? At the weekend we hit the sleep deprivation wall and needed to do something. So I read a book and we tried a few things. By the end of the weekend I was sleeping on the couch because I was so on edge waiting for her to wake the soothing and settling to begin again. I am sure my husband and I were in no fit state to be driving let alone looking after a small child. Oh the irony.

I spent some time reflecting blearily about why I was so on edge and concluded that following someone elses operating instructions for my own child just wasn't sitting well with me. Many of the recommendations in the book were helpful but the process seemed to disconnect me from my wee girl and generalised her. So on Sunday night I decided to just do what felt right to me and what preserved the most sleep for us. Ella still woke 5 times but she was back to sleep in a few minutes and I didn't sleep on the couch. In the morning I woke refreshed and feeling like a good Mum again.

At the moment dark circles under my eyes may just be normal but I don't want to feel a stranger to my child. That is so much worse that any lack of sleep. It steals the joy that keeps me going despite my fatigue.

Monday, 12 October 2009

The simple life

Over the last few weeks I have been slowly getting used to being on my own with Ella. I am so pleased to not need someone with me anymore and to feel so well now. However, it often seems as mothering and parenting in general is such a complicated business. I have been forced to keep it simple because of my mental health. I haven't managed to do anything except the basics and when people have suggested things such as expressing a bottle, it seemed like too much a of a challenge to me. Now I am feeling more and more grateful for the simplicity I have been forced into.

When I was still very unwell and was trying to have a day alone I ended up at a friend's house for the day as I just needed some company. She has a new baby too and continued pottering about her home as I stayed on the couch with Ella. For that day my world was that couch. I fed Ella, changed her on the floor in front of me and then she slept on me. It was an amazing relief and joy to discover that Ella was totally content and that all she needed was right there on the couch. I found it so peaceful and relaxing because no longer was I thinking about putting her to bed, doing housework, or anything else. IT was the best therapy I had while I was struggling with deep depression. It showed me how simple mothering could be and that I was able to be a wonderful mother.

If I had any advice for new mothers is to spend a couple of days just being with their baby so that they can discover how little their baby needs to be happy and thrive.