Monday, June 9, 2014

Mental Exhaustion

she's cute but she's exhausting
One of the things that I was ill-prepared for in this whole first time parenting role is the mental exhaustion.  Everyone talks about how tired you'll be, and I guess I just assumed they were talking about the physical exhaustion.  I get being tired with a baby up every few hours or so and not getting my 8 hours of consistent sleep, but it's the mental exhaustion that has me in tears. 
Helena's "schedule" for the past few days has been tiring.  She's up in the afternoon, from about 2:30pm to 9:30pm.  She'll take small cat naps for about 20 minutes (if I'm lucky, they are usually about 5-10 minutes) during that stretch of time.  Our pattern is for her to get a clean diaper, eat, be a happy content baby for about 10-15 minutes, then she is just fussy.  Sometimes it's small grunts, other times it is full on screaming bloody murder, or a combination of all things fussy.  I don't know why she's upset, if her stomach aches, or if something else is going on?  Eventually she'll relax enough and close her eyes, but no more than for 20 minutes, and we just repeat our pattern.  From start to finish it's about a 3 hour cycle.  A few rounds of this, and I know she is exhausted, and by the end of the day I'm exhausted.  But little girl just won't take an afternoon nap.  I question if this is normal?  Helena is definitely more aware of her surroundings, does she cry just for me to come pick her up?  Does she cry just to cry?  Does she cry because something is wrong?, if so, what's wrong?  I'm starting to question everything and wonder what in the world I'm doing?!
The upside to this schedule is she's sleeping for much longer stretches at night.  And once she does get her nighttime feeding, she seriously goes straight to sleep.  As of right now her longest stretch has been almost 6 hours!  And with all things considered I would much rather have a fussy daytime baby that won't sleep than a up all nighttime baby.  ...although last night was a rough one, as Helena and I were out in the living room at 2:30am, and never went back to bed.  But the nights up are far more infrequent than her nights where she'll eat and go right back to sleep.  For that I am thankful.
I definitely have a case of "Mommy Guilt".  And that hasn't helped with the mental exhaustion.  In addition to entertaining Helena during the day I want to keep the house cleaned, the dishes put away, and the laundry done.  What's difficult about this, is it's all me.  Chris could seriously care less if the house was clean.  And I know people say that all of those things can wait, but don't they need to get done eventually?!  I'm doing my best to enjoy my baby, as she's already changing so much, I like to think I'm staying present, making mental notes of this time, but in the back of my head I also see it as my responsibility to keep the house kept.  In the days when things don't get done I definitely find myself feeling guilty.  I feel like I'm a bad wife, or a bad mom, or both.  I know it's in my own head, but it is still there.  The days go by super quick but I'm almost confused when Chris asks me at night what me and the baby have been doing, and I don't really have an answer for him.
I pray things will get easier (they do get easier, right?!) and in time I'll figure it out.  Right now I just feel like I have no clue what it is that I'm doing, and for the most part that's because I really don't know what I'm doing.  There is usually a moment or two each day when Helena will snuggle up against me and let me know that I'm doing an OK job, and those moments are the ones worth remembering.  


Peg said...

Not that I have any experience but another friend had her first around the first of the year and in May found out that they were keeping their little guy awake to long thinking that since he was awake and sort of fussy he was fine. She swaddled him and put him down when he was still awake and is now doing naps like a champ.

Emily Foley said...
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Emily Foley said...

Oh man it's so hard at first, SO HARD. And it will get easier. Noah used to do those short catnaps and I wanted to die! It was just never long enough to get anything done! The thing about babies is they change so fast that their habits change fast too. She might do this for a week or two and then all of a sudden she'll start taking longer naps and you'll think hallelujah! and then two weeks later she's back to the catnaps. Their schedules change so frequently, it's impossible to stay on top of it sometimes. You could try doing naps in a swing or bouncy seat instead of her bed and see if that helps her sleep longer? One thing it took me 3 kids to learn is this: sometimes babies just cry, even if nothing is wrong. So if she's not tired, she's eaten, and you've changed her and is still fussy, sometimes you just have to let her be. Leave her in her bed for a few minutes if you don't want to hear it. I did that a lot with Zoe, poor third child. :) you'll learn to decipher her cries (hungry, tired, wet, etc.) and until then it sounds like you're doing great!

I still have guilt about a messy house and dirty laundry. My husband doesn't make me feel guilty I just feel like a loser when I can't get it all done, but taking care of a family is hard work. you're doing great! Don't get down on yourself! Just do your best. :)

Summer said...

Sorry, it doesn't get easier, but they grow and you do too! TJ was a horrible napper, but a great night sleeper. Take the trade, because like Em said, naps change, but the night time sleeping habits will stick!
I doubt she cries for you to pick her up. TJ just started doing that, making the connection that we hold him when he cries. She's really too small to understand that (says my psychologist husband).

I know you probably don't need it, but a few tips-
don't let her morning naps go longer than three hours or it will mess up her sleep schedule.
Maybe she is overstimulated? Wrap her up and don't feed her when she wakes up maybe? TJ took ALOT of naps in his swing, because I could get him to sleep for longer.

Babies are just trial and error. But after a few months you realize which things work better for the kiddo. You'll figure it out. :)

Oh, and just start doing one load of laundry and one small chore a day. If you don't get it done, no big deal, but if you do, good work!

Summer said...

Sorry for the novel. :) I really feel where your coming from. It may not get easier, but it does get better! If you don't know what to do, try asking God, because He usually does.