Long nights are definitely par for the course when it comes to babies, unless you happen to be one of the few parents whose child sleeps well from the start. I have two children but when my second came, I was surprised by how much harder it was dealing with the separate sleep patterns of two very different children. My daughter came first and she was sleeping through the night by about four months old-she was in the middle of potty training when I brought my son home, however, so I expected it to be a bit of a struggle; however, I had NO idea what was coming. And that’s a very important thing to remember when it comes to children: you cannot know what’s coming. You can plan and that’s definitely a smart choice, but you have to leave yourself a margin for change.
My daughter – thankfully – continued to sleep well through the nighttime. We only have two bedrooms but we knew better than to put our newborn in the same room with our (then) two-year old at night. Besides, I was breastfeeding, so it made since to keep my son in the room with his father and I. But that wasn’t enough, as it turned out. He had a very difficult time … breastfeeding did NOT come easy and despite medications and every bit of advice I could find, even my OB told me that I’d have to start using the formula after about 6 weeks b/c he wasn’t getting enough nutrition from me. I was DEVASTATED. He’d been actually co-sleeping in his little nook in the middle of our bed since we came home from the hospital. As it turns out, my daughter was a bit jealous so that was something we weren’t prepared to deal with, but we took it as it came, making a BIG, excited deal about putting glow-stars on her ceiling and gushing over her big girl bed…so she began to really enjoy sleeping in her room again.
My son was still another story. He wasn’t sleeping well even from the beginning-most children will give you at least a 2-3 hour repreive between nighttime feeds, but not my son. Nope. He wanted to be fed immeadiately upon opening his eyes, so needless to say the switch from breast (always ready) to formula (takes time) wasn’t exactly easy. Add to that the fact that he then ended up being switched to a different formula at least FOUR times before-at 6 months-we finally found out that he has a milk allergy and you can probably see that I was a walking zombie in no time. It felt like he NEVER slept and he was ALWAYS unhappy.
Shortly after we found out about his allergy, we had to take him to an ENT specialist as he and his sister were both having recurring ear/sinus infections. Our daughter ended up having tubes places in her ears, as well as having both her adenoids and tonsils removed immeadiately followed (literally, the next surgery scheduled that day) by her baby brother who had the tubes placed and an agressive removal of his adenoids. That first 10 months after we brought J home was an unbelieveable strain. So little sleep, so much sickness…but after their surgeries, things started to get better.
J moved into the room with his sister and began sleeping for about 6 hrs before waking and wanting another cup of “milk” (almond milk) before he went back to sleep for another 5-6 hours. It was still difficult b/c his sister was finally potty trained and would sleep through the night but being over 2 she had no need for quite as many hours of sleep as J. They would go to bed around the same time, then I’d be up with J in the middle of the night for just a while (of course, he’d go right back to sleep whereas my “mommy brain” would start spinning and cause me to take an hour and a half before I could drift back off) and then shortly after I’d fall asleep myself, my daughter would be up. And actually, it’s still a bit like that to this day-and my daughter is now 3 1/2 and my son is almost 1 1/2. Whenever J is having tummy issues or gets even the slightest bit sick, I know we’re in for a fight. My little girl just wants to be cuddled, get her meds, and sleep whenever she doesn’t feel well-even when her asthma is flared up, she just wants me to hold her a while, give her a breathing treatment, and let her go back to bed. But J? No way. It’s almost as if he gets angry about getting sick. He doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t eat, he barely drinks, he cries almost nonstop without much comfort. The only solution is to quite literally hold him all day. The instant I try to put him down, it starts all over.
The joys of a stay at home mom? We never leave our work. Ever. It’s quite literally a 24 hour job every single day. The kids always come first (as they do with most every mom you ever meet…it seems to just be built into us) regardless of what else there is to do or how Mommy feels. There are no sick days, no vacation time, and no day to just roll over and sleep in (nope, not even the weekends) b/c the kids aren’t going to do the same thing. So what do you do? Simple. You just keep going. Because the only other choice is to just give up and that’s not fair to your babies. They didn’t ASK you to give birth, or to give up your job, or to NOT give up your job if that’s the case. You don’t get to just decide to QUIT being a mom b/c it gets a little hard. You learn to be honest with your support group and hope that every now and then someone can lend a helping hand. And in the meantime? You JUST KEEP GOING. That’s absolutely all there is to it.
Kids are screaming and you wanna scream back? You lose your mind and think you wanna slap them or hurt them? Then you put those kids SAFELY in their baby-proofed room, close the door for a few minutes and CALL SOMEBODY ELSE. You do NOT, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, hurt your child. You don’t ignore them, you don’t refuse to feed them or change them, you don’t leave them on their own, you don’t abandon them, you don’t take them into a dangerous situation/place, you don’t lay a harmful hand on them. EVER. Do you understand me? If you wanna feel your heart break as a mother, read about ANY OTHER MOTHER who has STUPIDLY harmed or killed her own child. They always claim exhaustion or say they just couldn’t take it anymore. IT’S NOT AN EXCUSE!!! There is NO excuse for harming a child!!!! PERIOD!!!! Grow up, get some help and take care of your children. If you CAN’T handle them, then go to DFACS and turn them over sot hat they can find someone who WANTS them. Soooo many people who WANT children more than they want air to breathe and are unable to conceive. If you can’t envision yourself as a mom, then do NOT bring that baby home…put that sweet child up for adoption and give them a better life than a mother who doesn’t really want to care for them.
That is not say that every woman who places her child for adoption is just some wreck who can’t handle a child…placing a child for adoption is a deeply personal choice and one you have to make with a level head. I’m not speaking to the women who make a concious choice to place their child for adoption b/c they KNOW it’ll be best for the child. I’m speaking to the others. The selfish, self-absorbed women who just don’t think they can do what it takes to GROW UP and be a REAL woman. To be a mother. I’m speaking to the people I described in the paragraph above-the ones who consider harming their own child. Babies are innocent. Toddlers are innocent. PERIOD. They do not KNOW what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s frustrating. It’s up to you to teach them, to guide them, to HELP them. Children should never suffer at the hands of someone that they trust. If you EVER have thoughts of harming your child, PLEASE, listen to me…put that child in their crib or bed or someplace they will be SAFE while you call someone for HELP. PLEASE. Just walk away from the anger. As moms, we all know it can be frustrating when you haven’t slept or showered or even THOUGHT about yourself and your child is screaming and crawling all over you. It’s exhausting. But it isn’t something the child should be PUNISHED for b/c IT IS NOT THE CHILD’S FAULT. Children don’t come with a manual and they aren’t automatically programmed like a robot to be turned off or on when you want them to. PLEASE do NOT EVER hurt your child. I am begging you. Please. Put them somewhere safe, and call someone. Anyone. If you know you can’t take it, then call the police. Call DFACS. Call a friend. ANYONE. And let that child go somewhere SAFE.
EVERY SINGLE BABY AND CHILD DESERVES TO BE SAFE AND LOVED AND CARED FOR AND NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT BEING HARMED.
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