I don’t have a good sleeper.
I don’t know what a good sleeper is.
I don’t know what it’s like to get 3-6 hour stretches of uninterrupted sleep.
I don’t know what it’s like not to be exhausted.
I don’t know what it’s like to not feel like a zombie.
This is my reality.
I do know what it’s like to cry with my baby at all hours of the nights.
I do know what it’s like to question if he’s in pain, gassy, hungry multiple times a night.
I do know what it’s like to be told that I’ve put my son to sleep too early, too late, starving, incorrectly, and any other way that diminishes my credibility as a parent.
I do know what it’s like to be told I need to stop cosleeping because I may roll on top of him and kill him.
I do know what it’s like to be told to just “let him cry it out, he needs to learn.”
I do know what it’s like to scream, cry, blame myself because I just have a bad sleeper.
I do know what it’s like to doubt myself on a regular basis. Have anxiety attacks as the clock creeps towards bedtime. To want to just give up when it’s been two hours since the process has begun.
This is my reality.
Luca is a bad sleeper.
Luca had (has?) painful reflux, a cow milk protein allergy, a reaction to tree nuts through breast milk.
Luca screamed for the first six months of his life during every single moment of sleep.
Luca became afraid of sleep.
Luca could not handle sleep training. He would scream for hours, get so worked up he’d puke, finally say mama to stab my heart, and then cling to me thinking his life was over.
Luca is terrified of his crib.
Luca cannot sleep now unless he’s touching me.
It sometimes takes hours to even get him to sleep.
This is my reality.
Here I am at 11:45 at night. Have been trying to put my stubborn son to sleep since 8 pm. Have tried nursing, a bottle, white noise, lullabies, rocking, just about anything possible to get him to sleep.
Have tried moving bed time earlier, moving bed time later, filling him up before bed, moving feeding times around, scheduling, going with the flow, sleep training, co-sleeping- again just about anything possible to get him to sleep.
I cry most nights. I beg him to please just go to sleep most nights. I feel like a shit parent most nights.
Again, this is my reality.
But still I wake every day at 8:30/9 and I parent my son. I feed him breakfast, we play, he learns something new, we fight a nap, we have lunch, we play, we learn something new, we go out, we fight another nap, we play, have dinner- do you catch my drift?
My reality is that I do the damn best I can for my son. I be the best mother I possibly can for my child. I cry a lot because it’s all I can do when the frustration hits when he squirms and screams in my arms to fight sleep. When he wakes up 5-6 times a night shrieking at night, inconsolable because of reasons no damn doctor can explain except for teething and separation anxiety. I cry because no one knows the true struggle of raising a baby that NEVER seems to sleep but they so often can give opinions on where and how he sleeps; on parenting a child they just haven’t experienced because like I’ve said before Every. Single. Child. Is. Different.
This is my reality. This is my life of getting minimal amounts of sleep, doubting my parenting, crying with my child through the night, trying to keep my sanity while working & going to school, and just trying to not run away.
It’s a reality that is so not talked about. We hear so often “Oh is he a good baby, sleeping through the night?” I’m sorry, is my child bad because he doesn’t? Is there something wrong with him because he doesn’t? Do you feel I’m a bad parent because my child doesn’t? Do you see the line of doubt you place into parents heads with these assumptions on how a child is meant to act?
We don’t talk about the harsh side of parenting; the painful, gut-wrenching, pull your hair out, try not to yell at the world side. The side when you want to run and leave this child behind just for a second of quiet, peaceful, eight hour sleep. The side where you need sleep to function but you feel this painful bought of guilt every single time you ask someone to rake him just for an uninterrupted hour of sleep. When you feel guilty because this is the life you grew, the life you swore to protect and nurture but you feel like you’re falling apart because you cannot function. You cannot biologically function without sleep. But you feel like a failure for admitting that, don’t you? For admitting that you need something that takes time away from your baby.
This is my reality. This is so many parents reality and yet we hide within mom groups where moms spout opinions on babies they barely know. Where moms shame other moms because they choose other practices. Where surviving becomes shame because you did something that another mom deems unethical, dangerous, downright selfish. Where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
We hide behind the shadows of the moms who know it all because we’re afraid to admit we don’t.
WE. DONT. KNOW. IT. ALL.
You could have raised 10, 15, 20 children and let me break it to you- you still don’t know it all.
Do you know what you know? YOUR children.
Do you know what you don’t know? MY children.
Let’s talk about the ugly side of parenting. The painful side of parenting. The scared, lost, and afraid side of parenting.
What is our actual reality?
This is mine, and I can’t hide it anymore.
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