Before I became a mother, I knew that I would have to deal with the lack of sleep. A lot of mums who had children before I did would say “oh my God, sleep now, cause you’ll never sleep when the baby arrives!”. Sort of intimidating, but it’s a good warning, nonetheless.
I didn’t realise the extent of sleep deprivation I would experience as a mother. By 2 months old, my daughter was already wide awake most of the time, and she was super hungry. Even when she was asleep, there was so much to be done. Clean the bottles, do the laundry, there was always something to do.
To make things worse, my mother had already passed away, my in-laws weren’t around either. We were completely alone. We couldn’t pass the child to someone else temporarily while we rest.
A lot of mums also said, “it will get better”. Nope it didn’t. At least for me. Helen would only sleep if you take her on a baby carrier, or walk her on the pram. There was a physical activity attached to putting her to sleep. So when she does fall asleep, we would be outside, nowhere near my bed. If I do go home and transfer her to her cot, she would wake up.
My sleep deprivation caused brought back my anxiety issues I had as a child. I had post-natal depression, and I was holding myself back from being violent and angry. There was a point I regretted being a mother, there was a point where I just wanted to disappear.
The feeling of regret of being a mother is a taboo topic that mothers avoid talking about, due to the guilt, shame and the fear of judgement. I think you will never find peace with yourself if you don’t share it with others. It’s therapeutic, voicing your struggles is actually extremely important and helpful. However, make sure you talk to a trusted person or a qualified psychologist or counsellor. You want the outcome of the conversation to be positive, not dangerous. It’s also better to say what you feel, and it doesn’t sound nice at all, rather than actually inflicting violence or abuse to your own children.
After my husband and I discussed the sleep deprivation issue, we agreed on letting each other sleep in on the weekends. One of us gets to sleep in on a Saturday, and change the roles on Sunday. I also started napping at work. Fortunately, I am small enough to fit under my work desk. It’s nice and dark under the desk, and the room is always in a great temperature!
Our immune system also gets compromised if we don’t get enough sleep. Since I started sleeping more, I’ve been feeling a lot fresher and stronger. Sleep might be something that is often taken for granted, but it’s such an important part of our health. Our body resets itself, our muscles rest. The impact of good sleep is much more than just ‘having more energy’. It impacts our mental health, and that is a massive part of parenting. Sleep makes us better parents.