Tag: Bedtime

12 Moments When Your Baby WILL NOT Sleep Through the Night

Some parents are lucky and their baby starts sleeping through the night. Other parents are extremely talented and they lull their baby into a tender unconsciousness for the duration of the night.I have not been so lucky. My baby will not sleep through the night.

We have tried everything it feels like. He eats a ton and wakes up to eat all the time and he REALLY eats! I think we are just doomed to endure. When your baby will not sleep through the night, I think you are with me on these 12 moments you get to embrace.

1. When you make sure his bedtime routine has been performed with perfection and he has been properly pampered:

2. When you got him to go to sleep and you’re pretty sure tonight’s the night:

3. When you just have to check on him one last time:

4. When you hear him start to fuss and realize once again, your baby will not sleep through the night:

5. When you wish your husband would shout this:

6. When you climb back into bed, are on the brink of falling asleep and you hear him:

7. When you wake, but you knew it was coming and it’s probably the last time:

8. When it wasn’t the last time and you’re up 30 minutes later:

9. When that wasn’t the last time either and you’re up 30 minutes later again:

 

10. When your alarm clock goes off:

11. When you try to be a normal person every day:

No one can know for certain how long this will last. Our son is almost 6 months old… and that baby will not sleep through the night. I long for and pray for the day when I find moment number 12.

12. When you finally wake up and realize it’s the morning and the last time you were conscious is when you chose to go to bed:

 

If you want to read about one of my ACTUAL horrible nights, ENJOY!

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD without Medical Help

There are few experiences written on the web about Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD. They frequently get swept into the category of Postpartum Depression. But if you have ever experienced this, you will know that they are not the same and hearing about PPD all the time can make you feel that you are all alone in your struggle.

You are not alone.

taking care of my daughter after months of battling postpartum anxiety

 

My First Baby

I was obviously anxious about having a baby, but I was more focused on the delivery part of it. I figured that since I was the oldest of five, having a child would be easy. Having helped my mom change so many diapers, feed my siblings, gone babysitting, I just assumed that I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

 

The First 6 Weeks

For the first 6 weeks, postpartum, I was fine. We were with family and felt like we had a great support network. Our moms would gobble up any opportunity to hold Siena. They helped her fall asleep, changed her bum and were there for us to lean on physically and emotionally.

Literally, the day after my daughter was 6 weeks old, we flew all the way around the world and began living in China. There is nothing that could have prepared me for that kind of culture shock, but that is a story for another time.

 

Living in China

Facetiming to help cope with postpartum anxiety
My mom helped me through so much just by being available to talk to me whenever I needed to.

We were excited to go on this great adventure, but we weren’t entirely sure what it would be like with a baby. We had planned everything out and felt like we were prepared, we just didn’t anticipate the very real possibility of the mental health issues that might arise.

I was alone frequently during the day. Before we had left I didn’t think this would be a problem. I could make friends, and if not I could catch up on some of the things I’ve been wanting to do. I could blog, I could read, I could watch movies and of course I would be caring for our little angel.

Then I realized there was no one around me who spoke any English. And my Spanish only served to frustrate my attempts at learning Chinese. That was fine. I still had friends online… except that Facebook, Gmail, Youtube and any other American social networking site was blocked by the government. My saving grace was FaceTime, but the time change also made that very challenging. If it was four in the afternoon in China, it was two in the morning back home.

The afternoon was usually when it would start to get hard. I knew Austin wouldn’t be back from school for another couple of hours and by then I was at the end of my rope with Siena. I didn’t know how to make her happy. Being a Mama was much more difficult than I had anticipated.

 

Signs of a Problem

From the beginning, I was always a little paranoid about my baby girl. I was terrified she would just stop breathing while she was sleeping. A kid was coughing into her hands and then touching Siena’s hands… I about lost it. Fear gnawed at me constantly that something would happen to her.

We hadn’t been living in China for very long, maybe just a week or two when I started having the thoughts. Siena would be crying for hours and I would have no idea how to calm her and these unsolicited, unwanted images would flash through my mind. The images were a constant stream of me doing horrible things to my daughter. I couldn’t stop them. It seemed like the more I tried to rid myself of the thoughts, the more they permeated. (I will not get specific about what those thoughts were because I know that such descriptions can trigger images in people who suffer the same things as I did.)

I used to sit on my bed, sobbing and clutching my daughter with fear, terrified that somehow, I would do something that I had seen in my head. The fear that I would somehow do those things without wanting to may sound irrational to anyone not in my head, but it didn’t feel impossible to me. It felt terrifying and very real. 

 

Logical Explanation

mama who looks perfectly happy but battling postpartum anxiety
No one would know how I struggled unless I told them. You never know who could be going through this.

At first I thought that the only explanation for me having these thoughts was that I was a horrible mom. After all, how could I be a good mom if I was seeing all of these things in my head? It reaffirmed my belief over and over again because I couldn’t make them stop. If I was really a good mom, I wouldn’t keep seeing atrocities in my head. A good mom would never think these things.

The bad thoughts persisted so I finally looked it up online. At first the only articles I found were about postpartum depression and as I would read those, I thought, see… it’s just me. I’m the only one who thinks this way.

I finally clicked on a link labeled Postpartum Anxiety/OCD. OCD was never something that described me, but I certainly had a history of anxiety. As I read the article, everything made sense. I felt a relief just knowing that I was not the only one who had experienced this. Maybe, just maybe I wasn’t having these thoughts because I was a bad mom!

 

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD Explained

When someone experiences Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD they feel extreme anxiety about the well-being of their infant. The OCD describes ritualistic things done to help avoid the dangers that the mom foresees. As a mild example, a mom could constantly be washing her hands to make sure her baby doesn’t get sick. Another example is getting rid of items they perceive as being potentially harmful to the child.

For each of these mental illnesses, bad thoughts are a central theme. They could be bad thoughts about things in general, happening to your infant or things that you are specifically doing to your child.

Another core feature of Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD is repulsion at the images you are seeing. If you are experiencing a desire to do the things you are seeing or feel like someone is telling you to do those things, it is imperative that you stop reading my blog right now and seek medical attention. This is something called Postpartum Psychosis and is very treatable if you get help.

For all of these Postpartum Anxiety, OCD, Psychosis & Depression… it is not your fault. They don’t make you a bad mom. Merely the fact that you are worried about it and researching it on the internet proves you are a great mom. You are worried about the safety of your baby and yourself.

 

Postpartum Anxiety without Medical Help

I don’t recommend this. If you are experiencing any Postpartum Anxiety, Depression, OCD or Psychosis, please seek help ASAP. There are professionals who know how to help you.

I did not have this luxury. I was in a country across the world where very few people spoke English and it would have been extremely good fortune to find anyone who knew anything about Postpartum Anxiety. It was also hard to talk to my family about it because I was afraid they wouldn’t understand. But I did find a couple of things that were helpful in my battle for it alone.

I share these with you if you are in a situation like I was and cannot receive medical help. This may be a rare circumstance, but it was extremely frustrating to receive no guidance online beyond, go seek a medical professional when that was something I couldn’t do. If nothing else, these things might help until you can receive help.

 

Things that Helped

Talking to my husband was one of the first things that helped. I told him of my thoughts even though I was ashamed and embarrassed. Getting them out in the open helped to normalize the situation. He also shared his fears and even though they were not the same as mine, it helped to know that I was not the only one struggling during what should be “the most joyful time of our life”.

My beautiful angel who I fought for during my postpartum anxiety

When I did get back to America, I went to a group once. It was helpful to an extent. The other women there struggled with postpartum depression and it was hard to really share with them because I was embarrassed about the bad thoughts I was having. However, before anyone else arrived, I got to talk to the psychologist there one on one and having a medical professional validate my experience was helpful.

What helped me the most though was realizing that my fear behind all of the thoughts was that I was a terrible mom. I was scared that deep down maybe I really was this horrible person. Once I realized my fear, I also learned that this was a lie. I was not a terrible mom. I’m not a bad person. From that point forward, whenever I would see the horrifying images, I would repeat to myself “I am a great mom.” I would repeat it until I believed it and then they would leave me alone for a time.

To me, it seemed like infusing myself with truth was the only way to combat the lies that accosted me constantly.

 

Spirituality is Helpful, but Not a Curemy husband rescuing me when I needed help with postpartum anxiety - an answer to prayers

I am a very religious person. While I was going through this, I used to read my scriptures, go to church, pray and plead with my Heavenly Father to take this away from me. I tried everything I could think of to implore heavenly help. It came, but it came in the form of ways to cope until I could find professional help.

For example, I found an article that reaffirmed I was sick, that there was a name for something I was going through. That felt so liberating.

Another example is my husband would have strength when I had none. I have a picture of him standing, silhouetted in the dark while he held our crying baby and had saved me from emotionally crumpling in on myself.

Even though I was doing everything I could to stay close to my Heavenly Father, I still had the bad thoughts. And part of me likes to think that I went through that so I would know that this is a legitimate illness that is not imagined or something that you can just control. Because I know this, I can now be there to support other women who are struggling in the same way.

 

Length of Time

After I returned to America and was around family again, my bad thoughts almost went away. But they didn’t completely. Sometimes they would return full force and I would find myself crippled in emotional hell.

They came back more frequently when we moved to Detroit. I had read somewhere that it would last throughout the first year of your child’s life. This seemed impossible to me. How could they just go away? I would never be able to forget the images that had tortured me.

While that is true, it is also true that the illness went away. After a year, I was no longer consumed by it. I still remember every horrible thought I had with impeccable clarity. They are not easily forgotten. But, they don’t replay in my head over and over again, threatening to strip me of my sanity.

Instead I think, “my poor new mom self. I wish I could tell her how amazing she was for being strong when she felt impossibly weak.”

 

Will it Return?

Postpartum Anxiety and OCD is most common with your first pregnancy, but that does not mean it is impossible for it to return. As I prepared for the birth of my second child, I talked to my OB/GYN about my experience with Siena and she helped me take some precautions. She recommended some mental health professionals and prescribed some anxiety meds.

Taking the medication gave me extreme insomnia so I quit taking those. And I never did get to go see someone before my son was born, or after for that matter. I am happy to report that I haven’t needed to so far. He is 5 months old and I have been so happy. I didn’t know this kind of happiness postpartum was possible.

And in case you were concerned or wondering, the postpartum anxiety I had with my daughter does not in any way affect how much I love my children. I love them both the same and am so grateful that this time around, I got to enjoy all of the experiences that being a new mom can bring.

my angel baby and her big eyes helped me battle postpartum anxiety
My beautiful girl was a light to me during the trying times.

 

You Always Have Help

I am not a medical professional, I don’t have a degree or a license. I just have a lot of experience that can at the very least, assure you that you are normal. You will just need some help getting through this.

If you are struggling with this and have no one else to turn to, I am here as a resource. It will get better. It doesn’t last forever and you are an incredible mom.

If you would like to reach out to me, please send me an email or leave your comments below. I am sure there are many people who struggle with this and would be able to offer even more insight than I can. 

When Anger Blinded Me to My Toddler Who Kept Getting Out of Bed

The Frustration of Kids Getting Out of Bed

Why do you keep getting out of bed?! Don't you understand that if you don't go to sleep you're going to be grumpy all day tomorrow and then I'm going to be grumpy all day tomorrow and then you'll have to go to bed even earlier? I want to take this knowledge and insert it into my child's cranium with a thumb drive so they can process the consequences. And yet, every night I feel like I am waging the age old war of the toddler who keeps getting out of bed.

I don't have a solution per-se. Our methods work on and off. But, I do have a story for the moms or dads who want to rip their hair out because their baby doesn't treasure sleep the way that us adults do. Welcome to one of the countless nights that my 2 year old kept getting out of bed.

Calm before the Bed Time Storm

It was a quiet night. My husband and I were excited for some downtime and a break from work and caring for two sick kids. I had just managed to get both of the kids in bed and felt like I could finally relax after an exhausting day. We had just settled into the couch cushions when I heard the familiar turn of the knob from down the hall. Ugh... it was happening again.

Flashes in the Distance

My daughter stood in the hallway, waiting for mama or dada to come put her back in bed. This happened about three times in the evenings. Each time, we took away one of her toys that she likes to sleep with. The one that usually keeps her in bed is the threat to take away her baby if she gets out of bed again. This was the last threat before she finally stayed in her bed.

Thunder Rumbling

We stayed up later than usual and I didn't fall asleep until around 12:30 in the morning. At 2:00 am my 2 year old daughter walked into our room. "Mama? Dada?" I woke with a headache.

To my dismay, it looked like she had gone into my 4 month old son's room to let him join in on the fun. He was awake too. My husband was down for the count. I quickly put my daughter back in bed, after taking away her baby (as promised) and then fed my son.

It was 2:30 now. That was rough, but my bed was calling me. My eyes were just drooping enough to partially sedate me when I heard the door open again.

Lightning Strikes

I growled as I dragged myself out of bed, trudged down the hall and less calmly explained it was time for bed. After flinging some more animals out into the hall and listening to her scream as I walked back, I laid down on the couch this time, having some inkling of what I was in for.

Torrential Rain, Tornado Wind, Flooding Molten Lava

She kept getting out of bed again...and again..and again...and again! I wanted to cry. I wanted to swear. I wanted to strap her to the bed with a couple of tie downs. Instead, after about the 8th time of putting her back in bed, I towered over her and said loudly, "This is not okay. It is time for bed." It was the sternest voice I could muster without screaming the way I wanted to.

I stripped her bed of all toys, blankets and happiness and then stood outside of her bedroom door like a rabid dog about to attack the bunny rabbit inside. Anger flowed out of me like the never ending spit up of my infant son. Could she not see that her mama was at her wits end? Did the darkness mean nothing to her? If I broke down and started sobbing in front of her, would that make a difference?

I had let my anger get the better of me and suddenly I felt very childish. I was raging against a two year old. She had reduced me to her behavior. This had to stop. I had to regain control and act like an adult. But since I had no idea how to do that, I silently said a prayer that I would be able to let go of my anger.

Clouds Break

I listened intently at the door, still irritated but the blood boiling, all consuming rage had subsided. The furnace was blowing hot air throughout the house and I couldn't hear into her bedroom very well. Finally it stopped and I could hear deep breathing coming from the room through an extremely congested nose. I considered leaving her there, but I couldn't bear the thought of her sleeping the rest of the night (what little was left of it) without a blanket. As angry as I was, I couldn't shake the thought of a shivering, little girl in her room.

My daughter did have jammies on that night. This is a picture of her a different day but still sick.
I cracked the door open. It woke her up immediately. She sat up, looking sad. I grabbed some blankets from the closet and put them on top of her. "Thank you for staying in your bed," I said.

She tried to snuff her nose but it was still very congested.

"I'm going to go get you some medicine."

Tears of gratitude and in a tone that expressed that I finally understood what she wanted, she said, "Okay."
 

Sun comes Out

I wanted to cry now. My little girl was just sick and needed help feeling better and that was why she kept getting out of bed. And in my anger, I couldn't see it. All I could see was how angry I was that I still wasn't asleep, that my husband was still asleep and that I was traipsing around the house in less clothes than I would have liked, trying to deal with my misbehaving child.

But if I had just taken the time at the beginning to ask her why she had gotten up in the first place, I could have saved myself 2 1/2 hours! That's right, it was now 4:30. I got her some Ibuprofen and her bunny and her favorite blanket.

After she got her medicine, she immediately laid back in her bed. I gave her her bunny and blanket. "Baby? Baby?" she asked.

"No. You still got out of bed and so we can't have the baby. But when you wake up in the morning, you can have your baby."

"Okay."

Warm Breeze

I kissed her goodnight and finally laid back in my bed. This time, I knew she wouldn't be getting out of her bed. And I could finally rest my eyes without waiting for her to get up. I was right. I slept all the way until 6:30 when my son woke up, ready to eat again.

While my night actually had some legitimate reasons behind the nighttime wakings, there have been plenty of nights that were just frustrating until I finally 'fell asleep' with adrenaline still flowing through my veins.

We’ve all been there.

Mamas, dadas, we've all been there. And if you haven't, just wait. And for those of you who feel like you are all alone because you don't know anyone else who has gone through this, you can know that this mama has.

If you want to read about someone else's miserable night of trying to keep their kid in bed, click below:

My Baby's Heartbeat Bear Blog