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Some Days

Some days are harder than others.

I meant to post a blog today about all the great food we ate in NOLA (and I still intend to soon), but I just didn't get it together in time to do so.

Greg went out last night with a friend, which is no longer a big deal since Veronica goes down so easily each night at 7, leaving the evenings free. And sure, I could have spent my time working on just such a blog post, but I was tired. It had been a busy week with projects and stresses and anticipation, work meetings and unexpected clients, and general catching up after our trip.

So, instead of being productive last night I sat on the couch and watched three episodes of The Bachelor on Hulu. Shameful, I know. But sometimes those kind of nights are necessary, and since having a kid it's extremely rare that I ever let myself indulge in such wasteful behavior.

By 9pm I was exhausted, sad but true, and I got in bed to read. It was one of those nights that I've had a lot since Veronica was born — the kind where I'm so tired that all I can focus on is how little sleep I'm bound to get. I knew that she'd be waking up around 11 or 12 to nurse and that Greg would be coming home around 10 or 11 and that would wake me up as well. Yet, there it was 9:30 and all I wanted to do was go to sleep for uninterrupted hours.

I did indeed fall asleep, but woke up 20 minutes later when Greg came home, which did nothing but serve to stress me out. By the time he was settled and in bed I was wide awake again, lying in the dark with my eyes open trying my best to relax, to breathe, to just FALL ASLEEP. But all I could think about was how Veronica was bound to wake up the second I drifted off, and before I knew it my heart was pounding and I was on the verge of tears.

And then I was sitting up in bed, in tears.

I've had a lot of these nights since she was born and I hate them. In my late teens and early twenties, surrounding the deaths of my parents, I was an anxious mess most of the time. But in the last several years, before having a baby, I'd become a very relaxed person. It took a lot of work, but I'd finally begun to let go, to enjoy my life, to be present, to feel care free. 

But ever since Veronica was born there's been a coil inside of me, one that winds tighter and tighter some days, until I end up exactly where I was last night.

As I broke down crying in bed, all I could think about was how much I wanted to call my mom. I miss my parents so much. I miss the feeling of someone to really lean on, of someone who is invested in my well being, of someone to give me advice and support.

I pulled my knees to my chest last night and wept, feeling like a little girl. I don't want to be parentless anymore, I thought.

But now it's morning and I'm sitting at the dining room table with Veronica eating cheerios in her high chair beside me, and it's a new day. I did indeed get some sleep and now the sun is out and life is moving forward just like it always does.

Do you ever have these nights? Any tips for falling asleep? How do you cope with anxiety? Are you a parent? If so, have you become more anxious since having kids?

22 Comments

  1. I have to say that I HATE those nights :( As soon as Aidan was born I began to experience really bad anxiety. I think it was part ppd and all those crazy hormones that were surging through me- but I couldn’t eat, relax enough to fall asleep, and was always always thinking. I could never nap and therefore was constantly exhausted. Now, 8 months later, I still get those moments- usually it’s after I nurse him and I lay there at 4am and SWEAR I still hear him crying- I strain my ears and get that nervous feeling in my stomach again. I can’t fall back to asleep until I know he is too. I know through conversation that all of my friends with children have anxiety- maybe it is just part of the package?! PS- I hate when my husband is out and comes home and wakes me up- I too go to bed at 9pm and just want quiet, uninterrupted, SLEEP!

    Comment by Katie on February 26, 2010 at 9:46 am

  2. This post reminded me of the Regina Spektor song “Somedays.” You should give it a listen! :)

    Comment by Tali on February 26, 2010 at 9:47 am

  3. This sounds so familiar! I too have been through such days. My strategy now is to lock the door if I plan to go to bed before hubby has come home (which happens quite often). He just unlocks the door and gets himself in. Another strategy is to feed the baby just before I hit the sack (and it’s already too late, say past 11pm), regardless of whether it’s time for his feed or not. That way I am sure to get at least 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep. And being a mother of a nine-month-old boy, this is a luxury.
    All the best.

    Comment by Kavita on February 26, 2010 at 11:46 am

  4. I don’t have a child, but I do have some sleep problems that I’ve gotten help for and I think the basic tenets apply across the board. The one thing that is very key is to get out of bed if you’re not falling asleep within 15 minutes or so. You read for a bit or do something else relaxing, then go back, and keep repeating until you fall asleep. Even though it seems counter-intuitive to get out bed, it really takes the anxiety out of tossing and turning. And the more you do this, the less you will associate the bed with stress and you will fall asleep quicker.

    Comment by Kerry on February 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm

  5. Hi Sister
    I am a male but I am a manic depressive and have had mania and have perfected a way to get to sleep when my mind is racing. It might help you. Each of the different subject of my thoughts I put a separate drawer in a big filing cabinet in my mind. I get each subject and say to that subject, okay I know you want an answer, I will answer you in the morning and I push that drawer into the cabinet closed. I get the next subject and push that one in to. It does not matter if there is ten subjects i get to each of them and slide each draw in and then my mind is still and I go to sleep.
    Hope that helps.

    Comment by Mattew Robert Payne on February 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm

  6. Oh darling- big big hugs to you today- so sorry to hear about your rough night.
    My anxieties, which much as you mentioned had gotten a lot better pre-children, were, and are, a whole new ball game after becoming a Mom. A new set of things to worry about is one thing- but I found too that so many issues related to my own family, and things from my childhood, took on new meaning and heaviness once I was a parent. I feel like the new, Mom-me has to go back through therapy all over again to settle these new issues some days :( Wish I had some sort of helpful advice, but all I manage to do when I’m anxious at night is lie in bed and be anxious. But I empathize, and hope tonight is better…

    Comment by Holly on February 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm

  7. Ugh, I know those moments where you think you hear the baby. I just cant sleep if I think shes up or is about to be up. Impossible! Thanks for commiserating.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 26, 2010 at 6:14 pm

  8. I will, thanks!!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 26, 2010 at 6:14 pm

  9. Yeah, you know Ive started trying those dream feedings where I nurse her just before I go to bed, even if shes still sleeping and it does seem to help get a block of good sleep hours. Thanks for the advice!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 26, 2010 at 6:15 pm

  10. Kerry, I think this is really good advice — the getting out of bed part. It does seem counterintuitive, but I think it would really work. Thanks!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 26, 2010 at 6:15 pm

  11. Ooh, I love this advice! Thank you!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 26, 2010 at 6:16 pm

  12. Thanks, Holly. Glad Im not the only one! :)

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 26, 2010 at 6:16 pm

  13. Though I don’t have a kid yet, I do feel for you-’cause I have been having insomnia.
    Soon after I moved to Germany for about 4 months, I was trying really hard to feel happy. In between, it was just enough to be stressful with figuring out my new projects and adjusting to a new living environment. My hubby came for interviews and he will be joining here in Germany in coming June, although his work is in Leipzig so he has to commute about 1.5 hours for one way. Everything seems working out, but after coming back from the Christmas/New Year’s break in Connecticut, I think I got more stressed out. Now I realize I miss everything in the US.
    I couldn’t really sleep for more than 2-3 hours a day for a month and a half. Sometimes I stood up whole night. And it was enough for me to pass out-so I had to see the doctor here for the first time. He told me this tip which I couldn’t believe that it could help, but it did. It is called as Kneipp Kuren-soaking your feet and legs (about til your knee high) in a ice-cold water for about 5-10 minutes. I didn’t want to take the pills that I got from him, so I gave it a try. I couldn’t stand more than a minute. But, after I got out of the water, I started feeling that my body started to warm up and I was able to fall asleep. I combine with the herb called Baldrian (syrup).
    Hope that you wouldn’t have to try this (but just in case). Hope you have many more better days, Claire!

    Comment by Sarah Chang on February 26, 2010 at 8:06 pm

  14. I hear ya. I was an anxious mess after my daughter was born. The anxiety was made worse by the sleep deprivation and the feeling that I was solely responsible for raising this tiny, perfect person into a responsible adult who (perhaps) wouldn’t have this kind of anxiety (and, yes, I am married, but that didn’t HELP!).
    I think when you know what is out there, when you’re aware of the kinds of things that can happen, it only makes the experience of parenting (and holding onto your own sense of individuality) that much harder.
    Anyway, this post resonates with me. My dad died when I was in my early 20s and was amazing with kids and so much fun. There hasn’t been a day in my daughter’s life when I haven’t thought about how much he would have brought to our “picture.”
    When I realized the anxiety was eating away at me to the scary point, I got back into therapy and, yes, back on my Fluoxetine. Things improved.
    Good luck ;-) .

    Comment by More Strawberry on February 27, 2010 at 9:18 pm

  15. This made me cry instantly… because I felt like I was reading my own words – Since my son was born 2 1/2 years ago… I don’t know if I’ve gotten more than 5, possibly 6 hours sleep in any given night. However.. most nights its something like 3-4 hours.
    I have started sleeping on the couch. It’s the only way I can possibly get enough sleep to get through the next day…
    My son was having health problems for a long time and was getting up every 30-45 minutes last spring. I would get up with him, get him back to sleep, then head back to bed where I was wide awake listening to my other half snore and enjoy what seemed to be peaceful sleep… by the time I would relax, tune him out and fall asleep – 10-15 minutes later my son would be back up. This went on like this for MONTHS. I felt like the walking dead – I don’t think I had ever been that tired. Now that my son is feeling better and the health issues are under control for the most part…. he only wakes up about every 2-3 hours… but again it takes me soo long to fall asleep when it’s quiet.. but having to fall asleep to the peaceful snorer (which don’t think me too selfish and evil… but when I am running on very little sleep… I want to take a pillow into action in order to quiet the snoring)
    I wish I had an answer for you on how to get more sleep… but I don’t… I just wanted you to know that you are not alone when you are up and in tears in the middle of the night… you have company here in Ohio….

    Comment by Stephanie on February 27, 2010 at 9:59 pm

  16. Hi
    I know exactly how you feel, I think it is the wanting what you can’t have or what you know you are not going to be able to have.It does get better usually just before you think that you can’t stand another minute.I’ve definitely become more anxious since kids, I think that the worst is always going to happen, I’ve learn t to let myself think it, pushing it away just doesn’t work so wallow in it for a few seconds and then say well that it. I’ve though about it and as life is so busy I don’t have time to go back to it.

    Comment by Jude on February 28, 2010 at 5:35 am

  17. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jude. Im glad to hear Im not alone, especially in thinking about worst-case scenarios a lot.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm

  18. Aw, Stephanie! Im sorry that youre having such a hard time. Hoping that things get easier for you soon! Thanks for commiserating.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm

  19. Glad to hear that youre on the flipside of the anxiety! And Im sorry to hear about your Dad. I definitely know how it feels to wish they were here.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm

  20. Wow, interesting tip. Im sorry to hear that youve been having a hard time in Germany! I hope it smooths out soon, dear.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 28, 2010 at 7:39 pm

  21. Babies… they have a sixth sense for when us mum’s are just falling into a deep sleep, and the same can be said for husbands! It can be something as little as the beginning of a throat rattling snore, the annoying jumpy leg syndrome, or just general male behaviour (all wives, no all women, know what I mean). As somebody who since the age of 18 has not had a decent night’s sleep I feel your deprivation.
    My mother in her compelling state (she had three kids under the age of three some 20 years ago) decided to take charge and give me a night off… a swap of roles for one night. What should have been a blissful long deep sleep soon turned into a night of anxiety, loneliness, emotional thinking, and finally tears into the early hours.
    I once used to sleep surrounded in complete silence. Now, I find that complete silence freaks me out, makes me nervous, and opens up a flood gate for my over-active imagination.
    Some women say they love it when their duvet stealing, noise machine partners are away for a night and they can spread out like a starfish in the comfort of their own bed… I, however, do not. In the rare occasions I am alone I stuff pillows lengthways down the bed to imitate my slighly podgy husband, and when that fails I grab the kids and stuff them either side of me!
    Those nights when frustration is overbaring, and the realisation you havent actually slept for more than a few hours at a time are a common occurance for me, especially now I am into my fourth year.
    I find the best way to deal with it, is to kick my snoring husband in the shin, give the kids a last quick check, and watch something mind-numbing and unrelating on the laptop in bed. Eventually I wake with either the kids up, the husband up, or the laptop hanging dangerously off the side of my bed over my glass of water. But I slept, and that’s all that matters.
    I only found your blog today and coincidentally started my own (http://nulifemummy.blogspot.com/). Your blogging is insightful, and relevant… keep blogging :) El x

    Comment by Ellie Williams on March 16, 2010 at 11:26 am

  22. Ha…love that you wake everyone up when you cant sleep. I tend to wake my husband up, much to his chagrin. :)

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on March 16, 2010 at 8:55 pm

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