I thought I knew what tired was. I had solo parented my first born for a large portion of his life. We got through our seconds newborn phase AND months of reflux.
Yup, I was sure I knew what exhaustion was. And I was sure it was all downhill from here.
But then the four month sleep regression hit us like an absolute freight train. Six weeks of sleep stretches averaging about an hour and a half, but ranging anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours.
I thought I knew what exhaustion was, but I now know I knew nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I have laughed hysterically, I have ugly cried in the shower, heck I have literally pulled my hair out. I’m not going to try and describe it to you, because there is nothing like it!
But we survived. We made it out the other side relatively unscathed. And here’s four tips to help you survive too…
1. Sleep when the baby sleeps. I know, I know, how will you get any thing done or any ‘you’ time. But you’ll quickly learn that if you just do one load of laundry or sneak in one episode of GoT bubs will wake up the second you put your head down. When you’re suffering sleep deprivation every minute of sleep counts, so get it when you can!
2. Ask for help. When I was about 3 weeks deep into sleep deprivation I broke down to my mum. I was done. The next day, she and Dad came over- cleaned my whole house and gave me some down time. Not only did they seriously improve my home life, it made me feel so supported.
3. Work as a team. When I was exhausted, everything was my husbands fault. He couldn’t feed her, or settle her, or heaven forbid he sneezed and woke her… But then he took over for one night, and he nailed it. Then we started working as a team. When things didn’t go to plan, we didn’t blame each other- we supported each other. When I wanted to lose my shit at him because, well I was tired and wanted someone to take it out on, I would take a deep breath and tell him I was feeling upset. Being on the same team was a total game changer!
4. Go out! This is obviously in contradiction to point one, but in reality you should balance the two. At first I stayed home all day because I wanted to catch as much sleep as possible, but if bubs wouldn’t sleep is get really stressed out which I predict didn’t help her sleep situation. I mean, I often wasn’t getting sleep anyway so at least when I was out and about I wasn’t obsessing over how exhausted I was.
At the end of the day, you need to figure out what works for you. Sleep deprivation is no joke, and there is no easy journey through it. But know that you are not alone and you’ve totally got this, even when you feel like you don’t!
To any parents currently going through this, please know you are not alone. And if you are really struggling reach out to a friend, your GP or find some great resources from beyond blue.