Everyone warns you how exhausted you will be ‘once the baby arrives.’ I heard it A LOT but considering I was knackered in the final stages of pregnancy and regularly awake at 3am or 4am to pee I thought people were exaggerating. I was wrong. Oh how wrong I was. When you become a parent you find a new level of tiredness, that only other new parents will understand. Both my husband and I experienced the extreme tiredness, even though I was breastfeeding our little one during the early stages of his life.
Here’s some things that stand out during that period.
The wet-wipe shower
I’d been warned that some days I would ration sleep over having a shower and the go-to would be the wet wipes for freshening up. However, I did shower once a day even though sometimes the shower wasn’t until 3pm.
The memory loss
When you are so sleep deprived you don’t remember anything for more than 10 seconds. The first time we left the house with our little one, was to meet some other couples from our NCT group at a local pub. Except my husband forgot which pub it was after shutting the front door and we walked towards the wrong one. I was so tired I didn’t realise we were going the wrong way for 15 mins!
Forget about the personal grooming
Again, for someone who always made sure I had straightened my hair and had a bit of make-up on before I left the house, I had to learn to love my au-natural look again. I basically just looked tired but I didn’t care, it was in a strange way a badge of honour. People did look at me differently but since they could see the small baby and the tiredness etched all over my face then it did mean that people gave up their seat on the bus for me or offered to help with the pram.
Who am I?
I did lose a sense of myself during the new mum period since everything is centred around the baby. I found it difficult to breastfeed my son, he just feel asleep as he sucked, which meant he never finished a feed and was always hungry. My milk supply wasn’t enough for him either. I could literally feel the energy drain out of me when I fed him and it was truly exhausting. After he dipped two centile lines I began to combination feeding him and it made all the difference.
I didn’t have time to cook, which was the thing that used to relax me after work. Having dinner with my husband after work was one of my favourite parts of the day prior to having a baby and in those first few months, we didn’t get the chance to do this. It did feel like everything that made me feel life myself, had changed. It is a phase and it does pass but when you’re in the middle of living through it, get all the support you can from friends and family.
Routine, routine, routine
What did help was getting my little one into a routine, when he was four months old and using a sleep expert to help me sleep train him. Knowing when he was going to nap helped me get some time back for myself. That mostly meant a bit of cooking, cleaning or washing (the clothes and myself) or if I’m being really honest, I just went back to bed too.
Now he’s a lively toddler, I know that in order to be the best mum and wife I can be, I shouldn’t feel guilty about taking some time out for myself. Sometimes it’s only 45mins to do a Zumba class in the evening but it makes all the difference to my well being.