Monday, June 20, 2011

Of exhaustion, babies, and endless housework

I really want to enjoy my baby boy, but it's so hard to do it because I can't get him to nap. At all. I try all day long. To the point where I end up neglecting my other kids. He simply refuses to sleep during the day. He does sleep well at night, and so I hear comments from people like, "Well, if he sleeps at night, what's the problem?"

The problem is that a baby is not well rested who is awake from dawn until dusk. They NEED to nap. Their brains rely on those precious hours of sleep to mature and their bodies need it to grow. The sleep periods NEED to be at least 45 minutes long or they aren't restorative.

So when you have a baby who refuses to nap, that means you also have a fussy baby. No, not a colicky one. Not one who screams endlessly. My baby will at least respond to the swing, the carseat, being held, even being played with. But I cannot constantly be giving him that kind of attention. I have a house to run and four other children to take care of.

The minute I try to devote a lot of time to the baby, that's when all chaos breaks loose. Somebody hits someone. Somebody falls off something. The screaming starts. And it's always right when I finally get the baby to that sweet moment where he is drifting off to sleep. Someone will come slamming through the nursery door needing a band-aid, a drink of water, a new shirt. And then the baby wakes up.

Right now, he is in his crib. He has been fed, changed, rocked, swaddled. I don't know what else to do. When I saw his eyes drooping and his little yawns, I whisked him upstairs with a small bottle to put him down for a nap, but he decided to wake right back up the minute I changed his diaper (which needed to be changed, super soggy). And as soon as I had him quieted and starting to close his eyes again, after 30 minutes of rocking, rocking, rocking while the other kids murdered their brain cells by watching mindless television, my 3-year-old burst into the room singing.

I gave up. I can't sit there with him anymore. I feel like screaming at him to just go to sleep (and obviously, that is not going to help) or just screaming at someone or something. So I laid him in his crib, wide awake and madly sucking his blanket (still hungry after 2 ounces plus the 6 ounces he had 45 minutes earlier?) and left the room. I don't even have a baby monitor, so I have no idea if he's in there crying or what because I can't hear him from downstairs.

Seriously, how can you enjoy the journey when you are so sleep-deprived and such a bundle of anxious nerves that you can't sit still for more than 15 minutes at a time? That you yell at all your other kids for simply asking for a glass of water because they are being too loud when really they're not?

The other things I have to do are piling up and I can't get anything done. Not the wash, not the meals. I've had six bags of children's clothes that my brother sent me three weeks ago sitting in my living room. My baby does not fit anything we own for him anymore but I haven't had a chance to go through these clothes and see if anything in there does fit him.

And if I say anything about it, all I get are remarks like, "Stop complaining. That's all you ever do." Or... "The only thing that NEEDS to get done is taking care of your baby." Right. Like the other kids can fend completely for themselves without destroying the house. Like the laundry and the dishes will wash themselves and the bills will pay themselves and the dog will let himself in and out of the house and the dinner will fix itself.

You know what I would like? Instead of criticism for how hard of a time I'm having, I'd like someone to say, "How can I help you? Can I fold your laundry? Can I clean that bathroom? Can I hold your baby so you can do all that?" It would be nice, especially, if it were my husband offering, but usually he is the first to tell me that I need to relax and not worry about all those other things, yet he doesn't jump in and take care of those other things. If he's not going to do it, I HAVE to do it.

Why can't people just see that? I can let things slide to a point (the kids' room is a complete disaster zone and has been for about a month now), but some things (like tonight's dinner) cannot be put off too much or we simply won't eat.

Okay, that's the end of my rant. Thanks for listening.


Stacy said...

So I have a couple of thoughts. Take em or leave em.

1- Get some kind of baby sling, carrier, front pack etc. Often people use a Snugli or something like that, but I've found that if it's not comfortable, you're not going to use it. Put the baby in it, and go about your day. He will most likely love being next to you, up and involved in the action. Most babies will sleep in the carriers, often for a long time. It's not ideal of course, but it will enable you to get something done without feeling like you're neglecting the rest of your family.

2-Do everything you can to get the baby to sleep otherwise. It won't kill your other kids to watch a movie for a while. It won't. Put your 8 year old in charge for a few minutes and tell them that the only way they can disturb you is if someone is bleeding or throwing up. (I have actually said this before!) The thing I have found is that sleep=more sleep, so if you can overcome this hump you'll probably be golden. But I totally get the constantly being disturbed thing. Teach your kids that if they bug you, the baby won't go to sleep and then you won't be able to play with them. They'll catch on fast.

3-You need to ask for help. If you sit around waiting for people to offer, you'll be waiting a really long time. Husbands don't notice things like we do- they just don't see the mess. I have to ask my husband to do specific things, and then he's happy to do them, but he doesn't usually realize all the other stuff that I think needs to be done. Ask friends, ward members, family, etc. I'm sure people would be willing to help.

4- No one ever died from eating peanut butter and jelly for a few days. Seriously. Get some food that your kids can prepare or help you prepare and make things simple for a while. PLus, then they learn to prepare food- extra bonus! Simplify things as much as possible. My kids usually think Tuna Helper is the best meal ever. Crock pot is another eally good idea. Anything to avoid that crazy 5pm rush.

5- Realize that this stage is yucky and hard, but that it will be over quickly. Relax and realize that it's ok if everything is a mess. It really is.

Favorite Moments said...

I wish I was there to help you! You are an amazing mother, even if you don't feel like it right now. Your kids are lucky to have you.

Royalbird said...

Yup. Been there, tried all that. I just really need to get this baby on a sleep schedule. I just don't remember it being this hard with the other four.


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