I have been raised to be a very independent person. This independence has helped me flourish in life – I paid my way through university, started up my own business, traveled, and to this day, am creating the life that I want for myself and my family. All great things. But being such a highly independent person comes with one major downfall: Asking for help feels as though you’re a failure.
Yeah I know, shit just got a little dark. Stay with me, there’s light at the end of the tunnel!
I’ve always considered myself to be innately maternal – I care so deeply for the people in my life, am always willing to lend a helping hand, and am very sensitive to other people’s energies. But as it turns out, even though being maternal is such a natural part of who I am, knowing what to do as a mother sometimes leaves me so conflicted that I simply can’t make a decision without shedding too many tears and clenching my jaw so tightly that my dentist insists on fitting me for a mouthguard. Because, surprise, being a mother is a fucking emotional rollercoaster! And sometimes the right thing for your family, isn’t necessarily what feels like the right thing for YOU in that moment.
Very recently, I’ve had to ask for help regarding my son’s sleep. As you may recall from one of my older posts, sleep training is a very sensitive topic for me. Sleep, in general, just feels like such a normal part of life, something that we are born able to do. But as it turns out, when it comes to babies, how they fall asleep, and the quality of sleep that they get is very much the responsibility of the parent to navigate.
After 7 sleepless months, and several failed attempts at figuring this whole process out ourselves, my husband and I decided to bite the bullet and enlist the help of a sleep consultant.
When we made the final decision, I cried. A lot. I cried because I felt like a failure – I didn’t have the strength to do any more research on the topic, and I needed someone to just hand me instructions; I felt like an awful mother for not being in tune with my child’s most basic needs and not knowing how to help guide him to a more restful sleep. I cried because I knew this was another step closer to his independence – he would no longer need me to nurse and rock him to sleep; I wouldn’t get to feel the heaviness of his sleeping body against mine. I cried because I was so tired of waking up 2 to 4 times a night and beginning to feel resentful that I was the only one who could put him back to sleep – and then in turn, feeling such shame and guilt for not simply just being happy to have such a beautiful baby and to get to experience the highs and lows of being a mother. I cried because, just like with my birth experience and opting for the epidural, this was yet another thing that wasn’t going as planned or expected. I cried because I was just so tired.
And then after two weeks of following our consultant’s advise, making changes as we went depending on Sawyer’s progress, things felt easier. Bedtime was no longer a stress-inducing guessing gaming. His naps lengthened out to 90 mins and up to 2 hours. With the exception of a few rough nights of teething, my boy started to sleep soundly through the night for 11 to 12 hours. Was it hard? For me, it was. Not in the sense that the plan was hard to follow, because quite frankly, it was very simple and very supportive (especially supportive of Sawyer’s learning), but it was hard letting my ego down.
I love to think I’m Supermom. I mean, I really do have a natural knack for #momlife – that is, balancing family life, personal growth, self care, and a somewhat decent social life. I love my life. I am so happy to be at home, taking care of my son, experimenting in the kitchen, and figuring out ways to make my home a sanctuary – clean, warm, and inviting. But as it turns out, sometimes even the most organized of Type A personalities need help. I got help when I was experience postpartum depression. I got help when I couldn’t figure out how to get my son to latch properly on one of breasts. And I got help when I realized that helping my son sleep was more important than the need to satisfy my wants – late night cuddles, the feeling of a sleepy baby on me, and wanting to still be needed in the same ways as when he was a newborn.
It’s ok to ask for help. This is something I constantly remind myself of. Babies are complex little creatures, and we, as parents, don’t have to have all of the information. We just have to love our babies, feed our babies, and do what we feel is best for our babies and our families. And that can involve enlisting help, or spending hours researching, or asking for others’ opinions. Whatever it is that helps you, do it! No shame. No judgement. Parenting is hard enough, let’s not making it any harder on ourselves by being assholes to one another 🙂
If you are struggling with sleep and need help, do consider Natalie of WeeSleep. She is gentle, compassionate, and truly gives a damn about the work she does. She will help you!