Caution: Brain Dump Ahead
I’m hesitant to talk about this because I feel as soon as I write it down it will stop and I’ll never get it back. But baby has been sleeping pretty well lately. Or, rather, I have been able to let her put herself to sleep, which leads to her sleeping well.
It started last week. She had her first cold and ended up in my bed every night. She slept, some. I slept…none. Then I got her cold, because that’s what happens when you’re literally sucking the snot out of someone else’s nose. So between not sleeping and being sick, my gas tank was so far passed empty I really don’t know how I was managing to function. This led to a lot of mental and emotional duress which culminated in a full-blown panic attack.
That sucked. However, there was a silver lining. This happened after I put baby down. She woke up a few minutes later and started crying in her crib. Crawling around. Banging on the rails. Very theatrical. Meanwhile, I was curled up in a ball on my bathroom floor struggling to catch my breath, pretty certain I never would. Needless to say, I was unable to run to her room and soothe her. Which, in the moment, really sped up my shame spiral and pushed me straight to rock bottom.
I’m not fit to be a mother, I can’t even soothe my baby, I can hardly soothe myself, I’m a mess, I can’t do this..
Now, I realize this all sounds incredibly bleak and dark and scary. And at the time, it certainly was. But it has been a week since that moment and I’ve come out the other side stronger and wiser and with a bit of perspective I’d like to share. Or at least write down so I can read it later, during my next inevitable breakdown.
While I was struggling to soothe myself on the bathroom floor, baby was struggling to soothe herself in her crib. I hope to God she never has to know any pain or suffering, including those of a panic attack. However, looking back I understand the value in letting her struggle that night. Not that I intentionally let her struggle…but she did it nonetheless. She cried it out. Just like I did. And just like I came out the other side feeling stronger and more equipped to face those heavy emotions, I’m seeing that so did she.
Since that night, she’s been able to put herself to sleep…AND STAY ASLEEP. She cries a bit, fumbles around to get comfy, then falls asleep. If she wakes up in the middle of the night, she does the same, and falls back asleep. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! Not because my baby is sleeping and that always seemed like a magical, fictitious concept. But because she is able to do it herself. She figured it out. She found her tools. That is one of the most valuable things an individual can have in this life. The ability to stock your own tool bet with the things you need to cope with the challenges of life. And, for now, she has that. And, for now, so do I.
I know this is all temporary, like everything else. Her sleeping will change and she’ll need to find new tools. My mental stability will waiver and I’ll need to find new tools. But, for now, for right now…it feels good. And I’m learning to keep a looser grip on that feeling. I’m accepting that its fleeting, while enjoying it in the moment. I’m learning to be more gentle and forgiving with myself and the world around me. I’m finding my strength in my stillness. In my patience. In my gentility.