I was crazy exhausted, I fell down stairs at night numerous times, collapsed in the bathroom falling painfully against the tub, had panic attacks, none of which was healthy for baby I was carrying. I had tremendous guilt and fear. At that time Braxton wasn't doing well. He wasn't predicted to live til 2 years old and he would be 2 just a month after Zander was born. He was seizing all night, on crazy meds, the palliative team came to the house to discuss end of life plans. That stress was also not healthy for mom or baby.
When Zander decided to make his entrance into the world, Braxton was sick. We were actually in middle of packing up to take him to children’s hospital when labour started and we had to change plans. On my way to hospital to deliver at 1am I was on the phone trying to arrange care for Braxton, and thankfully both Brock’s mom and my mom, along with my homecare nurse, were able to keep him stable at home until I was able to get discharged as soon as possible after giving birth.
The body and brain can only take so many months of physical and mental stress, anxiety, panic attacks, sleepless nights, then it goes into a protective state, kind of a mindless blur, not really awake or asleep, not really motivated by pleasure or food or friends. It was chalked up as depression, but in my mind I just needed some decent sleep.
I really had to advocate for myself, which is hard when you are barely getting through the day. I remember many days thinking “okay I have about an half an hour of me time, I can eat, I can shower and get dressed, or I can sleep….or I can make the needed phone calls to get supports in place so tomorrow might be better.” (Sleep almost always won.) But I was able to fight for respite care through FSCD and had a wonderful lady come into our lives who still works with Braxton and truly cares for my kids like her own. I also fought to keep our night nurse time through AHS and as Braxton’s needs increased over the next couple years with pneumonias and bi-pap we were eventually able to get night care 7 nights a week. Finally we are not sleeping with an ear open to hear seizures over the baby monitor and getting up to do night feeds and change soiled sheets. Zander finally slept through the night after I weaned him at 21 months old. Finally I found myself, my sleep, and my happiness, again.
So, I take naps. As often as I can. Many days we are out all day at therapy or appointments or getting groceries. Some days the boys don’t want to nap or only one does but the other needs mommy. But, on those glorious days that we are home and I have help, straight to bed for me. There is guilt that comes with this self-care. Someone else is looking after my kid while I sleep? The laundry or dishes are sitting undone, the phone calls to return are piling up, supper isn’t being made! Oh well. I have learned that those things can wait, but my body cannot. I am hoping by taking it easy on myself though the pregnancy I won’t burn out as fast and hard once baby three arrives. Our lives are unpredictable. I’ll never know if tonight is the last night with Braxton in this world, if we will have to be in emergency tomorrow, or if a snow storm will keep us home from scheduled appointments. So the best I can do is control what I have control over, which is myself.
So if you need me, I’ll be napping.