A mental fog

I’m not really sure what happened to me in the last year and a bit, but for some reason I found a level of motivation and zest for life that I don’t think I’ve ever had before.  Actually, that’s not quite true, I distinctly remember having a moment before I started my VCE many years ago where I made a very conscious decision to work my butt off for the next two years.  And I did, and not just in the subjects I really enjoyed or for the teachers I liked the most which had been my approach up until then.  I was going to do great things and I definitely wasn’t going to be a teacher like my Dad!  So of course I ended up doing the most obscure arts degree with an honours year in Anthropology…. I loved it, but it didn’t exactly lead to much of a career and twelve months later (after working in various quite dull administration positions) I found myself back at uni doing a Dip Ed.  But I digress.

I think this newly discovered motivation has a lot to do with having children.  It’s not that I was driven to make the world (or at least their place in it) a better place for them or the urge to grow my own food to protect them from the sprays and chemicals used on commercial crops though I guess both these things are happy consequence.  My reasoning is far more pragmatic.  When Miss Two was born I said goodbye to anything close to a decent night sleep for close to a year.  She was a terrible sleeper day and night and I would be lucky to get two hours uninterrupted sleep a night.  She fed A LOT and would take hours, literally, to go back to sleep after waking in the night.  Quite soon after she was born I found myself in a mental fog, just doing what I had to in order to do to cope. All new parents probably feel like this at some point, but when every other child I knew started to sleep through by six months at the latest and mine was just getting worse I started to wonder if I would ever feel like myself again.  Thankfully things improved a little at ten months and then by twelve months we actually had full nights of no waking several times a week.  I went back to work (only an admin role though as I couldn’t fathom going back to the demands of teaching just yet) and the fog slowly cleared.

With several good nights sleep under my belt I felt like I could tackle just about anything.  It was as if my body had learnt to survive off minimal sleep and once I was getting a bit more, I felt so energetic.  It helped also that Miss Two (though she wasn’t two then) was at a great age, almost always happy and playful…. and still having two sleeps a day leaving me to do some things just for me.  This was when I started to do things I had forgotten about in the fog, reading, gardening, lots of cooking and even started to contemplate having another baby (ah how quickly we forget the difficult times).  I was pregnant again within a few months and once the initial early-pregnancy exhaustion lifted the motivation was still there.  Unfortunately my body suffers during pregnancy, so much of what I wanted to do was beyond my capabilities, but I did get very good a sitting on the outdoor chairs and doling out instructions to Mr Good.  At this time though, I started to get worried about the impending arrival of a second baby.  How would I cope with another baby if she or he slept as badly as Miss Two?  And this time there would be no resting during the day, not with a toddler to chase as well.

Thankfully, Baby Good very quickly put my mind at rest and proved to be a terrific sleeper and a very easy, contented and quiet baby all around.  She rarely cried and slept through the night for the first time at THREE WEEKS old!  She didn’t do it every night, but at least a couple of times a week and the occasions she did wake, it was for a very quick feed and then straight back to bed without fuss.  I would return to my bed within half an hour and not have to rise again until morning.  Everyone said it was because I was better at it second time around.  This really annoyed me.  I agree I was more relaxed, but Baby Good was just different, more settled than her sister.  I felt like people were brushing off the difficulties I experienced with Miss Two or blaming me for them as I was an inexperienced, new Mum who didn’t know what she was doing.  I did find a few individuals tell me at the time that all the issues I had with Miss Two was just because I was a new Mum and that I should just relax.  Thankfully these were rare and all I had to do was send them to my Mum to set them straight after she experienced once of Miss Two’s three hour scream fests.  I have no doubt that had Miss Two been born second she would be exactly the same, it’s just part of her character, but yet again I’m getting off track.

What got me thinking about all of this is the impending New Year and all the things I want to try my hand at in the coming twelve months, but again I am struggling with a severe lack of sleep.  Baby Good hit five and a half months and hasn’t slept through since.  She often wakes multiple times a night and to make matters worse Miss Two has also started waking often – and she still takes hours to go back to sleep.  And after two months of this I can feel the fog starting to descend once more.  The problem is that I still have a huge list of things I want to do cluttering up my head.   I will write about some of these in my first post for 2012, but for now all I really want to achieve is a level of sleep sustainable with any sort of enjoyable life.  Logically I know that this will not last, they will both start sleeping better eventually and then I will have years and years of peaceful, uninterrupted slumber, but at 3am when my limbs feel like lead and I force myself upright yet again that all seems too far away.

Having a family really has given me a sense of fulfillment that I don’t think anything else could, but there are aspects of it sent to test even the toughest of men and women.  For me sleep deprivation is top of that list and it’s effects permeate into all parts of my life.  So to all those out there awake with little ones at 2, 3 or 4am like me and struggling through the days with half closed eyes I hope this ‘phase’ comes to an end for all of us EARLY in 2012 so we can get on with the ‘good life’.


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6 Responses to A mental fog

  1. Jo from the green backyard says:

    I totally hear you! Sleep deprevation is the pits 😦
    2/4 of my kids have been shocking sleepers, and the ‘fog’ analogy is very apt. As with most phases, it will pass….hoping it’s soon for you.

  2. Liz says:

    Half way through reading this post I had to go and resettle Mr 2 after the first of his nightly wakings….sigh…he does sleep through sometimes though, as does Miss 5 who also occasionally comes in to sleep with mummy. Can you force preschoolers to have New Years resolutions? Looking forward to reading about your New Year plans though.

    • Barbara Good says:

      Yes, we resettle Miss Two often between her bed time and ours and then fairly frequently she wanders down to our bedroom in the wee hours (or cries out from her own room until we’re forced out of bed). As for New Year’s resolutions for pre-schools, definitely worth a try – perhaps involving some kind of bribery!

  3. Alison says:

    Why on earth would anyone lay it all on the mum?!! Where are these generic bundles people produce? And how thoughtless for your feelings!! Gahh!!
    I can’t believe how industrious you’ve been with one, then two, in tow – it’s terribly impressive.
    With regard for the foggy battle, I always bristle on parents’ behalf: I don’t think it’s supposed to be done alone (by just one or two – and it so often seems like 1.5, good intentions be dashed in any economy). It’s not that I think you’ve *struggled* as such, but I’m sure I would. I lament the likelihood that so many haven’t the on-hand daily support they need (parents, family, friends) that was had in the long-ago past. Bravo you!

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