My arms grow tired as I rock you back to sleep in the darkened bedroom, the only light coming from the dim glow of your monitor. This isn’t the first time I’ve rocked you to sleep tonight, and I doubt it will be the last. It’s only three A.M. you see, and you’ll likely wake for one more feeding before the morning light peeks through the curtains. I wish I could sit down but your eyes start to flutter open every time I stop my relentless pacing across the carpeted floor.
I’m so weary, baby, but still have miles to go before I sleep.
I’m grateful yesterday was a better day than the one before. You actually took a decent nap and gave me enough time to shower and finish up a load of desperately needed laundry. It probably helped that your middle brother, only two and a half and going through a heavy bout of separation anxiety, let me rock you at nap time without screaming outside the door for Mama to come back. It’s hard for him, you know. He loves you, but struggles with Mommy’s divided attention at a clingy and confusing time for him. And I wonder if there will ever be enough of me to go around again.
I hold my breath as I cautiously lay you down in the crib, praying that your eyes will remain closed and I’ll finally be able to rest. I try to keep my frustration in check as your tiny eyelashes open once more, your breath coming in a little faster as you prepare to open your mouth and loudly vent your distress. It’s hard though. I’m running on fumes.
With a sigh I pick you back up and resume my pacing once more, resting my cheek against your fuzzy head in a bid to comfort us both.
Several well meaning acquaintances asked me how I’m doing this week. I longed to tell them I sometimes feel like I’m drowning, but instead I simply said “I’m tired but doing okay. Newborn life.” Who really wants to hear the truth anyway?
At least I was able to fight off my panic attack this morning as Daddy drove away to work. I might not be able to tomorrow. After my last appointment my OB suggested we might need to up the dosage on the medication she prescribed for my postpartum anxiety. This news doesn’t come as a surprise to me after my third baby and bout with postpartum depression and anxiety, but it’s a tough blow nevertheless. I long to be one of those moms who takes everything in stride and juggles it all with some semblance of calm, but that’s never really been my experience with parenting. So I hang on to the hope that it might one day get easier and I’ll eventually learn how to manage being a mother of three under six.
It’s not your fault, baby, that I’m so tired. That I can’t nap while you nap because your oldest brother needs some attention after the needs of his two younger siblings took forefront most of the morning. That I didn’t go to bed sooner because the house was destroyed and the only time I have to get it picked up is after everyone’s in bed. You can’t help it that you’re only a few weeks old and need to eat every few hours, night and day. This season of life won’t last forever baby, but tonight it feels like an eternity. And my arms are just so tired.
I know I should appreciate every moment with you, no matter how exhausted I feel. That women like Chrissy Teagan who’ve experienced such painful loss would give anything for this kind of exhaustion. That the ache in my arms is nothing compared to the ache in their hearts. And I do, baby. I softly nuzzle your downy head and hold you a moment longer despite the fact that your breathing has evened out once more and you eyelids remain firmly closed. I do it for them, and maybe even a little for me too. To remind myself how special these quiet moments are when I can just hold you peacefully sleeping in my arms.
Tomorrow the panic will surely return. I’ll find myself pulled in eighteen hundred directions and come up short more often than not. I’ll miss having time alone with my husband and being able go to the bathroom by myself. I’ll wake up long before the sun and take Tylenol for my sore muscles and anti-anxiety medication with my morning coffee.
But for now I’ll say a silent prayer of thanks as I lay you in your crib and silently make my way to my own bed, my eyes so heavy I can barely keep them open. Because it’s three A.M. baby, and it’s time for me to rest.