“Just do it when baby sleeps”
“I know you’re tired, you should be sleeping when baby sleeps”
“Don’t bother with that just now. Spend time with your baby whilst she’s awake, it can wait until she’s sleeping”
I remember when Hannah was about a month old, my partner was going back to work and I was so stressed out about how I was going to get everything done, look after Hannah and myself, catch up on sleep and all the things in between. Whenever I would express how worried or anxious I was about all of that and how I was scared of doing everything on my own, that is what I would get told; “Just do it when baby sleeps”
Now I don’t know about any other new parents but it came to the point that if I left everything to be done whilst Hannah was sleeping – nothing would get done. I didn’t have enough time and everything piled up and my anxiety would get so bad that I would just want to sit on the sofa and eat my body weight in Korean noodles and Jaffa Cakes. Hannah was also very much going through the stage of not wanting to nap in her crib – she would only sleep if she was getting a cuddle and that caused problems. How was I supposed to do everything if Hannah would only sleep on me?
“Just persevere.” “Keep putting her down.” “You’re spoiling her by cuddling her – you’re making a rod for your own back”
I felt awful not having Hannah in a proper nap routine. Other mummies around me managed to get their babies to nap in their beds – why couldn’t I? Was I being a bad mum by cuddling Hannah to sleep? Was I spoiling her? Was she never going to sleep lying down?
My anxiety sky rocketed. How was I going to be a good mummy to Hannah if I couldn’t give her a clean and tidy house to live in if I cuddled her to sleep but if I tried to lie her down for a nap she would cry so much that it would leave me in tears, but I was to persevere otherwise I was making a rod for my own back.
It got to the point that I was making myself ill with stress, I was staying up through the night to make sure the house was clean and tidy, I was scared to hold my own child when she was sleeping incase I spoiled her. I was so full of guilt, stress and anxiety that one day – I snapped. I couldn’t take any of it anymore.
It wasn’t until a friend of mines realised just how stressed I was getting and sat me down and pointed it all out that I realised it didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter that last nights dishes were still waiting to be washed, it didn’t matter that the carpet hadn’t been hoovered and it definitely didn’t matter that my daughter would only nap being cuddled.
I was reminded that my baby would only be a baby for a short time and I should be enjoying that time. I should be enjoying the cuddles whilst they were there, I shouldn’t be stressing about dishes and housework and washing that needed done. All that mattered was Hannah and me.
After that, I did things when I could. If they didn’t get done, then so be it. I spent my days building a bond with my baby; playing with her, reading stories, going for walks and having nice long sleepy cuddles on the couch and you know what? I’m so glad I did. 5 months later and Hannah no longer needs to be cuddled to sleep, she rarely likes to sit and cuddle now and I’m glad that I get to look back and think about all the times I would get nice warm cuddles of my baby, and I’ll cherish them for when she’s bigger and doesn’t want cuddles from her mummy any more.
What mattered to me, and what still does, is that I took the time to ensure Hannah’s well being and my mental health was priority. It took a while to realise it, but what worked for everyone else wasn’t working for me and I shouldn’t beat myself up for it. After all, Hannah wasn’t like every other baby, just like I’m not like every other mummy.