Before I had a baby, my greatest worry (aside from birth itself) was exhaustion. I had heard so many mothers talk about how deeply and permanently tired they were for the first few years of their children’s lives. I knew my own love of sleep, need for it, in fact, and was concerned that I might not be able to function at all.
In fact, though I was definitely quite tired the first few months of baby’s life, it was much more bearable than I had expected. I often felt reasonably rested, even with baby’s frequent wakings. When I was wiped out, I was able to fit in a nap or two and feel caught up.
Now that I’m back at work, I’m noticing tiredness in a new way. The dark circles seem to be here to stay.
This past week was a good example. Long and stressful days at work. Baby up often at night. My own body run down and slightly sick, needing more sleep. By Friday, my day off, I’m wiped out. I want to plan fun with friends, but don’t have energy for more than childcare and chores. While nursing baby today in an attempt to get her to sleep I nearly fell asleep myself a few times. Looking at myself in the mirror at the end of the day I was slightly disturbed by how tired my eyes look.
Where am I going here? Well, one direction is acceptance. I remember a trip to Europe a few years ago where I was tired for a good portion of the trip. I ended staying up later than planned most nights and never really got over jet lag. I can get amazingly anxious and upset when I don’t get enough sleep: I see it as a right, responsibility and necessity and don’t think I can get through a day if I”m tired. I realized that this attitude, more than tiredness, could ruin my trip and I decided to accept that I was tired and recognize that many people continue to function and survive while tired. I was able to be okay with staying up too late and not let my negative thoughts wreck a great trip.
I accept that at this stage of life, I’m busy and tired. I will try and find ways to rest more. I will get through this time. For now, I’ll do my best to enjoy my activities even if I am tired. Even if baby wakes me up repeatedly at night or doesn’t nap during the day.