For me this journey of Post Partum Depression weighs heavily on one fact: sleep (or the lack of it).
Olivia seemed to come out of her extreme colic state around 4 months or so. Hooray. Finally, more sleep at night and more happy moments during the day. Then at 5 months I developed a bad case of double mastitis. It was so bad that I couldn’t just go on antibiotics that were safe for baby to ingest through breastmilk. I had to go on pain killers and anti-inflammatories. Not safe for babe. The cold turkey weaning was h.e.l.l. for Olivia and after going through that with her and finally getting her to drink formula from a bottle without screaming and thrashing, we decided that it was best for everyone if I just stopped nursing her. The doctor had suggested we rent a pump so I could pump and keep up my milk supply while on the medication. Sounds ideal, but it completely threw me for a loop. Feeding a screaming baby formula and then after that sitting there and pumping too, while baby is screaming and toddler is needing extra love? Nope. Too much stress on everyone involved.
So for the next three weeks I pumped just enough to lessen engorgement and not make the mastitis worse. It took about six weeks to fully ‘be done’ with it all.
Olivia had a bad cough since September and by November she was up every hour with an attack, often causing vomiting. I had taken her to the doctor several times and kept being told she would ‘get over it’. Finally I had enough. Being up every hour at night is worse than the lack of sleep with a newborn. And my poor baby. She was so tired. I was so tired. My hormones were so whacky. I was not myself and my poor baby was not doing well…but only at night. Finally she was put on a puffer and within a week the cough was gone and she was sleeping 5-7 hours at night. Wow. That made such a difference.
The only problem? She was taking a bottle at about 3:30 a.m. and I could not, for the life of me, get back to sleep after that. So much for enjoying the extra sleep. I lay in bed for 3 1/2 hours every morning, waiting for the day to start. I couldn’t get up because that would just make me more tired. I couldn’t read, because that just woke me up even more. So I lay there. Morning after morning after morning.
Lack of sleep.
I was a mess.
When I finally went to see the post partum nurse, I told her that my sleep issues were the major problem. We discussed ‘sleep hygiene’ (the medical term for it) and I tried some of her suggestions:
- Winding down before bed: having quiet time to myself before bed. Journaling and/or reading.
- Not eating before bed.
- No caffeine after supper.
- When up in the early morning hours, focus on a sound and think about only that sound. OR have a basket of items that are of different textures. Grab one and feel it. Thinking only about the texture that your hand is feeling.
This little list was something I already did except I hadn’t tried the focus on sounds of textures. The texture thing isn’t me. I am not a touchy-feely person. I did the sound thing and it works wonders for me
most of the time.
Recently my medication dose went up a little since you don’t go to the full dose right away. Since then I have been having trouble getting to sleep, but that should level out soon (I hope). Olivia has been having trouble at night again (teething?) and so has Mikail (being a toddler?). Oh the life of a parent. LOL. So, sleep is a struggle once more, but it feels good to have a few strategies to help with sleep. Jason has been amazing with taking the 11 p.m. feed, so I go to bed at 10 p.m. and read/journal until 10:30 and then sleep until her next feed, which is sometimes at 2:30 or 3:30 or 4:30 or 5:30 or 6:30. This girl cannot get on a schedule, it seems. The past two nights I got almost 7 hours of sleep in a row. A miracle. I say ‘almost’ because she wimpered at 3:30 a.m. and then was fine and we both went back to sleep. Good enough for me.
It is amazing how much better a day is when there is decent sleep in the equation.
What are some of your sleep hygiene tricks?
I'm going to sound like an alcoholic, but honestly….a drink or two starting at 10 pm helps me get to bed at 11:30 – midnight. Otherwise I randomly stay up until 3, 4, 5, 6 am and I'm dead the next day. The worst part is that Noah STTN (sorry, not bragging) so I have zero excuse…I just have a hard time shutting my brain off! – Olivia