A mom recently posted in one of the Facebook Mom groups I follow about her feelings of anxiety around her baby's bedtime. And while I am finally in a place where both of my kids are sleeping through the night (okay, mostly... I know I am jinxing myself at this very moment) reading her post immediately brought me back to those first few months of child rearing, and my own feelings of intense anxiety that came about each night, before bedtime.
I remember the feelings so well. In fact, just reading her post, those feelings of anxiety and dread I had back then are almost palpable now. Those end of the day hours were especially hard, and my so my heart went out to this mom.
Recently I've talked about this pre-bedtime feeling of anxiety and dread with friends, and have since learned it's really common. This is why I wish moms would be more open with each other about the hard stuff, because at the time I felt so alone in my feelings. And so now I write about it, in hopes that someone out there reading this, feeling something similar, will know she's not alone. And that this one hard thing does in fact get easier. I promise.
My own experience would go something like this... No matter how good the day was, we'd be eating dinner and the dread would suddenly hit. I'd get this nervous, anxious feeling in my belly and oftentimes would lose my appetite. It took me a while to understand why it was happening, but I eventually realized that it was attributed to the difficult evening that was going ensue, night and night again. It was both the anxiety over not knowing exactly how things would play out, and the dread of knowing it was bound to be a tireless and lonely night.
I would describe Charlie, my first, as an average sleeper. Sometimes he'd go down pretty quickly, other times it could take up to an hour for him to settle. But even after he did fall asleep and I dragged my tired, worn body into bed myself, I knew those restful moments were fleeting. In those early months, the best case scenario would be two middle of the night wake-ups to nurse, a diaper change, and back to bed. Worst case would be an hour of soothing, rocking, and lots of crying, just to get him to settle, only to be woken two hours later to do it all over again.
So yes, I dreaded it. Every. Single. Night.
And the worst part of all was that I felt so alone during this time. Yes, my husband was "there" to "support me" but as many nursing moms know, that means little. Until he could take my place and offer his boob to our crying baby, while I slept soundly through it... I was very much alone.
But there was a light at the end of that dark, lonely tunnel. Eventually, our nights got more consistent. The feedings spread out and I felt like I got some of my life back. We slowly moved into a routine, there were weeks on end where we'd both sleep until dawn, and I stopped feeling pressure to go right to bed after dinner. TV shows came back into my life!
And so if you're in this stage right now mama... I feel you. In fact, most of us feel you. Find a friend, a partner, a fellow mom to a young baby (those are the best) and share what you're going through because I promise you, you're not alone.
And like with everything in parenthood, this is hard, but it too shall pass.