The word ‘overwhelming’ was not a huge part of my vocabulary before I had Aston and I have used it more in the last 10 months of being a mum than I have in my whole life. I remember while I was in labour with Aston my midwife repetitively saying “I know it’s all overwhelming, but you can do it! You have to do it!” And that phrase has pretty much summed up my motherhood experience. Yesterday was a particularly ‘overwhelming’ day. I just wanted to crawl into a hole, curl up, and sleep without interruption. I have come across a few mothers who keep asking why people never talk about the ‘negative’ things about being a mum and that more people need to talk about it so new mums know what to expect. Hah. I thought about it and realized a couple of things. First, I wrote a post last year about why I hate being pregnant and while it received so many positive and grateful responses, it also received a lot of hate because I was “complaining”. So I figured that maybe people don’t talk about the negative things of parenthood because of the negative things people will say in response. I also realized that I have been so very lucky with my experience as a mother. Aston is such a happy and independent baby that it is actually difficult to think of any time that has been really hard for me.
I spoke too soon.
The last week has been… ‘overwhelming’ and I have experienced a side of Aston that I’m not used to. Our little family have been sick all week. Bryton and Aston had it worse and I hurt my neck really bad I couldn’t move my right side. Aston is usually such a good sleeper. She sleeps from 8pm to 6.30am and then has two 2 hour naps (sometimes 3 hours) during the day. But this week she would not sleep in her cot and I was so exhausted I would just put her in bed with us. She has been super clingy all week so even if she was in a deep sleep she would wake up the second I moved and start screaming. Yes, screaming. Recently she has learned this whole hideous crying/screaming thing and has been using it ALL week night and day. So I would need to cuddle her close to me and she would get to sleep. She has been like this all week. Yesterday we felt another tooth coming through which explains everything but I also don’t want her to get used to me picking her up every time she screams.
Yesterday we had my work Christmas lunch so I tried to be as organised as I could to make sure she was a happy baby. Fatefully I was not organised enough. She screamed at the restaurant and because we were in public I started to stress. I noticed people around the restaurant looking and I was so embarrassed. I knew Aston was tired but I also know that she will not fall asleep when there are a lot of people around. I took her for a walk in her pram and she fell asleep long enough for me to eat my lunch. When we got home I needed to start on dinner for the missionaries. I fed Aston and gave her a bottle so she could have a nap. But she would not go to sleep. I left her crying in her cot for an hour and a half.
Side note: yup. I let my baby cry herself to sleep. I know the whole sleep training thing is a super sensitive and controversial topic, but I’ve found what works for us. If I know Aston doesn’t need anything, I will let her cry herself to sleep even if she’s crying for an hour. Most times when this happens she is just overtired so I will leave her and she falls asleep eventually. But not yesterday. I did the roast and all the vegetables and when the Sisters arrived she was so happy to see them and acted like nothing was wrong.
This entire week has been full of experiences like this and more. Aston has never behaved like this before and I know it’s a combination of teething and being sick. But boy, it really tested me. It’s probably been one of the most challenging weeks since I had her. ‘Overwhelmed’ is the perfect word for how I have felt this week.
I love being Aston’s mum. I love the time that I get to spend with her. I love seeing her discover new things. I love how excited she gets when she sees me. I love when she wrestles my face for a kiss. All of these things make the ‘overwhelming’ moments slither away.