Once we settled in our new dwellings, I started to make friends with my fellow sleep-deprived mums.
One of the great things about such a facility, there was absolutely no judgment from other parents. Just a knowing nod across the hallway and eyes that were met with the greatest empathy. Everyone was in the same boat and we were all facing the same challenges, in one way or another.
As part of my stay at the facility, there were information sessions held by nurses or psychologists to inform and educate parents.
One session, led by a lovely psychologist, addressed misconceptions and ideals of parenting, in particular motherhood. There was a series of pictures on a large board depicting happy mums, career mums, fresh-faced parents with happy babies who all looked like they’d had a minimum 8.5 hours sleep.
The group was asked to choose a picture on the board of how they thought motherhood would be before they had a baby and how that perception had changed.
Many different challenges were raised by the group of mums.
“I thought my life would go on as normal. That is to say, that I could go shopping, or meet a friend for a coffee. Most days, I don’t leave the house because my baby is so unsettled.”
“I had no idea how much tension an unsettled baby would cause in my relationship with my husband.”
The group became quite animated as we shared the different challenges we faced on a daily basis. Then one mum, who was shy and reserved, was asked to share which picture she thought was misconceived.
She slowly got up and pointed at the happy, well-rested mum and dad, holding hands with their child, walking on a beach with the sun setting behind them.
“I always thought we would be a family. My partner left before my son was born.”
Imagine if you will, a room full of hormonal women who are sleep-deprived, being told by a fellow sleep-deprived, hormonal mum that she was on this challenging journey on her own as a single mum. She teared up as she was telling her story, which in turn reduced every single person in that room to tears. Tissues were being passed around and hugs and kind words were exchanged.
That lady and her story will always stay with me. She really got me thinking. No matter how tough I think I have it, there is always someone doing it tougher than me. When my gorgeous girl was a problematic sleeper, I always had the support of my amazing husband. Even though he started work early, there were times when he would soothe and settle the baby to give me a break.
I am incredibly fortunate to have him by my side. Whenever I get the slightest inclination to feel even a little bit sorry for myself after a hard night, I think of that incredibly strong mum. I think of all the mums whose partners work FIFO jobs, all the Australian Defence Force families, all the single parents and sole parents, all those amazing people who are raising children on their own and I have the utmost admiration and respect for their achievements.
If you know of anyone who is in that situation, have a chat to them, tell them how amazing they are, bake them a cake and offer them a cup of tea. Let them know that they are incredible.
Likewise, if you have an amazing and supportive partner, don’t forget to thank them every now and then and let them know how much you appreciate their help.
Having a child is such a wonderful thing and it takes a great deal of love to raise a healthy, well-rounded child.
You can find a baby sleep clinic near you in the Bub Hub directory.
Image credit: inarik/123RF Stock Photo