For many moms, constant sleep deprivation is a standard feature of motherhood. Now in my late 30’s, I’ve finally come to terms that I am not myself when I don’t get enough sleep. That’s because sleep deprivation increases the likelihood of manic episodes for me.
After the birth of my second child, I began experiencing an increasing number of manic episodes. So, as a result, I was placed back on previous medication, which I was off of during my pregnancy. Being placed back on medication was a tremendous blow for me because it meant I couldn’t nurse my infant son due to the risk of the meds being transferred into breast milk. I had breastfed my first for almost an entire year and had planned to do the same for my son. But, baby formula it was as well as sleepful nights. My meds, which are taken at night, make me sleepy. So, shortly after taking them, I was down-for-the count and unavailable for nightly feedings. Fortunately, my son was a great sleeper. But Hubby had to be on call for those early and crucial feedings. And though it was tough for him, particularly since his workday begins at 6:00 AM, he preferred a happy Mom and Wife over a few hours of lost sleep.
I remember calling my mother crying about the guilt I felt, failing as a Mom, contemplating over finding a safer med. She responded with a surprising confession, something I was totally not expecting. She explained that she too was unable to breastfeed due to episodes of depression. Perhaps, she too felt guilt that me and my siblings weren’t breastfed. And, perhaps, it was guilt that kept her depression a secret from us for many years.
Now in my late 30s, I’m finally coming to terms that this is who I am, I am my mother’s daughter. She pushed us hard, always wanting the best for us, demanded that we challenge ourselves, and to never accept defeat. I work hard at being a Mom, pursuing a career, and now training for triathlons and open swims. But, how is it that, in the hustle and bustle of life, I find myself craving for more, carving a piece of time–here and there–for me? Which, at times, translates to not doing more but caring more, for me?
Now in my late 30s, after some 20 years of living at times a manic life, I’m finally coming to terms with what I need. My Hubby jokes about how much sleep I need because, honestly, 8 hours is sometimes not enough! To get 8 or sometimes 9 or 10 hours of needed sleep, I’ve had to put away work, skip workouts, say no to commitments, which puts a damper on goals I may have setup for myself. But, I don’t like feeling out-of-control. And, when the guilt starts to set in, I think of Mom and imagine myself unloading years and years of burden off her shoulders. Life is not a list of accomplishments. It’s a journey of discovering who I am, and what I need in order to be my very best self.