Being a new mum is not easy; you suddenly have this tiny little person who requires your attention almost 24 hours a day. This itself takes some adjustment and thankfully maternity leave and a very supportive husband allowed me to find my feet with these demands.
Now I am back to work I am thankful that little man is in a good routine and if I am honest, is an easy baby. So every night I come home administer cuddles, love and milk and shush gently as he curls his tiny hand around my fingers and drifts off. I love those moments!
However at 9 months old, little man has picked up his first virus! A lovely deep cough passed on to him kindly by family members twins who have visited (no blame allocated, kids gets sick it happens, and it’s not like he is going to spend his life in captivity just to avoid a common cold!)
This has thrown my perfectly coordinated daily routine into utter chaos!
In all these months of managing baby, work and general life, I haven’t once had to give a thought to how I would cope managing so many elements if baby or indeed myself get sick. Lulled into a false sense of security that life will just continue to be blissfully perfect and that we will handle this much the same way as anything else. At no point have I thought or planned for how this may completely throw me off-track!
So when illness arrived, it bounded through the door with sleepless nights in tow!
Little man remains happy and smiley throughout the day, with only a second thought to the coughing that interrupts his giggling. The nights though are another thing! He is tired, cranky and desperately in search of some relief, dozing easily and drifting like he always did. Yet the minute (literally I have timed this) he closes his eyes, his cough seems to attack with venom. Resulting in a lot of up and down the stairs for me, more cuddles for him and pretty much sleepless nights for all in our household.
Trust me when I tell you, as a new mum you learn to be a fully functioning adult of limited sleep and have many hacks for shorten tasks, getting through the day and remaining sane! Yet a sick child and no sleep take this to an entire different level.
With this in mind, here’s how I’ve coped with an ill baby, sleepless nights and working.
Take a tag team approach Between hubby and I we bed down in the little man’s room each night, it makes calming him quicker and easier and often a gentle stroke of reassurance is all that is needed to help him settle. Allowing one of us to get a full nights rest without the baby monitor exploding into our dreams. This has stopped me breaking the cardinal rule of bringing him into bed and perhaps creating an irreversible sleep habit.
Break the day into shifts As well as taking it in turns to sleep with little man, breaking down the day into shifts helped stop tiredness or frustration overtake. Whether it is hubby getting up when little man starts his day and allowing me to sleep a few hours after being on watch all night or an hour so I can get a shower, being able to take a break has certainly helped keep it together.
Cleared our schedule Work unfortunately cannot wait, but removing as many things as possible from my commitments has taken the pressure off and provided me with a little more flexibility and freedom for the tasks that seem to take longer with an ill baby or just the opportunity to rest or relax when there is a chance.
Said No I am saying no to most requests, ignored texts and phone calls and basically locked myself down so not to feel torn with being selfish and feeling obliged. If fact this as been very liberating, so I may start doing this more often even when little man is well.
Communicated Somehow hubby and I nailed this early on, but little man ill it really tested this! Snapping at one another is never good, but we both recognise that at this moment we are both pushed to our max. So letting it goes is easy, someone will always apologise once the heat of the moment has cooled and we both make it very clear what we want or how we feel, even if a few bad words are thrown into the mix sometimes. The best thing is finding the funny side of these moments and laughing about them in hindsight.
Asked for help Be it family, friends or co-workers I have pulled on my resources at every level. Asked my mother-in-law to mind little man for an hour so I could sleep, had my mother cook us dinner when I felt to exhausted too, had a co-worker pitch in with extra hours or aid on a project to help buy a few extra hours here or there
Fuelled up on Food As I said, I have asked others to help with this and by far one of the best decisions. It is so easy to turn to a burger and fries, but whilst junk is all I carve when tired beyond a point I previously never knew existed, it does not help me keep my energy up, my focus strong or my head together. A good home cooked heart and healthy meal does. I ensure there are easy and healthy go too options in the fridge or freeze and when they run out and I can’t muster a decent meal, I ask someone else too.
Slept when baby slept I reverted back to the rule everyone told me when little man first arrived. By now this is not something that happens often with being back at work, but with him ill, it absolutely was a lifeline to get me through. Although maybe not a leisurely afternoon nap, getting my head down once he was asleep early evening helped get me an hour or two extra now and again.
And regardless of all the stress, tiredness and feeling like I want to crawl into a very dark hole, there is somethd magical about this time, about nurturing little man through this, cuddling him extra tight and knowing all he really wants his mother’s love.