#So Tired That… Blog by tired mum Claire Corner

Monday, July 4th, 2016

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I didn’t know the true meaning of the word tired until I became pregnant and then a parent for the first time.  All those late nights for social or work reasons just didn’t come close.  Of course they felt pretty serious at the time, I might even have taken a few days to recover, but the point is I could recover, because I was in charge.  I could revive myself in any number of ways; rejigging my schedule, taking a day off, getting a few early nights, having a lie in, a massage etc., etc. if I felt like it.

Getting pregnant and then having a baby, was totally different.  It left me truly exhausted and without any real control over my situation.  Firstly, during the ‘trying’ stage, rampaging hormones (courtesy of IVF) plus a demanding job, a miscarriage and a big commute wore me out to the point where I resigned from work.  Then, becoming pregnant again (and enormous!) followed by an induced birth (which seemed to last about a week) sunk me further.  So producing a baby suffering from reflux, which made him scream all night, just finished the job.

I was totally exhausted, a long way past anything I’d ever experienced and there was no prospect of me ‘catching up’ anymore either; on-going breast feeding and my baby’s reflux saw to that.  Admittedly this is sounding like a pretty negative experience so far, but during this tired-to-the-bone stretch I also learned some useful things:

  1. My whole life had changed, sleep deprivation and exhaustion were part of this new reality and there really were no days off!
  1. Valuable areas of my brain that I’d relied on were barely functioning
  1. I was likely to forget pretty much everything (keys, phone, bag, locking doors, common words, names, appointments, articles of clothing, switching the oven off, where I parked, what I’d gone into town for etc., etc.) and I couldn’t make even quite simple decisions
  1. This was annoying to me and those around me, particularly my husband
  1. It was futile being upset by my new found incompetence (that just added a layer of distress I didn’t need)
  1. My sleep deprived mishaps could (on a good day) be seen as quite funny

So, rather than berate myself, I decided to see them as ‘tired tales’ to tell my son one day, the sort of thing he’d love to laugh at me for.  It would go something like this:

Me: “Oh sweetheart, you won’t believe this but once I was so tired that when I tried to give my sorry hair some shine by conditioning it with egg-white (which is supposed to be amazing), I used hot water to wash it off with and ended up with scrambled curls!”

Son: “Oh that’s funny, I wish I’d seen that Mummy, tell me another tired tale, pleeeease”

Me: “Well, you were still in my tummy and I was so tired that, when I shut the curtains one night I saw a strange space where our new car should have been.  I’d forgotten where I’d left it, so Daddy had to go out in the dark and search the centre of York.”

Son: “Ha ha Mummy you were so silly, I’m really glad you’re not like that now!’

And I had plenty of material for my tales too – a pan fire in the kitchen with impressive blue flames (which, in my defence, I dealt with very effectively), a cake made with salt instead of sugar, which didn’t go down too well and throwing baby vomit covered jeans into the machine to find phone wreckage when I pulled them out.  And many, many more.

As well as imagining my mini sleep deprived disasters as funny stories for children, I also comforted myself that some other new parents seemed to be on a par incompetence wise.  One poor mum threw her dirty washing into the toilet rather than the laundry basket – I rest my case!

Of course I was also hoping the situation was only temporary – my sense of humour has limits! – and thankfully, with the help of some very effective sleep retraining, it pretty much was.

So my message for anyone doubting their sanity due to sleep deprivation in this way is 1.  it can get better (once sleeping patterns are established/re-established) and 2. you’re definitely not alone!


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