In a postpartum support group I am a part of, mothers often post desperate for solutions to their baby not sleeping. Many are on medication and/or in counseling or trying other things to recover from postpartum mood disorders, but medication and therapy do not solve sleep deprivation. Many others will offer endless advice on how to get your baby to sleep through the night and if you try any and they work, that is awesome. I was one of those desperate mothers years ago who tried everything and my child just would not sleep. Now she is 12 and I can hardly get out of bed before lunch sometimes. I now work in a daycare and there is almost at least one child in every class that will not nap no matter what you do. At work, I feel like a baby whisperer sometimes as I get 5 one-year olds to nap, and sometimes for 2 to 2 and half hours. I could not even do this with my one child at that age. Before she was born, I usually slept through the night. Meanwhile, some people, like my mom and husband, can often function on little sleep.
I dealt with serious sleep deprivation for years and I am sure it contributed partially to my OCD, anxiety and depression getting so bad. So to mothers who are asking, what do I do? Especially in the midst of a pandemic right now? Many say they have no help, but you have to find a way to get sleep. Whether it is allowing your baby to safely play in their crib or a bassinet or pack in play next to you or in their own room while you sleep, even if they do not sleep, whether it trying to form at least one good friendship with a neighbor, even if you have no family in town, to have someone who can occasionally help you or watch your child while you rest; whether it is paying someone if you can afford it or seeking free help if you do not. On a show I watch, I remember the adults on their street used to take turns every weekday taking care of all the kids on their street, so one person would have all the kids one day a week, which seems genius to me and costs nothing.
Even during the pandemic, the daycare I was work for is open and safe. I actually caught COVID-19 before working there from my husband’s work. He is a restaurant manager and I have not gotten sick at all since working at the daycare. We clean way more than most of us do at home and we wear masks, etc. Before the daycare, I did keep two kids in their home for a family who was working and none of us got sick. If you have a partner, whether you stay at home or work or both work, it does not matter. Neither of you can work 24-7, take shifts, give each other breaks.
If you still say there is no way, you have no help or partner, or you breastfeed and have to be the one to feed the baby, do not give up, try to figure out a way whether it involves pumping or other solutions. I personally chose not to breastfeed for my mental health. My daughter is super smart and healthy. I am not trying to discourage breastfeeding at all, but your mental health is more important for you and your baby in my opinion, so whatever reason, do not give up on finding a solution. Sleep is so important, and taking care of yourself so you can take care of the baby is so important. Move closer to family if you have to, take drastic measures if needed. If you live close to me, I would love to keep your child while you nap or even get a full night’s sleep for free, I am a mother and take care of children for a living and have offered and no one has ever taken me up on it.
People often attempt to resolve the homelessness problem by giving the homeless food, giving them temporary shelter, trying to help them get off drugs or alcohol or forcing them to in return for shelter, or assisting them in getting a job, donating them supplies, and sometimes they actually give them a home. Luckily, that last one, the only one that actually makes them no longer homeless, is becoming more common. People often do not like this option because they do not get a home for free so why should anyone else? So instead, we spend more tax dollars on emergency services used due to these people living on the street then we would just building them a place to live.
Many of these people are veterans, people who were willing to sacrifice their life, but instead sacrificed their mental health for the rest of us. Some are just people who have just fallen on hard times temporarily and need a little help, but many have some mental health issues or addictions to drug or alcohol that cannot be quickly or easily resolved. In the mean time they need a home. Mothers getting sleep with young children cannot be quickly or easily resolved, but they need sleep in that waiting time until their kids sleep past lunch when they are older. Many mothers are sacrificing their sleep and mental health for their families. Can we just start homing the homeless and allowing mothers to sleep somehow instead of wasting more money and time doing things that do not resolve either issue?
Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook, or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here. Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor