It's four in the morning. As I type this, I'm hanging off the edge of a king size bed because my 10-month-old has decided my pillow is where she will sleep tonight. We don't co-sleep in my house, so this is not your normal night. Let me back up and clarify a bit.
Last night, we returned from a three-week trip overseas. We endured a 14-hour plane ride where the longest stretch of sleep she got was three and a half hours. There is an eight-hour time difference between home and where we were, meaning she has a mean case of jet lag. We attempted the crib, but, as Murphy's law could've predicted, tonight would be the night she would learn to pull herself up with no idea how to lay back down on her own. And, oh, did I mention she's teething?
So, here I lay, gripping the edge of the bed, reflecting on our trip and the last few months, praying that she gets the sleep she needs.
I've battled anxiety my whole life, but was always able to keep it under control, as it only affected me. But now that I have a family of my own, I worry it is affecting them, too.
Or is it? Is it even anxiety? Is the need to stay two steps ahead of my daughter's needs anxiety, or simply mother's intuition?
Let me tie it together for you. I do everything in my power to make sure she is happy, well rested and comfortable. To say I put her needs before mine is an understatement. Hence, the 14-hour plane ride where she slept on me on and off in the most uncomfortable position possible. Half of my body was numb, my neck ached and I desperately needed sleep. Did I wake her? No way. I told myself she needed sleep more than I did, and continued with our long flight. Meals were served that I didn't eat for fear of moving and waking her. I could always eat later, she needed to sleep right then.
Two large suitcases we packed were full of her favorite foods, toys and copies of various items from our house to make her as comfortable as possible on our trip. I am aware they sell food and diapers everywhere, but what if they didn't have the brands we use? What if she didn't like the food there? These were risks I was not willing to take. I even brought her crib bumpers halfway across the world so her new crib wouldn't feel so different. Her car seat also traveled with us, even though the car rental place had perfectly fine ones to rent. She is used to hers, so it made the trek as well.
While on vacation, there were several nights I stayed alone with her so that my husband could go spend time with the cousins we were visiting. They have a 4-month-old who was always in tow. He would sleep in his stroller until three in the morning, when late night visiting sessions ran later than expected. But my husband was alone with them, his wife and baby in the room because I can't just "let her sleep in the stroller." My need for routine and structure became a joke with his family as I desperately tried to cling to any sense of a schedule we could establish there. They reminded me that my daughter will let me know when she was hungry or tired.
What they don't understand is that theory doesn't work with the way I am wired. I'd rather feed her before she is hungry enough to tell me, and let her nap before she is overtired. These ideas seem normal to me, but are they?
Is this all normal behavior for a mom? Or have I let my own anxiety and need for structure spill over into my parenting style?
Either way, this is who I am, who I've always been, and apparently what my parenting style is, as well.
And as my husband always says when defending me, "you can't argue with results." So, I'll continue to put my daughter's needs ahead of mine, one sleepless night at a time.