You Do You, Mama

You have permission to do you. I'm going to say it again - louder for the people in the back.

You have permission to do you.

Did you need to hear that? I needed to hear it. In fact , I have to remind myself of this sentiment not just daily, but multiple times a day. It took me about six months, but I've finally learned I'm not only allowed to listen to my mama instinct - but I should.

While pregnant, any time Adam and I got a new piece of advice, we would later turn to each other and say "I'll take that with a grain of salt." We knew the intentions were all well meaning, but we also knew parenting may look and feel different for us after all we'd been through. We don't know anyone else who has walked our path - that's our reality. So, we've grown comfortable paving our own.

A few weeks ago, I hit a peak in my anxiety. I had suddenly convinced myself Hollis was going to stop breathing each night. Day after day I found myself more exhausted as I got less sleep.

Hollis is what society would deem "a good baby." Since he was two weeks old, he had been following routines and schedules well. He slept in a pack and play next to our bed until he outgrew the weight limit. Then, his crib was moved into our room. When sleep regressions hit, they were never awful. The closest he got to sleeping through the night was when he was two months old and would sleep from 8:30 pm to 5 am without waking.

Around 6 months, he became more aware and staying asleep was hard. Some days he'd wake up every 30 minutes after going to bed, only staying asleep after a dream feed when I was ready to lay down for the night. Sometimes he'd make it until nine, only to wake up at ten and then again at eleven, finally stringing a few hours together after midnight.

I was baffled and started to panic, convincing myself it was due to his short naps. This kid wakes up after 30 minutes on the dot. It's like he has a friggin timer set. I started getting obsessive with his schedule - having to pause and say out loud "he's happy and he's healthy. We don't have to be that neurotic about his naps." After "good nights," I woke up with a sense of victory, as if I had conquered something, replaying each tweak we made to ensure it happened again.

The catch? On nights he did stay asleep, I was up more often to make sure he was still breathing.

Then, one night, I decided after consistently going in to soothe him that maybe he just needed his mama. So, we snuggled.

Since then, we both sleep soundly next to each other every night. At first, I was terrified. You only ever hear about how bad bed sharing is - it's unsafe, it causes dependent babies (um hi, hello, yes my 6 month old SHOULD depend on me) etc;

If you know me, you know I did my research - extensively. Evidently, there's a whole other style of parenting - one that doesn't focus on sleep schedules, crying it out or putting baby in their own room. These methods do work for some families - I was just learning we weren't one of them and that was okay.

Since bed sharing, my anxiety has decreased tremendously and it appears Hollis' has too as we all sleep soundly through the night. If he's hungry, he latches on and drifts back to sleep. We still follow our routines and a flexible schedule, but have also learned to listen to his cues. He's human - his needs change, just like ours. We've loosened up and slowed down.

Each night, after bath time, as we lay in bed nursing, I get to listen to the sweet sounds my boy makes, cuddling him as he slowly drifts off. Each night I am in awe that I get to live this life - I get to be this boy's mama and we get to decide what looks and feels like.

Whatever path you and your family choose - you do you, mama. There are no better parents for your babe than you and your partner.

I also want to share that I reached out to a professional and started therapy sessions when my anxiety reached it's peak. Though fears of child loss are common, they are not normal. If you are also experiencing depression and/or anxiety (postpartum or not), I encourage you to seek support.

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