My relationship with sleep has changed a lot in the last year since Cadence was born. You see, my baby doesn’t really sleep a whole lot, at least not in long stretches at a time. I’m getting ready to run my first 100 mile race, and one mantra that I remind myself when I start to freak out about that distance is You can do hard things. Out of all of my experiences in life, the two hardest things that come to my mind with that mantra are 1. natural childbirth (which really wasn’t that hard; more mental than anything) and 2. functioning for a whole year on very little sleep while training for races ranging from the Boston marathon at 6 months postpartum, to my upcoming 100 mile race at 1 year postpartum.
I can do hard things because I can wake up with a baby all night long, still wake up for my training run in the morning, and then go to work all day only to return back home to the responsibilities of wife and mom. I can do hard things.
My husband and I met with our pediatrician before Cadence was born, and he told us that babies can sense when their parents are stressed and it can affect the baby. I tend to be an A type, need-a-plan kind of girl, so being stress-free does not exactly come naturally to me. This piece of advice really made an impression on me though, and I decided early on that if we had a bad night with little sleep, that was OK. And it has been. For a whole year.
From the beginning, we had the normal newborn, every two hour feedings, plus a few other wake up times for good measure. Cadence started to get more on a three hour routine around three months old, and then I started back to work and she caught every single bug at daycare. My lowest point (I can do hard things) was around March (6 months old) when Cadence was waking up more than 10 times a night (my rule is to stop counting at double digits). I was nearing the end of my training for Boston, and my body was hurting in every way. Miraculously, just in time for Boston, Cadence improved to about 2-3 wakings a night, and we’ve pretty much been in that state since then. Some nights are better and some nights are worse.
I’m not complaining. Not one bit. It has been hard, but I can do hard things. It has also been one of the sweetest, most rewarding things in my life. I get to hold my tiny (growing) baby in the night when snuggles are the very sleepiest. I’m still breastfeeding, and I know that even if she is distracted to eat very much during the day, she’ll make up for nutrition with breast milk at night. I’m at work during the day, and my training takes up my early mornings and some evenings after work. Night time is our time.
Cadence won’t always need me in the night, so I am soaking up all of the baby snuggles while I can. I’m sure that the lack of sleep has limited my recovery after hard workouts, and I know that it has made my brain fuzzy many days at work, but I’m a mom first, and right now, my sweet little baby needs me. As I approach my race where I’ll be running (and pumping) through the night, thinking of Cadence will be my motivation to finish strong and fast so that I can get back to that little sleeping angel.
Any other moms still waking up with their babies at night and while trying to maintain a training schedule?