This morning has been a trying morning. Hailey woke up around 5:30am for a feed which is more or less normal these days. Normally she goes back to sleep and then wakes up around 7am but today she refused to go back to sleep. Apparently I’m a little more attached to her going to sleep at this hour of the day! (see my normal approach to sleep in Bedtime Strategy if you don’t know what I’m talking about) Let’s face it, I really wanted to go back to bed. I tried to get her to calm down and to go back to sleep for about 45 minutes with no luck. It was clear she was tired (all of the signs were there) but it just wasn’t happening. We headed downstairs to play. I put her in her neglect-o-circle (aka baby play centre or baby activity centre) in the living room. She was happy once she was playing. I went into the kitchen and cried. I was tired and it’s tough on me emotionally when she’s in my arms and I can’t calm her down. I just needed to take a moment.
If you’ve read my previous post Stressed Mommy = Fussy Baby you will know that my beliefs were now kicking in telling me I needed to do everything in my power to get to a better place emotionally or the rest of my day would turn into a nightmare. Fortunately my husband had not yet left for work and sat down beside me and helped me through this a bit. It wasn’t a conversation that was focused on me getting happier. Instead it was re-framing our views on this particular situation.
The conversation could have gone like this: I’m so upset that she isn’t going back to sleep, she’s clearly tired, why is she not going to sleep, what’s wrong with her, what am I doing wrong, this is going to screw up her naps today, I’m so tired, I’m going to be exhausted all day, today is off to a bad start so I can only imagine how the rest of my day will go, she wants to be held and I need my space, nothing I’m doing is working, I don’t know what to do….. you get the idea.
Instead the conversation went like this: I’m frustrated that she’s not going back to sleep, she’s clearly tired and so am I, I wonder what’s going on with her, she’s seems upset that she’s tired and unable to go back to sleep, this is very unlike her, I know she doesn’t want to feel this way because she keeps trying to make herself happier by sucking her thumb and jumping, I trust that she’s not just doing this to get my attention, I know this is temporary, she won’t always be like this, I don’t have to figure out what’s wrong, I can hold her if that’s what she needs, I know that she is generally a very happy baby, I love her very much, I’m looking forward to playing and laughing with her later today.
Can you see the difference in the conversation? Nothing about the situation has changed but as you read through each conversation can you feel how they are different? I certainly felt better. I got myself to a calm state where I felt that I could actually hold her and not add to her stress. I was relaxed while holding her as she fell back to sleep around 7:30am (even though my arm was killing me!). Yay, she got back to sleep but there was definitely no chance that I was getting back to sleep. But that’s ok. I’m felt more calm and content compared to how I was feeling around 6:30am.
Notice the post title: From Tears to Calm. I didn’t say From Tears to Bliss/Joy/Happy. That was too far of a stretch for me. All I needed to do and wanted to do was feel a bit better and a bit more in control. And I didn’t try to convince myself that this is what being a mother is all about – being there for my child even if it comes at my expense and I need to be ok with that. I simply didn’t want to feel on the verge of tears, out of control, and I wanted to have a good day despite how it started.
Re-framing the situation takes practice. I hear the inner monologue in my head coaxing me to spiral out of control. “oh, you feel like crying? let’s make this a little easier to cry by thinking about how horrible this is and that it has likely ruined the rest of your day.” It’s an old habit and it’s still right there if I want it. But instead I tell myself I’d rather feel better so I start thinking of a tiny statement that gives me some relief. And then another tiny statement and then another and another. It’s a conscious decision I make (and I don’t always chose to feel better but I know it’s my choice).
Give it a try if you want to feel better. And just try to feel a little bit better a little bit at a time. It may not change the situation but it will put you in a much better emotional state to handle it.