I tried to prepare for and anticipate any triggers. I brought earplugs and an eye mask to the hospital so I could drown out extra noise. The earplugs were just enough so I couldn't hear the baby down the hall crying, but I could still hear our bundle of joy in our room. My sweet husband spent the first night with us and held our daughter so I could sleep. I was able to get some sleep.
The next night I had sent my exhausted husband home to sleep in our bed. I tried to get some sleep, but was having a very difficult time. It was the second night "wakefulness" night. Baby Girl just pretty much wanted to party. Two other new moms were also having trouble sleeping. The hospital beds were not conducive at all for "sleeping in", and they had no nursery. Our fantastic nurses came up with a plan though. They put all three babies in an unused room with one of them on watch at all times. They rotated rounds, medication stops and everything and allowed us to sleep. I got four and a half hours and I was thrilled!
The third day we came home from the hospital and it all fell apart. I have a nursing pillow I use to position the baby as I nurse--the problem was the night time feedings. I would get sleepy nursing the baby, but then I would "jerk" awake because I didn't want to put the baby in a dangerous position. I kept doing this. I would try and lay her down, but she wouldn't sleep for long before waking and wanting to nurse again.
I also found myself drifting off to sleep in my bed, then "jerking" awake again even though I didn't have her in my arms.
The end result was I slept about an hour.
The next day was not much better. I got an hour nap and 2 two hour stretches of sleep. I began to have anxiety that I would never have a decent night's sleep again--even though I have faith that I would get through this like I did last time. I had forgotten how to fall asleep. I worried about what kind of mother I would be for my other children and how I would function when my in-laws and husband were gone. This only added to my stress level.
I talked with my mother-in-law and she reminded me of talk I had recently heard from a modern-day apostle of Jesus Christ. The apostle had taught us from the New Testament and pointed out that even when Jesus was at his lowest point having fasted for forty days and then having been tempted by the devil, the Savior did not turn inward, but ministered to John the Baptist by sending angels to him. He served others even when he must have been weary and beaten down.
I realized I was wrapped in my own drama of "will I have a normal sleep schedule again?" I realized I needed to get outside of myself and serve others. I could serve my family--especially our new little daughter who is wholly dependent upon me, but I can also do little things to help others. I can send a note to a sick friend, or call someone on the phone to let them know I am thinking of them. I can make a few phone calls for another busy mom who is trying to pull together a big activity. I can help others in small, but meaningful ways.
I also have come to the realization that this is likely NOT the last time I'll ever face anxiety--and that's okay. Heavenly Father has helped me get through my bouts of anxiety in the past, and I know He will help me get through them now, and when I face them again in the future. This knowledge helps me because I know I am not alone. I can also use the experience as an opportunity to draw ever closer to my Father in Heaven and His son, Jesus Christ.
And that my friends, is a very good thing.