In preparation of the next Game of Thrones season, I borrowed a line for the title of this post. But it echoes the flashbacks that I still have from those early weeks. Night time was the worst in the beginning.
I remember feeling my mood slowly lower every time that we would go up to get settled for bed. Little buddy was colicky, so we would settle in bed around 6PM and turn on a show on the ipad while I breastfed him for hours until he fell asleep. Settling in included bringing up the Rock n Play, a huge jug of water to drink throughout the night, three of my nipple shields – each in their respective case – to be used throughout the night and lastly Little Buddy.
I’d lie on my side and watch shows while my husband worked or read articles. We’d finally see signs of Little Buddy winding down around 10PM or 11PM. Carefully we’d transition him into his bassinet, turn the lights out and turn on his sound attenuation machine. We’d wait for his next cry.
Some nights he refused to nurse and refused to go down. Gratefully, my mother came and would take him for a couple hours so we could get some much needed sleep.
Yet each night, we had no idea what would happen. We watched for Little Buddy’s cues and ensured that we turned out the lights and closed our eyes whenever he went down, even at 8PM some nights. Weariness and depression would set in as the evening neared. I had no idea what to expect and was terrified of getting enough sleep.
I’ve always been one of those people who had to get 8 hours of sleep and having a child changed nothing. My husband could get a scant 5 hours of sleep and make it through the next day while I would have to fit in a nap whenever I could to catch up. Of course, I was also healing from a c-section and my body simply needed rest as well.
One night, Little Buddy went from waking up three times a night, to just twice. My husband and I looked at each other the next morning ecstatic at how rested we felt. Some weeks later Little Buddy dropped another wake-up meaning that we had only gotten up once. We slowly started to feel human again.
As time went on, his schedule got more predictable. Some times he woke once for a feeding but mostly he slept through. Still though, I felt tremendous anxiety as we approached the evening. It was winter, so darkness approached even more rapidly than normal. Even though the odds of waking up for a feeding were decreasing exponentially, I’d still find myself counting down the minutes until I could reasonably go to sleep. Some nights it was shortly after Little Buddy went to bed – meaning I made it to a whopping 7PM.
I told my husband that I just didn’t have the energy to get up with Little Buddy at night and so he took over the night shift, grabbing a bottle of breast milk or formula if Little Buddy cried out at 3AM.
Yet all the sleep still did nothing for my unbelievable weariness and fatigue. I was sleeping 12 hours a night. Even though my anxiety of getting enough sleep should have waned, it seemed to only strengthen.
It wasn’t until much later that I was able to connect this profound exhaustion four months in with what it really was – postpartum depression.