Brian Diemer Recap, parenthood struggles 6/16

15 weeks in! Time flies, yet sometimes it goes so slowly.

The Brian Diemer 5K was already over a week ago. It went much better than expected. We had been dealing with some tough things at home that I’ll get into later. Anyway, my goal was to run 19:12 and I ended up running 19:01. Yes, 2 seconds from breaking 19!

There’s a guy at work that’s a fantastic runner, especially for someone in the 55-59 age group! We found each other at the start and decided to try to help each other out with pacing. We went out in 6:06 (goal of 6:10) and I felt great. It seemed easy. Almost too easy. Doug and I were still right next to each other through the second mile. 6:04. Still felt great so when I looked down at my watch again and saw we were now at 5:48 pace I figured that I could run much faster than I anticipated. I started realizing we were going to break 18 minutes, I just had to hold this pace.

Brian Diemer always runs in the 5K, but this year he was injured so he let his daughter carry the torch. If you beat him (or her this year) in the race you get a donut. I don’t even like donuts but I saw her up there with balloons I really wanted to pass her. So I did. Doug was still with me stride for stride. We had just over a half mile to go.

That’s when it happened. Not all at once but every step started feeling a little harder. The pace slowed slightly. Doug started to creep up ahead of me. I tried to put in the effort to get back on pace and it was hard. Nothing really hurt I just suddenly didn’t seem to have the energy. I continued to go through the motions but was definitely slowing down and I could feel it without even looking at my watch.

Doug held on and was gradually slipping away. Brian’s daughter and the balloons passed me again. I got frustrated, told myself I was so close to being done and should just toughen up. I turned the last corner and saw the finish line and it looked so far away. Still, I started my kick but it didn’t really feel like much of a kick. I got close enough to see the clock, 18:55 and knew that I wouldn’t be under 19. I wish I would have known how close my chip time would have been though!

So, I beat my goal of 19:12 but I struggled a lot in the last half mile! I just have to keep doing workouts and work on building my endurance and know that it will get there. My goal for my next 5K in a couple weeks is to break 19 minutes.

So that was the race. Now here’s the background about everything else.

We thought we were so lucky that our baby started sleeping through the night at around 4 weeks. We read horror stories about it not happening for most babies until 6 months. 6 months! She consistently slept 7-9 hours every night with very few exceptions for about 2 months! As fussy as she was at least we knew we could count on her sleeping. I even admit that I got almost cocky about it. I read some article online about how to get babies to sleep through the night and it was all these tips that we didn’t do and she still slept through the night. Ha. They didn’t know what they were talking about. Don’t EVER get cocky with parenting. EVER.

A few days before I went back to work she started waking up once or twice in the night for a feeding. Strange. Maybe a growth spurt? I was sure it would pass and we’d go right back to our normal routine. I started work, she started daycare and every night was the same. Only now when she woke me up at 3:30 or 4 am I couldn’t fall back to sleep knowing the alarm would be going off at 5:30 am. We hadn’t done anything different. The days went on and we started to get more tired. It didn’t pass.

Then she got sick, had her first cold and things really got messed up in the sleep department. Up every single hour! I started to get really tired. I told myself it was the cold. She’d go back to sleeping through the night again once it was over. 10 days passed and she wasn’t waking up every hour, but every 2 hours. She had to be almost done with her cold right? I started to experience exhaustion. Different from just being really tired. Its from more than a couple weeks of very little sleep, very poor quality of sleep. Your body starts to ache. You’re crabby. Really, really crabby. So you put your baby down at 8 pm and you go to sleep then too because you know you’ll be up in a couple hours anyway so you might as well just get the whole thing started early. You CRAVE sleep, yet dread the night because you start to assume that it will be more of the same. You start to wonder if this phase will EVER pass.

Then you get sick. Strep throat to be exact. Fever. Yet you still have to bounce around a crying baby every night for at least an hour before bedtime. You start to get desperate. You wish you could just pay someone to come over and take care of your baby for one night so that you can actually get more than 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep. You snap at your spouse because you’re not yourself. You’re just some shell of yourself that just feels like she’s barely functioning and is going to zonk out at her desk at work soon. You wonder what you’re doing wrong. You scour the internet to try to find out what has changed and how to fix it. Some nights you just deal with it. Its been over a week now. You assume this is your life for a while. You get up, feed her and put her back down without hardly waking up too much yourself and go right back to sleep until the next one. Even the weekends are not any better. During the week you have to wake her up to get ready for daycare. It seems such a cruel joke that on the weekends she decides that 4 or 5 am are perfectly acceptable times to wake up.

Then one night you just lose it. Its 12:30 am and this is the second time she’s been up. Its a Wednesday morning. You’re miserable. You wonder if you’re causing the problem by always feeding her when she wakes up. You wonder if that leads her to need to wake up and feed more often. You try picking her up and rocking her. She cries. You try giving her a pacifier. She wails louder and your spouse wakes up and the two of you fight about what the right thing to do is. You feel like you’re failing. You feel frustrated and angry, though not angry at your baby because you know its not her fault. So instead you’re just angry at everything else. Especially your spouse. Why? Because they’re there. Finally, you just give up and feed her and she goes back to sleep but you can’t. You’re crying. You and your spouse then go downstairs and have a meaningful conversation at 1:30 am. You know you should be sleeping. The baby is sleeping and she’s going to wake up again soon and you’re just wasting time being angry. But you can’t sleep because you’re angry and so you and your spouse commiserate together. Strangely, it feels nice because its the best conversation you’ve had in a while. You feel guilty for being so unhappy. You have a healthy, beautiful baby and you love her more than ever. Its ok. Its ok to feel this way.

I put a frustrated status update on facebook and tried to retract it immediately and was overwhelmed by the positive responses I got from other moms. They had been there too. They also loved their babies but experienced that utter frustration that is very much a part of being a parent. I can’t explain how normal it made me feel in that moment, and how much I needed that.

The next day I vented to people at work. Anyone that would listen really.

That night I felt better. I went to bed prepared to wake up two hours later with a crying baby. I was SHOCKED when I woke up and looked at the clock and it was 2:20 am and I realized she hadn’t been up yet!!!! I quickly panicked and made sure she was still breathing. She was. I went back to sleep. She woke up at 3 am and I fed her and she went back to sleep. And then I woke her up at 7 am to get ready for daycare.

The sun was shining a little more brightly that day. The grass looked greener and birds seemed to be singing everywhere. My spouse seemed especially wonderful. I knew that I wasn’t possibly caught up from all the sleep debt I incurred for weeks, but I had something else that day that just made me grin from ear to ear. Hope. I knew that the next night it could be that we’d be up every 2 hours again. But I felt better that maybe it wasn’t something we were doing wrong and just had to do with Alexandra and what she was going through.

I took her to the doctor last week to check on her cold that still didn’t seem to be gone and asked about the sleeping thing. He said she was a little young to be going through the sleep regression that tends to happen around 4 months. Maybe. Maybe it was something else, but I have a feeling that was exactly what she was going through. Its now been 4 nights that she’s woken once or twice to feed. I still don’t want to say its over because I know what will happen tonight.

I share my tale because I hope it will provide some other poor sleep deprived parents with some hope. It may be another 2 months before she starts sleeping through the night again like she did before. I can certainly handle 1 or 2 wake ups though much better than 4 or more. If nothing has changed with you or your routine its probably NOT your fault. Just get through it. This too shall pass. And repeat…

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