Caught Up in the Noise

Photography:Poppy Peterson Photography

By Taylor Kulik

It’s early in the morning, and I’m watching the clock, waiting for it to tell me when you need to nurse again. You’re crying, and I think you’re hungry, but the article I read said that babies should eat, then play, then sleep. But I feel like you really just want to eat, play, eat, sleep, eat, sleep.

Why are you different than the rest of these babies I read about? 

It’s late afternoon and I’m sitting with you in this dark room, praying that you’ll just stay asleep the next time I lay you in your crib. Everyone keeps telling me that I should be able to lay you down drowsy to teach you to self-soothe, but it’s not working. I’ve probably been rocking you on and off for an hour. Your nap would have probably been over by now had I just let you stay asleep when you fell asleep on my breast. But I keep hearing that’s a bad habit, so what am I supposed to do? Now you’re overtired, and I’m in tears. We’re feeding off of each other’s stress. I wish your Dad would come home. 

It’s past midnight. Every time you wake, I nurse you and you fall right back asleep. But I can’t let you sleep in my bed. Everyone tells me I could hurt you. So I pick you up and lay you back in your crib, and you wake. Every single time, you wake. And then I stand and rock you until I start to doze off and almost drop you from being so exhausted.

How can this be any safer than letting you sleep next to me? I can’t keep going on like this.  

We’re going on an outing this afternoon. Another well-meaning person asks me how you’re sleeping. Inside, my anxiety rises as my head runs through all of the times you were awake last night, and how I couldn’t get you down for your nap today and what a failure I am for just giving into nursing you to sleep and holding you the entire time you slept. I won’t tell them that because I can’t handle hearing about the bad habits and problems I’m creating for us both. I feel so much shame that I can’t get my own baby to sleep without me. Isn’t that the most basic milestone? That’s why everyone asks me about it, right?  

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