I became a member a few years ago, and posted a little bit before my wee girl was born (August 2010) - in a state of happy excitement! Things have changed a lot since then. I have been too busy to be involved in the forum. I've only been able to have five minute lurk sessions here and there. Alas. I would love to have the time to engage and interact on a whole tonne of subforums here, as they're all so interesting and helpful. I have SO many questions about my daughter and being a parent, I just wish I had a week to write a tonne of posts!
Thanks anyway to mothering.com and the community...maybe available time will increase as the bub gets older? (can only hope!)
Before I start my probably very long story, I just wanted to say that I've read as many of the insomnia threads here I could find, and also as much as I could on the Adrenal Fatigue, and Hibernation Diet threads.
I'm not sure what I'm wanting to achieve by posting, or if anything can be...but I guess I just need to reach out a little bit, and see if there is anyone else in my shoes (having success, or not?) with chronic post-partum insomnia. Currently, it is ruining my life...and I'm just not sure what to do next.
The background: My first daughter was born in August 2010 (she will be an only). It was not the birth I wished for (have also read in the birth trauma forum, and found that very useful) - I laboured on and off for two days, but didn't progress and ended up having an unplanned c-section. Recovery was good, but I did find the first few weeks much harder than I'd expected (does everyone?).
Then my partners father died suddenly, and somehow we ended up going to live with my 'mother-in-law' for a few months (it's a long story). I was incredibly miserable during this time...and felt imprisoned, stressed....lots of bad things. But we got through that, and the three of us, moved back into a new house.
My little girl was an atrocious sleeper as a baby. People just never believed (until they saw for themselves) that even at only a month old, she was able to keep her eyes open (crying for some of that time) for up to seven hours. It was quite a stressful start to things...and she didn't start sleeping a little more 'normally' until she was about six months old (coincidentally, when we moved out of the MIL's house). I breastfed her until she was 1, and about that time she started sleeping through the night.
I'd never looked forward to anything so much in my life! Obviously *I* would also be able to sleep through the night too! Woohoo!
Fast forward to now.
It's now been about a year and a half that I've had this insomnia. Though if you count the bit at the beginning, I haven't had a proper nights sleep since two nights before she was born, just over 2.5 years ago.
There has not been one night in all this time, not one single night, that I have slept for more than 5.5 solid hours in a row. 5.5 hours is a 'good' night, where I'll only wake once, and then hopefully go back to sleep for another hour or so.
In my pre-baby, pre-insomnia days, I needed at least 9 hours sleep to function well and happily. These current levels are slowly killing me. I was also a night owl in my previous incarnation, and find the early to bed, early morning thing very difficult too. How do night owls deal with having kids at all I sometimes wonder!
I don't have trouble going to sleep (usually, ocassional nights I will toss and turn for a couple of hours). But without fail, I wake up every single night, usually twice - after about 3-5 hours sleep, then if I get back to sleep again, an hour or so after that. I'm basically tossing and turning from the first wakeup (around 2-4 am) until the morning, when we all get up at 6.30am. I used to wake up exactly at 2 and 4, in spite of different bedtimes. Now it is a little more random. Sometimes 3.30. Sometimes 2am then 5.30.
I'm so miserable.
I'm so exhausted.
It affects everything so very much. But to summarise, on a good day, I struggle through the exhaustion and make it to the end (phew). On a bad day, when something little goes wrong (e.g. my wee one has been dropping naps of late - which is freaking me out no end) - I lose it a bit...either getting angry with her or my partner (and then feeling guilty) or super-sad. If something unexpected happens in life, which seems it is par for the course with a toddler...I just feel unable to cope with it well, because I am soooo tired....all the time.
I know I'm an anxious person, and I also have some bad habits (unfortunately I took up smoking again after we weaned...very unhappy about that too) - coffee etc. I haven't managed to control/kick these things yet. These things all muddy the insomnia waters a bit.
Anyway. It has taken me a year and a half to finally get to the Doctors for an appointment. (We're far away from our nearest town, so not an easy trip to make). She's a lovely doctor, and did tests for the major things: thyroid, diabetes, iron etc. All came back fine, and she hasn't offered me anything else to help. And ever since, I've been even more down - as I'd been hoping against hope that there was actually something physical wrong with me! So much easier to deal with than no clue's, and the possible inference that it's psychological.
A part of me thinks (hopes?) it still is physical, since I feel so wired when I wake up. Like the symptoms I read in the Adrenal Fatigue thread. Also I had very severe night sweats after bubs was born...and even after we weaned, and still now, I get them, though less severely (I'm not pre-menopausal however). The wakeups seem more frequent just before my period as well. The doctor however, has nothing more to offer - and doesn't want to do hormone tests. :(
I've tried melatonin. I've tried over-the-counter, herbal sleeping tablets.
Have recently tried raw honey (ala Hibernation Diet) - and disappointingly I've had worse nights than ever during honey nights, so have stopped it for the moment. Weird.
I haven't tried full-on exercise (no time, no energy to even contemplate) and I haven't tried prescription drugs (very reluctant) - nor sleep restriction therapy - though all these things are on the table as options. I keep waiting to feel desperate enough to try one or the other....but although every morning, after another horrible night, I feel that desperate, I just keep hoping something will just magically change before I have to resort to extreme 'cures'.
Stress is likely an underlying cause - we are building a house (currently renting) but it is going way over budget and schedule. My darling girl stresses me a bit too - parenting is much harder than I was expecting it would be....but I just can't tell how much of the 'hardness' is my own inability to focus etc, because of exhaustion. I also work from home, but have so little time to do it, that that is a constant pressure too.
I've also considered post-natal depression. The first six months were so hard, I think I was mildly depressed. Since then, whilst things are still hard - I'm tending to feel that it's the insomnia that is causing a depressive/hopeless state, not the other way around. But who knows.
What a ramble!
I would love to hear from anyone who is in the same boat. Someone who was always a good sleeper, but who has had chronic insomnia following the birth of their child. Any advice on what to try next - or what to approach my doctor with...or...or...well, anything really.
And to any other insomniacs - especially one's who were caught unawares, and had always slept like angels before - my heart goes out to you. I hope you can overcome it, and get back to proper nights of zzzz's.
Thanks for reading.
PS: I'm not sure this is the right forum for this....?