Featured image by Helga Weber on Flickr.
I had a Mommy Meltdown on Monday. Noah stayed awake all night Sunday night and into Monday morning. All night. When I held Noah he was perfectly content and quiet (yet wide awake). When I tried to lay him down he would cry…and cry and cry and cry. I tried letting him cry it out, but at one point he worked himself up so much that he triggered a terrible sounding coughing fit and after that point I just resolved to hold him all night.
When 4:30 AM rolled around, I’d had all I could take and I broke down into tears. No, not tears. Sobs. I sat in the rocking chair in the nursery and held Noah and wept. No, not wept. Sobbed.
Noah didn’t seem to notice what was happening at first, but at one point his eyebrows furrowed and he seemed to focus in on what was happening. I watched that confused look cross his features and then I sobbed harder because I felt so guilty for exposing him to my breakdown. As I started to cry harder, he smiled. I laughed a little bit through my tears, but then I remembered why I was crying in the first place and I couldn’t help but start the sobbing cycle all over again.
Robbie came to Noah’s rescue after only a few minutes. He’d been up and down all night with me and he’d endured each one of the frustrated fits that I had every time I’d lay down and have to pop right back up again when the baby started crying. By the time I broke down Robbie’d had enough too. He ordered me out of the nursery and told me to do whatever I needed to do to pull myself together.
Immediately the guilt set in. I felt like an utter failure. I felt like a jerk. Not only had I broken down in the face of mommyhood, but I’d forced my husband to step up to the plate alone. I felt like I’d let us down as a team. I was afraid that Robbie would feel like he’d lost his partner because I was obviously unstable and unreliable.
I wanted to take it all back right away. The crying, the fits, the exhaustion. I wanted another chance to prove that I wasn’t weak and that I could handle the tough times that we’d inevitably face as parents. I hovered over Robbie’s shoulder as he tended to Noah and tried to figure out the right combination of things that would make him sleep. I wished so badly that there was a reset button that I could press to undo that moment. I held back my tearful apology until I could pull myself together and allow the tension to dissipate.
I did eventually step away until I could stop crying. A little bit of time passed and after I’d gathered myself I rejoined Robbie and Noah and offered the apology that’d been resting on my lips since the moment I fell apart. Robbie understood. He was exhausted too and he knew how I was feeling. He simply handles his stress
better differently than I do.
Maybe my meltdown did have a lasting effect on Noah, because he’s slept pretty well for the rest of the week.
I got online to research infant sleeping habits and sleep training, but I ended up finding something that I needed even more…comfort, understanding, and validation. I’m not the only mom who’s had a Mommy Meltdown. I came across many forums and articles where other moms described similar situations that they’ve found themselves in. They echoed feelings that I’ve had as if they’d taken the words right out of my mouth. One mom talked about the feeling of dread that would build up inside her as the sun went down because she knew that her night would be sleepless and stressful. I’ve also experienced that same feeling of dread as the day slipped away, but until reading that testimonial I’d thought my feelings were purely a result of my own weakness and ineptitude.
It was empowering to read about other women’s experiences and to know that my moment of weakness did not mean that I’m not cut out for motherhood. I hope that I never have a meltdown like that again and if I feel myself breaking down I hope that I’ll remember all of the stories and camaraderie that I found and I’ll be able to draw strength from them. Nobody said this parenthood thing would be easy.