3AM. I am sitting between my children’s beds, holding a hand each as I wait for them to go back to sleep. Listening to my husband snoring. In this moment I feel so utterly alone.
Successive nights of interrupted sleep have broken me. 3AM is when I snap, when it all becomes too much to bear. For the last few nights it seems I have only just drifted off to sleep before being woken yet again. And then when the children finally seem to be sleeping soundly, my brain decides to wake up and take away what little chance I have for sleep.
3AM, I hate you. This is the time when I am at my lowest, when my thoughts attack. The children are finally asleep, the husband still snores but sleep is elusive. I sit in the darkness and cry. I am so tired. Why won’t my mind now let me sleep?
All those worries, all those fears that seem manageable in the day now become huge and overwhelming. Mummy guilt gains power. It taunts me, tells me that I’m not good enough. Reminding me of the harsh words I couldn’t hold back at the moment when I reached the end of my tether and snapped. Reminding me of the journey that lies ahead and the moments that I should be cherishing.
Mummy guilt is an evil beast at the best of times and even more so when you have a child with complex medical needs. It constantly reminds you of how lucky you are and how thankful you should be for every single moment. That every moment is a precious one. No matter how exhausting, how relentless, how challenging it may be. Be grateful, mummy guilt scolds. Remember how different this journey could have been. Think how terrible it could still become…
I know that parenting is hard. That being a heart mummy is hard. That all these thoughts, fears and feelings are natural and normal. No matter how overwhelming, how frightening, how intense they may be. And at 3AM they are so very, very intense. And I am so very, very alone in this moment while they torment me.
This is the moment when the fear of the road ahead gains strength. That reminder that as hard as this moment is, there may come a time when I long for it. Because to be able to sit on the floor and hold my children’s hands is a gift. And tonight it is a gift I am ungrateful for as mummy guilt reminds me. In a few short weeks when I sit next to a hospital bed, I will long to be home with my babies and to have normality again.
And the fear that I dare not express? In this moment it comes up to me and stares me in the face. It is so hard to push away. It is too real, too strong.
In the darkness I am alone with my thoughts and my fears. Fighting my demons while I listen to the gentle breathing of my sleeping family. All around me is calm. But my head is a swirling storm of emotions and worries. My mind will not switch off.
Sometime before dawn, exhaustion will eventually win over. My mind which is so wide-awake now, will be foggy and groggy when it actually needs to wake up. The fear and the guilt will lessen but I will carry them with me as I go through the day. And when tiredness makes my temper short and my tongue sharp, they will rise up to berate me once again.
The children are asleep. I return to my bed, listening to the soft breathing all around me and try to push the thoughts away. I pray for strength for the road ahead, and hope that my fears will be unfounded. Maybe tomorrow will be a better night. Maybe sleep will give back the patience and courage that seems elusive tonight. And if not, at least there’s coffee and the healing power of a hug.
And when I have to face the journey ahead, I will not be alone. No matter how alone I feel at 3AM. I have love, I have prayers, I have support and I have faith. I will hold fast to these things and know that I am surrounded by them.