You probably think this is an ordinary picture of a sleeping baby. But, for me, you are looking at a picture of my mental health. If that sounds like a joke, I assure you it's not.
You see, we are coming up on what some were expecting to be Meltdown No. 2.
When Ashlyn was this age she did not take naps. And she did not sleep for long stretches at night. That probably seems reasonable to most people – after all, most babies grow out of that. But for me it was devastation. On and off for years now I have suffered anxiety, largely due to something called "catastrophic thinking." The long and short of it is that when I am overtired, and in an anxious state, my thoughts race to the extreme. "Always" and "never" become my vocabulary. And it spirals from there. When Ashlyn was this age, I was just sure she was almost never going to sleep through the night or take a reasonable nap. I got little sleep, and, coupled with anxiety, I started to think the marathon of sleeplessness and her unpredictable schedule would never end. And one day I just cracked.
Thankfully, my small group of new friends rallied around me, my mom came to visit, and James took off work so that I could get better. And in a relatively short amount of time, I did. At the same time, Ashlyn started sleeping mostly through the night and started taking naps of an hour or more. It's hard to say if I would have gotten better so fast if she had continued to be difficult, but I have a feeling I would have still been anxious if her schedule hadn't improved.
Fast forward to the day I found out I was pregnant with Surprise Baby. I could not picture a third baby – it was not a family dynamic I had experienced or thought that I wanted. And even once I accepted – even started looking forward to – our sweet third baby, there was a shadow that loomed over the joy whenever my husband and friends talked about the baby. Frankly, they were all waiting to see if I'd crack again.
And here's the thing: if Cam wasn't a sleeper, I just might have. I remember one of the few evenings he had a difficult time getting back to sleep after a bottle and I could feel the irritation and racing thoughts welling up almost instantly. I pushed them back, remembering that even if he was a repeat of Ashlyn's tendencies, it would eventually be okay. But I was hoping and praying that I wouldn't have to work so hard just to keep my head in a reasonable frame of mind.
God thought to have mercy on me. Cam is going on 11 weeks old (you'll notice I thought he was three months old last week – you lose track of time when your family turns into a small daycare). He sleeps from 8 PM until 4:00 AM most nights and has even gone to almost 7AM several times. He takes two 2-hour naps a day and when he's awake, he's content and happy to just look around. It is nothing short of amazing for me and a huge answer to prayer.
I didn't take this picture just to capture how sweet Cam is, with those beautiful lashes and daddy's cleft chin. I took it to remember to thank God for giving me a break. At times it seemed downright selfish to have asked God for a sleeping baby – when some just want a healthy one. But to me this is a perfect reminder that God isn't just for miracles. God is in the daily, the every day, the mundane, the small. And I'm grateful for it.