Notes to Self

July 23, 2014

Trying to cope

After nearly a year, my husband recently became employed. Hip-hip hooray, right?

No good deed goes unpunished (I really am trying to work on my optimism here)….his employment has left me alone with both kids for 4 out of 7 nights (for bed time) and one full weekend day. Not my idea of ideal.

Initially it was REALLY tough to juggle the two kids and I had a lot of self-induced pressure and I failed miserably at keeping my cool. Tears were rampant.

Then we sort of figured it out and now it’s anybody’s guess as to how the evening will go. Regardless if there are tears or smiles, I am not coping well.

 

Here’s an example:

I am still breastfeeding and the baby nurses to sleep. He’s at the age where he’s easily distracted and his sister is the highlight of his life (ergo when she makes noise he pays attention). Last night I nursed him four times and he still didn’t fall asleep. This took 1.5+hours. I was spent. I was done. I didn’t want to nurse ANYMORE. On top of it, my 3 yr old was tired of being quiet (or relatively) and alone and it was getting way past her bedtime so I just became more and more enraged. I was fully aware that there was some vague, instinctual, negative message that I was telling myself but I couldn’t quite hear it and I couldn’t get past it. I just worked myself into tears and a fit of rage (which I could only partially hide). Finally the three of us laid in the bed and soon the baby stopped crying and fell asleep. Meanwhile I was stuck on my back with a kid laying on both arms and a full bladder. I just laid there thinking how poorly I had done that evening (let’s not even go into the park visit we did early that evening) and how I had to stop and the more I thought about it the more guilt I felt, the more I beat myself up and the more angry I became. Just beside myself with frustration and anxiety. So I decided it was time to make time for therapy.

That being said there have been a few (maybe 3?) nights where the baby falls asleep no problem and I get to read a few books to my daughter before she goes to bed at a decent time.

I am still not in contact with my family (although they still send emails every now and again, but nothing of note). I continue to uncover fundamental problems in my life that all go back to them (I am past blame, just amazed at how simple the cause and effect is when the consequences have become so difficult to tease apart). I see how my daughter is becoming as easily frustrated as I am and I cannot handle that I have taught her that. I have failed her; and that’s the truth. I don’t know if I can undo it but this will first require that I fix myself.

 

I remember having several conversations about parenting and folks saying that you just had to be good enough. I think about that and wonder if the good outweighs the bad. Does my daughter feel loved more than she feels hurt? Does she laugh more than she cries? I don’t know. I feel like she is sad and feels unloved and I hurt because of this. And I have no objective way to evaluate her emotional health.

 

I feel like I am not bonding well with either of my children. I feel sad and lonely. I feel hopeless and helpless (and did I mention that I hate my job due to recent changes in org structure, etc?). I struggle to smile and find a happy thought. I’d rather sit in silence in the car than try to make my child smile. I am worried I’ll just make her cry.

 

I feel like all I do is tell her no or not now. “Mommy do you want to paint with me?” ; “Mommy do you want to make a craft with me?”; Mommy do you want to play with me?” and all I can say is I do but right now I have to…..(pack their bottles/lunch….nurse the baby…get dinner together….play with the baby and walk him around….whatever). It really hurts me. It really makes me sad and then it makes me angry because all I can think is that this child is sad and lonely and feels unloved.

 

So I feel like a constant failure. Like nothing I do works. And I am not capable of making it work. I don’t care that taking care of two kids at once is difficult – that means nothing to each individual child who is left without quality time.

Advertisements

May 16, 2014

It was a beautiful moment

Two mornings ago when the baby woke at 4:30 AM-ish, I asked my husband to take him, which he did. But he sat in the next room such that I could hear every beautiful babble and coo the baby made, thereby preventing me from SLEEPING! Finally, in a sleep-deprive induced huff, I snappily said “why don’t you go back to sleep and I will take the baby downstairs”. And that was that.

 

Let me first give you some background and perspective. Over the past 6 and a half months, I have nursed or pumped every 2-3 hours. Think about that for a moment. I bet you don’t even go to the bathroom that frequently. Take a day (and I mean all 24 hours of it) and see what that’s like. Every 2-3 hours, stop what you are doing (or wake up) and imagine being sucked on for 20 or so minutes. I calculated that I have nursed or pumped approximately one-thousand and sixty times (1560) since my son was born 6.5 months ago. And that’s an underestimation which doesn’t include when he nurses one side and then the other. And I will do that for the next 5.5 months.

 

Lately, my baby has been going to sleep around 7 PM (after I nurse him) and then waking after 20 minutes and being wide awake until he finally sleeps at around 9 PM. Sometimes he can go back to sleep without nursing again but lately I have had to nurse him three times (both sides at each session) before I can go to bed. Last night was no different but I thought that my husband could take him and get him to sleep while I read to my daughter etc. No dice since my daughter wanted us to “switch kids”. So after a myriad of things, and while my husband cuddled my daughter to sleep up in our bed, including time in the bouncer, a pacifier (which he doesn’t use or accept) and three nursing sessions, I was spent and the baby wasn’t even close to going to sleep. And I knew that my husband was asleep upstairs, which made me angry. So I deposited the baby into his crib and handed my husband the monitor. Baby started crying and my husband took him downstairs (yeah!).

 

Fast forward to 3 AM when I have finished nursing the baby, moved my daughter to her bed because she took up my space and finally settled in….crying begins and the baby is up. I nudged my husband and said “he’s awake”. Again, he took him downstairs. Here comes the beautiful part –

At 5 AM I woke up and heard nothing. No cries, no alarm and no need to get up. The kids were all safe and the baby was with his dad. I wasn’t needed and I didn’t have to do anything. In that moment I felt serene. I smiled. If I wasn’t so damned tired I would have cried. I fell back asleep.

 

I am not sure whether I have conveyed to you the enormity of that experience. After so much time of non-stop giving, in that one, beautiful moment I could just be (and sleep!). So if you know a mom who breastfeeds, tell her how amazing she is. Give her encouragement and maybe even a hug. We aren’t in the business of saying we are better than moms who don’t breastfeed (and if you do, shame on you and you shouldn’t!), but it is a different experience and it can be very difficult. And for heaven’s sake – if the opportunity arises, give her the chance to have a beautiful moment like I had. It will do wonders for her.

March 24, 2014

Why can’t I ever just…

This morning I finally got up (sort of) on time and hopped in the shower while my toddler was sleeping and the baby was content (enough). My husband was awake so I wasn’t worried. And then I heard the crying…

Shortly after my daughter was born I joined a gym to go swimming. I used to swim competitively and I really needed exercise and some time out of the house. After all, babies can’t always have their mommy’s, right (or so everyone continuously told me)? The last night I went swimming (which was only the first few times that I went) I recall being in the water and thinking how wonderful this was and how I felt like I had come home again. I was enjoying the feel of the water, the smell of the chlorine and the fatigue that slowly overcame my (out of shape) muscles. And then I got home.

When I walked in the door my daughter was screaming crying and my husband was sitting on the couch looking completely spent and helpless. I can still feel the shock. I thought here I was thinking all was well and enjoying my time in the water and all the while the two of them were absolutely miserable. I felt guilty and frustrated at the same time. So that was the last time I left my little girl at night, that is until I was in the hospital when my second child was born (she was 2.5 yrs old).

Many times over the course of the first year or so of my daughters life I would be in the shower (getting ready for work) and thinking all was well, until I turned off the water and heard the crying. Soon I would always hear crying and got in the habit of shutting of the water int he middle of my shower to figure out if it was my imagination or was she actually crying. Regardless of whether or not she was crying, I would rush out of the shower, rush to get dressed and end up being overcome by the time I actually left for work. I had spent the morning nursing and pumping, packing bottles and lunches. I was tired! But my husband was able to have over one hour of personal time in the morning. I always thought that this wasn’t fair and the less personal time I had, the more angry I became over it (and this is the point of this post…keep reading).

 

This morning while I showered (and note that I hadn’t showered since Friday morning), I was in the middle of loving the hot water when I heard the knock on the bathroom door (which I only closed to avoid waking my daughter) and then the pouting. Oh crap I thought, this is terrific. I even thought I heard the baby crying so in the middle of brushing my teeth (yes, I do this in the shower to save time) I turned off the water. Yes little girl, I will be out soon! I shouted. But still she whimpered, sitting on the floor outside of the bathroom.  Great I thought and I turned the water back on – back to RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH. And then I said to myself why can’t I ever just –

 

And then it hit me.

 

All this time I have been thinking that the fact that my children cry when I am not around, or when I am trying to do something (like go to the bathroom or make some seriously needed caffeine, I mean coffee) means that I have somehow failed.

 

Ah yes, that old chant. You are a failure, everything you do you don’t do right. People are miserable because of you.

 

I never thought your babies want their mommy because you have bonded so well with them and you breastfeed so of course they want you to hold them. Of course they miss you when you are gone.

 

Nope. I just think that I am a rotten mom and an even worse wife. This morning I thought how much my husband must hate me because I left him with this mess of crying kids. I should have done better, I should have made it easier for him and there were things I could have and should have done (that is if I were capable of knowing what the right thing is) so that everyone woke up with smiles and were happy, happy, happy.

 

Seriously? Even Mary Poppins can’t do that.

 

As for my jealous (ok, anger) toward my husband who gets to spend time clipping his nails every morning (I do this only when they start to dig into adjacent toes…keeping them trimmed is just a waste of precious time I don’t have)- it’s just self-loathing turned outward. I don’t do it right and I am a failure and terrible mom, which is why I don’t get any personal time but look at him all free and clear. No stress, no worry. I hate him (I really don’t – I truly love my husband, even when we are fighting). Why doesn’t he do the same for me? Why oh why can’t I feel free from the constant stress of worrying whether or not I am screwing up my kids and making them hate me and feel as unloved and as worthless as my parents made me feel – all because I want to make some damned coffee or sit without someone or something hanging on me for 10 f’in minutes.

 

And how exactly is that his problem?

 

So the theme of my current rehabilitation has changed from figuring (identifying) all the ways my parents taught me to hate myself and how it has manifested in my life, to figuring out how all that shit has fucked up my marriage. You don’t know what you don’t know. So help me know. I don’t think I am solely to blame for all our marital issues, but I also think that I have been difficult to be with for nearly 17 years and don’t you think he has developed some defense mechanisms and ways to tune me out just so he could survive? Like the other night when the baby was up crying and I didn’t want to get back in the habit of nursing him all night (he finally sleeps and only wakes 2 times!!!!) so my husband was trying to put him back to sleep – I said do you want to try a pacifier? I had one in my hand but instead my husband got up, brought the crying baby into the room where my toddler was sleeping to fetch the pacifier from the crib. Then I went in and said forget it, I’ll just nurse him. That must have been fun for him. (and there’s another lesson in this but I don’t have time to write about it right now). I realized that I have always said “do you want to…” when I really meant “would you please…”.  So last night when I wanted my husband to go to the basement and get the blankets from the drying I said wanna go get the blankets and then quickly corrected myself saying would you mind getting the blankets from the dryer.

 

It’s a small step, but a step. I wonder if he recognized it.

 

As for my lack of personal time and the effect any personal time has on my children…it is temporary. It will pass. And I need to see it as them wanting to be with me and not me being punished for not doing things right. I am a good mom and I show my kids love and respect and by wanting me to be with them they are telling me they feel the love and want more.

March 11, 2014

If it’s in your dream it must be…

If you dream it then it must be bullshit, true or a little bit of both?

I feel like that’s the way I answer my life: somewhat full of shit and somewhat true – no, wait, only the first one. No, no it’s both at the same time. Wait, what? I’m sorry, what was the question again? I wasn’t paying attention; I was too busy dealing with my anxiety over what you will think of me when I answer and should I answer differently to make sure you don’t think I’m crazy…..

Last night I had a dream that my daughter was being comforted by the perfect mom – she looked like Darling from Lady and the Tramp (beautiful, hair and make up perfect…soft glow about her). I recall looking on as my daughter felt so loved as she was being sung to in a perfect voice and was engulfed in a warm (yes, glowing) embrace and thinking how ugly I must be to her and how unfortunate she is to have me as a mom. I could never look or sound like that. Maybe she’s better off…

 

So here’s the crazy part – last night during bedtime I spent a good 30-40 min nursing the baby to sleep. Just as I was going to put him in his crib I coughed (I have a cold) and he woke up. I was so annoyed as I am just so, so tired and stressed. My husband took him for a bit and my daughter cuddled in our bed. At one point my daughter decided she wanted to go back into her bed. She started caressing my face and telling me to sleep well and that she loved me. She even sat up and sang me a lullaby, pulling the covers up to my face. I thought to myself how wonderful she is and didn’t I do a good job making her feel loved and respected, since here she was giving it back to me. This motivated me to get up and nurse the baby again – to give him the same unconditional love and affection I gave her.

So what’s with the dream? I fell asleep thinking how lovely my family was.

February 23, 2014

6 of one, and you’ll kill yourself over the other dozen

My baby wakes three times a night to nurse. And he’s really consistent with the times at which he wakes! I am exhausted!

Last night we somehow skipped the 1am feeding and I got to sleep from 11pm to 4am!! Woohoo!

Now you’d think I would just be happy and move on.

Nope, not me. Here’s the problem.

I breastfeed so, if you don’t know, it’s a supply and demand type situation. When he reduces his demand, my supply decreases.

I usually pump in the morning and get 6-8 oz which is all extra milk. This goes to the freezer supply that I am obsessively creating (in case I dry up early or have to take medication, etc). Because we missed that feeding, I pumped less milk this morning. And if he continues to sleep that well, I will get less and less.

So on one hand I finally got some really good sleep and wasn’t I absolutely ecstatic when I woke up! But leave it to me to beat myself up because of the flip side….

Isn’t it funny how are never happy when one thing happens because of the change that happens on the other side. You get a new job but then there’s the stress of performing well. It goes on and on. I can never just be happy with my current place; always stressing and worrying about what is and isn’t or what should and shouldn’t be.

Back to the themes of my pathologies…it’s never good enough, I am never good enough. That’s what it boils down to. Self- imposed, Ludicrous standards. And that is exhausting.

June 28, 2012

Passing the baton

Last night my husband put the baby to bed- well, sort of. We both started and I left the room and he finished.

I was tired and was growing more and more frustrated as time went on and she was not falling asleep.  I get upset that things don’t go smoothly because, in my mind, it means I have failed.

My family (both mine and my husband’s side) have put their 2 cents in since my daughter was born and all I hear is them saying you should do this; or you shouldn’t do that; I’m telling you from experience….; you’ll be sorry later on if you keep doing…..

Yes, I let her fall asleep at the breast. No, I never had a bedtime routine.Yes, I held her as much as I possibly could (I still do).

Is she attached to me? Most definitely. Does it sometimes cause me stress? Absolutely. Would I change it? Never.

Yet I cannot be at peace with what I have done, and chose to do. I feel criticized  and judged all the time. I hate family gatherings and wish we could move far away. As if that would matter – even during phone conversations I get judged and criticized.

My mother never really supported my choice to breastfeed and especially didn’t support me going past 6 months. My father wasn’t as vocal about it but he also kept saying I could stop anytime I wanted to.

So when I am not around for my daughter I feel guilty. I feel like she thinks I have abandoned her and no longer love her. This morning my husband took her outside to play while I got her food ready and then showered/got dressed. I found myself rushing (as I always do) because I had to get back to her. I have to be with her all the time (if I am not at work, etc).

Last night as I tried to rest in bed and wait for her to fall asleep I kept getting up and heading toward her door – thinking that she needed me, she needed to know I was there and would cuddle her and love her always. But I also know that she needs to feel that from her daddy as well. She needs to attach to him as well (if I am absent she will stay/play with him. If I am present it is only to me). And it is getting better – she is attaching more and more. But as it gets better I also feel a sense of loss and worry.

I never want her to feel the way I felt from my parents – unloved, un-liked and unsupported. Chances are she will never feel those things but instead may feel smothered – he he.  But the fear is still there.

Ah, so here is another thought that needs examination. Letting other people (i.e., her da-da/my husband) care for my daughter means I am not being a good enough mother and am abandoning her (or something like that). I’ll have to work on this one.

June 20, 2012

You can’t always get what you want….

Filed under: Breastfeeding, Then again.... — Tags: , , — me2self @ 2:30 pm

Last night I think my daughter wanted to nurse.

I should note that she hasn’t nursed since this past Friday evening. I am so glad to be done with it although I am nervous that maybe she wasn’t 100% ready and somehow is feeling that something is missing from her life and it is causing her unrest. I simply gave her a pacifier before we went up for her nap and she didn’t need to nurse to fall asleep. I did the same for the evening and she even cuddled up to read a few books (which she has never done so I figured we were done with the nursing).

But last night she was not her normal self – well, she was her normal “I now want to nurse” self. But I didn’t let her. I sat there thinking it through and thought it would be a slippery slope and she just needs to get through this phase. But then I wondered if I was denying her and wouldn’t she just give it up again easily enough so what’s the harm….but what if she didn’t? I didn’t want to return to nursing regularly. I am done with it. Oh the torment I put myself through over this. I kept cycle through what if, shouldn’t I just, and but then again. I got so frustrated and irritated.

And then I started in on what a terrible mother I am and why don’t I know what to do and how I am already screwing up my kid.

She cried – didn’t want to go to sleep, wanted to play. I had to enforce a bed time (8 PM is late enough kid!) so I had to let her cry. It wasn’t a terrible cry but it wasn’t fun. I remembered that setting rules and boundaries is just as important as making sure they get plenty of hugs, kisses and giggles. Eventually she just settled down and fell asleep and that was that. Let’s see how tonight goes.

This morning I was thinking about last night and I thought that if I could just learn to relax and not worry so much maybe I could have a lighter attitude and maybe that would make her less stressed/upset/unhappy (as I perceive her to be)? Maybe I need to adjust my “aura” to prevent such situations.

But then again, you can’t always get what you want and we all have to deal with it – whether we are 14 months or 36 years old. Still, I feel as though I have failed her. Good thing I go to therapy today!

June 4, 2012

Trapped at 2 AM

Filed under: Breastfeeding, I asked "Why" — Tags: , , , — me2self @ 7:08 pm

Last night my daughter awoke and wanted to nurse. I indulged her for a bit but then had to call it quits (she really isn’t nursing – just using me as a pacifier). She was not pleased by this and refused a pacifier. As she grew more and more upset, I grew more and more angry (and upset) and realized (finally) that I get angry and frustrated because I feel so trapped. What are my options here…I can continue to indulge her (which is so totally displeasing to me) or I can let her cry (which is also totally displeasing to me – if you read about denying nursing to children it makes you feel just horrible for even thinking about it!). I have nothing else. Distraction doesn’t work – just makes her more upset. I usually end up giving in and “nursing” until she finally goes to sleep. Of course then I am so pissed off I can’t sleep for an hour or two.

Basically I have no out. I can’t pass her off to my husband because she just cries (nay, screams) louder when I am not holding her. I tried. I don’t know really why this is the case – if I am in the room (or the house) my daughter must have me. Rarely can my husband hold her or be with her while I am present before she is off to find me (and grab onto my legs until I pick her up). These days I can barely get through my shower before she is up the stairs in my pursuit.

It isn’t that I won’t let my daughter cry. It is that I can’t let her cry about certain things. Wanting to be held, wanting to nurse, etc. These are critical, emotional, fundamental needs that I can’t deny her it. Last night I did my best not to give in. What’s funny (not ha ha funny) is that I am so caught up in trying to do this breastfeeding and weaning thing right (and feel so pressured by all the criticisms I receive) that I don’t stop to think that there may be something else going on with her. All of the sudden it occurred to me that maybe she is thirsty. So I brought her downstairs and gave her some water, which she drank. Then we had some banana. More water. Some playing (more cries). We tried to go back to sleep – no dice. So we watched some Baby Einstein video. Again tried. No dice. I tried to pass her off to my husband  – bloody murder screams ensued. All the while my frustration grows. Why must I always be the one up with her. Why can’t I be in bed while he paces the floor rocking and bouncing her, sings, or whatever.

More Baby Einstein. A little milk. Then it occurred to me – she was chewing on a toy earlier that day in such a way it made me think she was teething. Hey, how about some Advil kid? Seems that was the issue (or part of and exhaustion just kicked in…2 hrs later). So we watched Baby Einstein until she fell asleep.

I can’t imagine going through this again with child #2 (not that I am pregnant). I wonder what I could do differently that I won’t have to be the only ‘provider’.

Something with which to discuss at therapy (week 4).

May 25, 2012

Nursing the nursing

Filed under: Breastfeeding, Them vs. Me — Tags: , , — me2self @ 12:50 pm

I don’t recall when I decided that I wanted to breastfeed my daughter. I don’t think I even debated the issue. Yeah – of course I will do that, if I can. I heard/read all stories about the benefits and difficulties of breastfeeding – hints on how to make it work after birth. I didn’t find all of these suggestions…how do I say – pleasing? For example, the suggestion that you should offer the breast immediately after delivery. Really? I was struggling with the whole naked, legs open to a room full of folks thing already – that just seemed too much. But then I thought what if I don’t do that – will my baby not bond to me? Will I fail to get her to latch?

Well fortunately I didn’t have to make that decision – I had a c-section. I saw my lovely little girl for all of 30 seconds before they whisked her away. I spent the next few hours in recovery and finally we got reunited. The nurses were very helpful and I am certain that they were a big part of the success I had in getting my daughter to latch. However the rest of their advise was shit – have her nurse 15 min on each side (during the first few days!)…whatever.

So we nursed. And I pumped when I wasn’t nursing. 3 months later I said – ok kid, you need to take a bottle because you’ll be going to daycare in a month. No thank you she said.

We had to bottle train our daughter. Finally she took a bottle and we continued to give her one bottle a day so she would adjust to daycare. And she did – with flying colors!

I continued to nurse after I returned to work and I pumped at work. My goal was that she would never have a drop of formula (still not sure why I was so hellbent on that) – to ‘breastfeed’ for 12 months. Pumping was awful – I hated it and the dislike grew stronger each month. But all I had to do was look at a picture of that sweet face and I knew why I was doing it -and I did.

I made it to the 12 month goal (without much support from my family by the way – excluding my husband, who was very helpful!). I even had quite a stash left in the freezer! Then it came time to decide how to wean her. She transitioned to cow’s milk (during the day at daycare) without a problem. So I decided to see how she would self-wean. Things seemed to be going well until she had a stomach flu and I had to nurse her more often to keep her hydrated (she wouldn’t drink anything else!). Now we are back to nursing after daycare, before bed, in the middle of the night and in the morning (not all each day though).

So now I am stuck between wanting to give her the comfort and security of nursing that she obviously still wants and wanting to wean her. The truth is – I am tired of nursing. But I am not tired of loving her and doing what is best for her. But is weaning best for her?

I am also torn between what I feel and what others are saying to me. You’ve done it long enough; I though you said only a year….blah blah blah.

So this morning I nursed her at 4 AM and then we went back to sleep. This didn’t really work and we ended up getting up at 5 AM. We played, watched some Sesame Street, played some more. She started clinging to me, whining, etc. I knew she wanted to nurse but I wasn’t sure if I should. I didn’t want to and I thought if I just distract her long enough we won’t and she won’t miss it. I was wrong. She cried as we got into the car to go to daycare and since then I have felt terrible – regretting not nursing her.

She could have been fine and then I wouldn’t have had to write this post. I would have written, instead, about her new rain boots! But how was I supposed to know. I tried. I failed. I will now beat myself up about it for the rest of the day. I will call the daycare and ask how she is doing. I will feel silly for doing so. I will think about nursing her when we get home because I feel guilty about this morning. Then I will beat myself up for giving in to that.  I will wonder what to do and wish I had some guidance. I will wonder how these days will impact the rest of her life. I will make my decision to nurse or not to nurse be crucial to the state of her future emotional health…but no pressure, right? And then I will get stressed about this and frustrated and angry. And then I will feel guilty about being so negative and how my negativity has ruined her evening and ruined her current emotional foundation – you know how detrimental it is for children to grow up in households in which the parents fight, imagine when mommy is so frustrated all the time! I have failed her. Again.

I guess I need to decide to nurse or not to nurse and be ok with that decision. But the decision should be mine and made from my heart and not from the negative place of other people’s opinions (“them”). Or from a place of guilt. If it is important to her then I want to do it for her. That is the bottom line.

Blog at WordPress.com.