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.

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.

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