Izzy’s first rainy day (I can’t really do ‘wordless’)
So, it’s been awhile. What’s new, you ask? Well, we moved to the US. Finally! I’ve now been through all the stages that a move like that brings with it, starting with absolute joy, spiraling through rage and depression (mostly surrounding health care frustrations and costs) and ending up with a bit of reality: confused, trepidatious and mostly, content.
We are here, in New Jersey and I’ve actually had to turn in my California drivers license to get a New Jersey one, which I think may be where most of the anger has come from.
We’ve been through quite a bit, actually. I wouldn’t really recommend moving across the world with a one year old and a three year old. It’s pretty stressful. I think my husband and I have taken the brunt of that stress, both individually but mainly as a couple. I’m not quite sure how that will play out, but I imagine it will take some work on our part.
But all that aside, like everyone else, I’m really just posting here to write out my resolutions. I think that not only do I need to focus on myself, but really, it just might be the best way to help my relationship with my husband as well.
So, here we go:
- Go to yoga at least twice a week (thanks to my mother, who is paying for Bikram as a Christmas present)
- Hit my step goal at least four days a week (10,000 steps a day)
- Kiss my husband intentionally at least once a day
- Blog once a week – hopefully with more care and attention than right now (I’m watching Notting Hill – it’s been a long holiday and an even longer weekend).
I shall write again next week – or hey, maybe sooner – and update on my progress. I’m starting yoga tomorrow and am very excited about that.
When my son was nine months old, he swallowed a disc battery. I had seen it the day before, sitting menacingly towards the back of the cabinet under the bathroom sink and thought to myself, “I must remember to get that”. Of course, we had child locks on the cabinet, but my son was some sort of super baby and could open them (He could also open the baby gate that was guaranteed until two years old…). That morning, having completely forgotten about the battery, I was washing my face and turned for about two seconds to dry my face on the towel hanging on the back of the door. I turned around and slow motion ensued: I could hear myself shouting “no” for far too long and it felt like it took a year to take the two steps necessary to get to where he sat, happily staring me straight in the eye as the battery slipped into his mouth.
For a split second, I was relieved. “Phew,” I thought, “He didn’t choke. He swallowed it”. Then, realization. He swallowed a battery. That can’t be good. Then I did the worst thing a mother can do in any situation ever: I Googled it. If you are reading this and you are a new mother, please, take this advice: Never. Google. Anything. Ever. Seriously, get someone else to do it. I’ve since had my mom look things up for me, or my husband even. It’s not worth the stress. Within two entries, I was sobbing on the floor and holding him, imagining the battery turning on and electrocuting him from the inside (which, apparently is a real thing) or it having gotten stuck on its way down and burning a hole in his esophagus (also, real).
In the end, neither of those things happened. But we did have to go to the hospital, where they drugged him, gave him an endoscopy and we had to stay the night. Looking back on it, it was the best possible way to end that scenario. The top endoscopist in the country even happened to be at the hospital that day, so he was able to perform the procedure. At the time, however, it seemed the scariest thing in the entire world. My husband and I clung to each other sobbing the entire day. I will never in my life forget the X-ray that showed us just how pressing of a procedure it was: the battery took up most of his stomach and looked monstrous in there.
So we obviously have gotten completely overly-protective and paranoid about batteries, right?
Fast forward two and a half years (more or less) to yesterday. I decide that it’s okay to go to the bathroom and leave my eight month old and three year old (the battery survivor) in their room just up the hall. I leave the door open and instruct the boy to come get me if she was bothering him, etc, thinking the worst thing that could happen would be the little one would grab his trains, he would scream and cry, possibly push her and they would both be crying upon my return. I was half right. He was playing trains and she did try to grab them.
The boy comes running into the bathroom saying, “Look! Thomas is broken!” and sure enough, his motorized Thomas the Tank Engine was broken. Not surprising, as the day before he had a few friends over and they discovered this lovely game of running up and down the hall shrieking as loudly as possible and throwing his trains. Then I noticed the battery was missing. “Oh no! Thomas IS broken,” I say, calmly, “But where is the battery?”. “Izzy’s eating it!” he exclaims, obviously finding it funny.
Panic. “Go get it from her!” I scream, “Go get the battery!”. The little genius runs to the kitchen and attempts to open the cupboard where we keep the new batteries (one of the last cupboards with a working child lock, thankfully). So I jump up (pants around my ankles, of course, because everything has to happen while mom is in the bathroom, right?!) and run to her. She’s happily crawling around at the end of the hall with no battery in sight. I search all around: nothing.
“Impossible”, I think to myself. After all, this isn’t a disc battery. This is a AA battery. She can’t have swallowed it. Especially without making any noise or gagging and throwing up. “Impossible”, I think again.
After repeatedly quizzing my son about what actually happened (who had lost all interest and was not even answering my questions in any coherent way), I promptly forget all about it until my husband comes home and I double check with him. “Impossible”, he says. I text my mom. “Impossible”, she says.
I relax on the sofa and forget about it. Until about 10:00 PM when she suddenly wakes up screaming, obviously uncomfortable. She is straightening her legs, kicking them out, screaming in pain and not nursing. All I can hear, besides her screams, is my little boy’s voice: “Izzy’s eating it!”.
And of course, I lose it. My husband is asking me what we should do and what I think, still declaring it impossible, and all I can think of is never seeing this little girl again. So I find out exactly how I handle a worst-case-scenario: horribly.
Still thinking it impossible, we call an ambulance (which seemed a bit much, but as we don’t have a car and taking the train seemed a bit too relaxed, it was our only option). At this point, of course, she stops screaming. And from the moment we call, through the entire ambulance ride, the check-up, the X-ray, and the taxi back home, she is happy as a clam, chatting away with the “hunky” EMTs (my husband’s word, though they truly were) and “dadada”ing her way around the hospital, waving to all and sundry. I’m pretty sure they all thought I was mental.
But I could still hear my son’s voice and so I just had to know for sure.
In the end, of course, it was nothing. We still cannot find this battery, but it isn’t inside her. At one point, though, when I told the doctor that my son had swallowed a battery before, I immediately regretted it, thinking he would instantly initiate an investigation with the German CPS and they would take my children from me because I was inept, incompetent – who has TWO children swallow batteries?
Well, thankfully, not me.
Now I can’t sleep! For the first two months of my newborn daughter’s life, I was falling asleep everywhere (as most mothers of a newborn and a toddler are, I’m sure): in the rocker nursing, on the sofa watching Monsters, Inc, on the futon reading the boy a story, occasionally in bed and again, every night, at least twice, in the rocker nursing. Now, insomnia has joined the already amazing party of depression, anxiety and stress. Welcome, old friend.
My nine week old baby (today) slept six and a half hours in a row last night. That should be cause for celebration. I should feel like the most well-rested, happy mom that ever was. Instead, it took me about an hour of that to fall asleep and then I woke up about five times for about ten minutes or so each and then, when she did finally wake up at 4:15, I couldn’t fall back asleep.
FOUR FIFTEEN IN THE MORNING.
Just letting that sink in. I nursed her for about 45 minutes and got caught up with the world (cough. Facebook.), then lay in bed for what seemed like an infinity pondering every conceivable thing I could possibly have on my mind for half an hour until finally, like a grown up, I got up.
This is the first time I have ever gotten up when I had insomnia. Usually I stay in bed hating myself – thinking about how amazing it is that when I open my eyes, my whole body feels like lead and all I want to do most in the world is close them so that I, the most tired person ever, can go to sleep, yet when I close my eyes, I’m solving world hunger and mapping out my whole life for the next ten years and really I should get up and write this down before it’s all gone (Hint: it’s all gone.).
I settled for tea and toast and reading a bit.
I really didn’t think postpartum depression would be an issue for me – mainly because I’m already depressed. How could you have two forms of depression? Well, it turns out, you can. Postpartum, it seems, is much more physical. Or perhaps that’s just because it’s anxiety? Really, I don’t even know how to write about this because I don’t even know how to feel about it. Frankly, I don’t understand how to even feel it, let alone analyze or describe it. It’s new, and different. And with my history of depression and anxiety, I wasn’t expecting that. I was completely sidelined.
People keep saying to me that I’m just being too hard on myself and expecting perfection and having two kids is supposed to be hard. I know that it is. But, even though the boy is in Kita, I still can’t seem to function. Even though the girl sleeps pretty well at night, I still don’t seem rested and up to the task of caring for them. My nerves are on edge. Just a little whine or cry sets me off and I am horrified to find myself thinking about shaking her or throwing her or punching him or just leaving them on the train platform and walking away. Now, scary as that may sound (and believe me, it scares me), I know that I’m still “together” enough not to actually do those things. But it is still pretty scary. And horrible. I look at their little faces and my heart breaks because I love them so much that I just can’t.
I wake up and try to prepare myself to have a good day. After all, I’m pretty lucky. My husband takes the wild child to school every morning so that I can sleep in with the baby. I have a cleaner that comes once a week. My husband will also pick up the slack in the evenings: he makes dinner, he cleans the kitchen, and takes over caring for the boy. Literally ALL I have to do is get out of the house around midday to pick up the boy, get home, put him down for a nap and put on a movie when he wakes up (or better yet, actually play with him, but that’s another level entirely). That’s it. I should be able to handle that. And some days I can. Occasionally I can even do it without breaking down and crying.
But most days, she doesn’t cooperate. Or he doesn’t. She would usually fall asleep on the way to pick him up – Great! Then, there is something about his school that wakes her up. Always. So I try to put his coat on and get him out the door as quickly as possible so that the movement of the stroller/carrier (I’m willing to try anything) will lull her back to sleep quickly so that I can give some attention to poor little boy who I love so much I start crying just thinking about it. However, said beautiful little boy rarely cooperated. He would lag. He would stop to look at sticks. He would try and run in puddles. It would be raining and of course he won’t carry his umbrella or keep his hood up. It would end in her screaming and then him screaming as well, seemingly trying to match her in volume, all to get my attention.
I bought a double stroller. That solved the problem with him, yet she still wakes up and cries and then he cries. And then I cry. On the train. In public. In the rain.
Often, she falls asleep again before we get home and I put him to bed fine and honestly, the rest of the day could proceed well. But it doesn’t. Because that in and of itself is enough to completely destroy me. I’m shattered for the rest of the day. So that when, during our movie (AKA my minimal parenting time), she wakes up and I have to feed her, I sob when he looks at her and moves slightly away. Then of course, he starts crying and saying, “Stop, mommy. Stop. It’s OK. Stop, mommy.”, which just makes me cry all the more.
Those are good days. When she sleeps. When it isn’t raining or snowing so much that taking her out isn’t just ridiculous.
I’m so tired. My body feels slack, like there is nothing holding my shoulders up above my back and head up on my neck. I have actually body aches like flu symptoms and searing headaches.The instant the baby cries, I start having a panic attack. Yet I try my best to smile at my boy and tell him it’ll be fine and that his baby sister just cries sometimes and that that is OK. And it is in that trying that I lose it. It is somehow that trying that is too much for my heart.
Apparently my husband, who doesn’t understand at all and who is getting more and more frustrated with me and with whom I have resorted to communicating with in either passive aggressive or defensive snaps and snarls, was worried enough to call my mom. So she flew out. Which helps, in that I now have time to sit here and drink tea and write this while someone else tries to put my two beautiful children to sleep. And I’m eating much better. But I’m still crying. And I the baby crying or fussing still makes me so anxious, my stomach hurts. And my little boy’s face still breaks my heart.
I have called my midwife and emailed a therapist. I am going to call my doctor tomorrow, but I don’t have a lot of hope that this will be cleared up. And I really worry about what it’s doing to my marriage.
But then, I worry about everything.
Well, I wanted to sit here, drink my tea, and write during the first calm, solo, relatively well-rested morning hour I have had in six weeks. Alas, the baby monitor I bought yesterday keeps losing the link and so I’m completely paranoid that in my bedroom there is a shrieking baby, whom I’m happily ignoring to have a calm, quiet moment in which to drink my tea and write.
I shall be brief because there are so many things I want to write, but I feel like I can’t until I’ve written about the birth of my little girl. I don’t know my mind makes these sort of rules, nor why I follow them. However, here we are, six weeks later and my baby girl is in my bed asleep and she was indeed, born.
She was born not early, as I had suspected (why do I keep thinking that??), but not quite as late as her brother, either. It was a quiet evening at home. The boy had just gone to bed and I was sitting on the sofa, having just finished dinner, when suddenly gooosh. My water broke! I wasn’t sure if I’d recognize it (read too many “trickle” stories where people thought they were peeing their pants and didn’t want that to be me!) or if it would even happen. I was a bit worried that my body wouldn’t know how to go into labor on its own, as it hadn’t with the boy.
But it did. And as my mom quickly took the cover off the sofa cushion (luckily, I’d been sitting on a blanket as well), I called my midwife, jumped in the shower, quickly grabbed the last few things I hadn’t yet packed and we were off! Though I completely trust my dad, it was weird leaving the boy solely in his care. I don’t know why. Perhaps I was just concerned with the whole experience for him. It was the beginning of him not being the sole recipient of my love and attention, and that’s a real, palpable thing!
Once at the hospital, I was hooked up to the CTG and then promptly ignored. They were rammerjammed. At first they tried to send me off to a bed to sleep until I was in labor, but one woman thankfully understand that even though I wasn’t screaming, I really was actually in labor. I recall my mom constantly calling me stoic. However, they still had no place for me so we ended up pacing the hallways. I could still tell you the artwork on the walls and though most of it was local baby photographers, I still haven’t called one…
Eventually, we got taken into the birthing pool and I recall being surprised that it was still available (I believe there are two). Once there, we were again promptly ignored. And soon enough, that turned into a problem. I had already been afraid of the birth pains, now that I knew what I was in for and so, as the pain got worse and worse, I just kept telling myself that I was being a wimp. Then it got worse. And worse. I started to say it out loud, but only to my husband and mother, as they were the only ones around. My husband fell asleep. It got worse. I kept saying: This isn’t right. I can’t do this. Something is wrong. And my mom, bless her, kept encouraging me.
Until finally she believed me and went to get someone’s attention. At that point, I was practically out of control: pushing when I shouldn’t be, writhing in the tub and desperately trying not to bite my husband’s hand. The midwife convinced me to somehow get out of the tub, though I felt I could barely walk and we went to the birthing room. It was then she realized that baby girl was stuck and had been for some time. Of course, the CTG hadn’t been staying hooked up properly the whole time, so we couldn’t know (nor are we educated to know, anyway) whether or not she had been in distress that whole time. But she was now.
Yet still the midwife tried to convince me to open up my hips more and get her to move naturally. I told her I couldn’t. She practically rolled her eyes and told me that birth hurts. I wanted to punch her and cry, but instead I calmly told her that I did know that, that I’d already had a baby and that (again): Something wasn’t right. I couldn’t do this!
Luckily, at this point, there was a shift change. The new midwife was smiling and encouraging and positive and happy, but in a way that didn’t make me hate her. She also, more importantly, had a plan: we would stop labor, administer an epidural in order to give my body time and strength to recover a bit, move the baby and try again. If that didn’t work, we’d need to do an emergency c-section. I don’t think I said it out loud, but at that point I was praying for a c-section, even though I knew I didn’t want that at all!
My poor husband thought he was doing a good job because he was trying to convince me to refuse the epidural, as he knew it was important to me to have an unmedicated birth. I also wanted to punch him.
I found out later that the doctor had already started prepping the OR and that they were about 70% sure that I was going to need a c-section. I hope that they told that first midwife.
In the end, their plan worked. I was able to relax and she moved and though I was scared when they started labor again that it would feel like before, it didn’t and I was able to push her out and all the midwives and doctors went around the ward smiling big and congratulating themselves… which I was OK with because I was just so very grateful to be all done!
Of course, then came the placenta, which was just as much of a challenge as it was with the boy and there was just as much bleeding. This time we weren’t as concerned, though, as it had happened before.
In the end: I am fine, she is fine and that’s all that matters, I suppose. But since, when I’ve thought back on it, it’s surprised me how traumatic it was and how much anxiety I felt about it and in general.
This pregnancy was so much harder for me than my first. I don’t know if that’s because she is a girl, or if it’s just the second or if it just randomly happened that way. All I can say is that it has reinforced my desire to be done having babies.