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.
So, it happened. My child had a (very small) altercation with another child at a ‘Mommy & Me’ event and it’s turned into an issue.
We were at the home of a little girl whom the boy absolutely adores. They play really well together and he’s there quite often. Not that that makes a difference. We’ll call the other little girl (the girl in question), GIRL and her mom, MOM. Because, yeah, that’s how creative I’m feeling right about now.
So, all the kids (under 3, mind) are all running around and playing – not quite together, but you know. Well enough. Now, this little wild child of mine may be tall for his age and quite a sturdy boy, but he’s actually oddly protective of his own space and of being touched. This includes touching other children, which he doesn’t often do. So, pushing and hitting? Not so much an issue. Throwing toys that hit other kids? Yeah, if someone accused him of that, I’d believe it in a heartbeat. But pushing? Climbing on another child? Hasn’t ever happened.
So, there were a couple of incidents I noticed where the boy was trying to pass and this GIRL put up her hand in his face. She didn’t push him or physically harm him in any way, but her actions still felt aggressive to me, as his mom. He, of course, instantly ran up to me sort of half crying and I said something along the lines of: It’s okay, sweet boy. If someone does something you don’t like or pushes you, you say ‘No, thank you’ and walk away.
He ran off again happily. I didn’t say this because I thought she pushed him. I said it because it’s how he reacts to any child that comes near ‘his area’. I want him to learn to use his words to express what he needs from those around him. In his case, that’s his space. Though, I suppose, like I said, I do find her behavior in general, and specifically regarding this situation, to be aggressive, even though she didn’t push.
This had already happened twice when both of them shifted more towards the area where the MOM was sitting (I was in the living room and she was sitting at the dining room table – though it’s an open floor plan and we could see each other easily, she hadn’t been able to see the children in the corner of the room where they were before). Again, GIRL was attempting to push two baby strollers filled with stuff , which she was obviously struggling with (it was actually funny and cute) and she was taking up a lot of space. The boy again tried to go around her and she again turned on him and put her hand up right in his face. He ran back to me and I said the same thing. MOM came right over and said, ‘She wasn’t pushing. It’s what I taught her to do when boys climb all over her back. She doesn’t like that.’ I responded, which maybe I shouldn’t have done at all, saying that he wasn’t climbing on her, he was just trying to get by.
And that was that. Or so I thought. We went outside and everything was fine. I even helped GIRL up into the big trampoline and gave MOM her socks so they wouldn’t get wet. I thought everything was fine, though if I’m honest, I suppose I was still annoyed with the situation also. And I knew that MOM had some other issues with me that have to do with co organizing mommy events (and no one wants to hear about that).
GIRL continued to use this strategy with any and all children who did anything she didn’t like throughout the morning. One boy WAS sort of jumping on the other children on the trampoline, though not in an aggressive/mean way, but in a very excited ‘how much fun are WE having’ sort of way. My boy obviously hated it and, crying, asked to get off a few times. But this boy’s mom was right there, telling him to stop. Everything was fine. Until he did it to GIRL, who of course instantly put her hand straight in his face and started pushing until he fell down. MOM did nothing. My boy started crying and wanted out just being around that sort of thing and the other boy (who has a big sister and beyond yelling, didn’t seem phased too much) was taken out as well.
Now, do I think GIRL is some sort of horrible child? No. She’s almost 3. She’s young, she’s learning, she’s doing her best. Do I think her mom is the worst? No. She spoils her and doesn’t give her enough discipline, in my opinion. But she does her best and she loves her.
However, I’m pretty sure she thinks my sweet precious little boy is a monster. And granted, he is. But I think she thinks so in a bad way. She sent me an email saying that not only did he push her into a door handle so hard that she has a cut and a bruise under her eye (They were no where near any door), but that she’s seen him pushing before and I’ve done nothing about it.
Like I said, if she had accused him of throwing toys that accidentally hit kids – or even throwing toys AT other kids, I’d probably believe her (Though I DO discipline him for this and he’s gotten MUCH better – He just likes throwing.) but he’s not a pusher.
Beyond the fact that this incident sort of made me question myself as a mother, the worst thing was when they left. MOM instructed her daughter to say goodbye to the other two children there and turned around and left, leaving my sweet boy standing next to me, waving desperately and saying, “Bye, GIRL, bye!” to no response.
I have not followed through with the Abundant Mama Rise & Shine Challenge, regarding which I think I already acknowledged that it would take me much longer than ten days. Perhaps if I were the sort of person who didn’t need some (very nice, I’m sure) lady online telling me how to be a better person/mother, I would be fine within the confines of those days – Hell, maybe I’d even beat her ten days and double down on some of the challenges. However, I am what I am. Part of me accepting this challenge for myself is figuring out how to (finally) accept that, and not just with half-joking regret, but in full and complete understand and empathy of my own struggle and my own dance through life.
That said, I am still fully planning on completing the challenge; it, along with many other things in my life, has made me realize that there is a whole lot of stuff that I need to let go of in order to “rise and shine” at any time of the day. There were some rituals in one of the emails (I don’t even know what day I’m on anymore, but does it really matter?) that got me thinking of intention and how I intend to live my life. I realized, I don’t. I think about shoulds quite a bit: even this blog started out as a should. In fact, I don’t really live. I am alive, of course: I breathe, I laugh, I cry, I love, I feel, I embrace, I fear. But I don’t actually live. And to be honest, I fear far too much.
On days like today – a Thursday, where my beautiful little boy is happily looked after by other people, I wake feeling wonderful, filled with my plans for the day, which are usually a mixture of yoga/blogging/me time, cleaning, and relaxing/doing nothing. I lay in bed reading for sometimes up to an hour (depending on how hungry this little girl gets) and then I get up and make myself breakfast (a prospect made far less enjoyable now that I am gluten and dairy free) and while I eat, I put on the TV. Then I’m hooked and I don’t stop. Suddenly, it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and I haven’t showered or brushed my teeth or barely moved from the sofa. All I’ve done is watch TV and play games on my phone. Today is different, obviously, as it’s currently 12:30 and I’ve already tidied the living room, cleaned the kitchen, done the laundry, read and had breakfast and lunch. Woo-hoo! Go, me!
However, the former is all too familiar. If it isn’t a Tuesday or a Thursday, the instant that little boy’s head hits his pillow and I say, “Sweet dreams” and walk out of his room for his nap, the TV goes on and my phone or iPad comes out. Numb. I am numbing myself. From what, I’m not entirely sure, because my life is pretty awesome. Sure, we live in a country where things are difficult and we don’t want to be here and there are a lot of things I struggle with here. Sure, I have a very independent, outspoken, stubborn toddler and am also currently growing a baby. But those problems in and of themselves are pretty great problems to have. I know this. I am grateful for this. Daily. And yet…
I’ve been doing it for so long, I have no idea how to stop. Ever since I stopped doing drugs, I’ve been doing it with food and TV (which, let me tell you, leads to a far more coherent me, but is much less fun). That means since high school. I’ve not been fully living my life since high school. That’s over half my life (Eek! I’m old!). I’ve had moments, of course, some lasting months even, but something always happened to shatter that bubble and bring me back into my reality. I don’t want that anymore. I know, and have always been aware, that my depression means that I’ll always have days where I question, where I fear too much, where I cry for no reason and every reason, where I feel absolutely useless and heartbroken over everything and nothing. I know that, and I’m okay with that. Right now, though, it’s too close to the surface. It’s too much of a reality. My lack of living has allowed me to become that person always. I am defined by my depression, by my fears. I don’t want that anymore.
I want to change my reality. I want those days just to be those days – where maybe I don’t get the house cleaned that day, maybe I have to get takeout for dinner and maybe I need to lay on the sofa and read an entire book to escape whatever it is I’m feeling. But I want to wake the following day without it holding me back from returning to my reality. I want to go back to yoga, go back to smiling and meaning it, go back to whatever glorious future I will have with my amazing children and husband. I don’t want to be held back by this fear any longer.
How does one change their reality? I suppose it’s a combination of a lot of little changes – a lot of little moments that take a lot of will power to make different choices. In search of more answers, I’ve downloaded an audiobook by Pema Chödrön, hoping that just be surrounding myself with uplifting ideas and sounds, versus the TV, it will become easier and easier to make those different choices in the little things, and perhaps the bigger things will become that much clearer as I go along.
Now, back to this challenge, which obviously plays a key part in my new reality. I’ve worked through a bit of my ideal mornings and what I want to get from my nights – I have my nightly checklist (which I need to transfer to my notebook because while I love the ease of writing my journal/blog online, I am not a person who functions online: I still have a wall calendar and an actual paper to do list) and I’m still working on my bigger rituals and also on IMPLEMENTING these things, as that is key… and I, obviously, have yet to do that.
To encourage my intentional mornings (beyond the bigger picture of figuring out how to start living and change my reality), I need to actually plan for the little moments because, let’s face it, I am NOT a morning person and as I have a husband who is and a two-year old who most definitely is, I can’t imagine myself getting up hours before them in order to accommodate my desire to do yoga, have a long, lovely shower, linger over breakfast and coffee with a good book and then also get all the cleaning, laundry, etc done in order to set myself up for the day. When would I have to wake up? 3:00 AM? Not going to happen.
So, what can I really do in the mornings? Well, I’ve been thinking that the most important thing is banning electronics for the first hour or so. The instant I wake up, I turn on my phone, check my email and Facebook. Seriously. Who do I think I am? Out of the maybe twelve emails I get every morning, maybe one of them is actually for me and even that is never urgent. And Facebook? Ugh. So. Wake up and wake up. Perhaps I should get a coffee machine and have it go off in the morning so I can have coffee – decaf, though, because I’m pregnant and get jittery if I drink coffee before I eat anything. Or perhaps I should train myself to jump in the shower. I’m not sure yet, but I know I need to get up and USE that time, otherwise any time I give myself will fall directly into the Internet void, and that’s is a routine that NO ONE wants.
What I would like is to be ready (physically: face-washed, tea/coffee in hand, dressed) when the boy wakes. That way when he is up, I can put my energy into him and his day and what we are going to do together. So, I suppose, that is as simple as it is: I need to get up, pull some clothes on, wash my face and make some tea or coffee. Perhaps this would be a good time to listen to my audiobooks for the present and in future, when I’m further along in my progress, to do some yoga/meditation (those things are fine to do with tea in hand, right?!?!).
So, my task for the day: copy my nightly check-list and my morning goals into my notebook. Yes, it does seem simple enough for me to remember to wash my face in the morning without having to write it in my notebook and keep that notebook by the side of my bed. As I said, if I were that type of person…