Thursday, June 10, 2010

Patience

Honestly, I have had some less than stellar parenting moments. Stuff I wish I could erase from my memory because that isn't the mom I wanted to be.

Michael was a very demanding newborn. I know all newborns are demanding, but I think he was a little more than some. He just did not sleep for the first 6 weeks. Ok, he would sleep about 8 hours a day, in 45min intervals, after passing out at the breast, while I was holding him. That's about it. Eventually I was able to sneak him in some naps in the bouncy chair, and then at 6 weeks, he finally started sleeping well in the crib. But otherwise I would hold him. I loved holding him, but it was very tough on me. Oh, yeah, and he nursed constantly on my cracked and bleeding nipples which was pretty tough too.

I am no stranger to sleep deprivation, so I thought I would be able to handle it, but this was so much worse than I had ever experienced (and I'm quite experienced). I was perfectly fine with it during the day light hours... happy, joyful and remarkable energetic, but come nightfall, I would start to lose it. I had anxiety about basically being awake all night and that much more tired in the morning, and pretty much doing it alone so that my husband could get a good night's sleep (one of us had to be able to drive).

Most of the nights I made it though alright, but a couple of times, I just couldn't do it. I would have to wake up my husband and sit so that he could watch me nurse Michael while crying and saying "I can't do this" over and over again. I'd hand the baby off and go punch the wall. Yeah. Those are nights that I would like to forget, but I can't because it really was that hard. Me and my husband would look at each other and wonder why anyone would do this to themselves a second time, on purpose, because it was awful.

I will even admit to confessing to my husband that I knew why people shake babies and he confessed back that he understood too. Then, a kinda funny thing happened. He was talking to one of his friends that had a kid on the phone the next day about newborns, and the friend, unprompted, said it too, "I know why people shake babies." Honestly, this made me feel better. This confession that I had made, made me feel like a terrible person. Only an awful person could think of something so awful. But DH's friend wasn't a bad person, no, he was a great dad. Other parents, good parents, had been through something like this too. It really is THAT hard. (And don't worry, no babies were shaken, it's just the point that parenting can be that frustrating at times, please don't think that we are bad people.)

Things got better. Sleep happened a little more frequently. Nipples healed. We settled into a routine. We started to understand why people would want to put themselves through this again.

One night, after Michael had his night sleeping down pat he woke up... again and again and again. I had just started back to work and I was back in that same place, crying, I can't do it, afraid of the next night.

In the morning when I was sane and calm again, I realized that the Chipotle I'd the day before did not agree with Michael and it was really the gas that had caused it. I felt ashamed that had so little patience for my baby that was in pain and instead let the anxiety overtake me.

I'm the first person to admit to my impatience... it's more than the title of my blog, it's probably one of the biggest personal problems that I have in life. But after that night, I loosened up so much. It was the thing I needed. I stopped saying 'I can't do this,' and instead I just learned to comfort my baby and realize that whatever I was going through was probably not as bad as what he was going through and tomorrow is a new day. I don't know why it took me a while to get this to click in my head, but the change was huge. I'm sure I'd had these thoughts before, but it wasn't until then that I could really make the change in me that I needed to make.

So what prompted this out pouring of a very personal topic was that Michael has not been eating great and I've felt my supply has been lower than I feel comfortable with lately. I turned to the KellyMom and was looking for answers on their forum. I've never used their forum before, so I was surprised when I looked at the first page and saw at least 3 posts that could have been written by me. All about 4 months old and supply issues. And someone had linked to this article: Wakeful 4 Month Olds.

The article was exactly what we have been going through lately, except that Michael has not been waking at night. Actually the opposite, he is sleeping all the way through the night and doesn't even need his night feeding anymore.

Well guess what? Michael woke up 6 times last night (3 from 6:30-8:30 and then 3 from 1:00-3:00). And every time I went it his room, instead of anxiety, I just laughed, because it was just too funny that I had just read that article. And so we may be doing some night waking for the next couple of weeks or months, but I don't care. Doesn't bother me. I can handle it now. I feel so much better... I might be more tired, but I feel good about it these days and instead just look forward to spending the extra time with my baby. And I was honestly a little sad when he dropped the 1 am feeding so I was maybe a little too happy to get up over and over again last night.

I wrote this post because I feel I need to be honest about how hard it has been. I've touched on it in other posts, but I've never really came out and said that I felt at times like I was literally on the edge of losing my mind. I think I'm doing a disservice to anyone that reads this by not sharing this part of it. But I also wanted to write this to share in my victory over what once was. I am a better person today because my patience, at least for my child, has grown infinitely and I'm sure that will continue to be a good thing for the challenges ahead.

10 comments:

Celia said...

I have had three nights where my husband made me so angry that I contemplated leaving him. He would get so frustrated with Peter, that I was afraid he might shake him. Because we had eight weeks of screaming for about 18 hours a day. I can reach down and find the patience and my husband just can't. Which gives me TWO babies to take care of. Last night was like that.

I love holding Peter but he needs it for literally hours and hours each day. Yesterday I watched On Demand for 10 hours straight.

Celia said...

I am really glad you wrote this, I am going to show my husband when he comes home tonight.

Michelle said...

I can totally relate. You are not a bad person. We have said the same thing before in moments of never ending screaming and frustation. I went through a lot of ups and downs that first 6 months after K was born. I'd question why I wanted that so badly, why I gave up what I did, etc. It actually took me finding a group online with kids the same age, and the chatroom to realize I wasn't alone, and feeling totally normal.
And, even now, we have our moments that we question why would ever want to start over again. Then I look at an old picture on the wall, and melt....
I think you are doing a great job with your little man and sound like you are an awesome mom. And I can not believe he is already 4 months old.....Time goes so fast.

~Jess said...

Honesty to others and ourselves is not an easy thing...you're not alone. DH and I had the same conversation about shaking babies. You just want to scream sometimes "DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?! I NEED SLEEP!" It's hard being a parent.

This too shall pass, both the good and the bad.

-MissC* said...

Hello! I am a new follower. And I also have PCOS. Reading your post this morning....well it felt like I had wrote it myself. My son is now 4 years old but I can't tell you how many times my husband and I looked at each other and said "I know why parents shake their children."
You inspired me to write a post of my own!
http://lunaticwhimsy.blogspot.com/2010/06/surviving-motherhood-kinda.html
Check it out when you get the chance, maybe it will help you feel understood when you have your crazy moments. Good luck sis!
(I linked back to you in my post.)

Suraita said...

I thought I was the only one that punched the wall. :)

But I agree - everything got a lot better after that first hard part. Including my hand.

Melissa said...

I had the same conversation with a new mom and my husband. One late night of screaming around the five week mark that nearly sent me over the edge. I was bouncing on the exercise ball a little too hard and telling her to go to sleep a little too mean and then it hit me....I put her down and grabbed a glass of wine at 1 am. I came back to a peaceful smiling baby. I think she could feel my nerves. I'm glad others had experienced similar situations. I would have never shaken her...I just knew I was closer then I ever thought possible to being so mad at her for crying. Not that I loved her any less, I think the sleepless nights partnered with the tethered to a baby constantly could cause anyone (no matter how lovable) to become their worst fears.

Kate said...

You're such a good (and honest) Mom!

birdsandsquirrels said...

Thank you so much for your honesty! We definitely had nights where we said to each other that we understand why some people got so frustrated that they shook their babies. I think everyone ends up saying that at some point, of course never actually doing it. You are not a bad parent!

I thought that I would handle the sleep deprivation better too, but it has been much harder than I ever expected. It's one thing to have to get through school or work on 2 hours of sleep, but caring for a needy newborn for 24 more hours? Ugh. That is brutal.

Thank you so much for posting the link to that article on 4 month olds and night waking. I read that a while back (I've spent many hours on kellymom trying to fix my bfing problems!) and it was hugely reassuring. Nights are still hit and miss around here, with at least 1 and sometimes 2 or 3 wakings. I think it has a lot to do with my crap milk supply. If I can manage to pump extra and give her a nice 3 ounce bottle before bed, she tends to sleep longer. Since traveling, my milk is down even more and we have caved and given her formula a few times before bed and she sleeps longer for sure.
I think it is really important for new moms to read posts like this, because it's something that not many people talk about, but everyone experiences.

Hope said...

Motherhood is so hard. There is nothing like it. But you're right, so worth it!