I couldn't think of a cuter title for my journal so I settled for that one It makes sense, though, considering my entire identity for nearly the past 6 months has been just that: mommy. Not Laura, not Mrs. Mylastnamehere, but mommy. That’s who I am now, that’s my purpose, and it will be for the rest of my life. It’s what I’ve always wanted.
I'm starting this journal for one reason: I need a place to vent. Because I’ve always wanted to be a mommy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a role that has come easy to me. Let me preface this with the usual “I love my son with all my heart,” but mommyhood is rough. My beautiful boy has brought so much joy into my life but it has not been an easy road.
Here’s my very long mommyhood story so far:
There are times when I really feel like I'm going to go insane. And I've stuffed and stuffed these feelings away but I think it's time I really confront them head on and realize they are more than I once thought. I keep clinging onto the comforting words of "it will get easier..." but the days are going by and I'm missing out on them waiting for that wonderful day when things magically "get easier." I was warned before he was born that my life would never be the same and I didn't know the full extent of how completely true that statement is. I never thought it would be easy by any means, but I never expected to be dealing the emotions and pain I'm dealing with. I just never expected to feel like this.
Bradley was born on August 31, 2006; ironically it was the exact date I had predicted I would bring my son into the world. I had a really easy pregnancy. No morning sickness, no real complications. Labor and delivery were a breeze. Recovery was rough, but after a few days I was starting to feel normal again and could actually make it in and out of the bathroom in less than 10 minutes! The first six weeks or so of Bradley's life were very difficult. In a nutshell, if he was awake he was crying. And crying and crying and crying. And so was I. I just wanted my son to be happy, and I was quickly realizing that all those daydreams of lovingly holding my son for hours and gazing into his eyes while he gazed into mine were shattering around me. Looking back, I think I was in a sort of shock. I was numb. I didn't expect it and I didn't have any idea what to do. I felt trapped by this innocent child who I was supposed to have endless patience and love for. I was supposed to be his mother, his world, his protector. But all I wanted to do was run away. And sleep.
Somehow I survived those early weeks and things did actually become easier. Of course, by "easier" I don't mean "easy." Bradley is what I have discovered is termed a "high needs child." He is rarely content to sit and do any one thing for longer than, oh, a minute. He has rarely done what all those stupid parenting magazines say he should. "Your child will love to sit and adoringly gaze at your loving face!" Nope. "Your child will adore hearing you sing to him!" Ha! All the so-called "sure shots" to pleasing my baby were no-gos with my sweetheart. I read books, but they made it sound so easy and none of the ideas worked. He doesn't just fall asleep in my arms. He doesn't just want to be held. So was it me? Was it him? I don't know, but irregardless I felt completely inadequate and just plain alone.
Now Bradley is 5 1/2 months old. I love him so, so dearly. But I am really struggling. I feel tired, stressed and anxious all the time. I feel like I'm doing everything wrong. It doesn't help that my husband works nights. So he's gone all night, and sleeps all day. He helps when he can, and he is so wonderful to me and to our son, but someone has to pay the bills.
I just desperately want this dark cloud lifted. I want to cherish every moment with my son. I know it will go by so fast and that makes me feel even worse. I love him and he deserves for me to be happier. Is this a phase? Will it pass on its own? Is "it becoming easier" all it will take for me to feel better? I don't know.
I have an appointment on Monday to see a doctor. I don’t know if this is post-partum depression or what, but it’s not fun and it’s time to do something about it.
Note: In the course of writing this I have eaten 8 (yes…EIGHT!) chocolate chip cookies. Oh God.
Another reason I wanted to start this journal is to document my attempt to help my son sleep better. When Bradley was about a month old, he started sleeping through the night. It was amazing. Even his pediatrician was impressed. Then, at around 3 months, he stopped. At first it wasn’t so bad. He’d wake up a few times a night, eat, and go back to sleep. No biggee. Well, now it’s bad. He wakes up about every half hour to 2 hours and, needless to say, I’m TIRED.
I’ve finally resigned to the fact that he’s not going to just miraculously sleep through the night on his own anytime soon. I put him to bed every night thinking, “will tonight be THE NIGHT?! Will I wake up in the morning without having to get up a gazillion times last night?” And then an hour or two later I have my answer. And it’s always “Ha! NO!”
I’ve had “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” sitting on my bookshelf for a while. I glance over at it every once in a while but never opened it. I guess I realized if I started reading it, Bradley’s sleeping issues would be more real and I’d have to actually do something about it. Something that takes time and patience, the latter of which I seem to be running low on as of late. But I can’t go on like this. I’m so tired that all I do all day is sit and stare when I should be playing with my baby. When I was a teenager I used to stay up all night long with my friends and then could function FINE the next day. Not anymore! I sure could use that superpower now, though!
So I read the book today. Ok, you got me, I just skimmed the important chapters. I’ve started my 3 logs today. I’ll post the first 2 of them for myself and anyone interested, everyone else can feel free to skip over
1st nap – fell asleep at 11:30, swaddled, given a bottle in his swing (BAD! Got to nip that in the bud…) He slept for 1.5 hrs
2nd nap – fell asleep at 3:25, swaddled, given a bottle in his swing. He squealed and stared for about 25 minutes before actually falling asleep. He slept for an hour. He might have slept longer if it weren't for my barking dog.
Pre-bedtime Routine Log:
5:30 – Fed dogs, Bradley played in Exersaucer
6:00 – Gave him a bottle (amazing that he actually ate with me holding him… usually he will only eat in his swing. Oh ya, and he won’t sleep in his crib. Silly boy )
6:15 – I hummed/sung to him while walking around with the lights dimmed
6:30 – Read him some stories
6:40 – Got his bath ready
6:45 – Gave him his bath
7:00 – Put him in his crib hoping he’d miraculously sleep in it. He actually fell asleep and I was amazed at how well this was working! A miracle! All hail “No-Cry Sleep Solution!”
7:20 – Bradley wakes up and will not fall back asleep until I put him in his swing.
I’ll post my “Night Waking Log” tomorrow. Hopefully it will be short, but more than likely it will not! What I’ve done differently tonight is turn the lights down lower, turn his CD down a little lower, started the bedtime routine at his very 1st sleep sign and put him to bed 2 hours earlier. We’ll see…
Yes I should be trying to sleep now too, but that’s a whole other post. We’ll just sum it up by saying I have sleep issues too. Wonderful.
I'm awake, I'm awake! Ugh! What a night. I thought it was going to go much more smoothly since his first stretch of sleep was 3 1/2 hours. It was awesome. I didn't sleep for any of it, but it was awesome anyway. Instead I laid there wide awake waiting for him to wake up. It's like when you were a kid, turning the crank on Jack's box waiting for him to come bursting out. You know it's coming, but when...
So here's his night waking log:
Asleep: 7:00 p.m.
7:30 - Awake crying, was up for 15 minutes. Gave him some bottle and a paci.
11:10 - Woke up to him whimpering. He was awake for 1 min, gave him a paci.
11:40 - Up again! He was awake for 10 min, and I gave him a 4 oz bottle
2:30 - Awake crying. Gave him a 2.5 oz bottle.
4:25 - Crying! Woo! He ate 3 oz and went back asleep 10 minutes later
5:50 - You got it - crying! I gave him his paci and he went back out in 5 minutes
7:30 - Yep. Same ol. Gave him his paci and went back to bed because DH was home.
8:00 - He's up for the day.
He woke up 7 times. His longest span of sleep was 3 1/2 hours, and he got 11 1/2 hours total, which is great if he'd cut down the wakings to, oh, 2. I'd even settle for 3. 7 is just hell.
I'm a little confused on where to go from here. There are several things I have to nip in the bud before I think he'll sleep better. He still has to be swaddled, I don't think he eats enough during the day, and I've got to get him sleeping in his crib. I just don't know how to accomplish those things because he's very stubborn. He is not a big eater and it's a battle to get him to take his bottle, unless he's half asleep, which is not good either. Getting him to sleep in his crib will probably take some crying on both of our parts. He doesn't like to be rocked to sleep. His prefers his swing and bottle and when that's what he wants he is sure to let me know.
I guess my plan of attack at this point is to start by establishing a better sleep routine for him. I'm pretty sure he's down to 2 naps a day now because getting him down for that 3rd nap is a nightmare, and it's usually around 7 p.m. when No-Cry says he should be in bed anyway.
My hope is that if he gets in a good napping pattern in his swing it will be easier to move him to his crib. I just don't want to work on it this way only to have to start all over in his crib. Ack! I don't know what to do!
Getting DH on board is another problem. He is the type to continue doing things the easy way because it's, well, easier. But, like I said, he works nights and doesn't have to deal with this like I do. He can't possibly imagine how completely difficult it is getting horrible sleep all night and then having to care for a needy baby alone all day the next day, then over and over and over....
I realize I'm sounding really negative here. My baby is my world. I love the way his hair sticks straight up and how he screams "like a little girl" when he's laughing. I love when he tries to eat my shirt. I love when he rolls from his tummy to his back by sticking his butt straight in the air and flopping it right on over. I love how he laughs when I tickle his feet and his belly. I love to watch him splash in the bathtub and how he watches water pouring like it's the most amazing thing in the world. I love how he reaches out to feel my face (except when he clamps down! ouch!) I love his smile and his little dimple. I love how he cracks up at his daddy just by looking at his face (even when DH is sleeping)! I love how he stops crying when I come into his bedroom when he wakes up.
I do love being a mommy. We'll get through this rough time. My greatest hope for my son is that he knows how much he is loved.
I have a plan. Ok, not a plan, but a first step. I think what I need to focus on first is getting him to fall asleep without a bottle. I don't think he eats enough during the day and I think this is a big reason why. He takes 2 naps a day, sometimes 3, and then there's bedtime. So, he's only getting maybe 3 or 4 bottles a day which he sometimes doesn't finish because he falls asleep. Then he makes up for it at night. I realized from the night waking log that he ate about 10 oz last night. At this age he should be able to go longer at night without needing to eat that much. So I'm trying not to look at the big picture and just focusing on this one "little" goal. Ugh.
Bradley went down really well tonight at 7:00. His pediatrician was the one who recommended I stretch bedtime until 9:00 in hopes that he would sleep better. So for the past month or so I've been doing just that, and Bradley has been SO difficult after, oh, 7:00. I completely dreaded 7:00 - 9:00 every night. I should have gone with my intuition all along instead of listening to the pediatrician. He's a great doctor but I don't agree with most of his parenting advice. This doctor I am going to on Monday is a family doctor, so if she's really good maybe I'll consider switching Bradley to her as well.
Speaking of that appointment, I'm really nervous about it. I go back and forth about cancelling it, but I know I need to go. I guess I'm afraid of completely breaking down in front of a stranger, or having to explain to her what I've been feeling. I'm afraid she'll ask why I think I might have PPD and I'll come up with nothing better than "Um... I'm sad all the time...?" and she won't believe there's anything wrong and will blow me off and I'll be right back at square one. Sorry for the run-on sentence I tend to do this, come up with the worst-case scenario and convince myself that's how it's going to go down.
One of my biggest issues I've been having is insomnia. I just can't fall asleep very easily. It's better when DH is off work, but for the 4 nights he works I get barely any sleep. Like now. I should be in bed but instead I'm here on the couch watching TV and surfing the net. If I were to go lay down, I'd lay there wide awake getting all upset because I can't sleep. Great. I think too much when I'm trying to fall asleep. My mind just races and I worry about things like this doctor's appointment and that my son will be sleeping in his swing with a bottle for the rest of his life.
And on that note, I ought to go try to sleep. HA!
We made some progress last night! He woke up sometime between 8 and 9, and I gave him his paci and he fell back asleep until 2:30! 6 hours is the longest stretch of sleep he's gotten in a very long time! After that he woke up every 1 1/2 - 2 hours, but still... progress!
Lately Bradley is really into the mirror at the top of his swing. He noticed it when he was a couple months old, but now he stares at it and squeals and smiles. When I am putting him down for a nap, I sometimes have to duck behind the swing because if he sees me he will stare at me and smile instead of fall asleep (cute!!) So I did that as usual today, and I glanced up at the mirror to see if he had fallen asleep yet only to see that he had FOUND ME! BUSTED! It was so cute! He was just staring at my reflection like "Come on, mom, I know you're there..." Silly guy!
I managed to get him to eat 13 oz so far today, which is huge considering that's all I could get him to eat all day yesterday. I had to give him the bottle, then the paci, then the bottle, then the paci, etc etc until it was finally all gone. He is just the pickiest eater. I never imagined a baby would be so determined NOT to eat!
DH is home for the next 3 nights Maybe I'll actually get some sleep! Yessss! I had no idea sleep deprivation would be this hard to deal with. Bradley was such a good sleeper for the first couple months that I thought I wouldn't have to deal with it. But it's so brutal! When I was pregnant I used to think it'd just be feeling tired all the time, and I thought I could easily handle that. But day after day after day of being beyond tired is killer!
Want to hear something sad? I am so looking forward to tonight. Why? We're going to the grocery store. The GROCERY STORE. I can't believe I'm this excited to go to the grocery store. It's just that the thought of getting out of this house and spending time with my favorite 2 guys is just so great. I don't like to take Bradley out shopping by myself because he only tolerates sitting in his car seat for so long, and grocery shopping, pushing a cart and carrying a fidgety baby is not fun I have total cabin fever and can't wait until Spring so I can get out more often! I'm sick of being cooped up in here, and Bradley always does much better when we're out doing something. I'm sure he gets bored too.
Today is a good day. A day I have dreamed of for a long time. Today... I fit into a pair of my pre-pregnancy jeans. Aaaaaaah!!! I never thought I'd see this day! Granted they were a pair of my larger pre-pregnancy jeans, but hey they haven't fit for 15 months now! Yesss!!!
Take that, 8 chocolate chip cookies!
Bradley was such a good boy today. I couldn't get him to eat anywhere but in his swing as he was falling asleep, BUT I did get him to take a full bottle each time. HUGE improvement. I bought some faster flow nipples at the store today - I'll try them tomorrow and hopefully they will help even more. We also got him some new clothes including his very first pair of jeans. They are so stinking adorable! He is meeting his other grandparents (DH's parents) and his new baby cousin for the first time this coming weekend so I wanted to get him something cute to wear. I couldn't resist the adorable overalls either. A little boy in overalls has got to be one of the cutest things out there IMO.
He seemed so happy today, and the day just went very... smoothly. I can't say that for most of our days. When he got fussy, I put him down for a nap and he went down easily each time. When he got up, he was happy and playful and then like clockwork, an hour and a half or so later, he was ready for a nap again. He went down to bed so easily at 7:30ish tonight. He hasn't woken up once since, and it's been 3 hours. I still can't believe I was keeping him up for an extra 2 hours of hell for no reason... We did have one glitch in our day. Bradley was playing in his Exersaucer and started to get fussy, so I went to pick him up and felt something wet on his back. Yep... poo! Ewww! He had poo'd right UP his back! GROSS!
Grocery shopping was everything I dreamt it would be and more... Ha!
I'm so glad the appointment is over. It went fine but I was really dreading it.
I didn't get 3 words out to the doctor before I started bawling. She just handed me the tissue box and was very understanding. She diagnosed me with PPD and wrote me a prescription for Zoloft. I'm going to start it tonight.
I had this awesome post "written out" in my head, but now that I'm actually sitting here at the computer I have no drive to actually write it down. Ugh! Tomorrow
Day 3 on the Zoloft. I have been feeling so sick the past 3 days, and I am assuming it's my body adjusting to it. I have actually taken an HPT every day the past few days because it has felt just like pregnancy symptoms (nausea, headachey, etc). Needless to say the tests were negative. Can you believe that when only 1 line showed up I was a little bummed?! What?!?!
It was "warm" enough outside today that I opened up the backdoor and Bradley's window to let some fresh air in. It was so nice. I put Bradley in his crib and he played for a long time while I just sat there and relaxed. It was one of those moments you wish you could freeze because it just felt so nice.
Oh, great news! DH is switching back to the day shift in 3 weeks! I am so relieved. The nights alone were really wearing on us both. I know I will sleep better when he is here with me.
There's definitely a light at the end of the tunnel...