Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh, Baby!

Let me start by saying this: I LOVE my child. Now that I've gotten that out of the way...

Aaron is driving me nuts. I mean it. I am slowly losing my mind. I have forgotten my bank account pin number, and I've lost my library card. My house is a mess. I don't cook dinner. This is not like me. Okay, I've never really been much of a cook, but the rest of that stuff is not like me. The problem is that I can't think. He screams and screams and screams and I just can't think. Here's my typical day. I wake up about 5:30 to the sound of whimpering. I jump up and run to his room because if I am a second too late he will break into an all-out wail, and that will wake up my other two children (which would be dreadful at 5:30). I wrestle him into a clean diaper and then put him in my bed with me to feed him. He usually falls asleep, so I doze a little too but can't really go back to sleep because if I move out of this awkward position he will wake up and I start all over again. Sometime around 6:45 my older kids wake up and crawl into bed with me too and immediately begin to demand things (cartoons, breakfast, the toy that Brother has, whatever). At 7:00 my husband's alarm clock goes off, and he completely ignores it. I finally shove them all out of bed (minus the baby) and cuddle up with him for a few more minutes of sleep. He rejects the idea of sleep but agrees to a snack, so I feed him again. Then we're up and the day has begun. For the next 12 hours I will feed this baby for at least 20 minutes every 2 hours. He will doze off while I'm feeding him and I will sit as still as possible hoping that he gets more than 20 minutes of rest. Then the big boys come tearing into the room screaming about how "he's looking at me funny" and Aaron wakes up screaming. Sometimes I get the wild idea that it would be fun to leave the house before the walls officially close in on me. I put Aaron in his car seat at which point he begins the whimper. This grows into an all-out tantrum about 5 minutes into the car ride. The big boys try to talk to me across the screaming, and I get frustrated. I can't yell at the baby (he's just a baby, after all), so I cleverly yell at my older kids. Now I feel guilty. I buy them a milk shake. The baby is still crying. I give up and go home where I go back to feeding him while trying to play with the big kids. Mike comes home at 5:30, and he has all kinds of ideas about things we could do with our evening. Most of these activities do not involve breastfeeding a screaming child, so he goes on with the plans while I sit here and nurse the baby a little more. I try over and over to explain to him how important it is to me that he keep me company since I have been without adult conversation all day, but he doesn't get it and thinks that as long as he's home, that counts. So, he's outside mowing the yard or staining the deck or cleaning out the garage and congratulating himself on being a great husband. He is, really. He just has no concept of how lonely it is to be a stay-at-home mom. Anyway, then we begin the bedtime routine. This should actually begin shortly after breakfast because that's about how long it takes. By now the baby is exhausted from not napping all day long, so he is screaming and cannot be consoled. He cries harder if Mike holds him, so I sit on the bed and nurse him while reading bedtime stories to my children. Then they're off to bed. It's almost 9:00. I survey the day's damage to my house. There are dishes in the sink, about an inch of dog hair on the carpet, toys all over the floor, and a pile of unfinished work on my desk. I decide to skip all of it because I'm starving and exhausted. It will still be there tomorrow, after all. And MAYBE tomorrow will be one of those days when Aaron smiles and waits patiently in his high chair while I fix the boys' lunch. I do have those days...just not very often. I live for those days. I'm off to bed but still on call because the baby will wake up at least once tonight hungry. And so it begins again.

If you have never had a fussy baby, this is not making any sense to you. I signed up for this, and I knew what I was getting into when I decided to have children, yes? No no no. There is no sound worse than your child crying. I mean that. I would rather listen to fingernails on the chalkboard, grinding teeth, jet engines in my living room than hear one of my children cry. I don't mean this in the sweet "I just want them to be happy all the time" kind of way. I mean that they start crying and some kind of crazy switch goes off in my head and I become a lunatic. I can keep my cool for a few minutes. Children will cry. I get that. But this baby has some kind of stamina I can't describe. He can cry for an hour easily. Oh, and we moms cleverly hold our babies up on our shoulders where we can pat them and cuddle them...right next to our ears. Sometimes he cries and I have no idea what he wants and so I just cry right along with him. The worst days are when I take out my frustration on my big kids. Those poor guys make a mess or speak too loudly and I jump all over them. There just aren't enough milkshakes in the world to make up for those days. I hate this about myself.

I've tried to solicit support from my family. I guess it's hard for them because they have either never experienced all this or are just so far removed from it that it's a distant memory. Their support always ends up sounding like I'm to blame. "Quit breastfeeding and switch to formula." "He just doesn't like to feed on that side." "He's never grouchy for me." "He was fine until you got here." I know they don't mean it to be hurtful, but it sure is. I won't go into all the details, but it's been difficult and painful to breastfeed him. Formula feeding would be SO much easier. I could eat a hot meal because someone else could give him a bottle. I could sleep through the night because Mike could get up with him when he cries. I could drink coffee and wine. I wouldn't worry about leaking every time I hear a baby cry in the grocery store. I could stop pumping every night before I go to bed. I could wear dresses to church. I could leave him for more than a couple of hours at a time. I could take Prozac. Oh, how I miss Prozac. BUT this is good for him. Grouchy though he may be, he's healthy. This is the right thing to do. I know that and absolutely believe it. I just wish that those around me believed it too so they would be a little more supportive.

So, I've written all of this while the baby nursed and fell asleep on my lap. He's still there now. There are these few moments every day when he's asleep or finally happy, and I can look at him without panic setting in, and then I can see how beautiful he is. His bilirubin finally evened out, and now he has this wonderful creamy-pink skin. He is getting really fat, and his sweet little legs poke out of his shorts in rolls. His breathing is soft and sweet, and every now and then he smiles a little as though he's dreaming of something pleasant. I rub his little arm, and he's as soft as silk. I just want to breathe all of this in. He will wake soon, and in my frantic attempts to soothe him, I will quickly forget how amazing it is to be blessed with this little miracle. I'm sure that 25 years from now I will remember moments like these and forget all the really tough times in between. I will smugly offer unsolicited advice to my children about how to calm their babies and just be sure that my own kids never cried like that. I hope that's true. It's pretty hard to imagine today.

1 comment:

samantha said...

I know 100% what your are going through. Dmitri cryed all the time. I didnt breastfeed him and he still ate ALL the time. I promise he will grow out of it. Sometimes i would set and cry with him just like you. Katina you are a great mom and sometimes i wish i could be as great as you.