Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Long Overdue Breakdown

It's been an incredibly long day, afternoon and evening.

The opening scene: It's 6:30 pm. Jacob is nestled in my arms in the rocking chair. His gummy toothless mouth is open wide, eyes clamped closed in tired passion, his cheeks are damp from tears, and his face is red and furiously wrinkled. He is bawling his eyes out and has been off and on for over two hours despite my active rocking, patting, nursing, singing, walking, swinging, dancing and various other types of baby consoling.

He is exhausted but just wont shut his eyes. At 6:30, he still hadn't slept a wink since his very short 11am nap.

And me? I'm on the verge of giving up. I'm exhausted- not just from the past two hours but from weeks of getting no more than five hours of broken, interrupted sleep each night. I'm so close to setting this tired, screaming baby on the floor and just walking out of the room. But, of course, I don't. Instead, I'm staring down at the flailing Jacob in my arms and bawling my own eyes out.

There are many reasons for my own tears.

First, I feel like a failure of a mom. Mothers are supposed to be the center of a baby's world. If a mother's voice and touch can't console a baby- then what can? Why can't I calm my own baby down and help him drift to sleep?

Second, I feel incredibly guilty for wanting to walk away. To let him cry himself into a coma because it seems like that is where the night is heading.

Third, I'm beyond exhausted. Exhausted from nights of little sleep and exhausted from bouncing Jacob around for two hours straight.

Also, my baby is crying. He is upset and tired and uncomfortable. Just the sound of his distress makes me weepy. Yes, I'm the kind of mom who cries when her baby cries.

Finally, I'm desperate. I don't have a clue about what to do. Nothing is working, I'm at the end of my rope. I'm angry and impatient. At this rate, I could be doing this ALL NIGHT.

That's when my husband came in the room, took Jacob and told me to leave the room and get some rest. I did, reluctantly. But I did not rest. How could I fall asleep to the sound of my overstimulated baby crying furiously? So...I went on the internet and googled, "how to make baby sleep." Sadly, I did not find the quick fix or the magic advice that I was searching for.

But I did find new perspective.

I stumbled across a website in which a mother talks about her own problems getting her babies to sleep. This mother was pretty much against the "letting baby cry it out" method. She didn't promise a cure all sleep method. Instead she talked about how helpless babies are and how they rely on us for all their needs. She talked about how, like we miss our husbands when they leave, babies can actually miss their mothers when their mothers leave the room. I have no idea if this is correct, but the very thought of my baby actually missing my presence got to me.

She talked about how babies are meant to be held and craddled- this is why they are designed not to walk until they are a year old. She talked about the power of touch and how babies develop by being touched and by touching others. Most powerful, however, was when the author of this site talked about how fast babies grow. Babies are only small and helpless for a short period of time and before you know it, you blink and they are in college. She explained how this age might be rough and exhausting but that it only last so long and then your babies leave you. We only have a finite number of days to rock and cuddle our babies.

This website saved my evening and my sanity. Not because it offered a magic formula to make my baby stop crying and GO TO SLEEP ALREADY. But because it reminded me how powerful my role is as Jacob's mom. The love and care I bestow upon him now will set the stage for him years down the road. It reminded me how helpless babies are and how they really just need to be loved and consoled no matter how long it takes. It's not his fault he can't settle down- he needs something and he's trying to telling me what it is. And in just a blink, Jacob will be independent and grown up and not my little baby to hold.

After regaining this new perspective I rescued my husband from the screaming baby. I held him a little tighter and caressed him a little more passionately. It wasn't easier or less exhausting than it was ten minutes ago by any means, but I found the mental/emotional drive to keep going despite my lack of strength and energy. Half an hour later, his eyelids dropped and he was asleep, snoring contently in my arms. I held him like that a little longer than usual, kissed his soft face and laid him in his bed.

My evening, my sanity and my motherhood have all been restored.


LEO said...

What a sweet post. There's a reason they say the first few months are so hard and no one expects you to act like they're not. But it sounds like you are really keeping it all in perspective and embracing your new role as a mom. And when you can't, this is, and should be, the place where you can vent about it!
I'm glad you all eventually got some rest! :)

Anonymous said...

have you tried "the happiest baby on the block"? my kid wasn't too fussy, but when he did have meltdowns, it really worked.

good luck!

CM said...

Congratulations. You are now officially a new mom. :)

Jacob is lucky to have you.

PT-LawMom said...

Oh sweetie. Don't be too hard on yourself. One thing to keep in mind is that a happy, rested mother leads to a happy baby. You need to take care of yourself.

We coslept but that may not work for you. You could try putting a scrap of one of your t-shirts in the crib with him so he can smell you.

Finally, the hormones you are feeling are fluctuating wildly. It is not unusual to start crying like a crazy person after birth. Just try to take it easy. (((HUGS)))

FSD said...

I'm so sorry you had such a tough day, but I'm glad you gained some perspective on the situation. Don't be hard on yourself. Many mothers, heck all mothers, have experienced what you did with Jacob. It's just part of the process. You're doing a fantastic job and Jacob is so blessed to have you as his mommy.

My best friend experienced something similar with her baby recently and it ended up being colic. Seems her daughter was reacting to the breast milk and my friend was taken off all dairy and veges such as broccoli, cauliflower, and other veges that are known to make one gassy. If this continues, you may check with your doc to see if Jacob is experiencing colic.

Googie Baba said...

Hey Cee, I wanted to let you know that my son had colic and it was physically and emotionally difficult for a while. I don't know if you have run across any of the Dr. Sear's Books, but I found them really helpful.

This is his web site: