Tag Archive | parenting

Moment By Moment: Defeat

Note: I’ve been thinking of starting a series of posts called “Moment By Moment.” These will give you a snapshot of a moment or two (or more) of our daily lives, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let me know what you think!

I sit on the sofa, my newborn sleeping fitfully against my chest. His big sisters are nearby, my oldest one on the sofa calling out requests for “A croissant please!” and “I need some juice!” and her little sister (the middle child) works at their play kitchen, dutifully trying to prepare her sister’s meal. A tear slips down my cheek.

I have been crying lots of tears lately, happy, joyful, grateful tears, but this is not of those kind.

Today, I feel defeated. It’s early, but I’m tired and this is the first peaceful moment my children have given me. It’s 10:30 a.m. and already I am wishing my husband home and the day be done. Today, the final day of the first week on my own with my three littles, my oldest has cried because her shirt is itchy and she wants lotion on her skin. And after I put said lotion on, and asked if she needed any more, and put the lotion away, she cried because she was still itchy. And she doesn’t want to share today. Every time I turn around, she is snatching another toy away from her sister. And then her sister starts screaming. And all that screaming in between her whines and cries to “Eeeeeat. Pleeeeease eat. Mooooore eat.” She just ate. And the baby! Oh, this sweet, precious, snuggly baby boy who turns into a possessed, screaming monster when I try to put him down so I can prepare food for his sister to eat. Or so I can do laundry. Or just so I can pee.

It’s been this way most of the week, but today is the worst of the worst, and I am spent. Done. Defeated. It’s feeling hard to remember why I’ve yearned for this sort of chaos so long. It’s feeling hard to believe I ever thought I could handle three kids at one time. Just a few years ago, I would have given my right leg and both eyeballs to be in this moment. But now? I’m wishing they’d grow up. I’m wondering what my exact breaking point is. At what point will I become one of those mothers who slaps her child across the face or just walks out the door and never comes back? I’m crying because I feel regret, and guilt. I wanted this. I would have killed for this. I’m so ashamed.

The quiet moment passes too quickly. The girls start squabbling again. Screeching at each other. I put the baby in the Moby, but he moves too much. His legs push against me and, somehow, he works his shoulders and arms free of the wrap. I switch him to the Boba and he wails. I’m tired, and I need to make lunch and pick up the toys littered from one end of the house to the other, and while I do all of that I bounce him and he finally calms down. When I stop to catch my breath, he starts again. And one of his sisters starts begging for food again. And the other begins complaining that she doesn’t like chicken nuggets.

I sigh. I just have to accept it. Today is a day of defeat. It just is.

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The baby is strapped into the Boba, my nerves are jittery, and I am cleaning the house when I feel it. My underwear are wet.

I had thought my postpartum bleeding was over. I’d put the pads away a couple days ago. I shouldn’t have.

I reach to grab some toilet paper only to find that my 4-year-old, who has become obsessed with wiping herself recently, has wrapped the paper around the roll in the most bizarre fashion that I can’t find the free end and start tugging, tearing, and shredding it in an effort to get some for myself. I am on the brink of a tantrum. I begin to whimper.

With the baby against my chest, I struggle to wipe my underwear with the shredded TP and then tape on my panty liner. My underwear are wet, but I don’t bother to change them. I’m too tired, and it would take too much effort with this baby on me. He is starting to stir and whine. I’m not moving enough. All I want is to rest, to breathe deep and hear nothing but silence and be free of anyone touching me.

I would also like to have a good cry. I can feel the tears coming and I fight to hold them back. Our house is falling apart. I can’t.

But I do. I cry.

“Please let the day get easier, dear God,” I pray as I bounce my baby and the tears fall quickly onto his head. I am waving my white flag of surrender. I am crying uncle. I need help.

For the first time, I wonder, What have I DONE? For the first time, I think, I can’t do this.

It seems pathetic to say it again, but…I’m defeated.

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Nothing has gone right today. The baby waffled between fussing, crying, and going bat sh*t crazy every time I put him down. My daughters whined and fought and screamed and cried all morning long. I yelled back. I ripped toys out of their hands just as I was telling them not to do the same thing to their sister. I started bleeding and I wasn’t wearing a pad. Everything I picked up I seemed to drop and had to pick up all over again…while lugging around a baby in a Boba. The sky rained. The wind blew. My husband called and I thought it was to offer his sympathy, but instead it was with questions about our health insurance. He was cranky. He hates insurance companies. We received our hospital bill and it’s all wrong. Another insurance company to fight. And as I was writing this blog post, on a computer that we just bought and I’m still learning how to use, I accidentally deleted a long paragraph I had typed out and I had to type it again.

Yes, it’s a day of defeat. And I don’t know if tomorrow will be any better. It could be this way for a long time.

But one day, it won’t be.

There are always better days ahead, I’m told.

And I think I remember that being true.

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The Transition

I am often asked what it’s been like for us going from one child to two. It’s a relief to say the transition has been so much easier than I thought it would be. I was prepared for all hell to break loose. It has not. I was expecting meltdowns from Skittle, Cupcake and I, all at once, on a regular basis. But, with the exception of one day in which Honey was away on business, the only meltdowns have been from Cupcake and I can handle that. Usually.

We did work very hard while I was pregnant to make the transition as smooth as possible. I stocked the freezer with meals and baked goods so I wouldn’t need to do much cooking for a while. (And even though we’ve eaten several of the things we made, our freezer is still so full that we can hardly fit anything else into it.) I stocked our pantry with the basics like peanut butter and pasta and with snacks like dried fruit and crackers so that I wouldn’t need to do much grocery shopping, either. I got ahead on my ‘to do’ list and started shopping for Christmas and my daughter’s birthday early. I made a commitment not to do anything that would overwhelm me in these early months and to be willing to let things like housework go if I was just too tired or stressed. And we talked with Cupcake a lot about what she could expect from a baby (lots of crying, pooping, and eating) and gave her a baby doll to take care of while Mommy cares for Skittle. It has worked like a charm.

But really? I think most of the ease of this transition is due to luck. Skittle is a happy baby. She cries when hungry. That’s it. She eats for 15-45 minutes and then she’s done, usually for another two or three hours. She sleeps, coos, observes, and kicks around in between. We’ve had a couple difficult nights, but I usually am able to get to bed by midnight and never later than 2 a.m. I only ever have to awake once to breastfeed and, on those rare nights when Skittle doesn’t fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning, she will then sleep until 7 or 8 a.m. Like I said…luck. It seems too good to be true, I know. And I expect that it is. It won’t always be this easy, will it now? At some point, a growth spurt, or sleep regression, or teething is going to hit and I’m going to be in for a rude awakening. But right this minute, I feel like I could practically handle this with a blindfold on and my hands tied around my back. It’s been wonderful.

It also helps that Cupcake is great at independent play (and therefore doesn’t need me to play with her constantly) and adores her little sister. She’s had a few extra tantrums over the last few weeks and I imagine that is her way of adjusting and expressing her discomfort. But she never takes it out on Skittle. She hugs her, holds her, kisses her and, when Skittle fusses, she says, “Ohhhh, what’s wrong, baby? Why you upset? Don’t cry. It’s okay.” And the other day, I asked her what makes her happy. Her response: “Daddy and Baby Sister.” So sweet. And that makes my job so much easier.

In the end, the hardest part of the transition has been managing my exhaustion. I may not get up as often as many parents with new babies, but I’m still tired. I don’t get to always sleep when the baby does because I have a toddler who needs me. And though I’m usually successful at it, I can’t always coordinate Skittle’s naps with Cupcake’s afternoon nap. And I could go to bed early, but I usually don’t because I want to spend the evenings with my husband. So there are days when I get a total of four or five hours of sleep. It’s hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be. I still have more energy now than I ever did while pregnant.

Like I said, I know it won’t always be like this. I remember Cupcake’s first year very well. Getting her into a nap routine was one of the most difficult parenting tasks I’ve encountered. So was getting through the teething. I remember days and days of feeling like I was treading water, barely able to get anything done (including resting!) because Cupcake would just fuss and cry all day long. For weeks. I expect those times are just around the corner for Skittle.

But right now? I’m enjoying this. I love my girls. I love being their mother. I love being a mother. The last six weeks have been easy peasy. A piece of delicious cake.

Which, coincidentally, I’ve had way too much of lately. Cake, that is.

Oh, how sweet life is!

Reflections at 1 Month

Today, my Skittle is one month old. It was one month ago that I screamed for an epidural that came too late. One month ago that I pushed a beautiful, 8-pound squishy ball of baby from my womb and into this world. One month ago that another dream came true. How is that even possible? As a mother, I am always reminded how quickly time does indeed pass. How fleeting every moment is.

I have spent much of the last month reflecting upon our journey to get here. I have not taken any of what I have for granted, have not wished for anything else but exactly what I have. I have cherished and treasured every gassy smile, every midnight cuddle, every dreamy giggle, every tiny baby sneeze, every time Skittle rests her soft head of hair against my chest and drifts off into a sleep full of whimpers and sighs.

And yet, it can be so bittersweet.

I’m lucky in that pregnancy usually doesn’t take much of a physical toll on me. But emotionally? It’s hard. I know you all understand when I say that I live in constant fear for nine-plus months.  Every day of every month of my pregnancy is spent white-knuckling it, gritting my teeth, just trying to make it safely to the end. And yet, in many ways, I love it. The excitement, the wonder, the joy, the preparations. The baby kicks, the ultrasounds, the growth of my belly. The new ways I find to love and respect my body. The hopes, the dreams, all the photographs of our future that unfold in my head and heart. I love that. All of it. And now, I miss it.

There is a saying I stumbled upon not long ago:

“If I had my life to live over, instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside of me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.” (Erma Bombeck)

And while I did not spend one moment of my pregnancy wishing it away, I do understand what is being said here. Pregnancy, and every little baby, is a miracle. I feel something magical happening inside of me when I’m expecting. Every moment of those nine months feels miraculous.

And of course, every day with Skittle alive and well and smiling at me in my arms is a miracle of its own…but it’s a different kind of miracle. And I become very melancholy when I realize that, every morning, Skittle and Cupcake wake up one day older. They are getting bigger and, with each second that passes, I am drifting farther and farther away from the tiny, miraculous way their lives began.

There is still pregnancy paraphernalia dotted around our house: Two boxes of maternity clothes awaiting their transfer to storage. A body pillow in the corner of our bedroom. My pregnancy scrapbook, four pages away from completion. Maternity photos that I’ve displayed like artwork around our house. The protein bars and shakes that I stocked up on to combat preeclampsia. As I look at it all, I feel pensive. I let out a little sigh. I try to shake the sadness. Sad because those pregnancy days are hard, but they’re beautiful too. And now they’re over. And as an infertile, there is no guarantee that I will ever experience them again. With each pregnancy, I have to wonder if it’s the last. I’m not ready to be done. There are more siblings I want for my daughters. More babies I want to birth. We will try again, in a year or so. But a part of me always has to be prepared to accept that I am allowed only a limited number of miracles and perhaps this pregnancy was my last one. It makes the end harder.

And there’s something else.

I have learned that grief is a windy road with lots of pit stops, u-turns, and dead ends and, unexpectedly, our Teddy Graham has been on my mind more over these last four weeks than he has since the early days of my pregnancy. I have cried for him a handful of times. I can’t say for sure why that is. Maybe it’s the hormones. But having Skittle here in flesh and blood has reminded me of all that I missed out on with Teddy. I get to hold Skittle and watch her grow and change and learn and explore. But Teddy never got that chance. A whole life of possibilities was lost in my miscarriage. This is not something new I’ve learned just recently, but the thought has become vividly raw since Skittle’s birth.

Of course, I would never wish for things to have happened differently now that I have my precious Skittle. As I conceived Skittle just one month (almost to the day) after my unfulfilled Teddy Graham due date, it technically would have been possible for Teddy and Skittle to coexist…but the likelihood of it is next to none. Not only because of irregular (i.e. nonexistent) menstrual cycles being my norm, but because the chances of my letting Honey put his dingdong into my hoo ha only a month after the theoretical delivery of TG would be less than zero. Less. Than. Zero. And yet, if things could be different — if, somehow, I could be holding both Teddy and Skittle today — that’s what I would choose.

I miss Teddy now more than (almost) ever.

But I am not sorry that I ever conceived him, or carried him, or loved him. In fact, it is because of him that I am able to love Skittle so thoroughly. Surely, I would have loved her with all that I had regardless of who or what came before her. But I know and understand and have more now than I would have without infertility and loss. The depths of my love, the intensity of my relief, the strength of my gratitude and joy, is all because of the journey I took to get here, and more specifically, all because of what I lost along the way.

Maybe I’m romanticizing my experience. And again, I could blame it on the hormones. But truly, I think it’s my way of coping. I need there to be a reason for all of the pain I endured. I need to believe that our Teddy was only ever meant to be with us a short time and that, in the end, everything worked out in the most beautiful, perfect way for all of us. Because to think that there woulda/coulda/shoulda been another beautiful, whole, perfect little soul here with us… To think that someone is missing from our lives and forever will be… To think that my child died… That, if things had gone a different way, Skittle would never have come to be… It is almost too much to bear. So I hate that Teddy Graham had to be a sacrificial lamb. I wish there could have been a different, and yet similar, ending. But I am thankful for the sacrifice nevertheless. I have to be…for how else do I make sense of it all?

So yeah…I’ve done a lot of thinking these last few weeks. Thinking and reflecting and crying and sighing. And I’m not sorry for what I’ve gone through. I can say that now that I’ve made it to the other side (a year ago, I would have sung a different tune). In fact, there’s been beauty in the sadness of it. And there’s a certain sense of loss and grief in knowing it has come to an end. I have finished one journey. I am starting another.

So I am now able to appreciate all of the ups and downs of trying to build a family. I have perspective. I can see that the greatness of my struggle has made me a better mother and, hopefully, a better person. And yet, as I look ahead, I am so afraid of going through all of this again. I think I’ve made it very clear to all of you: I am ever so grateful for my two healthy, beautiful girls. But I know our family is not complete. We are not done trying. It’s not over yet. And who knows what we will encounter on the next journey? This one was harder than the last. Will the next one only be harder than this? It is frightening to think of all the horrible possibilities that could lie in wait for us. I am thankful for what my infertility and miscarriage has given me, but good God, I’d rather not go through it a third time.

But I guess that’s another post for another day for another blog for another year.

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