October 8, 2008

It was all going so well. The crib had been set up and baby moved into the nursery, the husband was home at night and embracing the task of night-time baby monitoring, the Ativan prescription was filled and ensuring that just as soon as baby had last pass at the breast for the evening, I could go right to sleep. And it was working. I was sleeping. It was good. For about four days, it was good.

Too good to last.

I am currently hanging on to my sanity by the barest threads, doing everything in my power to ignore the tightness in my neck and the pain behind my eyes as I listen to the baby FREAK OUT in the other room after 36 hours of only sleeping in 30 minute stretches. The husband is gone on his second night of overnight filming and I’m afraid to take the Ativan while he’s gone and for some reason the baby and the girl have both decided that they cannot and will not sleep while he is not in the house and the one is shrieking (teething? sinus pain? WILL TO TERRORIZE ME?) while the other is jumping on her bed and tossing her stuffed animals around her room and the cats are yowling for their dinner and I have not slept since yesterday morning and I AM SLOWLY GOING MAD.

It is taking all of my will to keep from shrieking SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP at all of them. It is taking all of my will.

I have a strong will. I also have a strong bedroom door, and I currently have my back pressed up against it. I’m sitting on the floor, trying to block out the noise, trying to slow my breathing, trying to keep my calm, trying to keep my calm, trying to keep my calm.

I know that this, too, shall pass. I know that at some point – maybe in a few hours, maybe in a few days – I will look at the beautiful faces of my sleeping children and feel that blissed-out, satisfied calm that is one of parenthood’s greatest rewards and I will remember this moment – this moment of wanting to scream – only in the abstract.

But it is still this moment, right now, this terrible moment, and all I can do is live through it.

I press a pillow to my face and scream.

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    Bunny October 9, 2008 at 7:36 am

    I have been there. I do not know what to say that would make you feel nay better, except for you to know that I have been there and been there and been there. It will pass and you will get sleep like a human being again. ANd while you know these things, sometimes it helps to be reminded. You are doing great. Hang in there.

    Columbia Thorndale October 9, 2008 at 8:06 am

    I scream like this at least once a week. Relax your normal. Were all normal. It’s not easy

    verybadcat October 9, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Reading this in the am, so telling you to call someone is a moot point. Besides, am of the mind that you would have if you could have, so you probably can’t.

    So what I say is, hang in there, and why not find some spry teenager to stay with you on nights when hubby is not home? If only to entertain the girl while you deal with the baby?

    We love you, HBM. Wishing you sweet dreams…..

    Jen October 9, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Hang in there – please call someone – sending you love, peace, and understanding. Been where you are. . . now through to the other side and things are good.

    Atlanta Mommy October 9, 2008 at 9:53 am

    HUGS! Nothing I could say could make last night any better. Wish I were in Canada to help. Would gladly take a nighttime shift. Hope all is well now.

    Bella October 9, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Beyond all the other comments that said it better than I can — been there, know your pain, etc.

    I just wanted to add (since it’s the morning after) that you are AWESOME for writing this all down. Writing the crazies itself is such an incredible service to so many new moms who feel alone in this place. So… thank you for that.

    And if it’s hard to ask for help from friends/acquaintances, I know a night doula in the Toronto area. She saved my sanity with the twins in the first couple of months. She was sweet, gentle, and incredibly supportive of my needs and insecurities. Let me know if you’d like her name/number.

    Don Mills Diva October 9, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Oh Catherine – I am a 30-minute drive away – I WILL come there I swear.

    Call me if you are ever in this situation again, promise me you will call. I will be there in a flash…

    T with Honey October 9, 2008 at 10:27 am

    It sounds like you’ve weathered the moment and made it through. Amazing how screaming into a pillow can help give you just enough of a release to keep that last thread of sanity from snapping, isn’t it?

    I’m sure it also helped that you have a lot of support pouring in through the comments. And don’t be afraid to accept some of those offers of help. It makes the other person feel good knowing they are helping. Think of it as a favor to them. ;-)

    Her Bad Mother October 9, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Bella, you mentioned the night doula in a comment before, but I couldn’t find the comment again. I’d love to have her number on hand… thanks so much.

    Her Bad Mother October 9, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Next time, Kelly, I’ll call you. And Amy. XOXOXO

    LAVANDULA October 9, 2008 at 11:22 am

    catherine its so overwhelming sometimes isn’t it?…maybe you can have someone stay over on nights when your beloved is away working?just to help with whatever you need.glad the children finally settled down for onw will think anything bad about you if you call them for help next time this happens hugs to you

    Mama V October 9, 2008 at 11:27 am

    I swear, Catherine, I would drive from Ottawa to come and help if you needed me. We’ve never met – but i know what you’re going through. I know getting help at night is harder than help during the day. What about getting out for a few hours of peace and quiet during the day if you can, too? Even just to go out by yourself, and spend some time reading in the sun at the park – going for a massage, to get your hair done… hang out at the library… just a little sanity for yourself! As for the nights… does HBF know how bad it is? I know that’s a terrible question to ask, but sometimes they just don’t get it, even thought they think they do. They want to “fix it” but they can’t. Is there any way he can alter his work scheudle until you get through the worst of this?
    Sending peaceful, positive thoughts your way…

    paper napkin October 9, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I feel so bad for you. Please please find someone to help you through this time. Don’t be afraid to impose on people. PLEASE, IMPOSE. Find someone to come over and spot you regularly. You need HELP, and people WILL help you. You will get through this. You will. Hugs to you.

    justmylife October 9, 2008 at 11:39 am

    I know those feelings so well. Talk to someone, anyone and let someone tend to the baby and get some sleep. Sleep does help, but not right away. Hugs to you.

    Issas Crazy World October 9, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Hugs to you Catherine. It’s all I can say, and I know it’s no help. I hope your husband is coming home tonight.

    Anonymous October 9, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I remember the feeling you are describing so well. And I felt so alone, and felt like there was no one I could call. I know now that there were so many people I could have called. I wish I lived closer to you. I would come if you needed me. I hope you have a better night.

    LD October 9, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    This made me so sad for you.
    I’m going through a rough time with my baby and 4 year old, but my husband is at home at night.
    I take Ativan too, sometimes, for anxiety. I take 2 tablets and know I’ll sleep. But, if I take just one it helps, but I can stay awake and still function, and it helps the anxiety. Could you maybe take a smaller dose if you need to stay awake?
    I’m not trying to be preachy because I KNOW this sucks, but sometimes I find when I’m anxious and trying to get the baby to sleep I get tense and she senses it. It helps me to close my eyes and try to relax and that sometimes helps her relax.
    I’ve also totally succumbed to putting her in bed with me to make it through the night.
    Hang in there.

    Mommato2 October 9, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Oh sweetie, I so wish I lived down the street so I could come help. Being a Mommy is so exhausting sometimes.

    If there is nobody close by that you can call, please please look into hiring a babysitter to come in so you can just you know sleep and breathe.

    Hang in there…xoxoxo

    Her Bad Mother October 9, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Mama V – he makes tv commercials, and they’ve been shooting at night. No way around it. He’s home tonight though, and that will be a vast improvement. xo

    Anonymous October 9, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    I haven’t been reading terribly long, so I might have some details wrong; forgive me if I do.

    I don’t want to say you shouldn’t call someone if you feel you are breaking, and I don’t want to malign the medical solution, because I know that’s valid and often necessary. And I know that when you’re against the wall exercises in reframing your reality aren’t usually welcome or easy to see, so if you hate it you hate it.

    But. I’m at the two-month point with breastfeeding my daughter (after failing utterly with my son) and the best breastfeeding advice I’ve read (thank you, has helped not just with breastfeeding but with parenting a teeny tiny one in general: change your expectations.

    I know that sounds like it’s minimizing what you’re going through, but if you really really think about it and believe it and do it, it changes everything.

    Expect to have your littlest one on your breast for the vast majority of your day, and all of a sudden the times you are untethered really mean something and stand out.

    Expect that he will cry when he’s not eating or sleeping, and the happy smiling at you times will do the same. All of a sudden you’ll be thinking of him as an easy, “good” baby. Still a baby, but manageable and sweet.

    Expect that any activity is going to take three times longer than it should, and that planning to do more than one thing for the day might just be more than everyone in the house can handle.

    When you’re at a low point, it can seem as though they’re doing all this to spite you :) but try reframing it like this (this was my husband’s suggestion and has pulled me out of a manufactured baby crisis more than once): he’s crying because he loves you and is lost without you. Sounds like you already breastfeed on demand and baby-wear, but sometimes those asses (every family has a few) who are always quick to point out ways you can micro-manage your baby–you know the ones who always say the baby is using you for a pacifier, and maybe you can give the baby a little formula, and why are you carrying the baby around all the time, are you sure you should be eating onions, and oh you’re going to spoil the baby–can rub off on you in subtle ways and make you think the baby is somehow manipulating you or pulling you into something you didn’t sign up for. And it’s so untrue, and not only makes you think you’re doing something wrong, but that your baby is, too.

    All anybody signed up for here was nestling up and loving each other, and everything else can just go. Away.

    Let your baby have your time and, most importantly, your boobs :) without thinking of it as martyring yourself–just settle down into your lizard brain, let yourself be a mammal, and be proud you’re giving him what he needs with no strings attached. Everyone else in the house will sense that peace and settle down, too.

    Even if you’re as high-strung as I am. :)

    Anonymous October 9, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    seems like whenever the sht hits the fan around here, it’s everything that could go wrong has. everybody’s sht is flying, including mine. whoever ever coined the ‘terrible two’s’ did us a huge disservice because the 3′s are so much worse than 2′s. i hear you and hope you’re better and thank you for being so honest about how hard it is and how shtty kids can be.

    Lotta October 9, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Did you ask your pediatrician about the acid reflux? A good home test is to see if he sleeps better in his car seat. Carry him in and see if he can finish out his nap/bedtime better if you leave him in the carseat.

    (And screw you people who think this is cruel. They were more smushed up in your belly.)

    If that seems to help you really should see if you can some of that magic medicine in a little dropper from your pediatrican.

    It’s so damn easy to blame ourselves when maybe it’s just a physical issue he’s having?

    Lotta October 9, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    PS – The reasoning behind the car seat is that the acid can’t rise back up the pipes as easily if he’s upright.

    Also if he wants to endlessly sip on your boobs. Even when he’s well fed. The milk can soothe the burn of the reflux.

    Haley-O October 9, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Yes, HBM, scream into a pillow, punch that pillow, turn on some loud music and scream and yell and dance all the anger and frustration out. You’re not the only one…. This is not abnormal. It’s fucking hard.

    Things are better for me now that Rascal is 1 and Monkey is 3. Both are more manageable. So, it does get much better. It really does.

    mrinz October 9, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    You need another adult in the house when your husband is away. No question. Just do it.

    My heart goes out to you.

    Mimi October 9, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Oh C, I know just how you feel. Screaming into the pillow? Done that, really, I have. Then my throat hurts …

    I wish I was close enough to drive over to give you a break. I do.

    supertiff October 9, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    when i read stuff like this, i’m so glad that the internet exists. i mean, we can’t take away your terrible moment…and i’m pretty sure 99% of us live too far away to rush over and give you some help…but, you know what? someday there’s going to be a new mom who reads this, and feels better. i know this won’t help you feel better in this terrible moment, but it’s still terribly important.

    i hope you can feel the whole internet hugging you, and i hope it helps at least a little.

    heather h October 10, 2008 at 2:01 am

    Another vote for potential reflux. I thought I was losing my mind with my baby’s constant crying. While reflux isn’t the first thing a mother wants to hear when baby is screaming, it is comforting to know baby will feel better and there will be “normal” moments again in your home.

    My reflux-ridden baby does not like the car seat, so don’t be surprised if he doesn’t feel soothed by long car rides. The car seat test works for some but not others. In fact, she screamed (or nursed) 99% of the day for months until we discovered reflux.

    Ask your doctor, if she/he says colic, go to another who is willing to entertain the thought of reflux if baby’s symptoms reflect those of reflux. Remember, there is silent reflux which is quite different from reflux you commonly hear about. It seems to take longer in diagnosing. Try again and again until you figure it out with the right pediatrician. There are zillions of reflux boards offering support of tired and emotionally exhausted mothers to each other. Find some, go there, read, and don’t feel alone. Whether or not your baby has reflux, posters on reflux boards feel the way you do. You are not alone.

    Hang in there. It gets better. You are a wonderful mother. My toddler was weaned from reflux meds at 12 months, and she is reflux-free these days.

    At one point I forgot how it felt to smile. You will smile again.

    Anonymous October 10, 2008 at 10:40 am

    I don’t usually post here but I’m an avid reader of your blog. I want you to set up a date with a baby sitter. Leave your kiddos with someone you trust for a day and possibly a night. Go get a hotel room and sleep. ALL DAY. Just go rest, you will feel so much better.

    You’re munchkins will survive a day without you. You seem to be falling apart and I hurt for you. You are over whelmed and while I think you should look at getting your hormones tested and possibly put on a mild anti-depressant, I think you need sleep more than anything else.

    I’ve been reading your blog for months now and I don’t want to seem harsh but it seems you are coming a big unhinged from stress and big red flags that are saying you might have PPD. I know you’d never hurt your children but frankly I’m worried that you will hurt yourself. Please don’t be ashamed to ask for help, it’s the best thing I ever did.

    Schmutzie October 10, 2008 at 11:12 am
    Tabitha (From Single to Married) October 10, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    My heart aches for you. I don’t have children (yet) but I remember staying with my niece at a year-old while her parents were out-of-town over night. She was sick and only slept every 30 minutes the entire night. I seem to remember crying with her at some point. I don’t know how you do it.

    courtney October 11, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Oh, honey. :(

    I saw your newer post so I know that you’re feeling better, but all the same, get someone to watch them for a day for you. Take a break! You need it and you deserve it and the kids will be fine without you. You need it.

    Candance October 12, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I found your blog through Maggie at “Okay Fine, Dammit” and I felt compelled to leave you a comment because I’ve been right where you are while my ex-husband was in Iraq for a year. It sucks. If you have someone local to help you, ask them to take the kids for a couple of hours so you can get some rest. All three of you will be better for it!

    Kristen October 15, 2008 at 9:09 am

    As someone who has never had (and doesn’t want) children, I can’t empathize very well with your blog, but it’s fascinating and educational reading. It gives me insight into what my parallel existence might be like.

    kittenpie October 19, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    All I can say is I totally understand, because there are times when The Bun is screaming that I scream along for a second before I break into tears. Hugs, lady, and know that it might not be right away, but it will get better and you will get through this part!

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