Scream

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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    { 85 comments }

    Melanie October 8, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Uh, is there someone near you who can come over and spell you? This sounds bad. Very bad.

    Carmen October 8, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Hoy shit, Catherine. Call someone, anyone that is within a few minutes and get out of the house. Please.

    Bekka October 8, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    I don’t know you personally, but god knows if I were there I’d come over and give you a hug/break. CALL SOMEONE.

    mek October 8, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    May your terrible moment pass quickly – and, yes, call for back-up! People who love you will never resent you asking for help when you need it. And, honey, you need it – not because you are weak or bad or anything like that, but because you’re a mommy! In the house alone with little ones who aren’t sleeping! At the very least, give your girl permission to stay up until she wants to sleep – ply her with hot cocoa and a movie she loves. Quiet and comfort may be better for all than sleep. As for the baby…ugh. Your boy is wonderful and beautiful, but the not sleeping and screaming is hard. For anyone and everyone. Writing is good. Talking to the blogosphere is good. Having a friend come over so you can get some Ativan sleep is, as the commercials say, priceless. Good luck – you’ll be in my thoughts tonight.

    Susie Q October 8, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    I echo the comments of Melanie and Carmen….you need a break please call someone to help you. I know you would do nothing to hurt your children but not so sure you might not hurt yourself. Wish I could jump in my car and give you a break for awhile….

    Jaelithe October 8, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Man, I really wish I lived near you so I could help you out when this stuff goes down. Hang in there. You will be all right, eventually.

    zchamu October 8, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Catherine.. I echo everyone else. CALL SOMEONE. Now. Please.

    HeatherK October 8, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Wish I could send a postpartum doula (or myself!) over to let you get some sleep. Zoloft worked wonders for me…didn’t go down the ativan road. My mw also checked thyroid stuff as that can go wacky pp and cause similar issues. **hugs** one crazy hour at a time and it’ll be morning soon.

    Her Bad Mother October 8, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    the baby’s stopped shrieking – am holding him -he just wants to be up? the girl just passed out a minute or two ago (fingers crossed). will go next door to neighbors if things get overwhelming again.

    Her Bad Mother October 8, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    kinda no-one to call… but i WILL go to neighbors if this gets worse.

    Seriously Mama October 8, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Hang in there, it will get better and you will survive. Just remember to breathe, they will be asleep soon!

    Sara October 8, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Sweet heart,

    Call someone, anyone okay. This wont last forever but you need some help right now.

    I wish I could help.

    HollowSquirrel October 8, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Would it help just to call someone at least even to vent/cry to? I”m so sorry, Catherine. SO sorry. I’ve been there, and it seems like an eternity. It WILL pass. It’s just a (terribly sucky) phase.

    Shannon October 8, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Do call anyone you can – friends will NEVER mind getting a call late at night.

    If they are both safe in their rooms (i.e. in crib, in bed) then go somewhere where you can’t hear them to de-stress and try to relax or meditate (I know, sounds stupid in theory). Sometimes I would just get in the shower and run it – I couldn’t hear the crying and it relaxed me. Often when I got out, they were asleep.

    (((HUGS)))

    Tory October 8, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    It will pass. It will. But it is SO hard to be in the moment. Sleep deprivation is true torture. I hope Jasper will sleep soon and you can follow. If he doesn’t try to get someone to come and watch him so you can — easier said than done, I’m sure. You will get through this. We’re pulling for you!

    Tory October 8, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    It will pass. It will. But it is SO hard to be in the moment. Sleep deprivation is true torture. I hope Jasper will sleep soon and you can follow. If he doesn’t try to get someone to come and watch him so you can — easier said than done, I’m sure. You will get through this. We’re pulling for you!

    Sugar October 8, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    This is the right time to reach out to a friend for help. No human can handle this alone. I hope you have some respite soon. Call someone soon…

    Not that I’m telling you what to do… but just that I know what is going on in your head. I had to have friends over many times when my pilot husband left for five to ten days at a time. It’s no fun.

    KD @ A Bit Squirrelly October 8, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    I echo the others. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help! Hang in there! I know how hard it is to have a non-sleeper. It gets better!!

    Liz October 8, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    as long as the kids are in safe spaces, you can go sit outside and take some deep breaths. i’ve also put the kids in their respective beds and taken a hot shower. sometimes it’s all a mom can do.
    if you can take them to the neighbor’s house, i’m sure they’d be happy to look after them for an hour of so. we’ve all been there. i’m right there with you most days, truthfully.
    motherhood/parenting is overwhelming on a good day. a bad day is sometimes just more than we can handle.
    the sleep deprivation will make you KRAYZE. i so wish i could stop over and watch the kids, make you tea, send you to a hotel for the weekend…alone.

    Rock and Roll Mama October 8, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    I’m glad it’s calming down…it’s not a good feeling, that at the end of your rope one, but it is such a completely normal one. I know you know that, but I want to reiterate it- there’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just in the trenches and it’s really effing hard. You’re reaching out and asking for help when you need it, and I’m glad the neighbors are there in a pinch.

    I hope the rest of the night stays smooth, that J sleeps, and the girl sleeps, and most of all, that you sleep. Sending internet loves- xoxo

    Sara October 8, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Sweet baby Jasper,

    Sleep, okay? Cut mommy a break and be a good baby.

    marymurtz October 8, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Call someone, anyone, to help. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. :(

    VHMPrincess October 8, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Call someone if you can.

    Also – go into your room and close the door. Scream YOUR head off. Scream what you want, as loud as your voice can scream it.

    Goto the kitchen and get a GLASS. Open the outside trash can. THROW IT IN AS HARD AS you can. The smashing of something so totally helps. Throw several (just please, don’t make a mess YOU have to clean up later)…into the trash, but the satisfying crashing of the glass also helps so much.

    Go back to your room – throw a monster tantrum. Scream, jump, stomp your feet, cry. After a moment, when you’ve let out your feelings and calmed, you can go get your babies and you will feel better.

    Simply going and sitting has never helped me…I need to scream and throw MY OWN tantrum and break things. That smashing sound is therapeutic for me.

    Good luck. And the fact that you recognize where you are, emotionally, is a good thing.

    Parenting solo is freaking hard.

    Stacy October 8, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Can you just keep the sleeping Jasper in a sling and sit back in a recliner and doze? He’ll be safe against you and you can sleep a little too?
    I know this isn’t the SAFEST way, so please don’t call me out on that.
    Hope some rest comes your way soon honey. Wishing I could help you out.

    Sharon October 8, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    You need night help when your husband is not available. Period. Your sanity and your ability to take care of your kids and yourself is riding on that. There are post-partum doulas, night nannies, whatever you want to call them, available. I don’t live near you so can’t recommend an agency, but there has to be one. They aren’t cheap, but there is no $$ that can compensate for what you are going through. GET SOME HELP.

    TheFunkyFeline October 8, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    oh sweetie I know that feeling all too well. When you are >< this close to snapping like a dry twig & running around the house with your extra jumbo maternity panties on your head singing Old MacDonald Had A Farm. I'm not sayin it happened or anything…
    I know you know this, but this too shall pass. I promise…

    Omaha Mama October 8, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    It’s okay to doze a little in vicinty of happily t.v. watching children. Baby being held or in a swing or whatever. Kid watching PBS Kids. Mama dozing in and out of slumber. Make them happy however you can. Don’t try to follow a routine until you’re feeling better. Just do whatever feels right. Sometimes when I’m trying to follow some sort of “norm” I find that’s when I freak. Just do what you can to pass the time and get yourself a little rest. You are so right, this too shall pass.

    Mommy Melee October 8, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Good lord, lady.

    Is there anyone who can come over once in a while and help you hold down the fort while your husband is out?

    My husband is a videographer/editor and spends a lot of time away too. I’m not sure how I’m going to hold up with #2 arriving a few weeks and #1 being 2.5.

    My heart goes out to you.

    Her Bad Mother October 8, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    I’ve got him in a sling now. He’s happy for the moment, having defeated me utterly. fingers crossed he’ll doze off.

    Anonymous October 8, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    If it helps, I just had my own snapping point where I had to go into my room (slammed the door – very immature, but it felt good at the time) and screamed into my pillow for a couple of minutes while my naked child screamed about “not go bed, Mommy” a couple of rooms away. All because I dared to try to put a 3 princess pull-up on her instead of the one with JUST Cinderella. A 5-star tantrum with kicking and hitting and screaming and thrashing on her part until I couldn’t take it anymore.

    Parenting can be so very very trying… especially on little sleep (I’m pregnant, and exhausted but can’t sleep at night for some reason) so I think I feel some of what you’re facing.

    Seriously Mama October 8, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Not sure if this will make you feel any better but I slept in a chair with my daughter for the first 3 months of her life. She wouldn’t sleep alone for anything and letting her sleep on my lap gave her easy access to my boobs and gave me a few minutes of sleep here and there. I finally put her in her crib at 4 months old and she wailed and then fell asleep. She still gets up 3 times a night though. There were many times I locked myself in the bathroom in those early days with an infant and toddler and a husband who travels for work 4 days a week. Hang in there, we are all thinking about you!

    Anonymous October 8, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    This reminds me of when my 2nd was born. She was a very unhappy baby. She had cried all day. Nothing made her settle. I was sooo tired. I felt like I had been up for 2 weeks with her sucking on me. She was in her carseat. I put her in my closet and shut the door. She still screamed–but it was quieter. I sat on my bed. Deep breathing–until I realized that the lights go OUT in the closet when you shut the door!! I felt like I shouldve called Child Protective Services on MYSELF.

    I’m thinking of you. And hoping you get sleep soon. Sleep depravation isn’t cured by 3 days of 4 hour sleep–it’s like a banking account. You lose 8 hours? You have to SLEEP 8 hours. Or you will be waaaay overdrawn.

    Blessings, Catherine. To you and yours…

    Martie of http://uncontainedchaos.blogspot.com

    Meaghan October 8, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    I’ve never commented before, don’t have a blog, I’m just a big fan and faithful reader. I just want to remind you of who you are outside of being a mother, this is not all you are, this feels like all you are right now. You are an incredible writer who has inspired many. You are a powerful woman. More powerful than you know or think right now.
    You don’t have to be a perfect mother. Just do whatever you can to get through the day/night. Don’t listen to the voices in your head saying you’re not doing this “right” you’re doing your best. If your daughter watches nickelodean until midnight it’s not going to hurt her.
    Remember your power and you will get through this.

    flutter October 8, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    C,

    Girl honey. Is there anyone anyone to take them for even a day? For an hour so you can get a massage? Wanna send them to Auntie Flutter?

    Nikki October 8, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Oh my. I remember days like that. I promise, they will pass.

    Mine? The boys were 4, 2 and newborn. The baby hadn’t been happy in days and the older two had spent the last 6 hours about EVERYTHINGOMGALLCAPSHEGOTMYCARYOUDONTLOVEMECAUSETHECUSHIONISNTSTRAIGHTIWANTDADDYGRANDMAANYONEBUTYOU!!!!!!

    I reached my last nerve and just through a fit, right there in front of them in the living room. Threw the couch cushion. Screamed. Kicked my feet. Swung my arms around. Threw my body down on the far. Till I was tired and the frustration had worked itself out.

    I stopped, stood up to find the blank stares of my now traumatized children, told them, “that is what yo ulook like when you are acting like fools” and then walked into the bathroom and cried for an hour.

    I still have days like that, but good news is they are fewer and farther between! Hang in there mama!

    Sundry October 8, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    I have been there. And it was awful, awful, awful. I hope this passes ASAP.

    Kate October 8, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Anyone who can take them for a little while?? Anyone? If I were in Canada I would. Hang in there. You are dealing really well, though. As you say, this, too shall pass. Keep that mantra in your head. It will pass.

    Mia October 8, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I hear and feel your pain. Honestly, I think none of us can say that we haven’t had a similar experience…which doesn’t make what you’re going through any easier. I truly wish that I could help you in some way. We all take turns with our strengths.

    One of the most going-to-drive-me-insane-if-it-doesn’t-stop-please-make-it-stop noises is a child, especially an infant, crying. Sitting with your back to the door is a great start. Next move…outside or the garage. Somewhere where you can’t hear those noises which can easily drive even the most drugged of us mad. 2-20 minutes of silence is bliss. They will survive in that time. You may not.

    Call someone. Anyone. A neighbor a sitter…someone. Even if someone is just there with you to witness the insanity and help you laugh about a completely unlaughable situation, call someone. Rent them if you have to.

    It will pass. You will be even stronger than before.

    Just breath!

    Michele October 8, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    When I was alone with my toddler and newborn, I wore my Ipod when it got rough. I could handle visual chaos…red faces contorted with screams, flailing legs and arms, sippy cups flying through the air, but once the soundtrack of my life changed…Ah, peace.

    Maybe give it a try?

    Sarah October 8, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    I’ve been there too … the ipod and a pillow smooshed over each ear to drown out the wailing (mine and thiers). Just hold on. You can do it. Having bad days doesn’t make you a bad mom.

    Michelle October 9, 2008 at 12:14 am

    I only just started reading your blog, but I’m feeling your pain, honey. This won’t help the immediate problem, but I have the number of an EXCELLENT sleep consultant (for the kids, not you). We went through similar issues when our baby was born. All I have to say is that it was the best $200 we ever spent. And SHE DOES PHONE CONSULTATIONS. And unlimited follow ups. Contact me if you want her number.

    Momily October 9, 2008 at 12:57 am

    I have no idea, HBM, if you are like me, but I just couldn’t ask for help even though I really needed it. I could accept it once offered, but couldn’t ask, so if anyone reading this is close enough to help, please just go help HBM. Get in the car, pick up some decaf and go to her. I often found just having company in the form of another adult in the house kept me from snapping.
    And . . . if that fails, are you willing to look into hiring someone? a night doula or something? a part-time someone? a friend of mine found a nice grad student willing to come in to the house for 12 hours/week for a reasonable price (through the wonders of craigslist). it sounds like it’s time for something!

    apolgies for “assvice” and so on; this post really makes me feel for you having just been there (the daughter is 6 months old now and we’ve been sleeping “OK” for about 7 weeks). isn’t it amazing how after this type of stuff, anything more than an hour feels like a treat?

    Marylin October 9, 2008 at 2:25 am

    Phew, I could have written that myself at the start of this year. It can and will get better, but like the others have said – it will help you if you can call someone to talk to!

    (((huge hugs)))

    Loralee Choate October 9, 2008 at 2:27 am

    This is the part of motherhood that they never show in the fluffy commercials and movies on television.

    It is the part that comes into all the happiness I have at being pregnant makes me a little sick with dread because the lack of sleep and crying…OH the crying.

    Everyone else has said it better, than I could. Given better advice. Just know I love you, you amazing women. You are stronger than you know. That one thread will hold and if it snaps there a tons of hands to catch you.

    Katrina October 9, 2008 at 2:36 am

    As long as the babies are safe (rooms/crib/etc) get out of ear shot of them. There are definitely times when max is a holy terror and I have to put him in his crib, screaming bloody murder, and go outside on the porch. He can’t hurt himself and I let my ears rest.

    Please please please get some night help while hubby is away. You HAVE to get night sleep to handle the days, and if you have help at night so you can take you sleep meds, then the whole family will benefit.

    How is hubby dealing with this? Is he looking for help for you at night? Men like to “fix things” so let him fix your night problem for you by getting you a helper.

    Please don’t carry this burden alone. If I could, Id come right up there and help.

    Veronica October 9, 2008 at 3:33 am

    I know I’m normally a lurker, but I wish I lived close. Just to come and watch them while you take a walk, or have a long bath.

    Something. Anything.

    ewe are here October 9, 2008 at 4:31 am

    Is there any way you could hire a couple of college students to take turns spelling you for a handful of hours every day or evening? You’d still be in the house, but you’d be able to get some rest..

    Just an idea. I’m really sorry to hear it’s going to horribly at the moment.

    Assertagirl October 9, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Sending you my cell number.

    Vodka Mom October 9, 2008 at 7:01 am

    I agree with the calling a neighbor or college student or someone. I went through a somewhat similar experience for a few months after Sassy was born. Hell. it was hell. But it passed. (I had some friends…)

    Maria October 9, 2008 at 7:18 am

    It’s so hard to be alone at night with a baby. I hope everything calmed down eventually and you were able to rest.

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