Up at midnight, both in tears…

I….CANNOT….DO THIS ANYMORE!

This was my first thought as I was awakened from a dead sleep at midnight last night. No, literally, the ellipses for dramatic pause were actually part of that thought. It’s kind of like saying something through gritted teeth, calmly, but just about to blow.

My son has multiple personality disorder when it comes to sleep habits. He is now 4 months old, and until a couple of weeks ago, was sleeping realtively well at night. That is, after we figured out I had been starving him the first few weeks (see post “The First Few Weeks…”)He would go right to bed around 8 or 9 with minimal fuss, and wake up only once around 4 to eat and go right back to sleep until 7. I was getting somewhat used to waking up once at night for a quick 10-minute feeding, and still was feeling realtively rested the next day.

My world has once again been turned upside down. For the past couple of weeks, my baby has been fussing and sometimes all-out screaming when we put him down to bed. What used to take maybe one time going into his room to put his pacifier back in, give his forehead a few strokes and say shush to get him to sleep has now turned into sometimes an hour of doing this, resulting in me giving up and making him a bottle so hubby and me can go to bed at 10.

Last night I put baby to bed at 8:30. He woke up at 10, crying. Hubby went in and did the pacifier-stroke-shush. Then he woke up again at 12:30. This is when the “I-can’t-do-this” thought complete with dramatic pause came to my mind, and I promptly started whining and crying to my sleeping husband “Whyyyyy is he doooooing this now??” Maybe it’s because I was tired and had a headache, but I seriously thought I was going to explode with anger or start crying and pounding my fists. All the while, all I could think was “I…CANNOT…do this anymore.”

Luckily my husband got up and fed baby. Baby woke up again about an hour later, but I think he put himself back to sleep. I say I think because at that point I just went back to sleep myself. Five a.m., baby wakes again. Since this was the schedule I was more accustomed to, I was ok with getting up for this feeding, and the angry feeling was gone. Baby wakes up at 7 a.m. Exhausted, I drag myself out of bed, make coffee, change his diaper, etc.

Unfortunately, the daytime routine isn’t any more predictable. As a result, it seems that both myself and my baby are chronically tired. Yes, I’ve tried all the methods, but believe it or not, my baby has a mind of his own.

The hardest part of being a new mom for me has been the illusion of routine. Just when I think things are finally settling into predictability, baby throws me for a loop. This could not be more true than with sleep. It is human nature to try to control what happens in your life, but there is nothing harder to control than a baby.

Today I am going to the store to get rice cereal. Maybe it’s time to give that a whirl. Meanwhile, like Dory in Finding Nemo, I’ll “just keep swimming.”

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The First Few Weeks and First Pediatrician Appointment

The first few weeks at home were really hard. I nursed constantly, but my baby would cry sometimes less than an hour after I fed him. My nipples hurt, and I wondered why the baby was crying so much. He would not sleep. I would wake up and nurse him – he would usually fall asleep during feeding, but I would try to keep him awake so he would eat 15 minutes on each side. This is what the lactation nurses and all the books suggested. Finally, I would give up and put him back to bed, only to have him wake up again right away looking for more food.

Fortunately, my husband was incredibly helpful. He cleaned and cooked and got up with me every time the baby woke up. Everyone told me the first 6 weeks are very difficult, and my parents, in-laws and husband did their duties by making sure I did not lift a finger except to feed and hold my baby. I was still unbelievably sore from surgery, but every day I felt a little better. I was tired, but all the help was wonderful, and I was able to sleep when I wasn’t caring for the baby. I was pretty much prepared for the first month being hard, and knowing there was a light at the end of the tunnel made the first few weeks bearable.

When we took my baby to his first pediatrician appointment, I was appalled. The waiting room was chock full of kids wearing surgical masks and signs everywhere warning of swine flu. My husband and I were furious and were sure to take it out on the receptionist. How could they allow a newborn to come into an office at the heart of swine flu season full of sick germy kids? We sat as far away from everyone else as possible, and scowled at anyone who even dared to look at us or our precious, helpless baby. It’s a good thing we were called back to a room relatively quickly, because I kept telling my husband I was going to bolt. I was on the verge of tears. I could not identify with this feeling of overprotective worry and sympathy for my poor helpless baby. I did not like it one bit. Meanwhile, baby couldn’t have cared less. He snoozed comfortably while hubby and me gave a sniffling 2-year old girl the stink eye.

I told the pediatrician my concerns about how fussy he was, and I didn’t have to describe it. He was screaming inconsolably as soon as we got into the exam room. I felt like the worst mother in the world when he was weighed and was a pound and a half below his birth weight. “Maybe he’s hungry?” The nurse said. She gave him a dropperful of formula and he was instantly happy as a clam. I felt like an idiot. But how is even an experienced breastfeeder to know how much milk is coming out?

After that appointment I bought a breast pump so I could see how much milk I was producing (and, frankly, to store up some milk so I could get my baby on a bottle right away). Do you know over the three months I breastfed, I never pumped more than 4 oz? I kept hearing these tales of women who could pump 8 oz in 10 minutes. Who are these women and how come their boobs ran like faucets? Surely I hadn’t blossomed into an E cup bra for nothing.

Anyway, once we got the starvation issue figured out and started supplementing with formula, baby started sleeping better and was happier overall. Go figure. But breastfeeding was never much of a success for me. When my production didn’t increase enough to feed my baby even one meal let alone store any up, I got frustrated. My heart wasn’t in it. I kept up the pumping until he was 12 weeks, and didn’t miss it for one second when I quit.

My Pregnancy and Birth

I’ve been going back and forth for the first four months of my baby’s life about whether I should write this blog. There are so many mom blogs out there and I’m sure the last thing the web needs is another one. I am scared to put my true feelings about motherhood in writing. I don’t necessarily want my family and friends to know how I am really feeling, so I finally decided to write the blog anonymously. Whether anyone reads it or not, I think I need to get my feelings out. I am by nature a writer, so this seems like the best outlet for my feelings. If anyone out there reads this and can relate, that’s more than I could ask for.

I have been trying to ignore the horrible thoughts I keep having about regretting becoming a mom, but I can’t help it. I love my baby more than I thought I would, thank God, but sometimes I feel like kicking myself for going through with getting pregnant and having a child. I know in my heart of hearts I wasn’t and am still not ready to be a parent.

I’ve tried to imagine how my life would end up if I chose not to have kids. My husband would probably leave me because he did want kids; I might find myself wanting kids when it is way too late for it; or I might end up old and alone with no family around me. Those things seem unbearable, and besides, everyone told me I would never regret having kids no matter what and that I would not be able to imagine life without them. I so desperately want to believe that.

I was really hesitant about getting pregnant, always feeling like I wasn’t quite ready. My husband, on the other hand, has been ready for at least the last two years. Last year, I turned 30 and decided I was “getting old” and it was now or never for a family, so we got pregnant. I was nervous and scared the entire nine months, punctuated by moments of excitement, mainly because of the excitement of others around me.

The day I delivered my son wasn’t even close to the best day of my life. In fact, it rivaled my worst day. After 18 hours of being in labor, I had to have a c-section because I wasn’t dilating. I had a major panic attack and hollered and cried and hyperventilated during the entire surgery, putting my baby at risk. Afterwards, the pain was so intense, and the painkillers they were giving me weren’t working. The nurses kept massaging my uterus before checking to make sure the pain meds were working (which they weren’t). I nearly blacked out from the pain. Meanwhile, 2 other nurses and my husband were trying to force my baby onto my boob to breastfeed while I was so pumped full of drugs and in so much pain I didn’t even know where I was.

Needless to say, the first time I saw my son was not the moment of joy and love everyone had told me it would be. All I could think about was a) get me out of this pain and b) please let me sleep.

The next few days in the hospital were not much better. The hospital policy and my decision was to have the baby room-in with me so we could get to know each other and he could nurse on demand. However, I was not prepared for the sheer exhaustion of going through 20 hours of labor and surgery only to be woken up every 1.5 to 2 hours by a screaming baby. I was also not prepared for the amount of pain I was in from surgery, and I couldn’t seem to make anyone understand – not my husband who kept waking me up telling me to feed the baby, and certainly not the nurses who kept scolding me to get out of bed and walk around the next day. For those of you who have had a c-section or other abdominal surgery, you know what it feels like, but for those who have not, the best way I can explain it is this: every time you move, even if you are just shifting in bed, you feel like the staples in your incision are literally tearing out along with your skin and insides. Now imagine this feeling as you are trying to get out of bed and walk around. Those first days it took me about 10 minutes to get to the bathroom 2 feet away from my bed because I would double over in pain after every step, waiting for it to subside. And this was AFTER I had taken painkillers.

Four days later I was finally released from the hospital, and could not be more relieved to be at my own home. I thought things had to get better and easier being at home, right?

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