9/26/2006

I want my money back

Readers be warned - this is a highly negative post on parenting, so if you think I should be eternally grateful for becoming a mother and love every second of it, keep walking before I upset you.

I've hit a rough patch. Nay, a very big, unending patch of particularly bad road. I have self-diagnosed myself as having Maternal Bipolar Disorder (MBD), a condition I think I have as now created. MBD is characterised by periods of mania in which this new mother thinks that she can actually carry off this whole parenting thing successfully. By gum, she may even be starting to take to the little creature! Unfortunately there is also a flip side, the depths in which this new mom is currently treading, hoping and praying that she doesn't drown.

The first six weeks were a struggle, but barring a few breakdowns here and there, I think I was coping rather well. The whole feeding issue was the primary problem, along with P's tendency to spit up in amounts I think are excessive. However, the past few weeks have signalled the emergence of a new baby - Hopper Hellbaby (this due to her resemblance when upset to Hopper from A Bug's Life) - one which cries almost every evening from 6pm-9pm. The only way to stop this hysterical crying is to take P. for a walk. Easy enough, right? As luck would have it, we live on the top floor of our building and I have to go up and down 4 flights of stairs with her carrier each way to get her stroller from the shed outside. Fortunately we live in an area in which it is nice to take twilight walks, but it's an immense pain in the ass to do this night in and night out. I will add that yesterday by the time we got to the twilight walk, we'd already been on two walks prior that day. I suppose it's great for the Pipgut, but I'd rather be in watching crap television.

Up to the past few days, the crying has been reserved for evenings, but today my girl really outdid herself. As I've mentioned previously, I get together regularly with a group of women from my antenatal class. I haven't been in a few weeks due to transport issues, so I was really looking forward to today's meeting. For once the person hosting it was within walking distance, so I packed up P., excited about finally meeting with other mothers for the first time in awhile.

Once we got there, I noticed immediately how much the other babies had grown. Though P. is the oldest, she is still the smallest. She is nearly 3lbs over her lowest weight (5lbs 9ozs), but even so is much more :::ahem::: "dinky" than the others, a fact which was pointed out to me by some of the mothers. You can imagine how pleased I was. I started to get over this and settle into the conversation when P. started crying. My child is small, but cries like a fucking banshee. I tried to calm her, but ended up having to leave the room so the other mothers could converse like adults do without being drowned out by the wailing P. I hung out in the kitchen, attempting to soothe her with all the ways I know how, but she wasn't having it. She screamed until her head nearly came off for 15 minutes before I gave up on trying to have a nice morning out and decided to go home. I made my apologies and made a quick exit with my most disagreeable baby.

So I've reached the end of my tether. The Dude comes home from work to an evening full of screaming baby, which isn't fun for him either. I spend most evenings either crying or moping around the flat in the vain hope that I'll wake up and have my old life back. It is a horrible, horrible thought to have, but I do often wonder if I've made a huge mistake.

I don't cry that often when I get really upset at this situation, but I feel like this is hopeless. In my late teens and early 20s I was sporadically treated for depression, so I'm hardly new to the concept of feeling like you will never emerge from the darkness. The Dude, bless him, genuinely worries that I will hurt myself. I have tried to reassure him that we have been together through many of my darker times and I've never been the self harming type, but I don't suppose that is altogether calming. I think he is further confused by the fact that on the good days, I am happy. I dare say I am nearly giddy with how good life can be - I get to stay home all day with a cheerful, smiling, beautiful baby, go for walks along the sea, watch repeats of Seinfeld and Frasier, listen to good music, and IM with my Cheese Wife. If the next day turns out to be a bad one, I'm wringing my hands and cursing the fact that I did IVF in the first place. Cue the upset that comes with feeling like a horrible mother for even thinking that, and I'm yet again a gibbering, crappy mothering mess.

I've thought about what would make me feel better, aside from a baby that isn't screaming constantly, and I don't know if there is an answer. When I have casually hinted to other people that all is not what it should be, I get the cursory, "Babies cry!" or "This too shall pass", as if it's just a little hiccup in my life that I should just get over. I wish it was that easy, because that last little comment would have changed a lot of the periods of extreme sadness and depression in my life. Maybe there isn't anything to be done or said. Perhaps I do need to just suck it up and soldier on. I don't know.

I need to come to terms with the fact that my situation is permanent. I have a child. I can't drop out or quit parenthood, much as I'd like to sometimes. With most things in life, you can abandon them if they become too much. I find it so daunting that I'm in this for the long haul. At the times when I'm at my lowest I really struggle to deal with this idea. I want to crawl out of my own skin and get away, but I can't. I have this responsibility, possibly the singular one in life you cannot shirk.

If anyone has any wisdom they would like to pass on to aid the maintenence of my sanity, I would welcome it. Here is to hoping that tomorrow is one of those little seen and much cherished manic days.

34 comments:

persephone said...

Pru, it sounds like she has colic. The bad news is there is very little you can do about it. The only good news -- and believe me, I *know* how meager it is -- is that she will outgrow it.

I didn't believe it was ever going to happen, but our twin A outgrew his colic at about 3 months. Actually, what happened was he started sleeping from 7 to 11 PM, which knocked out 4 hours formerly devoted to screaming right there. From 6 weeks to 3 months seemed like forever, and he's still a high needs child, but it is SOOOOO much better now.

So what you have to do until then is survive. Not like it. Not even stay sane all the time. Just survive. If you have anyone who can relieve you sometimes in the evening (or whenever she screams), DO IT. Otherwise, just know that it's horrible, it's not your fault, and your reaction is totally normal.

Hang in there.

DD said...

Colic. It sounds so simple, but given the circumstances of her slight prematurity and how old she is now, it's my first and only guess. Now as for what to do about it? Nothing will make it pass quicker and I have been where you are. I would take off my husband's head every night he'd come home late or leave for guy's night out b/c it coincided w/my son's screaming.

I've heard swaddling helps and white noise (like a dryer or vacuum) will help sometimes. If nothing else, make sure you take some video or pictures of P during these moments to save for later b/c the day will come and your little banshee will be replaced by an angel.

Cristine said...

When my son was about 8 weeks old, I remember being amazed that more infants weren't killed by their parents. My son was up every 2 hours, and it took me an hour to breastfeed him. Then he got colic so when he was awake he was screaming. The only thing that would calm him down was long rides in the car, which isn't exactly convenient at 3 am. I loved kids. I've always been good with them, and I was still teetering on the edge.

When I went back to work parttime, I felt like a horrible mother when people asked me if I was just dying to be away from him. I was relieved to have a few hours of peace.

Mylecon drops helped some with the screaming, but he still didn't sleep well. I can't tell you how depressing it was when babies younger than him were sleeping through the night while he was still up 3-4 times. I got tons of advice which really annoyed me at the time because I'd already tried almost all of it. Someone eventually recommended "Healthy Sleep Patterns, Happy Child," which saved my sanity. I discovered when I followed the recommedations to the letter he'd almost instantly start sleeping better. And once he started sleeping, and I started sleeping more, life gradually got better. I was able to start to enjoy him instead of wallowing in my misery.

Now he's two and a delight. He's so much fun and I love being home with him. I know people love the baby stage but its so much work for very little reward. Now I get random hugs and kisses, with even an occasional "I love you" that melts my heart. Until I'd read your post I'd pretty much forgotten how miserable those first few months were.

This is a really tough stage For now try and get an hour or two to yourself everday to keep you sane, and know that it will get better.

Georgia said...

No advice on the parenting aspect yet, but I can say from experience that when you're in That Place, the very worst part of it is that you can't see your way out. I have been depressed, anxious, etc, and while in retrospect I can see that it was a tough period of time, when I was in it, well, I was IN IT and it felt eternal. That's the nature of the beast. So the wise moms above have identified colic, which sounds reasonable to me. And I will only say that feeling like you are trapped and stuck in this hellish place is by definition the hellish place, if that makes sense--the feeling of permanence and can't-see-my-way-out. And it will get better. That's all.

Mollywogger said...

Oh, my dear, dear Bride. If I could, I'd be on a plane tonight.

I don't know what the hell that Gripe Water stuff is, but I suppose you're willing to try anything at this point.

Hang in there. Only 6 more months and I'll be there to soothe the little beast.

Rachel said...

For starters, you're not alone. I too have days when I want to chuck Jillian out the window, fly to Vegas, and drink myself to oblivion.
It's hard because I don't really have anyone nearby on whom I can unload and if I vent on The Husband, his first instinct is to get on the phone with my shrink. No good.
I just keep telling myself that it will pass, IT HAS TO, right? It will pass it will pass it will pass although slipping the baby an Ambien seems like a damn good idea.
Jillian is totally diabolical, too. After some six or seven hours of off and on screaming, right as I am about to hand her off and run away, she'll look at me and grin. So I KNOW she's doing it on purpose, the little monster.
Not to hijack your blog, but I think a problem a lot of us new moms have is that we don't really have any time whatsoever to mourn our former, child-free lives. We go from being pregnant (with the baby still being a "baby" and not an actual person yet) to being MOM - tethered to the baby more or less for the first however long. I know I never got a chance to really sit down and get my head around the fact that THIS is life now. I'm just getting used to it bit by bit.
Though I just realized I could totally take Jillian to the bar because we have one within walking distance of the house and you can't smoke in bars or restaurants in New Jersey anymore. Hmmm. That's promising.
ANYway, take care of yourself and don't feel guilty. You're perfectly justified.

Lut C. said...

Oh Pru, it's difficult enough without old IF guilt. You're allowed to have a rough time (aren't you glad).

I hope the tips the other ladies gave you do the trick.

If you see half a chance to take some time out for yourself, grab it!

Lisa said...

No advice at all, I just wanted to thank you for writing this post. I'm sure that many if not most new Mother's experience the same feelings you do, but they are all too afraid to admit it for fear of being branded a bad Mom. Then they all feel like there must be something wrong with THEM because everyone else talks about how life-transformingly-magical-and-perfectly-perfect it is to have a baby. So thanks for the honesty. No, you won't ever get your old life back, but I know in time you will find a way to be who you want to be and who you need to be in this new life. Being willing to talk about how things REALLY are and get support means that you are healthy and sane and likely on your way to happier days.

Panda said...

Okay, first of all, you dont have MBD, you have an infant under 3 months old.

Second, all the stuff your feeling is totally normal. I know that doesnt help you feel differently but EVERYONE wants to chuck their baby out the window, get drunk and hide under the covers. You're not a bad person or an ungrateful infertile or any such crap. You have an infant under three months old.

Re how small Pip is, she was early. You cant expect her to be the same size as full-term or post-term babies. If you want to compare, take her expected due date as her age and compare from there. She'll still be smaller.

Spudly would do the same banshee screaming every evening too. It seems to me to be so prevalent as to be developmental more than anything. Personally I spurn suggestions of colic because its just a five-letter word for "we dont know what the problem is". Music helped calm him, wrapping tightly and holding him close, endless pacing and bouncing.
When he gets the banshees now, a taste of something sweet and unexpected seems to distract him from his screaming enough to get him to feed then he will go straight to sleep. So try the Gripe Water, or the colic drops or baby panadol or...gin perhaps?

fisher queen said...

I don't know anything, but I heard a story on NPR about a guy named Barry Lester who has helped lots of mothers and babies who have colic. I say mothers b/c he recognizes what a toll it can take on a new mom. I ran out and got his book "Why is My baqby Crying" just in case. Maybe it would help?

WriterGrrl said...

Have you tried the usual tricks? Swings? Carseat on top of washing machine? Draping baby over your knees and patting her back?

Taking care of a fussy kid is hard work. You need to do a couple of things: Make sure that you get enough to eat and drink daily, and once in a while, get a decent night's sleep. Also, you MUST invest some time in your own sanity. It can be as simple as waiting for your husband to return from work and then leaving him with the baby while you do the grocery shopping. My trick is to take an iPod loaded with chick lit. And then I just shrug my shoulders and mumble something about long lines when my husband wants to know why it took me two and a half hours to return with three gallons of milk and a package of paper towels.

Suz said...

Your post reminds me exactly of my sister's situtation; her daughter was/is also small for her age with acid reflux/vomitting issues. For much of her early life, she screamed in the late afternoon/evening and there was nothing that my sister could do about it. As Persephone, just survive. It's normal. It happens and it doesn't last forever. If you can stand a reference, Happiest Baby on the Block has some good recommendations, but my sister found that sometimes the only thing that worked was handing the baby to her husband and walking around the block herself.

Maya said...

No assvice here, but I do have several friends that have felt the same way (that they may have made a mistake by getting pg and having baby). You are not alone. I think this maybe why some women consider working and a babysitter for the tot ..bliss.
Actually, I do have a thought...what about those noise cancelling headphones. I hope that doesn't sound to brash or stupid, but anything to help you through this rough spot.

fisher queen said...

More assvice from me- someone mentioned it above, but I'll mention that I have friends who swear by swings.

T said...

Ah yes, colic - I remember the hideous days. My friends said she would outgrow it at 3 months, it would get better they said - LIARS! Every single one of them, especially the one that said the weight would just melt off. Oh right, Piper. The one thing (happiest baby on the block) that REALLY helped my girl stop crying was bouncing/jiggling while swinging her and toss in a hum or sshhh. Worked like a charm!

Good luck, it's NOT easy, but you will get through it. Make sure to get out by yourself every once in a while to preserve your sanity too.

alisa said...

5-9 pm was what we referred to as the "witching hour" at our shouse. Around 7 weeks, she started doing this and it happened every night for almost a month. My husband didn't want to come home (gee - thanks, honey). We had to carry her around the house because it was winter. The only thing that helped was extra feedings during that time. It seemed like she was trying to "cluster feed" before bed or something. It also could have been that she just liked sucking on things at that time. It was miserable.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so, I haven't actually read much of it myself, because I am too busy feeding and holding screaming twins, so I read like a page and fall asleep, but lots of people I know recommend Harvey Karp's the happiest baby on the block -- some people mentioned some of his things like swaddling, white noise, sideways position, etc. I have friends who swear by it, and some day I hope to learn it, too!

Jeannie said...

I'm not saying you're depressed, but one of the biggest factors for post-natal depression is a child who has colic or is hard to soothe. That says just how damn hard it can be with a baby who cries and cries. It's not easy, and you're coping really well despite that. It does get better.

take care of yourself, too.

sparklykatt said...

Ah well, since you asked for assvice.

I would also recommend Happiest Baby On the Block. Swinging, swaddling, sucking, shooshing and side/stomach postion. Check out http://www.colichelp.com/shop/happiestbabyontheblock.html

I'm 3 1/2 years in to motherhood with a somewhat special needs child and I definately have times where I hate being a Mom. But I have plenty of times when I love it. And, I can honestly say that each age/stage gets better. And as I get through one and move on to the next one, I seem to forget how bad the ones before it were.

No one can adequately prepare you for how hard being a parent is. Or the times it will hit you that it is forever. It still hits me that way sometimes, and I wonder what the fuck i did. And why I am in the midst of IVF #2 trying for another one.

You need to do what you can to take care of yourself. Consider antidepressants if you haven't already. See a professional if you haven't already. Get some time for yourself.

pixi said...

Oh Pru, I'm sorry. No advice, since I'm behind you in all of this. Just know that I feel for you and hope that things do get better soon.

Em said...

Pru baby! I was on the top floor of an apartment block and absolutely relate to the bastard nightmare that is lugging stuff up and down. It adds a lot of stress to an already stressful situation.

I echo the colic thing. Baby Eggs didn't have it but A LOT of my friends' babies do and there's not a lot to do about it other than what you are already doing. Apparently the do grow out of it. My best friend's baby had it bad and all they could do was go for a walk or take her for a drive.

I used infacol for the first 6 weeks in anticipation that she would be colicky. I've also tried gripe water and that resulted in her burping almost immediately. Bbay Eggs was hard to burp but they get better once their digestive system starts to mature. She also had a lot of trouble getting her farts out and I was continually massaging her back.

I'm thinking of you and it IS hard, not some Johnson & Johnson ad like we are meant to believe it will be.

julia said...

You have my complete and utter sympathy. I'm going thru the same thing with The Bug and it's making me nuts.

Sometimes these things help:
Gripe Water
Swaddling
Holding her so her tummy and mine touch and then rocking and shhhushing her.
Putting her across my knee and rubbing her back.
Holding her upright against my chest.
Putting her in the sling and walking.
Car rides.

Sometimes these things work, sometimes they don't. Some days I feel like walking away and never coming back, some days I don't. Being a mother is hard. Being a new mother will kick your ass. They never tell you that. Bastids.

rockmama-in-waiting said...

Depression is such a difficult thing to come out of even when everything is going just fine and dandy, so you have my utter sympathy there. I suffered through a lot of my college years and then for a good long while after moving to the UK and being bereft of friends, family and support group. It's hard for partners too, as they feel that a) they're the cause or b) there's something they can do to make you feel better and they feel awful when they can't. It's hard for someone to understand when they haven't been down in that hole themselves.

In some ways, having experienced depression before, you're probably better prepared to deal with this than a lot of new moms who've never had to deal with the feelings you're experiencing. You've been through it enough to know that things are crap now, but that eventually, when you least expect it, you'll find you're feeling better. Stress is integral to depression and there's little more stressful than a colicy, screaming baby.

Be gentle with yourself, forgive yourself the totally normal feelings you're having and keep getting up every morning. I'm so glad to read this post...the Prawn is coming and I'm glad to be a little better prepared.

Lumi said...

Wow.

Colic. For sure. Lucy had it, right around this time too. It lasted for a few weeks and then one night it was fine and we have not really seen it's ugly head since.

I agree with all above comments that you can try super-tight swaddles, white noise, etc. Lucy calmed down a lot if we plopped her in her car seat and drove around for 30 minutes or so.

And it's true what all the above ladies have been saying: even though you feel like you are a terrible person, you are in fact one of the most normal mothers in all the land. To love your baby to pieces but not really LIKE them and what they have done to your (previous) life is a feeling that I myself still have at least once a day.

It may not help you right now to hear all this, but it's true that it sucks and it's just as true that it will pass.

ps...check your email.

kisses,
Lumi

Hetty Fauxvert said...

This will probably qualify as assvice, since I have no children yet (though we have 2 on the way and let me tell you, that makes ME wonder sometimes if this IVF stuff was all such a good idea), but let me just point out to you that the following two statements are separate statements, not intertwined:

Motherhood is a *permanent* gig.
Screeching for 3 hours at a time is a *temporary* thing.

(And yes, I invite you to smirk and echo this right back at me at the appropriate time, a few months from now.)

The others have made what sound like great suggestions on how to get Miss P. past this rough spot in the road. As for you yourself, if you can pick up a copy of Anne Lamott's book OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS (and find 5 minutes a day to actually read it), it may give you hope and a few laughs. She chronicles her son's battle with colic and how she got through it. She is an inspirational and hysterically funny writer ... maybe that would help, just a smidge.

Anonymous said...

no ideas about colic, but assvice for the spitting up- could it be food sensitivities? my babe spewed torrents for months-several times after each feeding, when picked up, when laid down, when sleeping, etc, and whoever said spitup was less than a tablespoon usually LIED. when i eliminated dairy from my diet (or swithching to a hypoallergenic formula), the turnaround was amazing.

Tia said...

I second the sling mention, or some other type of body carrier - carrying contraptions up 4 flights of stairs is no good.

elle said...

Oh Pru! DAmn these screaming babies and their cheap smiles! No assvice, I don't know what the hell I"m doing either. Hope it passes soon. Take a long bath and buy earplugs (I wear them at night so I only hear him if he really means it)!

Jen said...

Oh, I so feel for you.

Our problem was Colic + GERD--gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease. "Reflux." You describe a lot of the symptoms. Other symptoms are arching, popping on and off the breast or bottle, crying getting worse after eating. Projectile vomit is another. The differentiator from colic is that it doesn't just happen in the evening hours, it happens all day and night. The best description that I read is that these children take you to the end of your sanity with their crying.

If this is the problem, there are things you can do to make it better--both medication and other tricks. I can give you more info if you want.

Ornery said...

No words of wisdom, just heaps of sympathy. I truly hope things get better soon!

Thalia said...

I don't have any advice, pru, just lots of sympathy.

Brooke said...

I don't know how much expertise I could possibly offer, but I do know that if I were going through what you are (and I'm SURE I will!), if someone said to me that "Babies cry"...I might deck them.

I personally like the "just survive" idea. Do the best you can. And the great thing I've learned from reading all the comments is that you are most certainly not alone.

Sending many hugs...

seepi said...

I can't recommend a sling enough.
No hefting prams around, and being in them puts our baby to sleep (after 5-10 minutes of screaming).
good luck.
when you are getting more sleep it will all seem easier.

Leggy said...

I'm bored tonight so am perusing other people's blogrolls and came across yours. First, congrats on making it to mom-hood. Second, my son cried for 4 months straight- 24/7. The only that stopped him from crying was sucking (boob or bottle), or being walked in the baby bjorn (if you stopped walking, he'd wake up and scream), or driving. And each thing only worked for 30-40 minutes top, so I constantly had to switch it around. My doctor dismissed the GERD diagnosis too and just told me to suck it up- argh! The only tips I have for you are to take help wherever you can get. I used to hire the 13 year old across the street for a few hours. She'd come home from school, I'd put the baby bjorn on her and put my son in it, and tell her to keep walking and not come back for at least 2 hours. It saved my sanity.
He did finally grow out of it. But he still has the nickname "Cranky Pants."
All that to say- I feel your pain. Hang in there. It will get better.