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.