What a difference


It has been a much better week.

There have been a confluence of events – my birthday, help from family, a haircut, sleep, a few trips out of the house – that have made this happen. The total sum has meant, simply, feeling less like someone’s wet nurse and feeling more like a human being who also is a mother of a newborn.

Oh? And Abigail has spent the past two nights acting less like Colicky Sue and more like your run-of-the-mill newborn.

My girlfriend Katie and I were talking recently as to how it was we didn’t realize our girlfriends with kids went through this, this awful, slog of crying, pooping, no sleeping treachery. We certainly weren’t the only ones, right? Of course not. What hit us, of course, is that we probably heard they weren’t sleeping, were tired, and only processed them as the usual platitudes. We just couldn’t conceptualize what they meant, mostly because after that conversation we had the luxury of say, going to the bathroom or getting lost in reading blogs for an hour. The time that passed by was our time and our time alone, and it wasn’t being usurped by a needy little human being.

There is the difference. And it’s exhausting.

So this week has been all about giving me some of my time back, especially in light of having a baby who insists on spending her evenings bringing down the thunder, rather than succumbing to sleep. I’ve shopped. I’ve had my hair done – six inches, gone! – and I’ve had dinner with my husband. I went to the gym. We had family come by to give me a break and let me get some sleep. I’ve been able to get the nanny search well underway. In short, I am starting to feel like myself again.

It does help that on Thursday and Friday nights both Abigail let up on all of the thunder-bringing. She – gasp – slept. On Thursday Scott and I watched all of our shows AS THEY AIRED and had dinner, all the while her highness slept or ate. In fact, the only time she lost her marbles was when she had a diaper that needed changing, and truth be told? We’d TOTALLY OVERLOOKED THAT ONE. Why? Because usually at night when she’s inconsolable she’s changed, fed and burped. Once we changed her? Yeah. She went back to sleep.

We don’t presume we’re out of the woods, but man did that feel good. And it’s dawned on me that if she’s actually getting sleepy around 6 p.m., and beginning to sleep through those hours, we’re at least on the path to sleeping through the night once she gets older and a little bigger. Again, I don’t think we’re done, but we’re hopefully facing a little less of the day in, day out, scream fest that our lives had become.

And here’s the other thing: I’ve gotten to be unbelievably talented about putting the baby DOWN. Another tip for struggling mamas: PUT THEM DOWN. GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH. GO TAKE A SHOWER. This has been the best advice I’ve gotten (Thanks, Dad!) and it, in addition to sleep, has been my saving grace. Now, if you’re like me, you may have to conduct a running dialog of some sort in your head the entire time your little angel is wailing to be picked up, the kind where you’re telling your daughter that she is not the boss of you, by golly, and Mama will not have this shit, no sirree, but do it. Especially if it means that you’ve taken that time to eat, or fold clothes, or just get the mail and go to the bathroom.

It helps when you communicate to your friends on Facebook, after you’ve taken a picture of the little darling as she launches into a full-scale wail, that you’ve put her in her crib because nothing is consoling her and the adults in the house need dinner, dammit, and they all cheer you on for “cracking the parent code.”

(I have a confession to make, and it’s important to state this now: we’re going to sleep train our daughter. We did all of the research and consulted a number of the parents we know and trust, and in the end, our guts, and we’re going with the Weissbluth method. I also don’t have any problems with letting Abigail cry for the 20 minutes it takes me to fix dinner, provided she’s clean, fed and burped and safe. Babies cry, and my baby in particular has made it abundantly clear that she’d rather be in my arms, and the majority of the time I indulge that, provided she isn’t going completely off the deep end. I appreciate and respect that every family has a method that works best for them, and this works best for ours, especially as I navigate through this ppd. )

I had my first therapy appointment. It wasn’t particularly earth-moving, and the first few trips usually aren’t. I liked the therapist, and we discussed that it would be a couple of more appointments before we had a clear plan for what I want to achieve with our sessions. I’m not going on any medication to manage the ppd, but I certainly would have if it was necessary.

So with the sleeping, with the trips out of the house on my own, with the baby napping on her own and cutting us a little slack (also known, of course, as her just getting older), the most important thing of all has happened, the thing that has helped me the most: I’ve been able to spend time with the baby. I mean “able” in the most literal sense of the word. I’m present and happy and excited to play with her. In fact, when she decided to sleep an extra hour on Wednesday, I found myself wanting her to wake the heck up already so we could be together before I went for my haircut. I couldn’t say that before. I couldn’t say that I enjoyed the activities we did together. I can say that now. It has made all the difference.

(I’m blathering with these blog posts right now, I know. Bear with me as the dust settles.)

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and we’re bringing Abigail to my parents’ church for 8 a.m. Mass. Two weeks ago, that would have petrified me. Stopped me in my tracks. Made me want to bawl. Now? Oh I’m so excited for it. AG has two different outfits to wear for the day, and she’ll meet the rest of the family on her Grandpa Chuck and Grandma Paula’s side, there is so much to be grateful for and I really and truly believe that.