Saturday, August 29, 2009

I can only take so much

Ellis just. stopped. crying. After far too long. She normally goes to bed without too much fuss. I've been weaning her from her before-bed feeding, and she still hasn't screamed & cried to this extent. She called for me....mama, mama, mama...over and over again. I couldn't take it. It was breaking my heart. The anxiety continued to swell until the tears blurred my eyes. I wanted to sit & have a good long cry but for some reason, my body wouldn't comply.

Right now I don't want to talk. I don't want to listen. I don't want to think. Can't I just sit and watch Flight Plan? Except that A., now my husband is pissed because I just told him I didn't have it in me to conversate right now (doesn't stop him from trying), and B. watching movies where children are missing/harmed/killed causes me anxiety in ways that I never experienced before motherhood.

My former boss and I once shared a hotel room in Vegas while there for training, and after spending the first few nights at the casinos, we opted on the last night to stay in with pay-per-view. Get your minds out of the gutter, we watched Minority Report. A few minutes into the movie, my boss says, Oh, I just remembered I didn't like this movie because of what happens to his son. At the time I thought it was so strange that a movie could affect her so deeply. Little did I know, right?

My mom sent me a link to a video of some company in Arizona that teaches babies how to roll themselves over and float on their backs if they should fall into a swimming pool. I watched the video clip of a toddler, probably just about Ellis' age, walk to a swimming pool, fall in, roll himself onto his back and float there, waiting for someone to rescue him. I was having a hard enough time watching the clip until I was insane enough to turn the volume on. I listened to this poor child babbling away (not even crying, really), and my anxiety reached such levels that I had to stop the video halfway through. I knew the baby was going to be fine and I couldn't take it. Not only could I not take it, but I promptly e-mailed my mother & asked her to please, never, ever, not ever, send me anything like that again. I worry puh-lenty about something horrific happening to Ellis that I don't need to worry about babies I don't even know.

So, just in case it wasn't clear before, I have emotions. Lots of emotions. They live really close to the surface all the time and can come out of nowhere, often causing me to do or say things that I later regret. Lately it seems that my capacity for handling these emotions, good or bad, is diminishing. (One of) my mechanisms to deal with that, is to simply shut down. Retreat. Withdraw from the world in general, except that which is absolutely necessary to function.

When Ellis was first born and in the months after, I was fueled by a need to be a better person; to be the best person I could be for my daughter. I wanted her to be proud of her mother. I had dreams. Dreams that in true Tracy fashion, never made it past the early excitement phase. Now I feel like I have lost that drive. I feel.....blah. I have found myself squarely in the middle of a depression-cycle that, if I were to be completely honest with myself, has been going on for months. I know it is partially due to external factors that are out of my control to change, making me feel like I'm in a rather hopeless situation.

It's difficult to verbalize this, but lately, I have found myself did I get here? Is this really my life? Please don't take this to mean that I don't love my daughter or husband. I know that in my heart I am not disatisfied with my life but when one is in the midst of depression, it's hard to see things objectively.

Instead of being able to see all the wonderful things, I see (on the days that I'm home with Ellis): wake up, change a diaper, put Ellis back in her crib with toys to keep her occupied, take a shower, take Adam to work, stop for a non-fat mocha on the way home (my Monday & Friday treat), come home, put on PBS Kids, keep Ellis from pushing all the buttons on the tv, watch as she trashes the living room in under two minutes, make breakfast, watch helplessly as she throws half of her food on the floor, listen to Porter whine outside because I won't let him inside while Ellis is eating because she tries to feed him, wipe Ellis' hands & face, let Porter in, let him eat Ellis' leftovers, chase Ellis around the house to send her into fits of giggles, change a diaper, Swiffer the dog hair, playtime, naptime, pick up Ellis' toys (why do I bother with this?), crafttime for mama, kiss Ellis after her nap, change another diaper, lunchtime, change a diaper, pick up toys, errands if my mood allows me to leave the house (don't forget to pack snacks & sippy cup of water!), (don't forget to take off slippers and put on shoes!), come home, change a diaper, chase Ellis through the house to encite giggles, keep Porter from "protecting" Ellis from my tickling, will Ellis have an afternoon nap today?, pick up toys, pick up Adam from work, come home, hope that Adam is understanding that I don't have anything left in me to give to him, fix Ellis dinner, change a diaper, playtime, change a diaper & put on jammies (jammies on Ellis; I am most likely already in jammy-bottoms by this point), brush her teeth, look at books, wonder if I'll have the energy to do all the things I had planned to do after Ellis was in bed, have Ellis kiss dada night-night, put her to bed, hope that she goes down easily, wonder if I'll have the energy to do it all over again tomorrow.

Again, PLEASE don't take this to mean that I don't love my daughter. I LOVE MY DAUGHTER WITH MY ENTIRE BEING & WOULD BE LOST WITHOUT HER. I love taking care of her, I love being with her, I miss her like mad when I'm at work. That's the sucky thing about depression: feeling such intense & contradictory feelings simultaneously. How can I love Ellis so freaking much & still feel so disatisfied with my life?

Sure, I have hobbies & they help keep me occupied. I clean. I organize. I try to create order to calm the chaos in my head.

But I think the bigger picture is that Ellis is my constant reminder that time is passing. Every day that goes by is one day closer to her leaving me & that's just too sad to think about. One week ago today, I started Ellis' final weaning . We were down to 2 feedings a day; before bed & when she woke up oh so early in the morning, so mama could get another hour of sleep. Once I've eliminated that early-morning feeding, that will officially mark the end of my pregnant body and that has hit me hard.

Ladies, how did you cope with weaning your little ones and moving onto the next chapter?


Jerusalem said...

oh friend I feel you, I really do. Some of the emotions that you are experiencing are from the chemical/hormonal reaction your body is having as it is readjusting to not producing breast milk. So some of this will naturally even out on it's own. The other part, the diary of your day, well it will be like that for a while and it is exhausting. Maybe one of the most exhausting things I have ever experienced. But it won't last, in time it will get easier. It's hard to see that now, but it's true. And don't feel guilty for not always enjoying it. Sometimes it just sucks and that is no reflection on you as a person or your love for Ellis and Adam. there is a lot more I could say, but mainly I want you to know you are not abnormal or weird or wrong. You are normal, you are worn out trying to be all things, and you should not feel like you are being ungrateful for saying it is hard. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY.
And, This To Shall Pass. Just hold on and hang in there.
Oh, and try to go camping with just your husband and remember why you used to like him. No Ellis! This does not make you a bad mother, this makes you a great mother. Remembering how to love her daddy is a huge gift you can give her and it will be a lifesaver for you. Love you friend!!

Jo said...

Hugging you and commiserating. My guy is 9 months and I (at least in part) have an idea of what you are feeling.

Jaye @ said...

Thank you for being so honest. It's amazing to see a post like this because you are definitely not alone.

I weaned early, and as much as it hurt me emotionally, I kept reminding myself that there's more to come.

Just remember, this too shall pass. xoxo

Anonymous said...

here via your comment on Dooce---

and I TOTALLY hear you on this post. seriously.

mine are older-- 8 and 11. and I can't seem to get rid of their baby clothes. I can't seem to get rid of the little tikes cars. I have toooooo much stuff at my house, but I can't seem to ... let go?

I wish I could be OK with time passing, you know? it would all be so much easier.

Mommy Dearest said...

Also here via dooce and this post is like the dialouge in my head. I have a 2 year old and a three month old. Every day I ask myself the question-what the hell did I do? At least I get to go to a job everyday and get a break from the monotiny but even at work all the worries come-are my kids safe, are they eating right, are they going to hate me later b/c I abandoned them with a sitter?
Sending love your way and adding you to my favorites.

Nathan Pralle said...

Responding to the first part of your post, I never wanted to be one of, "those" parents, the kind who can't watch any bad news story on TV that involves kids without cringing or any video dealing with children and problems and so forth.

But I am. Good lord I'm pathetic sometimes.

Now, I usually don't break down right in the middle of the mall when I see something dealing with children in need, but those sorts of things somehow blast RIGHT past any barriers or calluses I have and straight into my heart whether or not I wish it. Even if I know it turns out ok in the end; the fact that I have an almost-2-year-old son has made me a weenie.

And to make it worse, my wife THRIVES on reading a billion blogs about these kids with the most horrific of problems, some of them teetering on the edge of life all the time (or doomed with T19 or some awful genetic condition), and insists on talking to me about them. Being the good guy I am, I listen, but it just rips me to shreds. I know it's out there, and I'm trying not to deny it or be ignorant, but...good lord it pains.

We've been trying to break my son of his many-bottle-at-night habit and the other night we took away his going-to-sleep bottle because he really only uses it for comfort. This resulted in him standing up in the crib and crying for a solid 30 minutes while begging us the entire time -- "Mum mum mum peas. PEAS. PEeeeeeeeeas. Daddy PEAS. Peas, Daddy." I just laid there in the dark and shook. He eventually did lay down and go to sleep, but I was wreaked.

I'm Nathan and I'm officially a pussy father. Yay.