Barely Hanging On

If there is anyone out there who still reads this pitiful blog, I'm sure that you have noticed that I am not blogging much anymore. I am almost a week late in getting Emily's monthly letter posted (again) and to be honest, I'm really not concerned about it. It will get typed someday, but not today. I'm just not feeling it.

I can't blog when Denny is at work unless Emily is asleep. The second I sit down at the computer she wants to be in my lap, punching at the keys with me and grabbing every. single. thing. that is on top of the desk. When Emily is asleep, there are so many things that I need and want to do, and blogging is just not on top of that list. I'd rather just nap right along with her or hang out on the couch doing absolutely nothing. Plus, she is such a light sleeper that tapping the keys would wake her up, even though she is in another room. And believe me when I say that I do not do anything to sabotage her naps.

Sleep is very precious and hard to come by these days. Emily insists on staying up past midnight every night and it is in the wee hours of the morning that I get time to myself. Once I am finally in the bed I find it hard to fall asleep and I toss and turn for what feels like hours. I can't settle myself down because I am constantly thinking that as soon as I fall asleep, she will wake up and cry for me to come and get her. Even though she is 9 months old and fully capable of sleeping through the night, she doesn't. And she hasn't since she was 2 months old. She wakes at least twice every night to eat and once she wakes the first time, it is impossible to get her to sleep in her crib any longer. I try to put her down but she wakes up as soon as her body touches the mattress.

These sleep issues are a major problem for me right now. This morning she got up at 9:00 a.m. (not by her choice, I woke her up) which is several hours earlier than normal. I thought that since she got up so early that she would go to bed early, but that is not happening. Actually, she went to sleep around 10:00 and she woke up when I put her in her crib. It is after midnight and she is currently playing on the living room floor. I cannot even begin to describe how distraught I was when she woke up and wouldn't go back to sleep. I cried. I thought things I should not be thinking. I wanted to hit something (not her). I wanted to go outside and scream. I wanted to leave and not come back until I got the call that she was asleep in her bed. I wanted the responsibility of putting her to bed to be lifted from my shoulders for just one night. I just wanted her to go to sleep.

That distraught feeling has been creeping up so regularly lately that it is becoming normal for me. I feel like I am barely hanging on for most hours of the day and I don't know how to make it better. I constantly struggle with guilt - I feel like it is my fault that she is the way she is, but in the back of my mind, I know that she is just a baby and her sleep issues and separation anxiety are normal and not nearly as bad as they could be. All of those feelings piled on top of one another, along with the sleep deprivation, are slowly pushing me over the edge.

I thought that postpartum depression was something that happened in the weeks after having a baby, but I googled it tonight and I am feeling a little relieved that only about half of the symptoms describe the way I have been feeling. I am also scared to death because half of the symptoms describe me precisely. I am not happy. I do not find joy in being a mother at this point in Emily's life. I have been joyful in the past, but right now, I feel more burdened by her than I feel blessed by her. It is so hard to admit that last sentence, but it is the truth. And it's not just the sleep issues. It is so much more.

It's the being with her 24/7 and rarely getting a break. It's the help that I rarely receive from my husband. It's the pooping right after she has had a bath and is in her "bedtime" diaper. It is the whining. It's the wanting to be held all of the time, especially when she is sleeping, which leaves me with NO free time some days. It's the lack of a social life. It's the struggling to make ends meet because I no longer bring in a paycheck. It's just so many things that make me dread tomorrow instead of looking forward to another day.

I never, ever thought I would do this, but I am going to give Emily formula. Shocking, huh? This does not mean that I am weaning her, which is good, because she is so attached to these bosoms that it would be stupid and pointless to even try. What it does mean, is that even if it's only for one day a week, I am going to have some time to myself without having to rush back before her next feeding. I am no longer able to get any milk out with my breast pump and because of that I can never be away from her for more than three hours at a time. I don't want to have to do that, but a few bottles a week is not going to kill her. I have breastfed for a lot longer than many women breastfeed their babies and I am proud that I have gotten this far without having to supplement. It's for my sanity's sake. It is better to give her formula than to *literally* lose my mind and have to take medication to feel better. It is better to give her formula than to risk losing my cool and hitting her instead of hitting the wall (or the door or my head).

I might spend my free time going back to work as a substitute teacher to give myself something to do and to also feel less worthless. Or I might hang out in the library and read books and magazines. I might window shop and look at pretty things. Or I might try to fix the sewing machine and make some pretty things. Whatever I do, I must do it for me, and also for Emily. I could not ever imagine my life without her, but by no means do I need to be right beside her every second of every day. It's just not working out.

4 comments:

Lauren said...
December 9, 2009 at 1:15 PM

That was a refreshingly honest post - not that you aren't always honest... but mommy posts like that are always welcome. Maybe the nighttime thing is hunger... at least with the formula bottle you can add cereal to maybe hold her over.

You can do this - we are not bad moms if we struggle, or don't breastfeed, or whatever some mommy extremes want you to feel guilty for. You are a good mom.

LeAnna said...
December 9, 2009 at 5:17 PM

Bless your heart, girl! Hang in there, and this too shall pass. Can't tell you how many times I've heard that. ;) It's true though.

Don't you feel bad about giving her formula! My son self weaned at 9 months and I thought I was gonna just be crushed to pieces. I was going to be that Mom that nursed 'till 12 months + and nobody was going to tell me differently! Little did I know HE had other plans, and so here we are, supplementing the last 3 months with formula (though he nurses once or twice a day still) and it's going wonderful.

I don't know how you feel about letting babies Cry it Out (so forgive me if you're very much against it) - but that was the ONLY thing that taught my son to sleep through the night. It was so hard, but I am so grateful we did it because he very rarely ever wakes up at night unless he's teething or doesn't feel good. Some people have said their babies only needed 10-15 minutes of crying to learn, but not my son. I remember a night that he cried for a solid HOUR. I had checked on him, made sure his needs were met, and I knew him well enough to know that it wasn't a scared cry, he was mad. From that point on, it got better and better. He would nurse once a night, and we gradually just stopped doing that.

Not trying to sound like I've got it all figured out, just sharing what we went through. YOU need some rest. Make baby a bottle and leave her with Daddy, or Grandma or whoever and go do some of those things you want to do. Join a MOPS group, or something and get out with some other Mom's. It works wonders, that much I do know. Hang in there, and thank you for sharing. You're definitely not alone. :)

Cheryl said...
December 9, 2009 at 5:19 PM

YOU ARE NOT WORTHLESS!!!!!

I so appreciate your honesty and I'm sad that these days are a struggle for you. But I promise you this, you will never regret time spent with your child.
You have to do what's best for you and your family. Don't let others' expectations about breaast feeding (or whatever)make you feel guilty about the choices you make. If giving you child a bottle will free you up then do it!!!
Don't ever hesitate to ask for help. I'm sure you know lots of people who would love to watch your little one.

I'll be praying for you!!

christy said...
December 9, 2009 at 10:01 PM

Hey Megan. Maybe you should consider the MOMs Club for support. It is for stay at home mothers just like you. Moms who breastfeed and do all the other things that stay at home Moms do. I am not involved with it anymore because I just don't have the time. But, it is a wonderful group of stay at home moms who have the same thoughts, concerns, triumphs and issues. It is a wonderful group of women who get together and do things that are cheap!! I am right here with you. I am feelin' you girl. I saw Emily's Christmas pictures and they are precious!

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