This is the post nobody ever writes...
Regarding parenting, there are plenty of people who've told me, "It's hard," "It's a blur", "It gets easier," but only a few have actually gone into detail about what specific aspects they found hard and the thoughts and feelings they had at the time. It's almost like there is a sense of shame and it's taboo to admit that sometimes those thoughts descend into a very dark place.
Right now I feel like I'm in a slimy pit of despair. On a rare good day I get false hope that I might just be scaling the walls of that dark place and will one day feel sunshine again - real, strong sunshine, not the paltry little bits I feel at the moment. But then everything falls into a heap again and I can't stop crying. I can count the days I haven't cried since Rory was born on one hand. Mostly the tears run non-stop.
To be honest, some days I love him and others I wish he would just go away and never come back. Then I feel so sorry for him because he's so little and helpless and I tell him, "Bubba, I'm sorry. I want to be a good mum to you." I thought I was missing most of my heartstrings, but I must have more than I thought because his crying really gets to me and I end up crying too because I can't take his pain away. Some days I think I'd never hurt him, but other days I can really understand why some mothers drown their children in the bath and self-medicate. My mind has entertained all sorts of possibilities. There is a real lack of people who will admit to this. Mostly there is a fear that if I admit it to some mothers, they'd just give me a horrified glare.
I miss my old life terribly; the life where I had time to do things, where I could end the day feeling like I had actually accomplished something other than keeping Rory alive. Where I was good at something instead of feeling like I'm failing. I guess I was just happy with it being Duncan, myself and the animals. I never felt like I needed children to complete me.
I haven't been to our home church since before Christmas. Duncan took Rory last Sunday so I got a few hours of precious sleep. He said after the service all the women descended on Rory to cluck over him. It's nice that people care (I can't fault our church for that), but I would have found it overwhelming. I'm not dealing well with crowds of people at the moment, and there is great pressure to say that everything is going well because that's what people want to hear.
People with no children who go on about easy it is, how life doesn't change all that much, how babies are so 'portable' make me want to scream. The best visitors have been the ones who've brought meals, washed dishes, changed nappies, held Rory so Duncan and I can eat dinner, and offered a listening ear. They're the ones who don't expect us to roll out a red carpet and offer cake...they BRING cake. This is in comparison to people who stay until 11pm on a weeknight when Duncan has to work the next morning (I just announced loudly that I was going to bed, hoping they'd get the hint), who don't understand why we won't answer the phone during feed times or when we're napping, or who keep asking when we're coming to visit THEM! It's like they think Rory is some kind of celebrity and Duncan and I are nothing but his managers who have to cart him around to whoever wants to see him next. Not likely!
Before I had Rory, I had a childless person bitch to me about mutual friends with kids and how they 'aren't making an effort with the friendship'. I said to this person, "Hello! She's just had a baby! Give her a break!" That person is probably bitching about me now. Duncan said, "Don't worry about it. Let them."
'Accept all the help you can get' is the most ridiculous advice ever! Not all 'help' is helpful. My mum has been here supposedly 'helping', but all she has done is cause more stress. We've never had a good relationship, and I'm sure the amount of arguments we've had is causing Rory to be even more unsettled. Every day I ask her to leave! I would rather battle it out on my own. A good friend told me she completely understood how some people cause new mothers more stress than the baby does. Before she came, my mum said she would just do whatever we wanted and wouldn't offer 'advice'. What a load of crap that was! It has been exactly the same as it was in the lead up to the wedding. She criticises every decision I make and if I ask her not to do something, she undermines me by doing it anyway. I'm at my wit's end!
All of this is on top of Rory having an ear infection plus wind and feeding issues. We have an appointment with a lactation consultant tomorrow and if she can't help us, I'm really considering giving up breastfeeding. He'll still get breastmilk (I have an electric pump), but just not from the breast. Each feeding session is an absolute nightmare and I don't need the stress when there are other ways he can get breastmilk (he takes a bottle far better anyway).
Then when Rory was just over two weeks old, I hurt my back bending over to retrieve a DVD out of the DVD player. I was in agony; Duncan had to help me into bed and get me some painkillers. I went to the doctor who was far more concerned with my mental state than my back. I had to go back to be assessed for postnatal depression (which I already feared I had), but the second time he saw me, I was having a good day and he thought I wouldn't need medication for now. Well, things went dramatically downhill after that and I felt the worst I'd ever felt (I'm sure part of it is connected to having my mum here. I don't think it's a coincidence that I had a good day on Sunday when she wasn't here).
I know it's considered 'normal' to have a hard time in the first few weeks, but I still feel so alone. I know some people have far more difficult babies than Rory, but I still feel so alone. I know I'm not alone in my head, but I FEEL alone. Maybe others have it far worse, but I feel like my plate is full, and I could never cope with any more than this.
The culture of silence has to be broken. Mothers joke that they wanted to throw their child against the wall, but nobody admits what they've REALLY considered doing.
All I can do is ask God to help me, trust that He will, and pray that one day I'll come out the other side.
A quote from Up The Duff which so perfectly captures how I've felt:
I was so tired in those early days I thought it would never end. I cried towards the end of every day when fatigue started to overwhelm me. We discouraged visitors because rather than offer help, so many seemed to need attention. The visitors who were really helpful were the ones who would pick up the baby or otherwise make themselves useful around the house.
All at once I felt lonely, but too tired to make an effort to reach out to friends. It seemed like I was living in a fog of fatigue, robotically waking, feeding the baby and trying to sleep again; like some kind of demented wet nurse on Valium. Beck told Des to make me go outside for a walk in the afternoons so at least I knew which was day and which was night, and that there was an outside world. It helped a lot.
I've got to try to go with the flow. Eddy is waking up every 4 hours, which is not too bad compared with some babies, but I am still absolutely stonkered from lack of sleep. Not only do you have to live day by day, but sometimes hour by hour, without looking forward or back.
Marg described the first few weeks as 'falling through the day' and she had her sister and mother to help.
Breastfeeding is easier than it was in the beginning, but Eddy still has a lot of trouble attaching...The scar and pain from the caesarean make everything harder, including finding a good position for breastfeeding. I need two pillows to balance him on, and how to feed him insouciantly and - arrgghhh - in public is a complete mystery to me.
His 'wind' is still bad and he cries and cries inconsolably after all the daytime feeds, really screaaaaaming in the ear of whichever parent is holding him: it's extraordinary how loud a baby can yell. It's so hard not being able to take the pain away, and hard to remain patient with the crying. Yesterday I found myself raising my voice in frustration and saying angrily, 'Shut up!', which is about as useful as saying, 'Act your age', and as soothing as a death-metal song. Luckily I get hold of myself, stop raising my voice, and just end up crying as well....But nothing really helps. I just have to keep saying, 'This will end, this will end.' (pages 415-16)