I Lost My Mind

Last night I had a true meltdown.  It was the not the first, but certainly the worst. 

EH hasn't been a great sleeper lately. He's a newborn after all, and he definitely has his morning and his nights confused.  But this past week was a lot worse than the previous four.  Instead of just being awake at night, he's started screaming and crying at night unless I am holding him.  On Wednesday night I hardly got any sleep, but usually I can make up for it the next morning, when EH tends to do his best sleeping.  But on Thursday morning he was wide awake and he spent the remainder of the day screaming and crying unless I was holding him.

That evening DH came home and watched EH for awhile so that I could go to Target, make dinner, etc.  He let EH sleep on his chest during the time that I was gone and of course he was a quiet, sleeping angel.

But then evening hit.  At 9:30 DH went to bed and I fed EH for what I had hoped would be the last time for the night.  But after eating, EH started screaming and even when I would hold him, he wouldn't let up.  I set up camp in the spare bedroom with his little portable sleeper thing but he just kept screaming.  At 10:30 I decided that he might still be hungry, so I gave him a bottle, but that didn't help either.  He just kept screaming.  I was trying to hold him on my chest while laying down, because I was so exhausted that I kept dosing off and I was afraid I would drop him if I was sitting up.  But he just screamed and screamed and screamed in my ear. 

At 11:30 I gave him some gripe water which is supposed to help with gas, since I thought maybe he was having gas pains.  That didn't help either.  I put him in his bassinet thing and set a timer on my phone, telling myself that I needed to let him cry for at least 5 minutes to see if he would calm himself down.  But his screams just got more intense and his voice started to become hoarse.  At 12:30 I decided to feed him again, and after that he seemed drowsy. I had to hold him for awhile before he actually fell asleep but by 1:30 I was able to get into my bed and get a some sleep.  Of course, at 3:20 a.m., he woke up ready to eat again.  I fed him and he seemed drowsy afterwards, so I put him in his crib and went to bed.  But two minutes later he started screaming again so I got back out of bed and picked him up. 

This is when things started to get ugly. 

I do not function well without sleep.  At this point it was 4:30 a.m. and I had gotten about 2 hours of sleep.  On top of that, I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before and I was reaching my exhaustion point.  I was holding him, rocking him, whispering in his ear, trying to get him to calm down.  But he would not. stop. crying.

I was so frustrated. I was freezing cold, and I was also really emotionally cold.  I didn't want to hold him anymore.  I didn't want to soothe him.  I just wanted to lay him in his crib and walk far, far away.  I was filled with resentment - I resented him for keeping me awake, for ruining my life.  I had so much regret and couldn't remember for the life of me why I ever thought having a baby was a good idea.  I had no heart or love left in me.

I started crying.  I was sobbing.  Huge, hot wet tears streaming down my face.  My nose became so stuffed up that I couldn't breathe through it anymore.  I sobbed for 30 minutes.  Somewhere in that time, EH must have sensed my frustration and he fell asleep.  At 5:20, I put him in his crib and went int othe bedroom.  DH usually wakes up at 5:30 but he woke up when I came into the room. It was dark so he couldn't see my face, which I'm sure was a mess.  He told me that he was going to get up then, and I just lost it. 

"DH, I can't do this anymore..." I sobbed.  "I am losing my mind." I fell into bed and my body was shaking from the crying.  DH hugged me and held me and tried to calm me down, but it was hard.  I have never been so tired in my entire life.  DH took the monitor to let me get some sleep but I was so worked up at that point that I couldn't fall asleep.  Plus, EH was next due to eat at 6:30, less than an hour away at this point. 

I layed there for awhile, hugging Murphy, asking him why in the world we ever thought that just having a dog wasn't enough love for us.  I did eventually fall asleep, and I am feeling better now, but I am also emotionally exhausted. 

Nobody tells you just how hard having a newborn is.  People say it's hard, but then they also say things like "But it's just amazing.  It's great. I love being a parent."  Etc, etc, etc. 

But the truth is that it during these early weeks, it's a lot harder than it is great.  Infants don't give a lot back.  They eat, they cry, they sleep, they poop, and they turn your life upside down. They don't care how tired you are.  They don't thank you for your effort and most of the time you don't even get a smile in return.  They don't hug you back when you hug them.  They just scream incessantly in your ear and basically break you down until you crack. 

Sometimes it's hard to love something that is so innocently selfish.  It's impossible to know what they want, and they can't tell you.  You have to figure it out or just put up with the crying.  If you're breastfeeding, you don't get more than an hour or two of sleep at a time so you're physically as well as emotionally exhausted.  You forget to eat, and when you eat, it's not healthy.  You're dehydrated because you don't have a free hand to drink water.  You're dirty because you don't have time to shower and showering just takes so much time.  People tell you to "sleep when the baby sleeps," but that is the most frustrating advice ever because most of the time the baby is sleeping on you and you can't sleep without being afraid of dropping the baby. plus you use the few extra minutes that you have to do things like go to the bathroom or brush your teeth.

Maternity leave is not about giving moms time to enjoy their babies - it's about giving moms time to survive having a baby. 

There is no time to enjoy anything, and yet all the time in the world.  I get nothing accomplished during the day, but I am constantly busy.  The work is mind-numbingly boring.  I have never felt so useless in my life.

Which is why I have such a hard time asking DH for help at night.  After all, I'm home all day long, and as far as he can tell, I do absolutely nothing.  At night when EH is crying, I want so badly to wake DH to help, but 2 things always stop me: 1. There's nothing that he can do for EH that I'm not already doing and 2. He has to work the next day; I do not.

But now I realize that asking for help is essential to keeping my sanity.  I don't want to resent my baby simply because he's worn me down to the point of exhaustion.  I know that it will get better, but please don't tell me that - it's not helpful.  Right now, only sleep and time will help.  He will get older, he will get bigger, he will be able to go longer between feedings, he will learn how to sleep on his own.  All of this will happen.  But it's going to take a long time, and in the meantime I need to keep my head up, sleep when I can, and remember to ask for help before I go over the edge again. 

Otherwise, I'll wake up for a second morning with a nightstand covered in dirty tissues.


Corinne said...

I'm sorry you had such an awful night! I'm sure it's a huge adjustment getting used to having a little baby in the house! I hope things are going better now!

Suzi said...

Remember: Parenting is all patience and endurance! And I understand that you don't want to hear the "it'll get better" comments. So, I'll tell you this: yes, the endless screaming and complete helplessness does stop. But not the frustration. I figured out when Maria was about 6 months, that it never really gets easier, b/c just as 1 phase ends, another begins. And really, they just "up their game." With our #1, Joe and I always seem to be about 2 months behind HER game. We'll be discussing her bad behavior, and then all of a sudden, we'll be like, "hey, wait a minute!" ...and realize that she's onto the NEXT phase of her age. ...and I've been saying that for 5 yrs now. You'd think we'd catch on by now. But we don't. We're just dumb parents. :) Lord help me when she's in high school.

Jenny said...

And if you ever have one of those nights again, I wouldn't worry about waking Dave. I'm sure he'd be understanding. He and James are the same, 100% supportive types of fathers/husbands. And I felt guilty b/c James had to teach the next day, too...but every once in a while if it were one of "those nights", I would wake him up so I could get at least a bit of sleep! And he never complained (at least to me!!)

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