I made dinner for a friend whose husband had heart surgery on Friday. On my way out the door, baby boy, who had just had 3 1/2 oz of breast milk and 2 oz of formula was being fussy in a way that caught my attention. Husband couldn’t get him to settle down and things quickly escalated to the hot pokers scream that he does (baby, not husband) where his face gets beet red and the veins pop out of his skull. It makes me feel like he is in pain, so I scooped him from husband, changed his diaper, checked to make sure his onesie wasn’t gripping him anywhere, tried shushing him, all while his wails escal That cry cuts to my core and usually makes me cry, too, but I was focused on finding the source of his anguish. Even though he’d just consumed more than he ever had, I threw him on a boob. After 15 mins of nursing, he was sated, and his breathing was normal, his color returned.
I handed a milk drunk baby back to husband and headed out the door. I cried all the way to my friend’s house and texted her when I was there and warned her that I was in tears. I felt bad crying to her knowing how difficult a time this is for her (she has a 14 week old baby, her 2nd, and her husband has an enlarged heart necessitating surgery). I just couldn’t stop. I was crying because I can’t believe how much this baby boy eats and how slow to the uptake we usually are that he wants more food. I was crying because my oldest son has been holed up at home with us all weekend, even though both his daddy and I each took him on a separate excursion, and my heart breaks for the life he used to know. I was crying because my baby will be 4 weeks on Wednesday and my parents, who I KNOW I’m estranged from and who will be of no help anyway, haven’t so much as inquired about him since the week he was born. I was crying because we are alone in raising our sons and that is just plain hard a lot of the time.
How nice it would be to have someone, anyone, to count on to come over and lend a hand. To feed or hold baby so I can brush my teeth or shower or lie down or take a nap or run an errand. Or, to offer to take our older son out or have him over. I’ve worked so hard to cultivate the friendships I have but it doesn’t translate into anyone offering to help in a measurable way. I know it is because I am otherwise so capable and likely people just don’t think I need the help. And, I had 2 friends scheduled to come over last week both of which I cancelled when I hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before and didn’t have the energy to pick up the house or make myself presentable.
I feel like I should have the hang of this already, or should know to cut myself some slack, to better go with the flow, to just be. But that is just not how things have gone down. I have this precious life, that I love so deeply and enjoy caring for, but it comes at a price. I’m either nursing or pumping seemingly all.the.time. And, if I’m not actually doing it, I’m thinking about when I will be doing it next and will I nurse him (I have a blocked duct on the right and a sore/cracked nipple on the left) or pump. I’m wondering if/when/how I’ll get even a 12 minute power nap during the day and since he’s been here, I’ve only done that once. With my first son, I heeded everyone’s advice and I napped when he slept. But, now that we have this full family life, that just doesn’t seem to happen, ever.
I know it is the sleep deprivation, the cluster feeding, the hormone regulation, but I am just depleted. I feel alone. I want someone to rescue me or offer to anyway. I’m not even sure what that would look like, it’s never been attempted.
We have no help. No family who is offering to have our son over or to take him out. No one checking in on me and baby boy. And, yes, I knew this when I endeavored to have another child but I underestimated how much harder this one would be while having another child at home.
I was crying to my husband, just how fucked up it is with my family. I know it can’t be any different. I know it. My parents wouldn’t/couldn’t help anyway and even if they could, it’s not the kind of help I’d want. And I said that baby boy is going to be 4 weeks this week and they haven’t so much as emailed to check in. And, I KNOW better than to have any expectation. We are estranged, I KNOW this. And he said, “it’s not right’. And, it’s not. But, it is what it is.
At any rate, I am struggling to get my footing in this new life. I’m not feeling depressed nor do I have thoughts of hurting myself or the baby. But, I am not going to lie, it is hard, day in and day out, alone for most of the day and then mostly alone over night. I’ll have one day when I’ll think, ok, I’ve got this, but it is short-lived.
I wish I were some kind of zen earth mother, who could abandoned my life and just ‘be’ with and for the baby. But, that is just not how I’m wired. I want to live some semblance of my life AND be a good mother to both my boys, a good wife to my husband, a good friend to myself. Right now, it’s an epic fail on all accounts.