Monday, January 30, 2012

The Only Thing Constant is Change

Raising Owen is like one huge lesson in learning to be flexible and adapt to change.  Little Man clearly has no intention of adapting to a routine or a schedule.  What works one day is futile the next, what failed miserably yesterday may be a stellar success tomorrow.  The only really reliable constants I've come to expect are that he wants to nurse about every two hours (often sooner) during daytime hours (though he has occasionally gone up to three hours) and he will sleep at some point in the night.  But the specifics around sleep, we have yet to figure those out.  He went through a stint of "sleeping through the night" and then shifted back to waking every three hours.  He was going to sleep between 6 and 7 for a while there, and then last night he didn't truly fall asleep until close to 9 or 10.  Some mornings he sleeps until 8, others he's up at 6.  

It's a bit crazy making for a control freak like me, to have a baby that is so defiantly opposed to routine and scheduling!

This morning we are having a rare, dare-I-say-it successful nap, and I have a moment to fold laundry, hop on the computer, breathe.  Many days he won't nap unless he's in my arms, and then he doesn't nap very well. Yesterday was one of those days, lots of piecemeal naps that added up to shoddy rest and a very cranky little guy.

And why, why, why are new parents so obsessed with sleep?  I swear, I feel like an opium junkie, chasing the dragon of a few precious hours of uninterrupted sleep.  My planning for the day and night seriously revolves around whether or not I may get some sleep in there.  I would go to bed every night at 7 if I could, but that would likely mean I haven't eaten or showered or responded to emails or gone to the bathroom or folded laundry or done dishes...and two nights each week I work until 9.  Those nights are so hard, I can barely keep my eyes open but still don't get into bed until close to 11.  Oof.

Speaking of 11.  E responded to an email link I apparently had sent him, of some dandelion wall stencils that apparently I loved.  He claims we even had a conversation about them.  I have absolutely NO RECOLLECTION of sending him the link.  Of ever seeing the stencils.  But there is an email, sent by me, with the link, and a time stamp of 11:30 pm on a Wednesday night.  No. Recollection. Whatsoever.  Sleep deprivation is a bitch, yo, and I can only wonder what else I've been sending in the wee hours of the night/morning.  Yikes.  

Owen continues to amaze and delight us with his smiles and giggles - he is a charmer, that's for certain.  When he's in a good mood, there is nothing to stop him from bringing joy to everyone that crosses his path.  Every day he surprises me with something new - a coo, a rollover, a grab for a toy, an easy transition to napping or bedtime...I love watching him grow and change - I cannot believe he's already been here with us for four months.

However, when he's upset, there is also nothing stopping breaks my heart.  He clearly has difficulty regulating and has little or no ability yet to self-soothe, it is agonizing to hear/watch him cry.  Yesterday he just did not want to be in the car seat running errands with us, and he cried and cried and screamed and cried.  He was fiercely tired, but couldn't get himself to sleep, it was agonizing and heartbreaking.  He would doze off for a second or two then awake screaming again.  

Last night I caught myself thinking that Otis wouldn't have been this challenging.  Partly because I was more flexible to begin with back then, because I wouldn't have been held back by the fear and worry around doing any and everything, and also because I have it in my mind that he would have just been an easier baby.  This line of thinking does NOTHING to serve any of us, and it makes me sad that I keep going there mentally.  But Otis lives only in my idealized memories of what was going to be, not in the reality of bringing him home.  So in that idealized memory, I am the mommy who can walk two dogs all by herself with a happy baby in the Ergo carrier while she drinks her latte (god I miss coffee and milk) and then leaves him with papa and a bottle while she goes to yoga class. (Ugh, that sounds a little obnoxious, actually...)  And I will never know if that would have been my reality with Otis or not.  My idealized memories persist, and I ache for them - because I miss Otis, because mothering Owen is so vastly different that what I expected - but it doesn't serve me to sit in the "what could have been."  

Similarly, sitting in the "this isn't what I expected, this should be different" does nothing to serve me or Owen.  I love him so incredibly completely with every cell and fiber in my body, and spending my time comparing my reality to what I thought it would be like or what I thought it should be like or even what other mamas are experiencing with their babes is detrimental on all fronts.  It's so tough to not get caught in the comparisons, but in those moments when I find I've broken free from them is when I feel the most joy, the most comfort, the most satisfaction and peace in mothering this little guy.  He is truly amazing, I can't say that enough.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


My heart aches tonight, for two mamas in whose baby valiantly fought for his health for five months in and out of nicu and picu and lost the fight last night; and another mama who lost her son when her water broke way too early and her little G left this world after 37 minutes in her arms.

Again, I shake my fists at the heavens, I smash things in my head, I yell and kick and cry and sob at the unfairness of all of this.  I've had a lump in my throat all day since I heard about Auggie, and when I finally came home from work tonight I burst into tears while telling E about this horrible loss.  Just last weekend, I burst into tears telling him about another dear friend who was in L&D with a baby that would never come home with her.

It will never make sense, no matter how many of these stories I hear.

I miss Otis with a fierce sadness every day. As I put Owen down to bed each night, I stare at his brother's picture, and wish that they both could be here with us.

For Auggie and Jill, for Gavin and Jen, for all the mamas missing their babies tonight:

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Thank goodness for zoloft.

It's helping.  So much.

The panic has abated.  I'm still anxious, but not to a debilitating point anymore.

Which is good, because I've been in a bit of a chaotic craziness the last few days - losing a client (mom is a crazy alcoholic in the midst of divorce and fired me because I spoke to the husband's atty), losing my milk (and then having it come in crazy full force after taking an herb that then caused Owen to have a full blown gastrointestinal nightmare) in between speaking with lawyers and sending off resumes, Owen was projectile spitting up and blowing out diapers and screaming non stop...which, two weeks ago, would have felled me in one quick swoop.  But I'm still standing, breathing, functioning.  Go me!

This is a magical time in Owen's development.  He is so uber-social - he loves nothing more than to have a conversation with someone - he mimics sounds (well, easy sounds, like "hi" or "oooh") and smiles at every person he meets, it's pretty damn cute and fun.  He's turned into a pretty great and easy baby, provided he's not hungry, tired, or uncomfortable (it took me three months to figure that out?  geez.) I realized today that I no longer resent it when E won't help me put Owen to bed, I actually get greedy and want that time with him all to myself!  (Now, the 4 am wakeup is another story...)

giggling at grandma's house over christmas

My mom was over today and Owen was sleeping in my arms, mouth all agape and drooly...and my mom leaned in and kissed Owen and whispered, "You look so much like your big brother...."

It was so touching, so tender.

And he does, it's his mouth, his lips.  When he falls asleep in my arms, milk drunk or because we've been bouncing on a yoga ball for 20 minutes, and his mouth falls open like that, he looks so much like Otis.  It's pretty darn sweet and pretty darn heartbreaking all at once.

We went to visit my grandma today and she was having her hair done when we got there (she lives in an assisted living facility so the salon is right down the hall from her room).  The stylist was cooing at Owen and asked us, "You guys just have one?" and E answered "Yes." I shuddered.  It was not a moment to explain that well, sort of, just one, but two, but not two...

Moments like that eat away at my gut.  For the most part, I am upfront and vocal about Otis.  I always answer the "Is he your first?" question truthfully.  But the, "you just have one?" question stumped me today. Damn, I miss him so much.  It still boggles my mind.  I am a broken record, I know this.  It will always boggle my mind.  I will always want him here.  I will always fail at putting it adequately into words how desperately I miss him, how desperately I love him.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Whew.  Made it through the holidays, barely.  Harder than I imagined they would be.  Owen did surprise us all by sleeping 10 hours on Christmas Eve, Merry Christmas indeed.  He then hit a spurt of sleeping 7 or 8 hours in a row each night, then 6, and now we're back to about 3 1/2 hour stints.  Meh.  He's also been fighting naps, although today he's off to a good start with one (but likely because he had a really, really restless sleep last night. He snorts and grunts and tosses all night long, it sounds like he's so super uncomfortable, but he's asleep almost the whole time, only occasionally wakes himself up; but it's so difficult to sleep when he's doing it, and I can't imagine he's exactly getting a restful night's sleep.)

Owen has turned a lot of corners.  He's a pretty cheerful little guy most of the time now - smiling and giggling and he's started to "talk" this week too - making all sorts of new and interesting sounds.  He's found his hands and has started to interact with the world in a new way - it's pretty amazing to watch.  I try not to worry about him being "behind" in his development - I have to remember he came into this world five weeks early and he's going to do things a little later than other babies his "age."  Still, I worry.  I worry that he naps too much, then I worry that he doesn't nap enough.  I worry that he is pooping too much, then that he hasn't pooped in a few days.  I worry that he's not making a lot of noise, then I worry that he's talking too much.  That he cries too much, or not enough.  It's absolutely exhausting to be me.

I finally made the decision to call my doctor and get some meds.  In addition to all the worrying I mentioned above, I've also been having horrible anxiety and panic attacks for a few weeks now, and they are pretty debilitating.  I don't feel it's postpartum depression, per se, because it doesn't feel like depression (I don't cry that often even) but it's definitely postpartum anxiety.  Like I said, I worry about everything - about Owen dying, about Owen being sick, about trying to take Owen to the store, on an errand, to a friend's house, for a walk - anything.  I worry about pumping and going back to work, I worry about our finances, I worry I worry I worry.  I feel like I'm constantly waiting for the bottom to fall out from under me (yet again).  I pace the house and when I'm not pacing I'm googling rare diseases and disorders that might snatch this beautiful baby out of my arms. But I also had a few episodes where I really panicked, shaking, crying, hyperventilating...and we knew we needed to get me some help. The doctor put me on an AD, which caused some lovely side effects this week (I've only been on a low dose for a week now), including MORE ANXIETY.  Oof.  So now I wake up at 5:30 am and tremble for a while.  Nice.  Dr says they'll subside, and they seem to be, but it can't happen soon enough.  I really, really, really didn't want to be on meds, but it got to a really scary point just after Christmas where I had a full blown panic attack one morning and finally E sat me down and told me we had no choice but for me to try the meds, basically.  I *think* I may be starting to feel a bit more like myself, but I've still got a long way to go.

I mentioned to a friend last night that PPD/PPA is the craziest thing (ha, she said 'crazy!') in that I can really see it for what it is, it's like when you get the flu, you don't suddenly think all your muscles have failed you and you will never not have a fever again, you know you have the flu...similarly, I can feel how this incredibly debilitating anxiety and panic is not me, I know I have ppd/ppa...I just wish it would pass the way the flu does.  I hope hope hope the meds help.

I continue to miss Otis and have thoughts of him pop up out of nowhere to bring me to my knees weeping...and that doesn't feel like the ppd/ppa - that feels like good old grief, still sticking around...Just two days ago I was driving home and all of a sudden I had such vivid flashbacks to holding him in the hospital as we said our goodbyes, as his little heart stopped beating, as we rubbed our cheeks on his full head of hair and our tears streamed down his milky white soft skin.  My goodness, I miss him so.  I want him here.  I want him in my arms.  I can't believe he's not.

Today Owen is wearing a shirt that was bought for Otis.  I put it on him and told him that it was his big brother's shirt.  He wears a pair of shoes (slippers?) that my mom gave him for Christmas, and she told him that they were bought for his big brother as well.  I wonder how, or if, this will all ever make sense to him when he is old enough to understand.

Last night I was back at work, and E was in charge.  Owen needed a bottle and E gave it to him, but even after a full bottle he was inconsolable. I walked in to a semi-frazzled husband and a very sad little boy.  His face was all red and his eyes were red and puffy from crying - it broke my heart.  I held out my arms and E handed him to me, and the minute he got into my arms his body went soft.  His screams turned to whimpers, and then slowed to sighs as he continued to melt into my arms.  It was the most intense feeling of "I am his mama."  I mean, sure, I get that sense all the time, but this time, it was different.  More...I don't know...more tangible.  Like he knew my smell, and it was the only thing at that moment that was going to comfort him.  Like I hold the key to this little boy's heart, just as he holds the key to mine.  That he needs me as much as I need him.

I've always been the one holding the crying baby, passing the baby back to Mama for that consoling that only a mama can provide.  Last night, I was that mama, not the one passing the crying baby back.  It felt real in a way that so much of this journey so far hasn't.

Crud, baby crying now...must hit post or else it may be another few weeks before I update....