My daughter turned two yesterday and my childrens’ birthdays always make me think of my journeys with them and how having them in our family has affected us. I love my daughter dearly, but my journey with her has not been an easy one. It began with several DAYS of labor. Her birth was so fast the doctor could not get there in time, and she even had a burst blood vessel in her eye. We had a little trouble breastfeeding in the beginning, and once she caught on, she was a puker, just puked all the time. It is amazing she gained weight as well as she did! She was such a rolly, meaty baby, lots of creases and yumminess. But, nights, oh, my nights were torturous for so long. She had her “fuss” period from 1-4 in the morning. She would scream inconsolably. I changed my diet, we did everything we could to help her stop but looking back, I think she was pissed to be here… she would be dead to the world all day, and scream all night. It was SO hard! I can’t even remember how long it went on, those days were such a blur. It was so, so hard to enjoy her, I have always loved her, yes I have and would have protected her with my life… but I just did not enjoy this part… it was so, so hard. When she was two months old I had two bouts of strep throat and found out I had mono. The best thing for mono is sleep, and that was the one thing I could not have. So, as a result, I have been sick ever since. The daily symptoms finally went away when she was about 10 months old, but I still have chronic Epsteinn-Barr symptoms, now almost two years later. (Epsteinn-Barr is the virus that causes mono.)
I have been in a state of chronic sleep deprivation now for over 4 years. I literally have not ever had a good stretch of full night’s sleep since before my son was born. I wonder if this is having permanent affects on my health. I am afraid now after all this time, that it already has. Time will tell if my immune system will recover from this. Do I love them? With all my heart. I just never fathomed that being a mother would leave me ill. Thankfully my daughter has been sleeping well for the past 3 nights or so, and already psychologically I feel like a new person. But that persistent sore throat and constant feeling of needing another cup of coffee is still with me.
I was talking with a friend yesterday and she has had the experience of high needs children who don’t sleep.. and we talked about how it feels like drowning. For SO many months, months and months on end, I felt like I was dying… like if one more thing happened I’d be pushed under and wouldn’t ever come back up. I knew motherhood would be hard but I never expected I would feel this way. I felt so alone and it felt like things would never be better, that I would be forever stuck in a constant state of waiting for the next wave to crash on my head and that would be it. I started to wonder if I was cut out for this and I admit I felt resentful… nothing helped, nothing at all. Breaks were futile. It felt nice at the time, but then I would get back home and have more endless weeks of shitty sleep, and more mono symptoms and exhaustion, and it was as if the break never happened. I feel as though I am coming out of a fog, just seeing everything in a new light once again. To the handful of people who were supportive during this time, I thank you. It might not have felt like it helped, and honestly nothing and nobody could have helped that much (except to come be my permanent nanny so I could sleep all day and get well)… but I appreciate it nonetheless.
But, finally things have turned a corner. My son, who is 4 now, has started to grow out of the insanity that was 3, I honestly wondered what that creature was and how he could have possibly come from my body! My daughter, who is now 2, is outgrowing the insanity that was 1. She is becoming more verbal and is responding to instructions better, she has found a lot of things she loves to do – and does them a lot! She is SLEEPING BETTER (THANK GOODNESS). I now only have one in diapers and she does ask to use the potty at least once a day. She is also becoming a lot more verbal and really only has tantrums when we don’t understand her, or if she doesn’t understand why she cannot do something. She is a much mellower toddler than my son was. I was also pregnant when my son was a young toddler, so that was added stress on our relationship. Now I have a two year old and I am not pregnant and this is a new experience for me! Sophie is funny, sweet, caring.. she loves playing with her play food and tea set and she loves to clean! (Yes, she has her own vacuum and cleaning supplies!) Will was reading to her the other day and I was cracking up, I need to try to get a video because this won’t last forever! She is less of a baby now and more of a child and seems to enjoy hanging out with me while I do my work. If I fold laundry without her, she gets really mad! I am looking forward to seeing our relationship develop and deepen as she gets older.
It is a relief that I feel like I am just now finally able to ENJOY some of this. I am sad that it has taken two years to get to this point, I have cried and greived so many times and felt so bad that it has been so impossible… being sick forever and totally sleep deprived has not helped that. I am hoping in time as I continue to raise my children that this sense of grief will lessen. I just don’t see how I could have done things differently based on what I’d been given. I think I am getting to a point now where I can’t rehash over this any longer and just need to move forward. Not enjoying a new baby is really, really difficult and heartbreaking… but I can’t go back and change her or change getting sick or anything else. Just have to try to make things better now.