Wednesday, September 9, 2009

bad mother

on the advice of many, i attempted to leave leon to settle himself. over six months of sleepless nights and overly wakeful days has taken a toll on us. the fact that i am the only person who can get him to fall asleep (via nursing in bed) has made it difficult to share the work of parenting.

so i nursed him, snuggled with him for 15 minutes in his side-car crib, nursed him again, patted him on his back until he closed his eyes. and then i crept away. the crying began immediately. a loud, angry, jagged cry. i kept the door cracked open so i could watch him. he passed his lovey from one hand to the other, his cries continuing. i looked at the clock. 1 minute. 2 minutes. 3 minutes. the cries intensify. 4 minutes. i go into the kitchen for a glass of water. when i return, he is crawling from his crib across the mattress and toward the pillow barricades. the cries are moving from protesting to truly hysterical. 5 minutes. i decide to go in.

he's face down in vomit, the bed is covered in a mixture of sweet potatoes and milk. i feel sick and angry with myself. i pick him up, take off his clothes, yank the sheet and mattress cover off. in the bathroom, i gently wash his face off and look for new sheets. when i put him in the crib so i can put the new sheet on, he begins wailing inconsolably. i pat him, pick him up, put him back down. the sobbing starts as soon as i detach myself from him. it's as if he believes i'm going to abandon him again.

not all babies cry so much that they vomit. i didn't realize it could escalate so quickly. i figured babies who throw up from crying it out are the ones left alone for 30-60 minutes or more--which i refuse to do. but 5 minutes? i feel like a terrible person.

not to mention he fell off our low bed this morning--hence the new barricades. i was napping with him for over 2 hours when i decided to make a quick bathroom run. in the 30 seconds that i was gone, he managed to wake up, roll 4 times and onto the floor. THUNK. and then wailing. he's fine. i've been watching him like a hawk, and so far so good.

but still. i am at the end of my rope. nearly 7 months of sleep issues, an intense temperament, and an inability to do my own work (which really needs to be done if i want a job come august). i give up. it'll sort itself out eventually. i'm tired of trying to make it happen before he's ready. the only thing that matters is that he gets quality sleep. even if that means nursing him til he falls asleep, napping beside him, and putting our mattresses on the ground.

11 comments:

seedstitching said...

oh erica...
thank you for being such an honest mother. very rarely do we hear of the worries and the truths... so, thank you erica.
you're the best!

Mama and Papa said...

oh honey, you're a great mother. leon won't remember those 5 minutes. it's so so hard to be a nursing mama. so much harder than anyone ever tells you. i'm finding all of this out now, and it's so good to read entries like this one, admitting the challenges. yes, it's a beautiful, magical thing! but breastfeeding and baby rearing are also SUCH hard work. you're doing an awesome job.

Mama and Papa said...

uh, that previous one was from valerie! i need to figure out how to fix my pseudonyms...

Catherine said...

Damn mothering is hard sometimes. When I am beating up on myself I think of how I might feel towards my mother in the same situation, and then I totally understand, empathise, forgive.

I think I mentioned to you a while back that when Lucy was first learning to crawl, I 'let' her fall down a short flight of stairs by getting distracted elsewhere. I only did it once!

Other mothers are full of advice (me included, sorry), but I think only because they hope to help spare any more pain and stress, and parenting is all a matter of trial and error and hopefully success.

As for the crying it out method, I'm in the no-cry camp. A minute or two tops, as I know Audrey only cries when she is overtired or hungry or wet. Only you know your baby, and it's best to trust your own instincts.

It will get better, that's just how this game goes. We'd be a dying race otherwise! Maybe you do need to treat yourself. If only Metier would read your post and offer you a $300 rough-week-of-mothering discount.

Stephanie said...

I read a great book in college - A World of Babies - it's basically re-imagining Dr. Spock guide to childrearing as it would be written in different countries around the world. I liked reading it because it makes you realize how cultural child-rearing practices are - it's not a universal truth that children have to be brought up any one way. In some places, children under a year old never have their feet touch the ground - ie., they are held all the time. And the professor who taught the class did her thesis in Polynesia, where they regard the idea of putting a baby alone in a crib darn near barbarous. I'll see if I can dig my copy up for you.

Don't beat yourself up! And I agree with Catherine - Metier mothering discount!

sk said...

erica- thank you so much for your honesty! I admire you so much for your patience with Leon, and for forging ahead through the unknown here, especially when you must be so tired. I think you are doing a wonderful job at being a parent, and I hate to see you call yourself a bad mama! You are obviously a wonderful mom. No one is perfect and we all have our moments of letting frustrations get the better of us....and it does seem like mom's get an abundance of advice on how to parent-- some of it pretty terrible! I think it's all a matter of doing exactly what you're doing-- trying things out, moving on when they don't work out, and putting one foot in front of the other, every day. He's growing so fast! I bet he'll start sleeping more soon. Until then, best wishes to you!

melissa k w said...

please don't be too hard on yourself. you are doing such an amazing job under tough circumstances! you will inevitably try different things and some will work for you both, some won't. i guess all us new moms just need to trust our intuition. and i agree with "mama and papa", he will not remember those 5 minutes. wishing you the best -- melissa

Jessica said...

Thanks for being so honest on your blog - all moms (or soon to be) do need to hear the real stuff. I agree with Catherine - you know your baby and what he needs. Hang in there and I think you are doing a great job for Leon even though it may feel difficult at times.

erica said...

honestly, i really do appreciate the advice, especially from people i trust. but it's these damn books. i've yet to find one that works with leon's temperament, and they can feel so 'judgmental' to me.

we're just going to plow ahead doing what we do. the days are getting better now that he naps a little more and we've sort of montessori'd the living room. i'll post photos soon. last night he woke up about 4 times, not bad at all. the awful nights are 7-8 wakings.

i wish metier would give me a $300 coupon code, too. sigh!

Kristien said...

Erica, I also want to belatedly thank you for your consistent honesty about motherhood. I am not yet a mother, but if I were, I know I would feel like I had a friend in the trenches because of your blog. You are a fantastic mother because you care so much. Thinking of you and hoping each day gets a little better. You will be okay, and you are right, everything will sort itself out.

Amanda said...

Hi. I have never commented but I just wanted to say that you are are doing a great job as a mother. The fact that you are wanting the best for Leon indicates that. Not that it gets you any more sleep, but still, you are compassionate and that isnt a bad thing!

My first kid slept great, second one? Awful. So I read the "No Cry Sleep Solution," and it worked for us. If you want to procrastinate working because you cant think, you could try to peep the book out.

Good luck. And someday, you will sleep, vomit free. I promise.