Monday night, I shut myself in the bathroom and cried until I was screaming.
I debated about writing this post. I find it mortifying, but I think it's probably good for me. I haven't really written much about the challenging part of parenting on this blog yet, because I thought, who wants to read about that? Well, I do. I appreciate reading about the challenges that other parents are facing. For all of the amazing moments and sweet pictures and make-me-melt smiles, there are some really difficult days mixed in.
Liam has been crying. A lot.
I know what you're thinking-- it's normal for babies to cry...well, not like this.
Nothing makes a mom feel worse than when her baby is in obvious pain and there's nothing she can do about it because she's tried everything. And nothing makes a mom want to CLAW HER OWN EYES OUT than listening to her sweet baby scream at the top of his lungs for almost nine hours straight-- which finally bought me to my breaking point.
Over the past week, Liam has gotten progressively more inconsolable. He's not really a crier-- if he's crying he's usually either hungry, wet, tired, or needing to be held. We thought that Sunday night was particularly bad, when he cried from around 6pm until midnight. It wasn't that he was fussy-- his screams told us that he was really hurting. Then Monday, things got even worse. He was hiccuping, arching his back, spiting up and screaming-- the thing is, he's been doing this for several weeks, I just never lumped the symptoms together and analyzed them. Well, finally I did.
He has acid reflux! The reason my sweet baby is screaming like acid is eating through his esophagus is, well, acid is eating through his esophagus. Monday morning, I called his pediatrician who quickly diagnosed him and prescribed him Zantac. Unfortunately, it took a few doses for the meds to get into his system and provide him some relief. In the meantime, he continued to hiccup, arch his back, spit up, and scream.
Poor little man. I know how bad this hurts-- I had horrendous acid reflux all throughout my pregnancy and have dealt with it off and on for years...and for a baby who knows no other form of communication, I can understand the screaming. But understanding it and coping with it are two different things, as it turns out.
Most days, I feel like I have a tremendous amount of patience with Liam, and lucky for me, he's a really easy baby. But then there are days-- the ones where I haven't slept well in a few nights, the ones where he's much fussier than usual, the ones where I'm alone all day and don't leave the house, much less shower or eat a decent meal-- where patience is not one of my best qualities. I'm starting to realize that it's those days when it's so important to take a break.
I'm a control-freak and I'm often convinced that if I'm not doing something, then it's not being done right. Now that Liam is here, this has never been more true. I have a hard time handing him over (even to Rob!) even when I really should. I also have a hard time asking for help. I wanted Liam more than anything and now that he's here, nothing is more important to me than be a good mom.
In my head, this means being with him every second and always being the one to fulfill his needs. In reality, this means doing the best I can & taking a break every once in a while.
BUT, when I need some time away from him (even after a particularly challenging day), I tend to feel like a failure. I quit my job and there's a lot that we're sacrificing financially for me to stay home with him. Admitting that I can't always do it by myself is difficult, but it's something that needs to be done.
Rob wants to spend time with his son without me hovering over him, critiquing his parenting. My parents want nothing more than to spend time with their darling grandson. I have to let go and admit that some time away from Liam is not only good for me, but also good for him. It's impossible for me to be the best parent I can be if I'm not doing any of the things that made me happy before I was a parent or spending any time alone.
Which brings me back to Monday night. I had been alone with a screaming child all day when Rob got home from work at 6pm. He needed to work on a paper for school this weekend but couldn't concentrate with Liam's screams echoing through the house. As Rob packed up his stuff to head to Starbucks to work, I started crying. I knew he needed to get it done, I simply couldn't fathom spending 3-4 more hours alone with the screaming. Once I started crying, I simply couldn't stop. (Just an aside-- Liam, of course, was never in any danger while I was upset. He was safe in his bassinet in our bedroom where I put him when I knew I needed to step away.)
When Rob heard me completely lose it, he took Liam outside for a walk-- with the house quiet, I was able to calm down and take a hot bath. When he returned, he put Liam in his crib (still screaming, unfortunately), came into the bathroom, told me to finish up and get out of the house. He told me to go to a movie, get a cup of coffee, walk around the 24 hour Walmart near our house-- ANYTHING. Just get out of the house and away from the baby.
So, I did. I drove around for an hour and a half, talking to my mom, crying. I was only gone a little over an hour and I didn't even get out of the car, but I returned home calm. When I walked through the door, Rob was holding my sweet baby, feeding him a bottle. He fell asleep after soon after that.
Rob has encouraged me to be more honest about my needs, when I've had enough. He's encouraged me to regularly leave the baby with him in the evenings and get out of the house. I'm simply not able to step aside when I'm home-- I have to leave. I will.
Yesterday, I packed up all of Liam's stuff and went to my parents' house around lunchtime. I handed Liam over the minute I walked in the door and while we were in the same house for the rest of the day, I wasn't responsible for him. I took a shower, took a nap and took some time alone. My parents changed his diapers, fed him bottles and fed me lunch and dinner. My mom made me promise that we'd start doing this once a week. I promise.
Liam's had six doses of Zantac now. The screaming has almost stopped-- I'm sure he feels like a new baby. I've promised that I will allow myself the time I deserve and ask for help when I really need it-- I feel like a new mommy. It might have taken a breakdown to get here, but it's a breakthrough for both of us.