Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Breaking Down, Breaking Through

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.


  1. I appreciate your honesty...I'm due in just over 10 weeks and most of my friends tell me all the rainbows & sunshine stories, but it's nice to hear someone be REAL and tell it like it is. You're a good mom and you DO deserve a break now and then. :)

  2. This is me. Basically to a T. I know that my husband can do a good job, my mom can do a good job and so can his...but I feel inadequate leaving her with them. I should be able to handle this. I should not be getting upset and sad with myself if I need a break. And I do! I am glad that I am not the only one going through this. And you should know that you are not alone.

    I am so sorry that he has reflux. I hope the medicine continues to help!!!!

  3. Aww, poor baby and mama! Hope Liam's acid reflux continues to get better ... for his sanity and yours!

    Also, definitely take some time out for yourself. I definitely get where you're coming from though. My little one isn't here yet and I already am dreading leaving her with other people, including family. I think that's just a normal motherly feeling.

    P.S. - Remind me when the time comes to take a breather every now and then as well! :) Feel better!

  4. I love you, girl. I hope you, and baby Liam, feel better soon. <3

  5. Oh hun I could have written that post when my almost 3 year old was a baby!! Having a child with reflux is really HARD work! I remember him crying and vomitting so often I'd just rock him and cry. I'd cry myself to sleep at night for all the guilty feelings I had. The good thing is one day he will grow out of it, and it isn't a mark of your parenthood. Believe me. My daughter never once spit up.. and she rarely ever cried. I thought I was this amazing parent. So imagine my shock when Wyatt would not stop. Also, don't forget that babies grow quickly so his dosage will probably need to be adjusted often.

  6. omg I'm sooo sorry to hear of your struggles. Hopefully the problem is diagnosed and it is only looking up from here. I had a day like that (histerical crying for 6 hours) but unlike liam, my little buddy was in no pain, just overly tired and wouldnt nap. so a car ride put him to sleep and normal baby was back. i cant imagine day after day after day of that histerical crying. you definitely did the right thing letting rob and your parents give you a break!

  7. Thank you for posting this. I know there will be days when I feel just like this, and I'll be able to come and read this post and know that it's not just me.

  8. My baby had pretty severe reflux issues at the start, too. IT'S. VERY. HARD. TO. HEAR. THEM. CRY. LIKE. THAT. Please know that you are not alone, okay? And you are NOT a terrible person or mom for breaking down and crying. Hell, I have cried and flipped out over far less (as will any mom worth her salt).

    In addition to the medicine our pediatrician put the baby on, we were also told to add rice cereal to the breast milk or formula - this helps keep it all down in their tummies (my baby was a puker, on top of this). Not sure if this was also told to you, or if you want to inquire about it some more.

    If you don't want to add rice cereal there is also a formula you can buy with the rice-cereal already added & blended into it (this is all powdered formula). We bought ours at Targe.t, their brand.

    Yes, please reach out to others to give you a break, an give yourself some Mommy-recharge time. For me, it's 30 minutes on the t-mill, and a glass of wine the hour before my husband was due home from work ;o)

  9. PLEASE write about things like this - I think the IF community - when we have a baby, try to not complain because we know so many are still trying to achieve this. But it's great to hear an honest story about the hard parts of being a parent. It's great to know what I'm in store for, what I should do. In your case, let DH know that I'm going to really need his help even if I act like I don't. It sounds like Rob is a fantastic father (just like you're a fantastic mom) - I'm glad Liam is doing much better - poor dear! :)

  10. I am so sorry you are dealing with this, and I appreciate your honesty. Although we aren't dealing with reflux, I can totally relate to your reluctance to let anyone else take care of Liam. I am having a really hard time leaving Grayson for any length of time, even with my husband. BUT I know it's necessary for my sanity and also to let other family members bond with him. Hope this next week is a better one for you!

  11. Definitely write about the hard times as well as the great times - I know motherhood is not all sunshine and rainbows. The honest account of the journey is great to hear.

    Being a new mommy has to be hard, just don't beat yourself up, don't be afraid to ask for help. You're doing great!

  12. Aw Stef. Bless y'alls hearts. That can't be easy at all. I'm so glad Rob understands about your needs though and the meds will continue to work for Liam.

  13. Stephanie I am glad things are a bit more under control with Liam' reflux. I totally know how you feel being a control freak as well..being out in CA (due to death in fam) w/ out much help at all has been hard. It seems everyone wants to help but not at the right times you know what I mean. Being a new mommy is not as easy as we all hoped but I imagine things will just get easier from here ;O) Thanks for being so open & honest in your post!!!