Archive for the ‘
Sleep (or Lack Thereof) ’ Category
Monday, February 13th, 2012
Here’s what was going on over here exactly one week ago today:
And a whole lot of this:
The birth went pretty much as I’d hoped. Difficult, as childbirth tends to be, but smooth and relatively quick. Relatively. Full report to come. The hospital stay was pretty relaxing, too.
And then we came home. My milk came in, turning my boobs into two large, painful boulders, ready to burst at any moment. My nipples burned from all the newborn mini-mouth action. And Roy threw up. Then he threw up again. And again. It was awful.
Settling in at home with a newborn is difficult. Beautifully disorienting and amazing and wonderul and difficult. Settling in at home with a newborn and a confused toddler with the stomach flu is much more difficult. You want to comfort him. You need to. But there’s a baby in your arms. A baby with a delicate immune system. You can’t do both. It’s heartbreaking. Plus, there’s all that puke to clean up.
Looking back, the last week can well be defined by all the moments that brought tears to my eyes. Here is an incomplete list:
* In the early morning hours, my contractions are gaining momentum and intensity. I’m packing the last few items in my bag between them. Upstairs, Roy is stirring in his crib. We are about to take him to daycare and then head in to the hospital. I start weeping uncontrollably. Our girl is finally on her way.
* I’ve been in hard labor for long enough that I want it to stop. Want to call the whole thing off. Seriously. My doula has convinced me to ride a few contractions out in the tub and see where that gets us. They pick up, rip though me, becoming just short of impossibly, literally, un-fucking-bearable. Only between contractions does my body have enough extra energy to whimper-cry.
* I take a warm bath a few hours post-birth. Clint is in the adjoining hospital room, holding our second child, a mere hour old. I’ve birthed her. I’m no longer pregnant. We did it. We are a family of four. I cry in pure disbelief and happiness.
* Roy bursts into the room, throwing the cloth hospital curtain back dramatically and grinning wide. He’s wearing a t-shirt that says “I’m the Big Brother.” He sits on the bed next to me and peeks skeptically at Vera, his sister, for the first time. Of course the tears come.
* The second night Roy visits us in the hospital, he wants us to come home with him. Doesn’t understand why the three of us stay and he has to go home. He sobs like he’s never sobbed before, repeating, “Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy.” Again, he sits next to me in the hospital bed. I hug him and whisper that we will come home tomorrow, I promise, and that we’ll all be together and that I love him forever and ever. He calms down but is clearly not OK. It breaks my heart in two.
* We finally get home. During Vera’s inaugural diaper change, she screams so hard it’s silent. Roy positions himself at her head and pats her fuzzy bird hair softly, repeating, “It’s OK, Vera. It’s OK.” Sob.
* Roy just puked. As Clint is cleaning him up, I hold Vera and watch as his toddler lip quivers, shiny bright pink against his pale skin. He looks at me directly, his big blue eyes broadcasting pure confusion and pain. I want to hold my baby, Roy, like I used to. I want things to be as they were. I wonder what we’ve done—and how we’re ever going to do it.
* Clint draws warm baths for me twice a day. The morning ones are especially lovely. I am all alone, soaking my recovering body and needy breasts in lavender salts. Vera is clean and fed and downstairs, in Clint’s arms. I can hear Roy’s toddler squeals and pajama feet padding the floorboards. I relax down into the water and quietly cry over how incredibly lucky I am.
Overall, we’re getting there. Roy’s back on regular food and hasn’t puked in a couple of days. Clint is a patient and clearly proud father of two. My milk is totally in and the pressure and pain are mellowing. Despite the crying jags, which are to be expected, I’m functioning and healing fairly well. And Vera has been a rock star. Mellow. A fabulous eater. A darn good sleeper and pooper. We truly can’t get enough of her and love her like crazy.
That’s it for now. I’ll re-emerge with another update when I’m able.
Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
I feel like it’s been forever since I posted. Time drags on ever so slowly when you have a sick kid in the house. Remember last Tuesday when I mentioned Roy was sent home from daycare with a fever over 104? It broke that night, so I figured we were in the clear. He developed a slight rash, as he tends to do with fevers, so I gave him some Benadryl, which usually does the trick. This time, it didn’t.
The rash got worse; developed into open sores and feet so tender he couldn’t stand on them. It was a different sort of rash than the one that sent us to the emergency room back in June. Finally, we took him to the doctor. Diagnosis: Scarlet Fever. Did you know people even got Scarlet Fever anymore? I didn’t. But they do. Well, Roy, The Boy Who Gets All Skin-Related Maladies, does.
So it was a rough week comforting and distracting an understandably inconsolable boy; constantly cleaning and dressing his wounds. I wished so badly I could weather all the pain and problems for him. He is finally on the mend. Not 100 percent, but headed in that direction. Next week will be better.
On the very worst night of his sickness, Roy barely slept. Since Clint had to work the following day, I was on duty. I tried everything—sleeping in his room, bringing him in ours, cuddling on the couch, letting him cry, even a Sesame Street special on Netflix. It wasn’t until he was exhausted beyond belief that he finally dozed off for a few hours. It took me even longer because the sleep deprivation and worry combined to get me thinking crazy, that I’d given him too much medicine or overlooked a telling symptom or screwed up in some way. Eventually, I, too gave in to the night’s catnap.
So the next day was even harder, of course. Sleeplessness makes even the tiniest decision seem impossible, the simplest of tasks seem Herculean. It it took me back a year and half to when Roy was a newborn, when I remember thinking How long can this possibly continue? How long can a human being even function without sleep? It also delivered me a few months into the future. It was a taste of what’s to come.
Had Roy had this illness during the height of my morning sickness or when my back was feeling worse, it would’ve broken me. But it didn’t happen then. And I can only hope the universe is as merciful when there are two.
Baby’s butternut squash-sized and in the middle of a growth spurt. The way my big belly makes my scarf jut awkwardly out in front of me in that photo up top cracks me up. I’ll give you a more positive post later this week, OK? After all, Thanksgiving is on its way. We’re hosting 20-some here, and I’m really looking forward it. We have so much to be thankful for.
Butternut squash image credit: Kristada Panichgul
Friday, September 2nd, 2011
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was overwhelmed and terrified. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Just how painful would labor be? Once the baby was here, how would I figure out what to do with it? When I took it with me to buy groceries, for example, where, exactly, would I store it? In the card she gave me at me baby shower, my best friend Konnie wrote, I think I’m more excited about this baby than you are. I think she was right.
During my final of stretch pregnancy, I ran into an acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen in awhile. He has two kids—twins—who at the time were about five. He immediately dove into a story about how he’ll never forget those first months, how absolutely exhausted he was. He and his wife worked opposite shifts. She’d come home from work to find him laying on the floor, out of his mind with sleeplessness, both babies crying. Then he’d force himself upright and go to work in a zombie state. Reverse roles, repeat story, day after day after day.
“That sounds awful,” I said, horrified.
“Oh, no,” he quickly responded, snapping out of his nostalgic haze once he realized he’d inadvertently appalled me. “It was great. I really miss those days.”
Miss? What in the world was he possibly talking about, miss?
Then I had my baby, and I got it. Those first few sleepless months really are pretty terrible, full of tears and doubt and body fluids, and at the same time, somehow, they’re absolutely amazing. I distinctly remember sitting in my living room, unshowered and half-asleep, with rock-hard breasts leaking milk and a monstrous maxi pad dealing with the ridiculous mess still going on down there, staring at my new baby boy thinking, I can’t believe he’s mine, forever and ever. I felt like the luckiest person alive. Possibly the grossest as well, but I kind of didn’t care.
Lately, people have been asking me if I’m scared to have a newborn again. I’m not. This time, I have a good idea of what I’m heading into. I now know that the pain of labor is indescribably beyond beyond, and that you can plop a newborn, carseat and all, directly into the back of your shopping cart. And I know that those first few months will alternate between terrible and beautiful, and that when I’m smack-dab in the middle of them, I probably won’t enjoy them much at all.
But I also know that they will, eventually, be over, no matter how never-ending they feel. And when enough time has passed, I’ll even miss them. In the blink of an eye, I’ll be the veteran parent with a five-year-old and a seven-year-old, nostalgic about the newborn days in my rearview mirror. I’ll see the deer-in-the-headlights look in a soon-to-be mama’s eye and scare the crap out of her by reminiscing fondly about the good ol’ bad days, unable to explain how parenthood can be so incredibly difficult and yet so absolutely worth it. She’ll get it, eventually. It’s one of those things where you kind of have to be there.