No One Understood…And They Still Don’t
I remember holding B for the first time, and he was so perfect. He still is perfect, in his little imperfect way. We brought home what we thought would be our angel baby. Those first two months were complete and utter bliss (aside from peeing myself daily, my hooha sitting on an ice pack, and leaking like a fountain through anything and everything) but I thought I was killing this whole motherhood thing. I loved it; every minute of it. I put my phone on silence, and sat, staring at my baby’s face and kissed him over and over again.
You ever been hit in the face with a 2×4? Yeah, me either but I can tell you, once month numero dos rolled around, that’s exactly what it felt like. It was like a switch flipped over night. My child was a completely different human being and I had zero idea as to why. My blissful and ignorant honeymoon phase ended like the rug had been swept out from under me, and I landed face first on concrete.
I suspected silent reflux was partially to blame (and bingo was his name-o, I was right) but my kid refused to take the medicine for it. You ever accidentally waterboard a baby alligator trying to wrestle it? (If you answer yes, please seek professional help. I’m not even joking). Me neither but I can tell you, that’s what it was like trying to get my child to swallow that g*sh-awful medicine.
Listen, I don’t blame the kid because I tasted it and it’s horrendous. But I just wanted to scream “let me help you!!!!!”. If you didn’t already guess, I gave up on trying to give it to him after 4 months. Yes, I valiantly persisted in my war struggle for FOUR MONTHS, twice a day, before I said screw it; because more medicine was ending up on the floor and on me, than it was ending up swallowed by the right party. Oh and get this, he learned how to spit it back in my face, so that was fun.
Little did I know, that was only the beginning of this thorn-filled journey through my child’t first year of life on this planet. He stopped sleeping. What newborn doesn’t sleep?! That’s like their ONE job! This kid would keep himself up during the day because he didn’t want to miss out on the action (which was me sitting on the couch, ice pack under my vag, pounding granola bars… so yeah, big party there). I reached out to fellow moms who shamed me and said that “wasn’t possible” and that I needed to “study child development”.
My kid was screaming and crying constantly. And I’m positive his lack of sleep attributed to that. The only thing he was good at was eating, which I was so thankful for. Breastfeeding became the one thing I felt like I could be successful at in motherhood. I only had one piece of my humble pie left, and God decided to smash that in my face.
He screamed when I put him down. He screamed when I put him in the car. He screamed when I made him lunch. He screamed when I put him in his highchair. You starting to get the picture yet? He screamed if I didn’t give him my full, undivided attention, 24/7.
It was exhausting. I couldn’t do anything. I watched as he bounced from toy to toy. Nothing could keep him entertained or happy or h*ck, even just CONTENT. I couldn’t shower unless Jesse was home to watch him. I barely ate. Any type of household duty was on hold until Jesse was home. And by that time, I was so spent, all I wanted to do was sit and not be touched for a while. This all contributed to my raging depression and anxiety because I felt so trapped.
“Just get out of the house!”
I literally can’t even get myself ready without my kid screaming and crying and flipping his cr*p; sometimes it’s just not worth it. And that whole “sometimes it’s just not worth it” turned into an “everyday it’s just not worth it” sort of gig, unless I absolutely had to leave the house. Because I knew how much it would take, and it wasn’t worth the expense of my mental health anymore than it already was. I was barely hanging on as it was.
I never got a break. The idea of leaving him with someone else was terrifying because we had just moved to a new state and didn’t know anyone, plus… I was worried about someone hitting their breaking point with my child. I knew if I left him, he would just scream the entire time and I felt that was unfair to B, and whoever was watching him.
And bless the little Karen’s hearts, they TRIED to “help” by popping up from every fre*king corner to say, “have you tried essential oils? chiropractor? dream feeding? sleep sack? baby- wearing? running the vacuum? power feeding? heating pad? lifting the crib? co-sleeping? putting him in a swing? what about a bouncer? solid bedtime routine? bathing him in lavender? cut dairy, gluten, nuts and red dye from your diet?…”
Do you know how frustrating it is to be asked by well-meaning people, if you have tried everything under the sun to make your kid happy and yet… you can’t manage to do that?
Listen, I’ve held a rabbit’s foot while hopping on one leg in a circle, singing, “Jesus Take the Wheel”, waiting (read: praying) for my pumpkin to turn into a carriage. My non sleeping, formula refusing, hates to be worn, screaming whenever not held by me or his father child remains the same.
The Karens all told me it would get easier. I kept waiting on my “easier” moment, and it didn’t come.
Finally, someone near and dear to my heart told me that it wouldn’t get easier. It would just change. Although that would be heartbreaking for some of you to hear, it was the validation I needed to continue because for the first time, someone understood what I was going through, and wasn’t trying to fix my unfixable problem for me.
And then it dawned on me. It didn’t matter what I did, because nothing would work. I spent most of that first year fighting my child, trying to put him into this little box that was built by the Karens of the world, who decided what society’s expectations were for a baby.
You ever try to fit a round peg into a square hole? My kid was never meant to be put into this box. Once I let go of those expectations and came to the conclusion that indeed, my child was HARD, and there was nothing I could do to change that; all of a sudden, I didn’t feel like I was failing so much anymore. I turned my focus from trying to get him to do be something he wasn’t, to mitigating what he was struggling with.
Did he magically become a new child overnight? No, he didn’t. I’m not going to lie to you. But once I focused on everything he was instead of everything he wasn’t, I began to find some actual, pure joy in motherhood again. And that made having a hard baby worth it.