Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Tearjerker

I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face because I am about to get real honest with this one.  I was emotionally broken for what seemed liked forever after Theron was born.  And, I feel like I have to share this somewhere.  Motherhood can be beautiful but you know what? It can also be really hard with a high needs baby.  It can bring you to the highest of highs and the darkest of lows.  Here's a little snippet of my experiences.  

A couple of months ago, David and I were out for an afternoon at the mall and I stepped into this store and a beautiful song came on while I was there that I had never heard before.  It stopped me dead in my tracks. The singer's voice was so soft but scratchy and the lyrics, oh those lyrics. I had tears in my eyes as I listened.

I left the store, but then turned around almost immediately, and went right back to ask who sang it.  I HAD to know.  It touched me so deeply.

The worker told me that it was David Ramirez and that the song was, The Bad Days. Take a listen:

You know how when you feel like a song was written just for you? It was like he knew my experiences and spoke straight to my heart.

The beginning of the song brings me to tears, nearly sobs, every time I listen to it.  The rest of the song is beautiful, but changes direction for me.  It's essentially about a couple's relationship that can endure even through the bad days.  But for me, it's about Theron and myself.

I think some of you know how rough I had it with Theron for about the first 8 months or so of his life. When we brought him home, David and I were mentally and physically exhausted but elated to be parents.  Theron slept and acted like a "normal" newborn.

Dave had to go back to school after a week or so and then Theron took a turn.  He never stopped crying. Ever.  I, having absolutely no experience with babies, felt helpless.  He didn't want to be in the swing, he didn't want to be in his carseat, on his tummy? um...no, on his back? definitely no, he hated walks, wanted nothing to do with pacifiers and I basically felt like a big fat failure. Everyone said it would pass, 6 weeks would be the magic number, then 8 weeks, then 12 weeks...and well, you can kinda see how those mile markers never really applied to my boy.

My maw maw would come up during the days to help me out but I continued to feel so trapped inside of my own home.  My own child hated me and hated life.  Why in the world did he scream all day?  Did all babies do this?  Was I overreacting?  Why couldn't I comfort him, why could't anyone comfort him? Why did he despise doing anything but nursing? What had I done to my calm life? Was this going to be my new reality?

I cried literally everyday -- no, scratch that, SOBBED-- every day for many, many weeks.  I had a countdown for when I could return to work.  I told myself, that's when I could get a break.  I needed a break--craved just a break.  I breastfed and he didn't take a bottle or sleep through the night til 8 months.  I was never away from him.  His screams physically hurt my ears.   Because he cried during his waking times we couldn't go anywhere.  We tried two different chiropractors, multiple doctors, numerous medicines [prescription and homeopathic], everything imaginable--we tried it.

I thought I was losing it.  My family thought I was losing it.   I had never felt so helpless, hopeless and depressed in all of my life.  I was always known as the happiest girl people knew.  I never understood depression or sadness.  I mean, how could people just not be happy? I now want to punch that girl.  So smug I was.  I made the mention if it was socially acceptable I'd run away and never come back. In fact, David thought I had left after one specific moment when Theron's screams overwhelmed me and I went onto the landing near the kitchen and broke down sobbing into the fetal position.We're talking uncontrollable tears, shallow breathing, and wailing for myself. I almost didn't want to wake up in the mornings because I thought the day would finally see me crumble.  I just couldn't make it through another long, tedious day, of blood curdling screams.  Not to mention the fact that I ached for a "normal" baby.  A baby who cuddled and cooed. A baby who wanted its momma or dada.  I was so jealous of all of my friends on Facebook & Instagram and those in real life who were taking their babies to the mall, park, swimming, on walks, birthdays,  summer holiday parties etc., and enjoying simple moments at home.  These parents were basking in parenthood, not to trivialize their experiences because I'm sure they faced their own problems, but they were loving it.  Always commenting about their happy smiley babies.  We didn't do any of those things. We couldn't. Theron just couldn't get comfortable.  And his screams stressed everyone out.  We knew that.

It was hard to relate to anyone, so I turned to Facebook and the internet.  This post in particular articulates everything better than I ever could.  If you have a high needs baby I urge you to read this one.  You cannot miss it.  Thankfully,  I found other mommas who had been through what I had been through.  They reached out to me and had me breaking down with their stories of screaming babies.  It made me feel not so alone.  It helped even if just a little.  Most people claimed that their babies were high maintenance for a long time and that things would get better but different through the ages.  I can agree now with those statements.  But I welcomed any change.

It wasn't over night, and it wasn't fast, but Theron did become better and his all day screamfests did stop. He is still a very touchy baby with tantrums galore and a kiddo who no one will ever call easy-going.  He's quite the crier--and probably will be for a long time to come.  But he is funny, and he laughs, and I laugh.

I always said, "Once Theron stops crying all day, so will I." And that was true.  I'm sure medicine would have helped my anxiety, but I knew me, I knew that I would be ok when he was ok.  Even if it took months for that to happen.

But back to the song, these lyrics hit so close to home with me because they are so true.  And the way I envision them is Theron saying them to me as a baby and then me saying them to him as a teenager.

Tears every single time.  Especially this part:

"There's gonna be days that you hate me, There's gonna be days that I make you mad
There's gonna be days that we don't know what we're doing...maybe somedays you wish
you could take it all back...But hold on tight, and don't let go.  We'll carry on I know we can find a way..."

I'm not embarrassed of those months or the challenging months to come, and I don't want moms who feel overwhelmed raising a terribly high needs baby to feel bad or guilty for feeling this way.  You are not alone.

Thanks for reading.  I hope someone out there that needs this can relate.  And if you ever need to talk, I am just an email away.

Love to you all.



I like it, I love it! said...

This post describes my experience with my first so much! I would have described Malone was a "high needs" baby for the first 8 weeks....for me. Everyone else seemed to think she was lovely. She would scream in my face all day and the minute my husband walked in the door at night she was like an angel. Looking back, it was just me. I was so overwhelmed with my new life that I couldn't get a handle on it. I had post pardm something crazy. I remember one particular day that my husband called me to tell me he was on his way and I thought, I could just put her in her crib, he is almost home and I can leave before he gets here and never come back! Of course, I didn't. But I sure wanted to. These are the real stories of parents who struggle. Because it's not easy. It's not all roses and I honestly didn't know that going into my first. I love that spunky little girl with all my heart and regret wishing those early days away. I really can't even remember those baby days becasue I was such a wreck! You aren't alone and everyone experiences a different normal. Sounds like you are through the thick of it and I am so happy for you! So enjoy these days Momma!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Joi - you know I get where you are coming from. I was probably curled up on the floor right there with you. It is hard. Beyond hard. Having a baby like we have. Even when you think it is better (because almost anything would be better), it is so awful when you look around at other kids and realize that you STILL have the most difficult baby in the group. What do you mean, your baby cuddles/coos/plays/smiles/laughs MOST days.

Thanks for the virtual hug (not sure if you knew you were doing that). I pushed L all the way to daycare in the stroller while he SCREAMED today and I actually thought..."if I have a second, I hope he isn't like L" and then I cried a bit for feeling that way. Sigh. Can't win.

Kelly said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I'm sure it was tough but you will definitely touch others with your words. That song was beautiful, too.

Emily @ imperfect said...

Beautifully written. I would never even try to pretend that I know what those endless days felt like, but so glad you shared.

Unknown said...

HUGS to you!

cd said...

Thank you for sharing this. Being a new parent is terrifying. While I was fortunate not to endure this for as long as you did, I did my time as well.

Those feelings when seeing your other friends so happy and comfortable in parenting - check and check. I was mystified - they all said they were happy, they all fell in love with their babies, it was all sunshine. It wasn't for me.

Now, looking back, I really wish I had reached out for help with what was probably PPD and I'm grateful that it never became anything worse.

It is so hard to adapt to parenthood, especially when you or your baby aren't acting like you're "supposed" to - whatever that means.

It's good that you can share this now and it will surely help someone else.

Freckles said...

I love you for writing this & for sharing it w/ us. I can't even imagine how dark those months were for you, mama. I thought about you lots during that time & my heart overflowed w/ compassion.

Though Quinn wasn't colicky, she was a fussy one. Wanted to be held all the time & only by me. I had so much anxiety even going on simple outings b/c inevitably she'd have screaming inconsolable fits & we'd have to leave. I remember a dinner at a restaurant when everyone was having fun convos & I was sequestered in the corner--nursing, rocking, unable to eat b/c the break in rhythm would send Q into discomfort.

I felt so isolated, depressed, & exhausted. Emotionally broken, like you so aptly said. I used to be so naive! I wanted my old life back. I think as parents things not only get better, WE get better at handling what comes our way. Now when I see new moms, I can't help but search their eyes & hope that I can say the right thing to let them know they're not alone.

Love you to the moon & back, my friend.

monique said...

You are so thoughtful to share your story with others. I so appreciate your honesty and hurt with you back in those hard days. Thank you!

Kim @ NewlyWoodwards said...

THis post truly has me in tears. I'm so sorry you have gone through this. Henry was sort of the opposite. A pretty easy baby (and I use easy lightly). But he's gotten more and more needy as he has gotten older. Maybe it's just a toddler thing, I don't know? But anyhow, this post really touched my heart. I cannot imagine going through this. You are such a wonderful mom.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joi, thanks so much for sharing your story. I simply can't imagine the pain you dealt with. Having a baby is beyond life changing. It turns your world, marriage & life upside down and that's the truth with a good baby. Your honesty is so endearing & I pray that soon the sun comes out for your family. Thank God for a supportive husband for you too.

Lauren said...

I, too, did my time with a fussy baby. I remember sitting in the dark rocking my inconsolable newborn thinking, "well, I guess you're going to be an only child because I am never doing this again." Thankfully after 3 months my babe did a sudden 180 but I still remember the helpless feelings like it was yesterday (it was 18 months ago!). But I'm still not ready to do it all over again!

Anonymous said...

Your post brings back a lot of painful memories. I also had a baby who cried A LOT. It was the hardest thing I've even gone through. When she finally stopped crying all of the time, it took me a long time to recover emotionally. I still feel like I missed out on the sweet newborn phase that a lot of people talk about, and there are a lot of feelings of regret and guilt, even though I know that I had no control over the situation. I just wanted to say that I totally understand where you are coming from, and I am glad you shared your story. It gets better. I promise.

Emily @ DavenportDIY said...

This is beautifully written- thank you for sharing this with us!! I can absolutely relate- B had acid reflux as a baby. He was a pretty easy newborn until around 6weeks and then it was like someone flipped a switch. He screamed all the time, and I also counted down the days until I could go back to work a get a break. Screaming non stop gets very old very quickly and is so exhausting to listen to. I would dread the times he was awake, and I would pray that he would stay asleep whenever we went somewhere so he wouldn't start crying. We eventually figured out his issue was a dairy/soy intolerance and once we got him on the right formula, he became a happier little boy. He still makes it known when he is not happy though. Hugs to you, and know that you are not alone- parenting is rough!!

Mandy Ford Art & Illustration said...

Oh how I can relate to this Joi...I'm so proud of you for sharing your honest story. While my boys weren't screaming/crying all the time, I was VERY overwhelmed and depressed the first few months and it was so rough. I'm sure your story will help at least one other mom who is going through something similar. Knowing you aren't alone makes a world of difference. Big hugs to you!

Sara @ Russet Street Reno said...

You know, Ashford was pretty easy as a baby, but once he turned 8 months is when my depression kicked in. He wouldn't eat, was very touchy, fussy, hard to take anywhere, a total handful. When he only weighed 18 pounds at a year and basically fell off his growth chart, I totally felt like a failure because I couldn't get him to eat and I also wanted to slap his face when he would just wail and wail in the high chair. Now he's 18 months and still so hard, still doesn't like to eat, he won't say any words besides 'shoe' and that worries me so much. Just know that over this past year I have felt that motherhood is more NOT FUN than fun. I question the sanity of people that have more than one, even as I struggle to only have one...because I would rather have 2, but don't think I can mentally and physically handle it. So, you're not alone and I'm so sorry you went through all that! We are all learning now what our moms may have gone through, it definitely is eye-opening!

Anonymous said...

This post really touched me. I think as moms it can be hard to admit when we are having a hard time or when our children are being truly difficult to the point where we are not enjoying motherhood because that makes us feel like a bad mother. This post reminded me that it is ok to feel overwhelmed and to admit to myself that this motherhood thing is really hard. Thank you for your openness.

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I had a very fussy and whining baby until he was about 6 months old. He would scream for hours in the evening through early morning and the fussiness continued until he was about 6 months old. I called the pediatrician so many times because I was certain something was wrong with my baby and I wanted a re-do. It is painful to admit that while I had a healthy baby I had regretted the decision to become a mother. I had PPD until my son was about 1 year. Even after that he wasn't physically on schedule so we were doing OT and PT weekly. It was exhausting. 2 1/2 years later I'm in a much different place, not as dark. My son now is so much different but it still hard to look at his newborn pictures and see how angry he was or to even think about doing it again. Everyone assures me that no two babies are the same, but I would relive it again if I had the same sweet, caring and lovable son that I have now. It feels good to know I wasn't the only one who hated newborn stage and I am bookmarking this and the other site to read later when I need a reminder I am not a bad mom.

Leslie G said...

Hey Joi! I know you had your struggles with T in the beginning and I can't pretend I know how you feel. It hurts my heart to hear about it (especially to my friend!) and I'm so sorry that you had to go through it on a daily basis for so long.
Also, I just read your kitchen post, and my goodness. That does not even look like the same kitchen. You are so talented! What an amazing, AMAZING home you are creating.

Gabbi @ Retro Ranch Reno said...

One major, big, ginormous hug coming your way, mama! You are stronger than you know.

Unknown said...

My son was born a few months before your little man. And I had the baby blues. Stuck around the entire time I was on maternity leave. I had the perfect little baby but I couldn't truly appreciate him because of my depression. I remember looking forward to your blog and seeing how motherhood was going for you. And when your husband started to blog about the little man I just knew something must have been going on with you. You know I as I reflect I'm grateful for the time and I'm glad I went through it because everything I learned about myself and the mother I want to be. Hugs to you, I hope you are able to enjoy the holiday break with your little man. It's such a magical time at this age (in between the tantrums!).

Anonymous said...

It may seem like everyone else is taking their baby to parties, parks, and so on. However, even though I think I have an average baby, I have to take his photo in between the times when he's cyring. So many of my "happy baby" photos are mere minutes before total meltdowns. We take him places (like friends' houses or the grocery store) sometimes, but we know that he could start crying inconsolably at any time. I think it's like that with most babies, even "good" and "easy" babies. As for Theron, I am truly sorry that it has been so difficult between you and him. I knew, even before having a baby, that some kids just cry all the time. I got lucky by having a baby that only cries some of the time and not all of it. Thank you for sharing your story with others - I am sure that hearing your story will help other moms (and dads) who are going through the same thing.

Shavonda@AHomeFullOfColor said...

OMG what a powerful post. I can empathize completely. My son cried non stop at until he was about 6 months old. Nothing made him happy. I felt helpless and defeated everyday. It was such a horrible feeling to have that your newborn hates you, but that's how it seemed. He's 6 years old now and the crying phase is over, but he's still a very particular kid. I'm so glad to hear you are having better days now. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

I needed to comment that I too have been there and felt those things, and cried those tears on the floor in the kitchen. I too didn't go anywhere, or sleep, for a year. I too nursed around the clock and yet didn't feel that bond with my daughter for the longest time, since her cries were so painful to my ears and to my soul. She is now five years old, and beautiful, kind, thoughtful, and a wonderful big sister to two little brothers...yes, I went on to have two more, and prayed through each pregnancy that I wouldn't have to endure that pain and trauma again, and fortunately my boys were "normal" babies, and i feel I savored the moments with them so much more and defiantly didn't take them for granted!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. I don't even know how I got to your blog today but it has me in tears for you and for me, even though my son is 4.5 years old...it was like reading about my experience. And almost no one got it. I remember when he was 5 months old going to visit my aunt and uncle and they GOT ME. Their little one - 5 year old at the time - had been one of the fussy ones and they knew exactly what I was going through. Just hearing that made me feel better. But wow, I think about it now and I realize I might still have post-traumatic stress syndrome. Anyway good luck to you, congrats for having the courage to post this, and for being on the other side now! :)

Anonymous said...

Its very hard to be a mom, but babéis giros, and become this little and individual persons, maybe will help to think in others who have a moré difficoult situation, i have 19 month old baby boy, who born with a congenital heart defect, belive me, that is a real cause of depression, but even that i know mothers who have great hey challenges, autism, down síndrom those aré the real brave moms, think of them and you will see your problemas very a all


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