Tough Right Now

Life is really tough right now.

I knew it would be, but this doesn’t make it any easier.

People ask how I am doing, and what am I supposed to say?  I tell them the truth – that it’s hard and that I am doing the best that I can – but if I truly stop and express to them just how hard and just how much I struggle, then I fear I’ll just fall apart.

I need more human contact.  My son needs more human contact.  It’s good for us.  But getting there, getting OUT, is SO. FREAKING. HARD.

Today we got up and tried to get to playgroup.  I got up around 7:45.  The playgroup started at 10:30.  By 11:45 I was still feeding my youngest a bottle.  I texted to cancel.  We ended up taking a walk, by ourselves, in the freezing cold because it was the easiest and quickest way to get outside.  Yes, it was better than nothing, but man, it sucked.

And that’s the thing – I don’t expect perfection, but I feel like I am trying my hardest and that I’m still failing.  At some point in the day, I’m always failing SOMEbody.  Sometimes it’s me (because I can’t make social contact with friends), or the baby (because she’s screaming hungry and has to wait), or my toddler (because he’s screaming that he wants to go outside but has to wait), or my husband (because he listens to me complain and cry and fall apart).

I usually start the day off trying my best to cope, like today.  But the time ticks by and more and more gets in the way of reaching our meager goals (getting to playgroup), when it finally comes crashing down because my toddler kicks me in the jaw and I burst into tears, or my baby won’t nurse even though I know she’s hungry and I burst into tears.  These days, it’s rare to get through the day without feeling like the walls are crashing down on me.

I have glimpses of hope and reminders that life gets better.  I try and hold onto those.  But living in the moment requires breaking down, because the here and now is often unbearable.  That’s why I am always on my damn phone – if I can just check out for a minute, maybe I can regroup and reenter my life.  Or just pass the time; maybe when I lift my head, things will be different.  Better.

So I’m coping.  At least I am getting more sleep these days, but I am still choosing sleep over most other things.  I choose sleep over chores, over human interaction, over getting out of the house.  Because if I am not moderately rested, nothing else matters.  That may sound dramatic, but it’s true.  Here’s the catch, though: if I’m not a zombie physically (sleep deprived), then I’m a zombie emotionally (isolated).  It’s like I can’t win.

Not to mention that this winter, everyone and their mom is sick.  Everyone in my family was sick a month ago, including my newborn, and that was pure hell.  Less sleep and meeting with other people all mean a higher chance of getting sick again…so perhaps hunkering down is what we just need to do right now, even though I don’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter at the moment.  I suppose all these circumstances just mean I super prioritize what get togethers we try and attend.

Lest I begin rambling, I will simply repeat my point in closing.

Life is really tough right now.

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Juggling Act

I can say that having a newborn the second time around, for me, has been easier than the first time.  That leap from non-parent to parent was so intense and life-changing, and nothing could have ever prepared me for that experience.

This time, though, I’ve realized that the only thing that can prepare you for baby number two (if anything) is…baby number one.  And it’s not the baby that’s doing the preparing, exactly, but it’s the experience of being a parent, of having to care for a newborn.  This time, I knew to expect the extreme sleep deprivation, and what that felt like.  I knew to expect feeling isolated, feeling trapped inside the house, feeling resentment at my baby, at my husband, at everyone who wasn’t me and didn’t have my issues.  I also knew to expect that this newborn phase would pass (and quickly), that there was definitely light at the end of the tunnel.  I had done this before; I could do it again.

Because of this previous experience, I think I was able to fall in love with my baby a whole lot sooner than with my first.  This time, I had already given up my freedom, my childless status, my sanity, so there was no resentment.  I had little else left to lose!  I’m already crazy, baby, so you can’t even come close to rocking my world (in a negative way) the way my first one did.

And this time, this baby made my family complete.  Because she’s my last kid, I figure I had better enjoy the good parts while I can.  I also did this with my first, to be sure, but it’s different when you know something is the last time going in.

Another point is that we already had all the baby crap.  There wasn’t new stuff to research and buy and worry if you’re getting the right thing, or enough things.  We had all the things!  They just needed to be washed, is all.  Easy-peasy.

This time, it’s been a little easier because we, my husband and I, have more balls to just smile and nod while our baby’s doctors tell us to do impossibly time consuming and unrealistic things, and then go home and do what we know will work for us.  Namely, we’ve been told with both babies to wake them up to eat every 2-3 hours.  We are blessed with babies who love their sleep.  Waking them up made them pissed (like me) and they didn’t want to eat.  It wasn’t working.  We killed ourselves trying to comply with the doctor’s orders for baby number one.  For this one, fuck that.  We’re letting her sleep, and guess what – it’s working.  And that’s only one example, but it’s an important lesson to just follow your gut because it’s made all the difference.

This time around, my physical recovery was easier, which may seem counterintutitive.  I was anemic with my first, so I felt weak, tired, and out of breath.  This time, although my labor and delivery was crazy amounts more intense than the first (that’s another post entirely), I’ve felt more energetic and sooooo happy to have my body back.

One of the biggest reasons why this is more manageable: my husband and I have already hashed out how we deal with all the baby-related chores.  This may not sound like a big deal, but trying to figure out who does what and when and how and what feels fair is the biggest deal of them all.  It’s so easy to feel alone, unsupported, and resentful when you don’t feel like your partner is doing their fair share of the work.  We got through all those sleep deprived, tear stained arguments two years ago, so now we’re good.  Feeling the ease of routine and the support from my husband has been incredible.

So what’s been hard?  The hardest part by far has been trying to meet both my kids’ needs, often simultaneously, not to mention trying to meet my own.  There’s always at least one person waiting for needs to be met, and it kills me.  I feel like I owe both my kids an apology.  I’m sorry to my toddler, who’s been used to having my undivided attention his entire life and suddenly has to share me and wait for things.  I’m sorry to my infant who has never known my attention to be undivided, who sometimes has to wait for things.  I never worried about being able to love both my kids; that part is easy.  But feeding them at the same time?  Goodness help me.  It’s one huge juggling act.

How am I holding up?  Better than with my first baby, that’s for sure.  The first 6 months with him were the hardest, and if this time is anything like the first, then I definitely see a light at the end of the tunnel: come June, I’ll be getting more sleep, we’ll have found our new normal, we’ll have a routine and a schedule, I’ll feel better in my body and I’ll be ready to be more active and my god, the weather will be nicer.  Walks!  Parks!  Bike rides!

Right now, I’m rediscovering a realization I had when my son was tiny: that good days and bad days don’t depend on what happens, but they depend entirely on how I am feeling and my ability to cope with what happens.  If I am well rested and have patience, it’s going to be a good day.  If I can remember to sing and dance and laugh, it’s going to be a good day.  Even if that day includes a tantrum and tears and potty accidents.  That all may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s huge.  It makes all the difference.

Here’s to surviving the newborn phase being a mom of two.  Cheers.

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I’m Gonna Win at NaBloPoMo

Guess what?!

I think I’m gonna try this NaBloPoMo thing.  I think.  Maybe.

(NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month.  I’m already really tired of typing that, so maybe I should just shorten it to NBPM.)

It all started when I saw WP’s The Daily Post about it, and I thought, Hey.  November is almost here.  I’d kinda like to be a writer.  I’m unemployed outside the home and I enjoy typing in my pajamas.  And I don’t have a newborn this year!  And that was all I had to hear of my own voice before I convinced myself to take the plunge.  Although I totally should have done it last year when I did have a newborn, and I could have pledged to type all– wait, how many days in November?  Only 30!  Yaaaasss! –all 30 days one-handed whilst breastfeeding.  Now that would have been impressive.

And I’ve gone and announced my intentions publicly, so now I’m really on the hook.  Once I stop to think about what I’ve gone and done, this should be interesting.  And by interesting I mean I might fail, because I only have about two ideas for blog posts, and I plan to travel (read: fly) back to California for Thanksgiving with my walking-like-crazy toddler (pray for me, y’alls, pray for me) and so I may miss a few days here and there.  Or, my perfectionist self will yell, FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION!, so determined not to miss a day, I’ll be forced to attempt to use the WP app to post a frantic picture of myself wanting to melt into the terminal floor and die at the airport.  You won’t want to miss it.

Get ready for 30 days of run-on sentences!!  I can’t wait.

The Gray

Today I took a walk with Dylan, and I am so glad I did.

We squeezed it in, forced it into the tiny space of time between the end of cleaning up from lunch and the moment when D self-destructs without warning, in need of a nap.

I am glad I forced it.

Why?

Because I can feel the Northwestern winter creeping up on us all too soon and it’s freaking me out.

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We had a few days of gray and rain and coolness already, and I hoped that we hadn’t said goodbye to summer already.  At this time last year, I remember it still being quite hot, or is that just me seeing through the foggy, thick pea soup of having a newborn and carrying around the extra heat-producing baby weight and wanting sleep so badly I’d do something illegal to get it…?

I can handle the depressive gray for a few days here and there.  And when I know it’s only temporary, then I actually like a change of pace where the weather’s concerned (of course, then my therapist self reminds me that everything is temporary if you give it enough time….so there).  Last Sunday I actually started to feel that twinge of excitement and coziness that I get around Halloweentime.  It makes me want to throw on a sweater, watch movies, and consume warm, sugary beverages (as opposed to the warm months, which make me want to consume cool, sugary beverages).

This will be my third winter but only my second fall in the Northwest.  This year, approaching Fall and Winter feels different.  Last year, I had a snuggly newborn and I was overwhelmed and tired and had a great excuse not to go anywhere or see anyone.  I didn’t get dressed, and I breastfed and cuddled and snoozed and rocked and bounced and sang and ate and watched TV.  Yeah, the weather sucked, but I was too wrapped up in my own personal ball of crazy – each gray day blending into the next – that I didn’t notice.  Or maybe it was that the gray backdrop matched my gray days and so everything seemed to fit.

But now – now I have a kid on the verge of walking.  He wants to MOVE.  And go outside and see things and explore.  And as for me, I want a life, too.  Seeing the world through his eyes also makes me want to go outside and see things and explore.  But the weather.  The gray.  That makes it hard.  It’s like The Nothing from The Never Ending Story.  Sounds a bit dramatic, but I assure you, Seasonal Affective Disorder is real and it sucks.  I have to push through it and I am not looking forward to pushing.

Which reminds me why I pushed to get outside and walk today.  Because it was SO NICE outside.  It was beautiful, and for that I am very thankful.  School was just letting out, and I enjoyed getting to see all the littles getting picked up by their parents who love them.  Dylan and I watched and I told him that’ll be us in 4 short years.

Four very short gray winters from now.