Saturday, November 22, 2014

The attack of the hormones


I'm going to be really honest in this post, and try to avoid sarcasm. Cute baby pictures will be included as per usual.


For the first six weeks of Dalton's life, I was riding on a wave of euphoria.

I was so happy that nearly 2 years after we decided we were going to try to become parents, I was holding my baby in my arms. I honestly really didn't see what all the fuss was about regarding that horrible, terrible newborn period. I'd began parenthood on nearly 48 hours of no sleep, and then only slept for 90 minutes at a time at the absolute maximum for his first week of life. And I don't even remember feeling that tired! I'm pretty sure I'm more tired now. The “baby blues” were a mystery to me.

He looks like a different baby now! So much bigger!

Nothing really changed at six weeks, babywise, although my husband did go back to work. Dalton is still the cutest most loveable child on earth, and he is behaving exactly as he should. The difference was that I lost my ability to cope. It's not like it had been easy before - like any baby, he was thrust from a nice, cozy, warm home out into the cold, bright, scary world and wasn't always happy with that transition. There were sleepless nights and 2am crying for seemingly no reason. There was all the confusion that one would expect when a tiny person whose only communication option is crying enters your family. But the stress seemed manageable and the joy and love was overpowering.

Someday I will frame his newborn pictures.

At around 6 weeks I felt like the rug got yanked out from under me. First, I was so upset about going back to work and leaving him that I found myself sobbing several times a day. Daily exercise seemed to help with that, and so did a long phone conversation with our daycare provider. Still, I was struggling with crying bouts and despair.

I suddenly felt crushed with the weight of responsibility. Maybe before we were in survival mode, just taking it one diaper at a time, and unable to focus on the big picture . This beautiful, teeny tiny little boy that I love more than anything in this world is 100% dependent on me. He needs me for literally everything, down to making sure his airway is clear to breathe, to food, to even hydration. (Not to minimize what a wonderful father and husband Eric is, but he just can't breastfeed.) The enormity of that really hit me out of nowhere. It’s terrifying. And it’s for life. Sure, you can say it’s for 18 years, but we all know the motherhood switch doesn’t turn off, ever. I’d previously been able to use the “take it one day at a time” approach successfully. But now I started wondering “What if he never stops crying? What if I never sleep again? What if he will never sleep anywhere but on me?”

Who me? Crying?

I hadn’t missed our old lifestyle at all. We were married for six years before Dalton was born. We’d had plenty of date nights, plenty of time spent at bars with friends, plenty of weekend trips just the two of us. I know it’s still possible to do these things, but we don’t have any family in this state to babysit, and we will already be paying a lot of money for childcare while we’re at work. We both knew having a baby meant those times were essentially done, or at least changed for us. We
were excited to begin a new chapter.

Our last photo as a family of two. So beautiful.

I wasn’t pining away for a date night. However, it did strike me around this time that more than just that aspect of my life was forever changed. Sure, I was fine saying goodbye to our favorite bars, but maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was to give up doing everything on my terms. Like eating. Using the bathroom. Making a phone call.

Of course, with that frustration and fear comes the mom guilt. Why should I be upset? I wanted this baby in my life so badly that I once secretly cried at work after yet another negative pregnancy test while watching a mother kiss her daughter goodbye. I should only ever experience feeling joy, happiness, and love no matter what happens. I still do experience those emotions, all the time, at a greater intensity than I ever could imagine. It’s just that their redheaded stepchild counterparts have now snuck in.

He tried to fight them off for me.

I was also feeling more and more like a parenting failure. The whole time I was pregnant, I constantly heard about how that “skin to skin time” after birth is absolutely crucial. And I truly didn’t feel worried because I had missed out onthat. But just a few short weeks later, all the sudden I was inundated with “drowsy but awake”. I had never even heard of this, although granted I didn’t research infant sleep much, because I held out hope that I’d have one of those magic perfect sleepers. That didn’t pan out, so I had become the stereotypical mom frantically reading baby sleep books and asking everybody and willing to buy anything that would make my baby sleep.

Well, apparently you are supposed to be putting them down to sleep the second they start to look sleepy. Now everyone from the book authors to the pediatrician was angrily pointing their fingers at me demanding to know why I would cuddle with my baby until he slept, and then sometimes even nap on me, or at least that’s how it felt. First it was essential to hold your baby, now it was “what kind of mother are you, holding your baby all the time?”

I just love seeing this squishy face on my chest so much.

On top of all this, or maybe what was causing all this, hormones were bitch slapping me left and right. First I was crying because he wouldn’t sleep anywhere but on us and I couldn’t sleep. Then I was crying because he wouldn’t sleep anywhere but on us and it was all my fault and I had ruined him for life and he would never be able to sleep or be successful in any way. Then I was crying because he wouldn’t let me put him down to sleep. Then I was crying because he would let me put him down to sleep and I missed him and soon he would be crawling, walking, driving, and never want to cuddle with mom again and this was my ONE CHANCE. And now I’m crying just remembering all that crying.

I have a ton of support. I can’t even remember everyone who has reached out to me, listened to me, and told me it gets easier. And logically I know it must. I’ve been teaching elementary school for ten years, so probably 300-400 students, and not one of them has reported sleeping on their parents, or cried for no reason all day, or been unable to function unless someone is holding them in their arms. But, deep down, I don’t really believe any of these people who say it supposedly gets easier.

I don’t really have a point for sharing this, other than to remember my feelings at this point in my life. I thought I was in the clear since I felt fine when we brought him home from the hospital, but hormones are tricky bastards. I think they were just laying low to build their strength and launch their attack when they were at their most powerful.






  1. Go easy on yourself above all else! No matter what the books or the doctor or others say do what feels best for you and Dalton!! You are doing an amazing job and Dalton has no idea that what you are doing might not be what the books say. He is loved and that is the bottom line. And guess what, in 5 years or so another book will come out discounting everything these books say. Take them with a grain of salt and do what feels right for you! And cry all you need to, it is perfectly normal and even healthy!! Tell yourself everyday that you are doing a great job, even when it feels like you aren't!! Anna slept on me for what seems like the whole first year, she even slept in bed with me (gasp yes I said it, and I did it.) Sometimes you have to banish the "experts" and become the expert yourself, even if its not what others say, but because it's what you feel is best for you, Eric and Dalton! I will be more than happy to come hold that precious baby anytime you need to get out, even if it's just for a run!! Just ask and I will be there :)

  2. Saying it gets better doesn't really help until you flash forward in time to when it actually is better. Hang in there. So long as you're acting out of love for dalton I don't think you can be doing anything wrong or that will scar him for life.

  3. I agree with the comment above. Doctors don't always know what is best for your family. They can give recommendations and advice but you can choose whether or not to follow it. You know Dalton more than anyone else.
    I completely understand the crying just talking about crying. That was me that horrible day at work when I couldn't stop crying and when I would think I was over it, I'd think about how I was crying and cry again. Hormones are crazy.

  4. The weight of sleep deprivation, parental responsibility and hormones can feel crushing, I know, but just like Dalton, YOU are behaving exactly as you should too! I know that doesn't make you feel any better, (just like telling you it gets better doesn't make you feel any better) but you're not alone. And you're doing such a good job. Look how happy he is when he's not crying for no reason!

    Thanks for writing this. Your honestly as always is a breath of fresh air. XO

  5. I feel like there ought to be an "it gets better" campaign for new parents. Because there will be stretches where it just SUCKS, and I think we're pattern-seeking creatures anyway, so of course we view it like what's halpening is potentially the rest of your life. Obviously, it isn't, but we also aren't capable of rational thought when sleep deprived. There's a reason some torture people that way -- because they crack! It could take literally a couple of months, but it also could take a stretch of days, but kids keep changing. They're growing like crazy, and stuff is happening with their bodies and brains. I do know this -- when you're in the shit, it looks like no way out, but I promise that as you get away from the bad stretches, it's almost hard to remember how bad they were (unless, you know, you extensively blog about it). Anyway, it does get better.

  6. I can't begin to understand all of this but I do know this: our parents and grandparents didn't have all these books and self-proclaimed blogging experts to tell them what was right or wrong with their child. And we all turned out fine. As long as you love Dalton unconditionally and support him through whatever, I imagine your son is going to be fantastic :)

  7. I'm sorry...this all sounds so stressful! But honestly, as long as you are taking care of him in basic ways - food, changing him etc - and loving him, he will be just fine! (((hugs))) Hang in there! As my dad is fond of saying, "this too will pass."

  8. I held my babies and everyone told me I was spoiling them. They can all take a hike. Around 6 months, we weaned them from night-feedings and they learned to sleep through the night. Don't worry, you haven't done anything wrong or irreversible. Just do what feels right for you and your family.

  9. damn those hormones!
    that's all I got ; )


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