It has been a rough 2 days – Genevieve has croup. I heard the classic barking cough on Monday afternoon and thought “really!? Isn’t she young for this?” but the diagnosis was confirmed when stridor hit right when it always does, in the middle of the night.
I had grand plans: morning workouts written in my pristine new planner. Yesterday it said “run” and today “MS”, for Mommastrong. Neither are going to happen. G has been up late, early, and in between, and these goals are just unrealistic for this week. But I am as okay with this as I ever have been.
She started making noise again at 5:45 this morning, just as I was putting away the pump. Initially I felt anguish. Indignation. And adding insult to injury, there was only 80 ml collected this morning because — well, I think it’s because she ate all night. But I picked her up and brought her downstairs, recovering from my initial negativity. Her waking up was due to feeling sick, her needing me — it was just the best she could do this morning. And somehow I had enough leftover to feed her, rocking her quietly in the darkness. I didn’t need a pillow like I sometimes do. She was just curled up perfectly in my arms, quietly nursing, a hand gently exploring the edge of my shirt. And then she fell asleep as I lay next to her on Annabel’s former bed. She’s still there. I hear her breathing as I type this, waiting for the first glints of morning sunlight to cause her to stir.
I am still frustrated at times these days. Work feels really stressful and frantic with pump sessions added. I don’t have nearly as much time for reflection and creative expression, and I am definitely not as physically active as I’d like to be. The sleep deprivation is tough, and it’s unrelenting right now. But this morning it struck me how much I am going to miss these days. The feeling of being everything to a tiny little human. Hearing whimpers turn to rhythmic sighs, her expression of pure comfort that feels warm and perfect. These days are going to be over so quickly. The fatigue will dissipate but I hope I will keep the memories forever.
Dear Sarah – this was so beautiful! As you know, I have the (slightly unique) experience of having both a teenager and a toddler (oldest child is 13.5 and youngest just turned 3 last week). Every phase of parenting has its joys and challenges, and I can honestly say with the benefit of experience that the physical exhaustion of being needed so completely by another human being is so extreme and tough at times. And yet, I see now how my teen pulls away from me – emotionally and physically – in a very normal and age-appropriate way. And it helps me savour the young one’s needs in a way I wasn’t able to do with the older kids. He was awake for too too long in the middle of the night due to a bad cold and cough, and it was not fun. But I know it doesn’t last, and so I cherished the slightly feverish head on my shoulder and the absolute need for Mummy. Sleeping on the floor because he sobbed when I left the room didn’t feel so uncomfortable knowing that one day, he too will say (as his big brother did just last night): "It’s okay, Mum, I don’t want to talk about it. I can handle it myself." Hope G feels better soon.
This post made me almost weep! (Can I blame it on Mama hormones?)
It”s so funny how when you”re in “it” – the sleepless nights, the constant worry about producing breast milk, the juggling of work, pumping, a child who physically needs you to survive, other children, and well everything else life has to throw at you – it”s hard to see out of it. I mean just writing it makes me feel overwhelmed. Yet it does somehow fly by and we do miss it. My oldest is 3 and I look at her and regret how often I wished for her to grow up. I feel like as a result of her reflux, breastfeeding issues, etc. I was just pushing her forward. Now with my almost 11 month old son I”ve sort of relaxed (as much as I can) and while I”m tired, and mentally drained, and frustrated at times I can”t throw myself into work / exercise / have me time and still be the best mom ever… I am finding it a bit easier to take it day by day.
Long rambling comment to say- you”re amazing. And I have a feeling your (new) normal will become more routine soon enough. I hope G feels better!
You don”t talk much on here about sleep stuff. I VERY strongly believe that there is no one right answer for baby sleep. Every baby and every family is different. But i wanted to share my experience in case it”s helpful. We did full cio (extinction, no checks) with both our babies at nine weeks (with our pediatrician”s okay). For both it took 1-2 nights before they started sleeping ~11 hours at night. I will be totally honest — I did it both for their sake (because I think getting a solid chunk of sleep is important for their health and development) but also mine, because I knew I”d be unhappy, unproductive, and generally enjoy those amazing baby months less if I was chronically sleep deprived. I am also a scheduler like you and I hated the unpredictability of baby sleep…would I get an eight hour stretch or just a 4hour? So stressful. Anyway, something to consider.
PS your writing made me cry — I”m weiting this w my 4 month old asleep on my lap. It”s really amazing to watch their little faces.
Hang in there! Newborns are so precious, but it can be so exhausting sometimes (all the time?) I hope G feels better soon. Croup is really tough, especially when they are still so little <3
Have you considered formula during the day and nursing while at home (I feel stupid asking that, as I’m sure you have …) Gosh, I just can’t imagine how stressed you are. I said multiple times while on my year long mat leave …. I DONT KNOW HOW AMERICAN MOMS DO THIS … I would have had to take a leave from work and live off credit – I wouldn’t have been able to cope. I also had PPD so that doesn’t help, but still …. you’re amazing for just surviving through each day.
We definitely may do the daytime formula/ morning & night breastfeeding later on. I did with both other kids after a certain point! Both got breastmilk until 6-7 months, then there was supplementation that was necessary. ALL 3 will get some formula – no question.
With Annabel it worked incredibly well – I was able to AM/PM breastfeed for months and we naturally stopped at around 13 months. With C it led rather quickly to him rejecting the breast, and I have to say I sort of regretted not trying harder (though looking at my blog posts it’s clear I was trying pretty damn hard!).
Oh, I can”t inagine how exhausted you must be. Mentally and physically. For whatever it”s worth, it brought tears to my ears reading about nursing G in the dark, without a pillow, and her hands on your shirt. Not because I felt sad for you or her (though I hope she recovers quickly!), but because those times really are so special and it all goes so fast.
Beautifully written. My 23 month old still wakes me up too early, but I’ve learned to savor it.
This was beautifully written and well-timed since my third (and last) baby has gone from one nightly wake up to two. There are so many sweet and tender moments but it takes work to see them as such when you’re exhausted. Babies are so amazing and these times are hard. You’re doing great