Let me preface this post by giving thanks to everyone who took the time to reach out to me after my last posting on the hardships of motherhood. I sincerely appreciate your love and support. I ask that you continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. After reading this post, do not feel like you need to contact me. I write because it is therapeutic for me not because I seek sympathy.
I yelled at my toddler. I got down on my knees and looked him in the eyes and I yelled at him.
Up to that moment, I could proudly say that I’ve never actually yelled at him. Raised my voice? Yes, but I had never yelled. That shameful, heartbreaking moment epitomizes much of my life these days as I continue to struggle with motherhood. I feel low.
Some background… Most of you know that a year ago tomorrow, my husband accepted a promotion with the hopes that the new position would allow him to be more available to his family. Unfortunately, the position is just not family friendly. After having to return early from his paternity leave under non-emergent circumstances, Jesse finally decided that he needed to seek a new job elsewhere. So, for the past two and a half months, he has been applying to and interviewing for jobs. The entire process has been extremely stressful on the both of us. As I am a type A person, living in limbo does not suit me well.
Additionally, I am a highly sensitive person (HSP). For those of you who know little about HSPs and want to learn more, check out the books by Dr. Elaine N. Aron. Basically, what you need to know is high sensitivity is an innate trait and roughly one-fifth of the population is made of HSPs. Highly sensitive persons are more aware of subtleties, be it others’ emotions, textures, lights, smells, etc. They are also more easily overwhelmed. If I had to sum-up HSP in one phrase it is “we feel intensely” (this statement is not to negate the emotions of non-HSPs or to suggest that non-HSPs cannot feel intensely).
I’ve always said that being a HSP is my best trait, but it’s also my worst trait. As a highly sensitive person, I am intuitive and can easily offer empathy. I love fiercely and am powerfully loyal. However, being highly sensitive also means that I am easily overwhelmed and over-stimulated. The whole-job search has left me on edge and I have to work actively to not become preoccupied by it. While, under normal circumstances, my toddler’s insistent whiney is enough to drive me mad, it becomes unbearable when I’m already festering with anxiety. His need to hang on me every available second shifts from annoying to intensely overwhelming. My daughter’s cries make it nearly impossible to think.
Jesse and I have essentially decided to enroll Bug in a preschool somewhere part-time. Holding on to this decision has been my coping mechanism, my survival strategy, if you will. Knowing that not too far off into the future I’ll have one less stimulus at times (I truly do love my son!) has kept me floating. However, our ability to send him to a pre-school program depends entirely on Jesse’s new salary. And, thus far, he has yet to be offered a new job. The program he works for has graciously offered him a more family-friendly position, but the pay decrease is so severe that we wouldn’t be able to pay the bills on the new salary, let alone be able to pay for childcare. Because I know Jesse would love to stay within his current program, I have been looking for potential work for me…but the pickings are slim. Although I have a shiny degree (double major, actually), I have little experience so I’m not a great candidate for any theoretical positions within the field I desire to work. Moreover, those positions don’t even exist. Seriously. No one is hiring. In addition, I cannot come to terms with going back to work full time. I do not think it would be fair to Aselin. I also am not someone who would be able to fight for her rights to pump at work (which, unfortunately, I’d likely have to do) and providing my daughter with breast milk is a priority in our family. I have applied to several generic part time positions in case I do need to help supplement Jesse’s income (and to give me a break from being a stay-at-home mother), but the dream of enrolling Bug in preschool seems to be slipping farther and farther away and I’m just not sure how to handle it….It being life.
I yelled at my son. Yes, I had just been on the phone with Social Security and the Department of Vital Records trying to figure out why my daughter has yet to receive her SS card so that I can file taxes (the exact same problem I faced when Buggy was born). Yes, Buggy decided to start screaming at me for no real reason while I was on the phone, making it impossible to hear the helpful lady on the end of the line, angering that lady because I had to ask her to repeat herself multiple times. Yes, I was frustrated and under extreme stress…but, up to that point, I haven’t felt like a truly bad mother.
I am now constantly on edge. Buggy’s constant need to always touch me makes me resentful and leaves a knot in my stomach. Baby Girl, while truly a pretty easy baby, has now decided that she won’t nurse unless it’s easy. Meaning, she won’t suck enough to trigger letdown. She just screams instead. When letdown finally occurs, she’s happy for all of two minutes with the fast flowing milk but promptly begins to scream as soon as any real sucking becomes necessary. I know it’s not a problem of supply because I can shoot milk across the room with a simple massage. She has gotten lazy. The only remedy I can think of for that laziness is to take away her paci, to ensure that there’s no nipple confusion. However, no paci means a less happy baby. Additionally, as I try to get her to latch, Big Brother insists on “petting” her or kissing her repeatedly which, without fail, causes her to fall off the breast and start screaming again. Frustrated and over stimulated by touch and sound, I cannot function. I cannot parent properly. Bug’s insistent whining for a “hand” and help up when he has “fallen” (by fallen, I mean sat down) makes my blood boil. Today he actually cut himself (minorly) and was bleeding. I felt more annoyance than I did sympathy. I hate that I felt that way.
I went to the doctor yesterday. At the start of the appointment, the nurse took my blood pressure. My blood pressure was so much higher than usual that the nurse started to inquire worriedly about why I might be so stressed. I can’t remember the exact numbers (138 over something) but it was higher than it had been my entire last pregnancy and close to twenty points higher than at my last postpartum appointment. The stress has started to manifest physically.
I am currently holed up in my room, downing a glass of wine (which has left me incredibly sleepy) as my family eats dinner. Even before writing that sentence, I know how unhealthy it appears. But I needed more than a moment to myself. I needed to put my thoughts, my stress, my frustration into words. It makes me feel better. You know, I read all these blogs about how to be a happier mother, a better parent. All suggest taking time for yourself…but when your husband leaves before you wake up and regularly gets home late, there’s not much time to yourself. Exercise, these posts suggest– are also unfeasible. I’ve tried exercising with my toddler around. He climbed on me and I injured my shoulder. We don’t have the money (or childcare) for me to join a gym/class. And, Buggy wakes up at 445 each morning so there’s no way that waking up early will work (plus, Mama needs her sleep. Nighttime feedings, while not particularly tough, are still rough). But I digress…I needed more than a moment to myself, so I’m taking it.
The whole point of this entry is to provide me with therapy. To give me an excuse to spend time alone. To allow me to organize my feelings. If you so desire, please keep the thoughts and/or prayers going. As a family, we need them. And, if you have any suggestions on how to deal with the stress (I know, “this too shall pass” but it’s hard to focus on that fact when you’re in the thick of it), I’m open to your wisdom.
I truly am grateful that life isn’t harder for us. I am too well aware that our circumstances could be worse–we have health, a job, food, and a roof over our heads. I do feel guilt for appearing so…whiny (?). But my feelings are there. And I’m trying to deal with them. So the continued support is much appreciated.