Monday, April 28, 2008

Worst mother- EVER

Patrick has been waking at a progressively earlier hour since the start of the year. At first it was 6 or 6.30 which was just fine, but then it became 5 or 5.30 which was annoying on days off but not too terrible generally because we get up at 5.30 for work. But then it started to be 4.45, then 4.30, 4.15 and this morning, the clock told me it was 0359. We've tried a whole bunch of things to resettle him, and the only thing that seems to work is a bit of 'controlled crying' as he sometimes drifts back off to sleep after 10 minutes or so and we can sometimes get up to another hour of sleep (but more generally, about 20 minutes) before he wakes again, this time for good. And this morning it is extra cold- yesterday was the coldest April day in Sydney for 50 years- aaaaand I've been told that if I go in and try to resettle him he'll just want boobie. So I felt a little justified in just yelling from my room "It's too early, go back to sleep!".

It worked for a bit- he'd stop crying for maybe 5 minutes (just enough to trick you into thinking you'll be able to get to sleep again)but then start up again where he'd left off. By 0530 I realised I was going to have to get up for work anyway so I went in and picked him up.

He was so cold.

I had known it was going to be a cool night so I had dressed him for bed in a singlet suit, a wondersuit, his flanellette pyjamas (cute!cute!cute!) and his gr.oba.g, but his little hands were like blocks of ice and his gorgeous blondie hair was no help against the chill- his face was cold cold cold.

Admittedly his torso was toasty under the clothes he was in, but the coldness had crept up the arms of his 'jamies way past the elbow. I tucked him in with me and he had a feed (I could see his hands turning pink as they re-warmed- at one stage he even started crying and I'm sure it was that terrible stinging feeling you get), and as soon as he was finished he... went back to sleep.

So he wasn't waking up for the day, nor was he really all that hungry (although amongst the howls and indecipherable but undeniably sad burble I have noted "Booo-beee! Boooo-beeee!") but he was terribly terribly cold.

Last year at this time he wasn't as mobile, and we were still swaddling him in cosy flanellette wraps, so he didn't get cold, but this year he is mobile enough to zoot himself out from under whatever blankets I put on him, and I don't really know how else to keep him warm apart from copious layering, which tends to overheat him in the evenings. Do any of you non-terrible mothers have an answer?

Now I'm going to have to go and wake him up for daycare so I can go to work. I am 100% the worst mother-ever.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

introspective at 13-and-a-bit months (must change that ticker)

A whole year has gone by. Has motherhood changed me? What a ridiculous question, of course it has. The real question is: how has motherhood changed me, and what have I learnt about myself?

First of all, I’ve changed physically; I mean, could my boobs hang any lower? With no bra on (walking around the house dressed only in a sarong- something that hasn’t changed one bit) I can put my index finger in my belly button and my thumb on my nipple. I haven’t really lost any more of my baby fat than I had in the first few months: after a rumour started doing the rounds of ICU I had to publish a denial in the most recent department newsletter that I am not pregnant! My feet are still flat and wide, but I can now find shoes to fit, mostly.

On the good side, my upper arms are as strong as when I was young and fit. I’ve finally ditched the ‘long and straight’ hair. I can function on many more levels when sleep-deprived.

Emotionally, well. Where to start?

I learned pretty quickly in my undergrad days that the most difficult psych patients to deal with are not those with frank psychoses. The most troublesome- on many levels- are those with personality disorders. Reading DSM you go through this “oh, I’ve got that…and that… and that…"

I know I’m pretty hard to live with. I get very moody and can be depressed and can get very, very nasty. But I always thought that I was reasonably insightful. And generous. But I have realised through motherhood just how self-centred and superficial I can be. My world no longer revolves around me, and that was pretty damn’ hard to come to terms with initially. As the Stones say “You caint always get what you wa-ant, but you can always git whatcha neeed”. I want a neat, ordered life. I want to have days off to sew and read and go sea kayaking. I want to go to sleep early and wake up late. I want to travel. I can’t do all those things anymore, and, no, it’s nobody’s fault, but my own for wanting them in the first place. Seemingly a long time ago, but probably only two or three years ago if people asked me if I had any kids I would answer on the lines of ‘no, I’m too selfish for that’ and thought I was kinda joking. Turns out I wasn’t, it was actually true. Teenagers often express their wish to have a baby as a desire to have someone who will love them truly. Man alive, that’s so way off track. Babies just seem to take take take take take. And then take some more, then a bit more, and then, just to totally screw you over, take a little more and then poo on it. Christ almighty. It’s that self-giving that I wasn’t prepared for. It seems to never stop. I feel opened, like a wound that will never heal; the irrevocable change that comes with your body affects also your soul. Someone said to Torrie that having a child is like having your heart walking around on the outside, and isn’t that so true. The range and passion of the emotions I feel is just so far outside of the intensity of any I have ever felt before. I mean, I thought my exam was hard. Be-freaking-jawsus. Comes nowhere close to the emotional rollercoaster of the first year of parenthood. Do all parents feel this? Wow. It seems so very, very pretentious to say it to people without children, but you really, really cannot describe it until it happens to you.

Other things that surprised me:

*I thought when Patrick was born I would know what he looked like. Instead he was a little stranger who wanted to invade my life and took over my boobs. Even now, his dear little face changes and grows every day, and I find myself thinking “I wonder what he’ll look like as a man?”. The one thing that has stayed with me- and probably will for life- is that soon after he was born- within the first minute or two I noticed he had a whorl of hair right on his forehead; it still directs how his hair hangs down his face, and I still stroke the scalp where the whorl splits the hair direction to left and right.

*I didn’t know that cuddling and snuggling was a developmental stage. I was beginning to worry that Patrick didn’t like me as he never really clung to me or responded to my snuggling. In the last two or three months, however, he is really starting to become very physical in his affections- I noticed first in the showers at the pool when I was rinsing off the pool water he would cling tightly to me as the water splashed his head. Then I noticed he won’t let just anyone give him a kiss but if I do it he will not only lean in but present his lips to me. Ok, and occasionally a tongue, but for a baby that’s still cute and not at all weird. Now he does full-on ‘climb over mummy and bury my face in her neck when I want a nap’. I feel like my heart wants to just leap out of my chest and bounce down the street with love. I’m beginning to realise just how much PND robbed me of the pleasures of a new baby (well, maybe not brand new, but the first few months at least) and the treatment robbed me of the intensity of these feelings.

*How secondary my (paid) job feels. Actually one of the ICU specialists whose wife is my GP- and a friend- said to me the other day “You can only have one job and one career per family” and I think he’s absolutely right. Right now, my ‘career’ as such is on hold as I meander through part-time training. MrT works full-time and is in the throes of establishing his practice in his registrarship: our roles have changed- he now has the career, I have the Job.

*Just how little good quality advice there is about how to deal with all this emotionally. Most of the baby books I read in my pregnancy were very lah-de-dah how wonderful and ‘natural’ and goddess-like motherhood is. Crap crap crap crap crap. It is only ‘natural’ in the sense that dirt and sticky egg whites and worm casts are natural- that is, it’s an organic and physical process. It’s like less “earth mother” and more “get your hands dirty mother”. It’s hard- and God only knows the number of times I have said this, but it is just so true- the hardest thing I have ever done, bar none- not specialist exams, not Med School, not climbing mountains, not brain surgery, not rocket science, not paediatric anaesthesia comes even close. Not even a distant second. It’s like that “If the sun were this basketball, then the earth would be three blocks away” kind of distance. And anyone who tells you any different is either a liar or has no children.

*The way my relationship with MrT has changed. I knew it would, but I wasn’t sure how. It has been tested to the limits, that’s for sure. Half the time I can’t stand myself, let alone know why he would want to. It’s stronger, different. We’re no longer just kind of two people who love each other and live together. He’s the other genetic half of my baby. He’s the only other person who knows Patrick as a complete and utter pride and joy. He is the most amazing and special man I have ever known and will ever know.

*You know how when you look into a mirror and how weird it is that that person looking back at you is… well, you… It’s nothing compared to the weirdness of looking into the eyes of another person and seeing exactly the same colour eyes looking back at you- but it not being you.

Right. Now that’s off my chest I promise to post nothing but fluff for the next three years.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I know the internet hates 'mommy bloggers' but man, this aint just cute, it's funny IMHO. Sorry you have to lie down to watch it, but I can never remember what orientation the phone camera is. The first one is when he first did it, the second one explains what is going on.

Taken on our back deck last week. Do you like the new 'rock star' pants? Oh and I have been making black onesies since you can't seem to buy them anywhere anymore...


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And now one of the man doing his walking thing. The background noise is cicadas. What a nice Indian summer we have been having! After the cold weather in January I think my daffodils think it's spring because they're all coming up now. In April. Sheesh.

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