Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Hard Stuff

First, the title of this post is not a reference to alcohol. LOL. Rather, let's have a discussion about PPD and other post-baby hardships. I'm not sure how it was for all the moms out there. Sometimes I think we feel like we can't admit if things were really hard. I know for me, I've already fallen prey to that need to act like everything is just going great. As you can see with my sleep stuff, it's not necessarily going great. I've gotten messages and comments from several people about my nap training. First - "training" is sort-of a strong word for what I've been doing. I've really just been trying to put her down in her crib for naps. Mainly because I just couldn't deal with holding her for 5-6 hours of naps everyday. And there are reasons for that. And I would like to be candid with you about those reasons.

For those who know me in real life, you'll know that I've always been one of those people that has to be going, going, going. In January 2007, I started back to school to get my BA in Elementary Education. I also continued to work full time. I was also a wife, friend, daughter, etc. So between work, school, social and family responsibilities, I was a busy girl. But it worked for me. I continued this year-round - with summer classes in the summers - from January 2007 until last semester. I cut my hours back a little bit at work in the very end, but that was made up for by my increase in school responsibilities. Therefore from January 2007 until December 2009, I was going, going, going. I had plans to continue this after having Isis. I thought I would just start my student teaching on January 27 - after having Isis on January 2 - and just keep going. I also thought that if for some reason I didn't start my student teaching, I would go back to work after 6-8 weeks.

Well, neither of these things happened. I suddenly found myself a stay-at-home mom. This was something I never had planned on for myself. Not because I didn't want to spend time with my child or because I didn't respect stay-at-home moms, but rather because I know myself and I knew that staying at home would potentially and literally be very depressing for me. This has turned out to be true. But it's partially my own fault and it's partially because of several other things. For one thing, it's cold outside and it keeps snowing a lot! As a result, I have spent a couple of solid Monday through Friday weeks at home without leaving. Most of that time being at home with just Isis - and as most of you probably know with newborns - she isn't awake a lot and when she is, she isn't super interactive. So I'm left with my own thoughts, fears, worries, etc. I just sit there and over-analyze and over-think everything.

This resulted in a minor emotional breakdown yesterday. I felt lonely. I felt like I wasn't a good mom. I felt like I wasn't a good wife. I felt like I wasn't contributing to my family. I felt like no one wanted to hang out with me now that I have a baby. I felt bad that I didn't want to hold her for 5-6 hours a day. I love cuddling with her. I would love to hold her for one of her naps everyday just because I know that she won't be that little for that long and I won't always be able to hold her for naps. But sitting still on my couch while she sleeps on my chest for 5-6 hours gets very emotionally tiring for me. And you can think what you want about that, but that's how it is. I need to be moving around. I need to be doing something. I need to be productive. And at the end of the day, I think one of the best things I will have to offer Isis is ME. And ME is someone who needs to be doing stuff. If I'm home all day while Lewis is at work, then when he gets home, I want the dishes to be done and the laundry finished and dinner cooking, etc. I feel like it's my job and I will enjoy doing it. But I can't do it if she's sleeping on me all the time.

On the flip side, I also need to get out of my house. Sometimes I just need a break. And going out and doing things - even WITH Isis - would be a break! I don't want to be away from her, I just want to be out of the house. I finally talked to some people about this and found a couple of ways to get out of my house, so that'll be good. I also love when I have visitors, but the ones who were so eager to come at the very beginning have backed off as Isis gets older. I don't think they're backing off because they aren't interested. I just think that people have lives & things to do during the day. And I need to find my stuff to do. But still, if anyone wants to come visit & watch a movie or just sit & talk - let me know! But I think I may start going to Jazzercise with Diana and she also goes to the public library for story time with her girls, so me & Isis may join her for that. I also have been invited to go hang out at Laurel's house because she stays home with her girls & she can talk to me about mom stuff & maybe help me with some stuff with Isis!

So basic gist of my post - I may or may not have PPD - I actually am not sure it's that as much as it's just a cabin fever kind of thing. But I can already tell that moms are under a lot of pressure. I feel pressure to be a good mom and to do the "right" things, but I've found that the "right" thing varies depending on the mother and the child. I feel pressure to contribute to my family and it's really hard for me that my contribution is not monetary, but Lewis has been really encouraging and made it clear that my contribution is just as valuable. And I'll be working when I finish my student teaching, so I won't always be staying home all the time like this. I need to enjoy this time with Isis. With the second (& hopefully 3rd) child, I won't be able to stay home so long with them. So I'm going to ease up on some of my stress about naps with Isis, but I'm going to continue to try to get her to sleep in places other than in my arms and I think it's okay that I need to do that. I'm also going to try to get out of the house. If anyone has suggestions - let me know! I really want to do something like MUMS at Southland, but I know that I can't do that this year and I don't know of any other groups like that.

And more than that, I'm going to try to be clear and candid with the people who care about me so that they know if and when I need help. After opening up to some people yesterday, I've found that there are people everywhere who want to help.


katie said...

i'm not a parent, so i don't have any advice to give...but i just wanted to say, i really have loved reading your posts about isis! i love your honesty and the fact that you are so candid about stuff -- the good and the bad.

i hope it's not creepy that i'm writing this!! i just wanted to let you know that i really admire you, and i think you are doing a wonderful job, and i look forward to reading more of your adventures with isis :)

Cameron said...

Thank you so much Katie!! It's not creepy at all! I really appreciate your encouragement!!

Anonymous said...

It is perfectly normal to need time out of the house! It's hard when you have a baby in the middle of the winter and get stuck in the house alone all day! Very hard! My first baby was born Jan 26 and it snowed and snowed that year, too, and my husband would get up early, go to work, get home about six o clock, and I was in that quiet house alone all day long. Maddening. Of course you love the baby, but it would be crazy to think you want to hold her all day long! And not good for her, either! Soon springtime will arrive and you can get out with her whenever you wish...public library, long walks out of doors, visit with friends, go shopping with her along, volunteer at your church, etc. She will be quite portable and happy to ride along with you! These first weeks are tough, and tougher when you are alone and it's cold and you can't get out much with a new baby! You're not crazy, and it's normal to feel blue and lonely. Little babies are wonderful, but demanding and requiring a HUGE adjustment in your every day...and you were so accustomed to being so very busy. Check out your church and see if they have Mom's Day Out. Mine did, and it was great. I could have 1-2 hours to myself a couple of times a week and it made a HUGE difference in my attitude! You're doing a GREAT JOB! And new moms are not expected to keep a perfect house...fix perfect meals. Babies are a full time job at not put so much pressure on yourself to keep the house perfectly and to cook every night. You are NURSING A BABY! That is a hard job, an important job, and a full-time job!!!!!! Love you. Betty

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are going through A LOT. You (and all moms) are my heroes. I can't imagine doing everything you do, just on a daily basis with Isis - I would be pretty loopy! Kids are an amazing gift but it's so important to realize that the ability to love ourselves is also an amazing gift. Too many people go through life completely unaware of their emotions and brush them off as invalid, but props to you for recognizing how you and taking steps to be a happier you!
Sorry this a totally random post but I hope this brings some cheer...
Keep your chin up and find one little thing to smile at every day. That's the key!!
-Caitlin Mitchell

Mama Smors said...

Cameron~ I love your openness on this post!! I have a friend that is very much on the go and had a hard time adjusting at first. Then she realized exactly what you were saying, that you just need to get out when you can with Isis. One of the greatest things about a newborn is they can sleep/nap anywhere. Let Isis sleep in the carseat while you browse Joseph Beth, the library, or the mall. Go hang out with friends who are where you are (for encouragement) and friends who aren't moms (for a break!!!). Take Isis along! I got pretty bent out of shape thinking I needed Ivy on a routine.... fast!! Now I realize that this was necessary when she was about 4 months, but not needed when she was little bitty. Hang in there!! It gets easier and before long Isis will be running all over the place and chatting up a storm :) My best advice is get out and go right now! And I think you will feel better about everything. Even with a 2 year old I get cabin fever in the winter... hope that makes you feel better! Love your blog, love pics of Isis, you are a great mom, and your time with Isis (as a mother) and time at home (as a wife) is oh so valuable!

Anonymous said...

OK--my quick thoughts about all this...b/c I don't have much time to write!! FIrst, I can guarantee that you will never again feel like you have so much "free" time in which you find yourself bored or alone with your thoughts. Once Isis moves around, in a few months, your life won't be the same. Savor this time. I mean it. Even if you like to be on the go, appreciate this gift that allows your body to recover and your heart to connect with this child. You won't get this the 2nd time around, much less the 3rd.
And I agree w/ the previous comment-take Isis everywhere right now! She's immobile and she'll sleep. Do not let yourself feel so tied to a schedule.
Regarding the sleep training, each kid will be so different, and how you deal with them will differ too. My first slept in the crib from her first night and was a beautiful sleeper. My 2nd required a lot more holding and consoling; she was a very tough baby. That, along with a toddler, and life was crazy. And by my 3rd, I had learned to savor the fact that he'd let me rock him to sleep. I got a lot less sleep w/ him, but I really look back and love all the times I spent with him. But of course you can't (and don't want to) spend 5 hours a day holding a napping kid. That is completely normal!! With your first kid, you tend to OVERanalyze EVERYthing!! Try not to let yourself fall into this.
I had semi-serious depression when I moved with a 2 and 4 year old to a new city b/c you need mom-interactions. "Playgroups" are always more about mommies than kids for a reason!! So find some mommies to hang with. And realize that finding the balance between being a mommy, wife and homemaker, and someday a teacher, will be a constant, never-ending struggle. It just will. The old cliche of "a woman who has it all" is only partly true--you can have it all, just not all at the same time. So enjoy this time of "just" being a mommy. You will look back with great envy at it one day. And you'll also realize, with time, that you don't need to stress about doing everything "right" because "right" changes and evolves. And our kids somehow survive and thrive, sometimes in spite of us! You are doing just fine!!! love you!~Sara

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