Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Disillusionment, Resentment, Guilt, Fear and Doubt

First, let me start by saying I've been up almost all night. I got a few winks between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., but that was it.

I don't know what I was expecting this early parenthood experience to be, but this largely wasn't it.

The well-meaning sentiments to "enjoy these precious moments" seem misguided and I'm always afraid to answer honestly questions about how much I must be enjoying this "special time that goes so fast." It seems so little has been precious or special yet, and time can't seem to go fast enough until things get better.

Because they have to start to get better, right?

So many resentful thoughts run through my mind lately, and I'm not at all proud of them. But they're what I think and feel.

I resent Brian for never having to take Cayden by himself for any period of time. I resent him for getting to leave the house and the baby to work and go to the gym. I resent him because he can leave the baby without planning in advance to have milk ready for Cayden. I resent him for sleeping six or seven hours straight, then still saying he's tired the next day. I resent him for getting to sleep in the bed, yet still insisting on sleeping on the loveseat every now and then. I rensent him for continually arguing that formula is the remedy for all our problems. I resent him because he gets to enjoy a couple of stiff drinks at the end of the day.

I resent the baby for never giving me a break. I resent him for not even letting me enjoy a walk outside anymore, since he now wails after 20 minutes in the stroller. I resent him for making me choose between accomplishing something fulfilling for myself or sleeping, because there's just not time for both. I resent him for taking a big piece of me -- the piece that was something other than maid and babysitter. I resent him for making my back and hip hurt so much I'm going to call the doctor. I resent him for making me dread every evening and hate my couch so much. I resent him for fooling me into thinking he's becoming more manageable, then proving the opposite.

I resent this experience for what it has taken from my marriage -- the patience, the romance, the time, the attention. I resent that my biggest daily accomplishment is emptying the dishwasher or completing a load of laundry. I resent that it takes me days to accomplish a simple task, and that I regularly realize days after I meant to do something that it is still not done. I resent pumping and the fact that even when I get a chance to be away from the baby I can never completely get away because I've always got to be aware of what I eat and drink and pump, pump, pump -- before I leave, while I'm gone, when we come back.

I resent that I've never been made to feel so lonely and sad as I was on the couch this morning, silently sobbing, desperately waiting for the minutes and hours to pass.

The guilt and shame that come from such dark thoughts is staggering. Do I not love my baby enough? How can I think such things about such a well-tempermented baby and such a loving and supportive husband? What do I do with all that misdirected anger and frustration?

I feel guilty for wishing so hard every now and then for everything to go back to the way it was before we got pregnant.

Fear and Doubt
I'm afraid I was right all along and I'm just not cut out for motherhood. I'm afraid of failing at this, and I doubt I have the patience or strength to do right by my family. I'm afraid I'm not the wife and mother Brian and Cayden deserve. I'm afraid I'll never be happy or satisfied again.

Here's hoping today starts to look brighter from here on out. I could use a good day.

Cayden is six weeks and one day old.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry that you're having a rough time. These first months can be so challenging, especially when you're breastfeeding. BFing is such hard work and SO overwhelming. I hope you're still going to the BF group and are able to talk about solutions with them and coping strategies. You're also still in the hormonal zone for baby blues so you've got to battle that as well. I just wanted to reassure you that you're not alone and your thoughts are normal. I hope you have a better day today. You're doing a GREAT job, mama!!

Nikki (bumpie)

Becki said...

I definitely was NOT prepared for how I was going to feel and what it was going to be like with a newborn in the house. I'm not really sure that anything can prepare you for that, but I don't even know that I had thought about what sleep deprivation of that kind can do to you. My marriage was in shambles for the first two months or so because of exactly what you are describing. DH and I even talked the D word at one point. Before our son was born we were equal partners, a team! Whenever we did something together I always felt a big sense of accomplishment and that we'd grown closer. I think this is what I thought it would be like after the baby. But when you're BFing, there really is no such thing as equal partnership.

Somewhere around 2 months we sad down and had the conversation about how we both had false expectations for post-baby life. Really getting it all out in the open helped me to be more clear headed about things when I was really not all there mentally thanks to the lack of sleep. Almost a year later, I feel like our relationship now is better than ever.

I'll be honest, for the first 3 months of my son's life, I felt exactly like you. I was about at the end of my rope. I had tried everything to get him to sleep better...sometimes something would work and then it would stop. It is a moving target at that age, and you really shouldn't take it personally. Our saving grace was when DS finally took a pacifier. We'd tried and tried with all different kinds and I had given up around 6 weeks. Finally at 3 months I tried again, and he started being able to fall asleep on his own and sleeping through the night. Now talk to me in a week when I start the paci weaning process!

So basically what I'm trying to say is that what you are experiencing and feeling is normal. You're not alone, and I really do applaud you for being so open about it. Again, I PROMISE that things will get better. Almost a year later, I can hardly remember those early weeks. You WILL get sleep again! Your relationship with your husband will get better again. It won't ever be the same, but you will have grown together in a new way.

YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS! The fact that you're worried about it at all and continuing to try different things is proof that you love your son and are a great mother. The fact that you still want to BF even though it is tough for you is more proof! Keep up the good work momma!

Here's hoping today is a better day!

MEM said...

Oh sweetie. There is nothing anyone can say at this point that doesn't sound patronizing and critical, even the well-placed encouragement makes you want to pull your hair out. I feel for you, I really do. I was there not too long ago and remember how horrible everything was. Early motherhood just blows. This is why we are supposed to live as tribes, in huts, right next to our mothers and our sisters. Because everything is so hard, it is such a process, and it makes you insane.
WHY IS THIS NOT IN BOOKS? With all we do to prepare, read, and learn in hopes that we can be as successful at motherhood as we are in all the other aspects of our former lives - the only thing that any of these emotions are classified as are the baby blues or PPD. Which the first one doesn't even begin to describe it and the second one is so clinical and cold you don't want to admit it.
The only thing I can offer you is that everything you're feeling is so normal and is so natural and you don't have to fear these emotions, because they will pass. Go ahead and resent your husband. Own that resentment and remind him that while you love him, and are greatful for his love and support, you have every right to want to break his nose. Because in the end - they will never understand the demands of breastfeeding and they will never feel that debilatating isolation that makes you want to throw things. And again, resenting the baby is so justified. Think about it - you have completely lost your entire sense of self, independance, basically your own existance - without warning. And sleep deprivation only makes it worse. This is why it's called torture at Gitmo. You love your baby. That is an understatement. But right now - you miss yourself and the person you used to be. In the end - you know deep down what it best for the both of you and you are getting through it. Keep getting out of the house. Make someone come and fold the laundry and change the sheets and scrub the toilets - or leave them dirty. You are amazing and you've gotten this far! Sending you lots of love.

PS - one day I'll tell you about how hellish it was to take a baby to a PSU game. Just trust me and SAY NO.

Lesli said...

I'm so sorry you are feeling this way, Liz! Everything you wrote was EXACTLY how I felt in those early weeks. I was an absolute mess trying to hang on by a thread. I wanted to just give up and have my old life back. I bawled my eyes out for DAYS and I just couldn't take it anymore. I kept saying over and over again "We are NOT having any more kids!!" I don't understand why they don't tell you about this in hard it really is and how horrible you will feel because I probably would have thought twice about having kids. Now, after going to my doctor for help and getting medication (although my issues started WAY before getting pregnant)...I am on top of the world! I am loving every second with my son and my relationship with my husband is awesome! Like Becki, my husband and I talked the be D word too because we were both so stressed out that we didn't know what else to do. At that point...I knew I needed help. It's ok to see your doctor about this if you seriously can't take it anymore...they can help you! Hang in there, it is getting SOOOOO much better for me and before we know it, this will all be a distant memory. ((hugs))

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your honesty so much. You're not sugar coating it - you're telling it like it is. Thank you for that. I'm going through the struggle right now of "do we have a baby or not have a baby?" and all the thoughts and feelings you're describing is a big chunk of what's holding me/us back. I fear the regret, the resentment, the guilt, the unknown of what this little life could do to OUR life.

I wish you strength to get through these tough times.