We made it. Phew.
Little Tator Tot is 7 weeks old today, and boy has it been a whirlwind. Let me regale you with the crazy.
LOOK at my face. This is how I approach each day right now.
Those first two weeks, well, I was in the hospital for 4 days and then in a fog of gross feelings and “WTF!!!” for the rest, and I was miserable in my post-partum bleurginess. (Yes, that’s a word.)
These next 4 weeks…well, let’s just say that face above is a pretty good indication of where my emotional state has been. Add to that the chronic sleep-deprivation and the fact that my c-section incision has been infected for at least 3 weeks and the meds aren’t helping and I had to take a trip to triage and get more meds…and you can SORT of begin to understand where I’m coming from with all of this.
You might want to take a seat…
With Little Potato, 9 years ago, I remember very clearly feeling absolutely insane and in over my head, to the point I had to sit on my hands to prevent myself from snatching her out of the hands of unsuspecting visitors who came by for a baby-snuggle. I couldn’t explain it… I just felt this intense desire to snatch her away and hide. I cried a LOT.
And then suddenly around the 6 week mark it was like a switch was flipped and I felt normal and sane and in control of myself again. So I’m chalking this time’s hysteria up to the VERY real post-partum hormones.
This time, because we’ve essentially been quarantined until she was at least 6 weeks old, I haven’t had visitors. Instead, I have obsessed about every noise, every little red spot, every burp. I have pestered the living snot out of my sister and my two best friends (all of whom are moms and one of whom is a public health nurse in Ontario…by the way, thank you for still being my friends!) with crazy questions about literally everything.
I’ve counted feeds, counted diapers, counted the hours between feeds and diapers, freaked out if she sleeps a little longer than usual, freaked out if she stays awake a little longer than usual. I’ve woken up a thousand times to check her breathing. I’ve fallen asleep with her on my chest and then obsessed about whether I’m doing damage to her in some way because she’s not on her back. She’s been horrendously gassy and fussy. Is this normal? Is this the result of something I’ve done? Or not done? I’ve Googled the living hell out of EVERYTHING in the wee hours of the night and obsessively read articles during the day. I’ve driven myself bananas asking everyone I know if the amount she grunts and strains is normal. Like, every. Single. Day. (We’ve started down the road to Colic Town, I think, and so I’ve read every Google article on colic and how to manage it…even though Little Potato was colicky, too. So we’ve been there.)
I’ve questioned every cry. I’ve video taped any variation in her breathing to send to my poor friends to get their feedback. I’ve called my local public health nurse more than once to ask about her gas, about breastfeeding, is she okay in her car seat, am I doing it right, am I doing it wrong, is baby okay? I’ve read the entire Dr Sears website all over again.
I’ve obsessed about how her breathing changes in her car seat. I’ve gone back to the fire hall and made sure they installed the seat base the right way. I’ve read and re-read the installation manual.
I started thinking of ways to minimize her time in the car seat. I’ve also started looking at lie flat car seat options because I’m made of money apparently.
Having a baby again has started testing my sanity…
Maybe not entirely, but I sure feel it.
It’s so easy to feel in over your head. Because you quite literally are. You’re in charge of a human. A brand new, shiny, no miles on her, human. And she depends on you for EVERYTHING, while simultaneously sucking the life out of you (if you’re breastfeeding, then quite literally, HA!)…that’s enough to make even the most seasoned Navy Seal tremble just a little. (I have no idea what relevance Navy Seals have to this analogy…I’m sleep-deprived, okay?)
And yes, I did all of this 9 years ago. And was very much more alone that time than I am now. Today, I have a GREAT group of mom friends, and I have experience. I have a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips, and I also have the support of those around me.
But what’s old is new again.
Two weeks ago, Tator Tot started to lose her voice. She’s quite the crier (she goes from 0-60 in under 3 seconds when she’s hungry) and has a very healthy set of lungs on her. So a quick check with Dr Google gave me 3 common reasons as to why infants can suddenly go hoarse. The VERY FIRST RESULT was that it was probably just related to excessive crying, which totally makes sense because she’d been SO uncomfortable with gas and reflux for the previous 2 weeks. But see, Dr Google sends you down that rabbit hole. And hours later I ended up obsessively checking her fontanel and searching for pictures of what a sunken fontanel looked like because I wasn’t sure how sunken-in was sunken-in.
Then I started panicking because she wasn’t crying as much that night… (Uhm, she had no voice…) So the next morning I bundled her off to the pediatrician.
And that’s when I finally took a step back, and checked myself.
Our normal pediatrician was off on holidays so I booked an emergency appointment with her cover. She was the most dismissive doctor I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.
I told her that I was concerned about Tator Tot’s hoarseness. She insisted she couldn’t hear it. She said “she has a good cry.”
She instead just checked all of Tator Tot’s vitals, checked her fontanel, checked her lungs and tummy, her diaper, her eyes, her breathing…and declared her “PERFECT!” She’s gaining weight steadily, she’s a good colour, she’s responsive. There’s NOTHING WRONG WITH MY CHILD.
I asked about the hoarseness again. She dismissed it. She said “if you had come to me with a cough or with distressed breathing I’d be concerned.”
As for the gas, she gave me the name of some probiotic drops (the very drops my OB recommended when I went in the previous week to get antibiotics for my incision). The same probiotic drops I’m already giving her. The same drops my sister gave her kids and said would take 2-3 weeks to kick in.
So I left feeling… well, silly.
Here’s the thing. I felt like I needed a professional (an adultier adult) to tell me she was okay. I needed to hear it. And honestly, I’m not sorry for being a Mama Dragon and seeking out the confirmation I needed. She’s my kid, after all.
But if I’m completely honest with myself, through ALL of this the voice in the back of my head had repeatedly told me I’m overreacting and that if something was really wrong, I’d know. How? I just would. I’m a mom. It’s something we just know.
And I have known for weeks that nothing was wrong.
But I Googled, and I read, and I did the very things I told myself months ago I wouldn’t do — cave to the advice and expertise of the self-proclaimed parenting gurus online before I checked my own gut.
And THAT is the lesson, my friends.
Why don’t you get taught?
The lesson is that in those early weeks you will be absolutely bat shit crazy and it’s perfectly normal. The hormones that are coursing through your body and slowly dissipating after the birth are enough to make even a Navy Seal lose their cool (there’s the reference again).
Sleep deprivation, the constant crying, the Internet…all those things and more will make you crazy. The conflicting advice from people. The kind of doctor / pediatrician you find. What you read. What you remember from other children or friends and their children. The point is there’s so much that will make you question yourself, your gut, your sanity. And ALL OF IT IS NORMAL. We all go through it. You just have to make it through the first 6-ish weeks and then suddenly, like a clearing fog, things suddenly start to feel better.
We’re 7 weeks today, and for the first time in weeks I feel … OKAY! Yes, okay. I feel like my sanity is slowly returning. I have a better handle on things. I am tolerating her crying more. I am learning her cues. I am recognizing her patterns. My confidence is returning.
I still feel like a Tribute.
Oh she’s still gassy and fussy and she doesn’t always sleep. I’m still struggling with an incision that won’t properly heal. I still can’t manage a shower every single day. But I feel better about it all.
And that’s the lesson: that it gets better. Always. And everything I questioned and second-guessed… it turns out the voice was right about all of it.
So I’ve stopped being hard on myself. Because why make this insane journey any more complicated and trying than it already is? The crazy train has moved on, and I am finally off it. More or less.