Monday, September 14, 2009

Emotional Roller Coaster

Edie screamed almost constantly for the first 7 hours of her life. I remember Jeff sitting on the fold-out bed in my post-partum room while we both watched the nurses try to console our new daughter. At one point I'm pretty sure I even saw one of the nurses look a little nervous about how inconsolable she was. Jeff and I made eye contact across the room and silently communicated to each other - "Holy shit, what have we gotten ourselves into?" I saw my naked terror reflected back at me from Jeff's eyes. Then at 3am a new nurse came in to take Edie's vitals. After sticking a thermometer in her armpit while she wailed like a banshee, the nurse left the room and came back carrying two heated blankets. She proceeded to swaddle our daughter so tightly it almost looked painful. She swaddled her once and then again in the second warm blanket. Edie instantly went from frantic to completely silent. It was then that we learned the magic of the swaddle. The nurse handed her to me and I was finally able to spend an hour just looking at her cherubic little face while Jeff slept. It was during this time that I went from fearing my daughter to falling completely in love with her.

Over this last weekend, we switched Edie's formula twice. On Saturday night she produced the smelliest, most explosive mess in her diaper that the entire upstairs reeked and Jeff had to start laundry at 2am just to ensure that we didn't asphyxiate in the night from the stink of the changing pad cover. She then went on a poop-strike that lasted until about 2 hours ago. The low grade panic that this poop-strike caused in me motivated an early morning call to the pediatrician and much nail biting guilt over having switched her formula too many times. We had our friends Jenn and Andy over for dinner tonight (they brought dinner). They have a 3 year old and a 4 month old and I was a little worried about how Edie might handle the chaos, but it went swimmingly. With all those bodies all over our little house, it felt like Family with a capital F. Andy wanted to hold Edie so I passed her off, only worrying a little that she might start shrieking. But instead she enjoyed herself so much that she proceeded to fill her diaper with another giant stink bomb. The relief I felt while wiping her butt with the 20th wipe was palpable. She isn't going to implode from poop-build up! I didn't wreck her!

Last night, we all laid down for a "family nap" at 7:15pm. Edie decided she only wanted a 10 minute nap and since Jeff seemed more spent than me, I got up with her thinking all she needed was a feeding and then we'd head back to bed. But that feeding deteriorated into a 2 hour off-and-on cry-fest. I finally lost it at 9pm and woke Jeff up by croaking, "Please wake up, I need your help." Then I burst into tears. I hiccuped and sobbed while jostling our daughter so as to keep her from screaming bloody murder. I confessed to a moment of panic while he was napping - what happened to our quiet existence with Maurice? It's too late to get that back! I'm a horrible Mother for thinking this! Luckily, instead of looking at me in horror, Jeff confessed to the occasional similar fear, typically during hour two of an Edie-meltdown. We are both completely smitten with Edie, but there are moments when this small creature is screaming despite having just been fed, changed and rested, jostled, shushed and sung to and you just can't help but think oh God, what have I done? Then this afternoon, after spending the entire day without screaming, I put on a mixed CD that Kristin made Edie and the two of us had a dance party to Alexi Murdoch and then rocked out to Stevie Wonder. She stared at me wide-eyed while we danced around her nursery and I could swear she recognized me as her Mom. It was fantastic.

I'm always such an emotionally stable person, but wow. This life change has shaken that up entirely. I've probably cried in front of no less than 10 people in the last 15 days, including the lactation consultant over the phone! I cried in front of our pediatrician when he asked about breast feeding, I cried to my Mom about my boobs, I've cried tears of gratitude and wonder when I think of how good Jeff's been to me, I've cried when looking at Maurice and worried that he's going to leave us for a family that doesn't have a screaming baby, and the other night I cried when just watching Edie sleep. When Jeff caught me doing that and looked at me questioningly, all I could say was, "She'll never be this small again."

All of this is not to have you worry about my mental health. I'm not worried. I'm just putting it out there to say that this experience has been a massive emotional roller coaster. And I suspect it will continue to be for years to come. I've always been incredibly uncomfortable being emotionally vulnerable with anyone but Jeff. My nickname with my closest friends is Heart of Stone for God's sake. But Motherhood is changing all that.


Kristin said...

Best post ever.

Betsey said...

You're not riding that roller coaster alone. It's crazy how the waterworks start at anything. I found myself crying on the phone to the home health nurse yesterday, as well as crying through my lunch I finally got to eat at 3 pm while Emmi cried the whole time too. This is that weepy time, but I agree, I think there will be many more tears to come as they grow.

Tib said...

well... you've seen how I am when it comes to my mom stuff with Huntyr and I thought for sure by now every little thing wouldn't make me a wreck.... alas motherhood does turn a key in one's heart and unlocks places you never knew you had.

RachelWP said...

Girlfriend, you should probably become a full time Mommy blogger. Everything you write about is exactly what I went through. You aren't alone, and it gets better. I started reading your book blog because we have the same taste in books, now I know that if we lived closer, we'd probably be friends. You're awesome. Hang in there.

Kathleen said...

Bravo to Edie for the massive poops.

PS - the word verification for this post? Diaper. HAH!

Mandy Buchan said...

Love you Jill. I almost cried when I read your quip that she won't be this small ever again...ack. I'm not even a mother and I'm getting all emo. I love that you're still keeping up on your blog, please let us know if there is anything we can do to help. Even if it's taking Maurice to a home full of frantic kittens so he'll appreciate the immobile (for now) baby.

Katie Ann Brooks said...

All I can say is, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!