underground

There are things I haven’t talked about—I haven’t wanted to think about them. But it’s gotten to the point where that’s not workable anymore. Joey and Kit have had a lot of things in common; I guess they were/are both what you’d call high-needs babies, although it’s mostly just seemed like the way babies are, since that’s what we’re used to. But now we’re going through with Kit what we did with Joey—he will not sleep without me, and he’ll freak out if he wakes up without me, so he’s fighting sleep as hard as he can all of the time so that I can’t sneak out. But this time, I can’t just give in and stay with him. For one thing, he refuses to be worn; Joey could just nap in a front pack while I made dinner (or what have you). We also had a laptop, so that I could work in bed with the sleeping baby Joey—our laptop is now kaput. And we have a toddler now, and he needs a lot of attention and company, too. But maybe most problematic, I have postpartum depression.

I feel pretty guilty about the PPD. I’m still doing right by the kids—and let me tell you, it is just the weirdest thing to have to tell myself “smile at him” and then make it happen instead of just having that happen naturally—but I’m just not doing okay myself. A couple of days ago, I admitted it to my family, and we’re trying to change some things to help me get better. But if you are one of the many lovely people to whom I am not writing letters, or writing letters that I can’t manage to send, or not putting together an email for . . . well, this doesn’t excuse that, exactly, but you are not alone. I am in the tall grass.

Recently, Kit is spending hours in the evenings just screaming. He’s got an impressive set of lungs—they remarked on it at the hospital. We hold him and he just screams and screams, and then finally he wears himself out and falls asleep. We’ve tried an awful lot of things to help him, and nothing seems to really make any difference. I just want to get away from him at those times, which probably is making a difference, and not in a positive way. He’s started to be upset about more and more things, and it can be hard to predict what will set him off: he used to love baths, but today he flipped out when I put him in the water (tepid, and checked and rechecked several times); sometimes he loves a pacifier (I broke down and got him a pacifier!), and sometimes he hates it so much; he can love bouncing/being held over a shoulder/“walking” around until abruptly it is the worst thing, and he doesn’t slowly get upset but instead immediately is enraged and screaming. I need a better word than screaming, or at least a couple of others to throw in every so often, but it’s just screaming—screaming and screaming and screaming.

So that’s the word. I’m quiet, and I’m not really doing okay, but hopefully things will get better at some point. I’ll try to write again, about something else.

Advertisements

I Am the Luckiest

Kit looks like a perfect cross between his two older brothers at this age, and he’s just the cheeriest baby I’ve ever met in my life. He smiles at the drop of a hat, and he coos and chirps and is just generally a sweetheart. His pediatrician diagnosed him with “happy GERD”—he has a lot of reflux, he spits up like crazy and chokes and coughs pretty frequently, but none of it seems to bother him. Last week he wasn’t able to sleep for hours and hours and the next day we realized that it was because he had a tooth coming in. I hadn’t guessed because he didn’t seem angry, or to be in pain; he was just tired and increasingly frustrated that he couldn’t stay asleep for more than a few minutes. Not that he doesn’t do any screaming, but really, I keep being surprised by how good-natured he is.

Joey is still a treat, albeit a treat with a lot on his plate. He wants to nurse constantly, and whenever I turn him down—which sometimes I just have to—he bursts into tears. A few days ago I ended up nursing both boys at the same time, which I had planned never to do. Parenting reminds me every so often, very clearly, that I am an animal; looking down at two nurslings and hearing their little snurfing noises was one of those times. At one point, Kit started to fuss, and Joey reached over and patted his back. It’s hard for him, feeling as though he has to compete with the baby—but he keeps reaching out to Kit with affection and gentleness.

There’s a game Joey likes to play where he starts pointing out my features (“mouf! nose! eye! eyebough!”) and when he gets to the ears, he turns my head back and forth—I am supposed to repeat “Ear, ear, ear”—and then at some point, break off and say “Kisses!” and then attack his face with kisses. He thinks this is hilarious, and wants to do it again and again. There are certainly downsides to full-blown toddlerdom: the constant boundary testing, the increasing pickiness, the whining, the meltdowns. But Joey’s so funny, and so clever and sweet. His energy is exhausting, but it’s also pretty wonderful. When I was getting us ready to go to Mass on Sunday, Joey suggested that we should go somewhere else instead: “Pok! [park]” When I told him that No, buddy, we’re going to Mass, he tried a different idea: “Wok! [walk]”  He loves to go out. After the first couple of weeks of life with Kit, I started taking Joey out by myself once a week, and that seemed to make a huge difference in how his days go; it’s just hard for the two of us to get time alone at home. But once a week we can go for a walk, or to a park, or for ice cream, and he seems thrilled every time.

Honestly, I like both kids so much that I occasionally wonder whether maybe we’ll revisit the conversation about whether we’re done with babies four or five years from now. Babies, even easy babies, are just exhausting—but the idea of adding another really excellent person to our family is pretty appealing. Once the kids are bigger and don’t need quite such constant holding and wrangling and diaper changing . . . well, we’ll have to see.