One of the first things that I tried was cooking—I’ve been cooking all along, of course, but the meals got more elaborate, and I started baking again. I’ve liked to cook forever. My family has seen me fighting depression—mixing up bundt cakes at 3 a.m.—before. And while it didn’t really fix anything, it could me a small time of feeling okay; yesterday, while the boys were asleep, I made cookies. It was weirdly peaceful. And then there were cookies. I don’t quite understand how Joey has been able to figure out what makes something a cookie, but he can identify new cookies on sight, no problem—he can also get at any cookies left on the kitchen counter.

After I talked to my husband and parents, we developed a slightly more well-rounded plan. My mother had postpartum depression after her second daughter, Tammy, was born—she told me that I need to get time away by myself every week, and that Mr. Book and I should get a date out alone together every other week. We’re trying to make space for me to get a little more sleep. And I’m trying harder with the baby—I know that if I need to fake it, I will, and he has responded positively to my pushing myself to be more outgoing and smiley with him. My mother took me out to dinner; she brought me a rose. And knowing that I will have a little time of my own each week keeps me from feeling quite so trapped.
We’ve tried a number of things with Kit: off the top of my head, pacifiers, swaddling, babywearing (four different carriers!), a swing, have Mr. Book put him to bed, altering my diet, white noise, different sleeping positions, showering together, music, and this complicated nursing maneuver that I can’t really describe. Some things help sometimes. I will ask about sensory issues when we see the pediatrician next month—I don’t think that that’s the problem, but how would I know? It can’t hurt to ask. Aside from hating to be worn, Joey as a a tiny baby was very similar (although Kit’s lows are slightly lower and his highs are higher)—but since I didn’t have a toddler, I really could just curl up with him almost whenever he wanted and stay there. Kit also seems very frustrated by his limitations in a way that seems perfectly logical to me; he inchworm crawled across our bed a couple of times this weekend and seemed very pleased with himself thereafter. When he’s cheery, he is exceptionally jolly and delightful; when he’s unhappy, he immediately starts screaming louder than any baby I’ve ever heard. Even the nurses at the hospital commented on it. And he’ll scream for hours. There are worse things than having a strong personality, I guess—not being able to really control your arms, for example. I have some sympathy for his position, is what I’m saying.

Part of what I’ve done to help myself is to wean Joey. Every day he was weeping about nursing—because I have to turn him down sometimes, especially as he wants most to nurse when I am most involved in caring for Kit. It’s been rough. I offer him alternatives when I turn him down (milk in a cup? a hug? a story?) and he wails “No, no!” and throws himself to the ground or runs away (but never too far).

This morning, Joey wanted me to put on his favorite song—but I didn’t have the cd handy, and I was nursing Kit. So I just sang it, with lots of “Na na na na” and so forth for the instrumental parts (it’s “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend, if you’re curious). I have no kind of voice at all, and the attempt felt pretty lame until I saw both boys smiling up at me and heard Joey laughing and asking for more.

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3 thoughts on “

  1. Our second child was a very needy baby. She was only happy if I was holding her. Which I did. Pretty much all day, every day. And all night as well because she would only sleep in my arms. Others tried to take over for me, but she would just scream and I would feel guilty. Given the fact that our son is only 13 months older than she, it made for some very difficult months. I don’t remember much of that time and I suspect that is for the best. All I do know is that I was in Survival Mode and each day was a struggle. It was also the first time I heard about post-adoption depression. Although in my case, I think it was sleep-deprived depression!

    All I can say is I hear you and I understand. And it does get better. Eventually. For us, the worst time was when she was about 4 months old. By 6 months old, she had changed completely into a happy, smiley baby who slept well and ate well and did not need to be held at every moment and now at nearly 3 she is about the easiest toddler imaginable. But those first months were hard in a way I cannot put into words.

    No way of knowing when the switch will happen with Kit, but know that it will happen. And take all those steps to take care of yourself, even if you feel guilty leaving them. Because you need it.

  2. That really does sound oh so much like Madison. The trade-off is that when she got happy she got so damn happy and then was the happiest toddler EVER! She’s never been a sad person (even with the colic she seemed more angry) and she is still at 8-years old full of big emotion. She is always super happy and when she’s angry she’s super angry and when she’s sad she’s super sad but mostly she’s happy. Loud and laughing and happy. Her moods are just BIG!!! I’m glad you have family looking out for you and helping you get some space. The books I’ve read about PPD all talk about the importance of sleep and that makes sense to me because without good sleep I get very depressed very quickly and that was worse when my kids were small. I also think the weaning makes good sense and am happy you gave yourself space to recognize it. You are rocking awesome!!! (I so wish I could come and sit with you and hold your baby for awhile so you could take a long hot shower!)

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