Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Hardest Part About Mothering Is the Mental Thing

Baby Abigail is back on the "colic" thing. (It's really infant reflux, but I call it "colic" in my head and in public because it gets me more sympathy. Heartburn doesn't sound so bad unless its your  own newborn who is sobbing and twitching for 20 hours each day).

She was doing better on the new meds. Then we lost power for 11 days. Her medicine need to be refridgerated and honestly, things were so nutty I think I just forgot to give it to her for a few days. She cried for two weeks solid. Then she was perfect for Vacation Bible School (my girl is a social butterfly and there were lots of people to hold her and talk to her while I was teaching). She started sobbing on Sunday. Monday, I thought I was going to lose my mind.

I got her into the doctors today. We're working with a new dosage. Things are going to work out--either we'll figure out a medicine schedule that work, or the kid will outgrow this bad reflux thing shortly.

Here's the thing, the baby is not going to feel better overnight. Meanwhile, I have to figure out how to stay sane while my kid is crying for hours and hours every day.

I don't know how to do this. Her cries spark all kinds of negative thoughts in my head. "I'm a bad mother." "I should be able to stop this." "Why is this bad stuff always happening to me?"

It's so embarrassing to write this because I was a NICU Mom two years ago. With Teresa, we really were facing a life and death situation. With Abigail, it's just chronically annoying. Here's the thing, with Tess, I felt His grace. It was horrible. I feel apart. I was pushed as a Mom far beyond what I thought I could handle--but I felt his grace. There was no one day where I didn't feel multiple "pick-me-ups" from God.

This cross seems even harder. She's not sick enough to run to the ER. But she's not "well" either. She's just a irritated baby who can never seem to quite get down for a good nap, or nurse a good meal, or stay calm and happy alone in her swing.

I'm not hitting "bottom" like I did with Miss Teresa's "nosedives towards death." But I'm not "off" either. There's just this grey zone.

I'm so sick of grey. I'm so sick of perpetually being in a bad mood.

I'm going to try to stand closer to Jesus during the crying episodes. Pray for me to kick the bad mental thoughts habit.


  1. I know you probably get a lot of comments, but could it be something in the diet that's irritating her tummy? Like a sensitivity to wheat, dairy, or soy?

  2. Oh Abigail, I hear you. I will pray for you.

  3. Have you tried elevating one end of her crib? Helped tremendously with one of mine. Also, she was so sensitive to dairy And chocolate in my diet I had to do a total elimination. One lapse would cause her agony for two or three days.

  4. I think major crises are easier to deal with than daily annoyances. It's easy to cling to God when your feet have been swept out from under you. It's much harder when what you're fighting is a chronic lack of sleep or a cranky child or crying jags or temper tantrums or all the smaller annoyances. I think the NICU is like boot camp but colic is more like deployment. I think God gives us that feeling of his grace only for short times but then he pulls it away so that we can learn to walk on our own. He knows that learning to walk on our own is going to involve a lot of falling down-- there's no way to learn to walk without falling and cushioning our falls isn't going to help us learn. However, we're not expected to not fall, just to keep getting up again.

  5. My daughter had bad reflux, and it was so, so hard. She didn't get better until we looked into Buffer Babies and gave it to her. It's a buffer that helps the medicine to stay fresh longer. We used it with over the counter prilosec. The reflux medicines compounded by the pharmacy have been shown in studies to break down very quickly. Anyway, you can do some research, but we had GREAT results with Buffer Babies. God bless you and your daughter!

  6. Infant reflux is so hard, it really makes you feel helpless in helping them find comfort!
    Praying for you dear friend!
    How old is she now? I remember we had to change J's meds dose a few times and at a certain stage we just hit a wall where it wasn't working anymore, so we had to get creatative, find a new med, began cosleeping, and other things. It was so hard on my heart, you actually provided a lot of encouragement to me in those days and I appreciated it greatly!!
    I remember days when I would wake up before him and see him sleeping peacefully with out discomfort and I just prayed for him to sleep longer because the poor child would cry so much when he woke up, ate, or nearly anything else! Now he is the happiest child I know!!

  7. Boy, I'm so sorry. Colic sends me to those dark places in my mind, and I just reach a point where I can't handle it anymore. A friend of mine who is a therapist was telling me that there is an actual part of the brain that triggers the fight or flight reflex, and when stress triggers it, it's a natural reaction. The ONLY way we were able to come with David's screaming (8 months he wailed...it was awful. Sonja was fine as long as her meds were fine) was to get away from it. You have to. My spiritual director was telling me that everyone, absolutely everyone needs to have a break especially if they work in a high stress environment (he was the Director of the Franciscan friary and was a busy man himself). Are you still taking fencing classes? Perhaps that can be your break..get those happy moods in the brain going. She will outgrow it, and it's hard to change up the diet when you are already exhausted and just trying to survive. I know it helps some people but it never helped us (would have been nice if it did). So I'm thinking, until she outgrows this (or the meds kick in), try to work something out with your awesome hubby to get at least an hour away. Like from the house. I used to go to the Starbucks down the road. Not sure what you have there. I can hold her at the meeting if you are there! That will give you a break! Love you my Carmelite sister!

  8. I second Jen's comment on small retreats. When I was a babe I had severe colic (along with projectile vomiting). My mom is a great and loving person, but one day when my dad was talking to her she couldn't hear him and just started shoving a cloth diaper in my mouth. She didn't realize what she was doing until my dad saw and stopped her.

    Lack of sleep does that, she's always said she should have taken my pediatrician up when he offered to take me for the weekend.

  9. When you have a very sick, like NICU-sick, child, everyone rallies around you. People are praying and bringing you casseroles and offering to babysit. But the day-in-day-out difficulties of mothering, especially a child that is high-needs... well, that doesn't get as much attention. And you're right, that can sometimes be just as hard (in a different way) as the trials of serious illness.

    I am praying for you and Miss Chili Pepper!

  10. Thank you so much for your encouraging words and prayers!

    It's so lonely as a Mom, it can really get to me. I was feeling so embarrassed like "I survived the NICU, why am I dying now..." I liked what Melanie said, that was boot camp, this is deployment. I'm not a soldier but probably the worse thing about deployment is that it is...... long....!

    God was so great! Yesterday, I got invited on a surprise six hour play date with a family I didn't know very well. They have a baby who was 5 days younger than Abigail and I couldn't believe the contrast. Their baby could just sit in the bouncing chair. For the entire six hours Abigail was bouncing in my arms or throwing up.

    I think seeing that contrast in person really helped my heart. My girl is different! I don't need to worry so much that we're not having a "dreamy" babymoon.

  11. Diet--my doctor was so nice. He encouraged me to think the one of the reasons Abigail did so poorly during the power outage was that MY diet was so off--less than her meds weren't perfectly cold.

    I'm going to start a food diary, we'll see what happens.

    The doctor visit was very reassuring in that Abigail --who was born at 50%--dipped down to 30% --bounced back to 70% in weight in just 8 weeks on the anti-reflux meds. I was really conflicted about whether to put her on meds. But this was confirmation that we were doing the right thing, and that it was helping a lot!

  12. I'd love to bring you some food when I see you at the meeting. This is a food restriction house (which I do poorly at still), so maybe I could bring you some breads and muffins for at least breakfast and maybe a snack that are free of whatever it is you decide to cut out. You've been through so much. Hang in there!

  13. I have no words of advice, just words of affirmation. My baby came with a sleep disorder, so, for me, it was waking up every 45 minutes to 3 hours for over two years. It is a mental thing, especially when you want relief for your sweet precious one and for yourself. I never understood why people shake babies...until I had one that would.not.stop.crying most almost every night. Plus, when mama isn't able to sleep, or run, or eat compete well-balanced meals, or find five minutes of silence, *everything* is so much harder. Hang in there, Mama...this, too, shall pass...