Nov 1, 2010  •  In Baby, Claire, Motherhood, Personal

State of the Union, 4.5 Weeks

“Do you still want more kids, seeing how hard it’s been so far?” I asked J yesterday.

“Of course,” he replied. “It may be hard now, but the rewards will be worth it.”

“Well, I don’t want any more kids,” I told him. “I can’t imagine going through this again, especially if we have another child to take care of. Claire can be an only child.”

J didn’t say anything back, but I could tell what he was thinking: ‘She’ll change her mind.’

It has now been 4.5 weeks since Claire was born, and I can honestly say that motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. And I have it easy: my in-laws come over almost every day so that I can get some rest during the daytime — how many mothers have to go at it alone? How spoiled am I?

However, even though I know that Claire is in good hands with J’s parents, I still wake up whenever I hear her fussing or crying. What’s more, my breasts hurt whenever I hear her crying. My body has developed an eerie connection to my daughter’s distress calls, and although I found it pretty neat at first, now it has gotten plain annoying.


Feeding
:

I still exclusively pump. I have tried nursing several times, but Claire remains a lazy and impatient suckler who much prefers the bottle to the breast.

Even if I were nursing successfully, I’m not sure that I would love it, because I honestly hate breastfeeding. My breasts are so large that I constantly have backaches (if they do not go back down after we wean, I plan on looking into breast reduction surgery — that’s how bad it is). Whenever my breasts start filling with milk they hurt. And the hormones that come along with breastfeeding are making me break out like crazy. My bacne is so gross that I cringe whenever I catch a glimpse of my back or shoulders in the mirror. I am getting pimples in places I have never gotten them before, like on my ears. I mean, who the heck gets zits on their ears?

I had originally planned on breastfeeding for the entire first year, but now I am considering stopping after six months. I am already experiencing mommy guilt for this.

Weight Loss:

Post-partum weight loss is currently at 30lbs. If you recall, I had gained about 50lbs with this pregnancy. (Technically, I gained 40lbs…but since I never lost the extra 10lbs I had gained with the previous pregnancy before getting pregnant again, I am counting that extra 10.) So I have 20lbs to go. The first 30 literally just melted off…but I have a feeling that I will have to work for the last 20. It will be a long road ahead.

This past Saturday we had Claire’s full moon dinner (a traditional Chinese celebration in honor of the baby having survived the precarious first 30 days of life) and I was devastated to see that the only dresses that fit me were my maternity dresses. J asked if I wanted to go shopping to get a new dress, but I refused. To me, buying clothes in larger sizes will keep me lazy — not having any nice clothes to wear until I lose the weight will motivate me to lose weight.

I turn 30 in one month. My goal is to have lost another 10lbs by then.


Sleeping/Soothing
:

Claire is a difficult baby. There is nothing — and I mean NOTHING, because I have tried everything I had read/heard — that will consistently put her at ease and let her sleep. It seems like she is like me in that she gets bored easily, because a new method will work for the first day/hours…only to lose its magic once she gets used to it.

We have lost hundreds of dollars and countless hours of sanity on baby soothing techniques: tight swaddling, bouncer, swing, baby wearing, sound machines, etc. (And we can’t “test-drive” or borrow any baby gear before buying, because we don’t have any friends with kids who live nearby.) Our only hope is that she will become less fussy as she grows older.

Yesterday we experienced what was probably the most difficult 24-hour period since she was born. She was fussy all day, would not sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time, and NOTHING would calm her down.

At around 4am, I lost it. I experienced my first mommy meltdown. While walking around, bouncing my crying baby in my arms, I started to sob hysterically and I could not stop. I was yelling at the baby, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT? JUST TELL ME, SO I CAN HELP YOU!!!” I guess I was making quite a ruckus, because J — the deepest sleeper I know — woke up to both his wife and baby crying, and was forced to calm both of us down despite having an early morning meeting at work in just a few hours.

Bonding:

I feel ashamed to write this…I really do. But the fact of the matter is, I still don’t feel that I LOVE my baby.

Between sobs last night, I told J that whenever I see him with Claire, I see the love in his eyes and that whatever he does for her, he does out of love. But for me, I feel that I mostly take care of her out of obligation. I know — it’s a horrible thing to say and I feel like I’m in the running for the worst mommy of the year award.

The good news is that I feel that I’m getting there. Slowly but surely. I definitely have much more affection for her than the day we brought her home from the hospital. As mentioned above, my boobs have certainly bonded with her cries. And people have told me that whenever I hold Claire, she seems more relaxed than with any other person…and that makes me tremendously happy.

Additionally, I know that at this point in their development, babies’ smiles are not in response to outside stimuli. However, my heart melts whenever I see the goofy grin develop on Claire’s face. And that can only mean that her happiness means the world to me.


We have yet to capture her smile on camera. So for now, this slightly confused look will have to do.

24 Responses to “State of the Union, 4.5 Weeks”

  1. Jen:

    I just wanted to say thank you for being so honest with us. It must be hard to write/share some of these things, but I'm sooo happy to know that life with new babies is not always sunshine and rainbows and kittens. I'm still a few years away from the whole procreating thing, but I feel like your openness is so refreshing. Glad to hear things are getting better on the bonding front!

  2. Thank you so much for writing this. Everyone makes it seem like having a baby is all happiness all the time. No one ever tells the honest-to-God truth and I think you're really brave for doing so. Anyone who calls you out on it is fooling themselves. It's one of the hardest things to ever go through and even though I'm a few years out from having kids, I really appreciate reading this. Hang in there!

  3. Jen:

    I love your baby blog posts. They are so honest, and not just what you think readers want to hear.

  4. Just remember that a counselor/therapist can sometimes help even if it's not PPD. There are other "normal" feelings after childbirth – such as the stress, anxiety, and lack of connection you're feeling that can be worked thru. Plus it might be a nice time for you to be by yourself – without baby or family, etc. Of course I'm biased about the magic of counseling, haha. ;)

    You're doing a good job. There is nothing wrong with stopping breastfeeding and/or pumping after 6 months or sooner. Honestly, it's one of those things that benefits the child if you do it but doesn't necessarily "hurt" them if you don't. The real literature is so mixed on it. I think it's a natural & beautiful & wonderful thing but things are different than they used to be. More fast-paced. Less supportive. More stressful. Breastfeeding is very time-consuming and if you're not getting sleep & such, there *are* benefits to quitting early or supplementing with formula. Don't let that silly guilt creep in, honestly it's not that big of a deal (remember that they start on regular milk at one year anyway).

    And just to give you hope – this past month has been amazing for us. Everly started sleeping in 12 hour (straight) stretches. Her fussiness has calmed down 75% easily, and she's alert & awake & much more playful and enjoyable. Her smiles and laughs ease a lot of the frustrations. I finally feel like I'm getting a breath of fresh air at this age (4 months) so hang in there because it will come. Push through. I think back about her "newborn" days and though I loved certain aspects of them, I'm so glad they're over too. Keep going! There is light at the end of the tunnel!

  5. I always love your honesty, Jenny! These are all issues that worry me, even though we're not quite ready for kids… yet. Maybe in another year or two!

  6. Stephanie:

    If it makes you feel any better, my sister told me that she honestly did not really like her baby until she was about 3 months old. Before that, babies are just need-need-need all the time, and she said it really did get better when the baby got more interactive. Thank you so much for being honest and sharing your real experiences. And she was miserable about breastfeeding as well, and was much happier when she was relieved of that responsibility. So please know that whatever you decide to do, you are a great mother!

  7. Thanks for always being so honest with your posts. :) I'm obviously not there yet (mainly because I'm terrified), but one day I will be and I have a feeling I will be digging into your archives.

    I talk to my coworkers who are mommies about babies (they are older, around 40-50). One of them told me that her close friend did not feel love (at least the infatuated way that most people do) for her baby until he was one-year old and could interact with her more. These are the things that no one ever talks about that I so appreciate you writing about. Because I'm sure thousands people feel this way… but no one ever says anything about it!

  8. Thank you so much for your honesty. It makes all the positive things you have to say about parenting that much more credible.

  9. MrsW:

    I'm not sharing this to try to sway you one way or the other, but just to provide some solidarity — breastfeeding really sucked for me, too, for probably two months or more. I remember at one point thinking that she was so "old" and it still was so bad (she had a monster latch — I cried out in pain every time and I'd tense beforehand so she couldn't get it right the first time) that it was always going to be that way. It isn't bad anymore, and I can't even remember when it got better. And give her time to learn too — she can only learn to suck at the breast (if you want her to, that is) if you give her chances to practice. But only you can decide if the amount of stress you're putting into it makes it not worth it anymore. I just hope that you can take away from this that if you do persevere, it most likely WON'T be like this the entire time you breastfeed.

    As to your hormonal issues with it, remember, you're still only a month out — your hormones haven't yet settled down. I'm still breastfeeding at almost 11 months and my boobs/acne/hair/fingernails are back to almost prepregnancy status (ok, the boobs are still a leetle bigger, but that's an improvement for me). This is just my speculation, but I'm pretty sure that having girls keeps us as moms screwed up for a little longer too, because their hormones and ours are still learning to peacefully coexist. Check out Leviticus 12 — again, my speculation as to whether this is medically proven, but God tells Moses to give women who bear daughters TWICE as long to recover as women who bear sons, and more often than not the laws that God gave the Israelites about how to handle health and hygiene issues were remarkably sound medically for the historical age in which they were written.

    Anyway, that's a lot of blather to basically say: hang in there! It does get better! It will just take longer than you might think.

  10. Jenna:

    I just have to say…my son is 3 months old now and the first six weeks sucked SO badly. He cried and cried and cried and I couldn't figure out what to do except to just hold him and keep putting the pacifier back in his mouth until he would finally settle down out of exhaustion and pass out. Terrible. Also, I had the exact same kind of experience as you yelling at your baby when my son was about three weeks old, he literally screamed for eight hours straight without ever falling asleep, and I was so exhausted and so frustrated I screamed back WHAT DO YOU WANT??? WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM??? Then I put him down in his car seat and left the room and sobbed. It was terrible and I felt so guilty. I also am having major guilt over whether or not to continue breastfeeding, I haven't had a bad time for the most part but I don't get any milk when I pump and I need to save up milk for when I start working soon, and it is not happening right now. Oh, and although breastfeeding hasn't been completely terrible for me, for about three weeks he would NOT latch on to my left boob until I tried for like an hour every time to make him do it, and literally resorted to dipping my nipple in syrup so that he would want to suck it. Ugh.
    Anyways, I hope you are encouraged that we all have our struggles, and now that he is three months it is WAY better, he smiles and squeals with joy and even though his sleeping still kind of sucks, its a thousand times easier.

  11. Vee:

    Thank you so much for being honest about all this. From the other comments, it seems like we all appreciate that someone is telling it like it is and not sugarcoating it. It's good to know that people don't always feel how they're "supposed to" feel. Thinking of you!

  12. baeshinja:

    there are those with easy, non fussy babies, and they are blessed. super lucky. but most babies are fussy and difficult, that's just a reality. i'm really happy you are writing all this out. when things get easier (AND THEY DO), you will love reading back on this. your baby girl, when she is much older, will love reading this and will get a kick out of how difficult she was for you. seriously ;)

    keep documenting, keep chugging along. before you know it, she will be a happy baby, blabbing and crawling around. you are doing awesome!!

  13. Esther S.:

    I have a lot of respect for you and other mothers that breastfeed. I pumped breast milk for my kids for the first month and switched to formula right away. They were always fussy because they were hungry. As soon as I switched to formula and filled their tummies up, they slept very well. Both kids slept 6 hrs through the night after they reached their 100 day (bek-iL). I know they say breast milk is the best but why stress yourself out and keep the baby hungry. Me and my two brothers were never breastfed and we grew up healthy. And the kids' pediatrician finds no problem with formula feeding. A happy mommy and baby = more positive bonding experiences.

  14. Courtney:

    Your post reminded me of this one-
    http://goodfinking.com/2010/06/22/hes-a-milk-connoisseur/

    Perhaps it's an option you haven't tried?

  15. kimmie:

    Claire is so precious! Hang in there, it gets better. The first few months are SOOO hard, but there is light at the end of the tunnel! :)

  16. I'm glad to see you share some of these thoughts, because I worry I will feel the same way when (if) I have kids. Just remember you are a great mom even when you don't feel those things you're supposed to feel, and pretty soon Claire will be able to tell you what's going on even though as an infant she can't.

  17. Kit:

    Honestly, the first 5 wks were so hard for me too! The first week, I was recovering from delivery, constipation then my nipples were raw and bleeding from a poor latch. I went to a lactation consultant 3 days after my baby was born… And 9 times AFTER (once to two times a week) just because I needed the reassurance and help latching my super sucker baby. There, they told me 'all you need to worry about is eating, sleeping, and keeping your baby safe/alive'. Another friend told me her midwife had said 'the first three days after birth stay in bed with baby and let others mother the mother. The next three days venture around the room with baby. Three days after venture to the living room.' in other words- BABY STEPS!'

    My baby was SO FUSSY in the beginning. She didn't want to be let go, she wanted to always be on my achey cracked, sore nipples. I had a hospital grade pump to rest my boobs, but I couldn't keep up with the feeding demands of my baby! Tired, 'momma-cultured-shocked' I sought solace from la leche league leaders via phone who patiently listened to my sobs, I emailed all my friends who were moms for social support. And they opened up to their own 'first week' momma rude awakening stories.

    My daughter is 9 weeks. Breastfeeding WAS torture but now I have the hang of it- we had to work as a team to get to this point. People say it gets easier at six wks, or eight weeks, or even when the baby reaches 12 – 13 pounds! But I can say it has become less exhausting being a new mommy. My baby is sleeping in longer stretches… The incessant crying as decreased… She coos and smiles and babbled more that I feel like more of 'her' is shining through. Bonding was tough in the beginning but I heavily relied on my parents and inlaws… That so called 'village'.

    Hang in there! Reach out to seasoned mommys, maybe get in touch with your local la leche league chapter and go to a meeting so you can get mommy support during this time. Email or call friends who have kids and can relate to this adjustment period. Get plenty of hugs from your mom too! I had an increased appreciation for my mom after having my baby!!!

    This too shall pass. Just find a therapeutic and constructive way to get through these early newborn phase!
    (pardon any misspellings, I am on my iPhone- which can tend to auto correct words into weird phrases! But this is the only way I can nurse and be a part of the 'outside world'!)

  18. Just thought I'd share a little more – I have also been there, basically screaming at my son after hours of him screaming not knowing what to do. He's not hungry, he's not wet, he's just screaming. Even up until just last night, too, and he's 10 weeks.

    I never, ever thought I'd be a parent that would consider the cry-it-out method, but I worry about spoiling him too (although I've also read you can't spoil a newborn). (Side note: When are they no longer a newborn? 3 months? anybody know?)

    I'm totally there with you on the breastfeeding troubles, too. He latches well on the left, but I still have to use a shield on the right, and I hate not knowing how much he's getting when he's latched. I feel like he never gets enough, even though he falls asleep eating, he seems to wake himself up sooner for food than when he does with a bottle. I pump ALL the time, in between feedings, but I don't think my milk production is keeping up with his demand, and I've been supplementing since he was about 4 weeks old. He gets 2-3 formula bottles a day, and I feel incredibly guilty about it, but the more I worry, the more it's probably negatively effecting my milk supply. I feel a little resentful of women who practically hose their babies down and can pump and store weeks' worth of breastmilk, because I just seem to not be that mom. I fear that in a few weeks' time, he'll be getting more formula than breastmilk.

    Regardless, I'm so glad I'm not alone. And I hope you know that you're not alone, either!

  19. Pam:

    I had very similar experiences with the breastfeeding/pumping and disconnect with baby girl in the beginning. My baby girl just didn't extract very well, and that was only when she wasn't screaming at the breast. and I suppose I could have kept trying and trying, but by week 4, i made a decision that i'd just keep on pumping instead of trying to breastfeed. I still wrestle with my decision from time to time, and pumping isn't easy, but I am now at 3 1/2 months and still pumping. it does get easier–by week 8 i dropped the middle of the night pumps since my baby was also sleeping longer through the night. at week 10, i dropped the middle of the morning pump, and at week 11, I dropped the middle of the evening pump, so i'm down to pumping 5 times a day, which it's still annoying to pump, but at least it's only 5 times a day and I sleep 8 hours overnight with no pumping which is HUGE for my sanity. So don't get discouraged, every week will get a little easier.

    the disconnect with my daughter was something i struggled with too, and somewhere around week 7, baby girl started cooing in response to me talking to her!! that was the breakthrough when you start connecting… your heart will just melt every time.

  20. Thank you for your honesty in this post. I think it's important that as mothers we do share the bad times with the good, it helps to show that it's not weak or bad if you things aren't all super duper easy.

    I wanted to post for solidarity. For the first 8-10 weeks of DD's life, I was a mess. We couldn't get breastfeeding right and she was on nipple shields until 8 weeks (I tried to transition back to breast from 6 weeks, but it was difficult). She was a constant cryer, I had to keep a "crying" journal for a few days over a few weeks and most days she cried for up to 8 hours (in between feeding etc.) and had difficulty sleeping anywhere but on my stomach.

    But alas, from 10 weeks, the crying settled, she slept more (and for longer than 45 minute stretches) and we were off the nipple shields and she happily latched on. Most of all though, I started bonding with my dear child. (Less crazy hormones could have been a help though!). At around 3 months old, I realised that I did "love" her. I wasn't doing it out of obligation, and I hadn't been doing it like that for a while. (As you said, it's love, but it wasn't not that tear-down-your-cheek-love until then).

    Sure, the feeding still hurt for a few weeks after that, and the crying was still a few hours each day, but it does get better. Hang in there. Utilise your support people more if possible. See a counsellor as suggested if you feel like you're not making it through the day.

    Dd is now nearly 7 years old and I look back at those first few months with a little bit of saddness that I wasn't the perfect mother, but I realise how hard those first few months are. I wish that someone had been as honest as you about what to expect.

  21. Thank-you for your honesty. I think you are doing a great job and hanging in there. While babies are a miracle and amazing, it doesn't take away from the fact there there has been a major life change and it's emotional and hard. Don't feel guilty. You are and will be a great mom.

  22. Elyssa:

    I hesitated to write since your posts have been so very helpful and raw. But I really wanted to say that I've been following you on Twitter and I'm worried that you're cooped up. Why won't J and your IL let you take your own daughter for a walk outside? It would do you both a world of good to be out of the house and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. Glad to hear that the pooch is back. But I'm also worried about the level of involvement of your IL. I know they're probably very helpful but just don't let it get to the point that you are resenting they're there. I know personally there would be no way I could deal with my mother, much less my IL being at the house every day or so after giving birth. Families need time to bond and make their own choices. Please remember that.

  23. Cindy:

    I felt the same way when I had my son- No more kids! But it all changes around the 4 month mark when she will recognize you and smile, turn to hear your voice, interact with you and find everything just so fascinating.. Everyday it gets so much easier and you think "yeah, I'll do this again…" =) Just like how I did..all you need is time to forget how hard everything was in the first 2 months and realize you can't live with out her.

  24. I have been mostly away from blogs and computer for the last month or so, and sorry to be catching up on your motherhood journey so late in the game. Reading your posts reminds me so much of everything I went through around the newly postpartum months. No matter what you might hear from parents who are all smiles and birdsong and sleeping through the night, your struggles are VERY NORMAL and many, many other mothers have been exactly where you are right now.

    I found that things got a little better around 3 months. (Among other things, we had to hold her 24/7 till then. Literally, in shifts. She had reflux and would wake up the instant we laid her down flat.) Then quite a bit better around 8 months (happier, more responsive, plus we sleep trained and I could finally relax a few hours at a time knowing she wouldn't wake and make demands). And then, seriously, the time from about 12-20 months has been a joy. I finally understand why people have second babies (and why so many are about 2-3 years apart in age)! She can communicate, she breaks out new skills every day, and overall she's just a delight. I was never really into the tiny baby period, but I think toddlerhood is a lot of fun. And I expect older ages to be even better — can't wait till she can start sharing ideas and opinions, and of course looking forward to the (someday) start of school when I can reclaim my life for a handful of hours a day.

    On the breastfeeding front, I know ALL about the guilt. My milk never came in, despite all manner of pumping and supplements, and I was WRACKED with guilt when I decided to quit trying. But everything went fine with formula, and within a month or two I truly couldn't remember why I once thought breastfeeding was so important. Do with that what you will; just wanted to let you know that — no matter what you hear from the other side of the fence — breastfeeding is not the end-all-be-all of your baby's health. She also needs a healthy and functioning mother.

    I've also been there with the waking at baby's every sound. Maddening when someone else steps in so you can sleep, and then you STILL can't sleep! Can you tolerate earplugs? I started using a set every time I was "off duty," and it quieted the cries just enough that they didn't wake me. Could still hear them slightly, but somehow my body started associating the feeling of foam in my ear with "it's OK, you can sleep."

    And PPD is really hard to evaluate in those early weeks because so many women suffer the early "baby blues." But if you find yourself crying, anxious, detached, or otherwise worried about PPD as time goes by, I highly, highly recommend that you talk to a doctor. I suffered for 7 months, thinking that I would just get better over time. When I finally broke down and asked my doc for antidepressants, I felt better THE NEXT DAY and every day forward. (It's not always that quick for everyone, but sometimes the imbalance just needs whatever chemical the drugs provide.) And then I kicked myself for missing out on the first months of our baby's life feeling needlessly miserable.

    Hang in there. Write if you ever need support. Kiss that precious girl for us, and share more pictures soon!

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