Thursday, December 30, 2010

Grandpas

On Boxing Day my parents came over for a visit.  We spent the day together and had a nice time during the day. 

Then at about 3pm, right on cue, my dad started drinking. 

He continued on for the afternoon and early evening, alternating between going outside to smoke pot and going downstairs to get another beer out of the fridge - eventually getting to that place where he is a blabbering, slobbery, retarded, annoying ass.

I am on edge when he gets like that because although he means no harm to anyone, he is just so obnoxious and I don't want him around my kids.  Ruby has become very nervous of him - not because he's ever done anything to harm her but because she senses that something isn't right.

At one point he looked adoringly at Lincoln (through his bleary eyes) and told him that he can't wait until Lincoln is a little older as he can picture Lincoln at their house, following him around outside, hanging out in the yard.

And I envisioned my dad walking around the yard with beer in his hand and "secretly" going into his garage to smoke pot and coming out wreaking of weed - while Lincoln tootles around taking it all in.  Not my idea of a healthy grandpa/grandson relationship.

I made appies that night for us to enjoy while we watched the hockey game.  Mushroom turnovers, spring rolls, chicken wings. Steve stared at my dad in disgust while he gorged on the wings and the "apple turnovers and cottage rolls" as he kept calling them.

And I sat across the room watching him with a heavy, heavy heart.  All I could think was that this, THIS is going to be the only grandfather that my kids will know.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Processing

I'm going to go ahead and say that this Christmas was not a great one.  My husband was in a very, very bad place, unable to pull himself together for more than a few minutes at a time. I spent the entire night from Christmas Eve through to Christmas morning holding him and offering any comfort I could while he cried out all night, in gut wrenching agony.  The words and sounds of pain coming out of his mouth broke my heart over and over and over.  That level of grief scared the shit out of me.  I've never experienced anything like it and I never want to feel that again (although I'd be a fool to think I'm safe from it now) I felt truly scared. Scared of what, I couldn't put my finger on exactly but I had an overwhelming feeling of being absolutely terrorized. 

Ok, maybe I do know what I was scared of... I was scared that there was nothing I could do to fix this and that we'd have to just experience it - as awful as it is.  I was scared I wouldn't be strong enough. I was scared of what was to come.  I was scared of this much sadness. I was scared that I was too close to being able to imagine what it would be like to lose one of my children.... (there, I said it)  Why that thought kept crossing my mind I have no idea.

Christmas day after opening gifts we packed up and headed out to see Steve's dad in the hospital.  It's an hour's drive from our house.  On the way, I felt that we were given a sort of a sign... It's probably going to sound a bit strange coming from me but here's the story...

I'm currently reading "The Shack" by William P. Young.  When I picked it up a month or so ago I had NO IDEA what it was about, and didn't realize it was so spiritual but I've been in a rough place lately and figured I would give it a go, who knows maybe it would provide me with a bit of  guidance or some sort of light.  I won't get into all the details of the book except to say that in the book the characters refer to God as "Papa". 

As we were driving down the highway towards the hospital in a state of absolute despair, a white van pulled up beside us and then pulled ahead.  Written on the side of the van in giant, bright red letters was "PAPA".  Now, it was some sort of plumbing company or something but I couldn't help but to feel that maybe someone was with us and helping us through a very difficult day and that we weren't facing all this alone without any help from... above(?).

I tried to relay it to Steve but I don't think he was in a place where he could process it.  I also mentioned it to his mom and my parents and nobody seems to have the feeling that I did and maybe they all think I'm a little bit crazy.  Perhaps they're not far off. 

But I believe in that sort of thing. 

And if it can help me a little bit, then I can help Steve a bit and we're all a little better off.

Related perhaps slightly to the above story - or more likely to the fact that my antidepressants have started to kick in (thank goodness I got those when I did!), I've been able to get myself to a slightly better place. I've decided to make the best of this horrible situation.  I've decided to that we were given a gift on Christmas eve in that we were notified that we have limited time left with a loved one.  I'm grateful that he wasn't taken from us suddenly, leaving us longing for things we wanted to say, things we wanted to do, hugs we wanted to give and get. I choose to make the absolute best out of the time we have left with a special man and I will have no regrets when he does pass.  I want to make sure that my children get to spend as much time with him as they can.  I want to be as kind and helpful as I can to my mother in law.

My heart breaks to think that my kids will not have him in their lives but I will do whatever I can to make sure they hear lots of stories about him and make sure they know how much he loves them.

Things have also picked up a bit for Steve.  He's reached out for help which is something he's never done before.  He's getting some grief counseling through his company's employee assistance program and he's called some friends to let them know what he's going through and everyone is coming together to help each other. 

If nothing else, I think this tragedy will help bring us all closer.

I can't allow our lives to be destroyed by this - and Steve's dad wouldn't want that anyways.  There is going to be a new "normal" once again. A difficult "normal", but we need to make the best of what we are given.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cancer

Christmas eve, 2010... My father in law has been diagnosed with three cancerous brain tumors. 

He's been given 3 months to a year to live.

We are completely gutted. 

My husband is devastated. My heart is shattering to see him so completely heartbroken.  His dad is his hero. His best friend.  His dad is a good man.  This is wrong, all wrong. 

My kids won't know their grandpa. A man who loves them so very much.

Christmas will be in the hospital this year, and it's likely our last one together with him. 

I don't know what to do. I've never been through anything like this before.  I feel useless. I feel helpless.  I feel scared. I'm so so so sad. 

I wanted this to be a good Christmas, Lincoln's first.

Things had been looking up.  Steve and I were doing better. He was his old self again, lovable, happy, joking, caring - I was so excited about that. I was feeling better. I was getting help with Lincoln's sleep problems. Things were going to get better. I felt hope. 

How dare I to have felt hope.

I want to fix it but I can't. I want to say all the right things but I don't know what to say.  I want it all to go away.

It feels really bad right now.

How do I go through this?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Letting Go

I'm going to let go of breastfeeding. 

Oh let the breastfeeding advocates descend upon me and tear me apart, limb by limb, via blog comments.

I started having trouble keeping up with his appetite a couple of months ago and had been supplementing him with one bottle of formula per day for a little while now.  His appetite has only grown and my milk supply hasn't.  I was up to two bottles of formula per day and have recently gone to three. 

I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding. On one hand it's so convenient to always have food with me and to never have to worry about packing around bottles and formula or trying to figure out ways to heat a bottle on the go.  And there's the bond.  Yes, I believe breastfeeding my son has given us a special bond, and I have some very special memories of he and I nursing. 

On the other hand, I get a physical feeling of depression/anxiety while I am nursing. It is not caused by my thoughts but from the actual sensation of breastfeeding.  Also, I struggled with being the sole person responsible for feeding my son - especially with a busy toddler to chase.  It is nice to be able to put him in his daddy or his grandma's arms and hand them a bottle and let someone else feed him when he is hungry - which is often.

I have long since put away the breast pump. Never to be used again. Ever. (Good riddance, Motherfucker!)

When I nurse him he is hungry such a short time later - less than two hours.  With a bottle of formula he'll go three.  I need the extra time, I really really do. I have diminishing milk supply which I realize I could correct by drinking copious amounts of herbal tea and taking supplements but I'll tell ya, I've got enough things to try to remember and take care of every day. 

So it seems like we're on the path to weaning.  There have been times in the past that I've thought about it but it made me feel too sad/guilty/not ready.  But I think I'm ok with it now.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Since yesterday...

Well I've gone ahead and starting making changes.  Why wait for January, right?  I'll have a head start on all the resolutioners. 

Sleep consultant is paid for and booked.  Got an email from her and filled out my client history sheet.  I now wait for my phone appointment for our in depth interview and then my much awaited sleep plan sometime thereafter. 

I did not consult with my husband prior to booking her. I know he doesn't see the problem as being as dire as I do - he thinks "we" are making progress so "we" should keep on with what "we" are doing.  When I told him I had spent the money and booked her I was met with the expected passive aggressive response.  Whatever.

Then... after reading all your comments on my last post, I started putting some serious thought into the possibility that I might be suffering from some mental health problems - namely PPD.  Jeez, you guys, I really did not want to go there.  I've been ignoring those suggestions for a while now.  I just kept thinking that once things got better, I would feel better.  But I see that things aren't going to be "better" for a while yet.  And besides, I've had some pretty wicked anxiety attacks lately, along with stupid thoughts, self doubt, guilt, fear, blah blah blah.  All the hallmarks of depression.  I had sworn years ago that I would never go back on antidepressants (having spent most of my 20's on them), but your comments got me thinking about it and that maybe it might not be such a bad idea to get me though the short term.

So I made an appointment and went to see my doc today.

He doesn't feel that I have PPD, but that I do have "regular" depression. Meh, half a dozen of one, six of the other. Not sure what the big diff is but whatever the case, he's prescribed me some antidepressants and I got a side order of Ativan for those tough nights when I'm laying in bed with a racing heart and racing thoughts.  He offered me 0.5mg tablets but I told him he better make them 1mg.  I'm no rookie to this. 

We had a talk about Lincoln's sleeping.  He suggested I hire the particular sleep consultant that I have already hired - which made me feel good about my decision to do that. He said he hired her for both his children. He asked what exactly is happening and I told him Lincoln is awake on average 6 times per night and has a couple of 30 minute naps per day.  He asked if my husband helps out at all.  I told him "Yes, he gets up one of those six times in the night".  He said, "Well your husband is going to have to step up - and you can tell him I said that.  He is going to be doing a lot of the work when you get the sleep training plan and he might as well get used to that idea now.

Oh how I wish the doc could have told Steve that himself instead of me telling him.  Steve bristled when I relayed the message and then suddenly had to hang up the phone.  I've spoken with him since and he's changed his tune, saying he'll do whatever needs to be done to help.  We'll see.  Talk is cheap.

I'm hoping the antidepressants are going to help me think more clearly, feel stronger emotionally, allow myself to feel less guilt, and not not let stupid little things - like Steve's inability to experience empathy - bother me.

Next up?  I'm either getting a GC for the running shoes I asked for for Christmas or I will be taking more money from our line of credit (that I'm not supposed to use) and buying them myself.  I want to take up running again.  Running made me feel good and I could blare my music nice and loud and just escape, alone, for a while. 


(I've said this before but I love you all so very much and do not know where I would be without you.  Thank you so much for caring and for taking the time to post your so very thoughtful and helpful and supportive comments.  I send a big hug and kiss to each and every one of you.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Time for change

Back to your regularly scheduled programming...

I'm in a bad place.  I'm hanging by a thread, twisting in the wind.  I am crying out for help and nobody is listening. I don't know how much more clear I could be to those around me that I need help.  I tell Steve every day how badly I am struggling. I have told my inlaws at every opportunity that I get. I have told my parents - who seem to be the most concerned about me, and the most sympathetic.  But nobody is stepping up to offer help. And things are growing worse.  Things are getting dire.

Too many things have gone wrong over the past few months and I've had to deal with them all myself and I am getting to the breaking point.

I have been making a little progress with Lincon's sleep problems and I am encouraged when I see that progress, knowing that I'm responsible for it - but it's far, far from being anything close to acceptable.  Last night was a particularly bad night with him.  And I've had a particularly bad morning.

I am sleep deprived. Frustrated. Irritated. Resentful. 

My marriage is not good - although Steve would never admit such a thing.  We are little more than room mates. Co-parenting.  I try to talk to him about it but he walks away from me.  Literally, walks away from me. It feels so disrespectful.  He wants me to magically be happy. Solve my own problems.  Solve my kids problems.  And leave him out of any of the tough stuff.  You've heard of "fair weather friends", he is my "fair weather husband".  There is no effort on his part to work on anything between us.  He does nothing to make me feel loved, wanted, attractive, appreciated.  I do not have the energy to do whatever needs to be done on my part to try to make things better.

I'm lonely.

My appearance makes me sad.  I feel like a fat, frumpy mother of two who has let herself go.  In fairness to myself I haven't really let myself go so much as I have had no choice but to put all my efforts and energy into other places.  And really, nobody cares what I look like anyways.  Nobody sees me. I don't get out unless it's to the grocery store and the clerks there don't care that my ass is fat or that my hair is flat, or that I only had time to put on mascara.  My kids don't care.  Steve doesn't seem to either.  I feel invisible.

The past few months have taken a serious toll on me.

I don't like where I'm at.  I need change. For the sake of myself, for the sake of my family. 

I've come to realize that nobody is going to help me, I need to help myself. 

I can not wait for the new year to start to fix this.  I need to get on it right away. 

I am going to contact the expensive sleep consultant and hire her. Today.  Fuck it.  It's expensive and I can not afford it but I am bearing the weight of this problem alone - if I have to pay someone to help me, so be it.  I can not read any book fast enough or thoroughly enough to solve this on my own.  I will put all my effort into getting Lincoln's sleep habits on track, and therefore getting some sleep of my own.  I need to be able to think more clearly, feel less sluggish and tired and worn down.

Then, I'm going to work on regaining my life, or should I say creating a new life for myself since whatever my life has been in the past is no longer applicable. One step at a time. The marriage. My weight and appearance. My social life.  Not necessarily in that order.

Its time I started caring for myself and stopped waiting for someone else to do it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ruby

We interrup the regularly scheduled whining to bring you something different.  

My daughter, my angel.

She turned two today. 

Today is a special and very happy day.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Then the wheels fell off

Just when I thought I was getting somewhere.

Steve got a stomach flu. Then Ruby got it. Then I got it and it was baaaaad.  The kind of flu where you leave your dignity in a heap on the bathroom floor. It was so bad I was having flash backs of being in the hospital in labour with Lincoln.  Four days later I am still recovering. In the meantime, all sleep logs have gone by the wayside. I don't know if I'm coming or going and I'm just getting by any way I can which means some co-sleeping has been happening again.

And on top of it all? Lincoln is as miserable as sin and not sleeping worth a shit. The reason seems to be a little white lump that I can see poking through his gums. Not quite through yet, but I expect him to cut his first tooth any time.

Today, I thought I just might be having a nervous breakdown. I am so exhausted both physically and mentally. Maybe more in the mental department.

I've never felt quite so defeated.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reinforcement

I just got to the part in the book where I realized that I am reinforcing Lincoln's night waking habit by going to him every time he wakes.  Duh.

I know he's not hungry every 3 hours (that's what we're up to now) but I'm afraid to not go to him and feed him because I'm afraid of that awful crying happening in the middle of the night. (Also, what if he is scared and lonely in his bed and he just wants his mom and she doesn't go to him and he decides he can't count on her anymore and so he decides he doesn't love her as much anymore.... Isn't that what a big part of this is, after all??? )

Except last night I was so tired. Exhausted. He went to bed at 6 and I was tending to him at 8pm, 11pm, 2am, then 3am... 

At 3am I was so exhausted and tired of all this sleep training shit that I went to him to make sure he was ok. He was. I was not. I was too tired. My own sleep deprivation is accumulating at a rapid rate and I just couldn't keep getting up with him for no good reason. I'm not using a monitor with him because his room is right next to mine and I can hear every peep he makes.  So I simply closed his bedroom door, went back to my room and turned on oscillating fan to drown out some of the noise and I went back to bed and fell right to sleep.  I remember hearing him at about 4am but he wasn't screaming.

He woke up at 6am this morning and I fed him and he went back to sleep (wish I could have but Ruby was up at 5:45 and sneakily ate a slab of almond bark while I fed Lincoln).

I feel like this might be a breakthrough for us. Particularly for me.  I realize I'm not doing anyone any favors by running to him every time he squeaks. By shutting his door and walking away (if only for 3 hours), I realized that I can actually leave him at night and nothing horrible will happen.

Tonight, I may take the next big step and do the door closing, fan turning on, hiding under the pillows at the beginning of the night, not the end. Time to start reinforcing some better sleep habits.  Enough is enough.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is this normal?

I decided to hold off on the sleep consultant until I gave sleep training a good try on my own.  And upon many people's suggestions (many of you, the health nurse, my midwife) I bought "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Weissbluth. I like his theories and I believe in what he says but good Lord I can not read it fast enough. My spare moments are few and far between and I've barely just made it into the 3rd chapter!

Does crying it out ever NOT work? Is there a chance that he may not be teaching himself how to fall asleep but instead just falling asleep from pure exhaustion? And in the meantime am I just fucking up his life? (and mine).

I can only commit to doing it during the day because I have another child to consider and letting Lincoln scream through the night would wake up Ruby for sure and then my troubles would be two fold.  So does that mean that the progress will be slower?  I'm guessing it probably does.

And anyways I've made leaps and bounds with him at night, though it's still far from ideal.  We've got the bedtime routine down pretty good and he's going 3 or 4 (and once even 5!) hour stretches in between feeds.  

Daytime napping is the really big problem right now and that's when we cry it out (he and I both).  I took video footage of him "crying" (SCREAMING) in his crib.  Today he did it for an hour (I checked him at the correct intervals - which actually seemed to make it worse). Now I have the proof I need to exonerate myself when the police knock on my door because the neighbors have called to report a child being tortured.  "Officer I wasn't burning him with cigarettes! I swear! I don't even smoke!"

No really, I did take a video of it.  Is this normal?  This is at about the 45 minute mark. After I took this video I went and took stock of the medicine cabinet to see what I had that might be effective in rendering me to a comatose state. 

(Disclaimer: Baby screaming in video. Maybe don't watch at work or if you are sensitive. )

video

I played it for Steve and he said..... "Don't do that."

Ruby NEVER cried like this - that is all I have to compare to.  Is that why it seems so over the top?

I just talked to my MIL and she said it wouldn't be good to let him cry too long and that maybe I should try a little whiskey. I told her, what a coincidence because I was actually just thinking about having some.  But apparently she meant I should give it to Lincoln. Talk about old school.  Just for the record, we don't do that anymore .... right?

It is during these screaming fits that I feel like I need professional help.  Both for him and for myself.  I need therapy and he needs professional sleep training.  Or am I just being a big wuss?  You'd think I was the first woman to sleep train her child, I know...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Progress, and... not

So I did a bunch of research. I spoke with a health nurse. I emailed my midwife. I looked at a bunch of books. I talked to girlfriends. I searched the internet high and low.  And what I thought I would do is take little bits of everyone's advice and put together my own little sleep training plan for Lincoln.

And it worked.  Sorta.  Well, a little bit.  The progress we made was in the napping department.  He has gone from taking maybe two 30 minute naps a day to taking two or three naps a day, ranging from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. And he's in his crib for those napst whereas before he was just where ever I happened to have him - bouncy chair, swing, floor, my bed.  There was a bit of protest from him and we had a little bit of crying it out.  But it was minimal and I was feeling terribly smug about myself and my talents as a mother.

My big plan was to get him used to his crib during the day and then eventually, I figured, he would start to get used to it and start sleeping in there at night. I have started putting him down in his crib after a little bedtime routine (which was previously non existent) and two nights in a row he slept for a couple of hours at which point I gave him a dream feed and laid him back down. Then he slept for another couple of hours before waking and me bringing him back into my bed (and then waking every hour or two for nursing).

Except there was the one time at nap time that he did more than a little fussing.  It was a big old cry/scream it out.  And even though I went in to check on him at regular intervals he screamed for 45 minutes before falling asleep and then only staying asleep fro 10 mins. (I realize this is minimal compared to some babies.)

Then last night when I put him down he went into cry/scream mode and it lasted 30 minutes.  He was awake within an hour and then an hour after that. And he ended up in my bed at 11pm.

And I've discovered that I don't know if I can handle this.  My anxiety kicks in full blast when he's screaming. My heart is crushed.  I have all kinds of doubts about what I'm doing and if I'm doing it right or if I'm fucking him up - because I'm doing my own thing and not a regimented, structured plan.

He is so attached to me and I feel like I'm betraying him and hurting him by doing this. He loves me like nobody ever has.  It blows my mind. Nobody has ever been that happy to see me before in my LIFE. He giggles and squeals when he seems me.  He grabs on to me and nestles his head in my neck. The sound of him nursing at night, eagerly drinking and gulping his milk makes me feel like I'm doing something so good for him.  And when he's nursing he reaches up and holds on to me. 

And I feel like I'm ripping all that away from him by making him cry in his bed, alone.

Yes, I realize that perhaps the problem is mine.  Perhaps I have some issues that need to be worked out.  I want us all to be happy and healthy.  We're not that right now. 

I feel like I can't do this alone.  Or even with Steve - who will go along with whatever I choose, pretty much.  (Although he struggles with the crying too, which doesn't help in making me feel stronger)

I feel like we need an intervention.

I am considering enlisting the help of a professional.  A sleep consultant.  A friend of mine used Helen Sands and had great success. My midwife highly recommends her and strongly suggested we use her. She said that it would be a Christmas gift to Lincoln.  And I trust my midwife more than anyone else in the world when it comes to my babies.

The thing is, Helen is really expensive.  And I don't have much money - I could scrape it up of course. But I am such a state of anxiety and self doubt right now I don't know if I should go ahead with it or not.  I feel almost like a failure if I can't get him sleeping through the night on my own. Maybe I could just buy one of the books that have been recommended to me and just force myself to go with it. But Helen Sands does extensive research into your particular circumstances and developes a plan specifically for the individual family.  And there is some support too.  I feel like I could use the support. 

I feel depressed and anxiety ridden this morning.  Don't know which way to go with this. I have so much self doubt no matter which way I turn. I just wish someone else could make some decisions for me and point me in the right direction.

Perhaps I just answered my own question...