Saturday, October 12, 2013

Challenges and Gratitude

obligatory baby picture. stinking cute.
I feel like my emotions these days are stuck between two extremes. On the one end, I find myself so extraordinarily and deeply grateful for what I have. A healthy, hardworking, loving husband, with whom I just celebrated our wedding anniversary. Two beautiful, healthy and thriving kids, who came to us easily and without the heartbreak that so many experience along the way to parenthood. My eyes have been opened to some heartbreaking losses recently - the kind that take your breath away - so the knowledge that my babies are here, on this earth with me, is something never far from my mind.

On the other hand, parenting right now is so challenging. So, so challenging. It's stretching me, and pulling me, and trying me so deeply. Some days, I wonder if I'm even cut out for this work. And, it's so physical - I just ache at the end of the day. Parenting these children takes every ounce of physical energy I have to give, and then somehow continues to find my reserves, suck that energy, and so forth.

Dash is a great baby - he really, truly is. He's so easy. But, he's 6 months old and he's starting to be aware of what's going on and show his preferences. Nursing him can be a challenge lately, if he's in a place where he'd rather watch what's going on than focus on the job at hand. And, he's SO big - he's literally making my body ache so badly. My neck and back, which are still recovering from the accident, seem to have no strength left at the end of the day to lift him. My arms and wrists ache. He's over 20 pounds now, but he's still such a baby, that all 20 of those pounds need to be supported by me. A lot of kids are walking or crawling or somehow mobile at 20 pounds, but he hardly even rolls over (like, once a month, maybe). So, I carry him. Everywhere. And, he's out of his infant carseat now, but can't sit up, so when we go somewhere (grocery shopping, etc), I have no choice but to carry him. It's a lot. He's heavy. And, he's had a cold this week, which has made him extra uncomfortable and really needing the physical contact, extra nursing, lots of holding, rocking, swaying and soothing. Ouch.

And Ellie. Oh, sweet Eleanor. She brings me such joy, but SO MUCH frustration lately. This girl is strong willed, she knows what she wants, and she's having such a hard time these days. Her own joy - her jubilance which is such a trademark for her - is the flip side of a girl who feels things deeply. She's 2 1/2 now, and she wants things how she wants them, when she wants them and where she wants them. And if she doesn't get her way, what used to be tears is now screams of anger and frustration and angst. I made her sit in the cart at Costco yesterday. She screamed through the whole store (she wanted to walk. Fat chance). She had her worst meltdown to date this week, over me rocking and nursing Dash. We're talking 45 minutes of screaming as loudly and sorrowfully and angrily as possible. Eventually she climbed on my lap and hyperventilated herself into sleep. And while I want to soothe her and comfort her, this behavior has me stuck. I can't give her what she wants when she behaves this way, so on principle, I must stand my ground because of her behavior. I may have locked myself in the bathroom for a minute or so while this tantrum was happening (and boy, did she let the neighborhood know she was not happy with that) while I took some deep breaths to collect myself.

And sleep is a nightmare. Bedtimes, naptimes - we've regressed fully to baby status it seems. No longer content to put herself to sleep happily in her big girl bed, she's now demanding that I (only I) rock her to sleep all the way (or snuggle her to sleep in her twin bed). If I do not, she will scream and shout and cry and sob, and because she's in a bed now, she refuses to stay in her room (or I'd  wait it out). Nope, she's in my face doing this, usually while I'm bouncing my 20 pound baby boy, trying to get him to sleep (see a problem here? No one is going to fall asleep while this is the background noise). And I can't put Dash down while I rock Ellie for 45 minutes (or he'll cry, and rightly so). Having Peter around at bedtime helps (he's not always able to be here, with his work schedule), but both kids want/need me. Dash needs to nurse, and Ellie's attachment is deep these days. Last night, after several (yes, several) hours of this crap, Peter put the crib railing back on the crib in a move of desperation. Perhaps she'll sleep better if she's back in the enclosed crib? (I didn't mention that she's been getting out of bed nightly and crawling into bed with me. And Dash. Poor Daddy get's the couch...). It seemed to work, and she slept through the night until 8:30 this morning, happily in her crib. So, we've regressed. And now, to get her to fall asleep on her own (something she used to have no problem with).

So that's where I've been, and hence the blog silence. Stuck in the parenting trenches. Incredibly happy to be here, but boy, are these days trials.

How about some cute before & after annual photos to lighten the mood? My stepdad plants potatoes in their garden, and for the last two years has harvested them with Ellie. Behold:

The bounty. 17 months old.
Last weekend. 29 months.
Digging in the dirt
2013 bounty.


  1. As I was reading your entry here, I put Jamie back into bed probably five times. You are doing a great job. You do what you have to do - Ellie won't be in a crib when she's eighteen. She probably won't be in a crib at Christmas, but even if she is, it's okay. One of my mantras sometimes is, "I get to win." I am the parent, I get the final word, I get to win. My two-year-old does not. Stick to your guns and you will reap the rewards later. You are doing a great job.

    That said, do you have a hiking backpack? It's cumbersome, but not so much as carrying a large six-month-old, and I've been there, sister. I had Charles in the hiking backpack for a couple of months until he could sit in a cart. It's great because the baby is contained and strapped in well but can see over you and look at everything. It's a bit easier on the back than an Ergo and Dash wouldn't be smooshed into your back. You just have to be careful not to turn too fast, lest you knock over a display of oranges in the grocery store or something. I'm pretty sure I saw a chiropractor once every few weeks during Charles's first year.

  2. Good idea with the hiking backpack. I'll try to track one down. And I must admit, part (all) of my anxiousness to get Ellie out if the crib is to get Dash into it (we're a one crib family!). I think he and I would both sleep better with him out of the big bed. Oh well!