One of the strongest, kindest, and most thoughtful mamas I know once said out loud at a play date, ‘I don’t like being a mom’.
My jaw dropped. Not because I didn’t understand how that was possible, or because I didn’t see it coming from her, I was actually excited. I couldn’t believe that she had the confidence to say the words I had been choking on for months. Maybe I wasn’t crazy if someone as amazing as her felt it too? Maybe I WAS allowed to feel this way??
Don’t get me wrong. I love my tiny humans with the force of a thousand suns. I would cut off my legs if it would prevent them from feeling any pain in this life. But I have come to understand that loving your children and loving the daily duties of motherhood are not the same thing, and THAT IS OK!
I’ve loved kids my whole life. I was always volunteering in nursery and Sunday school, babysitting, or fighting to hold the baby that just came through the door. I worked in pediatrics for 6 years, and am now a newborn and kids photographer! It’s safe to say that I love littles. I always said I wanted lots and lots of them, until I had one.
My dream come true turned into my worst nightmare when she was 11 days old. That’s when the screaming started, and it didn’t end for months. I definitely don’t just mean fussy, I mean screaming. She would cry until she turned purple or started gagging. The post-partum depression, anxiety and insomnia really settled in, the sleepless nights accumulated, and all I wanted was out. I didn’t know what to do. I sat at home all day with a screaming baby, and then was up every 45-60 minutes all night with a screaming baby. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed one night and saying to my husband, ‘I wish I had terminal cancer or something. I just want this to be over.’
I can vividly recall the few times I tried to take her somewhere. I had a lump in my right breast at the time that was being monitored closely. As I was laying on the bed getting another ultrasound, my baby was of course screaming in her car seat on the floor. In the middle of the exam the technician said, “We try really hard to keep this place as calm and relaxing as possible for our patients. Can you make your baby stop crying? The walls are thin and I am sure everyone can hear her.”
Wait, what? Really? I had no idea she was screaming?! Embarrassed and flustered I picked her up, laid back down, and latched her to my other breast face down on top of me so the tech could ‘finish in peace’. I ended up turning my head so she couldn’t see the tears streaming down my face. Was this my life now? Everyone hating me because of the screaming that accompanied me?
I had complete strangers approach me in grocery stores to suggest 101 ways to make her stop crying, (as if I hadn’t been doing *all of them* on repeat for months already?). Some of them would even reach into the stroller and put her soother back in her mouth. (Let’s quickly establish something here. Do not ever touch a strangers soother.) Her pediatrician said she was in the top 5 worst cases of colic she had ever seen.
I didn’t love motherhood, and I felt like a monster. I had wanted this so badly for so long, and then suddenly not at all.
I remember going for a walk with a mom friend who’s baby was only a few weeks younger than mine. As we approached each other, I asked how she was doing. Secretly and desperately, I was hoping she was struggling as much as I was. When a giant smile lit up her face and she exclaimed ‘great!’ I just burst into tears.
The minutes (which let’s be real here, every minute with a screaming baby is an eternity) turned into hours, which turned into days.. weeks.. months.. Every time someone said, ‘it will end one day’ I seriously wanted to punch them in the throat. How could this ever end? How was I ever going to be happy again?
Can I tell you something though? It’s happening. The happiness is slowly but surely returning. Unfortunately with a second colicky child and a pandemic, my mental health has been dragged through the mud a lot farther than I deem necessary or fair. But, it’s happening.
Today she learned how to tie the bow on her pants drawstring. She used her own plastic fork and knife to cut up her dinner. She played on the monkey bars, excelled in swimming lessons, beat me at the memory card game, and sang to me as we were snuggling before bedtime. She sang the song that I sang to her every night for the better part of 3 years, often through tears.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy, when skies are grey
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my (mommy princess) away
That’s her. The one who screamed, and didn’t sleep day or night, and didn’t let others hold her. She is big now, big and smart and funny and beautiful. Her name is currently pinned to the ‘kindness tree’ at school for hugging and shhh-ing another child who was upset. She isn’t screaming anymore.
I know you probably want to punch me in the throat right now too. I’ve been there. I was you. Exhausted, sad, wanting to completely disappear into your bed sheets and never have to pace the halls again. I’m not even sure if reading any of this was helpful. I just want you to know you’re not alone.
Colic is defined as a minimum of 3 consecutive hours of crying, 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks. If this is you, please find people who understand you. Join a support group (Colic Support Private Group on Facebook is excellent). Talk to a trusted doctor or therapist. I found my therapist on Inkblot. Inkblot is an online therapy group that has unlimited free meet & greets until you match with one you like. **Also** your struggles are still valid if your baby is happy! We all need support, mental health affects everyone. If you need to just rant to someone who understands, I am here.
I hope you get some sleep tonight and the sun starts shining on you really soon.