Well, here we are. In one week my younger daughter will be one year old. And I bet you think this is going to be one of those sappy walks down memory lane, don’t ya?
Honestly, (what’s up with me and all the honesty lately??) it’s more like finally exhaling. We freaking made it. When Olivia, my older daughter, was about ten months old, we decided to get about the business of adding another child to our family. Yeah, she was THAT awesome. Aside from her scary birth and short stint in NICU, she was the ultimate easy baby. Slept through the night (I’m talkin’ 14 hours straight) at ten weeks old, put herself on a solid schedule by three months, took to daycare like a champ, made every transition a piece of cake – and was so happy. I was one of those judgy first-time moms – my kid did everything so easily, CLEARLY these people were doing it wrong. Jeez.
My pregnancy with Audrey was easier and her birth was absolutely perfect. Seventeen minutes of pushing and boom: new baby girl! I distinctly remember saying, “Wow, I could do this ten more times.” And I meant it. It was that awesome.
Two beautifully perfect baby girls! The life I’d prayed for since I was small — the family I’d dreamed of — really happened. I couldn’t believe it.
Shortly after Audrey was born the incessant crying started. Crying turned to screaming. Screaming and vomiting. Oh, the screaming. Every shirt I owned was ruined with vomit. Her glider, her brand new nursery rug — everything. We were at the pediatrician five times in three weeks. Pyloric stenosis was an early contender for an explanation.
After stool samples and five different formulas, she was diagnosed with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and placed on prescription formula and an antacid. She could only get relief on an incline, so she slept in her swing for months – that is, when she slept at all.
I spent several months cradling her, us both crying, and dancing around my living room to highly inappropriate hip hop music in an effort to both entertain the toddler and get the baby to sleep.
People who’d been there promised me it would get better. Nobody knew when for sure, but I remember thinking every morning that we were one day closer to it – whenever “it” was.
Late last year I went out for drinks with a group of moms with kids similar in ages to mine. (I’m sure I had puke on my shirt somewhere.) And I listened to them talk about how wonderful life was. How the transition from one to two wasn’t that big of a deal at all. And I actually said, “REALLY?!” What the hell was wrong with ME, then?
I went to my OB to talk about it. I felt so overwhelmed. I felt like such a failure. I felt like I was always frustrated, always snapping, always yelling at my husband, at my toddler, at the baby. I had waited my whole life for this family and I was miserable. And I didn’t feel like they were making me miserable; instead I felt like I wasn’t the wife and mother I should be to them. There were only two children. How was I failing at this? How could I be SO BAD at parenting? I loved them so much. I wasn’t sleeping. I was so sad. Heartbroken.
She hugged me and told me it was okay. That I wasn’t alone. It would get better. We talked for a long time and she prescribed medication for me and I took it. And waited for it to help.
About a month later, I started to feel less on edge all the time. I found some patience and could breathe. But, in my tradition of keeping it real, it didn’t fix me. I don’t think that’s the point anyway. Parenting two children under the age of two has been very, very difficult for me. I own that. Don’t get me wrong – we have the most incredible time. My girls and my husband are my life. I burst with pride over them. I adore every single bit of them. And Audrey? Well, she is one of the brightest lights in my life. She’s bloomed into this amazing, squishy, lovey nearly-one year old and I want to snuzzle her all day, every day. (She still doesn’t sleep. What’s UP with that?!). And Olivia has taken on the role of big sister like I never imagined. She loves HER baby so much. She “helps” with anything and everything. She? Is completely awesome.
But the day to day is still difficult. And I thought it was important to share because maybe? There is another mom like me out there. Who thinks she’s the worst. Who thinks she’s failing. Who thinks everyone else is SO MUCH BETTER at this than she is.
They’re not. There are so many variables in parenting. So many. And most of us struggle from time to time, you just might not see it. And I’m here to promise YOU that it DOES get better. So much better. Every day I feel more confident. Every day I try something new with them. And when they reach out to hug me so tight it kinda hurts? I know I’m doing something right.
You are, too.
photo credit: barbara dupuis photography