It has been a tough few weeks.
It seems that I am always feeling like it has been a tough few weeks. Paul and I often talk about the ways in which we feel like we are drowning and if it is the reality for all parents everywhere or if we are in a special kind of parenting purgatory. We try to live a simple life. We try to do the things that are right for us. We get further and further behind, more tired, more stressed, and more frustrated which each passing week. We are trying in a way that is making us exhausted. At the point of exhaustion we wonder if it is the trying that is getting us down.
I guess the thing is nothing is black and white. There are no straight answers and certainly no right way. The best we can do is get up in the morning and give it our all.
There are a lot of factors in the stress that I am feeling right now, so many in fact that when I am pissed off I don’t even know what I am pissed off at anymore. I am raging inside and any little thing could set me off at any moment.
Waverly has been coughing for months. We have brought her to the doctor on multiple occasions. We have been told she must be trying to fight something off, we have been told there isn’t anything wrong with her, and it has been suggested it may be a dust mite allergy. She coughs only at night, only once she has fallen asleep. She coughs for 15 minutes and then will fall back asleep but only as long as she is held upright. She will sometimes cough every hour like this. She will sometimes cough so hard she vomits. She will cough and cough and cough but when she gets up in the morning she is perfectly fine. I have spent hours researching. The most recent attempt to get her cough to stop has been a nightly dose of Zyrtec which did not do anything to alleviate her cough. Speaking with a friend the other day, she mentioned that she experienced a cough similar to Waverly’s and that she was diagnosed with acid reflux (thank you, again, Jill). The research started over and now I am fairly certain this is the problem. I called the doctor on Thursday to discuss this but her doctor was not in. I missed a call from a receptionist on Friday to be told she wants to see Waverly. I called back and a different one answered so I had to explain for the umpteenth time what was going on just so I could get an appointment. She asked if that day would work and I said yes, just to be told that actually there were no available appointments. Then I was transferred to the person who left the message who then asked the same question about availability. I immediately became furious because this is a simple step of the process which is becoming increasingly irritating. I want to talk to her doctor on the phone because it is the weekend, I want to see if giving her some sort of acid reflux relief will work because we desperately need to sleep. But no, we will be making a fourth visit to the doctor to talk about Waverly’s cough that nobody can seem to figure out. Last night I had to stop writing this post because she was coughing hard, gagging, and sobbing. My heart hurts for her. My eyes immediately filled with tears and they began to run down my cheeks. This is unfair.
Waverly’s coughing is affecting everything. She hasn’t been eating well. Her cough is creating restless sleep for our entire household. It is not just a matter of finding out why she is coughing because of her discomfort. We are running on fumes. She is completely spent around 2:00 in the afternoon every day. She is miserable and difficult on levels I never knew existed. I can’t get her down for a nap because there is another factor that comes into play: Egan. Egan is cutting molars, appears to have an awful cold, and is crying nonstop during the day if I am too far away from him at any moment. He cries when I’m holding him, when he is eating, when he is playing. And Egan has not slept for more than thirty consecutive minutes a night for three weeks. When he isn’t up and crying, Waverly is up and coughing. We are still required to function, we are still required to not complain too much because our kids are healthy and fine and you can’t complain about your kids who are healthy and fine. It’s taboo.
There is also another factor. There is a third child who also has needs on top of all of the needs of exhausted Waverly and miserable Egan. Gannon.
That brings me to the part that will break me. He will break me. Gannon, for whatever reason, has become so much of a challenge that I feel my spirit being crushed. Crumbling. Disappearing.
When Gannon was a baby, he was not easy going. He was not a happy baby. He didn’t laugh a lot, he smiled quite a bit, but he was pretty serious. This has not changed. Until Gannon was four months old, Paul and I had to take turns holding him at night because he would cry endlessly. Paul would hold him until he felt like he could snap, then it would be my turn, and then his once again. This went on all night at times. I breastfeed him through cracked and bleeding nipples because that was the only thing that would make him happy. I was in so much pain that I wanted to hurl every time he latched on. He had an awful latch, I had no support, and I was in pain like that for four months. I healed once his crying fits finally stopped. He was a pretty clingy child for most of his first year and beyond. When Gannon started speaking he had the sweetest voice I had ever heard in my entire life. The sweetness broke my heart. Around one year old we went through the crying fits again. He wouldn’t fall asleep nursing anymore and to get him to sleep we would have to hold him or lie with him until he would doze off. He would become angry and rage, slamming his head into ours, biting, hitting. I had thought he broke my nose on a few occasions. He was still waking every two hours throughout the night to nurse and at 15 months old I finally had enough and night weaned him. I was newly pregnant and tired in a way only a pregnant woman knows. He completely weaned at 17 months. I cried. Our connection felt different but it was still strong.
We brought Waverly home before Gannon turned two. He really hasn’t been the same since. I think this is my fault as I had no idea how to balance two children. I wanted to give Waverly all of the same things I gave to Gannon but when you have two that is an impossible feat. It took me a long time to find a balance and I truly believe I caused damage to him. We did everything together and now there was this other person who was taking my attention. I treated him differently due to circumstances beyond my control. We were living with Paul’s parents from the day we came home with Gannon until we moved back into our house when Waverly was three months old. That was another intense transition for him and a difficult one for me. Waverly was very different than Gannon. From day one she was strong willed. She knew what she wanted. I had no idea how to parent her. I wanted to be alone with Gannon but I was never sure how to make that happen for him. So much time went by and our connection felt completely absent. I was lonely. I was sad. Fuck, I am still lonely and still sad.
Lately, Gannon has been getting pushed aside while once again his siblings get all of my attention. But there is a big difference between how he treats Waverly and how he treats Egan. Since the day Egan came home he has adored him. He wants to hug him and play with him, engage with him and teach him the things he knows. But Waverly seems to be a huge inconvenience to him. She is always pestering him. She adores Gannon. She wants to do everything he does, she wants to wear his clothes, she wants to ride a bike like him. She tells him she loves him. She tells him this a lot. And he ignores her. He doesn’t look at her or say anything back. He just ignores her. He has been telling me daily he doesn’t love her. He doesn’t like her. She bothers him. He doesn’t want her around and I can see it but I don’t know how to get them to connect. He is violent toward her. When he is frustrated he lashes out on her, bites her, hits her, screams at her. It is hard to remember he isn’t even five yet. He does play with her happily at times during the day. It is perplexing.
My heart is broken for him because he seems so lost and so empty lately. I don’t know how to help my boy. I am frustrated with this little person he has turned into. I am trying desperately to find the motivation behind his anger. Is it the current obsession with superheroes? Too much screentime? Not enough time outdoors? Is it feeling left out? Does he feel like he doesn’t matter so he wants her to feel like that too? Is he just tired from all the coughing and crying he has to listen to while he is dreaming? Is it his constant constipation, his anxiety, his analytical brain?
I am one mom. I am one mom with one amazing husband who is one dad. We are just two people in this world with these three wonderful children that we made together. We are trying to get through this with laughter, with love, with patience. I feel less alone with him by my side.
I am broken. Waverly and her cough, not knowing what is wrong. Egan and his awful time teething. And Gannon. My first baby. My best bud. I can’t help but feel like I am failing him in so many ways. I can’t help but feel guilty, at fault. I can’t help but miss his smiling, little, face and his sweet voice. I want to go back there and do everything differently. I want him to know his worth, his importance, his affect on my life. I want him to know how badly I wanted him, how much I love him. He is changing so much right in front of my eyes. Everyday I am answering his questions about this world we live in; Life, death, talking about things in “ours future”. He most certainly is no longer a baby.
I was sitting in bed next to him while I was nursing Egan. We were listening to some music and he was falling asleep. I was looking across the room, out of a window, and there was a tree silhouetted by the brightness of the moon. That tree’s beauty made my heart ache. The piano in the song, the calming voice of the singer, one son at my breast, the other lying next to me. My heart ached for what was. My heart was full for what is. I know we will get beyond this chapter of our lives and be stronger for it, together, and I know someday I will hear my son laugh again. I know I will hear him tell his sister he loves her back. And I know I’ll stop crying so much. But until then, I will keep digging deep and getting through this, my husband at my side, ice cream plentiful in the freezer.
I haven’t yelled in fifteen days and I am so proud of myself for taking a turn toward repairing what I have broken and pulling us back together again. We need to feel whole again.