out of the swamp.
I don't think there is any end in sight to the things I could say, the feelings I've felt, during Elliott's surgery / hospitalization / everythingelseafter. (Dear readers, please do let me know if I start to sound redundant.) Blogging has been there for me in a way that I least expected it. It's been therapy, writing out these comings and goings in my brain when I have a moment. It is a sweet, sweet thing to play on the floor with my little one, see his smiles, big eyes peering up at me like I am his entire universe. Still, I look forward to nap times and daddy's return home work just so I can come here, and let this all out.
There has been a lot on my mind these last few weeks. While Elliott was hospitalized all I could think about was having him home, and now a day doesn't go by that I don't feel underwater. Finances, housework, my health; all seem to have taken a back seat. Sometimes the entire day goes by until my husband gets home before I get the chance to eat. Other days, Elliott sleeps all day and I worry that he is sick or in pain or something else is going on that I can only speculate. For days at a time his fussiness is unparalleled (today) and I want to scream or tear my hair out. It has become clear to me that my breastfeeding-by-bottle days are coming to an end and I can't help but hold onto the meager two or three ounces a day I am pumping and the devastated feeling I get when I think about stopping. I worry about the cost of formula feeding. Should we switch to soy? I analyze each and every diaper, Google "green baby poop" or worry he isn't pooping enough or too much. Paying late fees on utilities makes me feel like an all-around failure. I miss my husband a lot during the day, and think sometimes that I want to call him at work in tears and beg him to come home early. And then: the countdown to my return to work is looming and all the overwhelming, have-no-words feelings well up like a lump in my throat. The thought of being away from my sleepy, fussy, poopy, beautiful wonderful amazing child makes my heart ache more than I have ever known.
Wait, I better stop writing for a second, and make sure my kid is still breathing.
I don't mean to sound so bleak here. Writing about things like fear and the challenges we're facing as a family probably makes me sound like a depressed, pessimistic person. I assure you I am not. For the most part things are good. Elliott sleeps through the night 80% of the time, he is gaining weight, developing at his own good pace, and is otherwise healthy considering. There's a chance formula feeding is much easier than pumping. We aren't to the point that any of our utilities have been cut off and we're still making the mortgage thanks to my hardworking husband. And there's a good chance that working again will give me a much-needed break from all of this and appreciate my little one all the more.
Being a parent is hard. I know I've been told this a million times in the last year, and oh! They weren't kidding. I find myself looking beyond these early days while Elliott is in his infancy and pining for the future. For the time he'll be fully healed from surgery, appointments have fizzled out, and new routine sets in as a household with two working parents. For the times when Elliott can sit up, hold his own bottle, needs less medications. Maybe play by himself a little and actually tell me what's ailing him, instead of making me feel like a bad, clueless parent. And yet, when I find myself thinking these thoughts, I again feel like a bad mom. There is no end to parenting, as my mom would wholeheartedly remind me on the worst days (or nod her head at while reading this). The days of parenting an infant will end, but being a mom to that sweet, precious little soul will always be my duty, responsibility and honor. The reality of this, though, does not often make me feel better about the now, as I am knee-deep in this swamp. I guess...I guess I just need to continue taking this day by day. What else can I do? What else can any of us young, overwhelmed and stressed-out mamas do?
I read a post yesterday written by my good friend Kathleen, and it reminded me that, even though all of our experiences as mothers are unique, they are oddly similar too. (Thank you friend for posting this.) Kathleen does not know what it is like to see her little girl go through heart surgery, but she does know the joy it is to give birth, the adjustment of adding a child to your life, the heartache of leaving a child to go back to work. She understands what it is like to be spread too thinly. To be sleep-deprived and food-deprived. To not have a moment to herself for days at a time. And she also knows, that in spite of all the bad, there is immense goodness that comes from the hard days. Goodness too great to be measured. I have received emails and messages by many, many mothers about how they are awed and inspired by my ability to pull myself out of heartache and keep moving forward, but man. I am awed and inspired by you ladies, too. I don't know how you haven't thrown in the towel. In my weakest moments (today), I surely want to. The goodness keeps me going but, oh, there are days that are hard. To be a parent, is the greatest challenge of my life.
It's cliche, but I cannot end this post without saying that I know there is a long road of struggles ahead; and yet, I wanted this. I wanted my little boy more than anything in the world. I still want it. I want the struggles, because he is worth every ounce of it. With challenge, comes reward. And he is the best, best reward I could ask for. From hard days comes goodness too great to measured. To my mom, thank you for dealing with the hard days and putting them aside, so that we may celebrate the good ones.