Friday, February 19, 2010

Being Brave

I was inspired by the fabulous Nanimal and her post HERE to practice some truth telling.  I am always so grateful when people share their struggles and warts - so I'm going to return the favor and hopefully get a little help myself.

Being a parent is hard.  Despite the fact that eleventy-billion people have done it before and will do it in the future, it's still hard.  I think I've been trying to convince myself it's not because I don't like struggling with things.  I either get them after a couple of attempts or a I quit.  But that's not really an option with parenthood - well, it is, but not one I'm ready or willing to take.

Yesterday, our baby-sitter wrote Jason and I a letter stating that she couldn't continue to care for Aggie because Aggie screams a lot and demands a lot of her time.  She is 8 months pregnant and has a 2 year old.  I very much understand and saw this coming.  It is causing a little chaos right now but nothing too big - we've got some stop-gap measures in place, so we're not running around desperately trying to find a new sitter.

For the most part, this has played out smoothly and maturely and I fully expect to remain friendly with the sitter.  Since we live in a small town, this is important, especially since 1) she's from here; 2) a lot of her family lives here; and 3) she and her parents bank where Jason works.  Plus, it's not really anyone's fault this hasn't worked out - she and Aggie just aren't a match.

But there have been two things I've been struggling with - first, admitting that Aggie is indeed a fussy baby.  Why that is so hard for me to admit, I don't know, but she is and we're going to have to be honest about it with the next sitter so s/he can be honest with us about being able to care for her.  Little girl does not like to take her afternoon nap and fights it hard; she doesn't like to be left alone or feel that she's being ignored; and she gives you about a five minute heads-up period that she's not happy about something - after that, she lets you know in no uncertain terms that things must be fixed now.  The first couple of months with Aggie, I really struggled with the last issue - I kept trying to make her fit to my schedule and my desires.  Thankfully, I realized we'd both continue being miserable until I learned to work on her schedule.  Now, things are good - she gives me the warnings, I work to meet her demands and very rarely does she fly into a rage.  But, if someone isn't willing to do that with her, then Aggie will make them pay - and boy, has she made her sitter pay - and they are both miserable for it.

The second struggle was in the letter from Aggie's sitter, she seemed to infer that Jason and I do not take Aggie's health seriously.  She thinks something is physically wrong with Aggie.  Every time she has mentioned something, we have looked it up, called the on-call nurse or taken her into the doctor.  We  (including the medical professionals) are just not seeing it.  Yes, she's often congested (just like her parents are), she has weepy eyes, she spits up a lot and she's fussy. Doctors are not perfect and can miss things.  But my gut tells me that nothing is wrong - she's just a baby and probably a baby with mild dust allergies.  Her inference (and Jason agrees with my interpretation) felt like a sucker punch to the solar plexus.  And really let me know that we needed to end our relationship with her right away.

So yeah.  There you are.

Hi, my name is Cora and I'm the mother of a fussy baby who drove her sitter to quit.

P.S. Aggie gave me a sympathy laugh today - we'd been playing peekaboo and I kept at it too long, but she kept politely chuckling, long after she was done being amused.  I think her dad had a talk with her about humoring her mother.

Friday, February 12, 2010

4 months!

Little girl is getting so big!  Well, to Jason and I, anyway.  She can now blow raspberries and will occasionally laugh on her own.  And she can roll over - almost.  She gets to the shoulders and gets stuck.  But so close!  She's started to hold and pick-up things and most go into her mouth.  For some reason, she prefers to suck on fabric rather than plastic.  Well, she prefers to suck on her hands and sometimes makes a suctioning sound, kind of like Paul the cat used to make when cleaning himself (aw, we miss you, buddy).

I'm doing pretty well.  I did decide to increase my medication because the exercises my doctor gave me to help my OCD - well, they're time intensive initially and - yeah - I don't got a whole lot of spare time in my day.  So we upped the meds and they're helping, but I might increase more.  That did mean I had to stop breast-feeding.  Aggie didn't seem to notice, since she was mostly bottle fed by that point, and I didn't really mind.  But I was a little sad to end, seeing as it was something only I could provide for my baby.

So, I had some interesting discussions with myself and others this past month about motherhood and if being a mother intrinsically makes you a better person.  I cannot - and will not - speak for others, but for me, I say no.  I think, eventually, it will make me a better person - the whole experience of caring completely for another person - but just having a child did not miraculously change me.  Every day, I work to be more patient, understanding and compassionate - and to do all this when extremely tired.  And stressed.  Motherhood is stressful, esp. when I read the baby magazines.  I'm stopping that - they provide me with so much to worry about!  I wrote to a friend that I was worried I wasn't helping Aggie's neural pathways develop properly - yes, I actually said that.  Even before she could smack me upside the head, I realized how ridiculous I was being and taking myself way too seriously.

One change I have noticed is my feelings towards other children.  For example, when at the park, I used to notice them and if they were alone, worry a little that they were safe, or if they were with their parents, if there parents were potentially abusing them.  I think I have the same worries, but it feels differently in my chest.  I just want to gather them close and give them kisses and let them know that just as they are, they are loved.  Not sure why this feeling is only reserved for children (up to age 18ish).  Probably just my maternal instincts kicking in.

Favorite picture of the month - we have to get somewhat ridiculous in order to catch her smile on film.  Once the camera comes out, she just stares at it in quiet fascination.