Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
Last night was horrible. I thought that one night last week was bad, but this was epic levels of bad. She woke up three times, screamed, SCREAMED, arched her back, kicked, screamed while I held her but screamed louder if I lay her down, acted hungry but refused to eat, screamed some more every time I tried to feed her. The first two times I was frustrated and irritated and exhausted, sick with a cold on top of it all, my nose dripping and no tissue in reach; the third time, I thought something must be wrong with her and decided to call the doctor in the morning.
When she’s screaming like that, I get a strange, trembling, bubbling-up feeling, somewhere between crying and laughing. I guess that’s what they call hysteria. I feel desperation – make it stop, make it stop, must sleep, must sleep – and compassion – my poor angel, what’s wrong, angel – and in the midst of all this, my body is constantly moving – jiggling, bouncing, dancing from foot to foot- and I’m singing “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins in my cracked sore-throat voice over and over.
Finally, it occurred to me she might’ve caught my cold and might have a stuffy nose, too, so I decided to use the aspirator (around here, we call it the “booger sucker”). Laying her down and making her be still to use it made her angrier than ever, but a few minutes later she actually consented to eat and then fell asleep. I laid her in the bed beside me, and she happily snoozed away on her side nestled against me the rest of the night.
In the morning, she rolled over on her belly, lifted up her head to look at me, and grinned sunnily. It’s like this every time. No matter how bad the night was, she wakes seemingly rested and happy, a clean slate. Meanwhile, Mama is a zombie.
I didn’t call the doctor because she was just there last week with similar issues, and they basically said nothing’s wrong, and here she is today happy and, so far, has eaten well without incident. I’m told she isn’t teething; I’m told she’s gaining weight fine. Still, in the night when my baby is screaming like she’s being tortured, what am I to think?
I stopped at Walgreens and bought all the cold remedies they had for babies – saline nasal spray and “BabyRub” by VapoRub – and an ear thermometer since Miss FlailyScreamyPants doesn’t cooperate too well with a traditional thermometer. So far today, her temperature is normal and I haven’t needed to use the other remedies. She visited with Granny over lunch and happily crumpled up paper bags. This afternoon, she fell asleep in her daddy’s arms and is now napping away in her crib.
Really, when I think about it, the day times have gotten much better and more fun. I can snap her out of almost any low-level fuss with a chorus of “One is the Loneliest Number,” she requires less constant walking around (my mom and dad call it “going on walkabout”), and she can be entertained with books, teethers, plastic key rings, the dogs, the cats, and Yo Gabba Gabba. She grins at strangers, sleeps in the car, and lets us eat dinner in peace if we set her in her Bumbo on the table. I can even take a shower because I put her in there with me in her bath seat, and she has a blast splashing in the water and, afterward, smiling at me while she watches me blow dry my hair.
It’s mostly the evenings and nights that have gone all wonky. The eating has gotten worse, to the point that she even refused the bottle twice (she had NEVER done that before) and got absolutely furious every time we tried to offer it. That convinced me that it’s not me, not my stress level or something up with my milk. It’s something up with her, and I have no idea what. If she’s not teething, what IS it, and why did it surface all of sudden a few weeks ago?
I know she’s more distractible now. Even when she’s eating fairly well, she stops often to look up at me and grin or turn to see what’s on TV or look at the cat who just ran by. I also know she’s impatient and easily frustrated. The worst fits usually happen if she’s already fussy before we start and I can’t make things happen fast enough for her liking.
And as for the sleep thing, her doctor also recommended not nursing her to sleep, putting her to bed drowsy and letting her fall asleep on her own. She said Ruby’s old enough now that it’s okay to let her a cry a little.
Yeah, I would be okay with her “crying a little,” too. But there is no “cry a little” for this child. She is INTENSE. For example, she’s constantly rolling herself over onto her tummy and then getting mad when she can’t figure out how to get back. So yesterday I decided to let her fuss for a bit and try to figure it out on her own. Yeah. So that turned into a massive screaming fit that didn’t end for several minutes even after I rescued her. Sigh.
There have been a handful of times when I was so exhausted from trying to coax her into sleep that I laid her down in her crib, turned on her glowy seahorse, and sneaked away, and she actually, miraculously fell asleep. Other times, I tried it and within two minutes she was yelling her head off. So I have hope this approach might work in the future, but it’s definitely not consistently working yet.
In the mean time, Mama’s feeling kinda crazy. It has been a month since I’ve slept more than 4 hours at a time, and most nights we only make it to three hours. I never (well, almost never) get any help at night because D has to be up for work at a certain time and I don’t, so I try not to wake him. I end up falling asleep feeding her in the recliner half the time and wake up stiff-necked and cold at 5 a.m. I went to the chiropractor yesterday, and even he was surprised how knotted up my entire body was.
Even when things are good – which they honestly are most of the time – I live in dread of the next feeding, when she might decide to fight me and behave as if I’m trying to poison her, instead of giving her my hard-won, life-giving milk. I wish I could tell her how much I’m trying, how hard I’m working to make her happy and healthy – heck, I do tell her. When she’s crying at me, when I’m jiggling her on my shoulder and rubbing her back, and she’s screaming relentlessly in my ear, I say, “Mama’s trying, baby, Mama’s doing everything she can.”
Only thing is, she can’t hear me over her own voice.