Observations From My Mommy Diaries.
Read about my life as a working and writing mommy. It’s raw and unedited…but a little censored!
I am currently teaching a writing workshop and one of the constant homework assignments is 12 pages a week. So, I decided to keep a “mommy” diary during this time. I hope to post daily or weekly excerpts. I am not looking for advice with these posts, just looking to be heard and understood. I also am in the processing of editing and publishing another book. Having a newborn, an almost 5-year-old and a business makes for one TIRED Mommy. Maybe you can relate?
I love Viv. I love her needy, floppy, sturdy, learning, emerging baby body. The way she responds to skin and touch and food and warmth, so natural, so instinctual to lean into my hand when I cup her cheek as she sucks her bottle or lean into my arm as I cradle her head while she feeds. When I hold her upright against me, over my shoulder her head nestles into my neck, her mouth and hands searching for my skin, her little scratchy fingernails gently poking my flesh. I love when she is tired.
The house is relatively quiet, just the hum of the baby monitor– Viv is asleep for a nap. Chels and Mike are at Sunday school– Well, Chels is and Mike took off to bowl, he’s highly motivated to take her now because the bowling alley is nearby and he can squeeze in a game. Viv is a little off her normal schedule today which produces a small trickle of anxiety. If she is off in her feeds, she won’t have the magic tank up between 5-6 pm so she can get through the night until 5 tomorrow…I just started to write about that more and then felt stalled like why am I writing about that? Who gives a shit? It’s boring. Only I give shit because scheduling my baby is of utmost importance to a working mother, to any mother. I am not a schedule imposer but more of let’s-observe-her-and-see-what-she-does-and-needs and then let’s work around that, but it can’t be the haphazardness of the first 6 weeks to 2 months any more.
Anyway, this truly is only interesting to my fellow mommy friends, and me not even, actually. Just me and my hubby and my other friend with an infant.
The world of having an infant is pretty narrow and small. It’s a world of nesting and wanting to be home, wanting to just be all about baby. Even though I work (from home), the day revolves around baby. I feel drunk with my love for her. I tell myself that she can flail on my bed or in her bouncy while I do stuff, but when she is awake, the brief periods that she is, I want to look into her round gray blue eyes and watch how they really seem to brighten and glow and light up when I talk to her and smile. I want to watch her try and hoist her body over to the side as she learns to roll over. I want to play our little game of holding my fingers and she’s gotta grip as I help her pull herself up to sitting. She looks so proud and happy when we do it. I want to hold her over my shoulder and let her cheek lean into mine so I can feel the soft doughyness, the dumplingness of her pudgy skin. I feel complete when I hold her and when I feed her as she leans into my arm or clutches with her hand onto the fabric of my clothes or rests her hand on my chest as she suckles. I love to run the palm of my hand over her head and feel the puppy softness of her hair and the warmth of her head. When I hold her and play with her I feel her life, her aliveness or growth, and her emerging into full humanness. I feel the same as I did with Chelsea– the same drunk baby love. When I hold her, no one else is around. The house isn’t dirty and there’s no work to be done. It’s just her.
Hands working. Ehhhlaohhhlaaahmrmmmmhmmmmhmmmmmdribble. Legs kicking. Bahhhhh! Swipe at the rattles attached to the bouncy seat hood. Leg up and a whine that sounds like I want to play but getting tired. Now an eye rub with some talking. Better get her to bed¬–
Put her down. Conflicted mommy-guilt, but, you know, get out of the way and stop making it about you, Hannah, after all, it’s most important to think about the needs of baby and every baby needs to learn how to self soothe and sleep. Sleep alone with minimal binkings and a mother or father coming in every second to rebink and reset. There has to be the time when you say, “Okay, I am willing to step out of the way and deal with the crying.” Guess what? It didn’t last long. I put her down and rebinked her once, telling myself, “Okay after this rebink, you will wait it out, and let her cry in increments of 5 minutes…” Look there it is, she is quiet and dare I say asleep…
Worrying about some work stuff (I censored this to protect my clients)…. Chelsea saying she doesn’t like that I work because she wants to be with me all the time oh shit there goes the baby with a whine but it’s not a shrieking terrible cry don’t focus on it Hannah tune it out but I can’t want to sit here and keep typing wait wait Hannah don’t go in there but it’s escalating I need to go in wait wait wait wait the 5 but what if the binks in her neck or the blanky is on her head it’s fine she is fine no no I need to check you can check but then leave leave okay checked and she is fine but fussy and bink is out and I am going to experiment if I tell myself its just an experiment shit she is really crying mad now sort of not terrible but she wants that bink wait wait the 5 you can do it need to practice now she sounds fine shit was she even ready for bed should I have waited whatever I didn’t and now here we are be consistent Hannah that’s what a good parent does shit shit up goddamnit this is soo hard and the other one is yelling at her Barbies and watching Ratatouille keep waiting Hannah it’s an experiment you can do it just wait wait to go in don’t be so three more minutes and I can go in I have to stick with this I just have to I will I want to stop writing and eat my apple now Chels is sort of drowning out the baby which both annoys and relieves me. Shit.
Committing to writing every day and getting those damned 12 pages–what I have assigned my students in my current class. I have been working on my edits for my new book. I am sick of the querying and rejection process. Trying to make people see how awesome my work is. I kind of feel like f- it. Whatever I do is going to have to be good enough. This editor I am working with thinks I should query MSV, but I think that if someone doesn’t want MSW, than I don’t want to work with him or her anyway, you know?
On another note, I have parted with my agent, and she sent me a lovely email back saying she would certainly be open to working together with me in the future. So I feel good. I wanted to be released so I could have total freedom to figure out what I do want to do with the whole publishing thing. It wasn’t happening with her, and I don’t fault her, frankly. It’s the business, and I need to figure out what I want. If the business doesn’t want me, I need to either find out how to change so it does, or I need to totally let go and go back to just doing my thing, writing and self publishing. I don’t want to waste energy any more on people who just say no, no, no.
I want a book deal. I want it, but not desperately any more. I finally feel calm and okay about it like whether it does or doesn’t, I will be fine. It won’t be this awful huge big deal if it does happen. It will all be okay. I am not desperate. I feel so much more confident and at peace with myself because I no longer compare or feel envious of other published authors– whatever. I am not the same as others and that’s great. Who the hell really is the same or perfect? F- it. I have bigger things. That’s the gift Viv has given me. I don’t have time for self-loathing and pity. I just want to keep trying and putting myself out there, and it’s not for anyone other than me, really.
I am only up to 4 pages. Should I also count all the rewrites and edits from the week?
October 23, 2008
I need to step aside, get out of the way with Viv. She is not sleeping through the night. From 12-4 last night she cried and we went in and rebinked her. I kept saying to Mike, she’s suffering. He was like, “No, she’s not. She needs to learn.” Then I would say, “But we waited until Chels was 7 months to do this. And he was like, “We aren’t waiting that long this time, we are tired and she needs to sleep and learn how to sleep.” He likened it to teaching a child to potty train early; it will take a little longer but we will get there sooner than if we waited. I feel crazy in the middle of the night, and it feels like things have gotten worse since Sunday night when we were doing fine before without feeding her in the middle of the night and only rebinking a few times, but on that night it was like everything changed and we had to give in and fed her. Mike thinks it’s connected to moving her out of the old bassinet, which was way too small for her, and into the new one. Alyssa says growth spurt. I say, “Shit, I don’t know what the f-?” But the bottom line is, I feel responsible. Maybe I am working too much and not observing her enough to learn how to read her properly? I mean right now, she seemed ready for a nap, but then I put her down, and she has cried for the last 15 minutes and is still crying. I just turned on the monitor. I just don’t get it. I feel like it’s me. It’s something I am not doing or not understanding. There she is. Crying. You have no idea the torture it is to hear your child cry. Well, maybe you do. Why is she so sad? Why doesn’t she want to sleep? We were doing so well, and, now, it’s just terrible and the other thing is that when she is out of bed, she is so happy and sweet and smiling. Now I wonder, is she mad? Is she okay? Now she is kind of singing in there. Maybe she’s not tired? I don’t get it. When I went in there before, she was doing her trying-to-sleep-thing by turning her head to the side snuggling the blanket, and I saw some spit up. So I wiped it and then gave her binky and then shot out of there. She is quiet now. It’s only taken over 20 minutes. I have to get out of the way and make this about her. She is working it out. The only way she knows how, which is to cry. I mean she can’t talk, and she can’t even move around that much. Give her a break and yourself. Okay?
I feel like I need a plan. Like I need to reread Dr. Ferber and Weissbluth, but you know, I smell a rat so-to-speak. Am I going back and reading and making a plan in the hopes or in the magical thinking that if I do all that, it will all be better? Because the truth is, this may get worse before better. No matter what plan you do.
My plan is to let her cry it out in increments of 5, 10, 15. That’s my plan
I put Viv down at 1:44 and let her cry for 5 min and then went in and reset and then left and let her fuss for 10…It’s 2:18 and she is quiet. So this stuff really works. I have to trust that I know what I am doing. I did it before, and I can do it again. Crying it out and scheduling feedings is a good thing and baby needs it. So f- myself and I better get a spine.
Absolutely nothing has worked today. Nothing that normally works has worked and neither has crying it out. I do realize a few things:
I need to get back into going with my gut, intuition, and in-the-moment stuff with her. Maybe we pushed a schedule too hard. Whatever. I am struggling. That’s the bottom line and I want to let go and make space for the pain of not being able to get her and get her soothed and on a schedule so Mike and I and Chels will be happier. I have to make space for the feeling of failure I have. Make space for my pain and frustration and aggravation and sleep deprivation. But, you know, it doesn’t mean anything other than what it is. It doesn’t mean my life is a mess and out of control. It means my newborn is not predictable (what a shock!) and that’s frustrating (what a shock, again!) and also I feel guilty about being frustrated and wanting this all to move faster. You know, I didn’t have these feelings with Chels.
Speaking of… I left the baby alone with Chels upstairs. I need to walk away. It’s terrible I don’t even do this every day… I just went upstairs and she was slumped, drunk, in front of the TV with Chels. Her first time in front of TV. Loving it. I scooped her up and did my favorite hold with her. Cheek to cheek and she puts a hand on either side of my neck and grabs like a cling-on. Now she is down in my study while I type this and I realize I am still in shock that I have another baby and maybe that’s another thing I am feeling. I feel like I am in the center of chaos, and maybe I need to go into it? Now she is snorting cooing. Oops. She just threw up. Marvelous.
Had an epiphany. Spoke to a client whose hubby is a pediatrician. Told her that Viv seems to need to eat again around 10 or 11pm. She said, “Oh, yeah, of course. That’s not the middle of the night.” Yeah! My mommy instincts are still good. So Mike and I agreed to feed her another feed before 12 without a problem. Middle of night feeds would be like between 12 and 4. That’s what we are going to avoid. Perfect! Decided to stick with 3 ounces if she absolutely needs another feed.
But she had another tough evening and I immediately blamed my self. I said, “I am not a good mommy.” Chels was like, “No, no! You are a good mommy. I am not a good big sis.” I jumped right on that and said, “Yes you are! You are great.” She really does imitate everything.
I don’t think I made it to 12 pages, but I did work on my book in addition to this. So, does that count? Of course it does. I’m the teacher!
Stay tuned for more from My Mommy Diaries