Just when I thought we were getting somewhere, reflux rears its ugly head again.
This time in the form of gut-wrenching screams.
Or is she being a madam and playing us?
The usual easy bedtimes have become a screamathon and survival of the strongest wills. So far she has won every time. I can’t leave her to cry. I have begun singing my own lullabies with a random string of words… (To the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)
“You’re as sleepy as can be…
Go to sleep, for your Mummy.
Rest your eyes and be so kind…
Or i’m gonna lose my mind.”
“Daddy thinks I’m going mad…
When you cry it makes me sad.
Go to sleep oh child of mine…
Mummy wants a glass of wine.”
The crying has been getting worse and has been getting to me. Slowly but surely each time she cries I creep closer to the brink. A gorgeous smile and giggle brings me back and all seems fine. But each time I do get a little closer.
On Sunday she pushed me over the edge. Over I went. So far over the brink that the brink was a mere spot in the distance. Having always been nicknamed Tiny Tears it’s no surprise that I cry from time to time. But this was a first for me.
My breakdown happened ironically whilst ordering a Happy Meal at the Drive-thru. At the microphone order point I struggled to get my words out, relieved that I didn’t have to face a human. I wiped my face, pushed the tears back and rolled on to window number two (even though the first one isn’t a window any more) This was much more difficult as I had to pay, make slight eye contact and try to maintain my composure.
In between windows two and three it was all too much. I’d listened to her cry for one and a half hours solid. I’d driven round for hours trying to console her. I was visiting my elderly Grandma when the cryathon occurred and so was riddled with guilt that Great Grandma hadn’t got to hold her as she wouldn’t stop crying. Daddy had been fishing and seemed oblivious to my stresses. Trying to ‘pretend’ that everything was okay and chit-chatting to the seven-year old about which Roald Dahl book he hoped to get in his Happy Meal is what got me passed window number two. Sadly I didn’t make it to number three.
I could no longer hold it in. I was trying to put on a brave face. But enough was enough. I put my head in my hands leaned on the steering wheel and sobbed. Sobbed like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. Connor reassuringly stroked my shoulder from behind and told me that he loved me and that he would look after me.
This made me cry more.
As the car in front rolled away from window three, I tried to pull myself together. God knows what they must have thought when they saw the state of me when I collected the ironic Happy Meal. I did still remember to check the Roald Dahl book in case it was a double-up – (I am a bit obsessed with collecting the books and using it as a good excuse to have a Happy Meal for lunch myself… had two this week – oops) I exited the Drive-thru but broke down again and finally gave in and swapped seats. I couldn’t see, let alone drive.
Last night she launched another attack of epic proportions. I’m not sure who won. I won the afternoon Nap Battle. She battled against it for 1 hour 10 minutes whilst I pushed her around the retail park. We’ve got to the point where I can’t stand being at home as the crying grates on me, and there is slightly more chance that she’ll sleep while out and about. She finally gave in and I enjoyed a solitary 45 minutes in Costa with my phone.
This got me to thinking, how did mums cope without smartphones? It is an actual life line. The virtual friends that I have made through blogging; my Facebook connections of friends that I don’t see day-to-day but are always there for me with a supportive comment; Whatsapp to send photos and jokes to my best mate; Google for literally everything and the camera for my obsession with taking baby photos. Imagine having to wait a week for a film (of only 24 photos may I add!) to be processed! How did we cope before the digital revolution. My phone has rescued me during night feeds, bouts of insomnia and when I’m about to lose the plot. I can always rely on someone to write something supportive. Even just liking my status or photos makes me feel less alone during the difficult times.
So… back to last night. 6.45pm and she was exhausted. The other half was on duty and oblivious to the ‘tired signs’ I was in the kitchen cleaning (yes, I do clean from time to time) and could hear the familiar tired whimper. I asked him to get her changed (he has to be asked as cannot think for himself.) But we missed the window. That all crucial slot. The getting her to sleep before she realises how bloody knackered she actually is. We missed it. And we suffered the consequences.
She screamed and screamed and screamed.
Connor declared I need to sing her my special bible song (I think he meant my lullaby) But she was having none of it. On my shoulder she would quieten down as I calmy hummed and sung my ridiculous words to her, willing her to go to sleep through my calm (not stressy as she can sense it) voice, bouncing in the chair in a dimly lit room with star projector on the ceiling.
That kid was NOT going to sleep no matter how many times I sang bleeding Twinkle Twinkle go to bloody sleep to her.
Getting stressed out doesn’t help!
Then I tried leaving her. It’s not what I like doing but I was an hour in and getting to my whit’s end. My shoulder was killing me. I could hear Daddy reading, ‘James and the Giant Peach’ to the boy and wished we could swap places. No amount of rocking, walking, bouncing or singing was helping so I tried putting her down.
I left her.
I lay on my bed and tried to distract myself with my phone.
As I listened to the cries, I thought what an effective torture technique this would be. Make someone listen continually to a crying baby… they would crack in no time. Motherhood is equivalent to a torture chamber… sleep deprivation and crying two unequivocal torture techniques… or day-to-day life so it may seem.
I managed to leave her for an hour… it was in fact about 3 minutes but it felt like an hour. I went back in. She cried EVEN MORE when she saw me. Hmmm… is this little one playing me? I picked her up. She sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I felt so bad for her. I would have done anything to console her. Why couldn’t I console her? What was I doing wrong?
And then she heaved.
Sick everywhere. Her freshly washed sleeping bag (and my new comfy PJs) were once again covered in sick. I didn’t think she was going to stop. I started to panic in case she choked. I felt so guilty. It was my fault for leaving her. If I hadn’t left her she wouldn’t have cried for so long and wouldn’t have been sick. I was a terrible Mother.
And then suddenly she stopped crying, stopped being sick, looked at me and smiled. Her face was blotchy and almost purple. But she smiled.
That smile made everything better. The last hour washed away. I put her on the mat to change her and she giggled. That oh-so-cute giggle when I use the tickle fingers and she almost belly laughs. That is what gets me through the tough times.
In the bath she went. Happy and content.
Until I tried to put her down again. Off she went again.
Back to square one.
This time thankfully Daddy took over. I was at the end of my tether and couldn’t face any more. Daddy took her downstairs. She was content in her chair but fought sleep for 40 minutes more. Refused her bottle and just stared him out. 40 minutes later he tried to feed her again. In a final moment of attack she took the bottle, whimpered and then passed out.
She was asleep. It was 9.30pm. We both passed out in bed soon after.
Parenthood. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Damn I should have bought wine.