Usually I try to…

Usually I try to keep my posts on some coherent topic, something where I have something to say. I even try to craft it a little, put in a bit of fancy writing, a touch of insight. But I've got nothing here. This is not original, this is just a pathetic whimper from the mother of a four-month-old who has not let her get a full night's sleep in weeks! I am losing it, people.

Kevin is back to work now, working late and working early and even though he deals with the baby for me every few nights, mostly it's me and what was I saying? I can't even put a damn sentence together because she's squawking again. Again and again. She just won't stop. Sometimes she screams for no reason, which I swear resonates on a frequency that something evil has designed to perfectly pierce through my brain. Mostly it's just little annoying squawks that will not stop, not with the swing, not with the bouncy chair, not with the binky, no, only if she is upright and in my arms and being carried and I had better not dare sit down even if I keep her upright because somehow she knows that I am sitting down. She knows and she will not allow it.

Her name, Kaviarasi, means 'Queen of Poetry' and we thought that was a lovely name when we named her, but clearly we were idiots naming a baby queen of anything, because she knows that she is in charge here and does not hesitate to demand constant attention and service. And the demands just keep coming and coming and coming.

I know some of you think new parents are funny (my mother does), but we are not funny. We have taken to calling her the demon monkey and our threats to throw her out the window are getting more and more frequent and our voices are getting more frayed and we're snapping at each other and it is a very good thing that we are both here to keep each other gentle with her because I can understand now how Shaken Baby Syndrome happens, I can. And that's an awful thing to say, but I am just so damn tired. And I want her to shut up.

And please, don't tell me it gets better. I've been hearing that for four months, and it's not getting better fast enough. I need something to make it better right now.

9 thoughts on “Usually I try to…”

  1. It sounds cruel, but sometimes the only thing that works in such a situation is to put the baby into her room, close the door, and ignore her. Sometimes it really is the only way.

  2. I’m going through the same thing. Since you’re working at home, you need some quiet time and frankly, as babies grow older they need more and more time with parents. I think that’s just something we have to accept and really if you think about it, don’t we want our children to be sociable and happy?
    Although Kevin has a hectic schedule, can you sneak away in the evenings or weekends to the library or a coffee shop to get some quiet time?

    I’m coming to terms with the fact that when my baby’s awake I’m not going to be able to get much concentration time. I try and leave the house 2-3 times a week in the evenings – I get the satisfaction of giving my baby attention and catering to needs instead of getting irritated or losing my patience.

    So while I do understand what you’re feeling, I can only say that we as moms have to figure out an alternate plan. Life is different when you have a child and honestly, you have to accept that you’re going to give up something. Another realization – no matter how wonderful our partners are, we women bear the brunt of child rearing.

  3. Thinking further about this, remember that parents with more than one child cannot possibly devote all their time to a new baby. So, it really is OK to ignore a baby from time to time, so long as the attention she does get is total attention. Just being distracted and annoyed while holding her is not always helpful. Quality attention really is as important as quantity of time. (Sorry if I sound as though I am “preaching”, but I think this is a discovery that parents need to make.)

  4. I am not a parent and have no experience with infants, but in times of high stress and/or panic attacks, I have found relief from practicing relaxation or meditation exercises, even for just 10 seconds.

    Giving myself a break from anxiety for the space of just a breath or two often helps to derail the additional layer of stress that comes from worrying that whatever is causing the stress at the moment will never end. It’s really easy to get caught up in the narrative of worry about 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 years from now, even though it hasn’t actually happened. Pausing for a moment to focus on a breath or relax my jaw muscles helps me to stop expecting the worst, at least for that moment.

  5. Jim (of Tallahassee)

    Dear dear Mary Anne,

    I’ve felt your pain, and I have an anecdote that I hope will help. When My son was about that age we had the same problem… it was driving us both crazy until I realized he slept in the car… there were many nights that I drove around the neighborhood until Alex went to sleep in his car-seat; and then we both slept in the car… in the driveway.

    It wasn’t great sleep, but it was sleep.

    Good luck and all the gods be with you.


  6. 3 days of being back at the hospital having to entertain Little T were exhausting enough for me. Agree about total attention but what entertains babies/kids is surprising. Like I wrote earlier reading the Economist entertained our K. Watching cooking from a safe distance entertained both kids. Still does. Most parents don’t have their babies high to see.

    1. My nanny adores babies and keeps asking if I’m going to have another. Answer: Not if I can help it ; Little T adores babies too. You can bring Kavi over on a Friday morning and see if both like her. No guarantees but I hired her to look after two kids anyway. I can’t babysit her myself. Too many wrist points to care for babies.

    2. I told myself at the time that this constant desire for entertainment was a sign of good intelligence and a passionate drive since helplessly lying around does seem rather boring and demanding help seems a good way to get what you need. It does take time to develop this capacity to entertain oneself. However I think people underestimate baby’s intelligence. I think there’s a middle ground between shutting the door while baby screams (only did a few times when totally desperate) and constant entertainment.

    I set up some activity that my baby liked and could do alone. At 4 months the play cube was a good one. Then let baby play for a few minutes with me then walk away telling her/him “Mummy’s going to X. Be back in Y minutes.” Baby was allowed to squawk for Y minutes. Then I returned. We started out with five minutes. I did this much earlier with Little T and he started self-entertaining much earlier.

  7. Word up!

    Happens to the rest of us. You don’t shake the baby but you sure know that it can happen. You put the baby down in a safe place and you walk away. I do consistently wonder about why I cannot be the glowing easy mommy of fantasy, about why my head pops open and the fire comes out my mouth…I think it’s cause my second is 7 months old and doesn’t sleep through the night.

    No advice–you’re coping as well as any of us do by having a supportive spouse, caring friends who’ll come over, and complete strangers who can be wooed by money to take the demon monkey off your hands. But I wish you all the best, zombie mommy.

  8. hi mary anne,
    i was browsing some of the saved blogs i have and i came upon yours. we met a few times and i help organize the desilit bookclub in chicago. anyways, congrats on having a baby girl. very cute baby! i myself have an almost 6 month old boy named Sajan. i can totally relate to your pain. sajan was sleeping well enough at 4 months then something happened at 5 months and now he’s not sleeping thru the night anymore. i’ve been told it happens at growth spurts and i’m waiting for this growth spurt to end and i pray every night for just one decent night of sleep. i’m still breastfeeding so downing a few cups of espresso in the morning is still just a dream. hang in there and take it day by day. i still don’t know if it gets better or easier, i think it’s just harder in different ways. i’m sorry i can’t help but i can totally sympathize. you’re not alone and what you wrote/feel is so normal, i feel it many times too. i never ever ever imagined it would be this hard. i’m thinking the golden age is 7, when my son can eat, burp, pee/poop, sleep and read a book on his own. so hang in there and hopefully you’ll realize your golden age for your little one too. Oh one more thing, are u sure she doesn’t have acid reflux problems. one of my friend’s daughters has that and she can’t sleep lying down. i thought maybe that might be a reason Kavi may only like being in the situp position, just a thought. take care.

  9. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement. Sital, I think you can have some caffeine if you like; I’m pumping milk for her, and my understanding is that some caffeine is okay. Everyone has to decide what they’re comfortable with, of course…

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