Here comes the sun

Well, here we are. In one week my younger daughter will be one year old. And I bet you think this is going to be one of those sappy walks down memory lane, don’t ya?

Honestly, (what’s up with me and all the honesty lately??) it’s more like finally exhaling. We freaking made it. When Olivia, my older daughter, was about ten months old, we decided to get about the business of adding another child to our family. Yeah, she was THAT awesome. Aside from her scary birth and short stint in NICU, she was the ultimate easy baby. Slept through the night (I’m talkin’ 14 hours straight) at ten weeks old, put herself on a solid schedule by three months, took to daycare like a champ, made every transition a piece of cake – and was so happy. I was one of those judgy first-time moms – my kid did everything so easily, CLEARLY these people were doing it wrong. Jeez.

My pregnancy with Audrey was easier and her birth was absolutely perfect. Seventeen minutes of pushing and boom: new baby girl! I distinctly remember saying, “Wow, I could do this ten more times.” And I meant it. It was that awesome.

Two beautifully perfect baby girls! The life I’d prayed for since I was small — the family I’d dreamed of — really happened. I couldn’t believe it.

Shortly after Audrey was born the incessant crying started. Crying turned to screaming. Screaming and vomiting. Oh, the screaming. Every shirt I owned was ruined with vomit. Her glider, her brand new nursery rug — everything. We were at the pediatrician five times in three weeks. Pyloric stenosis was an early contender for an explanation.

After stool samples and five different formulas, she was diagnosed with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and placed on prescription formula and an antacid. She could only get relief on an incline, so she slept in her swing for months – that is, when she slept at all.

I spent several months cradling her, us both crying, and dancing around my living room to highly inappropriate hip hop music in an effort to both entertain the toddler and get the baby to sleep.

People who’d been there promised me it would get better. Nobody knew when for sure, but I remember thinking every morning that we were one day closer to it – whenever “it” was.

Late last year I went out for drinks with a group of moms with kids similar in ages to mine. (I’m sure I had puke on my shirt somewhere.) And I listened to them talk about how wonderful life was. How the transition from one to two wasn’t that big of a deal at all. And I actually said, “REALLY?!” What the hell was wrong with ME, then?

I went to my OB to talk about it. I felt so overwhelmed. I felt like such a failure. I felt like I was always frustrated, always snapping, always yelling at my husband, at my toddler, at the baby. I had waited my whole life for this family and I was miserable. And I didn’t feel like they were making me  miserable; instead I felt like I wasn’t the wife and mother I should be to them. There were only two children. How was I failing at this? How could I be SO BAD at parenting? I loved them so much. I wasn’t sleeping. I was so sad. Heartbroken.

She hugged me and told me it was okay. That I wasn’t alone. It would get better. We talked for a long time and she prescribed medication for me and I took it. And waited for it to help.

About a month later, I started to feel less on edge all the time. I found some patience and could breathe. But, in my tradition of keeping it real, it didn’t fix me. I don’t think that’s the point anyway. Parenting two children under the age of two has been very, very difficult for me. I own that. Don’t get me wrong – we have the most incredible time. My girls and my husband are my life. I burst with pride over them. I adore every single bit of them. And Audrey? Well, she is one of the brightest lights in my life. She’s bloomed into this amazing, squishy, lovey nearly-one year old and I want to snuzzle her all day, every day. (She still doesn’t sleep. What’s UP with that?!). And Olivia has taken on the role of big sister like I never imagined. She loves HER baby so much. She “helps” with anything and everything. She? Is completely awesome.

But the day to day is still difficult. And I thought it was important to share because maybe? There is another mom like me out there. Who thinks she’s the worst. Who thinks she’s failing. Who thinks everyone else is SO MUCH BETTER at this than she is.

They’re not. There are so many variables in parenting. So many. And most of us struggle from time to time, you just might not see it. And I’m here to promise YOU that it DOES get better. So much better. Every day I feel more confident. Every day I try something new with them. And when they reach out to hug me so tight it kinda hurts? I know I’m doing something right.

You are, too.

photo credit: barbara dupuis photography

19 thoughts on “Here comes the sun

  1. Thank you for posting this tale of two children. I am a stay at home mom of 2 (my son 4months and my daughter is 27 months) My daughter is/was a dream baby, slept through the night and went along with everything that came her way so easily, my son on the other hand sleeps pretty well through the night but other than that is crying almost constantly ( or at least it seems that way to me) He is a very hungry boy and also has a problem sometimes keeping the formula down. i was so discouraged ar how stressed, worn out and socially isolated i have become. Before I had my daughter I was the head teacher in a classroom of 12, 2 year olds, and beyond fustrated with how overwhelmed I am at times, by golly I am a professional caregiver and licensed teacher, I should be able to handle this! sometimes all I can do is cry and cry as I do my nightly loading of the dishwasher because I don’t want my husband or my daughter see me cry .., but reading this has made me feel better (as hokey as it sounds) to know I am not alone … I know I don’t have it nearly as rough as some have it and I am eternally grateful for the health and well being of my children and husband , but sometimes it is all too much and it angers me because I should be stronger than that … but thank you for your honesty and candidness it helps moms like me find our way again

  2. As my baby turns 2 next week, all I have to say: SING IT SISTER! I got my easy baby second and mine aren’t as close in age as your girls, AND IT WAS STILL HARD. I’m sure you’ve touched a lot of moms today – nice work!

  3. From your lips to moms’ ears! You’re writing is a breath of fresh air. Reality and reassurance, what every mom needs.

  4. Great Post – I think you touched on what many Moms feel – we all feel overwhelmed at times – But we are Awesome Moms!!!

    Oh and side note GERD – SUCKS! we went through that with little man too really no one knows until you see your little one projectile vomitting and we couldnt keep up with burp cloths we started using dish towels etc.. isnt it Wonderful to come through all of that? 🙂 You did it Momma!!!!

    For anyone going through Gerd now – this little baby device saved our sanity a bit during that what at the time seemed like forever stage.

  5. Love this post. Your honesty brought tears to my eyes… being a mom is HARD, but in the end, it’s the best kind of hard there is.

  6. As someone who second-guesses her parenting on a daily basis and never feels “good enough” I really, REALLY appreciate this post. I needed this today. Thank you!

  7. Thank you for this post. I can relate to so much of it! My daughter just turned one and I also have a 4 year old. The youngest also suffers from GERD and we were also at the pedi non-stop in the beginning. Going from 1-2 has been the most difficult thing I’ve done and my hubby and I are always exhausted-I’ve even had bloodwork done to rule out any health problems-but turns out I’m just tired from lack of sleep! It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone. I wouldn’t change anything about my life and feel blessed to have such beautiful daughters.

  8. This post sums up what I’ve been trying to say my whole time writing for this blog. It’s hard to feel like you got everything you wanted, but not be happy. Thank you for being honest. I’m that one mom you were trying to reach.

    1. Kris-Ann, are you kidding? You are fabulous. I was just thinking after reading some of your recent stuff how lucky your children are to have you for their mom. For realz.

  9. This is an incredible post. I relate to everything, honestly I really do. I also feel the same as Dena, that I think I come across as a mom that has it all together, a “super-mom” of sorts. That’s so far from the truth, I struggle with anxiety on a daily basis and some days feel just so damn hard to get through.

    I really appreciate this post, more than you know.

  10. I can so relate. It took me 5 years to finally get myself to talk out everything I have been feeling with regards to this and just life. Thank you .thank you. Thank you for this post.

  11. Steph, you made me cry! What a beautiful post! I connected with this more than most know. People sometimes see me as that “got it all together” mom, but that is so far from the truth. I struggle with a lot if frustrations, self-doubt as a parent, and just plain depression sometimes. We all know deep down that we are not alone, we aren’t the only ones struggling, but the guilt and fear usually drowns out the logic and makes us feel so alone. Your post has helped me more than you know, thank you!

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