Friday, April 01, 2011

Since Avery was born about 2 1/2 weeks ago, there have been some really tough days. But at the same time, there have been some moments of "I CAN do this." and "I feel like Super-Mom today!"

Well, the other day was definitely one of the toughies. I had an official "Bad Mommy" day...but it wasn't having to do with the newborn. It was with the toddler.

Lack of sleep, a baby hanging off my boob what feels like 24 hours a day, a horribly messy house, an utterly ANNOYING whining, pacing dog with anxiety problems coupled with a (what feels like 24 hour) tantrum-throwing 20 month old finally took it's toll and I just EXPLODED.

Hunter is in a tantrum phase. I use the word "tantrum" loosely. I've actually videotaped him a couple of times (so that when I start to feel sad about not having any more kids, I can play the video back. Heh.) and it's crazy to watch. We're talking sometimes 5-10 straight minutes (with little catch-your-breath moments here and there) of screaming, crying, tears, banging his head repeatedly on the hard wood floor, flinging his body across the floor at my feet, throwing anything I try to hand him, wanting to be picked up even if I have just yelled at him...UTTER CRAZINESS.

And the day before yesterday, I just completely lost it. Hunter did this ALL DAY LONG and I found myself screaming at him ALL DAY LONG. Instead of redirecting him like I normally try to do during a particularly bad tantrum, I often completely ignored him and attempted not to cry hysterically. As he climbed all over me on the couch while I struggled to keep Avery attached to my boob and on the boppy, I frantically bit my lip to hold it all in--sometimes without success. I repeatedly tapped his little hiney when he climbed the tv stand, stole my cell phone and ran from me with it, dug his hands into the garbage can...and tried to block out the sound of his cries and the tears that rolled down his round cheeks.

It was a very, very bad day.

And then the next day hit and it suddenly dawned on me. These tantrums weren't just Hunter's normal run-of-the-mill meltdowns. (He IS also sick right now with a nasty cold but it wasn't even just from THAT.) I started to realize that they often struck when I was "busy" with the baby, whether it be nursing or changing her diaper or just talking to and kissing her sweet little cheek.

"Oh, so he's jealous of the baby." My mom said yesterday when she came over for a visit and I explained my thoughts to her.

No, jealous is not the word. Hunter LOVES his baby sister! He constantly wants to stroke her fuzzy-soft hair, stroke her cheek or lay his body/head beside (on top of! LOL) hers and say "Baby!". He wants to give Avery her binky, a blanket, a clean diaper, a toy CONSTANTLY.

But he is having a little trouble adjusting to the fact that Mommy (and Daddy and Nana) are not all his own, now. And now that I'm realizing that, it kills me how I reacted the day that I had my Mommy-meltdown. I yelled at my sweet baby boy when all he wanted was to cuddle me, touch me, love me...and for that I feel like the worst Mom in the world.

I've since tried to make it up to him by giving him as much attention as I can muster, no matter how tired or cranky I may be. Instead of holding Avery's sleeping form in my arms, I put her into the pack-n-play and bear-hug my boy, and pretend to cook in his toy pans and tell him "Who loves you?? Mommy!" as he laughs and presses his cheek against my lips for a smooch.

But I can't get over this guilt of feeling spread thin now. I know it will get easier. In my brain, I know this. But in my heart, I feel badly for the piece of me that is no longer available becuz it's now divided up, like pieces of a pie, between my son and my daughter.

How do I get over this feeling of having failed my son? Will it ever go away or will I ALWAYS feel like one of my kids is getting gipped?

And I'm sure my damn hormones aren't helping me in this matter. *SIGH* God, I can't wait to stop feeling like a crazy, emotional wreck.


Anonymous said...

Gabrielle does this too, in spurts. It comes out when we're working with Julia.

I know I have a totally perspective, since I had to deal with dividing my attention between two (three, I guess, if you count my grieving for Caitlin as putting my attention elsewhere) from day one. Plus, I'm not emotionally wired like most people. I feel sorry for Gabrielle, but what can I do? It's the hand we were dealt.

So, what you need to do is look at it this way - Hunter does this when you're dealing with Avery. So it's not *so* much that he wants *you* and is upset; he wants you because Avery has you. Just like kids want a toy not because they truly want to play with it, but because some other kid has it. You're the toy now.

What helps us sometimes is that we will get Gabrielle to help us with Julia's therapy. She will help bounce Julia on the exercise ball, or she'll bring Julia toys. Whatever it is that not only redirects (when she's being a super pill about it, she will hit us and Julia and throw things), but also gets her involved. She enjoys being helpful, and actually she hasn't been as jealous during those times in awhile now. And then also do what you're doing - spend as much time with him without Avery when you can.

It'll work out. Remember, millions of women have gone through this before, and we all turned out okay without any issues about our moms not loving us!

Kat said...

This too shall pass. Like I said, you are in survival mode right now. Get through this part and it does get easier. Soon Hunter and Avery will be playing together. They will be little buddies. And you definitely need to stop punishing yourself. Hunter will never remember it. He knows you love him. He knows it. And you know he knows it. It is an adjustment period, that's all. For everyone. Everyone is learning. Adjusting.
Hang in there! And be kind to yourself! :)

Sarah said...

I had always heard that mamas struggle with the divided attention thing. I have noticed that Alice sometimes acts out, but I try to interact with her while nursing. Whether that is read a book, put in a movie and have her cuddle beside me, or making funny noises/faces while he is nursing/burping/sleeping. I am planning on getting the sling and baby Bjorn out this weekend, so that I can wear him during those "cranky/fussy" times (and I know more are coming!). That way I can still play and interact with Alice and tend to him.

I'll share any tips or suggestions as they may come up. Please do the same :)

And how I wish we lived closer. I would gladly trade a part of a day off for each of us while the other watches the kiddos (or the older two or the babies so the older would have some QT time with Mama).

Morgan Owens said...

First, I wanted to say this post relates to my new one on so many levels. Except it isn't jealousy on my end..just a bad toddler.

Something that makes me so nervous about having another baby is Mason feeling left out. It breaks my heart even thinking about him feeling like he isn't my #1 anymore..even though I know I will just have two #1s! :) But, I also feel this exploding love for Mason and I'm so scared I wont be able to share it fairly with baby #2. I'm just scared..because I know there will be times like you had the other day. It's totally worth it, right?! right?! lol
Hang in are such a good mommy April. This wont last long!

Anonymous said...

I think I wrote this exact post a little over 4 years ago, when C.ooper was 20-months-old and M.aren was a newborn! And boy does Hunter remind me of C.ooper at that age! As much as it stunk, we spent a lot of those days in one totally childproofed room - with a gate across the doorway to keep C.ooper contained. I kept a basket of books and little toys up on a shelf - and they only came down when it was time to nurse M.aren. The novelty of the 'new' book or toy was enough to keep him busy for a little bit and gave me a chance to nurse/bond with M.aren. As tired as I was, I also took advantage of midnight feedings to do the same, and used naptime during the day to have 1-on-1 time with C.ooper. We also did lots of cartoons and movies - I felt totally guitly for 'bribing' him with the television, but it didn't hurt him, it gave me a little quiet, and he doesn't remember!

Acknowledge to Hunter that you know he is having a hard time sharing Mommy and Daddy, but be firm in your expectation that he allow you to attend to Avery. He may not realize it for years to come, but he will eventually be thankful for having a sibling. And it will get better!