Finding peace in the darkest days of motherhood

This has been the hardest day of motherhood yet. I am frustrated and overwhelmed. I haven’t showered in two days, I have to go to the bathroom, and it’s 2:30 p.m. and I’ve only had a bowl of cereal to eat.

Last night Baby T had his worst bout of gas yet. His stomach stuck out like a pot belly, his intestines gurgled, and he cried. He pushed. He cried. He pushed again, forcing out tremendous farts. It would almost be comical if he weren’t so in pain and it wasn’t 2 a.m. T was so upset and angry that he wouldn’t latch on to my breast, and the lack of food made him more upset. Having to resort to a bottle made me more upset. We were quite the pair—exhausted, hungry, smelly, and angry.

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The sunrise brought a new day but no relief. T has passed a lot of poop but still seems gassy. I bottle feed him again. I am so very tired. I feel like a failure because we had made so much progress in the breast feeding routine, but it seems to be coming undone. When I offer my breast, he thrashes around at the nipple like a goddamned barracuda, but he won’t stay on. Latching on to a large bottle nipple is so much easier than a real breast, and T grabs it with gusto. Another stab in my heart. I hope he knows how hard I’m trying. I tear up. My confidence wanes, my frustration grows, and I’m sure T senses it and responds in kind.

Finally I give up on trying to get any more sleep today. I try breastfeeding him just one more time. By some miracle T latches on and stays on. I feel a little relieved. Once he’s done, I get him to give up a nice juicy burp. I put him in his rocker, hoping the motion will soothe him for more than 15 minutes. I grab some clothes (my standard post-partum uniform: nursing tank and granny panties) and head to the bathroom. I shower, reveling in warm water and honey-oat soap suds. I think about my day. I think about being a mom. I think about T. I think about going back to work and then think about going out to anywhere but the house. My immediate emotional recoil to these thoughts tells me what I already know deep down; no matter how hard the days are, and how much the harder the nights are, there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be.

I step out of the shower and try to find nursing pads and maxi pads, another established post-partum routine. I write. My Reiki and meditation station on Pandora sends out soothing tones into the room. T wakes up, and we engage in a battle of wills, the plastic nipple versus the flesh one. This time I feel different. I feel calmer and more confident. Finally I win, and T settles in for a long feeding on both sides, much to my surprise and delight.

I feel contentment, love and adoration for this adorable, albeit sometimes frightful, little being. When I look into those eyes, those precious newborn eyes, I know it is worth every sleep-deprived second.

One thought on “Finding peace in the darkest days of motherhood

  1. Pingback: Reflections on motherhood | Surviving and thriving in the (sur)reality of motherhood.

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