The weight of stress
I read somewhere long ago that it takes 18 months after having a baby for your relationship to go back to normal. I thought that made sense at the time but I never knew how true it was until I started living it.
The stress of having a child, particularly the stress of bedtime, has really made things a bit harder in our home. Gus doesn’t sleep particularly poorly – he is a frequent waker but normally needs gentle soothing very briefly and goes back to sleep. When he is in his crib he just needs to know someone is there and falls back to sleep almost instantly. When he is in our bed it normally just involved popping a boob in his mouth and we’re all back to sleep. But he does not go to sleep easily. He has never fallen asleep not in our arms (Well, a few time we have found sleepy but not asleep but it still involved the same amount of work on the front end) and it used to always take holding him tight and patting his back while he screamed. About two weeks ago that stopped working. Now he only goes to sleep nursing or on a bottle. Last night, like many nights in the past few weeks, he nursed for an hourish and took four ounces in a bottle. That’s a lot. The night before that he nursed and was instantly to sleep in 15 minutes. Why the difference, Gus man?
It is hard during these bad nights not to use a tone of voice that the other mom may hate. Lesley feels like I talk to her like she is stupid. I feel like she yells at me. We both leave bedtime exhausted, upset, and mad at one another. The arguments we have then are the arguments my parents had my entire childhood. I hate so much that it keeps happening.
Yet it doesn’t seem to get better. These arguments are based on tone of voice. It’s so dumb yet we can’t stop it.
There are other stresses, too. Currently, we are all sick. We all have a cough and cold for going on a week. It’s been rough. Lesley has been sick for about a month. First a cold, then a stomach bug, then Gus got sick and she caught his cold, and now she has that and a stomach bug. I know she feels bad both physically and for not being as big of a help because she is sick. I am not a patient person. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses and I am not good when my partner is sick. I’m tired of her being sick. I’m tired of being what I call “the family motivator” who has to encourage everyone to participate in activities and do household chores. It sounds dumb but it is really tiring to always have to be the person to keep everyone moving. The good thing about this sickness is that it’s really motivated Lesley to do something about her health. She has always had a list of mysterious ailments that doctors have dismissed. One of these is her inability to kick illnesses. When she gets sick it is regularly for a month or more. So next week she has a consult with a Naturopath to see if they will be able to work with her to figure out if something bigger is going on. But for now it is rough.
The sickness and the baby who won’t go to sleep and the stress of life piling up around us (laundry, a lawn that needs mowing, the fact that Lesley hasn’t been cooking much because she is sick so we really haven’t been eating which exasperates all the problems) makes it so hard to be so far from our families. I just wish more than anything that Gus had a Grandma near by that we could tap out to for a bit. Our two biggest sources of help have always been our friends K and B. K moved to Canada at the beginning of the month. The same week B’s long time boyfriend returned from a year long deployment and they bought a house. (I should mention she still stops by and made us soup and cake last week. She just has a life, too.) But even if either of them were available I don’t know that there’s much anyone could do for us. I don’t know if there is much a Grandma could do. I think just not having that makes it seem like the cure all to these problems.
In the end I know our relationship will be fine. I know we’ll find a way to break these patterns that now seem unbreakable. I know we’ll be healthy again and stuff will get done and it will be okay. But for now the days are long and nights are hard and I just wish things would ease up a little bit. I wish that physically, emotionally, and mentally we’d all feel good.