Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Separate, but O.K...Eventually

The thing with depression that throws me for a loop are the peaks and valleys. One minute I'll be coping very well and feel I've got a handle on it, I'm happy even, but the next a mighty storm blows in and I'm right down in it once again. On the peak days, I chide myself, "see, you're just being a drama queen about a few bad days, you're doing fine." But on the rough days, I know this isn't something to be taken lightly, the tone of my thoughts is way to scary to be dismissed. It's when those thoughts become highly analytical that it really gets downright chilling.

Part of getting through this is understanding my triggers. Today is a really bad day. Not surprisingly, this comes on the heels of a night of little (even less than normal) sleeping because Little Kidlet was awake and/or nursing more than he was asleep. For eases sake, and also when I admit it to myself a need for continued attachment to who will probably be my last child, I've kept him with me far longer than I did his brother.

I also support the principles of the family bed. Instinctively it just makes sense to me. But I also feel that it really only works well if all members of the household are on board with it, and pretty much it's only been Little Kidlet and (decreasingly) myself who have been in favor of it. The Husband isn't sleeping well either, and gets up for work at an ungodly hour, so his brief hours of rest are precious. Little sleep also is a trigger for his coping mechanisms as well.

Plus, he wants his, you know, wife time. Not that that can't be accomplished elsewhere, but with Little Kidlet's near constant desire to be preferably on me at all times, it's easier to deny and deflect. And I want to deflect right now. I'm just not really ready for much intimacy, in fact it's really the furthest thing from my mind. I know that it is hormonally based and affected by this exhaustion and depression also, because when I was pregnant... This has been true for both pregnancies. I have to consider our needs as a couple, however; we're stretched thin as it is.

Big Kidlet is wildly jealous also I can tell. We moved him to crib at night by this time, and he has always been "a great sleeper" since, and truly loves his crib. It is profoundly hard to put down the baby when the older child is bouncing around, "trying" to be quiet (yeah, right), and the whole process takes longer as a result. This takes more time away from the older child, thus making him mad, and then he acts out...and it can really go downhill from there, and regrettably does alot more than I would like, or feel is acceptable.

Before those who think bed-sharers/co-sleepers literally made your bed, I think that many people (and I know a few) do just fine, and in fact thrive. But I submit that it also has to do with the personalities at play, and I'm certain it can be tougher for someone who is struggling with ppd. While I love, and in a lot of ways crave the closeness with my child, I also have an intense need to have my own space. It comes on very strongly, and it's almost painful to be touched when it does, such is the intensity of the need to have everyone off and away from me. This even happens in my labors--I prefer to go it largely alone and don't like to be touched. Therefore, for me, having separate sleeping spaces ultimately is the way I can continue to physically give, by ensuring that I don't get overloaded with "nearness."

This is an obvious problem for a baby. My husband, and to a certain extent my 3 yr. old, I can tell I need space and they can adjust, but you can't just flip a switch on a baby.

That is why today is a really bad day. I'm exhausted. It's time to start giving myself some (physical) space, so that I can continue to meet the needs of my family even in the midst of this hard time. I've spent the morning starting the transition of moving Little Kidlet out of the bed full-time. We're starting with the co-sleeper (which has sat unused next to the bed...well except as a dumping zone for all my baby stuff). Big Kidlet is not out of the crib just yet, but lately I can see that it is coming, so the co-sleeper in our room, at least for non-shared naps has got to be it. Also, the specter of getting two children to sleep in the same room, so different in age, is admittedly daunting. I tried a few months back, and they woke each other up. And, I still want to have him close, following the path of healthy attachment parenting.

As you can guess it did not go well. I should revise that. It's not go easily, but in my sleep deprived, completely off balance mind it was a disaster. I do not do "cry-it-out," nor will I, so I worked on making the co-sleeper inviting (towel that we have used in bed with our smells, putting a heating pad on low to warm the area before putting him down) and made sure to start putting him down fully fed and drowsy awake. When he cried I came back and soothed him by rubbing his back/tummy, but I left him in there. I laid on the bed and put my hand on him, letting him know I was right there. But he was not happy, understandably so, he doesn't see any need to change the status quo. He doesn't understand. This cycle went on for three hours.

I ping ponged between my two children for the duration, working hard to keep my cool. Somewhere in that span, my husband came home from work early (hoping to catch a nap himself) and took over with Big Kidlet, gratefully, but not before he destroyed the play area and took many of my books off the shelves, because he knows I really don't like that. He to was not happy, and let me know it.

NObody was happy. But I'm not a quitter, and I'm stubborn. I don't do gradual well. Honestly in retrospect I was an idiot to even try such a thing in such a vulnerable sleep deprived state.

Ultimately I did compromise and after nursing him in bed, transferred him to the attached co-sleeper (again, but this time he was sufficiently worn out to allow it). Everyone, except me was down for their naps (including The Husband), and I headed out for some food and some sanity time, which I used to begin this post to work through this challenging day.

The peace lasted for twenty-seven minutes.

What ensued was a thoroughly running on empty attempt to restore the peace, which failed, and ended up with me leaving the house for a breakdown in the backyard and my demons running rampage through my mind. I set myself up for failure, and not surprisingly I failed, and miserably.

Ultimately as I write this, my husband has (finally) recognized the fragility of the situation, and is taking care of my kids so I can write this out and get a shower. It will have to be enough. The danger with ppd is that normal everyday issues, like getting the baby to sleep, can become full blown crisis. I'm once again choosing to avert another more serious one.

I will continue to try again, but with a more equipped mind and body, because it is time. I feel very guilty for changing the rules on my precious Little Kidlet for what feels like a selfish reason. I'll perhaps have some censure from my friends who do the family bed faithfully, as well as some "I told you so"-s from my non "crunchy" friends. But, I have to follow my instincts,and my instincts are telling me that for their health and mine, the baby has got to move a mere one foot away and we need to start our journey into healthy "separation."

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