I have a hickey on my chin. I look like someone popped me there, or like I fell into the blunt edge of something chin first. (Which perhaps is an appropriate metaphor for my life these days....) My son put it there last night around 3 am. I was trying a new approach: to soothe him back to sleep in the night without feeding him. He didn't buy it. He was wide awake, touching my face, squirming, singing "dadadada da da", and sucking on my shoulder and chin. After an hour of such fun I decided my sleep was more important than the current lesson, and gave in and nursed him. I suppose this is how parents get into these bad-sleep-habit spots, by deciding that sleep now is more valuable than long term results. Besides, who's to say that whatever approach will give the intended results? You could be doing all this for nothing anyway, an exercise in foolishness.
He used to sleep like a champ. From 9 pm to 5 am, and then a couple hours more. But that changed this summer during one of our trips south, and we haven't been able to break the cycle since. I think it's just habit. I want try something radical, something that includes Mitch's staying up for a couple of nights in C's room. I don't think I can be the one--he knows I've got the goods and why should he not have them if I'm there? But this weekend M's in NYC for a conference and next week he's in NC for the dissertation defense (finally!!!!!) so it won't be immediate. I feel rather strongly that much of my current struggle has to do with this sleep situation. If I could only get 6 hours straight, maybe my body wouldn't be so out of whack.
Yesterday I was doing just fine until the sitter got here. And I like her, like the way she is with the kids. It was a really nice day and I suggested they go outside and play. When I held the door open for them Frances said, "Mommy too?" and I said no, I was going to stay inside and fix dinner. But as soon as the door closed behind them I was completely overcome with guilt and panic such that I couldn't chop the broccoli. I really thought I might throw up. I felt like I was missing something--like I should be out there in the sunshine with them, that F's childhood is going to go by too fast and I'm going to have missed it. Unfortunately, this summer my mother said something to me to this effect--suggested that I go out with the sitters to have them help w/ Clark, etc, because "Frances is in such a good stage and you're going to miss it." Which, first of all, I know intellectually to be completely not true--I see her plenty and I'm the one that gets to experience all the good stuff. Mitch pointed out that if anyone's missing anything it's him with the working and all. But somehow this statement lodged itself deep in me and I keep having these mini anxiety attacks that I am missing something, that I should be with them more, that I'm doing them a disservice when I take time for myself. Mitch keeps pointing out that taking time for myself actually does them good, since it rejuvenates me and allows me to be a better mom when I am with them. Again, I know this intellectually. But the ppd and anxiety is completely disconnected from anything I know in my brain. It's a storm all its own in my body, a sort of tempest, motoring through the barricades I keep erecting. (I keep trying to navigate it--to do things to keep the anxiety at bay, like going to the gym while F is in school since taking her there brings it on, or scheduling my sitters at the hardest part of the day, or giving up sometimes and lying on the floor.) Yesterday my response was to tell the sitter to hang out with Clark while I played outside w/ F. I thought C could use some undivided attention and that would give me an opportunity to play w/ Frances without distraction. We pushed her babydoll stroller down the street to where some neighbors were playing in their yard, and we rolled a basketball back and forth, and we had a good time; but the anxiety wouldn't go. Once it had arrived it was there, and nothing I could do about it. It was this intense physical pain just under my ribs and it was still there when I sobbed in the grocery store parking lot an hour later.
Today, after the lovely night of very little sleep, I gave in and took some of the anti-anxiety drugs I'm hesitant to take. Today is a much much better day. It's amazing really. I don't know what that means about where to go from here....