Monday, August 4, 2008

Recovering and Rambling at 105 Degrees

There's a lot floating around in my mind right now- I suppose there always is after big life events. I'm digesting the end of law school and exams and the beginning of my life as a full-time working mom, wife, and attorney. As generally happens when things are changing, I've been finding myself thinking back a lot to the past- in dreams and nightmares and in my thoughts when I let them wander.

Yesterday I got caught in a memory of last October and couldn't get out of it, I felt like I was dreaming and kept trying to wake up but couldn't - just like I felt then. And I've found myself thinking a lot about Landon's first year in general; how I know there were good times but I'm having a hard time remembering them individually. Last night JP and I were talking about whether or not we want to have more children someday. We talked about how we always wanted a large family and how many of the difficulties of the past year are not going to repeat themselves, but mostly we talked about how we feel we need a do-over. There were so, so many times last year when my only comfort was the fact that someday we would have another child and I'd be able to do this again and enjoy it. I would make myself enjoy it. I wouldn't have to deal with colic, reflux, and a DCFS investigation all at the same time.

I hate that my memories of Landon's first year are so mixed- what I remember most is not being a happy mother of a happy baby, but being scared, being angry, and being so exhausted I hurt. The investigation actively interfered with our lives for four months and it lasted a total of eight. We're still recovering, bit by bit, and for some reason this week it's been closer to the front of my mind than usual. Maybe because I'd never said "do-over" out loud when referring to Landon's first year, but that does sum up my feelings on it the best. As I said, I know there was good, and I believe that as more time passes, those happy memories will start to outshine the dark ones. Someday when I think about him as an infant something will come to mind that isn't being interrogated in a hospital room- maybe I'll think of his splashy smiley bath times with JP or his brief love of clocks or how nuts he'd get every time he saw his mobile, but right now I don't. I have to search my mind for them, and that, more than anything, is why I feel like I have to have another child. I feel cheated and I want to enjoy a newborn, with all his or her joys and challenges, the way I was supposed to. And then thinking about all of the above, that right now I feel like Landon's first year with us needs to be redone, well that makes me sadder than ever.

This isn't the post I intended to write - it was supposed to be about driving home from the lake house and how even though we left at Landon's bedtime he still didn't sleep a minute of the 4 hour drive home. And how the dogs were so exhausted they didn't even move in the car and I finally stopped at a gas station to check and make sure they were breathing. And how since we've been home I've been organizing and cleaning and marching JP all around the house with his laser level and power drill to hang up pictures and other assorted decor. And then I was going to mention that it was 105 degrees today, and that's the actual freaking temperature and not the heat index. Not that that had anything to do with my day or my post-Bar recovery, but it marks the 42nd day the temperature broke 100 this summer and that ties some kind of record and deserves to be complained about. And last, I wanted to post these pictures of all the "recovering" Landon and the dogs did up at the lake.

They work so hard.

I know there was happiness in my first year as a mother and there's happiness in my second. Lately I've just been wishing I could do it again - better this time - better for him. I can't shake the feeling that I didn't enjoy him enough and now the year is gone and I can't get it back and our relationship is somehow different because of it. Half of the time I feel like I'm faking acting like a mom.

This is why I'm having a hard time writing right now - I can't reconcile my desire to write about the fun little daily things we're doing with all the thoughts my memory keeps wandering too that aren't nearly as happy. So I suppose there will be a bit of both until my mind rests. Maybe it should take a cue from the dogs.


  1. You know what? I didn't have any of the awful experiences you had, but sometimes I still feel like I am sort of faking it, too. It's just so time consuming and life-changing that I sometimes realize that I am just going through the motions.

    So, don't beat yourself up. Just go back and read about all the great times you've had with Landon! :) You seem like a great mom to me!

  2. I kinda sorta understand how you feel about being cheated. While I did not have to deal with all the horror and stress that you did, with my twins I felt like I was so busy just trying to make it from one day to the next that I never got to truly enjoy their infancy like I did with my oldest. I think part of the reason I have wanted another baby is just to relive that first year, which is such an amazing time.

    I hope you get to have an easy breezy first year when you decide you are ready for it. And in the meantime, you have LOTS more fun ahead of you.

  3. I've read your blog since mid-January and have backtracked well before Landon's birth to get the full story. You've certainly had a rough year, but look how far you've come!
    Your blogs have changed immensely even since your family leaving Chicago. You're settling down in a beautiful home, with a great husband, a darling son who seems to have taken well to the TX move, and closer to family for more support.
    Often after a much-awaited important event in my life, I feel deflated and lost. I have no direction in life for several days or even weeks after the life changing event. It seems that I always need something else to work towards or look forward to? Perhaps this is what you are experiencing?

  4. If it makes you feel better, I feel as if I was cheated out of Anjali's first year, but for very different reasons. Reasons that I blame myself for, even though I know they were not really my fault (PPD does that to a person, I suppose). To make it even worse, I remember my son's first year as absolute heaven. So, on top of it, I have some guilt to add to the mess.

    I am just trying very hard to concentrate on the NOW and on this next year.

  5. We had a relatively easy first year and now that Charlie is 21 months I still look back and think "Wow, I was such a zombie for the entire year!" I am enjoying his company so much more now that he is a little older. There were whole weeks during his infancy when the goal was mutual survival from wakeup to bedtime. Have a great month off enjoying that beautiful boy!

    Except for the ridiculous heat, my goodness! Hopefully Edouard will help us out tonight and tomorrow.

  6. That picture of him reading a book is so cute.

    Maybe Landon's second year can be your do-over. I think that as long as infants know they are cared for and safe, they're fine. Now you've left Chicago behind, there's no more DFCS, and Landon seems happy and healthy. You're in your beautiful new home with your fun new pets. Be glad that the first year is gone. This year promises to be much better.

  7. I SO know what you mean. I felt jipped too...we dealt with things that most moms don't have to deal with. Noone should complain when life is boring! :> One of my biggest fears is that something WILL happen again, with one of our babies...and how would I handle it then. I think I'm up to my threshhold of drama. Anyways, our situations are different...because I have someone to blame...but even as a trial still looms over us in November (and civil suit and hospital suit to follow AFTER that!) I try to remind myself to not let her take away the happiness that I should be enjoying with my not give her the satisfaction of ruining this period of his life that should have been much smoother. (Granted, I wish her a slow and painful death in the near future, but you know what I mean :>). You could spin this the same way with the DCFS...don't let them cast a shadow on your baby's first year. I know it's always there though, and all this is much easier said/written than done. Happy thoughts your way!

  8. I feel very similar, but did not endure what you did. Just a baby that only slept 2 hrs at a time, if that, until he was 1. He usually only napped if he was held. The change in my life was HUGE and I didn't know how to cope. My marriage suffered and the idea of another child made me cringe. But then, we hired a sleep consultant and he started sleeping through the night. I slowly began to find a new "normal"...being a stay at home mom to a child that was well rested and happy. We are discussing #2 because I also feel like I want to try again and do better. If its what you want, you will be able to use what you've learned and be better for it.

  9. You will get a "do-over" when you have another baby in the sense that you will be able to experience all the joys without the horrible things you went through this time, but that will be for the benefit of you and JP. You should remember that Landon didn't suffer during his first year. He had two incredibly loving parents, great family, friends doting on him, fun pets, toys, etc... I am not trying to make light of what happened to you, JP and him, but he won't have any memory of that and it obviously has not had any lasting effect on him, since he is a perfectly functioning and blissfully happy 1 year old! I think it's natural and completely fair to wallow a little and curse fate for letting such awful things happen to good people, but keep it in perspective and don't let it affect your self-worth as a parent. We can all see that you are a steller, loving mom!

  10. I think nearly every mom feels the same way- that we wish we could go back and do that year (and the ones after!) over again to really savor every second. I didn't have anything close to the difficult year that you did, and I still feel that way. Sadly, life gets in the way! Just try to take every moment you can from now on.

  11. Just to chime in like everyone else, that the first one IS hard, and yours was particularly so. I am enjoying Baby #2's infanthood infinitely more than I did with Baby #1. More experience, I guess, and perspective. So that'll come into play for you, too. I like what Leo said about Landon not suffering, and not remembering anything about his first year. He's just a happy, perfect little boy with no scars. :)

  12. Yeah, I'm not sure anyone really "enjoys" the first year. I think it's all about survival. And in your case, you did everything you possibly could to survive, and even thrive, in the face of horrible stuff being thrown at you. Don't despair! You should pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

    Also, Landon seems like he's a ton of fun now, and he's well past being the sack of potatoes that wakes you up every hour during the night! I'm enjoying Cora much more as she gets older and becoming more indepedent. And she actually seems to care I exist, that's always a bonus!

  13. Welcome to "mother's guilt."

    It's the catch-all, end-all. The coulda-woulda-shoulda that never, ever goes away. Because even if you have the next kid and you are able to enjoy it, you'll just feel that much worse about Landon. Nice, huh? I'm not trying to be a downer! But as you get older, too, it gets easier to enjoy the small things. How a little hand grasps your hand, or how little legs won't be able to run fast enough to catch Mama.... The torture of guilt doesn't go away, though.

  14. I have to tell you, what you are describing is EXACTLY what I feel about our (now, 15 month old) second daughter. The first one was SO EASY - I loved every minute of being a mom, couldn't wait to do it again. The second? Oh man... colic, reflux, sleeping problems - mirror image of the Landon. AND my husband lost his job a week after the baby was born, so there were 7 months of insanely oppressive financial stress. NOTHING compared to what you went through, but enough that I often think about how I missed the whole first year, how I desperately wish I could have a Do Over... And yet? #2 daughter is now sweet, affectionate, giggly: I don't think it affected HER, at all. Hang in there (and have another baby - they're amazing!!!): I think that we ALL feel this, on some level!

  15. What you're feeling is totally normal. I feel the same about Cooper and I certainly didn't have half the bad stuff as you guys did. I just had nursing and pumping issues, colic, Justin taking classes so I was stuck working full-time then dealing with a tired 3-yo and colicky infant 5 nights a week plus all-day on Saturdays for 2 solid months. And the fun getting up twice a night added an extra-special blend of exhaustion.
    Plus, since I had changed business units right before I found out I was pregnant, I no longer got to work from home on Fridays. I REALLY missed having those days home with Cooper like I did with Gavin. I felt like he was short-changed a lot. I still feel that way.
    So again, what you're feeling is completely normal. And you'll soon feel a little better. LIke others have said, focus on the fun stuff you can do when JP brings Landon into bed to greet you in the morning. How he gives you those baby hugs and kisses. And how you and JP have one of the best marriages I have seen (well, via online, but you two have been a great team through some really trying times). You'll start to feel a little better in the next few days...not 100% but you know over time. We'll be here if you need an ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on as well.

    And that pic of Landon with the book (which we have and love, too!) is adorable!!!