Friday, July 23, 2010

Two weeks and breakthroughs

Today is Mary Kate's 2 week birthday. Exactly two weeks ago, I was laboring, so ready to meet the little gift God gave us. She took her sweet time but entered the world at 6:59 pm, one minute before our beloved nurse was leaving for the day! And since then? HOLY. COW. Please brace yourselves for an unorganized post because no pre-made outline can make this one flow. Right now, I am watching my genius daughter hold her pacifier in her mouth with her mitten covered hand. Her eyes are open, a rare and treasured occurance. We just sat down after a memorable morning, celebrating her two weeks in the outside world and thinking about the roller coaster (free-fall?) we have been on together. It has both terribly hard and blissfully wonderful. Shall we start with the less than wonderful?

My whole life, my 'cross' has been poor self-esteem. I worked and worked to feel good about myself and no amount of success or accolades could ever fill the hole in my heart that read "you are not enough." This hole propelled me to work myself to the bone trying to find adequacy and worthiness. The only time I felt semi-capable was when I was with children. Thanks to a lifetime of work with and love of kids, babysitting made me feel good about myself. Eason and Annie made me feel like one day I could be good at something, really good at being a mom. I have latched onto that belief and craved motherhood- both because I love children and admittedly, because I wanted something at which I could finally succeed.

Enter July 2010. "Successful" is not the word I would use to describe how I have felt. After a blessed four hours sleep that has me feeling like I spent 9 hours in bed at the Ritz, I can see a little more clearly now. But after the initial adrenaline of MK's birth and Patrick's wedding, I came home to a fatigue I have never known, an onslaught of post-partum hormones and a child who prefers to eat every 6 minutes. I have had a meltdown nearly every day, culminating two nights ago when I was convinced that God made a big, fat mistake. To feel inadequate at the ONE thing you always knew you'd do well is the biggest let-down in the world. I sobbed to my husband and then to my mom convinced that I could not possibly feed her one more time and what kind of mother am I that I don't even want to feed my baby? I sobbed that I should love her more, want to hold her more and should not crave my pillow more than my baby. I sobbed that my prayers against post-partum depression went unanswered and sobbed more watching my husband ask what he should do. We prayed together and I told God that this was all his fault and he better fix it fast since it was, after all, all His fault. We gave the baby to my mother-in-law, let me curl into my husband as I continued to, you guessed it, sob like a baby, and that night, my precious girl gave me 3.5 hours of sleep. I think I scared God too because He pulled us through that night.

It is days like that, meltdowns like that, that I think of my 'Band of Sisters.' I could write another whole post on the support and encouragement of friends being as necessary as water but suffice it to say, I have been upheld by so many ladies in my life. From a text from a mom who has been there that says 'you are normal, this is normal!' to a care package unexpectedly dropped off with gossip magazines, cheese and crackers and every chocolate candy bar in the 7-11, to friends sending gifts for baby in the mail (you know how I love mail!) and even a gift for crazy mommy, to emails just affirming that this is a hard time, to breastfeeding expert friends giving life-changing advice, I have been carried by this support. Some are moms, others are not- it does not seem to matter. What continues is a blessing I've long had of girlfriends who make me laugh during times of insanity, who love me when I am not contributing at all to their lives, who drive to east bumble to hang out with us for 30 minutes, who write a kind comment on this blog, who pray for me when I don't even know it. To every one of you who has taken time out of your day to write a note or blog, to pray, to shoot off an email, to listen to me cry, to have patience with me, to decide to continue caring for us, thank you. I am less crazy because of each of you.

Whew! Now to the good. Since Mary Kate was born, Ross will have moments where he believes we are having a 'breakthrough.' Usually it's when her eyes focus on his, when she gives a little half smile, when she gets through a diaper change without alerting the neighbors to her torture. She saves the good stuff for her dad and sadly I am often too tired to be involved or too happy that I have passed the beautiful baton and am doing something I have needed to do all day (usually showering or teeth brushing). But this morning, on her two week birthday, she saved a little for mom. After a rough start to the night (this child is soo angel by day, NOT angel by night), she finally re-learned how to eat at 2:30 am and when I woke up at 6:00, I was amazed she was still asleep. A quick thank you to God and I was back at the Ritz with my glorious sleep. When she finally woke up a quick 30 minutes later, I happily fed her breakfast while she kept those stunning blue eyes fixated on mine the whole time. She didn't fall asleep, instead putting her little hand on my chest and watching her crazy mother. I layed her in the bed and she continued to look around. We sang 'Jesus loves me' and 'This little light of mine' and I basked in seeing my daughters eyes really, truly open and taking in her world. I told her all about what I wanted to teach her in life. I told her how I hoped she had a love for people and a faith that sustains her like her mama. I told her that I hoped she was the tomboy her dad wants, loving the outdoors and not afraid to get dirty. I told her I hoped she would thrive where her mama is weaker- becoming a strong, confident lady who has faith in her ability to change the world in any way she wants. I told her to never question who God made her. And after this heart to heart, my daughter looked straight at me and smiled. I am smart enough to translate that smile into either a) this lady is off her rocker or b) this lady is about to change one heck of a diaper, but I don't care. Today, my kid smiled at her mom.

We ended the morning continuing our little breakthrough by sitting at the pool and saying our first rosary together on the rosary aunt Caroline gave her from Prague. She only got through 3 decades before falling asleep but I assured her that those prayers won't always put her to sleep! We said them in Latin so mommy could show off as mom fondly remembered Mrs. Urbine and Amy S and hoped we'd be able to afford (and convince dad of) a great Catholic education one day. I happily fed my girl for the 9th time today and am excited for a day with Jennifer and Elizabeth and a real live dinner party tonight. Today, Mary Kate will see mama with a shower and make up for the very first time ;)

I am sure the coming weeks (and lifetime?) will continue to be filled with weeks of meltdowns and weeks of breakthroughs. And as long as her dumb mama remembers that she cannot do one bit of it on her own, but "all things through Christ who strengthens me" (and great friends and a rockstar husband), we might just make it!

Mary Kate, on her one week birthday, last week, being held by cousin Mitch.


  1. Lindsay McAdams WilliamsJuly 23, 2010 at 7:41 AM

    Keri - This brings me back to the first few days when I was home with my son...You are totally normal and it will all soon be a very distant memory that will be filled with less tear-filled and more restful times. Hang in there and cherish every second with your sweet angel (the good the bad and the ugly) because too soon she will be throwing food off her plate and making scenes in restraunts and you'll wonder where she went :)
    Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl!!

  2. i have so many things to say, but don't even know where to start. but, i will say this....if i continue to read your blog and cry, i will have to continue to wonder about my hormone-crazed self. although, i know why. :)

    this is the hardest thing you will EVER do. i cried daily. and the worst part i remember, was lying in bed at night thinking, oh my gosh...i have to do it all over again tomorrow. can i? and you do, and you get through it...and you realize that you are not the only one. but you are so good to see that those small moments, the smiles the touches, even the silence is just about the best gift you can ever, ever get. i remembered thinking to myself, this is God working through my child so that i remember how special she is and i don't leave her somewhere and just vanish. postpartum is rough. rough, rough. some people soar through it, but i did not. but, you can do this. i am confident for you. and whether or not you are there for those special moments (byron usually gets more of them too, still) there is a bond that is un-breakable that that two of you will share.

    as for another thing, you hide it well. i never once though of you as not sure of yourself. and you know what, HAVE those meltdowns, lose it and cry and scream and get it out. i didn't, i was sure i was too strong for all of that, and in retro-spect i honestly think had i broken down, i would have gotten more help from others. you cannot do this alone!!

    so, happy two weeks baby girl. vita bella est. don't mind any conjugation errors here. :)

  3. Hey Keri!

    Yes, you are normal! I remember trying to tell Natalie things about after-baby that you just can't explain and another person can't understand until they are there. Just remember that you WILL be yourself again (+ a sweet baby). And, you just might forget about all of this too because I'm trying so hard to remember to prepare myself for this coming baby and I cannot. I think that is why we have more babies : ) Praying for you and sweet Mary Kate. You can do it!!! And, she is so, so cute : )

  4. Keri, oh how I want to take you away to get your toes done and try to get you back home before your boobs leak but keep you out long enough to assure you that YOU ARE OKAY! You are so right, you will continue to have ups and downs - they don't go away - I think ever! But that is the job of a mother and this stage will pass soo quickly and the next stage you will be sleep deprived because you lay awake wondering how to mother a daughter even though she is fast asleep for 12 hours. My mom says once you are a mom you will never sleep again- or atleast with the same ease and lack of worry.

    Your writing is beautiful and it encourages me to take the time to write (blog) because I do love it and I love the release! Unfortunately, lately, I, too have been soooo tired that I can't even write my thoughts so I praise you for taking some of her sleep time to write down how you are really feeling. You will look back in a few weeks and think, yeah, I did that and I made it! You and MK and Ross will make it through each little stage a little stronger and a little more united than the one before. I love your heart and I am praying for you- I mean it! I pray for you to lie down and rest in His green pastures and allow everyone to love on you, too. The bond with MK will come - though I know you adore her now, as the hormones fade and you get back to normal you will feel more of an amazing bond and you will have breakthroughs much more often. We love you and your family already and can't wait to see her!


  5. Oh hell Lady! I told you...this is one hard time! This is the only time I will ever say this...BUT YOU ARE COMPLETELY NORMAL! I remember thinking I could not nurse that baby ONE MORE FREAKING don't worry. Just pray she doesn't go through a 2-3 year stint of waking every two hours like Baby Miller.

  6. You're doing a great job. It's not easy. It's a HUGE adjustment. A lot of work going on no sleep. You are doing an amazing job. Keep it up. And try to relax when you get the opportunity. Love ya. It gets better. Promise!

  7. Keri... It does get better. And you are not alone. All of us mom's have had our rough times with some part of motherhood. Joey is nearing 6 months and it seems like so long ago that he was born. But I was right there with you just a few short months ago. Cherish these moments and take lots of pictures. I look back now and can not believe how much he has grown and how smart he is. He amazes me every day and his smile makes every sleepless crazy day or night worth it! :)