Mommy is Coming Back

I learned very quickly that Emma Grace is no text book baby. Apparently babies do not come out of the womb having read 15 books on caring for a newborn.  Who knew?  SO now that we are into the age of developing separation anxiety, it should be no surprise to me that she has the worst separation anxiety of any baby we know.  It is clear that when I leave a room, she is terrified that I will not be coming back.  It is absolutely heartbreaking.  In an attempt to find a way to help her get past this stage, I have been reading everything I can find on working through separation anxiety.  Here are a few suggestions I have read…

Make her sleep in her crib/put her down awake so she learns to soothe herself…OH well if only we hadn’t been doing that her entire life then MAYBE that could have helped.

Give her independent play time…AGAIN if only we hadn’t been doing this her entire life.

DO NOT SNEAK OUT, say goodbye, give hugs, tell her you will be back…When I say goodbye, give lots of love and tell her I will be back she SCREAMS because she knows what goodbye means.

When baby is calm, distract her then leave…When I distract her and sneak out she SCREAMS when she realizes that I left.

Go on dates and leave your child with a sitter…HOW IS THIS ADVICE ON SEPARATION ANXIETY?  If my child could handle being SEPARATED from me, I wouldn’t be reading about advice on SEPARATION ANXIETY!  Even so, she has been left with her Mimi or a sitter for date nights, an overnight trip and once a week whenever I am teaching.  Obviously this really helped keep separation anxiety from being an issue for her, or not.

Don’t force it, let her sit on your lap and eventually she will crawl off and leave you herself…LIES

Be positive and upbeat when leaving and returning even if she isn’t…I’m working on it, but you try smiling while your baby is screaming bloody murder because of your choices.  GOOD LUCK.

When nothing works then give up and realize that God is in total control and leaving your baby crying for a few hours a week will not determine if your child is going to cure cancer or end up in prison…Actually, that one is mine.  Everything I read makes me feel like every decision I make will make the difference between a happy, productive life and a criminal.  Thank goodness Emma Grace is God’s child and He has a plan for her because I don’t think I could handle the pressure if it was all dependent on me.

After all my reading do I have any idea how to help Emma Grace’s separation anxiety? No. Every day for the last month it has gotten worse.  I am at a complete loss for what to do.  Sometimes all the advice in the world makes no difference; some babies just aren’t ‘text book babies’.  All I know is that one day in the near, or not so near, future she will know that mommy is coming back for her.  My prayer is that one day she knows that Jesus died for her, rose again for her and is coming back for her.   When I think about that truth then I realize we can both handle a little separation anxiety!


Let’s Make A Deal

As a pregnant woman you know the day is coming when a stranger will think it is ok to touch your stomach.  It is incredibly uncomfortable.  There is really no good way to tell someone to stop touching you, because it seems like such common sense that it feels weird to need to say something.  You know that this is part of the mommy to be territory, so you figure it out.

What I was in no way prepared for was that these same people, actually in my experience a significantly higher number of people, find it acceptable touch Emma Grace.  EVERY TIME I am in a check out line someone squeezes her cheeks, holds her hand, brushes her bangs back, or grabs her feet.  Look, I know she is cute.  I know that your kids are all grown up and you miss being able to snuggle them.  I know that you (maybe) have hand sanitizer in your purse, and you (probably) aren’t carrying some horrific, life threatening disease.  I know you are (possibly) a very nice person.  But this is my baby, she isn’t my…WAIT I can’t think of any acceptable example because in Kindergarten I was taught me to keep my hands to myself.  Seriously let’s imagine this scene for a moment….

I am standing in line behind you at Trader Joe’s when I notice that you have the Marc Jacobs purse I’ve been hinting about to Shane.  As you start to walk forward, I grab your purse which stops you and turns you around.   At this point I am pretty sure your only thought would be to yell ‘HELP’ because there is a crazy girl stealing your purse, but let’s just say you give me the benefit of the doubt and let me speak. While continuing to stroke your purse, I tell you that I just had to touch your purse because it’s gorgeous…

I have no idea how to end this story because there is no ending.  Would you like to know why there is no ending?  It’s because that would never happen.  The only reason someone would grab your purse is because they were about to rob you.  How is it that it is unacceptable to touch someone’s purse, a completely meaningless possession, but it is completely normal to touch their precious baby?

Now I am not a huge fan of confrontation.  If you know me you may disagree with that statement, but it is true.  At least in a public place, with a complete stranger, it is true.  So much like when I was pregnant and someone touched my belly, I am at a loss of how to handle these situations.  I don’t want to make anyone feel bad.  I don’t want to embarrass anyone.  It’s just when you touch my daughter, the absolute light of my life, I kind of want to grab your face and tell you how cute your wrinkles are just to see how you like it.

For those of you who have children, please let me know if you have a good way of handling these situations.  For those of you who have not yet had children, remember that I warned you when it comes time to take your future children out in public.  For those of you who feel the need to touch my baby, well how about we make a deal?  I will allow you to touch my sweet girl’s adorable little feet if, and only if, you give me your Marc Jacobs bag. Deal?

It Gets Better

You hear over and over again that when you first hold your baby you will experience a love that no one can explain to you.  You may also be told by a growing group of women that having an epidural can block the hormones you need to fully enjoy that bonding moment.  When I first held my baby my first thought was “That is NOT MY BABY.”  That’s right I had just spent 7 hours feeling like I was ACTUALLY being ripped apart from the inside out, only to hold this ‘bundle of joy’ and not recognize her.  My next thought was, “WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU HIPPIES THINKING?  NO DRUGS? I AM NOW SCARRED FOR LIFE BY THE PAIN I JUST FELT AND I DO NOT FEEL ANY OF THE EUPHORIA YOU PROMISED ME!”  When I was done cursing all of the feminists of the world, I felt guilt and shame.  I did not love this little baby girl.  I was the worst mother in the history of the whole world.

It pretty much went down hill from there.  As soon as she was home I wanted to give her back.  The first week I only knew night from day because she screamed ALL NIGHT and napped during the day.  After a week she switched those two around.  You might think that helped, but it did not.  You see at night Daddy was home.  Daddy experienced a happy, sleepy, wonderful child.   Mommy experienced a screaming terror. I read a book that said if I just lay her down and let her cry she would fall asleep after 10-15 minutes.  LIES.  I read that if I fed her on a schedule I wouldn’t feel any post partem depression.  LIES.  I knew so many babies whose mom’s went with a parent-led approach, and it worked every single time.  How was I the only mom who couldn’t make this work?  Another check to the worst mom in the world column.  I started to break down and try a little bit more of the demand feeding, sleep in my arms approach and that didn’t work either.  It seemed my parenting philosophy was not the problem, I was.

I started to resent Emma Grace.  I resented that she wouldn’t nap but slept for Daddy.  I resented that she was colicky.  I resented that I couldn’t leave her for more than an hour because I had to nurse her.  I resented that even though it wasn’t supposed to, breast feeding hurt.  I resented every single time someone looked at her and said ‘oh I miss that stage’.  Most of all I resented how much Shane loved her.  Shane was (is!) the love of my life and now this child, who was making my life miserable, was stealing him.

I cried all the time.  All new moms do.  Most will tell you it’s the combination of hormones, no sleep, being overwhelmed, and loving the baby so much.  That is probably true for those moms.  That isn’t why I cried.  I cried because I was the worst mom in the world.  I cried because I resented my baby and it wasn’t supposed to be like that.  I cried because I felt like I was drowning.  I was weighed down by an anchor and no one knew, so no one was coming to save me.

One day  Shane came home to both of us crying (Emma Grace and myself) and told me I should go take a break.  I immediately got in the car and headed to Starbucks.  While I sat in the car at a light a thought crossed my mind… What if I just keep driving?  How far could I get?  When would he cancel my credit cards?  Would he send the police after me?   I sat at the light as it turned green and considered, for just one moment, leaving.

I didn’t. I got my starbucks.  I cried in my car.  I went home.  I did the thing I feared the most; I told Shane everything.  He was wonderful.  He said God gave us this little girl in HIS perfect timing.  He assured me that he loved me more than ever.  He told me that it was ok if I wasn’t the perfect mom because God is the perfect Father.  Shane told me that God would continue to love and care for Emma Grace and me no matter how I felt.

It didn’t change overnight, but that was a turning point.  I can’t tell you when I started to delight in my baby girl.  I can’t tell you the first time I felt I loved her so much I could burst. I can’t tell you when I stopped fearing I would never love Emma Grace, and started to fear never being able to love a second child the same.  But by the grace of our amazing heavenly father, all those things are true now.

I swore that when I met other mom’s with newborns I would never say ‘enjoy it’.  I would never say ‘I miss it’.  I would tell them the truth.  If you are loving it then I am so happy for you.  If you aren’t loving every moment, please know IT GETS BETTER!  What I want every mother of a newborn to hear is that if you don’t feel everything you thought you would and more, you are not the only one.  It doesn’t mean you are a bad mom.  What I want every mother to know more than anything is that you are never alone.  Whether you are a single mom, a depressed mom, a mom who hasn’t showered in a week or a mom who is out in public when you realize there is still spit up in your hair YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  There are thousands of other moms who feel the same way even if they aren’t talking about it.  More importantly, God is with you.  He loves your baby and you more than you could ever imagine.  Jesus’ blood already covered every short coming you ever had and will ever have as a mother.  Cling to Him and every time you feel like the worst mom in the world, and remember that even if you are (which you are probably are not) it is ok.  God is the best Father in the UNIVERSE and He will never leave you.  When you know that is true, you realize that it is already better.