A Mother’s Guilt 5/5/13

Yesterday evening I left Alexandra screaming with her daddy and headed out for a six mile run. It was hot, windy and I felt awful just leaving her like that. It was 6 pm and we had already had a long day. She had her 2 month shots a few days before and didn’t do very well with them. The nurse had told me that some babies sleep a lot for a couple days and other babies fuss more. She definitely fussed rather than slept.

So she had been really fussy the last couple days and was even waking up several times through the night (she’s been sleeping through the night since she was about 4 weeks old, with few exceptions). We took her to Ann Arbor on Saturday to watch my sister in law Mackenzie, graduate from U of M. We got up sometime around 5:30 am and were on the road before 7 am. She did awesome and it was a really nice day spent with family. By the time we got home around 5:30 though it had already been a really long day and I just didn’t feel like running. Still, I knew I had 6 on the calendar and I wouldn’t feel like doing it on Sunday either so I figured I might as well get out there. As I was getting dressed she started crying, well more like wailing.

I hate hearing her cry. I mean absolutely HATE it. I read somewhere that infants cries are specifically designed to have that type of reaction in their parents so that you CAN’T ignore it. When she cries everything in me just stops being able to concentrate and all I can think of is what I can do to get her to stop crying. During those first 6 weeks many times the answer was NOTHING and that was particularly hard to swallow. I’ll admit with complete honesty that during some of those early crying fits I couldn’t get out the door fast enough to go for my 1 or 2 mile runs. For 8-16 minutes I could put my head phones on and get away from it for a while. That’s all changed now though. I wasn’t looking forward to just leaving her with her dad. I felt awful. I felt completely selfish. I must have asked him at least three times if he was SURE he could handle her. He assured me he would be ok and I went out the door, the guilt and her cries echoing behind me.

I try to use my running as true “me” time and not think about all the things I have to do or even think about my wonderful baby. On this run though I couldn’t stop thinking about her and how I felt just leaving her screaming like that. I wanted so badly to just turn around or cut my run short to just go back there and hold her in my arms. I had to keep talking myself out of it. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Tim or think he could handle it. It was just that I really felt like I was abandoning her when she needed me. I knew in my head that it was actually good for Tim to get more time with her and learn how to comfort her. It was also good for her to be able to trust others besides just her mom all the time. I told myself that it was good for me too. Whenever I got back I always missed her terribly (yes, from only being gone for 45 minutes!) and felt so much more refreshed and ready to use my energy to calm her or play with her.

I love my daughter dearly and I dread going back to work and missing out on this time with her. In all honesty though there are some days when its 3 pm and I just can’t wait for Tim to get home and give me a little break. I get all the emails about her development and make time every single day to actively play with her and work on her skills. Its incredibly rewarding when she’s happy and smiles at me and coos and enjoys tummy time and I can just see that little mind of hers working as she looks at her world in wonder. Then there are days when nothing seems to make her happy and I spend the whole day just trying to keep her from having a full on screaming fit and I maybe took a 5 minute shower where I could hear her fussing in her seat the whole time and ate lunch with one hand while she sat fussing in the chicco while I did laps around the house because the second I stopped moving she’d start crying. So when Tim comes home I gladly turn her over and get dressed and get out the door for my run and come home missing her again and find myself wanting to take her from Tim and gladly offering to help calm her when she gets upset.

I enjoy running and it keeps me healthy so I feel like in taking care of myself I’m much better able to take care of her. Hey, walking around your house while carrying an almost 12 pound baby for the better part of the day is not easy. Sometimes at the end of the day my feet and legs just ache.

Anyway, back to the run. I had all these thoughts going through my head. I wondered if Tim would be able to calm her. I worried that he wouldn’t and she’d have spent the whole 45 minutes crying and missing her mom. I worried that Tim would take it personally and feel bad for not being able to calm her down. I worried that he wouldn’t enjoy his time with her and wouldn’t bond with her the way I always hoped he would. I worried about what would happen when she goes to daycare. The list goes on and on and on….and the miles went by quickly. When my watch beeped that I had completed 3 miles it startled me. I had been so consumed with all these thoughts that I hadn’t realized how much time had actually gone by. And that’s when I let it all go. I started thinking about running and racing and how much I loved it. The last couple miles were tough. It was really hot and yet windy at the same time so it felt like I was working much harder than I should have been for an easy run. I got home and found Tim sitting on the couch with a sleeping Alexandra on his chest. I smiled and laughed at myself for my useless worry. Of course they were fine. Tim is a great dad. My endorphins were in high gear and I just stared at the two of them for a minute and thought about how great life is.

Its not just the horrible tragedies in Boston and Texas but also things going here with people I know that cause me to pause and just think. Infertility, miscarriages, complicated pregnancies, child abuse, a young mother being abducted from her place of employment are just a few. I hear about these things and I just hurt for the people that are going through it. And it makes me tear up when I look at my precious baby girl and feel incredibly thankful. Its also in these moments I realize how quickly everything can all be taken away and it makes me want to squeeze her so tight. Sure, sometimes its really hard. I think any parent that tells you its easy is lying or delusional. In fact the night before we left for Ann Arbor Alexandra was still really fussy and it had been over 48 hours since her shots.

I remember being exhausted after having dealt with her the whole day and it was late at night and we were trying to get ready for the big trip. I was holding her as she was crying and I was just pacing the upstairs bouncing her while Tim was packing and I started crying to Tim “Why is she so difficult?! She’s such a fussy baby and I’m tired Tim and I do this ALL DAY LONG and she just fusses and cries and my feet hurt and my arms hurt and its almost 11 pm and I just want to GO TO BED!” Almost immediately after I vented like that I felt guilty and held her tighter and told her I love her, even when she’s fussy because I do. So I hear about all of these terrible tragedies and it reaffirms to me how blessed we are and of everything I have to be thankful for.

So those are my thoughts after 9 weeks as a mother. Alexandra measured at 11 pounds, 12 oz and 22.5 inches tall at her 2 month appointment! She was born just under average for weight and is now just ahead of the majority of her peers so she’s eating great! Its so rewarding to see the result of your hard work (breastfeeding) paying off. Slowly but surely my body is starting to return to its pre-pregnancy shape. The scale still hasn’t budged (I’m the same weight every week that I was 2 weeks post-partum) so I’m starting to accept that this is the weight my breastfeeding body is happy at. My ab muscles are finally starting to make a reappearance after starting back up with strength training 3 weeks ago. I’ve started to include some short workouts into some of my runs to test my fitness and it has been more of an uphill climb than I anticipated but it is starting to get better. Next Saturday I will test myself by running my first 5K since having her. I wish I could say I have a good guess as to where I will finish but I really don’t know. Guess we’ll find out in less than a week!

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