Thursday, June 17, 2010

Colic & Braden.

Boy oh Boy.
My 2 year old boy.
Although he may no longer have colic [which lasted more than 9 months of his little life], he does have a way about him that hasn't much changed.
He is temperamental, aggressive, frustrated and dramatic most days.
He can throw a mean fit, leaving me either in hysteria from laughing or tears out of my own frustration....
...but this boy--my little guy...
Brings me so much JOY.

He grabbed my face as he crawled into my big bed this morning and said, "I just love you mommy..." And I held him closer. tighter. Someday he will not want to hug me and love me in the ways he is willing to now. So I embrace him and soak in this moment.
His daddy sat at dinner with me last night and said almost the same thing,
"I wonder when he'll stop wanting to show me affection..."
because we are both aware that we are raising our son to be a provider in his own home, a husband to his future wife, and a man who is able to leave our home confident in his abilities to do these things well.
However, I am confident that by prayer, we will be able to teach him that he can be all of those things and still love us as well.

My little brother, Jake, will be 13 in October. He still hugs and kisses both of my parents along with Daniel & I. He shows affection and isn't afraid to do so. That may all change soon as well, but for now-I can still sneak in a genuine, unforced hug every so often.
He was very much like Braden as a child.
That brings me so much hope for our growing son...

I know I have shared it here more than once, but in case you are a new friend, I want to back up and share a little bit about Braden.

When I was pregnant with him, Daniel was on his 2nd deployment. It was a good pregnancy. I was thrilled to be having a boy! Daniel made it home 2 weeks before Braden was born. On September 5, 2007 our little redheaded boy was brought into this world healthy & screaming.
And he didn't stop for long.
The first night he was born, I was up nursing him for hours straight. The nurse came in the room more than once saying, "are you still nursing him since the last time I was in?"
Yes. I had been.
And he exhausted me.
I was thrilled to have him here with us, but I was overwhelmed immediately by his presence. It was a new form of anxiety that I had never felt before. The essence about him was overtaking me even from the first night in the hospital.

Nora was at home waiting for me and she was only 13 months old. My sweet baby girl. I was about to rock her world. She loved her brother from the SECOND she laid eyes on him; as did daddy. They were smitten with this blue eyed boy.
It took a little longer for me.

He is mine; of course I loved him. But I didn't connect or bond with this baby the way that I bonded with Nora--at least not right away. For the first few weeks, I was just getting by. Nursing him constantly, swaddling him and trying desperately to figure out how to love and mother two babies instead of one.

Braden wouldn't sleep. He only wanted to eat and cry; eat and cry. We put him in bed with us many nights just hoping he would relax enough to give us some rest. He would lift both of his legs and drop them repeatedly, as if having tiny seizures of some sort. He would move his body constantly and wouldn't keep a binky in to save his life. We were going on no sleep and yet we had to wake up and function, taking care of another baby-not much older than the one who was causing all of the chaos.

Very soon after getting somewhat adjusted to having this new baby, Braden started screaming even more than usual. Usual for him was a couple hours out of each day. 2 hours quickly turned into 22 hours and I wish I was exaggerating.
I had such intense mommy guilt because although I was feeding him, clothing him and trying desperately to comfort him, I was simply going through the motions. I still felt no connection to this baby. He felt foreign to me. I saw everyone else loving him so intensely; laughing at his little faces and getting enjoyment out of his seldom coos, but I did not. I felt cold and empty towards him.
He was sucking me dry; sucking the life right out of me.

I wasn't depressed. I didn't face some sort of post pardum. I simply couldn't bond with this child who I resented in some way.
What was wrong with him? Why wouldn't he stop crying? I'm doing everything I can! I want to spend time with Nora! I want to see my husband without having to listen to that! I'm exhausted. Beyond exhausted. Way Way Way beyond exhausted.

My husband had just gotten home from war, had no time to adjust and then wham! This child cried all.the.time. I felt guilty. Empty. Worn out. Drained. Frustrated. Unattached. And overwhelmed.

As he grew, things didn't get much better. I thought for sure when he started eating solids he would be more satisfied. It helped slightly (for the moment that he was eating) and then it was right back to crying. He spent much of his time in his swing on full speed, swaddled tightly. The air blowing constantly kept him still and he slept for a few moments at a time. It was a life saver. And my heart would beat quickly as I realized that a few quiet moments had passed and at any minute he would be waking up in a full-fledged scream once again.
And then he would.
And my heart would race. faster, faster, faster.

I thought as he started to crawl, he would be happier.
I thought as he started to walk, he would be happier.
I thought as soon as we switched his car seat around, he would be happier.
I thought, for sure, when he started talking and could express what was wrong, he would be happier.
He grew quickly, learned things early and yet...still cried.
All. the. time.

Even now, I will have people say, "What's wrong with Braden?"
"He has colic."
and I laugh.
Because now I can. But before, it wasn't funny.

Daniel & I always wanted a big family with alot of children. We had said it from the time we fell in love and started dating; 7 kids we would say.
But after Braden, we swore that we would never have another baby. Emotionally, we just couldn't handle the stress of what that may mean. There were so many nights that Daniel proved how patient of a man he really was--walking this crying baby, holding him tightly, praying over him, singing to him, burping him, crying with him and just doing a really great job.

I would be up with him too. Night after night after night.
We all were. It's all a blur.
But in the midst, I do remember feeling a peace come over me. A presence of God calming me, even if I couldn't calm my child...

I remember just not caring if he cried. He was going to do it no matter what we did to try and help--just put him down and let him cry.
Except I was his mom and although that's what I wanted to do, I never really could.
And then I felt even more guilt because I couldn't fix it or make it any better.
It was terrible and I felt so helpless.

I remember the exact moment that I looked down at Braden and felt a huge wind of relief blow over me. I loved this little boy more than life itself!!!
It had happened.
I felt a bond with him; an attachment to him!
It took close to a year before I truly felt that way but when it came, it came in like a flood. I was overwhelmed in a whole new way. We had made it through some of the toughest months of our lives; dealing with alot of stress and yet--
we were all together, healthy and strong.
The Lord brought us through & I finally felt closer to this little boy than I even knew a mother could feel. And it was incredible.

Do I wish it had happened right away? Yes. Of course.
Every mother wants to bond with their child immediately.
You want to hold them, smell them, feel them, look at them and just feel overwhelmed by the sight of their beauty.
I was overwhelmed alright, but in a whole different way.
And I learned early on to voice it and be ok with it.
I felt guilty and ashamed, but I was honest about how I was feeling. And that was key for me.
Any mom who was dealing with a baby that screamed constantly and acted the way that ours did would feel the way I was feeling, I reassured myself. And I'm convinced many wouldn't have made it through that first year as gracefully as I did.
I'm convinced of it.

I still feel anxiety sometimes as I wake up to Braden's loud voice first thing in the morning. His presence is still very much overpowering.
If he's taking a nap and I know he'll be waking up soon, my heart still beats slightly faster than usual, wondering what will the rest of the day with this boy bring...
...but I am a much different mother now. I am not vulnerable and weary. I am in control and strong. And because of that, we have found a very good balance around here.
There are still days when I call Daniel in tears and ultimately he has to come home to handle the situation. That is when I am most thankful for a husband who is firm and who is here. There's a reason that the Lord uses a man as the head of our homes!

When you see our family and the way we are parenting our redheads, some of it may be much different than other parents would choose to handle things. This is because our life has been very different with this child since the day he was born. He is not the same as most children.
He is unique and wonderful but much much different.

He has an energy that is powerful.
He longs for control.
He talks the entire time he is awake.
He tip-toes.
He dances.
He sings.
He yells alot.
He throws big fits. BIG ONES.
He repeats himself constantly.
But he is so loving, gentle, kind, funny, sweet, smart, ambitious, curious, and did I mention smart?

And I have never loved anything more than being Braden's mom!
It's true. If you know anything about me, you know I don't say anything that isn't true. I love to be real and this is as real as it gets...
I am madly in love with this little boy.
Yes, he frustrates me.
Yes, he drains me.
Yes, there are some really hard days.
But I know that all of that is ok because everything good about him outweighs any of these traits.
God has formed him perfectly. We are trying desperately to mold him into who he is created to be, and in turn I see a young child that is generally happy, satisfied and beautiful.

And I am thankful after all of this that God is ultimately in control of our lives. I am thankful that we said, "Do with our family what you will, Lord..."
...and He chose to give us another child despite our fears.
This new chapter with Mabel excites me.
Maybe it's because I know that if we made it through the first year with Braden, any baby will seem easy. I know without a doubt that we can make it through anything! I am not afraid to let myself bond and love this sweet baby right away. I will not put up any walls or barriers because I am afraid. I will simply open myself up, and embrace what the coming months may bring!

For any new mom who has felt overwhelmed, anxious or distant...
And it is ok.
Let's talk about it! or leave a comment.

Off to snuggle with my binky & blanky boy who is looking delightful.
Have a great day!

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control."
--Galatians 5:22-23


Tiffany said...

Oh wow, Ramee. I had no idea. It took me awhile to bond with Cadi - for far different reasons. She was an easy, quiet baby - for some reason we have been blessed with two like this. But I think I was afraid to get too attached because of her birth experience. The thought of loving a child so intensely and then loosing that child was too much for me to wrap my mind around. It happened though, we bonded. I'm not sure when, but am thankful that it did. And with Scotty - the moment he was laid on my chest our hearts entwined. I am nervous about this with our third. I have yet to admit it out loud. Will you pray about the bonding with this third for me for us?
After reading this I KNOW that God very carefully chose you and created you to be Braden's mommy. What a blessing he has to have such an understanding mommy. What a tragedy it could have been to be with someone less sensitive to his little needs. God is so good. So perfect. Praying for you, Friend.

Sarah said...

I have been reading your blog for a little while now, but haven't commented until this post. The last few words of your post was exactly what I needed to hear today. As a new mom to twins, it's definitely been an adjustment for me. Going from a mom to none to a mom of two beautiful baby girls has been OVERWHELMING. I expected to be nothing but thrilled and loving every minute of motherhood, and although I am so happy to have them, it has been hard. Thanks for your words of encouragement and for sharing your story.