Friday, October 31, 2008

Six Weeks

Evie just gets cuter every day and it keeps getting easier to deal with taking care of her and doing other things at the same time (i.e. my ambitious plan to mop floors tomorrow). I'm starting to relax into my new role and understand why I'm going to miss this time when she's crawling/walking/in school/etc. I'm breathing a sigh of relief that we've probably dodged the colic bullet with this baby. YESSSSS!!!! But. Tonight I am brooding on the dark side. I need reassurance that I'm a good mother, because sometimes, like tonight, I don't feel like a good mother.

Evidence against me:
  • I feel as though Evie is fussier with me than with other people. My theory about this is that she is A. bored with me because she sees me all the time or B. hates me because I am the "baby torturer" (i.e. I'm the one who does 90% of the diaper changes, which she only tolerates because Rabbit is there, 100% of washing her hair, which she hates, and 90% of clothing changes, which she also dislikes.
  • I feel as though Evie looks at other people more than she looks at me. She's definitely not an autistic baby because she likes to stare at faces, just not mine. Frequently I catch her looking at me when I'm looking elsewhere, but if I put her right in front of me and talk to her and try to interact and coax out a smile, she stubbornly looks away into thin air or at the ceiling. Argh.
  • All of the books encourage me to talk and sing to her, introduce toys, give her tummy time, etc. I feel so much pressure to make good use of every minute she is awake and happy to "stimulate" her. I know I'm being hyper about this, but I feel like I'm doing a crappy job of it. Often I'm just too tired in the morning to be chatty with her. I'm so not a morning person. When I do try to play with her or interact with her, often she reacts by fussing or crying. Thanks a lot, Evie. She also hates tummy time and either wails or just goes to sleep. The only way I can do tummy time with her is on my own chest. Then she does push back/up and practice her head control. But again, she looks around the room, not at my beautiful mommy face right in front of her. She's happy in her play gym for a few minutes at a time, but if I'm there talking to her it makes her fussy. She just wants to be alone with her toys and her singing star, thank you very much.
  • I feel judged! She's happy in my arms until I pick up the telephone or sit down at the computer. Then she fusses and cries as if trying to tell me "You're a bad mommy! Stop paying attention to those electronic gadgets and pay attention to me! Don't you love me?" I know I'm being paranoid, but it's ridiculous how predictable this is. She even fusses when J or I pick up the remote, for goodness' sake!
  • She fusses or wails at some point of almost every meal I've eaten in the past few weeks. It's as if she's my personal trainer, trying to bully me into cutting back my calories. "No food for mommy!!" This is the time when I am the most frustrated with her because I am hungry and she is crying for "no reason" (meaning that I'm not trying to eat when I know that she is hungry or needs to be changed, I make sure she's taken care of first). But really, it feels as though she wakes up from naps just to torment my mealtimes. Then I feel guilty for being upset with her because, of course, she's just a baby and not really trying to be mean to me and for heaven's sake it's only a bagel and coffee; it's not the end of the world to eat/drink them cold. But I'm not a morning person! I need my coffee!
  • I feel like I am being lazy because I spend so much time watching TV these days while I feed, burp and rock her. It's useful, really, because rocking in the leather rocking armchair in front of the TV calms her down and it's a comfy place to feed and burp her. If I sit in that chair long enough with her, rocking and patting, she will quiet down and fall asleep 100% of the time. So, she's conditioned me to seek out that chair many times per day. I've been watching a lot of CNN (I know it's a late night when I start to watch Larry King for the second time. Doh.), "The Daily Show" and random TiVo suggestions like "The Baby Diaries" (good show to watch as a new mom; it makes you feel good about your own marriage in comparison, if nothing else) and "An Adoption Story" on TLC. Interestingly, my TiVO has not yet recorded an episode of that show with an adoption like ours. They are all older children/international/special needs adoptions so far. Hmmm.
  • I feel guilty when she's napping and starts to fuss and I hurry over to "press the baby snooze button" by popping in a pacifier so that I can finish whatever I was doing (loading the dishwasher, typing an e-mail, sleeping), instead of putting her needs before my own and just leave the half-folded laundry basket to change her diaper and feed her right away.

As I was pondering these things, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I'm not fully bonded with her yet? Possible, since I've never experienced bonding with my own baby before, but I certainly feel as though I'm bonded to her! I think more of the problem is that I feel she's not bonded to me. Even though she gives the occasional smile, I feel sad that I can't coax a smile out of her whenever I want to by smiling and cooing at her. It hurts my feelings! I know she can do it, so why won't she do it for me? Pout.

I know intellectually that everything is fine, that I'm a good mom and she loves me and that in a week when she's smiling like crazy all of this will be a hazy memory. I'm aware of the fact that I'm putting too much pressure on myself. But knowing doesn't change the feelings.

I am grateful every day for what a gift Evie is and I feel so blessed that J and I have finally ended our long voyage toward parenthood (for now). I love Evie like crazy and wouldn't trade her for the world. I don't want to sound like I'm whining because I realize how lucky I am to have these issues to deal with! I remember how annoyed I once was with new moms who complained about a baby keeping them up all night. I used to think "hey I'll trade you your sleepless nights for my endometriosis!"

So, I'm truly sorry if I'm being annoying to those of you who are still trying/waiting/hoping/praying/frustrated/angry/disappointed. I do know how that feels. But. I don't want to make this blog all happiness and light and ignore the dark side just because I'm supposed to be loving every single moment of motherhood after surviving infertility. Motherhood after infertility is still motherhood and it is still hard.

I am coming to terms with not being super-mom even though I've been training and preparing for the job for months. Now that is something I know for sure many/most/all mothers have to go through. The process started on day two when Evie began telling me that she hates my nipples and would rather have an intimate, loving relationship with a bottle. And am I really coming to terms with not being super-mom just by writing it all out in a big long post, or am I going to continue to let my own insecurities and perfectionism torture me throughout her childhood? On that bleak note...

More about Evie this week:

  • She is pretty consistently sleeping at least one 5-6 hour stretch at night and I am pretty consistently not taking advantage of it to sleep myself because she starts her "big sleep" somewhere between 8-11 pm and my late owl nature has not yet submitted to my new reality. I'll get there eventually, I think.
  • She's started noticing the dogs more. Just the beginning of a cute relationship among them, I hope.
  • Her head and neck control are getting better every day and she seems to enjoy being held in a sitting position so that she can bob her head around to look wherever she likes (just not at me).
  • Today she let out her first coughs that weren't the "cough cry," (you know, the ugh, ugh, ugh cry) and weren't choking coughs when she tries to drink too much formula at once. They were just coughs, and only two of them. I'm not going to call the doctor about it unless she has a fever/runny nose/other symptoms. I'm assuming it's just because I haven't dusted the house since we brought her home and it's getting cold and the air is drier. People cough. It's only in the movies that it means you're dying.
  • She's starting to recognize her bottle at a distance for what it is. Yum!
  • She's starting to look at things (toys, mobiles) with a more alert, focused, interested gaze. She seems to prefer looking at white, black, red and orange (not a surprise, as all of the baby books predict this). She also seems to like looking in the mirror on her play gym and she loves to look into windows when it's dark outside and they take on mirror qualities.
  • When I hold her to my chest and she doesn't want to be comforted, she scratches me. Ouch.
  • She quiets to new environments and sits still to look around for awhile. That's useful as it buys me time to get dressed/brush my teeth/fold laundry while she's propped up in a place where she can look at different and fascinating things like our headboard, a drying rack or hand towels.
  • She still hates getting fastened into her car seat, but she is officially a good baby in the car and usually passes out cold for the trip. This will make our trips to Minnesota and Texas for Thanksgiving and Christmas, respectively, much, much easier.

Tomorrow, all four grandparents arrive for Evie's baptism weekend. It will be busy, but I have set up a couple of automatic posts because of NaBloPoMo. I'll be back in person next week and I'll put up pictures from the baptism.


  1. Well, first off----*big hugs!*

    Your insecurities sound sooooo familiar! Hopefully that will give you some reassurance in itself. The most familiar notes were those about digital guilt, and the pacifier guilt. I feel crappy about those, too, because I feel like I should be wearing Snippet in the sling more during his quiet times. But, honestly, I get a little jealous of my own body sometimes. I feel like he's always on me in some form or another, so if I can snag a half hour of personal space while he's drowsy, I'm going to do it. I even try to upgrade it to "self-preservation" status when I'm feeling particularly crummy about it, because there are days that it actually feels like just that. Those few minutes of blogging, or emailing, etc. are like emotional and spiritual recharging, which makes for a happier mommy later on. Same thing with the pacifier guilt---it buys you a few precious minutes to feel more pulled together, and that makes for a better day altogether.

    Thinking of you, darlin

  2. the mommy guilt starts early, doesn't it? I feel many of the things you've felt, especially that the baby doesn't like me that much. That's a devastating thought. My little guy smiled at my husband first and can't get enough of my MIL's face! But me? Not so much. I think he's taking me for granted! Maybe mommies just blend in. I think this will change -- at least I'm hoping it will!

  3. I don't have a baby yet, but everything you're talking about sounds totally normal to me! I think everyone, adoptive parents or not, have those moments.

    I don't have any doubt you are bonded to her, and she's bonded to you! I wish I could give you more encouragement and experience, but I don't have that yet to offer. Just know that it sounds like you're doing a great job, and Evie loves you a lot.

    Thinking of you!

  4. Two quick things:
    - Don't stress over the best utilization of every moment of her awake time. At this age, you aren't going to increase her IQ dramatically by forcing her to look at a specially colored toy. Rather than viewing this time as a chance to stimulate her, use it to just be with her...however that turns out.
    - Don't take it personally when she won't look at you. When she is secure in your arms, it makes sense she will take the opportunity to check out the unfamiliar things around her...because she knows she is safe and in your arms.
    My husband used to also say that babies see angels. This was his way of describing our son's way of looking past us, over our shoulders or off into a random corner, rather than looking at us.

    It all changes over time and simply the time you are spending with her now is what will pay off in the next few months. Don't doubt your bond with her. Your anxiety will impact her so keep your calm and stay focused on how much you adore her. She will feel that and all will be good. :)

    And are apparently normal...or else you and I are both wierdos. ;)


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