A Happy New Year and a Happy Birthday to my Charlize.
It’s hard to believe it’s 2017 and my baby girl is now 7! I have a 7 year old?! The days leading up to New Years are always a time of reflecting and reminiscing of my first baby girls life. I have to admit though, although Charlize was the most beautiful, chunky little “Michelin tire baby”, she was a not a pleasant or easy infant.
Welcome to Motherhood…
When I first got pregnant, I was instantly given all the typical motherly advice from family and friends. I remember the “sleep now because you will never get to sleep again” words that rang very true in my first year. I was even bombarded with every new mom book ever written on what to expect when you are expecting. Yeah, I even read the book titled, “What to expect when you are expecting”.
I dealt with whatever changes my body was making, but acne was the worst of my pregnancy. I hoped that when I got pregnant my skin would glow and be the best skin of my life. I ended up having the worst hormonal cystic acne that spread over my cheeks, forehead, chest, and back! I broke out so severally that during my baby shower at 18 weeks, I felt like a monster. It was so red and inflamed, hurt to touch and even wash my face. I didn’t want any pictures taken of me and more than anything I wanted to hide. (thankful for the skincare I have now).
After seeing many doctors for remedies, I found some over the counter medicine to control my severe acne and finally was able to focus more on my pregnancy.
At the beginning of my pregnancy we PCSed (military moved) to Ft.Rucker, Alabama so my husband could attend flight school. Luckily I made instant friends with some wonderful southern ladies from a local church in Dothan. I am forever grateful for their warm hearts and hospitality. While my hubby was busy going through flight school and on lock down, these ladies took me under their wings, gave me mommy and baby clothes, baby items, and supported me barely knowing me a month. They were a God send!
On New Years Eve 2009, while my Hubby and I were watching Dick Clark New Years Rockin Eve, my water broke! After making the anxious drive to the hospital, I spent the night watching the ball drop and watching the monitors measure the length of my contractions. It wasn’t until early in the morning that Charlize arrived on New Years Day 2010 at 10:06am. She was the third baby born in the hospital!
No instruction manual
No matter how much I read or heard about from other mothers and friends, no other experiences in my life could have ever prepared me for motherhood with my first born. Charlize was born with a strong set up pipes, literally! She was a crier…a very loud crier. The nurses even told me that Charlize was the loudest crying baby in the nursery her first night.
I had difficulty with her latching onto me and when the nurses took her, they gave her a paci right away, so that was only the beginning of the issues.
My parents came to visit and help out that first week and it was great to have them. But, the minute my parents left that week and walked over the threshold of my house, it was like a switch had just been flipped in Charlize. She suddenly became this unhappy, uncontrollable, unsettled infant. No matter how much I held her, fed her, rocked her, nothing seemed to work. That day and every day after till she turned one year old, was the start of my ” zombie mommy” days.
Charlize has a shrill scream that was not only horrible to listen to, it would chills to run up my spine. She sounded like she was in dying in pain!I tried everything I had read. I swaddled. I tried the pacifier, I breastfed often. I did whatever the “mommy books” suggested. I even called family, while she screamed in the background, asking for any and all advice. Google became my go-to source when I couldn’t find any other answers. I could never put her down and she never slept longer than a few minutes. I couldn’t leave her content long enough for me to go to the bathroom. She was fussy al the time and I was desperate, tired, and out of ideas.
My poor hubby helped with what he could but he was a full-time flight student. I would see him once for breakfast and once for dinner and then he would go to the other room to study how to fly a helicopter. Because he needed rest (and I didn’t want to be responsible for killing him if he didn’t get any sleep due to a crying newborn), we slept in separate rooms. I would be awake with a screaming Charlize and he would catch whatever sleep he could.
Adding to the challenges, my baby girl HATED her car seat. So when I got her ready and had to place her within inches of her car seat, she would screamed and turn beet red and worked herself up into a pool of sweat.
We lived in a more remote area near post. So the distance to the hospital was 30 miles to the next town of Dothan. On one particular well baby appointment, I prepared myself as best I could before putting Charlize into her car seat, knowing she would scream “bloody murder” ALL.THE.WAY.THERE! Not even half way out of the driveway, she was a ball of sweat, crying her shrill scream. I drove half way down the road and not even out of my neighborhood before I was already a pool of tears listening to it all. While both of us were still blubbering and crying, I walked into the doctor’s office, found the nurse, handed her my screaming infant, and just sat crying in front of her, feeling defeated. The nurses could never really pinpoint why Charlize was such a discontent infant. She was healthy, but just uncomfortable for whatever reason. It was one of the first times they started to call it colic. They gave me all the advice, remedies, and things to try. I believe over the course of a few months I had already tried it all.
I was hungry, tired, and wore the same clothes most of the time because I didn’t have much time to eat, sleep or shower. I started to compare myself to other mothers I would see with babies QUIETLY SLEEPING in their carseats. I would envy the mother who looked well-kept, rested, and showered. I started to question whether I even meant to be a mother.
I started to feel so low and down in the dumps. I even questioned my self-worth. Because I no longer worked and I became a full-time stay at home mom, I often heard the questions, “so…what will you do now…just be a stay- at- home mom?” That can be a hard question to take in sometimes when it’s coming from others who value motherhood less than working outside of the home. It was a hard time for me. I never called it Post Partum then, but I realize that I did experience some of that after pregnancy blues. It didn’t help that in all aspects of my life were in transition. My hubby and I were not always in sync. He was learning how to fly, we were learning how to be parents, I was trying to adjust being at home, and we didn’t know how to comfort a colicky baby.
If I am being honest and real, there were days I had a hard time being a”mom” and really didn’t want that responsibility anymore. I think every mother can agree to that feeling at least once.
The Five S’s
We learn by “trial by fire” and eventually I found ways to cope. I was gifted a Moby wrap from a friend and I wore Charlize on my body, chest to chest. I read about the 5 S’s as being a way to help sooth children that are “colicky”. Chris and I learned to…
- Swaddle in a blanket
- Shoosh her with white noise”
- Give her a paci to give her the “sucking” comfort
- Rock her on her side
- Then, place her in a swing motion chair or a vibration chair for movement.
If we did all the S’s just right once we placed her down, we were lucky to get maybe 30 minutes of sleep out of her and 30 minutes of a break for us. I learned to sleep with her, belly to belly, just to get the sleep I needed. I learned to put white noise machines right by her ear and then place her in the car seat. (It didn’t always work). I sometimes drove with static noise playing over the car radio and that worked just long enough to get me to the store. I became an expert at the 5 S’s and soon Chris and I were a synced pair at nighttime. We learned to trust our parents instincts and trust each other as a family. I was amazed my Hubby learned how to fly a helicopter over those blurred few months.
Wine a lot and survive a little
One of the funny stories I often tell, was not a funny situation back then. It was what I did to survive. I always had other moms give me the advice: “just let her cry it out“. She was relentless and had lungs of steel, so “crying it out” NEVER worked for her.
But, one afternoon desperate times called for desperate measures. I plopped Charlize in her crib, left the door open to her room, and walked out and let her actually cry it out for a while. I grabbed a bottle of wine and a glass and walked into my walk in closet toward the back of the house. I sat in the middle of the floor, with the bottle in one hand, and in my other hand a full glass of wine. I sipped and rocked like a crazy person. I must have looked completely insane.
When Chris got home from work, he knew exactly where Charlize was, but he went looking for me. When he found me in the closet he asked half puzzled, “Whatcha doin?” to which I responded,”This is the only place in the entire house I don’t hear her scream.” He smiled a half-smile and just said, “well then…scoot over!”…
“This too shall pass”
Every parent has stories of how parenthood began for them. But I know, without a doubt, most parents will tell you that through all the heartache, the sleepless nights, the frustrations, parenthood is worth it all. Through all the blurred craziness, there are so many more joyful moments. There are moments of discovery that you get to see through the eyes of your children. There are memorable moments of pure laughter at the faces they make, the words and sounds they create, the thing that they do as they grow.
Chris and I survived almost a year of colickiness (if that is really what they say it was). Charlize finally settled after 18 months when we eventually PCSed from Alabama to Tennessee. It was then that Charlize came into her own. She was a fantastic toddler, fun-loving and sweet! I never really experienced the “terrible 2’s or 3’s”. She was truly an amazing kid after all that! She still is an amazing kid and more!!
As much as I hated the phrase said to me “This too shall pass,” it did in fact, pass!. I blink sometimes and wonder where has the time gone. My baby is not a baby anymore. She is now 7! She is beautiful, smart, loves to read, loves to dance and loves to sing. She laughs easily and often and forgives quickly. She’s an overall happy child and RARELY cries!! Imagine that?? Who would have ever thought she was a crier and a screamer?!
When I open up and share my experience with a circle of moms, its most times comforting to know that I am not alone. I don’t mind sharing my stories because they are good to hear. I think sometimes when we find others that have similar experiences, we find a great commonality and that’s where friendships form. Moms need friends, good friends!
If I can give any advice for any new parent, I would only say this: “Enjoy the moments you get to spend with your child, because they will go by quickly” I blinked and suddenly my baby girl turned….7!
Happy Birthday to my sweet 7 year old!
Mommy and Daddy LOVE you so very much!!