Yesterday was both easier than Monday and harder than it’s been so far. You refused to nap until you looked like you could just pass out, and then you refused to do that. You peed on the bed and on me twice, you pooped with your diaper undone (but thankfully still under your little butt), you projectile vomited on both of us and a blanket, and then when I tried to nurse you, you would only nurse for a maximum of three minutes at a time (which the pediatrician tells me is normal, even though for your first four days you could go for over half an hour at a time – did we make a mistake by going to a bottle for you?) but you would take a bottle of the same freaking thing and eat until you puked (if I would let you, but I don’t).
In short, you made me feel like shit. I cried again, and I yelled at you, and nothing makes me feel worse than yelling at my tiny baby, regardless of how I feel about you. No one should yell at a baby, no matter whose it is (mine) or how you feel about him (indifferent and resentful), but I did again.
I’m not patient enough with you, I’m not kind enough, I’m not doing anything right, except the basic things anyone can figure out (diapers, bathing, feeding, cleaning, rocking). Even some of the basic baby-care things I’m doing for you don’t feel right: I hold you to get you to stop crying and pick you up whenever you make noise not because your cries trigger some deep, primitive emotional response (they don’t), but because I don’t like noise. This is not a practice I intend to continue because I believe (and have seen ample first-hand anecdotal evidence to support this) that it is bad for you both in the short and long term. You need to learn to soothe yourself, that you can soothe yourself, and not only am I taking that away from you, but I’m just delaying your screaming for a few weeks because eventually, sooner rather than later, I will stop doing this. I can’t do any of the real important mothering things right with you.
I can’t even love you. I just can’t. I stare at your face for hours and try desperately to feel something and I can’t. I tried kissing your huge baby cheeks and I just felt like a creep assaulting a stranger. You stare at me and I just stare back. I feel like I should smile because somewhere in your baby brain you will associate my smiling face with mothering and caregiving, but all you’re seeing is either crying, anger, hatred, indifference, or desperation. I’m pretty sure I’m screwing you up in all the basic, most important ways already and I’m having a hard time with that. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for it.
I found this quote today while looking for other people who had gone through what I’m trying to dig myself out of* today and I so desperately wish I was as strong as she is, but I just am not yet. She’s right, and she’s doing exactly what I want to do, but just can’t seem to. She’s even using the words I’ve used to myself and to your dad to reassure both of us that it will be okay, yet somehow she was able to practice what she knew to be right and I am utterly incapable of doing so.
I didn’t beat myself up (literally or figuratively) about the fact that I didn’t feel overwhelming love for my son when he first entered the world. I know that I can’t control my emotional reactions to things; I can only control my actions in response to those emotions.
So I acted as if I loved my son more than anything when he first arrived. I doted on him and treated him gently and talked to him and rubbed his back and breastfed him (a lot!) and cuddled with him and smiled at him. But inside, he felt a little like a stranger to me. From Feeding the Soil.
If you read the rest of that post you’ll see that she’d built her kid up during her pregnancy and probably after. I didn’t do those things – I never felt that attached to you during my pregnancy either and had frequent nagging doubts and feelings of regret and dread – , and other than the fading pain and chestiness, I don’t have any physical reminders of you left on me (my weight gain was minimal and is all gone already, two and a half weeks later – I look like I was never pregnant).
So I don’t know what to do; I don’t know how long to wait before I’m really in trouble and should see a doctor. I don’t know how long I can put up with this, because I am almost certain that if I felt anything at all for you, your rotten, needy babiness would not make me so angry and crazy and rise in me so many negative feelings. I want to love you, I so desperately do, but I just don’t yet, and I’m worrying that if I don’t do something, I might not ever love you.