Well it finally happened – my first moment feeling like a complete and utter failure as a mom. This weekend has been a whirlwind of lows. I tried to have a good self pity cry in the shower but then I just felt guilty about the drought which made my cry less enjoyable and so I just tried to hurry it up a bit so I wasn’t crying about my mom failure AND hurting the environment. Gosh that guilt just gets you, doesn’t it?
Anyway, back to me feeling like a failure. If you follow me on social media you might have seen that we (me) have been desperately trying to sleep-train Evelyn. A mixture of hearing other moms confidently and non-chalantly mention their babies were on a schedule and sleeping through the night and those mom e-newsletters saying that my 12lb+, 3mo+ baby is probably now sleeping through the night! So as any A-Type, Virgo would expect I had zero chill and a mad itch to start a spreadsheet. Two weeks of militantly tracking her every feed and nap to find her “natural rhythm” and I was ready to start sleep training. No setting bad habits here!
Three weeks of obsessively reading every article on sleep training, buying over $100 worth of larger swaddles to transition her out of arms-in swaddling, trying to get her to sleep in her bassinet and not her swing in the living room, elaborate bed time routines that started around 5PM, putting her down drowsy but NOT asleep, no nursing to sleep!…. If you’re a mom you’re probably having a good laugh at my expense at this point as all this screams “First-Time-Mom.” Throughout the whole thing, Tim kept cautiously saying, “I think she’s too young…” but he didn’t know, I’d read all the articles and he hadn’t, so I brushed him aside and confidently powered on.
All this hit a head this weekend. After a miserable night of refusing to nurse her (to break that “bad” habit) and insisting she take a bottle and her waking up every two hours throughout the night screaming I just knew I’d made a mistake. Tim had been working and when he came home I just sobbed and said, “I think I’ve really messed up.” The next morning she woke up with a horrific rash – eyes swollen, skin covered in whelts – it was awful.
She had been struggling with rashes for the last few weeks, we had brought her to the pediatrician and he said she was only at a “1,” prescribed a sensitive eczema baby lotion and sent us on our way. I’ve bought hundreds of dollars in organic sensitive skin eczema creams, tried just coconut oil, nothing worked. And after me putting her through hell with “sleep training” it just exasperated it to hitting a head Saturday morning.
I called the pediatrician immediately and we headed in. When she saw her she said, “Oh my gosh, this is awful!” and then of course looks at me with a disapproving glance. No need to mommy-shame Doctor, I’ve already spent that last 12+ hours crying about it and crying while we were waiting for you to come in.
Enter the mom intuition, at our first DR appointment regarding her skin about two weeks back, the doctor said Evelyn had Eczema, and maybe she does, her skin was fine until we introduced bath products and her super expensive organic formula from Germany which we use to supplement about 1 feeding a day. ** New Mom Mistake #1 – never introduce more than 1 “new” thing to a baby. I should have JUST done bath products OR formula so if she had an adverse reaction (obviously) I would know what it was that triggered it. ** When she’d have a rash in the mornings, after I’d only put coconut oil or when a lotion was OK the first night and then the second night she broke out in a rash I just felt there was another underlying issue. This pediatrician agreed that the eczema seemed to be an allergic reaction and it’s probably a food allergy.
So now we are both off dairy. No more expensive German organic formula (don’t tell the husband I already bought in bulk…) and no more dairy for me. As soon as I got home I began my dark spiral on Google on researching baby allergies & eczema. Symptoms included having trouble sleeping, waking up frequently crying and needing to nurse for comfort. Enter tsunami size wave of guilt #2. My poor baby was so itchy & uncomfortable and not only did it take me weeks to start an elimination diet to try to find the cause, but I wasn’t holding her and letting her nurse at night when she needed it.
This isn’t something that I enjoy sharing – letting everyone read how much I messed up but I’m hoping it will help new moms and soon-to-be moms. I got caught up in all the NOISE. I’m stressed about going back to work and her not sleeping through the night and me being tired, I’m worried she’s not sleeping like the “other babies.” And this slap in the face has been a huge wake up call. After the doctor’s appointment yesterday, I gave her all the cuddles she needed. I let her sleep from 4-7:30pm and didn’t worry about “having to wake her up or she wouldn’t be asleep by 8pm“. And she woke up happy, her skin started to look better, and yes, she stayed awake until 10:30pm, woke up at 12am and I let her nurse as long as she needed and then she slept until 7am(!!!!). But even if she hadn’t slept through the night, I would have been OK with that.
Last night holding her and rocking her to sleep at 10:30pm (when she let me know she was tired and ready to go down), I realized I hadn’t had that moment in weeks. I’d be putting her down in her basinet and walking out the door just for her to start crying… and then put my hand down to soothe her but not pick her up per the baby books. She’s only three months, she won’t be a baby forever and I’m lucky if I get even a few years of her wanting me to rock her to sleep. I feel like I’ve robbed her and me of such a special bonding time. As I’m writing this it’s 6pm and she’s still on her evening nap. Which is actually perfect for when I go back to work. She’ll wake up right as I’m coming home and I’ll get to spend time with her until she’s tired at 10:30pm. When I was trying to force a schedule, based on my “research” babies were being put to bed at 7:30 which means I wouldn’t get to see her for more than 30 minutes on week days!
So I hope this helps other moms to feel confident in choosing not to push things on their babies. I just need to accept that I’m going to be exhausted when I go back to work. Evelyn is a person, and just like me, there are nights when she’ll have a hard time falling asleep, or wake up because she has to go to the bathroom, or get thirsty and need a drink. I wouldn’t deprive myself of that, why should I be doing that to my baby? I’m so thankful she’s too young to remember how awful these past few nights have been. But I won’t. And I hope it’s a constant reminder to me. The mom space can be so competitive and you get sucked into it sometimes without even realizing that’s what you’re doing. If it feels like you’re having to force something on your family then you probably are – take a breath, re-evaluate, discuss with your partner, and decide if that agenda is right for your family.
I’ll keep you guys posted as we figure out what’s going on with Evelyn’s skin. I’m hoping we figure out soon what’s going on.
Hugs to all the mommas and mommas-to-be out there.