I just need to have a moment. Sometimes Jo Jo gets very tired, and when she does, the screaming begins. The 5 S’s will work but only if you’re doing them while walking around. Last night was also rough, with lots of waking. Between my mom and I, it is very tiring. I have moments when I can’t get her to stop screaming when I do, honestly, wonder what I’m doing. The joy of having her is equaled by the pure frustration of not always knowing how to calm her down or make her happy. The good times are so much better and the bad times are so much worse.
I start to get overwhelmed and broken down. So little sleep. So much pressure (whether internally or externally) to make things go well. Be a model foster mom so that they won’t take her from me if she becomes an adoptive placement… I am starting to worry about whether or not I should try to get pregnant or put it off again. I had to cancel the trip to New York that was paid for (and non-refundable) before she arrived. I couldn’t go knowing i’d be stressed out every minute because she is so little and what if something happened and I wasn’t there? Wouldn’t the agency judge me for that? Now I’m out a large chunk of money but also extremely stifled because traveling is my breath of fresh air. I feel like a large animal trapped in a small cage when I don’t go anywhere. And yes, I realize that parenting involves sacrifices. The truth is I had the perfect babysitter, it was only for 2 nights, and lots of people travel even though they have kids. They even travel with their kids (which I plan to do when/if I get permission to take her). But right now she’s so young and little, and new, that I want her to have routine and stability after everything she’s been through.
And yet, I feel that a huge part of myself has just been smothered. Piano, too, is almost impossible to get to, but I try anyway because I’m desperately attempting to hold on to the bits of myself that aren’t all “parent”. What if they take her soon? Then what will be left?
In the back of my mind is also always that nagging, awful feeling called grief, only with a living screaming baby that, too, gets shoved to the side. It came to the surface a bit today, at a March of Dimes walk, seeing other moms there, many of whom lost babies and had traumatic births. It could’ve been a real chance to connect, and find community, but it was raining and cold and ended up just being myself and a relative trudging through the mud with our babies.
I’m really not trying to complain. But I think all moms feel this way at times… exhausted, suppressed, and a little lost. I’m constantly wondering if I’m doing something wrong and how I could possibly be better at this. Maybe it’s normal, but in moments like these, I’m overwhelmed. Sometimes I wonder if in that other timeline that runs side-by-side with this one, I would be sitting here writing much the same kind of thing, except the baby would be Avalon instead of Jo Jo, and there would have been no baby loss grief in the background, no guilt over sometimes wishing it was one baby here over another. That is the thought I will not allow myself to think, but somewhere deep down it is there, once in a while.
P.S. Why can this blog not be super cool and hip like Rebecca’s Fosterhood in NYC? She never writes long, rambling posts about how tired and overwhelmed she is, or anything at all about her deep feelings. She comes off as always cool, calm, and collected. She simply spares her audience the long soliloquies and cuts to the point. I am afraid, dear readers, that I’m just not that kind of blogger. I blog often and I blog long. It’s all here, in black and white, the good and bad and everything in between.
11 thoughts on “stress”
You own who you are, and the person you are inspires, enlightens, and strengthens others. My first foster baby went through drug withdrawal (and I have NO experience with even tobacco – SO lost in the woods there) and she screamed…and screamed…and screamed. We clocked it, noted it, as we did everything, to help make us the best foster parents in the world, and she averaged 15 hours a day. Nothing made her happy. I was exhausted, hubby and I were cranky, and we were afraid we were going to get in trouble.
My worker gave me a good, realistic talk. Foster kids come from homes with bugs bigger than pacifiers, parents who do drugs with the kids in their lap, kids that don’t have toys because their parents don’t have money to spare from their substance abuse, they get beaten on just because they exist, they don’t ever even have their own bed. There’s no form of transportation, so they get carried around everywhere all winter, they have clothes that fit so tight it cuts their circulation off. If you were approved, you have SO much more to offer a child, and you have to know that your workers understands that when they are around, you’re putting your best foot forward, and they realize you’re real life is a little dustier, dirtier, less organized, and more sporadic. They understand the peace you had before a child bloody screamed in your ear 24/7. And they know that you’re a person that will deal with it, in your way, that will help the child grow up. Since then, I’ve come a long way. I’ve learned to keep an IPod loaded with audiobooks (I prefer them to music) and bluetooth headphones on standby 24/7, so that when those babies come that only know how to cry (because that’s all they did before you got them), I can try to tune out the noise, still be attentive and see them, but carry on with life. Sometimes…they have to cry and figure out that it’s not life ending, and that if they stop, you’ll engage and interact, and life will be better. Sometimes…they’ll just cry (mom says I did). But, your worker trusts that you will do whatever you need to keep you sane, and as a result, be a good parent for whatever length of time. They know you have to keep your sanity.
As for TTC, you have to look deep in your heart, and see what your soul needs. If you’re afraid JoJo will leave, and you’ve already lost Avalon, then perhaps trying is still something to work for. I mean, heck, there’s a lady with octuplets out there…multiples happen…if JoJo stayed, it’d just be like you had a little moment of pause between them 🙂 Trust in yourself, and talk with your mom, ask what she did (because even though parenting methods have changed so drastically…back then, babies survived then too ya know?), and do what you need to keep your sanity. If JoJo needs to cry it out once in a while, let her. Put on some headphones and block it out…after all, you can always peek in and check on her. And maybe she’ll learn to self soothe.
Thanks for the encouragement! My main fear with getting pregnant is that the workers will think that as a single mom, I wouldn’t be able to give Jo Jo as much as a married couple. Little babies who are pre-adoptive are so desired and there are waitlists. I just don’t want anything to mess up my chances, in the slightest way. If I was guaranteed to adopt Jo Jo (unless relatives come forward) I wouldn’t mind having two kids close in age.
Remember – the US courts goal is supposed to be to keep the child attached to those closest to them. That’s why they automatically have to research if there is a safe, productive relative they can grant custody to (to keep the genetic link – and to save the state $), but then, if you’re the only foster home the baby has had, JoJo will be more attached to you as a parent. I read somewhere that after 12 months in foster custody, some judges view the link to the foster family as close as a bio family could be, and thus, is granted first rights at the child.
We’ve been having a lot of conversations in my house about how HARD it is to raise other people’s kids, how exhausting and how you feel stuck in the same cycle. We’re heading into our third year of having an infant. Someday, we hope to sleep through the night again!
P.S. I had the same thought about my blog vs. Fosterhood. Somehow I get so much out of her one sentence posts!
After 8 years of secondary infertility our sweet girl finally arrived. We were thrilled but she was a brutal (and precious!) assault on our lives – and she was perfectly healthy with no trauma or withdrawal issues to deal with! I went through some actual regret – and I felt like crap for it. I adore her, I just was so fried and overwhelmed. She is still a non-stop proposition. Just being able to say so to another mama who was dealing with similar issues with her latest child made all the difference to being able to just feel overwhelmed, feel like crap and move on. Not to say you’re dealing with regret, but just to say that I think writing all of your feelings out and sharing it honestly is really healthy for you! You can own it and feel it and keep being a great mama to a little lady who really needs your love.
In parenting, parts of yourself get smothered. They really do. People (especially women) just don’t talk about it enough, so when we feel it, we question it, and wonder if its normal.
I love the way you write – don’t change! And don’t compare yourself! You’re telling your story, the way you want to tell it.
I’m sure that things will settle in with Jo Jo. It’s a big change for both of you. And you don’t have to make any decisions on TTC right now. Give yourself a little time.
Sorry to hear how the March of Dimes Walk went. I’m doing a preeclampsia walk in a few weeks. At first I was excited, but I got terrified. I realized that there were be so many people there whose babies lived through preeclampsia, and I’m scared that I’ll fall apart. I don’t do so well with babies right now!
All I can say is your history is your history. Everyone brings their own “baggage” to parenting. Sounds to me like you’re doing a great job. It takes a while to figure each other out and like you said you already know her better than anyone, but yes, she will survive if someone else takes care of her. Put your own oxygen mask on first, then assist those sitting around you! And yes, I have many times felt like a prisoner in my own home as a parent of a young child. Take care and no need to change the way your write, it is lovely and honest.
I love the oxygen mask metaphor! At a more day-to-day level, make sure you eat, so you you can focus on feeding others. That was one of the best pieces of parenting advice I received before having kids of my own.
I think you are doing a great job! and like the others said, DO NOT compare yourself to anyone.
I know how a screaming baby can be. So helpless! One thing to try is to put her to bed at first sight of sleepiness… rub or the eye, a single yawn. Overstimulation and tiredness can bring on inconsolableness. If it does happen just try the 5’s in a dark cool room. and put yourself in a mentally calm place as well.
I like the kind of blogger you ARE, so there.