Something happened between the time I got nauseously pregnant and the newborn turned into a 5 month old.
That's about one year's time. Maybe a little more than one year.
I am certain that I was miserable during my pregnancy. Cleaning poop off a cloth diaper was one of the hardest things during that time. The nausea, which lasted precisely 38 weeks, all day every day, really left no space for any enjoyment in life. The other hard thing, besides the debilitating nausea - this "I-don't-want-to-be-alive" nausea - this "let's-just-sleep-the-whole-day-because-I-can't-bear-to-be-awake" nausea, was carrying around an unbearably heavy child inside the womb, so heavy that I couldn't lay down on the sofa because then I wouldn't be able to get up again. So heavy that I couldn't sit on the floor without feeling like my pelvis was going to break. So heavy that I couldn't lay in any position, or sit in any position, without feeling pain in my back, my belly, my internal organs. Oh, the weight of that bowling ball inside me!
And of course there was labor that I went through. False labor. For weeks. And then the real thing. Painful, intense, fast. The pushing. The crowning. The tearing. The birthing of the head. The yanking her out because her hands were stuck around her chest. The melting of my muscles because of how hard I pushed and how long I was on all fours trying to bear my labor pain.
And did I mention the unmentionable. What happened AFTER I had the baby. The horrible itchy bleeding hell-set-me-on-fire hives? From neck to soles of my feet bleeding wounds, like having chicken pox and then poison ivy on top of that. And I was swollen - so swollen I couldn't wear my watch or bend at the knees. Walking around was painful on my ankles. Itching my skin would cause liquid to seep out of my open bleeding pores. Literally. It was like something out of Satan's book of tortures for the unredeemed.
I cried a lot from sheer desperation. I just wanted to stop that consuming itch for one moment. There was no way to NOT itch. And the more you itched, the bloodier you got. The wet, weeping skin. Oh, the agony.
It seems a distant memory now. I still have two dark scars on my wrist where the dermatologist took two skin biopsies. He wanted to confirm what it was and wasn't. Thankfully it wasn't an autoimmune disease. Thankfully it was just postpartum hives. A super awful bad case of it.
I'm thankful for Claritin. It took me through the worst, and although the itch didn't go away, it kept it from completely eating my flesh alive. And I could still breastfeed.
I remember both of my mothers wanting me to stop nursing. I wanted to cry and scream because of all the misery and suffering I went through from the time I got pregnant until the time I had the baby. And the only pleasure I got that entire year was nursing this little baby. And now they wanted me to give it up and give her formula. I was angry. I was going to endure this itching and not take strong oral steroids (which was going to have side effects on both me and the baby) - that's how much I was willing to pursue nursing the baby.
That's when I knew. I knew how stubborn I was. I knew how much physical pain I was wiling to endure if I believed in something enough. I knew I went through natural childbirth so that I could protect my child from unnecessary medical treatments. And now you think I would give up so easily because of some flesh eating hives?
Once the hives started dying down, then Natasha's colic starting really blossoming. She would cry for hours. every. single. night. I don't think there was one night that she did not cry unceasingly and inconsolably. She also cried for hours inconsolably during the day just about every single day. And every other day she would cry in the gosh darned middle of the night, maybe from 1 to 3am, or 2 to 4am. And this after a good colicky night's crying from 8-11pm. So I'd literally sleep from midnight to 2am, be up for hours, then sleep another 2 hours. Noelle would wake up (she was dropping her nap so had poor night sleep from sleep deprivation and the new baby arriving, so she'd wake up at 5am or 6am crying). Hmm, that's a good 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night. And there was no naps during the day for me, either. Because Noelle did not take naps anymore and she stopped being able to have "quiet time alone." She suddenly became clingy and unable to do anything by herself.
It was bad.
It wasn't until Natasha turned about 4 months old that the colic got better. I began to sleep train in increments. No more bouncing her to sleep. Man did my back turn completely numb from the pain of holding her heavy body and bouncing her for hours day and night. I remember at the worst of her colic, I felt like I was literally going to faint at any given moment during the day as I had to bounce her to get her to stop crying. I was at the farthest limits of physical endurance. I was pushed to the the outermost edge of my abilities. I called my mom. She came every day to watch Noelle so I could nap. Just as faithful as she came every day during my pregnancy. Thank the Lord for her. And thank the Lord for my mother-in-law who came to stay with us for a month. If it weren't for them, I would not have been able to carry my baby to term, nor would I be able to nurse my baby. I don't think I would be able to have another baby again. I don't think I will. Period. It's impossible without full-time help with my two children. And I've decided to homeschool and train them. It's impossible to train them if I will be incapacitated for a whole year being nauseously pregnant and completely exhausted afterwards with postpartum hives and a colicky infant.
I see now how much Noelle has changed. And I felt like I missed it all. I was busy laying in bed, completely engulfed and drowned in morning sickness and fatigue. Then being on bed rest meant I couldn't go anywhere or do anything with Noelle.
All I could muster was to dump her pee and poop after she went in the potty. Wipe her tush. Flush. Try not to get upset. Try to climb back into bed. I had no energy for anything else. I hardly had any energy to do basic things for myself even.
Now I see that over the course of a year, Noelle is completely potty trained. She's out of cloth diapers. She doesn't even go in a little potty anymore. She wears normal, thin, cotton underwear when she goes places. She pees in public bathrooms. She is like an adult. She sleeps overnight in a pair of lightweight waterproof undies. How did all this happen over a year?
She has gone from speaking in phrases - 2 or 3 word phrases - to complete sentences. Complex sentences!
Today, she woke up talking in such complex sentences. "I do this cuz of this, cuz of this, cuz of this." She seems suddenly so capable of answering the "why" of everything, whereas not so long ago (a month or two ago) she could not voice a reason for why she did things.
Is this how fast childhood goes? She goes to bed, sleeps in a little later than usual in the morning, and wakes up smarter and more advanced?
Noelle's legs are growing so long and thin. Her limbs are becoming lankier. Her face is elongating as well. She no longer looks like a chubby little toddler. The last remnants of her babyhood has just slipped out of my hands. It feels as if she is gone forever. The baby I once nursed and held and cuddled and comforted.
I am so sad as I type this. Because today as she came to me crying (as she often does for very trivial things) I told her to stop crying and go sit on the stairs if she wanted to cry. She wanted me to pick her up and comfort her. I wanted her to learn that she cannot act like a baby anymore. I have new expectations of her. She must learn to control her emotions. She must learn not to indulge in them anymore. She must learn that crying doesn't get her attention. She must learn that if she wants to cry she must go over to the sofa or bed, put her blanket over her head and calm down.
I have done this out of necessity both for myself and for her. She once woke up from a late afternoon nap and had a horrible tantrum that lasted for upwards of an hour. She would not stop crying. It was ridiculous. Even as I held her she would not stop crying. I realized she needed to learn a skill of self-soothing or else she would have a horrible time of dealing with life. I remember she used to do that as a toddler. I would offer her a juice or snack and that seemed to help things. And before I started doing the juice or snack, I used to offer her the breast and nursing really made her happy. Now she has times where she gets cranky or emotional and just doesn't know what to do with herself. She will run to me and want me to drop everything I am doing - even if I had chicken hands (while cutting meat in the kitchen) or if I was nursing Natasha. It is unreasonable because at this point, she is old enough to understand that she must wait. She just does not have any practice waiting or considering others because there has always been a caretaker to look after her needs one-on-one. Now she must wait, or she must obey more consistently (since we now demand it of her more consistently whereas before we had no energy). She is used to venting all her emotions. But now I must teach her how to reign them in.
Part of me is sad that she is no longer my baby. But I cannot keep her a baby forever. Time goes on, she will continue to grow and mature, and either I give her the skills to let her thrive as a growing child, or I treat her like an infant forever and never give her any skills with which to go forth into life. It feels like when I decided to stop nursing her. I cried. It wasn't as difficult of a decision because I was pregnant at the same time and it was getting to be a big burden. But still, I was sad that she was done with it - or rather, that I was done providing for her in that way.
So it is with teaching her that she cannot cry at the slightest things (or what I perceive to be the slightest things). One part of me thinks, "In her world, it is a big deal." But the other part of me knows, she cannot live in her world forever. She will need to live in the real world sooner than I can imagine.
These are the things we are working on:
-Patience - practice waiting for things that she requests
-Consideration for others - waiting her turn to speak, not interrupting conversation
-Respect for Authority - not bossing others around
-Couresty - saying "please" and "thank you"
-Obedience - instead of saying "No, I can't," say "Yes" or "i'll try"
-Self-control - instead of indulging in self-pity and crying, control the emotions and think of what we are thankful for
-Attention - pay attention when spoken to or being read to