It's 11:11 pm on Sunday night. Rory is still awake. She hasn't been up this late, with the exception of the Super Bowl or the time she had the stomach flu, since she was a baby baby, as in newborn days. She'll be 3 in May. She's just...not sleeping. All Rory wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch The Princess and the Frog and snuggle the dog.
You know what. I'm letting her.
She's curled up on the couch with her beloved Dora blanket and one of her Minnie stuffies. The dog is at her feet. It's dark in our house, just the friendly and familiar image of New Orleans and Mama Odie dancing across our tv screen. She's quiet, the music is peaceful and comforting and I'm okay.
You see the hard thing about post partum depression is you can't always tell what your triggers will be. Tonight, as I sat on Rory's bed, consciously choosing a happy tone of voice while reading her 9th story, the tears started flowing. No, not because I was so emotionally moved by Eric Carle's Grouchy Caterpillar or the latest Fancy Nancy tale. The tears came tonight, quickly and earnestly, because I'm exhausted and selfishly I want to sleep. I need to sleep, but my girl needs me more.
As I sat crying on Rory's bed, she looked at me and said "Don't worry, Mommy. I'll give you a big hug! It will be just okay!" She wrapped those little jammie clad arms around me and squeezed. She patted my back and rubbed my hair, just like I do to her when she's upset, when she needs me. Rory crawled right up on my lap and consoled me, her mommy. We reversed role for a minute and it felt good. In that moment, I knew I was doing something right. Rory had empathy, sympathy and compassion. She knew a hug helps heal hearts. She knew tears meant someone was sad. She felt for me. A valuable lesson, a silver lining to a ppd episode.
Being a parent is hard. Really hard. I've done some incredibly difficult things in my life and nothing compares to being a parent. I learned business tax laws and still, easier. Tonight I cried out of frustration. I didn't know how to get my daughter to go to sleep. I didn't know how to soothe her, how to reassure her, how to calm her enough to get her to sleep. I was confused, it's never been this hard. Even as a newborn, she'd wake up,eat and then drift back in to a milk induced slumber. Sure there were nights where she woke up more often to eat, but the falling to sleep part has never been the issue. I didn't know what to do and usually, I know. Or at least I can guess a solution, even if it's not a permanent fix. Trace is throwing a fit in Wal Mart? Got it covered. Rory won't put on her shoes? No biggie, give her 2 pair to choose from. Trace won't eat lunch? Fine, he'll just have lunch food for a snack.
I was empty. Completely out of ideas. Triggered and worn out.
We'd done books, prayers, songs, quiet rocking, story time. I'd let her cry for 20 minutes two separate times. But with a sleeping baby who is NOT usually a good sleeper...I'm not taking any chances.
Then Rory said the word that made my tear flow even harder. Gaga. (That's my mom) Rory loves her grandparent. Gaga, Baba (my parents), Gramma and Grammpa (Dave's parents) She talks about them all the time and always wants to be with them. Tonight, it was Gaga. My mom.
I wanted my mom too. So we called her. It was 10:50 at night and I knew she was sleeping but I didn't care. Just like Rory didn't care that I was tired and she was keeping me up, she needed me. I needed my mom. I needed reassurance, comfort and connection. And guess what? My mom didn't mind. She comforted Rory, calmed me down and told us both it'd be okay.
So hear I sit. Waiting patiently for Rory to fall asleep so I can fall asleep. Hoping she falls asleep deep enough that I can carry her into bed. Thankful for blogging. Grateful that a new day dawns in 26 minutes and the promise of sleep comes with it. It will be okay.