When I was a Sophomore in High School I had a paper route. I used to get up at 4:45 (which doesn't seem like a big deal to me now, but for a teenager, it was torture) to deliver papers. I'd immediately get ready for school when I'd get home because I had a "zero" period, which meant school started earlier for me (but that I had a longer lunch), then after school, I'd go straight to swim practice. Most days I left the house around 7am and didn't get home until almost 6pm. It was tough, but I found time to do my homework, eat, hang out with my friends, and even sleep (a little). And I enjoyed the extra money, but I won't say I was sad to let my paper route go. Looking back on that a couple of years later, I couldn't believe I survived. And I have a feeling I will think the same thing when I look back on this time in my life.
Recently I've had a number of people tell me they're impressed with how well I do with Sadie. And while it means a lot to be told I'm doing a great job at parenting my special-needs baby, I also kind of feel like I do it because I don't have a choice. What are my options? Love her and do everything in my power to meet her needs and make her happy, or...? I don't see an alternative.
Right now Sadie is teething, in addition to a scheduled sleep regression at 23-26 weeks (we're in week 25, so I'm crossing my fingers she'll be over this nonsense soon!), and daily I feel like I'm driven to the point of insanity due to exhaustion. Sometimes it's crying for 5 hours, sometimes it's just waking up for 2-3 hours in the middle of the night. Sometimes it's not napping, sometimes it's not going to sleep until after midnight and waking up at 5am. Whatever it is, it's hard, and I'm reminded of that time in my life when I had a paper route and swim team...except this is 10 times harder because my heart is involved! I don't always feel like I'm doing a great job when I'm whining to Sadie, pleading with her, to "PLLLLEEEEAAAASE just go to sleep!" And I don't feel like Wife of the Year when I snap at Brian because he's sincerely trying to help, but he just doesn't know how it feels to have a baby (sometimes LITERALLY) attached to you ALL. DAY. LONG. It's very unbecoming when Sadie starts whine-crying and I'm doing in right along with her. Tonight, as I sit here at 12:45am writing this, I even told Sadie that this non-sleeping thing is going to drive me to insanity...I feel like I'm already so close.
But to others, you see differently. You may know what it's like to have a happy baby, or even just a normal baby, and you see that it's different for me. To me, this is all I've ever known, so it IS normal. Sadie cries, Sadie doesn't sleep, Sadie has to be held a certain way and needs a certain amount of motion in order to be satisfied, and Sadie (STILL) hates the car. So, thank you for the compliments, thank you for the support, and most of all thank you for the help. (Anna, there were a couple times last week that you saved me from having a break down! And Shelly, I know you're far away, but right now I'm REALLY tempted to call you because the night is so lonely...but I wouldn't be able to hear you anyway probably over Sadie's crying.) I think the only respite I truly have is knowing that this won't last forever. Before I even know it, Sadie will be a beautiful healthy 10 year old, on the verge of puberty, sleeping through the night in her own room, wanting to wear makeup and starting to wear deodorant, and I will wonder where my baby went, and I will look back on these hard times and wonder how I got through.
Let me leave you with this quote (ironically from my cousin's facebook status! ha!) You never know how strong you are until that's the only choice you have. This is the only choice I have.