It was not good

sonorous breathing
this is what night time entails
in other folks homes

Last night is a night that will shine in infamy. From 2-4 am the wee-er one head-butted me, scratched me, climbed all over me, delivered many, many consecutive kicks to my solar plexus, sucked my milk dry, and finally rammed her head so hard into mine I bit my tongue.

As we wrestled and struggled and I tried to get her to lay down calmly and sleep, my husband gently snored. Until I lost my mind a little bit, and in a rare show of excellent parenting I screamed at my child, "WHY WON’T YOU FUCKING SLEEP?"

This, I’m afraid, made her cry. It made me cry, too. In body wracking, sobs of defeat. I felt like an abject failure as a mother when the last vestiges of my mama-ing arsenal were obscenities and tears. I cried and cried. Ironically, as soon as my wailing began, hers ceased. She sat on the bed and stared me, three fingers in her mouth with her head cocked very slightly to the side. Her wispy hair stood on end, from the hours of ramming it into me and the pillows. I looked at her sweet face, feeling so in love and feeling so helpless.

As she continued to stare at me I had the horrifying thought that right at that very moment she was formulating her first long-term memory of me. This made me cry more. Finally, I felt a hand on my head and my husband wondered aloud how long this pathetic scene had been going on. I wailed something about "two hours!  two fucking hours!" and then I dissolved into another wave of tears and self-doubt. I had frightened myself with the intensity of loathing I felt for my baby as she kept me awake; as she kept hurting me. While we were wrestling, I didn’t like her very much. I wanted to get away. And at that small moment, it didn’t matter to me that she was crying. I wanted her to cry. I wanted her to feel the misery she was causing me. And that thought scared me. Hence the meltdown.

My husband, sensing the direness of the situation (how many times do you wake up in the middle of the night to see your baby sitting silently, while your wife thrashes around?) offered to take her downstairs for a while. I couldn’t even say yes. I just shrugged and wiped my nose.

Less than thirty minutes later they were back – she was sound asleep. He gently placed her next to me, and he crawled into bed. He patted me on the head and I fell into a fitful sleep, dreaming of CPS and alternate universes where babies took care of mamas.

It was a bad night.

But now it’s morning and I feel a little better. The wee-er one was cheerful when she awoke, and even cheerful when the babysitter arrived (for the most part). Now I’m at a cafe, ostensibly here to work on a new book, but I had to get this out first. A public confession of my sins.

I know every mama and baby has nights like we had. I had just hoped that after my girl turned one, these nights wouldn’t be quite so awful.

So I’m drowning my feelings of inadequacy with spinach feta quiche and a plate of potatoes, onions and peppers. The food is very good. I’m pretending I deserve it.

6 thoughts on “It was not good

  1. I hear ya, I hear ya, I hear ya! You can mess with many things, just please don’t mess with the sleep. And why don’t dads have this problem – oh yeah, because they can’t make milk come out of their nipples. Thank goodness for brand new days with their new slates. I am sure that when you return, she will greet you with open arms and a delighted smile. Just this morning after about the 22nd “MAMA” I looked at my 21 month old and shouted, “WHAT!!!!” She almost cried…boy did I feel horrible, but it passed as thank goodness so did your night.


  2. change the child’s gender and this is in instant replay of soooo many nights (long ago, thankfully)!
    What an excellent job you do putting all of those emotions onto paper (or blog) — how you can feel like throttling an adorable baby can be hard to explain.
    I’m forwarding to a few mamas I know — thank you.


  3. Hey, I’ve yelled that exact same thing at both of my children! And I’ve been at the point where it made me a little happy that they were crying because I wanted them to feel as upset as I was. Only it didn’t scare me. Does that make me a bad person? 🙂


  4. You put into words the feelings that loving and fantastic, new and old Mothers experience – and when we do, we feel alone and terrible and inadequate and on and on… Feeling badly about the situation may or may not go away easily -and knowing that you’re not alone can be so important.
    Thanks for this –


  5. They need to make a co-sleeping badge at that badges for mamas site. I’ve had many a night like that, too, though not so much with the headbutting. My kid just won’t go to sleep, period, on the nights she’s like that. *I* am nearly comatose from singing lullabies for the last hour and a half, and she’s still rolling around babbling.
    Thanks for putting into words what so many of us feel. Hope you got some quality writing done!


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