Thursday, January 21, 2016

Good Days

I'm not always such a gloomy bastard!  Yesterday and today have been good, and to make it all feel better, the nights were not particularly good.  The Baby is still waking two or three times between 8pm and 7am.  I'm still blaming that on the four-month sleep regression.  So the last couple nights have been "normal," which is to say not great but not so bad that I'm a walking zombie during the day.

The days have been good because The Baby has been napping on something that's approaching a schedule (I know, I jinxed myself by using the "s" word).  I kind of feel like I'm on top of something...anything...maybe nothing.  But I feel good.  A lot of this has to do with the temp finally getting back above zero so The Baby and I can go visit The Wife for a mid-day feeding.  Getting out of the house, seeing adults, and NOT having to prepare and give a bottle give more boost that you'd think.

So I feel good, and I want to make sure I'm sharing the good as well as the makes-me-want-to-bash-my-head-against-a-wall.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

More On Depression

Follow up to last post.  I hope some day to have the balls to share this blog with family and friends (I first need to convince myself I have anything worthwhile to say), and I'm sure my admitting I think about hurting myself is going to cause ripples.  As best as I can, I want to address some of those feelings, conceding it's just not gonna happen in a single blog post.

I have a temper.  It's not the yell and scream kind of a temper.  I can't explain it, other than certain things make me feel as if I've been done a grave injustice and it makes me angry.  I often wonder if this is what Thoreau was referring to when he said, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Maybe we all feel the universe is unjust.  But in my case, instead of feeling desperate, I feel angry.  Much of it comes from feeling out of control; not on top of anything.  You parents out there may smile grimly at this, because you know that you control almost nothing during the first few months of parenthood.  You're certainly not on top of anything.  At least, it doesn't feel like it.

Anyway, I have a temper and my anger manifests itself as short answers, terse responses, and tension that causes my wife to walk on eggshells for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.  I know when I'm doing this, and I hate myself, which makes it worse, and a vicious cycle rolls on.  My wife is very good at talking to me and helping me through these feelings, for which I love her more than words can say, but which is also terribly unfair to her.

What it comes down to is I don't want to be an angry father and husband.  I don't want my wife to ever have to walk on eggshells around me.  I don't want my daughter to accidentally knock over her milk at dinner and instantly look to me to see if tonight is one of the nights that I might raise my voice, or worse, say nothing and just clench my jaw and breathe deeply as if my head is about to explode.

The temper was there before the baby, but it's taken on a whole new significance now for those reasons.  So I'm seeing a therapist of some kind.  I first tried to go through one of the postpartum depression support organizations, but sadly, they had no services specific to dads in my area (I'm finding that postnatal depression in men is common, but only recently recognized; there aren't as many resources as I thought there would be).  When that didn't work, I went through my general practitioner.  When it's all said and done, I'll have waited three months to get an appointment, which is ironically maddening.  Oh, you have anger problems?  Well, you'll just have to wait patiently until a slot opens up...

I'm angry too much of the time, I want to better understand why and what to do about it, and I'm seeking help.  That's the bottom line.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

On Depression and Expectations

The Baby is still not sleeping well.  We'll put her down at 6 or 6:30, always in the hope she'll power through that first wakeup half an hour after we put her down, and it never happens.  So she gets up and feeds, and then she's back down by 8 or so.  On many nights, she's up again at 9 or 10, and at 11, and then she'll wake one or two more times before 7 the next day.  Not as bad as I've heard of, but not good.  The Wife and I talk about it, and some if it is just expectations.  The Baby has given us enough good nights, when she'll sleep for up to seven hours at a stretch, that we know she can do it, and now that's she's close to four months old, we're starting to feel like she should be sleeping better.  I'm obsessed with her sleep.  In an effort to identify potential patterns from which we might build a schedule, we started tracking her sleep in a spreadsheet.  Below is a screen grab of it; each blue cell is half an hour of sleep, with the time on the vertical axis:

As you can see, not a lot of pattern there.  I'd like to call your attention to two things.  Just to the right of the middle of the graph, you'll see four nights in a row that really fucking sucked.  Those were the first four nights after my wife went back to work.  You will see some good chunks of sleep in the afternoons.  Those are when I'm rocking The Baby in the nursery.  If she's not in our arms, she will not sleep for more than 35 minutes.  You can damn near set your watch to her sleep cycle.

So I'm obsessed with her sleep, how much she's getting, and it's depressing me.  I don't mean in a "gee I'm bummed out today" kind of way, but in the way that makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning, keeps me near tears for more of the day than I'd like to admit, and as embarassing as it is to say it out loud, makes me want to hurt myself.  We're gonna spend a lot of time exploring all of this, because these feelings are the reason I started blogging in the first place, but I think if I had to put it down right now, as succinctly as possible, it is that The Baby's sleep (or lack thereof) makes me feel like a failure as a parent.  The days after those four awful nights were the worst of my life.  I was exhausted and angry and bitter and resentful and my wife is stuck dealing with the pile of shit that used to be the man she married, our baby, and her job which routinely demands she work 80 hours a week.  In the corporate world, we would say that is unsustainable.

And there's a text from The Wife, who is back on tomorrow, asking if I can take over putting The Baby down for the night.  Here goes nothing.

Friday, January 8, 2016

More On Sleep Regression

This is gonna be a short one, because as we speak, The Baby is about to lose her shit.  So last night, after The Baby woke at 2, 4, 6, and 7:30 am, I decided that today I would do whatever it takes to get her to sleep as long as possible.  I've spent nearly all of today in the nursery, rocking her while watching Netflix on my phone.  Scrubs, if you must know.  Fuck this shit.  I'm coming to terms with the fact that The Baby is just fussy.  What do you do about that?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fucking Sleep Regression

We are in the midst of a fucking sleep regression.  But first, a note about language.  I am a real person, and when I get frustrated, I like to swear.  It's how I talk.  It's how real people talk.  I bet you're a real person, and I bet when your baby goes through a sleep regression, you're gonna feel like cussing up a fucking storm, because not much I've experienced has sucked as much as fucking sleep regression.

OK, now that I got that out of my system, I can settle down a little.  I think I mentioned before that of the myriad ways parenting has to make you feel like a naive idiot, sleep is what's made me feel like the biggest boner.  The Baby has been good compared to most, but still.  Sleep is our white whale (yours too I bet).  What we're struggling with now is that she's not quite 3 1/2 months old, so she's old enough to have had some good stretches where she was sleeping 6 or 7 hours at once, but not so old that we can expect that or do anything to try to influence her.  No matter your opinion on sleep training, it seems most experts don't recommend it until 4-5 months.  So right now, we put her down at night, pray to every god there is that she'll stay down for at least a few hours, and then close our eyes.  Note that we do not go to sleep.  Sleep for parents at this stage is too fucking scary, because if you allow yourself to sleep, you make yourself emotionally vulnerable.  It's so much less demoralizing to have to go back to soothe a baby before you've gone to sleep than after.  So I distract myself with everything.  New magazine?  Sure, I'll flip through it quick, but then it's lights out.  Well, that didn't really take that long, and I'm not even really tired, so I'll check the ol' Facebooks for the eleven billionth fucking time today, just to make sure I've scanned all the headlines so I can get myself good and worked up over some political bullshit.  And now it's almost midnight and the little shit has actually stayed asleep and I've screwed myself out of an hour or two of what could've been good sleep.

Or not, as is more often the case in the last week.  Even now, it's 11:09 am and I just checked the monitor and the timer on my phone.  Eyes still closed, timer says 17 minutes, so given her usual 30 minute cat nap, I should have another 10 minutes to update this blog that I vowed I would update daily so I would feel my life had purpose...