Is it possible for a baby to have seasonal depression?
The fall is wearing us down here in the Baby District. We turned to football for support, and clearly that worked for at least a little while. (OK, I’ll be honest: it is consistently working for several hours EVERY Saturday. And often on Sundays too. But I am not accustomed to rooting for a winning team, so I am afraid to say more.) But sitting here on September 25th, slumping in the darkness of the post-equinox days, feeling the full brunt of the cruelness of September in Washington … I can’t remember the last time I heard Ezra laugh.
I’m sure his joie de vive will return (and mine), at least I pray to God it will. But it’s been a rough few weeks. There was napping trouble, then getting-out-of-the-house trouble, then sleeping at night trouble. Somewhere in there, Ezra started crawling with purpose, and splashing in the cat water and pulling electrical wires and toppling lamps and WAILING whenever I took the blackberry away from him.
Then P went out of town for a few days, and Ezra decided that was not acceptable. Naps and nighttime sleep and everything went out the window. I did not leave the house for three days in the continual hope that by staying near the crib, E could get a decent nap. But he declined the offer to sleep in his bed, preferring instead to wail in my face.
I went three days without adult interaction. At one point, E and I walked down 11th street and talked to some dude sitting outside a bar, just so I could. At another point, I had been in pajamas for 40 hours. At another point, we were up for three hours of wailing in the middle of the night. I called my husband at 4:30 AM, and Ezra and I sobbed into the voicemail. It was a classy moment. Like drunk-dialing, but a little less dignified.
That was just three days: not a long time! Some moms go for much, much longer! But if someone chooses to cry in your face for three days, it sure feels like a long time.
P returned and it continued. The crying. The tiredness. The returned-Daddy walking up and down the hallway, swinging the 23 pound baby. This all starts to wear on parent and child. We limped to Dr. Ferber for help and started some version of sleep-training. There were two good nights.
Then Ezra got a fever and was a little baked potato for three days. I don’t sleep-train baked potatoes. Then, just to make things more exciting, the cat got fleas. And the floors got fleas (the very same floors a certain someone wants to crawl on). Oh, and E got hives or roseola… or both. Also another tooth or two. He started biting everything.
Is it seasonal depression or just a series of little mini-plagues?
To make sure we’re refreshed and able to deal with it all, either P or I have meetings every night. Sprinkle a little jury duty on top. And somewhere in there was the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11th, just to cheer us up.
And the rain. Lord have mercy, the rain. And the clouds. The never-leaving clouds.
What a September.
So there’s been a lot of general sadness in the house (except for P, a resilient optimist). Malaise. And if there’s one thing that’s depressing, it’s a cat and a baby slumping around the house with malaise. And don’t you just hate a malaisical mama?
E and I visited two moms with younger babies on Monday: one tiny newborn and one gleeful four-month-old. (E kept his distance, just in case he has another plague coming on.) And who was the baby who COULD NOT KEEP IT TOGETHER? Not the newborn. Nope, I had to beat a retreat from saying hello to the newborn’s mom, because my ten-month-old was just too mad. Whining, crying, flailing. Doesn’t want to stand up, sit down, be held, crawl. Doesn’t want to nurse. Doesn’t want to not nurse. What to do? Is there such a thing as late-onset colic?
So it’s been hard. I want to publicly acknowledge the hardness, because I assume that anyone who has been tasked with taking care of another human being has felt it at some point. But I feel a little silly and do not want to sound too complain-y, because, well, I have friends going through things right now that are really, legitimately hard. Like, say, cancer. That’s hard.
And our fleas, let’s be honest, are a flea-sized problem. We shall overcome.
Most of all, I want to remember that even in the hard moments, it is an incredible privilege to take care of a tiny human being. There were years of tears (my own), when I longed for a baby to wake me up in the middle of the night. And I am sure there will be nights in the future when I long for it again, when E is at college, and I wake up at 3 am and wonder what he is doing. (sleeping, right? or studying. definitely sleeping or studying.)
So, I want to find a way to cherish these moments, even the ones when the baby cries in my face. Because Lord knows, I have a lot of those particular moments to “cherish” right now.
Here’s hoping we’ll all laugh again soon.