If someone were to ask me which part of motherhood was the least anticipated I would answer without hesitation: the emotions. While there are certain parts of parenting that you know will happen but don't truly understand until you are in the throes of it, the emotions are what took me most by surprise. Of course in my case the emotions were the hardest part at the beginning because we were reeling from the shock of her diagnosis. Then came the fear and the sadness and at least some acceptance. These days I experience mostly pride, happiness, stress, and worry.
I mentioned that last week I was experiencing some days of envy; envy that other kids Tera's age and younger are doing things she's not yet. I don't know that that will ever go away, my guess is it will come and go like so many other emotions. Yesterday as Tom, Tera, and I were sitting downstairs I was suddenly overwhelmed by worry that I wasn't working with her enough on her current goals. I don't usually feel like this and you would think that given the fact that Tera made big strides last week with her walking and moving up to the next classroom at school, that this would be the last thing I'd be worrying about. But unfortunately, reason is not one of those things I'm overwhelmed with and I just couldn't shake this despondent feeling that I was failing her.
I think part of what brought it on was remembering that she had speech therapy this morning and realizing I hadn't spent much time on the little toy we were supposed to practice with or trying to get her to retract her tongue and round her lips. Since the time Tera first started receiving speech therapy people have laughed and wondered why a baby needs speech therapy and I've explained that it also covers feeding and really anything oral. It also works on her unspoken language and her receptive skills. We are currently working on increasing her signs (she does two without any prompting, "more" and "eat", and "all done" with some prompting) and trying to get her to keep her tongue in when drinking from a straw and her bottle. Today we also added pairing visual cues with words so that she begins to understand more language even if she can't verbalize it. This one actually happens to work out well because it's one of her big goals in developmental therapy also. Since speech is the area that she seems to be most delayed in, I think it bothered me more that I hadn't worked hard at it between sessions.
Then as I began to think about that it of course led me to thinking about all of the other strategies we're supposed to be using and I just felt so overwhelmed. Tom always reminds me that we do what we can and during my rational moments this makes sense. During my irrational ones I worry that what we are doing isn't enough.
Not that it's any shock, but just trying to remember to introduce new methods at the appropriate times is the hardest; once we've done them a few times it's much smoother. I remember when we first started signing to her during mealtimes and I'd realize so many times after she had finished eating that I hadn't done it all. Now every time I say a word that we know how to sign I automatically do it and don't really think about it.
Today Tera had been totally fine, but I was exhausted from not sleeping well and her waking up at 5:30. I was hoping since she'd only napped for 20 minutes this morning (I was actually trying to skip the nap all together but she crashed in the car on the way to the store) that she'd go down easily and quickly in the afternoon. I was not that lucky. It wasn't the worst nap time beginning by any means but I was frustrated that there was a struggle at all since she should have been tired. After 20 minutes she finally fell asleep in my arms while I was rocking her and all my frustration turned to an overwhelming urge to just squeeze her and kiss her forever. I sat with her for about 15 minutes and then finally forced myself to put her in her crib and so I could finally shower. I've been wondering lately how I can feel so tired at times and part of it is I'm not sleeping well, but after taking a moment this afternoon to just reflect on that sudden change in feelings I realize a big part of it is just an emotional toll. Since I've been home with her this summer she's been either sick or not completely herself and I spend big chunks of my days and nights wondering and worrying about what it might be this time.
If emotions are in fact to blame for my tiredness, then I don't expect to feel rested ever again for the rest of my life.