A Moment in TimeOct 31, 2018
Our second daughter, Stella, was my little dolphin. She had such a beautiful energy. The minute you looked at her, she would burst into one of her amazing smiles. She was such a blessing. She was an easy baby except for sleeping. She was fine as long as she was attached to me. I didn’t get much sleep for the first three and a half years!!! Those years were challenging. It wasn’t just the sleep deprivation. There was a confluence of factors at play.
1-We had recently moved to a rural community where I knew no one (not the smartest move in retrospect).
2-Molly, our eldest, who was two and a half years old at the time of Stella’s birth, is very sensitive to sound. I had no clue about that until her sister came around. Every time Stella cried, Molly would cry louder and well after Stella had stopped.
3-Stella cried every time we placed her in the rear-facing car seat because she couldn’t see me. The only person she could see in the car was Molly who did NOT want to be sitting next to her. She probably looked and felt tense. Not reassuring. We drove everywhere in separate cars for years to avoid meltdowns.
4-My mother lives an hour away and she depended on my husband and I to pick her up and drop her off. She didn’t like to stay more than 24 hours which meant a lot of time on the road. If we wanted support, we had to buckle the kids in to the car and drive one hour to Ottawa and an hour back then do it all again the next day. Thankfully, Vincent could drive her home on Sundays when he wasn’t working. Sometimes she would take the commuter bus in to Kemptville on the Friday night. Other times, she would head back to Ottawa on the Voyageur bus on Sunday nights. It was a whole lot of stress for her and for us.
5-I have no siblings and any of our friends who had children were just as overwhelmed as we were and, lived in Ottawa. Their children were older and often napped at opposite times to ours.
6-Vincent was in the midst of his diagnosis and treatment for ptsd.
7-Molly and I had always been really close. Now that I was taking care of her sister, she was hurt and angry and, she tried to harm her sister on a daily basis. As a sleep-deprived mom, doing her best to be there for Molly while protecting my newborn, that was super stressful.
When I look back on those days, I remember going into the washroom after Vin left for work in the morning to have a good cry and get my shit together to get through the day. I know what it feels like to kneel and hold a toddler who is crying at the top of her lungs on one side while comforting a crying baby on the other. I clearly recall how noon represented my half day point. I was up at 6am (or earlier) and, by noon, I wanted to go to bed, to call it a day. I still had another seven hours to go. That felt so discouraging at the time.
I know this post is a downer. As I write this, I think people will stop reading my posts because it’s too depressing but you know what? One of the worst parts of this experience was not knowing another single person who was struggling so I’m writing every painful detail to tell you that you are not alone, that it isn’t unusual to feel overwhelmed and it’s ok to reach out and ask for help.
One of my biggest mistakes was projecting into the future and imagining that my daughters would be enemies forever and that my youngest daughter would never sleep through the night. On a brighter note, slowly but surely, the girls became friends. The very first time I saw Molly performing her Boom Chick A Boom song for Stella and I heard Stella let out a loud, guttural laugh, it melted my heart. I noticed Molly reaching out to hold Stella’s hand. She fed her ice cream from a spoon. They hugged spontaneously. They ran down the hall carrying towels over their heads, pretending to be superheroes. These experiences became more frequent and motherhood became a joy again. If you are the mother of siblings who are not off to a great start, know that there is hope. As I write this, my daughters, ages 10 and 12 (almost 13) are sharing a snack and playing Roblox together. I wish I could have seen this all those years ago.