Anger to the Nth Degree

I wrote not long ago about feeling ambivalent about having another child because I already feel so ill-equipped to deal with the one I have. It worked out well that around that time I had to write a piece on anger for the magazine I work on. I decided I would write my piece on toddler anger, and the feelings it inspired in me. This is my piece.

Anger. Every human has experienced it at some point or another. We probably all feel it at least once a day, sometimes many instances in just one afternoon. As a middle school teacher, I considered myself an expert in the field of anger. Each day, I’m exposed to student frustration, parental ire, and teacher exasperation. In the hormone-saturated halls of middle school, anger is a common occurrence. Then, my daughter became a toddler and I realized I didn’t know jack about anger. I was about to be schooled.

Anger is a base emotion. It’s impossible to avoid anger entirely; the only thing we can control is how we react to it. As adults, we’ve (hopefully) acquired a few tools to better handle our anger; when we get mad, we can usually control our feelings or at least express them in a socially acceptable way. Toddlers, unfortunately, have yet to acquire these tools. When a toddler gets angry, those around him are privy to this powerful emotion at its most extreme

Watching a toddler have a tantrum is like observing anger in its natural habitat. Toddler anger is raw, unbridled, visceral, severe and totally overwhelming.  Toddler anger is a full body experience, for both child and parent: we hear the screams, we see the thrashing, we feel the hits, scratches and kicks, we taste the sweat and tears, and we smell the desperation. No one has endured a true outburst of anger until they’ve experienced a toddler in complete meltdown mode.

At the tender age of one and a half, my daughter is incredibly susceptible to outbursts of anger. Pretty much anything can trigger her rage. Daily necessities like diaper changes, donning a jacket (or socks, shoes, or any article of clothing, for that matter), even leaving all but one or two stuffed friends at home can provoke her fury. If she is faced with an actual affront—like say, a toy is taken away—the offending party is guaranteed a hurricane of rage will be unleashed, probably on them. Sometimes it feels like I’m living with an unstable element, a ticking time bomb poised to go off at anytime, without prior warning.

Most of the time I’m pretty calm in the face of my daughter’s outbursts. While it may be the minor leagues, eight years in a middle school classroom has taught me a thing or two about keeping my cool. I’m relatively good at approaching my daughter with slow movements and a gentle voice, even when she’s splayed on the dirty floor at Safeway. I’m also fairly adept at swooping in to prevent her flailing from causing herself—or others—harm; I’ve even managed to keep her head from crashing against the concrete on a few occasions.

Yes, most of the time, when faced with the unbridled rage of my offspring, I can use my adult tools to contain my own anger. There is only one situation when I feel it getting away from me, when I worry her rage will spur my own. That is when my daughter hits me. When my daughter purposefully slaps me across the face, I get really, really upset.

I’m not talking about the hitting, scratching and kicking that happen during a tantrum. I’m not referring to the uncontrollable movements of my daughter in her sub-human fits of rage. I’m talking about that moment when my little girl, calmly and coolly stares me straight in the face before slapping me with everything she’s got. That kind of deliberate violence against me is the one situation that triggers my own anger, and sometimes it’s intense.

I know that my daughter doesn’t understand what she’s doing; at least not in the way I understand it. I know she doesn’t grasp the severity of her actions. My rational brain is absolutely aware of that, but when my daughter hits me, it’s like my reaction-synapses detour my rational brain completely, bursting out of the anger-gate without looking back. I truly believe there is an evolutionarily remnant in all of us that reacts viscerally to deliberate violence against our person. Something inside of me screams, No! This must not be tolerated.

Of course, I’ve never acted on that anger. I’ve never met my daughter’s physical force with my own. But it has made me upset, incredibly so. And when I’m in a situation where I can’t just walk away from her, when I can’t create distance while keeping her safe, I feel at a genuine loss as to how to respond.

Maybe my reaction to my daughter’s deliberate hitting is understandable. Maybe all new mothers feel this during the initial assaults. Maybe this anger will dull over time, as my adult tools better perfect themselves to react accordingly. Or maybe it will always be this hard. Maybe when someone hits you, no matter whom they are, it will always trigger those base feelings of fight or flight. Whatever the case may be, I’m glad I’m getting these lessons now, because I’ve heard I don’t know anger from Adam until I’ve experienced the fury of a sixteen-year-old scorned.

Mindful Mondays: Responsible

I once read in a book (I can’t remember for the life of me which one it was) that we have to be responsible for our emotions. There will always be forces outside of our control that make us feel certain things, but ultimately we are responsible for our emotions and how we allow those emotions to manifest. This was a really important lesson for me. The idea that we are responsible for how we feel and that we can be held accountable for that, seemed strange. Weren’t our emotions untamed forces, leashing out against our will? Weren’t anger and sadness, by their very nature, uncontrollable? I’d always assumed they were. At the same time, many people seek validation for their feelings. They want to know that others understand why they are happy or anxious or afraid. They want someone else to say it’s okay that they feel the way they do. The fact that they do this shows that they do feel some responsibility for their emotions.

People spend thousands of dollars in therapy so that someone with some supposed authority can assure them their emotions are valid. I know because I’m one of those people.

Much of the time our emotions and the way we react to them are totally legitimate. Sometimes they are not. I was reminded of this yesterday, when I got into a fight with Mi.Vida about Isa’s second nap. Basically I felt frustrated and overwhelmed that our daughter wasn’t napping (and that we had a ton of stuff to do before her nap time was over) and when he got her up early I decided that it was a ridiculous move and ultimately vetoed it by putting her back in her crib, without even speaking to him about it. I devalued his parenting decisions for no reason other than it’s not what I would have done. Not only that, I reversed his decision without consulting him about it.

He was really hurt and he had EVERY right to be so. The person who had to take responsibility for her emotions in that situation was me. There was no reason for me to feel so frustrated and so flustered. It was inexcusable that I allowed those feelings to manifest into the actions that followed. I spent a lot of time thinking about why I responded the way I did, where it came from. I realized that I honestly felt I did know more about Isa’s napping and that I should be the one to make the decisions about her sleep schedule. In my mind I cited all the research I’d done, all the books I’d read, all the hours I’d dedicated to her sleep schedule during my maternity leave. In my heart I surrounded myself with the righteous indignation of the sole provider of nighttime care, the one who does almost everything with Isa, the one who doesn’t understand why, despite everything I do, her partner still seems unhappy with his new life and overwhelmed by his responsibilities.

And it was those feelings, the ones I hadn’t been taking responsibility for, that pushed me in the direction of mutiny and betrayal. And now I had to take responsibility not only for my own negative feelings but for the hurt I’d caused someone I love.

Much later that night, I had the horrid realization that I never received my auto-insurance renewal forms and had been driving without coverage for almost three weeks. I was mortified. Panic-stricken, I tried to get a hold of someone to fix the problem and when I couldn’t (because it was 10pm on a Sunday) I totally lost it. At the end of my nervous break down I had to take responsibility for how poorly I’d handled the situation, the suffering I’d caused myself, my partner and my mom (who I called in my desperation).

I also feel like I have to take responsibility for the emotions that led me to write Friday’s post. I’m still not sure why I felt compelled to write that post. I don’t know why I felt so hurt when I perceived people had ignored my post from the week before. Even if I can’t understand my emotions I can take responsibility for them. I’m coming to realize that I have an extraordinary amount of fear surrounding TTC and pregnancy. I’m really terrified of the struggle and the possible loss. It’s almost like a phobia for me. I don’t know why this is. I don’t know if it has to do with my mother’s losses that I experienced as a third party when I was a child. I don’t know if it’s just who I am or if it’s a combination of many things (the probably answer) but I have a truly strange emotional reaction to pregnancy, and not just my own. Knowing someone who is pregnant is very stressful for me and not because of jealousy, but because of an intense fear that the pregnancy will be lost. I don’t think this was caused by my miscarriage, though that definitely compounded it. This fear is very real and whether I can explain it or not, I need to take responsibility for it. I was not taking responsibility when I wrote last Friday’s post and I’m sorry.

Thank you very much for all your kind comments. They meant so much to me, even though I felt tremendous guilt as I read them. I promise that in the future I will request a response if I feel strongly that I need one. I don’t want any of my readers worrying about whether or not I’ll have my feelings hurt when they don’t have time to write me a comment. I would truly hate for that to be the case.

The one good thing that came out of Friday’s post (besides the amazing, thoughtful, heartfelt comments) is that I’ve decided to respond to each and every comment from now on. I responded to all the comments from last Friday. I’m not sure if you get those via email (I have from some sites but haven’t from others) but if you didn’t, please feel free to check Friday’s post to see my response to your comment. And if you want to see my response your comment, I will always respond with in 24 hours of you leaving the comment (I can promise that because I don’t get many comments). I look forward to this new system very much.

Mountains and Valleys

Saturday morning I wrote the following post:

Mi.Vida and I are fighting. Or we just fought. I don’t know. I’m too tired to discern the difference.

Somehow I haven’t mentioned it much here but Isa’s sleeping has been really rough lately. Gone are the days of our amazing sleep trained baby. I don’t know what it is, but my baby girl is crying through long parts of the night. Never more than an hour at a time, but sometimes 40+ minutes, three times a night. It’s wearing on me. Making me sad, depressed even. It is sucking the joy out of my days, my last days with my daughter. It’s really, really hard.

The problem is I don’t know how to make it stop. Do I just start picking her up and comforting her, throwing away all the sleep training we did? Even if I did pick her up, would she stop crying? I don’t know what she wants, what she needs. Has she been thrown off by the time shift? Is she cold at night now that the temperature has dropped? Am I not producing enough milk? Is she napping too long? Not enough? Is she now used to sleeping next to me with her binki in the day and wants to do so during the night? Will simply rocking her be enough? There were so many nights when she screamed in my arms for hours on end and nothing I could do would help. Is this a similar situation? What is happening to my baby girl?

Mi.Vida and I are fighting because I feel like it’s my responsibility to solve this problem, or at least offer possible solutions and try them out. I spend so much of my day reading about sleep issues, trying to contact sleep consultants or enroll in sleep solution classes (which are all wait listed this month). I mull over possible problems and decide on how I might tackle them. I attempt different strategies and when they fail I return to the drawing board equipped with this new, and many times, unhelpful, information. Every once in a while I run my ideas past Mi.Vida and invariably receive an “okay” or “sounds good” or “that makes sense” in reply.

I didn’t get to finish that post but I was going to talk about how overwhelmed I feel and that I can’t handle being responsible for making all the important decisions about raising Isa. I know Mi.Vida has had much less experience with children and can’t spend as much time as I do researching these things but I need his help. I was going to talk about how resentful I was feeling. I was going to broach the subject of the rift I forming between us.

I was going to talk about how I was starting to worry that the stresses of parenthood might actually come between us, like really come between us, like cause irreparable damage. I was going to talk about how I worried that, eventually, I’d lose him to these challenges.

But then we had a really good day. Despite being exhausted and frustrated and unsure of how to proceed we picked ourselves up, dusted each other off and actually found it in ourselves to support one another. We made jokes about how the bottom felt like it was falling out. We scrambled to take the blame for both “covert and overt needling”. We laughed. We giggled. We doted over Isa and reflected on our incredible fortune. We assured each other that we’d make it through this.

And to my great relief, Mi.Vida showered me with affection and showed me that he had it in him to get through this, despite how hard it might be. By Saturday night I felt so much better.

Then Saturday night, despite a very difficult start to the evening, Isa allowed us 8 straight hours of sleep and we both woke up so well rested and refreshed. Literally the first thought through my head upon waking was, I don’t feel tired right now. It was regenerative.

Sunday was a busy day. Isa and I went to visit a family I used to babysit for while Ben headed to airport for a 24 hour business trip to Chicago. After visiting two girls who’s diaper I used to change but who are now almost in high school we rushed back to the city for a sleep solutions seminar. It was GREAT and I can’t wait to put all I learned into action. I promise I’ll tell you all the great stuff this Useful Tuesday.

To finish up the day, I dropped Isa off with my in-laws so I could turn in a paper that was due by 8pm.

Finally we headed home, I got Isa in bed (and asleep) by 7:30 and then I started the first of many loads of laundry.

All in all it was an eye-opening and ultimately endearing weekend.

What did you do this weekend? Anything fun?

BUENAS NOTICIAS – Mi.Vida took Friday off and we took Isa up to Sonoma for some wine tasting. Isa was a great sport and I got to wet my lips with many a wonderful vintage. I also took some great pictures of Isa, but you’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see them!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Dreading it

Today I found out that my cousin has left her job (as a teacher) to stay home with her daughter. I have to admit, I’m feeling pretty jealous. I wish I could stay home with Isa. Knowing that my cousin will be home all year with her daughter makes me realize how much I’ll be missing while I’m away.

I oscillate dramatically in my feelings about returning to work. For the first three months I cried almost every time I thought about it. I was sure it was the worst thing I’d ever have to endure; I felt desperately sad, and many times angry, when I thought about going back.

At around 4 months the days started feeling longer and more monotonous. I was beginning to wonder if it might be okay to go back to work, if I might actually appreciate being out in the world again, returning to spend three or four hours of intense time with my daughter. While I knew that the best case scenario would be a part time position of some kind, I hoped that I would not loathe being back at work full time. There were even moments I was eager to return to work. Of course these moments occurred over a month before my return, but I hoped that excitement would linger as my start date crept closer.

But as the month of my return to work looms large I’m starting to panic once again. I can’t believe how much I’m going to miss. I can’t accept that someone else will spend more of her waking hours with her than I will. I can’t stand that my daughter might actually want to be with her aunt than with me. It’s just too much, it’s just too overwhelming, it’s just too disappointing.

The thing is I don’t have a choice. I have to go back to work. I have to work full time so I can pass most of my check right along to my child care provider and use the little bit that’s left to help pay the rent (and the insurance and the other bills and everything else). I have to leave my daughter every morning and drive 30 minutes to work and then I have to engage middle school students who’d rather be anywhere else, and then I have to grade papers and attend meetings before finally braving traffic all the while wondering what my beautiful daughter is doing without me. All the while asking myself how many times has she smiled today? How many giggles have escaped her lips? How many firsts took place in my absence? How many milestones did my sister-in-law hide from me so I’ll think, when I see them, that they’re happening for the first time? How much of her precious little life passed me by today?

My friend told me that life is hard and there are difficulties we just have to endure. I guess, in the end, that is what it comes down to. This is a difficulty I have to endure. I’m not going to like it, in fact, I’m going to loathe it, but that is beside the point. I’m going to have to live with it and maybe even try to make the best of it. What do I preach on Mindful Mondays? About impermanence and acceptance… I guess I’m going to have to give those a try even when returning to work tears me up inside.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – I kind of let “Buenas Noticias” (Good News) fall by the wayside but I want to pick it back up again. And today I have very good news to share. A good friend of mine at work, whose been trying to have a baby for over eight years, was matched for an adoption today. Her little baby boy is six months old and waiting for her in Korea. They should be able to bring him home in four to six months but they are hoping to do so sooner. I’m SOOOOO happy for her and her husband. They will be such amazing parents. I can’t wait to meet their beautiful baby boy.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Hard lesson learned

The past few days I’ve been in crisis mode. Not just because my daughter’s night wakings are driving me a little loopy, but also because I don’t know where to turn for answers. It doesn’t surprise me that every Tom, Dick and Harry out there has different ideas for how to raise my daughter, but I find it very confusing that the medical establishment  can give me such contrasting advice. Contradictions like the following have really frustrated me of late: The American Pediatric Association (APA) recommends that babies eat only breast milk (or formula) until 6 months but my pediatrician (and everyone else’s) told me I could start giving my daughter rice cereal (at 4 months) even though I showed no interest in doing so. The APA also advices against co-sleeping but the Baby Book I refer to thinks it’s just about the only way to raise a healthy, emotionally well-rounded child. While it doesn’t surprise me that everyone says giving my baby solids will help her sleep through the night while no actual research supports this claim, it does surprise me that my pediatrician tells me I can do something that the APA does not recommend. I guess my doctor is just telling me I can, not that I should, but still. For some reason it bothers me.

It also bothers me that I’m just now realizing that I should trust my own instincts, no matter what I read or hear elsewhere. If I don’t I might have to suffer the consequences. Case in point – I truly believe that our current sleeping issues are the direct result of advice I followed from the lactation consultant, advice that felt unnecessary to me at the time.

When Isa was about one and a half months old she stopped gaining the requisite one ounce per day. The lactation consultant pushed me and pushed me to tweak her feeding to make up for the 1/2 ounce a day she wasn’t getting. First we tired to fit more milk in at every feeding, which resulting in frequent projectile vomiting. Not surprisingly, she didn’t gain more than her 1/2 ounce a day that week. Since she didn’t seem able to eat more at each feeding, I was instructed to feed her more often. Suddenly I was sticking my boob in her mouth at the slightest hint of unhappiness. While she never gained more than 3/4 ounce a day, she did start eating more often.

I remember this whole time feeling like her lackluster weight gain wasn’t really a big deal. The only reason I even knew she wasn’t gaining an ounce a day was because I was going to the lactation center group sessions to work through my thrush problems. At these meetings we were required to weigh our babies and I eventually found out Isa’s weight gain had slowed. But she was born so big and gained 10+ ounces a week for the first six weeks so it seemed okay to me that she was slowing a bit. Still, the lactation consultant assured me this was a big deal and that my baby was supposed to gain an ounce a day until three months old and that it was my responsibility as a mother to ensure she did. Obviously (or such was my thinking at the time) I listened to the lactation consultant; it was this woman’s job to know these things and I was just an ignorant mother who didn’t want to worry about her child.

Of course at her two month check up the doctor said she was gaining weight fine and I needn’t worry about it at all. Unfortunately by then the damage had been done. My daughter had gone from eating every three or four hours to eating every 1.5 or 2 hours; she was getting the same amount of milk as before, just in much smaller and more frequent doses. My daughter eats so quickly that it didn’t really bother me that much. The lactation consultant had convinced me this new schedule was best for my daughter and since it didn’t (at the time) feel inherently wrong to me, I kept at it.

What I didn’t realize was that as my daughter ate more frequently in the day, she began to eat more frequently at night. For some reason I didn’t see the connection. This ramped up feeding schedule coincided with my new love of side-lying breastfeeding and for some reason I associated that with my daughter’s sudden, more frequent, night wakings. I guess I thought she loved it as much as I did I wanted to be close to me more.

Fast forward about four weeks. My daughter is still eating constantly throughout the day and it is starting to feel wrong some how. She used to eat only every three hours and now it’s every 1.5 or two hours. She also used to sleep for four to five hours at a time and now she wakes up ever two or three. I somehow seem to lose track of how this has happened and am still not making the connection between the frequent day feedings running into frequent night feedings. Suddenly I’m no longer happy with our daytime or nighttime schedule.

Cue all the recent posts and my desperation. I’m trying to figure out how to wean Isa off nighttime feedings, hoping she will, in turn, eat more during the day. But it seems like it won’t work and I’m not sure what else to try. And then it hits me. I’m talking with a friend about it yesterday and I realize – I need to get this girl to eat every three to four hours again during the day! Then she’ll eat more at each feeding and be able to go longer periods between meals. If she’s eating every three to four hours during the day, she’ll be able to go three to four hours between feedings at night too. It’s so simple and yet I couldn’t see it before. If I get her to a three to four hour feeding schedule I can eventually wean her from just one night feeding to make a six to eight hour super stretch of sleep! This plan feels fool proof. It makes so much sense and solves both the day and nighttime feeding problems. I’m so excited to try it. What’s best, I figured it out myself (with some help from my friend) and it feels right to me. Needless to say I no longer plan on returning to the lactation center group tomorrow afternoon. I also plan on following my gut when it comes to important decisions in the future.

Yesterday I started feeding Isa less frequently. It was rough for a few hours in the afternoon but between my mom and I we were able to distract her before her 3:30 feeding. Then last night I took her for a walk to distract her from eating at around 6:30pm. I’ve been logging Isa’s feedings and the difference between yesterday and the day before is huge. On Tuesday Isa ate at 9:30, 11:10, 13:30, 16:00, 17:20, 18:45 and 19:30 (when she went to bed). Yesterday she ate at 9:30, 12:10, 15:45 and 19:30 (when she went to bed). That is seven day feedings on Tuesday as compared to four yesterday.

On Tuesday night Isa woke up to eat at 22:50, 1:20, 4:10 and 6:45 before waking up for the day at 8:30. Last night Isa had a hard time going to sleep, so at 8:30pm I nursed her to sleep (after nursing her at 7:30pm). I felt this was a calming nursing, not a sustenance nursing and am hoping it doesn’t mess things up). Isa was awake again at 9:30pm and seemed really upset so I gave her Tylenol (I think she may be teething). She fell asleep again after that. I don’t really feel like that stuff counts, as I don’t think they are hunger-related. So the times I’m counting are: midnight, 3:00 and 5:20 before waking up at 7:50. I didn’t feed her until 8:30, and she seemed okay with that. So already we took out one night nursing, though the strangeness with her falling asleep kind of negates that. We shall see how she does again today and tonight.

In the meantime, I feel both frustrated at my former self and empowered by my current self. I also feel hopeful and I have faith and confidence in myself so that going forward I will know when to follow my gut, when to heed the advice of professionals and when to do both.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Will Pay for Pragmatism

Thoughtful Thursday came just in time, because man have I been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Basically, I’ve been feeling a little resentful of late. I’ve been harboring resentment towards my partner, who continues to struggle with this intense transition into parenthood, and into a place of perpetual sleep deprivation.

Two nights ago I felt the frustration. As we lay in bed, Mi.Vida remarked that he was sooooo exhausted. I felt my blood boil a little. Why are you so exhausted?! I fumed to myself. You came home, ordered a pizza, ate the pizza, watched TV and went to bed. That is what you did – while I did laundry, changed diapers, bathed Isa, put her in her PJs, fed her, rocked her, put her to bed and then put her to bed again when she woke up later. So why are you so tired? I fell asleep feeling very frustrated that my partner was complaining of how tired he was, when he didn’t even do any night feedings, and hardly lifted a finger when he got home.

A little back story might be necessary here. Mi.Vida and I argued about chores for a long time, a really long time. I nagged that he needed to do more and he repented, feeling guilty that he hadn’t and promising he’d change. Wait one month and repeat. We did this SO MANY times for so many reasons and I was starting to get beat down. While this was happening we were trying to cook more, but I hated it. I don’t like cooking – never have and never will. I tried to cook more but it stressed me out. We started getting a CSA box which stressed me out even more. Now we had food delivered to us that we HAD to use, and quickly. We didn’t cook enough and we threw food away and I felt guilt and stress and frustration. I wanted to cancel the CSA box but Mi.Vida was adamant that we keep it. It was important to him – cooking was important to him. Finally there was something that he wanted more than me. I saw my opportunity and I seize.

We came to an agreement that Mi.Vida would be in charge of all things kitchen (except the dishes) and I would do everything else. We’d shop together and share dishes and kitchen cleaning duty but Mi.Vida would unload groceries, clean out the fridge, pick up and package the CSA box stuff, and cook. In exchange I would do everything else. I was already doing everything else (most of the time) and I hated the CSA box and cooking enough to make the trade. We agreed and things were great, for a while.

Then Isa is born. Mi.Vida’s dad starts to pick up our CSA box and both our parents are bringing us meals. Mi.Vida’s parents even do our grocery shopping (for way longer than I’d like to admit). The first weeks with both of us home are amazing. Mi.Vida goes back to work and struggles with the stress and sleep deprivation. He cooks every once in a while but mostly we’re ordering in. I’m trying to support Mi.Vida however I can, dealing with Isa almost completely when he comes home and always taking all the night feedings (Mi.Vida has NEVER taken a night feeding in Isa’s three month life). I never say much about the fact that it’s been three months and while I’ve taken on significantly more responsibility he continues to slack off on his.

Not only is Mi.Vida not really helping out much, but he’s constantly in a bad place, emotionally. He comes home every day, tired and beat down. He has no energy for anything. Even though we get the same amount of sleep (I actually get less except for the few mornings Isa will sleep in with me) he is way more tired than I am. I’m starting to get the feeling he thinks his job is harder than mine, that he is more put upon somehow. He also has enough energy to to to late night meetings for his podcast/website at least once a week, sometimes two or three. When he’s home, there are little comments here and there, about the state of the house or the fact that he can’t cook because we never go shopping. At night, when Isa wakes us up, he sighs loudly.

Last night things come to a head. Unfortunately I handle the situation poorly and basically attack him, resentment seething from every word. Fortunately, Mi.Vida keeps his cool and we’re able to eventually have a good conversation. I express that I feel so frustrated that he comes home the same way every day and never has any suggestions to make it better. If we don’t go shopping enough, how can we schedule that in? If you aren’t get enough sleep, why doesn’t you sleep in the guest bed (which we kept especially for this possible situation)? I know that I’m not getting everything done perfectly, but when things aren’t working I brainstorm ways to make them better. I’m so sick of what has become his seeming resignation to feeling shitty and being unable to contribute.

Mi.Vida has things to say as well – I have no idea what his life is like right now, he assures me. I agree that I don’t but I want to. He says he feels stretched so thin, even though he’s doing things outside of the home he doesn’t feel present at them because he’s so tired. He feels ineffectual around the house, especially with Isa-related things. And he’s tired. He doesn’t know what else to say about that, he’s just bone tired.

We decide to keep the guest bed (which we were about to get rid of to give us more space) and Mi.Vida slept there last night – he seemed much better this morning. We have plans for grocery shopping and Mi.Vida agrees that a pragmatic attitude is key right now. We both feel better about the situation.

We’re still along way from a perfect relationship. I went to dinner today with my sister who’s breaking up with her boyfriend and miserable at her insane job and the whole time I was worried about Mi.Vida being overwhelmed by Isa’s probable meltdown. I’d love to feel better about his ability to handle those stressful moments, but I’m sure that will happen in good time.

I know that this transition is not only something that I make and that Mi.Vida makes, but something our relationship makes. Just as it’s sometimes a difficult transition for me and for Mi.Vida, it’s also difficult for our relationship. We’re going to need work at it each and every day. This is just one, relatively small, bump on the road to what I hope becomes ends with a very happy family.