Trip to Brooklyn/ Rough times

So yesterday I did something quite impulsive: I packed an old art-supply backpack with nursers, Grover, I Want My Hat Back, and various other supplies, drove baby and me to the train station, and we went to Brooklyn. My dear friend R is in town from Hawaii and I wanted to see her sometime this week, and yesterday seemed like a good day to do it, in terms of my mental health. I woke up feeling very stir crazy and lonely and I cried, leaning over the kitchen sink, when DH left for work. He and I had had a very tense weekend together. We are surviving on so little sleep and we had a bad argument Friday night that lingered like a foul odor all weekend long. Ugh. (We’re better now.)

S is seeming to cry more now than ever, and it seems to me to be a combination of his terrible acid reflux, his trying out his evolving voice and lungs, trying out making his needs known with increasing volume. He does not want to be alone when he is awake, not for more than a few minutes, and he lets us know vociferously. He would prefer to be held at all times, too, and this is also being made known at high volumes. The acid reflux burns his throat, and I can’t tell you how many feedings involve writhing and screaming, and I can see the regurgitated stuff on his tongue, poor little guy! It doesn’t help that he hates his acid reflux medication beyond measure and getting him to take it is a mind-bending endeavor.

Guys, I think I actually have some hearing loss going on, no exaggeration. From the baby’s screaming. When I talk, it sounds a little like my ears are waterlogged! Today, I am going to wear ear plugs all day (I wear them at night, too, always have). This is nuts!

Anyway, I knew it was time to shake things up. I looked at the train schedule and picked the next train to the city. I rushed around like crazy getting ready and made it to the train with a very sleepy baby in the Bjorn just as the train pulled up. I was so determined that I parked in a metered spot near the ticket station, to be sure I wouldn’t miss the train, risking it. (I’m happy to report that there was no ticket on my windshield when I returned!)

We got on the train, and S was immediately interested in all of the people everywhere. He woke way up. And then he stared out the train window and I watched his eyes watching all of the things pass by the window as we moved along the tracks. It was so neat to see him seeing things for the first time. I fed him on the train without incident (although I can’t tell you how hard it is to formula-feed a picky baby while traveling, with the 4-part gas-reducing bottles, the temperature musts, and his refusal to eat the powdered kind).

It was a long ride, and I could feel that underlying my excitement and relief at getting out and going on an adventure was a shaky fatigue…

I keep thinking of Finals week in college. You know, when you’re pulling all-nighters and drinking too much coffee and feeling that kind of always-slightly-sickish feeling. And your body hurts.

I realized that I was pretty worn out to be carrying a massive backpack on my back and a nearly 12 pound baby on my front.

Once we got to Brooklyn, I was dazzled by the beauty of the brownstones, the melting snow and blue sky, my old familiar stomping grounds. The corner where I spent hours screaming with glee with the throngs, the night Obama got elected. The restaurant where DH and I, before we were officially together, ate at the bar and drank a thousand drinks and hugged and kissed endlessly, making the waitstaff awwww over us. The open-air restaurant where I’d eaten many a pulled-pork sandwich and drank cheap beer. The park where I used to go running, with tears in my eyes at all of the cute babies toddling around or breastfeeding under the trees.

That place where I had that really weird date with that guy who worked for Sesame Street international, and I ended up doing the Walk of Shame the next day with (no lie) a Grover stuffed animal in hand that he gave me! And now (a different) Grover’s head was poking out of my baby backpack.

We went to a bookstore where I took S into the bathroom and changed his diaper, and he seemed wildly happy, laughing and smiling. I was so happy! The exposure to so many new things—people, activity, sites, sounds, scents—was good for him.

I got a full-strength cold brew at a cafe that had turned into a hipster haven—I had never seen so many Apple computers lined up in a row nor seen so many cool hairdos in a row.

Then I took S to the park to feed him, and that’s when I really began to feel shaky from fatigue and hunger. He had an epic acid reflux episode and was screaming and writhing. I realized at that point that I had not taken a moment to eat, yet. When R came down the hill, I hugged her happily and said we’d better get some food in me. We went to a restaurant I love, where I managed to change S’s poopy diaper with a changing pad on the floor (hurrah!) and managed to have somewhat uninterrupted conversation with R…until S had a few meltdowns, I think mainly from acid reflux…I would rush into the bathroom and try to soothe him…even pulled out Dr. Karp’s 5 S’s at one point. I felt so very scatterbrained and tired and the stress was just coursing through my back muscles.

I had hoped to walk around the neighborhood with S strapped to me, facing out (he loves facing out), but it was getting close to train time and I was absolutely exhausted. When we went to the train station, I had trouble deciphering the train schedule that I’d deciphered a million times before, but my brain just couldn’t handle it. We did get on the right train after I asked for assistance. And when I sat down, S fell right to sleep.

But he woke up during the transfer. And he wasn’t happy about it.

When he woke up, I was looking for a seat, found one, sat down…and S began to protest. I realized in that moment that if he started his high-pitched screaming, there would be nothing I could really do about it, as it was a tight space, people all around. I realized in that moment how disastrous that would be so I shot up out of my seat like my tush was on fire and started bouncing, bouncing.

A million people tried to offer me their seats. “Do you need to sit down?” No, no, I assured them, If I sit down, he will scream. “And he probably won’t stop for quite a while,” I said, bouncing and grinning, inwardly terrified that the wails and screeches were going to begin any second and these friendly people were going to not be able to help but hate us.

I ended up by the train doors, bouncing endlessly, hearing the little irritated grunts from S that I by now know foretell a meltdown. Soon a cluster of high school boys got on the train and stood crowded all around me. It was uncomfortable, but I eased into it, actually beginning to enjoy listening to them talk to one another. They were really sweet boys. I daydreamed about how S was going to be a full-grown boy like these boys some day. It seems impossible now, but it will happen.

And S miraculously eventually fell asleep.

I found myself sitting down next to a guy from my area of LI who has two sons, twelve and fourteen. We talked for a quite a while. He was such a kind man, reassuring me on all fronts about parenthood, and telling me what it would be like to raise S here, should we decide to stay.

By the time I got home, DH had made us a delicious soup, and S was screaming for food (he hadn’t been able to take much at his last feeding–reflux–so now he was super-hungry). After eating, S talked and laughed and bounced around on our laps. I had thought I would skip dinner and collapse immediately into sleep, but it’s amazing what you can do when your baby is crying for food and then your baby is happy and wants to interact with you. You stay up. You just do it. And you feel good and happy about it. You kiss him like crazy and your heart swells. You talk and talk. You know you are going to get no more than four or maybe five hours of sleep that night and that tomorrow is going to hurt your body and brain. You know that your ears are funky from being screamed into. You know what you really need is a yoga class and a full night’s sleep. But here you are, with your delicious, bright-eyed, giggly baby in your arms.

What I did yesterday, seizing the moment and going for it, despite my fatigue, was the best thing to do for both of us. He hardly napped at all yesterday, he was so interested in his surroundings, and we both learned how to take longer trips together, via train. Practice for the big-time, which will be air travel (soon). Also, I feel a little different today, having pushed myself to venture far yesterday. I nipped that lonely, sad feeling in the bud as much as I could. I never wrote about it, but early on, I drove us all the way to Forest Hills just to get out and test the waters and show him city life, and although it was really hard, I’m glad I did it. The thing is, life must course on. I must continue to do the things that my instincts tell me to do, despite sleep deprivation and logistical difficulties. Because otherwise I’m not going to learn how to make my baby son an organic part of the flow of our lives. DH and I are active, get-out-of-the-house kind of people. We love to explore and have new experiences. And my hope is that S will love to explore and will hunger for new experiences, too, since his mama took him to so many places throughout his babyhood, even in the most challenging weather. And although I’m sure I will eventually break out the stroller, I like strapping him to me, facing out, so that he can fully participate in what all of the adults are experiencing. He can look and smile and try to talk. He can swivel with me, bend with me. He can get the hang of what being a person in the world is all about.

He is napping now, but will stir soon. I have sacrificed personal hygiene to write this post and am now going to try to see if I can manage to brush my teeth and put clothes on before he wakes up!

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10 Comments

  1. Good for you for getting out! I found in the first few months that one outing a day was essential for us, but yours goes above and beyond- trains and cities and lunch, oh my! You should be very proud of yourself.
    Getting out was important for me, but I’ve also always found L to be happiest when out in the world. Sitting around the house, I imagine he’s saying, “Mommmm this is bo-ring!”
    He’s 1 year old now and I still have used the stroller only a handful of times. We both seem happiest when he is strapped to me in the Ergo. But I have friends whose babies love their strollers. Different babies, different mamas. Do what feels best for you both.

    Reply
  2. Oh dear, I so remember people telling me “it gets easier” in regards to the crying AND sleep deprivation… but what I’ve found, is that it actually gets more challenging in different ways at each new stage and that most babies don’t sleep through the night until well after a year old. But that WE get better at dealing with it all which doesn’t make it any less challenging in my opinion. I am currently thrilled with 5 continuous hours of sleep! And even more thrilled if I can find an extra one or two in there as well. With that said, you my dear, are doing so much better than you think! Braving the subway with your bambino sounds like such a feat! It was months and months before I’d even take Daphne on a car ride alone. Even now, I still put off grocery shopping until the weekends with Merp can help out, but outings have gotten a tad bit easier now that she rides in the shopping cart like a little lady. Anyway, I so enjoyed reading this post and related when you said that what you need most is a good night sleep and a yoga class… STORY OF MY LIFE :) Thinking of you friend and hoping you at least get a good nap today so you can store up more energy for your next exciting outing!

    Reply
  3. Davidah

     /  March 11, 2015

    Good for you! If you have a stroller where the baby faces you (we had a Peg Perego where the handle flipped around, so the baby could face you or face out), you might find that you can have just as much interaction, talking and cooing, but it can be easier on your body. (although probably not easier in the city).

    Hope he slept well!

    Davidah

    Reply
  4. Paula

     /  March 11, 2015

    Good for you for getting out! When my son was a baby–and even now that he isn’t–what I found was that on his hardest days, we most needed an outing. A change of scenery can change your whole perspective, and at least if they’re screaming, they’re screaming in different surroundings. :) It was almost always a great (and much-needed) distraction for us both.

    Reply
  5. Awesome! Next time will be easier. It’s so good for both of you to get out like that.
    I had such a hard time with Fiona’s reflux around that age. She’s like a completely different baby when something like that’s bothering her. We had to add another medication on top of prevacid at around 4 months and that helped a ton. Not sure if S would need that though… Hopefully he’ll start to outgrow it soon. I’ve been told tummy time helps build the muscles that surround the upper digestive system. Hang in there.

    Reply
  6. California mom

     /  March 11, 2015

    Wow, that is amazing! I remember just going to Target at that stage was a big ordeal! And really it does get better. Before you know it. Right now it probably feels like it’ll be like this forever but it won’t. Personally I found 9-15 mo the most enjoyable, and you’ll be there soon!

    Reply
  7. Getting out is so important. Im nervous about taking the boys on the MetroNorth for that very reason. Once they start with that guttural grunting that makes them sound like an episode of “the Walking Dead”, it’s inevitable that they will start screaming their heads off. BUt getting outside, and having them watch the world around them has become one of my favorite things!-

    Reply
  8. Michelle

     /  March 11, 2015

    Very proud of you – it takes a lot to just get up and go with an infant!
    My son had absolutely horrible acid reflux and cried just like you described. We eventually went to a pediatrics GI who told us that the dosage of Zantac our pede had given him was way too low. I don’t remember the details (fatigue) but it was something like the pedes give it by weight of the infant while the pedes GI look more at symptoms to determine amount of reflux? Anyway, he almost quadrupled the dose and I swear my son slept for 7 hours the very next night. He wasn’t a totally new kid, but the endless/soul-crushing crying ended. You might want to look into that. Also, we would occasionally line his bottle with Mylanta that soothed his tummy while he ate.
    Good luck and keep your adventurous spirit!!!

    Reply
  9. I have all these great plans for getting out and about when Chalupa arrives, and yet I have no idea if any of them are at all realistic. It’s so important to get out and get some stimulation outside of your house…good for you for pushing through! I’m sure it was worth it for both of you.

    Reply
  10. Rachel

     /  March 12, 2015

    Took me months to get comfortable with solo trips. My anxiety combined with sleep deprivation made it to overwhelming. My husband was the one who took her out developing systems for trains and busses. I took lessons from him. Now she is a toddler who has started tantrums but at least I am less phased by them. And anxiety meds and sleep helps me too.

    Reply

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