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Meltdown of the Century: His and Mine

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, babywearing her son.

Today we visited the chiropractor as we always do two times per week. Today I made an appointment for earlier in the day since the afternoon appointment had started to cut into Jacks naps. His naps are so erratic that it is hard to be consistent with a time of day for this appointment. I want him to get his sleep when he needs it and I feel like I am always scrambling from day to day to make this happen.

We arrived late since the bus schedules reflect Jack’s nap schedule. We stood in the rain for 20 minutes waiting for the damn thing. We made our way there. Jack was adjusted and we headed home. I could tell Jack was tired. He started to whine on the 1st bus (we take 4 buses; 2 there and 2 back; so this was technically the 3rd bus). It was crowded so I dreaded a meltdown. I danced back and forth to try and sway him to sleep.

We got off and got onto the 2nd (technically 4th) bus. He started to cry. When he is tired he arches his back and flops around like a maniac. He escalated to full on wailing. It was crowded again and I felt my stomach sink. We were not even close to being home. We just got on this damn bus. He was going to start this shit already? I tried to give him boobie. This worked for a few minutes and then he cried and wailed and flopped around again. I tried to give him some snacks. This worked for a few minutes and then he escalated to full on freak show again.

Everyone on the bus stares at you. Some give you a dirty look, some a pity look, some people laugh at you and some ignore. There were 2 teenage girls laughing at me. I fantasized about grabbing them by their bad hair and bopping their heads together Three Stooges style and then karate kicking them in the face one at a time Ralph Macchio style. Since I had Jack I figured this was not a good time for a physical altercation so I did the next best thing. I moved to a seat right next to them. I continued to talk to Jack as soothing as I could “Mama’s here, everything is going to be OK, Mama’s here.” Now I added “I know the bus is terrible, full of such rude and horrible people, I know, I want to get off this disgusting bus as well.” Yes, I did that. I was desperate for some way to lash out at the world for my frustrating situation.

Jack amped it up even more if that is possible. I had to stand up and bounce around. He flailed his body around nearly tossing himself out of the Ergo. I had to constantly watch to make sure he didn’t bang his head on the poles. He was tired, overly tired. So tired now that he could not calm down to fall asleep. He sniffled and his body shook of crying so long. I was dying. I was just fucking dying right there on the bus. I couldn’t get off, we needed to get home. I couldn’t calm him down not matter what I did. We take the bus because he cries so hard in the car seat that he doesn’t breathe. I started to think “what the fuck is the difference!? He is freaking out on the bus! We might as well just take the car and get it over with faster!” Deep down I know that the difference is that I am holding him and even though is crying and upset he is not as stressed out as he would be if I was not holding him. His behavior in the car seat is extreme. More extreme than I have ever heard from other mothers. It’s not an option, but, holy shit, when I am upset I start to lash out at even Jack. I bit my tongue from wanting to yell “stop it, Jack!!”

We were the stars of the bus now. This crowded bus. I tried so hard to shove my boob in his mouth, shove snacks in his mouth, I started to act corny in front of the mirror to try to entertain him; nothing worked! He was so far gone now. Our stop finally came and we got off. He kept crying. Not even getting outside in the cold air helped. I ran home. I wrapped my arms around his body and head and I softly jogged the 3 blocks home. Now I needed to get inside before I lost my shit right here on the street.

I walked in the door, tossed Jack into my husband’s arms and made a beeline for the bedroom. I shut the door, buried my head into the robe that was hanging at the back of it and screamed as loud as I could over and over. As I screamed I pounded my balled up fists on the door. Over and over I screamed and pounded. Until I couldn’t scream and pound anymore. I walked back out into the living room and said “I guess we have to go to the emergency room because he must be broken.” My husband reminded me that he is tired and he took him to the other room. My husband was able to rock him to sleep.

My hands are red and swollen as I type this. My throat is sore. I suppose if my husband wasn’t here I would have sucked it up even longer. I would have put him in the ring sling and danced around. Maybe turned some music on and sang a song. I would have battled my brain with thoughts about how I can’t do this, there must be something seriously wrong, I just need to punch a window and all the rest of the things that go on in a frustrated person’s mind. I am sure he would have fallen asleep eventually. As a last resort we could have lied down together and I could have hugged and snuggled and whispered to him while he cried. I don’t practice Cry It Out, but my baby doesn’t always stop crying no matter what I do. I try to meet his needs. I do what I can in the moment with the resources I have to keep my shit together. If I need to lose my shit I do it safely as I did today. I keep Jack close, I talk as calmly as I can, I have never left him alone. That just doesn’t work for me. I try to take out my aggression on people I don’t like by fantasizing about beating them up. I also try to remember those things like “this won’t go on forever, he is just tired, I can handle this, I need to keep my shit together, I love him, he is good baby, I am a Mom.”

I am not trying to give a lesson on how to keep your cool. I am certainly and clearly not qualified to do that as I was anything but cool today. I just wanted to share my day with someone and let you all know that you are not alone in this terribly frustrating journey of parenting. I am real. I lose my fucking mind often.

Abby Theuring, MSW