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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

Comments

  1. Holy crap. I could have written a similar story two weeks ago. After hours of being unable to soothe our ten week old normally chipper baby, my entire being was ready to explode. That escalated into self bashing (i am her mother, i should know what to do!) which changes to extreme guilt over “failing” my child, which just makes me feel even more frazzled. When my wonderfully infinitely patient hubby got home to this hurricane, i gave him the baby, bit hit head off, went upstairs, screamed and cried inti my pillow and took a two hour nap. When i woke up, everything was just fine. Baby was happy, hubby was playing with her, and i felt sooo much better having had my meltdown and getting it out.

    I feel you, momma!

  2. OMG… this was me just about a half hour ago. my lil guy cried for over 40 minutes straight. both me and the BF tried EVERYTHING he wanted nothing to do with us but he was SO tired because he refused his nap that he just couldnt stop. it was heartbreaking and frustrating and i totally feel you! this was after he was up at 4,430,5,6-8,10 this morning and only fell asleep at midnight so we already had a very rough start to the day.(he normally sleeps 11-7 consistently). HUGS! i hope it gets better for you! as i finish my lil one just woke up and he was only out for maybe 15 minutes so im dreading this continued lack of sleep 🙁

  3. I commend you on keeping your cool until you got home and your husband took Jack! I’m not a Mom yet but I love your views on parenting and am looking into attachment parenting once I do become a parent. Kudos for not being a “Cry it out” person also, I’ve never felt this approach was very good for baby or Mama for that matter. Your honesty and insight are refreshing! Hope you and Jack have a much better day than before his nap 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing. We’ve all certainly been there and I can’t say I’ve kept my shit together as well as I would have liked every time.

    • Your words are such a welcome read. It’s nice to know I am not the ONLY mother of a child who freaks the hell out in a car seat. Everyone I know is like ” really…MY baby loves the car…he would only fall asleep in his car seat…blah blah… I want to punch them when ever they say this. I don’t feel like most people understand why I have to take the bus or why I wont go very many places…. my previous 3 babies did not have the issues that my newest LO has with the car. Thank you so much for posting this.

  5. Totally have been there… On a side note, does anyone in your family get car sick? Does he cry in the car seat or is it just when the car is in motion? Out of my four girls, one gets crazy car sick & when she was little we never went anywhere because I couldn’t stand hearing her cry (her personality is that she goes from 0 to I am dying in about 4 seconds. She is almost five & her crying still sets me in crazy frantic mode) Anyway, Just wanted to put that out there & let you know that I love reading your blog & fb! 🙂

  6. Thank you for posting this. I have also been there. My husband is a firefighter who works a lot of night shifts and sometimes 24 hour shifts. My daughter is now 6 months old and there have been a few times where I’ve been alone with her in the middle of the night and she is upset and inconsolable. It is so scary and I feel so helpless. At those times I had tried all my usual “go-to” methods and nothing works. I have had to lay her down and go to the bathroom and collect myself. Sometimes I cry or scream or slam a door. I feel bad that she has to cry alone for those few minutes by herself but I need to get my shit together in order to help her. I’m lucky that those nights aren’t frequent (these days she is up wanting to eat or play-but I will take that over a melt down any day). I applaud you for staying calm till you got home. Your a strong woman. I enjoy reading your posts. This one made me feel like “I’m not the only one.”

  7. Thank you for writing this. My son seems similar to yours. He cries/screams himself to sleep at every single nap and bedtime, no matter what I do. I’ve tried every suggestion several AP Mom’s have suggested and nothing works.I also find myself thinking, “What’s the difference? If he’s going to scream in my arms, he might as well scream in bed.” But then I just keep doing what I’m doing until he falls asleep and I think, “Ok, I made it through one more nap today”. It’s hard. And I find myself getting mad at my son! As if he is doing it on purpose. I feel like such a lousy Mom when I get that frustrated. There have been several times when I give my son to my husband and just want to punch the wall.Or I do put him down for a few minutes while I go to the bathroom and talk myself down in the mirror. Then, I take a deep breath, and go back in and care for him. Then I’m eaten away by guilt the rest of the night because what kind of Mom feels that way? Apparently, I’m not the only one and it feels so good to know that. Thank you for your honesty!

  8. Just wanted to say thanks – your blog owns up to motherhood in a way that so many seem in denial about. Yes, you have to “be a mother”, but some women make it seem like being a mother means letting go of being human. Emotions are part of the coaster ride, up and down.

    So again, thanks so much for your incredible honesty!

  9. I just want to be your next door neighbor so that we can laugh and cry about this mess that is called parenting together.
    I have a 6 month old girl who screams in her car seat like demons are eating her face. It scares the crap out of me but I have no choice, I’m living in rural Vermont right now and am a single mom so if we’re gonna have food I have to go get it.
    I have wanted to be a mom for years and years, and I love this little girl more than everything else in the world put together times the sun. but. It’s really fucking hard. She doesn’t like to sleep. Usually she’s up every hour all night long. So I don’t get more than 30 minutes of sleep in a row.
    slowly going insane.
    but aside from the car seat, and the no sleeping, and the fact that if anyone other than myself and my parents (who we had to move in w/ b/c I lost my job when I had the baby) hold her she starts to scream, she’s amazing.
    really just the great love of my life.
    much love to you on your journey from a fellow attachment/breast-feeding/not-gonna-let-her-cry-it-out momma

    Jennifer

  10. Wanted to add that I thought of you all morning while my almost 20 month old screamed at us for no apparent reason. 5am to 6:30 was a huge mess of tears on both our parts, screaming on both our parts, and the bewilderment of two tired parents. He finally ate a banana and settled down for the most part only to start it up again an hour later. I was sure something hurt at that point, he had to at least have a head ache from the screaming, so I finally tried Tylenol and he got back to his normal self. So freaking hard when they can’t tell you what is wrong! Did a lot of praying for patience and compassion. Tomorrow will be a better day.

  11. This is the second time I cry reading your posts, because I too have a son who isn’t easy to soothe and must be carried constantly. Your in my prayers, and thoughts Mama. It is very comforting to hear that I’m also not the only one that goes through this with my LO, because all other women I talk to have quiet babies and tell me they have never experienced this, or that while I think (bullshit). I must enjoy the time we have now, especially when we’re okay and having a good day because one day I will look back on it and think where did the time go and cry my eyes out for my baby boy to be a baby again.

  12. Abby. Your an awesome mom! Breathe easy… The fact that you take a bus so your baby doesn’t have to be frustrated is amazing! You did all the right things… From one MSW to another, I couldn’t have done it better!

  13. Sounds just like my daughter when she was younger. She had this uncanny ability to scream like a possessed wilderbeast for HOURS on end & NOTHING stopped her. I remember bouncing with her on the edge of my bed, late one night & just visualizing myself putting her down then smashing my head through my glass window!!! She grew out of it, our persistent love pays off in the end, they eventually learn that their needs are met without having to have a shitfit 🙂 motherhood is the hardest job, especially for us that always put our bub first!!

  14. I have five children so every stares at us all the time. I have a four year old with sensory processing disorder so she has huge meltdowns over small things (like a tag on her shirt). This can happen in the middle of a store or church or anywhere, anytime. I just want to tell her that she is four and stop screaming but I know it’s not her fault. It kills me to see her losing it like that and it’s so hard to deal with. She is the middle child so I have two younger ones to watch while trying to control her meltdown. I don’t see an end any time soon but I love her and I just act as calm as I can. Even if I’m having a mega meltdown inside, I look calm and collected. It’s hard but I know it won’t last forever!

  15. I could of write this exact post. My daughter is just like Jack, down to the screaming in a carseat. I don’t get it. Once those rude girls are mothers they’ll understand the frustration of an inconsolable baby/toddler.

  16. Thank you for sharing! This is me more often than not. Nice to know someone can relate!!

  17. I wish I could have read this 9 years ago. My oldest son was famous for off the chart melt downs. He had one at the mall one time when he was 4 years old. I had to carry him kicking and screaming to my car on the other side of the building. I finally got tired and put him down and screamed and walked the whole way to my car. Needless to say, everyone knew my son was NOT happy that day at the mall! It’s such an isolating experience when your child breaks down in public. You feel like people looking on couldn’t possibly understand what you’re going through. ((hugs)) to you and your little one.

  18. I am so glad I read this post this morning, I really needed to be reminded that I’m not alone and see the words of encouragement from all you fellow moms. I’m a stay at home first-time mama of a beautiful 3 month old boy who has completely stolen my heart. But. He has recently started waking up every hour during the night. After a sleepless night, he was overly tired and screaming this morning. I felt like a zombie walking around with him in my arms, trying to soothe him. He didn’t want the boob, and I was eventually crying right along with him. I found myself wishing that he was formula fed so I could just drop him off at grandma’s for the day and not have to worry about pumping, and really truly get a break. Now I look down at my sleeping baby and know I want only the best for him, even when it means suffering through some meltdowns of my own in order to give him what he needs. After reading this post and finding strength in knowing there are other moms who lose their shit sometimes, and knowing that having a little meltdown doesn’t make me a bad mom, I am encouraged to keep nursing and giving my boy the best I can give him. Thank you for your honesty, moms!

  19. This is why I love you. It’s like you knew what my day was like yesterday (obviously you did because you just wrote about it) and you wrote a post to remind me that I’m not alone. I love your posts! Thanks for letting me know I’m to the only one and it’s okay to have mommy melt downs.

  20. Lena's Mom says

    I know the feeling all too well. I think I may have far less patience than you, though. I reach my breaking point and I can’t go on anymore. I feel so alone with my daughter all the time, even when my partner is home. He has no clue what to do with her or how to calm her down. He hands her off to me! After hours of her screaming and me begging, pleading, and sometimes even screaming back (like that ever helps with anyone!), I get to a point where I must lay her down and let her cry it out because I too must cry it out. These things usually happen when I am home alone with her. It’s almost always late at night when we are both very tired and my patience is at it’s thinnest. I almost always end up saying that I made a mistake and that I am not meant to be a mother. I think overall I am a decent mother (my daughter clearly has it better than her older half siblings from her father’s former relationship do), but I’m not the Super Mom I feel like other women are. Even reading this, I feel like I drop the ball by letting her cry alone so that I can break down and cry. I can’t go to my partner and say, “here, you take her.” I feel alone and trapped most of the time when she’s extremely upset and my reaction to my feelings always makes me feel like a bad mother. Somehow reading this just makes me feel even more like a screw up.

  21. Thank you so very much for writing this post! So often I feel as if I’m a “horrible mother” for feeling like I can’t keep my own baby happy and I’m mentally loosing my shit… Reading this was empowering, proving that I am not alone and I am not a horrible mother… 🙂

  22. Oh my word, we must’ve had the same babies. They must be related. My lover, 5 months, hates the car. We cancelled Christmas because it is terrible. Like extreme, drench himself In sweat, convulse, extreme.
    We’re taking a train, 6 hours, to Chicago to visit family, just so we don’t have to sit in the car.

    What’s worse is people constantly asking if it’s the buckle, the seat, riding backwards, or if he’s too hot or too cold… It’s because I am not holding him. That’s all. And, “I have never heard of a baby not liking the car.” So glad to hear I’m not alone!

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