Saturday, March 12, 2011

Treading water

Swimmers have always impressed me.  I'm not a huge fan of the Summer Olympics, but I watched the year that Michael Phelps kicked serious butt.  Part of me wishes I had swimming lessons when I was small because I can't hold my breath under water without pinching my nose.  When I was in elementary school we spent our summers at the pool.  I was still pasty pale because the pool was indoors but I shouldn't complain because it probably saved me from some melanoma.  Anywho. . . I loved swimming.  I loved how light I felt in the water because feeling light was a rare but welcomed sensation for me.  Janell and I would strap on our goggles and practice underwater cartwheels and handstands.  We'd swim as close to the bottom as we could and pretend we were mermaids or Steven-eating sharks, and it was grand!  But I couldn't hold my breath without holding my nose.  Not cool.  So, my mom bought me a nose plug.  

My nose pug was marvelous, giving me all the two handed freedom I desired.  After a few hours my nose would begin to hurt and large sores formed above my nostrils.  Also not cool.  Who was I trying to impress though?  No one.  I was already bullied during the school year and boys hated me so I continued to sacrifice the beauty of my nose to our water games because it was worth it.

Then, I grew up a little.  Janell and I didn't play together like we use to.  I was embarrassed by my hot pink nose plug and I started becoming a little more self-conscious of my nose.  And like most teenagers I made the shift from playing at the pool to laying out on the hot lawn chairs sacrificing my melanoma-free skin to the sun in a desperate attempt to not be so. . . reflective.  I was grateful for mild-mannered friends who were too polite for wild splashing or dunking because I still couldn't hold my breath.

So, I never learned.  Paul tried to teach me one summer, but I nearly drowned a dozen times and needed mouth-to-mouth ;) . . . just kidding, I made that last part up. . . I got water up my nose repeatedly, which burns, and as I felt tears of frustration pooling at the corners of my eyes I declared I was giving up for the day.  When I said 'day,' what I meant was 'life.'

Now I'm three months into motherhood with a child that won't sleep.  I've read books and talked to other mothers to learn of their tips and tricks and I've tried them all!  And while Andrea is actually sleeping through the night pretty consistently now, it is only because she won't nap all day and cries and wails and sobs from about seven to ten o'clock in sheer exhaustion until she poops out during her final feeding.  I look forward to the mornings when she is cheerful and happy and I dread the afternoon and evenings as the smiley baby disappears.  It's like she can't fall asleep or stay asleep unless she is in my arms nursing.  I spent a few days being the human pacifier when she was a couple weeks old and I won't do it again.  What do I do to help this child?

I'm so exhausted, upset, ridiculously frazzled, and discouraged that everyday feels like I'm treading water.  But without knowing how to hold my breath or swim it mostly just feels like I'm drowning.

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