my friend james chatted me a few minutes ago and asked, how are you? and i said, honestly, that i feel like two people, split down the middle.
my little girl is sick. not a moment after i published my last post the other day, h let me know that jude had a fever pushing 103 degrees and she was taking her to the pediatrician. i promptly left the office and joined my girls. jude was diagnosed with what we’d already figured: another ear infection, as well as a double eye infection. she’s now on as gentle an antibiotic as they could offer, as well as eye drops and herbal ear drops (which smell disturbingly like garlic). tylenol has kept her fever in check, and two days later, she is on the mend.
i stayed home from work to be with my baby yesterday. despite the pain of her ear infection, she has maintained her sweet, squealy disposition. she’s simply more clingy and a tad more whiny. the hardest part of her illness–for us, anyway–is the fact that she can’t/won’t sleep unless she is attached to a person; especially a person like me with the milk. this has made for rough nights, wherein h sleeps in the other room with j snuggled up next to her, and gets up every 2 hours to soothe a crying baby. she’s taken this on by herself because i need enough sleep to be safely able to drive myself to work and function.
so. today, i returned to work, and as i prepared to leave this morning, i found myself achingly aware of this dual identity i’m taking on. i had to pry my emotional fingers from my baby as i left the house. my maternal instinct is strong and painful, and my body told me over and over to stay with my sick child. in order to keep myself sane, i did what i do every single work day anymore: i switched off my inner mommy. by the time i arrived at work, i had reverted back to my pre-motherhood self: ready to work, to focus, to find ways to be promoted and earn more money.
on most days, this identity shift happens seamlessly. i keep myself from dwelling on my daughter, and remain ridiculously present tense. but today, i am painfully aware of it, and am grappling to find some sort of middle ground: a place where i can be both mother and worker simultaneously. right now, emotional survival dictates an either/or mentality.
last week, i enjoyed a four day weekend to celebrate my birthday. big jude flew in from nashville, and friends gathered in our home for a great party. my newly-married sister, e, visited with her husband (and baby bump), and surprise of all surprises, my sister p showed up at my door with them. (she’d surprised e as well; she’d come to be her witness at their justice of the peace wedding.) i was so excited to celebrate in such a lovely, meaningful way, and was grateful for four uninterrupted days with little j. there would be very few bottles, lots of nursing, and days of simply being with my daughter.
i didn’t anticipate how hard it would be for me to transition from worker to mama. jude and i lounged together on idyllic mornings, and though she was in my arms and nursing, i felt disconnected from her. i kept reminding myself to be present with my little girl, to drink her in, and every time i’d get somewhere near that place of mindfulness, my body would shut down, go numb, and my mind would feel distracted.
this disconnect continued during my otherwise wonderful birthday party. granted, this was the first big get together thrown in my honor that i’ve experienced as a mother. my brain hurt by the end of it; trying to be present both as birthday girl and mama was exhausting. i felt like i couldn’t juggle it all; i either wanted to sit in a corner with my baby and watch the action without interruption, or i wanted to be “off duty” and yukking it up with my friends. there is a balance to be found in order to do both, and so i experienced neither. i simply felt pulled and dizzy.
so now my little girl is sick, and i am not with her. i am so very happy that h is taking care of her, and i know that jude feels secure and comforted. but i am sitting here at work, feeling very lost. if there were a thesis to this ramble, it’s just that: i’m feeling very lost.
and i think i’ll end this post here, instead of continuing to ramble, when i’m not sure where i’m going with all of this.