I'm not usually an angry person, which makes it even worse. Most of this is exhaustion, I'm absolutely sure of it. I'm just tapped out. The reserves, such as they were, are gone.
When folks ask me how I'm doing these days, my typical answer is, "Things are really good! Except for sleep. Or lack thereof," I'll shrug. "And you know how it is -- sleep affects everything else." It's honest, and more acceptable than screaming, "I'm so tired I'd do almost anything for a full night's sleep!"
BB continues to wake every 2 to 3 hours throughout the night, on a good night, and she rarely naps for more than 40 minutes at a stretch. Her fifth and sixth teeth are coming in together (both on top, which seems to cause more teething issues than the lower gum) and she's on the cusp or walking, so the double whammy of developmental stuff and pain is just making it impossible for her to settle and stay settled. Plus I think she's on a growth spurt. Wouldn't ya know it.
We are still co-sleeping, though BB naps and starts off the night in a portable crib in our room. S does what he can, bless him, but I dread the nighttime. Just thinking about it makes me furious sometimes.
I've been re-reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution, parts of which have brought me to tears. "Even the most connected and loving parent can get pushed to anger by severe sleep deprivation" (p. 208). Yup.
I'm so exhausted I can't even gather up the energy to start implementing her solutions. I know that many of her tips helped with BJ, and I take an enormous amount of comfort from the fact that he is now sleeping through the night. I really don't want to get to the point where CIO sounds like a good idea for BB, but I find it interesting that even The No-Cry Sleep Solution has a section that is essentially a gentler, kinder version of crying it out. I must have skimmed this with BJ, or I just forgot about it.
I have to say, that section seems more and more to be speaking to me: "If you are ready to give up, if you are geared up to toss this book and all my ideas out the window and just let your baby cry it out, then this section is written for you. Dr. Sears calls the place where you are 'the danger zone' and he warns that if your baby's nighttime routine is making you angry, and making you resent your baby, something must change" (pp. 210-211).
Resentment? Well.... not sure I'm ready to slap that label on things just yet.
But angry, definitely.
I was feeling horribly guilty about that anger -- getting more and more angry, because I was angry. Talk about a feedback loop. I couldn't seem to stop it. I'd either push down what I was feeling, which meant it would pop back up later when I was least able to deal with it, or I'd allow myself to be pissed but feel wretched for doing so.
Then I started reading the title for my playgroup's next book discussion: Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles. She points out, "It's important to know that anger is often a second emotion. Before it, you've usually experienced a "first feeling," such as frustration, disappointment, fear or sadness." (p. 46)
Seems I'm full of "first feelings" these days. And I'm too tired to think about them clearly, much less deal with them adequately, so they just build up. She also explains the physiological basis of anger, which I found oddly comforting:
"Wrestling with our own anger means taking on Mother Nature. Anger isn't just about free-floating emotions. It's physiological. Our bodies are actually finely tuned 'reaction machines.' When confronted with threatening or frustrating situations, stress hormones surge through our body, triggering the brain to be ready for 'fight or flight.'
If you pay close attention, you can actually feel the stress hormones collecting in your body. The reaction is cumulative. Wake up in the morning thinking about all the things you have to do, and the stress hormones start to flow. Your teeth and hands clench. Neck muscles squeeze your spine. Shoulders tighten. Arms ache. Your body is on alert. The gates are open.... You can feel the tension rising [when] you urge [your child] to hurry. It's when she asks you to help her find her notebook that you lose it. Suddenly, seemingly without warning, her simple request turns you into a shrieking shrew. The stress hormones have built to volcanic proportions. You blow.
....You've been emotionally hijacked. Your stress hormones have created what's called 'neural static.' You can't think straight, much less see this situation as an opportunity to connect with your child and teach her how to work with you. Instead you react instinctively and reflexively." (pp. 37-38)
So "neural static" has become a mantra of sorts this week. When I'm about to lose it, I try to pause and retune the mental radio station. It doesn't always work, and sometimes when it does the static is replaced with blaring, furious, dissonant bass. I've not yet managed to find the station that plays calming New Age elevator music. But it's a start.