Thursday, July 2, 2015

Functional Exhaustion

Everyone tells you that you'll be exhausted when you have a newborn.  They talk about interrupted sleep and nights of no sleep at all, and you sort of get to mentally prepare yourself for that.  It was pretty hard for me because my daughter would wake up to eat every two hours, which meant two hours after she started her bottle, not two hours from when she finished it.  She often would take 45 minutes to an hour to finish a bottle, which meant that by the time I was laying her down again I'd be lucky to have 30 minutes of sleep before she'd be awake for another bottle.  It got to the point where I'd hear her cry and have actual literal panic attacks.  The first few weeks were pretty rough there.  We fell into a bit of a rhythm after that, but she didn't make the first two weeks very easy.

The thing is, after you get out of that newborn stage, everyone seems to think that the exhaustion ends.  You get to sleep at night, so you are all good again.  I think that might be the case if I was a stay at home mom who just had to worry about keeping home life together, but since I'm a working mom, it seems like the exhaustion just keeps on going.  Sure, my sleep isn't (usually) interrupted, but I work a demanding job that exhausts me mentally and sometimes emotionally during the day, and then I go home and I just keep rolling through the list of work that I have to do to keep life running.

On any given day my life looks like this:
6:15 - wake up and get dressed for work
6:30 - get baby medicated, packed up and ready to go to grandma's
6:40 - Drive to grandma's and drop off baby
7:05 - Arrive back home.  Walk dogs.  Make husband's lunch.  Fill my water bottle.
7:25 - Leave house
7:50 - Drop husband off at work
8:00 - Arrive at work and put out fires all day long for clients.
4:30 - Leave work (notice there is no lunch break between 8:00 and 4:30)
4:45 - Pick husband up from work
5:00 - Drive to pick up baby
5:40 - Arrive to pick up baby
6:00 - Arrive at home, unpack baby, medicate her.
6:05 - Do dishes, which typically includes unloading the dishwasher that was run the night before, washing any hand wash dishes that didn't get done after dinner, dishes people used during the day and didn't wash or unload the dishwasher to be able to re-load their dishes in, and washing bottles so that I can feed the baby.
6:20 - Feed baby
6:35 - Put baby in jumper and start dinner
7:05 - Finish dinner, serve to family
7:25 - Begin cleaning up after dinner.  Load dishwasher, wash dishes, wipe down counters.
7:45 - Entertain baby, who is now fussy due to being tired and near bed time.
8:00 - Start bath for baby (this is only on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the week)
8:30 - Final bottle of the night (typically fed to baby by my husband, but I usually make it and get her prepped for it).  While bottle is being given, I often check laundry to make sure we don't need to do a load of baby clothes, refill diaper bag with supplies, check clothing in bag to make sure it's weather appropriate, get everything prepped for next day.
8:45 - Baby goes to bed.  Sometimes this is just putting her in and closing the door, sometimes it's a bit more complicated because she rolls over and cries about being rolled over so you have to go roll her back.
9:00 - Baby is typically completely asleep.  I can shower.
9:30 - Sit down for some down time to watch tv for a bit.

So, basically, at no point from 6:15 a.m. until 9:30 do I have ANY down time.  It's like running a marathon all day long, every single day.  And this isn't even to imply that my husband does nothing.  He helps out.  He feeds her the bedtime bottle.  He entertains her while I cook if she's unhappy in her jumper.  He walks the dogs after work and before bed.  But, this is still my day all day every day.  Most days, I just wish for more help, because by the time my daughter goes to sleep I realize I've spent a total of maybe 15 minutes with her since I got home from work.  There isn't time for reading stories or playing with her.  And, this is just my day to day which leaves out SO MANY things around the house that still need to be done.  We have 4 pets.  Those pets shed like crazy.  On an ideal level, we need to vacuum daily.  On a realistic level, it happens maybe once a week when I get so disgusted by having the baby covered in dog fur whenever she touches something that I can't handle it anymore and vacuum everything.  Dusting happens on weekends, typically if we're having people over and I'm embarrassed for them to see the dust layers in the house.  My husband does laundry on Sundays, aside from any baby laundry I may wash during the week.  My bathroom is a nightmare.  I've needed to reorganize my pantry for over a month now because everything is a giant mess.  My husband has kept up with yard work, but has had no help with some of the stuff we've wanted to get done because I'm busy trying to keep things running on the inside of the house.  Our basement needs mopped daily due to a sick cat, but that doesn't get done.  And when we get to weekends, I'm just tired.  Like, deep down into my bones tired.  I avoid being home on weekends, because being home makes me feel like I should be working on projects and more cleaning, but after a week of all of that, I just don't want to spend my weekend that way.  I feel like I spend a week working non-stop and then I get to spend a weekend doing more of the same and it's just really exhausting.  I also hate working on cleaning and organizing if it's just me doing it.  I feel like the job is too big to do alone most of the time so I'm discouraged before I even start.  It's so much more motivating to have someone to help, because it makes it feel like you could realistically make some progress.

There's also this piece of me that has a hard time because I feel like all of the things I do throughout the week are to take care of the people around me.  I keep the kitchen clean because everyone needs clean surfaces to eat off of or to prepare food on. I cook dinner to take care of my family.  I feed the baby to take care of my family.  I do dishes so I can cook dinner again later to care for my family.  I spend each day taking care of everyone around me and sometimes I wish I had that same sense of being taken care of.  Sometimes I wish that I didn't have to worry about just not doing something one day because someone would see it didn't get done and step in to do it.  When my husband was working late one night on a project for one of his classes, I knew he wasn't going to get to finish the laundry he started.  I finished all of it, folded it, ironed his work clothes and did everything short of putting everything away because it was late and the baby was sleeping and I didn't want to wake her up since she was still in our room.  No one asked me to do that.  But I saw that he wasn't going to be able to, so I took care of it.  I didn't ask for any special praise or credit or anything.  I just did it to help him, so he'd know he was taken care of when he couldn't get to things himself.  Quite often, I don't feel like people notice when I'm struggling and no matter how many times I say "I'm tired", it doesn't seem to sink in that it would be nice to have some help.  When people step in and help out here and there, like loading the dishwasher of all of the cooking prep dishes while I plate up food, I ALWAYS thank them.  I always go out of my way to let them know it's appreciated.  But it doesn't happen very often.  I've even outright asked for help.  We've asked my older daughter multiple times to handle dishes because she needs to contribute to the household more, and that works for a week or so, and then she just stops doing it.  I come home to her dishes all over the counter, or in the sink, and I clean up after her because clearly asking for help isn't actually a lasting and effective thing.  Saying it's her responsibility doesn't change the situation, and I can't just leave things until she notices and has to do them because I have to have those items to be able to cook and provide for my family.  I can't just leave them filthy because then I can't feed people.

So, that leaves me here where I am.  Functionally exhausted.  I can still get through my day, and everyone still gets taken care of, but I feel like I get worn a little thinner all the time.  I feel like I get closer to breaking.