Last Friday, when Thea was four weeks old, I bought this journal. I had been meaning to start a journal to keep track of all of her daily changes and developments, and to have something to give to her so that she could know what her first year was like (and to remind myself).
(I must confess that I did not come up with this idea on my own. I have just started reading Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions, where she journals her son's first year. And when I say I have just started reading it, that's exactly where I am - I've just gotten through the introduction.)
On Saturday afternoon, I sat down and started to write. Having missed her first four weeks, I filled several pages catching up on milestones of her first days. I promised to backtrack and fill in the details of my pregnancy, her birth, and her time in the NICU. I felt I was off to a good start.
Over the next few days, I picked up the journal several times. Just as quickly, I put it down again.
Things had been tough.
I didn't know what to say.
The only things I could think of to write about went something like this:
Today was another tough day. You spent much of the day screaming and crying. And please believe me, you weren't the only one in tears.
You wake up screaming, no matter day or night or how long it has been since your last meal. I think it must be very jarring for you to move from dreamland to the world of the awake. I wish that there is something I could do to ease this transition for you, but even holding you tight in my arms doesn't seem to help.
We spent most of today trying to work on breastfeeding. This has been very challenging for us. For the past few days, I have wanted to give up. It is almost unbearable for me to know that I am part of the reason you are crying - knowing that giving you a bottle or nursing with a nipple shield would settle you down, but not doing it. It's a fine balance between stretching so we can grow and learn together and stretching so far that we break.
To top it off, you must be going through a growth spurt, because you are insatiable. We will try to nurse for hours and I think surely you must be getting enough, yet you scream for more no matter how hard I try. I've been having to give you a bottle with nearly every feeding. This seems to be the only thing that will settle you down.
You also scream bloody murder during every diaper change, or whenever I need to change your clothes (which is quite often because you are quite the spitter). Some days, I feel like all you do is scream and sleep. It breaks my heart that I can't make things easier for you. Please believe me when I say that I'm trying the best I can.
I love you with all my heart.
This isn't quite what I imagined I would want to write in this journal. It's certainly not what I originally had in mind for my daughter to read on those journal pages.
But it is exactly where we are.
So maybe this is what she will end up reading - the down and dirty, undisguised truth.
Maybe this is what I really need to remember.
Because while I'd like to simply celebrate each day's triumphs, the truth is that our days are filled with hills and valleys, with frustration as well as joy. After all, we're just getting to know each other.
And as tough as some days are, I cherish the process of us learning together. And I think I'd like to remember these days just as they are; I'd like to remember us just as we are.