45 Comments

  1. I feel your pain. For some reason the only time my daughter wasn’t screaming was if I was holding her and bouncing. I actually went out an bought one of those yoga ball office chairs so I could at least check email and blog a little while I held her. It is pretty hard to type and bounce at the same time. I took a lot of photos too. All of our photos of her from 0-4 months are of her sleeping. I laugh because I can’t remember ever sleeping. It is so important to find those moments of sanity. I’m glad you did! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Susan, is is just an absolutely stunning tribute to motherhood! Thank God for cameras, blogs & these little windows into each other’s lives to give us all a few laughs & a little sanity. I am so there with you! Happy to find a kindred “perfectly imperfect” soul – this is so how I think of my children. When others (or we!) expect perfection, it’s so amazing to re-learn about acceptance & belonging & what love really is. Hopefully we can teach them, too. Here’s my rambling post on the same topic, from September 2012:
    http://theeasternbay.com/our-first-family-vacation-from-sleep/

  3. Oh my gosh, I just want to give you a huge freaking hug. My daughter had colic, so I experienced exactly what you’re saying, but only for three months. And that was enough to break me. You are a strong, strong person and an excellent mother. And those pictures are adorable.

    • Susan Maccarelli

      Thanks Sara! I’m sure those 3 months seemed like a lifetime. So far those were the hardest times. People keep warning me about teenagers, but I will judge for myself when I get there!

  4. courtneyconover

    Okay, reading the term “postpartum watch list” led to an involuntary bout of laughter that was louder than it should have been. But, trust, ain’t shit funny about what you went through. I know this. My (nervous) laughter came from a place of, “I’ve been there, too.”

    No, I didn’t experience the screaming; thankfully I dodged that bullet with both children. But I do remember that moment(s) when I realized that I do not have this motherhood thing by the balls, and I was overcome with frustration.

    Beautiful post, Susan. This was awesome.

    • Susan Maccarelli

      You are so right that things are funnier in hindsight whether it is a few hours or years.Thanks for the kind words.

  5. Such an amazing post, Susan. I LOVE your honesty and how you handles a really rough (and crazy) situation! It also speaks volumes to how we assume everyone has it “together” based on their Facebook posts, tweets, instagrams, etc. when really, I’m sure lots of other mom’s have struggled with similar situations! Cheers to YOU for being open and honest about it! I love your blog 🙂 So glad I met you through Virginia Bloggers!

    • Susan Maccarelli

      Thanks so much Liz. I always think the more perfect and frequent the photos, the more effed up things probably are – haha!

  6. This is so familiar it’s eerie… My daughter was just like this, we called her our Extreme baby because she was – is still, in many ways, at almost 6.

    That first year was excruciating – and as a first time mom, baffling. I’d see those other “regular” babies and wonder what was wrong with mine… It was a long and lonely road in a lot of ways, not to mention utterly exhausting.

    She also freaked out when anyone looked at her or touched her, including family. I often felt like I was making excuses for her… Sometimes I still do. Which makes me sad to admit it.

    Yet she is so much more capable at independence now, and of course so dear to me, with a huge heart and a tremendously sensitive soul.

    Nice to know there are others out there with similar experiences. Thanks for reminding me to love the one I’m with 🙂 and the sleeping photos are truly life saving in those early days.
    -Dana

    • Susan Maccarelli

      I used to have my parents (who saw her every week) come in the house and not make eye contact with her or get to close for like an hour until she warmed up to them and she was a tiny infant. I love ‘extreme baby’!! I used to call mine ‘despicable me’ :o)

  7. I love that the photos of her when she was calm encouraged you! It’s funny how babies can be so different. My last baby sister was the baby who didn’t sleep for the first year of her life. When she was born, the oldest three of us we 15,13, and 12, and Mom had a very difficult recovery so when she didn’t need to be fed, we took a lot of turns of staying up in the night, pacing the halls with the baby-who-never-slept. I figure it was good practice for the future!

    • Susan Maccarelli

      I know – It was like the pretend sweet baby in the photos made me feel better about the screaming banshee that kept canceling out the sweet baby in real life. I can’t imagine helping out with a baby as a teenager – I never even changed a diaper until I had my own kids. Your mom raised good kids if to help her out that much!

  8. Oh, I love this post. First of all, my son screamed his head off all the time and I was also terribly sleep deprived so I hear ya on how hard it is to bond with a baby like that. But your idea of taking pictures to reinforce that she was a happy baby at heart is so smart, wish I’d thought of that. I found babies and early motherhood to be incredibly overwhelming. IT wasn’t until they were older that I finally calmed down a little. And by the way, I absolutely love that picture of your daughter wearing the pink cowboy hat with that very serious look on her face – now that is a child to be reckoned with!

  9. Oh I looooooove this. So so much I could hug you. Parts of this literally gave me chills. I can so relate to your feelings during those LONG months of crying. People in my circles referred to my first as “strong willed” and/or “passionate”. Yeah. Whatever. He was an effing nightmare is what he was. I will never forget those feelings I had after enduring hours of him crying. I was so exhausted. I remember thinking, I’ve made a huge mistake – this SUCKS. Of course, I loved him like oxygen, but I as almost panicked with misery, overlaid with immense guilt for not feeling blissfully happy.

    I get you. and your photo-therapy is brillz!

    Now my sons are 6 and 9yo, and I cherish them like chocolate. But they still drive my ass crazy. LOL.

    Thanks for this brutifully honest post. You rock. OH, and your daughter is Precious!

    • Susan Maccarelli

      Glad you like my blog name – that one came from my mother saying it repeatedly when I was growing up. Although I am not glad to hear your son was a screamer, I am glad to know there are more like me out there! I definitely not a mom who has baby fever — babies are for other people. I enjoy them much more as they get oder and I have yet to have a moment of ‘if only they were babies again!’. Thanks again for the kinds words – so glad you stopped by!

  10. P.S. I adooooore you blog name!! My friend and I were at a boutique once and saw this sign that said, “motherhood is like being pecked to death by chickens” and we laughed SO hard.

  11. Very well said… My son, now 30 mo, was the same and I did the same thing. Between breastfeeding and photos, I think I saved both of our lives. Haha. I’ve got another little baby boy now and it’s amazing how much easier it is when they’re not quite… So much. 😉

    • Susan Maccarelli

      Yes, my second was a lot easier too – partially because he was just easier (and still is) and partially because I probably knew what I was doing and had a higher tolerance for the screaming by then :o) Thanks for visiting!

  12. This is really beautiful. Looking through pictures always helps. On hard days with my kids, I will look at old photos and see things from a bigger perspective. Those early days are so difficult, glad you had the presence of mind in your sleep deprived state to focus on your photos to get you through. What a great mom you are!

  13. What a beautifully written homage to your daughter and your mothering. I had a screamer. Not cholic. Not gas. She just screamed every night until midnight for the first three months of her life. Now she is four and she’s a beautiful, dramatic, sass pot, fierce heartbeat of our family.

    Visiting from SITS!

  14. Beautiful! I had a non-sleeper, but fortunately she didn’t scream too much (unless I ate apples or peanut butter). I felt like a failure because I was tired so much of the time and I had to hold her all the time and couldn’t get anything done, and then I was relieved when I went back to work and she went to day care–but I felt terribly guilty for having those feelings. The good news? She turned out to be a beautiful person and just finished college and we are now best friends :).

    • H. Hutchins

      It is SO good to hear this! My second child loves to be held and WILL NOT go to sleep if left in his crib for a nap! He can go without a nap if he so chooses, JUST so he can be up in my arms! Thank you for sharing!!

      • Susan Maccarelli

        Hang in there! It took me a long time before she would sleep in her crib, but eventually she did and now she is in a big girl bed and still takes 2+ hour naps. Your free time will come!

  15. Susan, thank you so much for linking to this at our Friday Favorites on Project: Underblog! I, too, had a spirited child and also went for about two years with getting no more than four hours of sleep at a time, and that was on a good night. I’m so glad you found a way to cope!

  16. Perspective IS a magical thing, isn’t it? It doesn’t mean it’s easy though, (shifting, finding the strength and tenacity to do so), but it could spell a universe of difference. I can relate because my son was not an easy baby as well. He always looked pensive (which actually I loved) when not crying, but cried a lot too. Maybe not as much as your daughter but was nonetheless a difficult baby. But we love them with all our hearts anyway, right? Parenting is a crazy thing. It’s not easy, it’s not automatic or ‘second-nature’. But it certainly is a learning and enriching experience for those who would have the courage to just hang in there and do it as best as they know how. Happy that you’re getting more sleep now (or so I assume!). :-))

  17. This is wonderful! My husband and I frequently look at photos of our kids as babies and ooh and ahh at the adorable memories. Reality does set in sometimes though as we remember our ‘spirited’ child wailing because we couldn’t make more airplanes fly overhead on demand. Thanks for sharing and your daughter is ADORABLE!

  18. she is absolutely beautiful. and mama, looks like you did a great job. you found a way to deal that turned into a great talent. I love these pictures. and i love how well you’ve articulated words that so many of us have had trapped in our head at some point. Thanks for sharing.

  19. I totally get this. I had a really, really difficult first child. And thanks to digital photography, the album of his life looks much different that it would’ve if I didn’t edit out every picture I didn’t like or felt freaky about. It’s a bigger story than that, but I still understand. We create our own reality to some extent. And sometimes, that’s what we need to get by.

    Thanks for sharing this with the Betties, btw.;)

    • Susan Maccarelli

      ‘Creating our own reality’ is a great way to say it! I feel like the photos I take now and reality are getting closer and closer to the same now that the kids are a little older. Thanks for stopping by from the Blogging Betties…love your site!

  20. It’s funny how we are often think we are the only ones dealing with a certain problem. Like no one else will understand. I have a hard headed child myself and sometimes I think it’s just him. I love looking back at pictures too. They are so peaceful that they almost make us want another child. Not sure if we are quite there yet as he has his brother to bicker with now.

    • Susan Maccarelli

      Thanks for stopping by! I don’t think there are any photos that could make me want a 3rd child, but they definitely make me appreciate the two I have :o)

  21. Such a great look at the truth that is sometimes very real when our babies aren’t cute, giggling and calm from day one. I had moments (hours, days. weeks) where I felt the crying wouldn’t stop and they would never rest but it did come. I think your photos are beautiful and when she is all grown up they will be such a wonderful way to share with her.

    • Susan Maccarelli

      Thanks for leaving a comment Mrs Tee. Its crazy how at the time it seems never ending and then a few years later you look back and wonder where the time went.

  22. I had a similar experience with my now-18-year-old…she’s always been intense, and I’m happy to say her strong spirit and stubbornness have actually served her well in life! hang in there!

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