Thursday, 23 August 2012

Lessons from Ethan

I've been thinking for a while about writing something down about my first two years with my boy.

I've been putting it off because I want it to be just right. To be able to portray my love and joy I have for and in Ethan.

But I struggle to find the right way to describe how he has changed my life, challenged me and made me grow because of him. In a completely different way to Izzy.

Ethan screamed for about eighty percent of a big part of his first year. 

He didn't sleep for very long too. He would only fall asleep while feeding, and if he woke, which he did frequently, I had to be the one to settle him. 

For most of his first eighteen months he would wake between four and nine times during the night crying.

He ended up in our bed a lot of the time, and I didn't sleep much at all.

I would sometimes wonder at what point in sleep deprivation that someone would just collapse from exhaustion. It sounds dramatic even as I type it, but I had a birth so difficult that I should no longer give birth naturally, I fed Ethan myself every couple of hours until he started solids, and didn't sleep for longer than two or three hours at a time.

The worst part was seeing his pain. He seemed miserable and inconsolable at times. He wouldn't even like being held by his dad.

I found out at around the same time he seemed to be getting happier that he had had reflux. A condition that causes pain in babies, especially after they eat. It was why he couldn't sleep for long, why he threw up so often, why he needed so much comfort and didn't like to be laid down.

I'd had no idea.

When he'd been screaming all day I would wish so hard that he was just as I thought, a "difficult" baby, and not really in pain. But he had been. And I'd been too sleep deprived to think that there was something wrong past the need for attention or being a grumpy child.

As difficult as this was for all of us as a family, a lot of good has come from it.

Through all of the lack of sleep, screaming and thinking I was an awful mum, I learned that I adore my son. 

Why else would I be able to bring myself to feed and then silently creep out of his room for the fifth time during one night?

He, my beautiful son, is the reason I was able to try again and again to help him be happy after more than a year.

I adore him. 

I am not me without him in my life.

He has taught me to love in a way I never knew I could. With complete selflessness.

He has taught me to celebrate the things that do happen, not mourn over the missed, lost or unattainable.

I celebrate with him as he shows the happy, confident and unique child that was just wanting to be, but was just too tired and sick.

I appreciate him so much more for the hard times we've been through. Together. We were both there in the dark when he was in pain and I was helpless. We were both in pain.

We came through it because of each other. And my heart is full.

He has taught me so much. 

It has been unbelievably hard. When I look back I know that I didn't think I could do it. I know that there are many other people in much harder situations, but for me, this has been my defining moment. The challenge I didn't think I could face; but someone wiser, who knows me better than I do, knew differently. That this would make me a better mum, more appreciative, loving, confident, patient and strong.

And I am absolutely in love with my boy.

Oh, he really is my favourite little boy.


  1. Hello...I am so glad I came across this post...Your story about your son sounds so much like mine...My son's first 18 months were exactly the same...My husband and I were so exhausted and so worried that something was terribly wrong with him all the time! It was incredibly hard dealing with it all and feeling like a bad parent because really all you wanted to do was sleep! I don't believe we slept thru the night once until he was about 2...But, he is a wonderful teenager now and growing and thriving and we feel so blessed to have him in our life! Thanks so much for writing this post...I still suffer with some guilt at times over things I should or should not have done but I will focus on what you said..."He has taught me to celebrate the things that do happen, not mourn over the missed, lost or unattainable" Wonderful :)

  2. It means so much to me that you took the time to write that. That I could have possibly helped someone by sharing my experience is wonderful. I am so glad you have a great son, and that you have been able to move past the hard times and hopefully the guilt. I know that's something that can really hurt. Thank you for your honest comment.