Paige’s inner demons rage and her body rebels. She cycles through one outburst after another. My usual methods of keeping us both sane – earplugs and songs – aren’t working.
And today she hasn’t even had a tremor.
“Paige, stop crying,” I sing. “Pleeease stop crying!” I walk up and down the hallway, holding her over my shoulder. Andrew and I do this every day. I wonder how long it’ll take before the carpet is threadbare.
There is no apparent reason for her to be upset! She was happy and then BOOM – she erupted a blood curdling shriek!
In her bedroom, I grab a blanket. “Maybe you’ll feel better if I bundle you.” It isn’t a suggestion, it’s a bribe.
Juggling her in one arm, I lay out the blanket with my other. She isn’t having a tremor despite her body being stiff, yet flailing about. Her crying shoots up an octave when I lay her down on the blanket.
“C’mon Paige,” I say through clenched teeth. Her legs move fiercely as though kicking herself toward the water’s surface to prevent drowning. “You’ll feel better if you let me wrap you up…” I hold her down with one arm and reach for the blanket’s edge with the other. Her leg shoots up and she bellows.
“Fine!” I spit out the word, oozing negativity. “Have it your way!” It becomes clear to me why parents suffocate or shake their babies. I grab Paige’s security blanket and visualize stuffing it over her face so she will SHUT UP!
Appalled, I freeze. I sweep Paige off the changing table and put her unceremoniously into the crib. I run out of the room and slam the door, her cries becoming hysterical. In the bathroom, I turn on the fan to drown out her high-pitched squeals and sit down on the closed toilet.
“You’re not a bad mother, you’re not a bad mother,” I whisper over and over.
But I don’t believe it.
Alone in the bathroom, my gasping sobs flow freely. Burying my face in my hands, I moan, “I don’t know how much more of this I can take! God, what were you thinking when you gave me Paige??”
A gentle voice tells me, You need her as much as she needs you. I think it over and a quiet stillness washes over me. I don’t understand but I’m back in control.
I take a deep breath and open Paige’s bedroom door. Her cries are shaky and she is gasping. Guilt slices through my heart; she is mildly hyperventilating.
I pick her up and hold her close. “I’m sorry, Paige,” I whisper. “I know it’s not your fault.”