Lately, sometimes, it feels like I can hear every sound in a room at once. At the indoor playground, it feels like every mama-conversation and every childish screech and crash is happening inside my head, and it’s impossible to pick out the words of my friend, who’s sitting right next to me. At the pharmacy, the music seems so loud I pace around wondering how I can get them to turn it down so I can concentrate on what I’m looking for.
And I feel rage. Rage. I picture myself ripping the arms off the polite pharmacy employee who informs me they don’t carry breast milk storage bags. At home, listening to A and Ingrid negotiate the bedtime routine, I want to break one pint glass after another and fill the sink with glass shards. Alone, still wound up from the last round of non-cooperation, I find things to slam my fist into: the kitchen door, the counter with a stack of potholders on it. My rage seems cartoonish in hindsight, but from the inside it is scary. I’m not afraid I’ll act on it; I’m afraid of feeling it.
Sometimes Iris fusses all day. Nothing’s wrong, it’s just the classic six-month-old discontent. Normal. I am gentle with her, always, but the sound of it fills up my whole body, and small-voiced why questions and requests for snacks pile in there, too, and before long I am made up of nothing but other people’s sounds. I am impatient and unkind with Ingrid. I snap at her. I don’t have any interest in her questions. I speculate that I could handle this all better, more calmly, if I were deaf. It’s the sounds that make it impossible, some days, to be more than mechanical. Their voices. The hours and hours and hours without silence.
I talk about this to A, to my mom, to my counselor. They all say it will help for me to have more breaks, more time away. We find ways for that to happen, and it helps, a little. But what about 10 a.m. on a Tuesday? What about 2:30 p.m. when everyone’s up from their nap already? What gets me to the other side of that, to the time when I can even think of a break?
I wonder about medication, but sometimes—this week, almost all the time—I am better than fine, all clear-minded and full of energy and ideas. I make an appointment with the MD who could prescribe something, just in case. The next available: May 6. What would get me all the way to May if things got rough again?
This isn’t new; this happened when Ingrid was a baby, too, and I waited it out without even as much support as I have now. I suspect there is a colorful bouquet of causes: hormones, stress, a little native anxiety, general temperamental ill-suitedness to the mothering of small children. I rode it out before, and I suspect it will get better soon. Right now, things are better. I feel like I've sent out a bird and am scanning the horizon for a flash of white and green. Is this the end? How much longer? And, in the meantime, what do I do with this? How do I get us all to the other side of it whole?