I sat on the corner of the bed at 3 am and sobbed… ever been there? I know I’m not alone in this feeling of sadness, whatever might have led you to that point, we’ve all been there. Sometimes the sadness is so overwhelming and so painful that there isn’t anything else to do besides sob. The sorrow overcomes my entire body. There is no longer any rationalizing, there is no understanding, there is no justifying your feelings… there is just unexplainable and uncontrollable hurt. It can come at the strangest times, sometimes with no explanation and when I least expect it. And you know what, no shame, cry it out. Don’t deny your body what it needs. Allow yourself to feel that pain so that you can pick yourself back up, even stronger than you were before.
What was it that caused this paralyzing feeling that I experienced just this past week? The one that led to my 3 am cry session? That would be Kai’s meltdown in the middle of the night. Let’s be real, we have a toddler, so I’ve experienced many of these late nights with Kai that haven’t led to a full blown meltdown for mama too. This one was just different. I’m not really sure what triggered my feelings or why that night was THE night. It just was. Kai had woken up and we don’t really know why, which is the usual for us. With Kai being non-verbal and having very limited communication, we very rarely know what he’s trying to tell us. It’s the daily guessing game we play. Of course, as his parents, we’ve learned over time specific cries/behaviors that give hints to what Kai might want or need. But we still never know for sure until we try one thing or another. And there are those typical times (like all of our kiddos) when he doesn’t even know what he wants and there is no pleasing him regardless. I know that is typical and Kai, in many ways, is still just as much a typical 3 year old as any other.
When I heard Kai awake and rolling around, I gave him a few minutes to put himself back down like I usually do. Of course, that didn’t happen. After 10 minutes of him crying, I went into his room to help calm him down. Nothing. Worked. He didn’t want me to rub his back, rock him, hold him, stand with him, sing to him or touch him at all for that matter. I was AT A LOSS. I had been here many times before, here at home and in the hospital. I’ve experienced many of these meltdowns. I never take any of them personally. Until this night, whatever it was about this night. I started the downward spiral. After 15 minutes of being in his room trying to soothe him, he was screaming and I was crying right alongside him. Why couldn’t I comfort my child? Why didn’t having his mommy there make him feel better? Was he hurting? Was he scared? Why won’t he let me rub his back or hold his hand? I wanted so bad to snuggle him in tight and rock with him. I didn’t even care if he went back to sleep. I just wanted to be able to comfort him, to calm him down. I wanted to make him feel safe, secure and loved. Instead, it led to uncontrollable screams.. slapping me, grunting at me and more intense cries. I laid him back in his bed, sat on the floor and cried. What was I doing wrong?
My husband came into the room not long after… let’s face it, how does anyone sleep through that? Although, I wouldn’t put it past him. (Side note. We know how men can be, how is it they can sleep through pretty much anything!? haha!) As soon as he came in, he picked Kai up and he started to calm down. I immediately had to leave the room. There it was, the overwhelming feeling of sadness creeping in. It was no longer the frustration I was feeling just prior while sitting on the floor that led to my tears. Now, it was uncontrollable. Now it was paralyzing. Now there was no rationalizing. Now I was at a loss. I sat in our bedroom on the edge of the bed, looked at the clock… 3 am. I listened to the silence as Danny walked Kai around the room holding him tight in his arms and I sobbed. Rationalization out the window: Am I a bad mom? Why does my kid hate me? Why can Danny calm him down but I can’t? Why can’t I make him feel better? Why can’t I make him feel safe? The rush of questions that I know better than asking because I know none of them to be true. But I was just simply at a loss.
The funny thing, it didn’t last long. I was all worked up and sobbing over something that neither, Kai, I or Danny could control. Kai was extremely tired and probably didn’t even know why he was so upset. Danny just walked in at the right time that Kai decided to give up the fight and I… I was just sad. These insignificant moments act as a door, cracked open just enough to let all of the other feelings of sadness and fear I’ve felt through this journey of parenting creep in. I begin thinking about ALL of Kai’s challenges and complexities while in these minimal situations, although it’s something as simple as a midnight meltdown. Yet, all of these feelings piled on top of one another feel like a avalanche crashing down on my heart. It’s a devastating feeling of hopelessness.
That night, Kai eventually feel back asleep and didn’t lead to a late night car ride, like many do. It’s strange how some nights I feel stronger than others for no rhyme or reason. I can almost always talk to others about some of Kai’s most terrifying moments and heart-wrenching diagnosis’ without shedding a tear. I can share Kai’s story and handle late night meltdowns without feeling one ounce of sadness. I can drive the 270 outer belt (for my Columbus people) in the middle of the night because it’s the only way to calm Kai down and put him back to sleep without evening thinking beyond that moment, listening to Crime Junkie. (of course!) But occasionally, I’m just at a loss. And I guess, I write all of this just to say, you’re not alone. And maybe to remind myself that I’m not alone either. You’re all awesome, keep up the good work!