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We named our sweet new baby Rory Kai. We loved the name Rory, and we both loved the character of Rory from the “Doctor Who” series. We knew he needed a middle name and threw around quite a few of them. None of them stuck for what felt like forever. He was called “Little Allender” on his birth statistics note from my midwife. Finally, late in the afternoon, I looked at Brock and asked, “What about Rory Kai?”
I didn’t know where Kai had come from, or why it popped into my head, but I loved the sound of it. Rory Kai. Brock immediately looked up the meaning of the name and found it to be “Willow Tree” in Navajo, and Brock and I both have Native American heritage. We didn’t look any deeper into the meanings, and it was decided immediately that he was Rory Kai… it fit him perfectly. The kids ran around the house calling him Rory, Rory Kai – they were absolutely love with their new little baby. The age gap between Ryder and Rory was by far the longest gap we’d had between any of our children, and it was so much fun to see them be big siblings. It was also INCREDIBLY ANNOYING to have to remind them over and over not to touch/poke/pull/lift or otherwise mess with the baby. All day long. Every day.
Rory was sweet and peaceful. He had deep, dark eyes. He seemed present in his body so very young – incredibly aware and paying attention to everything going on around him. He was tongue- and lip-tied like the rest of his siblings, so I had arranged to have his ties released shortly after his birth. Unlike my prior nurslings, I also took Rory for cranio-sacral therapy to help after his tie release. Whether it was just his personality, or the CST, or the early tie release – Rory was easily my happiest, calmest, most mellow baby. He was sleepy, and smiley, and giggly. He was loved immensely and completely by everyone in the household. He could do no wrong.
Brock went back to work after his STELLAR two weeks of paternity leave, and the kids and I spent the rest of the summer going to the pool every day in order to get the squirrelies out of the big kids while mama and Rory sat and nursed. I post-partumed like a boss, staying topless and laying down for days and days (minus the excursions to the pool.) Of all of my children, it was the best post partum I had experienced. Brock was so incredibly helpful, and the big kids did so much. There were still growing pains, as everyone figured out what our life was going to look like with this new human involved… but it was wonderful. While Ryder absolutely ADORED Rory, and was kind and sweet to him, his own three-year-old attention seeking behavior was absolutely beyond anything I had ever experienced before, from him or any other child.
Ryder and I got into power struggles day after day, over nearly everything. What he could do, what he couldn’t do, what he could eat, when he would nap. Everything felt like a battle – including nursing. Ryder still hadn’t weaned when Rory was born, and I had happily planned to tandem nurse the both of them. It was kind of unexpected, but once the baby was born, the idea of tandem nursing suddenly became incredibly undesirable. Like, massively awful. Like… I REALLY DON’T WANT TO DO THIS. Although I didn’t really have a problem nursing Ryder, and I adored nursing the baby, I just really didn’t love doing both at the same time… so I didn’t. Ryder was allowed to nurse when he woke up, for naps, and before bed time. I had to be very intentional about setting firm boundaries with him, and not allowing them to slip. He screamed and cried until it became our new normal, and then he found something else to scream and cry about.
This being the place where I keep it real: I don’t really think I have post partum depression. I think i struggle with unhappiness and darkness all of the time. My entire life has been a series of chasing happiness – different jobs, different homes, more things, more people, more kids. I learned a long time ago that none of them make me happy, and have been fighting the “true happiness comes from within” battle ever since. I have medicated. I have self medicated. I have slept through, tuned out, ignored and found so much anger. I know that the negativity inside of my mind can be changed within my mind, and yet I struggle to make it so. I’m just angry. I yell at my kids. I call them names. I get so mad that they are afraid of me. When I start crying, they start crying. My home is not peaceful, nor particularly kind. This is not what I want. This is not who I want to be, nor the way I want to raise my children. So what comes next? Real change of some kind. Yes, I have placenta pills and I am taking them. Yes, I could probably use more sleep. Yes, I just had a baby, and things are hard right now. I don’t need excuses or permission, I need to make a difference – in my life and in theirs. I’m stepping back from social media – or time on my phone in general. I’m not sure how that will look, but the negativity of Facebook and the general internets is contributing. I have never been able to successfully quit IG, but I need to cut back. I need to be present in my life, and present with my kids. I need to practice gratitude and patience. I need to show my children how much I love them when they are awake, and not just wish I could while they are asleep. Meditation, yoga, me-time, exercise: these are all on the menu. I need this. My family deserves this. I don’t want to be lost to the blackness again.
Despite my best efforts to be gentle and kind, and understanding of my toddler and his big emotions (as well as my big kids,) we were both clearly being ruled by our reactions and triggers. It wasn’t long after Rory was born that I decided I needed some kind of help. My options, as I saw them, were to try antidepressants again, or to try seeing a therapist – which I had never done before. Both were equally valid options. I opted for neither of them, and struggled through, paying attention to my diet, and supplements and sleep. I hoped that it would be enough.
As we neared the end of summer, I ran into a friend that I hadn’t seen in several months. We spent time together outside in a local nature playground, and we talked about a local Charter public Montessori school her children were attending. She mentioned that the school was so new that they often exhaust their waitlist, and it would be really likely that Ronan would get in. I called the next day only to find out that they DID have room in their kindergarten classroom, and Ronan would be welcomed there. Up until that point, I had planned to homeschool/unschool, and suddenly sending my biggest kid to school every day was on the table.
Brock and I talked it over and over. He pushed heavily in favor of sending Ronan to school – he could see my mental and physical capacity decline. He thought that having one less kid for many hours of the day would be hugely helpful… and he wasn’t totally sold on homeschooling yet. I disagreed. Ronan was the oldest, and my biggest helper. It didn’t feel like it would be helpful to send my biggest helper away, PLUS add the obligation of making school lunches, dressing him and taking care of homework, not to mention driving him to school and carline pick up every day.
In the end, we decided to compromise, and send him to school for one month, and re-evaluate. So that’s what happened.
To be continued…
And as a bonus picture: Right when Ronan went to school was when we discovered Rory’s best sleep trick: The Pillow Nap.