Her Bad Mother

Monday, September 29, 2008

Deep Into The Darkness

I've stopped keeping track of the time at night, even though a clock sits, ticking relentlessly, not three feet from the bed. In the day, I mark the time obsessively - this many minutes before the girl goes to preschool, this many minutes before she comes home, this many minutes until the boy should be ready to try another nap, this many minutes before he'll probably wake up, the minutes counted like a miser's pennies, added and subtracted, piling up and disappearing as I settle my accounts with daily chores and this persistent exhaustion. But at night, I avoid the clock, afraid to see the minutes and hours ticking by too quickly or too slowly, afraid to settle my accounts with my body, with the night.

Last night, however, the bill came due, and I was not prepared to settle up.

It was in one of those moments where the boundary between sleep and wakefulness is so blurred that you're not sure whether you're awake or dreaming - are you lucid while dreaming, or are you dreaming while awake? - is that a baby that you're holding, or a kitten, or a bundle of straw? - is that crying you hear, or the wind, or music? - and I was groggy, confused, disoriented as I held my squirming baby in my arms. He fussed, breathing heavily through a stuffy nose, truffling for the breast and then pushing it away. He squirmed and kicked and protested and snuffled and grabbed and pushed and with every kick, every push of his fierce little legs and arms I struggled toward wakefulness, needing to be awake, needing my strength and my composure but wanting oh so badly to just let the darkness overtake me and to slide back into oblivion. But he wouldn't let me, he was too uncomfortable, poor thing, hungry and snuffly and demanding, he would not let me let me go and he would not let this be easy and in a flash, in one moment, I felt the frustration course through me like a current and there it was, for a split-second - a split-second and an eternity all at once - ANGER - sharp and hot and as I felt the tears prick my eyes and a sob burble in my throat I was overwhelmed by the brief flash of an urge to just drop the baby, just drop him to the mattress and throw myself off the bed and stomp away into the night.

It was over almost as quickly as it had begun; the violence of the emotion woke me, woke me completely, and I froze - there's no other word for it - with fear and I'm certain that if anyone had been watching at that moment they would have seen my eyes flash open, wide, and I caught myself, mid-breakdown, and stopped. I laid him down and pulled myself into the corner of the bed and took a breath. And was afraid.

It was just one moment, the briefest flash of a moment, but there it was. I had felt anger. I had wanted to shove my baby away from me. How close was I to wanting to shake him? How close? How close was I to becoming a monster, to crossing over from Mama Jekyll to Mother/Monster Hyde? I want to say that I was fine, that I am fine, that it was a completely understandable loss of emotional control that only lasted for a second and that I never, ever, would have actually just dropped him onto the mattress (and even then, such a soft mattress, so innocuous a fall, right? right?) and I hadn't wanted to actually shake him, I hadn't been angry at him, I was just tired, too tired, and it could happen to anyone and nothing would have happened and I'm fine.

But the fact is that no matter how brief that flash of uncontrolled emotion, it was uncontrolled; it was sharp and hot and angry and I no more want to risk exposing my baby, my little heart, to that anger than I would want to place his bassinet on a train track. Not even for a second.

So tomorrow we go to the doctor. Tomorrow I get some help. Pills, talk, anything: whatever it takes. I need some help with this, with the sleep, with the emotions running amok. Tomorrow I get some help.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every one of this has had this sort of thing happen. Some of us are able to walk away, others injure or kill their children. I'm glad you're going to the doctor. Do what he/she says. Get help for you, because you are frazzled and exhausted, and you need some help. Take care of YOU.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're going to have to change the name of this blog -- this post just proves to me that you are a GOOD MOTHER. You stopped yourself. Even in all your exhaustion and pain you -- the better you -- won. Remember, the sleepless nights are temporary, and ask those you love around you for some extra help so you can sleep.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, it's happened to the best of us - and dorks like me, too - and I am SO glad that you've made the decision to take care of yourself, too. Good luck, Momma. In the meantime, sending all happy thoughts your way!

12:18 PM  
Blogger lattemommy said...

I think any parent out there, mothers of infants especially, claim that they have never felt the way you felt last night, they are LYING. I have experienced exactly what you are describing, more times than I care to admit. I admire you for seeking help. I was too afraid to do so, so I struggled through all on my own for many months. Thankfully without incident, and I've come out the other side largely the same person. But sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if I had had the courage to stand up to my own fear.

Good luck on your journey.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Tuesday Girl said...

It is brave and great of you to get help, in any form. We have all been there, some of us more than others.

My six month old son has been giving me MANY problems sleeping this past week and I am home alone with 3 kids all week, so I know.
I know you.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh honey. This happens to every mother, I think - it's only natural to feel this way when your life has been upended. I have been there, more than once.

What makes you a good mother is that you recognize it, that you can remove yourself from it. That you can control your emotions so that you don't do the things you envision for that short second.

I hope that calling your doctor gives you peace. Know that you are absolutely not alone.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I felt like this with each of my babies. I may feel it again with current baby. I learned to count to 10 before I picked them up at night. Simple thing, but it helped.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Mind of MadMan said...

This is normal.
It is tough to know that and feel that. If you did not feel anything then their lies the issue.

12:24 PM  
Blogger zchamu said...

Oh Catherine. :( It sounds to me like you also need help - not just meds, but someone to *help*. Someone to fill in the gaps, someone to be there to take the weight off. Impose on someone. They will not mind. Just ask them to come over and be there and help with the toddler and help with the baby and help with the Mom.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Flinger said...

I have been there, in that moment. I have set the baby down and walked away, angry, so very angry. Then afraid. I remember it so well.

You, hon, are wonderful. For sharing it with us, for getting help, for loving beyond that point of exhaustion. XO

12:25 PM  
Blogger Tracey said...

as someone who just had to get back on the crazy person pills, i feel you. and i know the pain of sleep deprivation. also, oddly, i just published a big post that touches on some of what you said here. the out of control feeling is scary. we've all been there. but there is help, hope. love to you, lady. xoxo

12:25 PM  
Blogger Bridge said...

I think every mother has had a moment like this...especially in the wake of post partum sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation alone is enough to make everyone short tempered and without good inhibition control. You're doing the right thing...and I hope it helps quickly.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Steph(anie) said...

I am with you (in spirit). I think we all are.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just hugs and kisses. And hope. And pride. That's what I have for you today.


12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delurking to say I totally know where you're coming from and that you are not alone, even though it probably feels like it in the middle of the night. Meds will help. I promise.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

So other figures lurk beneath that milk giving breast?

(I'm not being a dick, but you know that kind of thing interests me - shadow figures, Mr. Hyde, etc. Hope you feel better soon.)

12:36 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

This post struck home with me. I was so there. So many times. With both of my "never slept through the night until 14 months old" sons. I never felt more alone, more weary, more insane, more out of control, or more desperate than those wee hours of the night after weeks and months of total and utter sleepless exhaustion. No one told me it could be like that. For those moments, I can't say I adored being a mommy in the early months. I felt exactly this way. I felt that sudden fear of my own anger too - just like you described it. I am here besides you in this. As lonely as 3:30am with a cluster feeding baby is, there are thousands of mothers besides you too, in their own homes, struggling at that very same time of night. Please know that time does keep ticking by. (I ignored the clock too, and I used to hope there was still time for more sleep but then again feel relief when I saw the light of day coming.) Weeks slip by, our babies keep eating and growing. And then suddenly, they do lie down and stay sleep. And you will actually sleep again. I hope you find some relief somehow very soon.

12:41 PM  
Blogger litanyofbritt said...

so often when i read your blog i wonder if we have the same baby. we certainly have the same issues with our littles at the same times it seems. jack is till in our bed and although i wish he would sleep in his crib, (or even lie awake in there quietly even), i have not yet figured out how to detach my boob and hand it to him, since pacifiers have suddenly become a personal insult. and also putting him down.

and in the beginning with him i could visualize myself shoving a ball of socks in his mouth just to shut him up for a minute. i could see myself "smothering him a little." just to shut him up.
so i called my doc and said i was having intrusive thoughts of hurting my kids and he gave me pretty little blue pills that took the edge off. it was such a hard call to make, and now looking back i don't see why i was so opposed to it. i felt like i was a worse mama for asking for help when in retrospect it was the other way around, but i digress.

just know that in the middle of the night when someone is gnawing your nipples off and crying because they are to stuffy to properly nurse and you are feeling totally resentful for your sore nips, and lack of bedspace and precious, precious sleep that you are not alone in it. (not in as creepy a way as that sounds though)

12:43 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

I think everyone, no matter how controlled, has had these moments. And if they haven't? Don't tell me, okay? LOL.

Hang in there, Cath. Sometimes things are tough.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey. I'm delurking to let you know that I have been there MANY times. It is a horrible feeling and it makes you feel like a monster. Please know that you are NOT a monster and you ARE a wonderful mom who is EXHAUSTED and just plain SPENT. Talking with someone will help. Being brave enough to admit you felt that way tells me what an amazing person you are.
It will get better!!!!!

12:46 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

I have felt this way MANY times... I was and still am a single mom... you are SO not alone! You are NOT ALONE IN THIS FEELING AT ALL!! I have been scared and let me tell you.. the best thing to do is put the baby down in it's crib and walk away... baby crying will not hurt them.... walk away, walk outside if you need to to calm down then deal with the situation... again... YOU ARE SO NOT ALONE!

12:57 PM  
Blogger K said...

Every single mom I have ever known, including me, has had those moments. I really hope the doc can help, but you have got to DEMAND help at home.

Your hubby has got to do more, even if he's away from home, HE can arrange for a sitter so you can rest. HE can do more. HE should not let you get to this point.

I know you don't want to point fingers at him, but I have been there and really had to lay down the law with my dh that if i don't get some kind of break, rest, me time, hubby's whole life will go to hell in a hand basket. I cannot be a good mother/wife/anything if I am sleep deprived and unhealthy. His job is to make sure I am taken care of so that I can take care of everyone else.

Please don't be angry at me for saying this. I just know how you feel and it makes me want to shake him (hubby, not baby) for allowing you to suffer this way.

12:57 PM  
Blogger kaila said...

Just like everyone else here has said. You are not alone. It is a horrible feeling - but you are doing the right thing. Well wishes to you and yours.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Issa said...

All I can say is hugs to you Catherine. Just, hugs.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I know what you are going through. I am happy that you have the courage to ask for help. Many hugs to you!!

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh sweetie. The sleep deprivation with that second baby is so difficult. Awake at night with the baby, and awake during the day with the older child. Which leaves no sleep for the mommy. I was on the verge of steering my car into a tree when my little one was about 3 months old because I was SO DAMN TIRED.

I know your husband can't nurse the baby, but maybe once you nurse at night, he can take the baby for some bouncy, jiggle walking so that you can rest. Also, maybe you are already using one, and maybe this sounds simple, but have you tried a pacifier? So that at least after the baby eats, he's not rooting around for the breast all night long.

I know it doesn't help right now, but it will get better. Please take care. -Hugs-

1:04 PM  
Blogger Baby in the City said...

I'm thinking the husband needs to take a night feed (or two) off your hands, at least while he is not on set and able to do so. Could you pump? and/or if that is too much trouble or f*cks with your flow, one bottle of formula isn't going to hurt. After all, if you're introducing the occasional bit of rice cereal then introducing a little formula won't break any exclusivity of breastmilk, right?
Depending on the politics of your doc, she may not suggest this, but if it were me, I'd be on the odd supplement in a heartbeat.


1:11 PM  
Blogger Chantal said...

I remember when I was in the throws of sleep deprivation and I would think, how do teen mothers do this. No wonder young fathers/boyfriends are so often charged with shaking babies. They just don't have the maturity to turn away. Even me, a grown mature woman came to the brink. It is hard. Take care of you!

1:13 PM  
Blogger Antropóloga said...

Everyone I've talked to about this has had moments like these. I think it's normal. However, your sleep-deprivation sounds really extreme, so I'm glad you are going to seek help for that.

Best wishes!

1:22 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Katrina - the husband does try to help, he really does - he takes Jasper in the morning if he's able. Night time can be a hard time for helping if he has to get up and leave at 5am. But night time IS getting desperate, and in situations like last night I should have woken him and asked for help.

1:32 PM  
Blogger zchamu said...

Will he take a bottle at all?

Friends of mine used to handle it so that Mommy was on overnight duty all week, but on Friday night it was Daddy's turn. Mommy would go to bed that night and sleep until she woke up (usually her boobs did that job), and Daddy dealt with everything between those two points. So when she was so tired her eyes were falling out of her head, she at least knew that on Friday, glorious Friday, she could get what passed for a good night's sleep to face the next week. Could this be an option? Or barring that at least overnight help once a week so that you can at least try to get some sleep?

1:37 PM  
Blogger worldmomma said...

I agree with other posters that this is normal. It happened to me once in the 9.5 months of my son's life. Like you, it was in the middle of the night, after many wakings and I suddenly got pretty ticked off. I was out of town with baby and was on my own in the nighttime. I wonder if the fact that my husband gave at least one bottle each night while I was home helped with it occuring only once.

I also felt guilty about being angry at a little being who can't help being needy. But I didn't do anything besides feeling anger and have been a pretty good mother for all the rest of the moments of his life.

I also agree with other posters that help from the hubby would probably be in order. I think sleep would be more helpful than pills. Yes, he may be tired at work for a day or two. But you are tired for your work during the day regularly. It's only fair to take turns.

As you probably know from your first, this all will pass...

1:39 PM  
Blogger April said...

sorry you had such a rough night and i'm glad to hear you're going to see someone about your turbulent emotions. post partum blows.

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been there... more than once. And good for you that you're going to talk to your doctor. Stupidly, the thought that I could do that never occurred to me and I dealt with those feelings on my own. So, again, good for you.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Jenera said...

Oh have I been there. With my first boy I had some problems similar to what you describe. I have had issues with depression and what not my entire life so my doctors were already ready in case anything went screwy.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Poppy B. said...

OMG, I've been there--the anxiety, the sleep deprivation, the husband working long hours, no help.

I was so anxiety-ridden and crazed that finally, even though I was exhausted, I couldn't sleep. I ended up almost falling over in the shower when I was alone with the baby.

We got a day nurse. Everyone thought the nurse was for my son, but she was there for me. To help with the baby, to make food, to give me sponge baths so I wouldn't collapse in the bathroom.

This is what helped:

• getting a sleep mask so I could nap during the day.

• getting someone--anyone--to come keep me company, or change a diaper, or do a load of wash

• keeping the baby near, but not too near. The anxiety levels would spike if my son weren't with me, but you do need to regain yourself as yourself and not just his mommy

• sleeping pills so I could finally drop off.

If you go on meds, you'll probably have to stop nursing. And pills won't kick in right away, anyway, so first try to lessen your anxiety by eating right (I wasn't) going for a walk (I didn't) and sleeping more, even if you have to hire a teenager to hold down the fort for a few hours.

Good luck! And sorry this is so long. It's my first comment on your blog and I usually keep it short, but I'm having post-traumatic stress over here!

But the baby in question is a tall, gorgeous 13 year old.

2:19 PM  
Blogger A Crafty Mom said...

I'm so sorry, Catherine. These are tough times for you. And, yes, many of us have been there and it's frightening and just scary. Talking to your doctor is a great approach to take - he/she will help you take the necessary steps to feeling better. Exhaustion is impossible to deal with - it makes anyone a big bundle of crazy emotions. (((HUGS)))

2:21 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks. I was hoping I wasn't crazy. Can you grab some pills for me, please?

2:29 PM  
Blogger Sadie said...

After four daughters, including a four and half month old, I have been there and am nearing there once more. My other children are suffering a bit and I am struggling to balance everything.
For me, it always comes to a bittersweet end when they start sleeping through the night. I always miss the nights alone with each one..learning their cries and filling their bellies, as desperately difficult as it is.

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bless you for your honesty. I wish you so much luck. Mothers everywhere understand and stand behind you in support.

To my prayers you are added.


2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have soooo been there. I was alone with my twin boys the first time they got sick (dad worked until 2am) and they both got sick at the same time. Both running fevers and I was so new to everything and so sleep deprived that I didn't have a clue what to do. I put each one in his individual crib and called my mother at 1:30am to come and help me. To this day she still reminds me that if I need her she's only a phone call and a few minutes away, not matter what time. You need someone that close who can help you. Please get some help for during the day or night. Someone to come stay with you. I would do it if I was anywhere near you but I'm not close enough to help. Email me if there is anything I can do, even from a distance. Even if its just to talk you down from your stressed ledge. fetchthis@hotmail.com

2:44 PM  
Blogger Run ANC said...

Been there myself. More than once. Get whatever help you can, and be proud that you can recognize when you need help. It's those that don't that are really in trouble.

If there's anything I can do, please please please let me know. I'm around.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel you. I really, really do. I totally understand that breaking point. SIGH. It's amazing where such small beautiful being can push intelligent sane adults.
Have you tried cosleeping? My son was not very good at sleeping at all. I was losing my mind. Then I started bringing him to bed, and when he woke up, I would roll over, latch him on, and we'd both drift back to sleep. Did it solve all my problems? No. Did it teach him how to sleep by himself? NO. That came later. But it did allow me to get some sleep, and really, the world is much easier place when you've slept.

3:06 PM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

shit, you're not supposed to drop the baby?

kidding. hope your days/nights get a little more sorted. Just think - one day you'll actually miss this time.
(ok, maybe not last night, but this time in general.)

3:17 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Good girl.

It takes courage to admit that you need help. It takes courage to ask for help. You will be ok.

100 mg of Zoloft works for me. Hope it works for you too.


3:22 PM  
Blogger cognosco said...

You need sleep. Have you even had one uninterrupted night since he was born? Maybe you can store enough milk to get away for a night--go stay in a hotel by yourself and just sleep. That was what I did when I reached this point, and even though it seems like one night of sleep wouldn't make much of a difference, IT REALLY DOES. The benefit of a hotel room is that you don't do the nervous "did I just hear him" panic thing.

You are not alone. I know that feeling. I wish I'd handled my emotions better. Instead I screamed at my child and sometimes did walk away. And still, that was better than physically hurting him. I am not proud of that now, but I was not in my right mind. Sleep made all the difference. Which is not to say that talking to someone won't help, but don't underestimate how much of this may really boil down to just getting some rest.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also have SO BEEN THERE. Twin infants. Hit my wall between 4-6 months. After months of getting 1-3 hours of sleep every night, nursing them both throughout numerous night-wakings each, I lost it. One day, after nursing J in the middle of the night, having just nursed R and rocked and soothed and hushed him back to sleep, I was on to J, rocking, singing, soothing, hushing, bouncing... JUST GET TO SLEEP BABY, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS SACRED... SLEEP! And I realized in a half-dead sleep/wake state that I was bouncing a little too hard, with a little too much energy -- and I suddenly felt the anger. I got it immediately and stopped. Of course, the bounce was as rigorous as some recommend to put them back to sleep, and he was swaddled, and he TOTALLY didn't notice. But I noticed. And I just lay him down, awake, and cried for what seemed like forever, recognizing my monster and scared out of my mind.

THe next day I made a plan. I'd wait until 6 months and then that's it. I had to stop this. I couldn't wait for the boys to become the sleepers/eaters I wanted them to be. I sleep-trained them. Gently, firmly, but consistently. And it worked for the whole family. On their 6-month birthday was the first night I slept 6 straight hours again. Sleep deprivation is like nothing else. I thought I'd need pills -- but what I really needed was sleep, glorious sleep.

I'm in Toronto. I work at SickKids, you can google me to make sure I'm not a freak. I'm not a weird stalker, just another mom who loves reading your story and really, really feels for you. PLEASE, if you can get over how weird it is, let a complete caring stranger come over one afternoon, and help you catch up with sleep. I can bring my 2.5 year old boys to play with your girl, go to a park with them, whatever. Someone else can take Jasper right after you've nursed him, you can nap. For hours. It will help.

Or lets start a night nurse or doula fund for you. It can really, really help. You can pump some milk and let her take some night feedings for the next few weeks. Just 2 or so nights of relief per week can really help. It can be a miracle cure for these blues...

I'll shut up now. Just let me know if I can help (but PLEASE don't feel compelled to answer or email if you don't want the help from a complete stranger. I totally get that also and you don't need extra pressure).

3:39 PM  
Blogger Rusti said...

this is something that I've wondered how I will handle, and makes me hope that I won't somehow become one of those moms that you see in the news...

I know it's absolutely not even close to the same situation, but I've seen this type of reaction in myself just with our pets on occasion and THEN it scares me... how will I be with our new baby when it comes...

I'm so thinking of you Catherine, thinking of you, praying for you, feeling for you, and proud of you for taking the steps needed to take care of you, so that you can take care of your family... your honesty and sharing of experiences is amazing and inspiring... thank you.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Crohn's is my bitch said...

Just remember, sleep deprivation is a torture technique. It makes us all crazy. CRAZY.

The fact that you felt this says nothing at all about who you are, except that like the rest of us you have limits to what you can take. You're being so responsible, and you are so going to make it.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Crohn's is my bitch said...

Just remember, sleep deprivation is a torture technique. It makes us all crazy. CRAZY.

The fact that you felt this says nothing at all about who you are, except that like the rest of us you have limits to what you can take. You're being so responsible, and you are so going to make it.

3:53 PM  
Blogger O'Neal (The Woman In Charge Around Here) said...

Oh honey, I have been right at that exact place soooo many times and you know what? It is okay, it means you are NORMAL! You are just exhausted and need sleep! Your mind and body can NOT function with so little sleep and go haywire and you can not be expected to control them 24/7.

Even though my youngest is 2 now, and sleeps like an angel, (I won't say how long and rub it in or take the chance of jinxing my blessing!) but I too am struggling mentally with just keeping up with life!

Tomorrow I will ALSO be at the Dr to see what I need to do to help manage it all. Do whatever it takes, pills, therapy, WHATEVER IT TAKES, cause we need to remember if WE are not okay, then we are no good to our babies or anyone else that needs us!

Just know you are not alone and I commend you in seeking help. It is actually a sign of strength! Just admitting I need help reaching out is the hardest thing I have ever done but I know it will help ALL of us! Good luck and I will be thinking of you hoping we all get some relief!


4:00 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

Love you.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Booba Juice said...

Thank you!!! You always manage to tell it like it is. We all experience things like this, and yet we are too afraid to talk about it. Most of us would never admit that we are struggling, and diffinately not the way that you did. But we are struggling...we are all going through things. We need to stop being Super MOM, and be the mothers that we are...because we are already great!

Hang in there, you will make it, and you will be able to help others, as you already are in many ways.


4:19 PM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

I think we have all been there Catherine.


4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

De-lurking to say that we have all been there, and it is horrible. I'm glad you are getting help from your doctor. Sounds like you need more physical help, too. Is there any support person you could call to help when your husband can't? If you read AskMoxie she has several posts on how horrible sleep deprivation is for you, and how if you can just get a night or two of rest the amazing things it will do for your emotional state. After the horrible 4-7 month stage with my daughter, I believe it. Rest is paramount. Good luck.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Mojavi said...

and this is a good thing. because even your writing lately has had a sad, depressed vibe, with everything going on in your family and sleep deprivation it is no mystery why you feel the way you do..... your husband also needs to come in and hunker down and take over everything but nursing. Easier said than done though.

you will be ok... will be thinking of you.

4:41 PM  
Blogger B said...

I felt like this once out of my three girls. It was when the middle one was about Jasper's age, she was just inconsolable and THE TIRED and WHY WON'T SHE (expletive, expletive) SLEEP. I woke my husband and told him I was having bad thoughts and just couldn't take her right now. He woke and I curled into a ball and cried. Then next morning reflecting on my episode on a whim I threw out the new birth control pills I was taking. . . I don't know what you are using if anything but nursing mothers run low on estrogen and the synthetic shit in this particular pill was adding to my sleep deprived crazies in a way I never imagined.

Good luck at the doc and hopefully together you can sort it out.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not going to offer any of that "this too shall pass" or "this is what helped me" crap. I understand exactly how you feel. You are beyond listening to advice from people who don't know every relevant detail of your situation. You are intelligent enough to know where to look for information that fits in with your instincts as a mother.

But I want to thank you for writing so honestly about motherhood. Most of what new parents believe about parenting is based on exaggerations and lies. THIS is what needs to be in the parenting books. None of that bullshit about babies sleeping through the night at x months of age.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

i've been there too, with both my girls. so sorry you are in this place right now. i hope you get the help and support you need. sending warm thoughts and blessings your way...

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my I have so BEEN there and AM there. That sharp spike of anger is what shocks me out of my downward spiral and makes me realize what I am thinking.

You are completely normal and a GOOD mother for seeing what it is and doing something!

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had this moment last night - and my 'baby' is 2.5 yrs old and has decided he's an insomniac. I did have an appointment to see someone about it several weeks ago, but chickened out. I think, like you, it's time though.

Take Care xx

(says me, nursing a coffee and wondering how the hell I'm going to get through this week, which is kind of an important one...)

5:44 PM  
Blogger coopkeeper said...

I have so been there. Once when my daughter had RSV she cried for hours on end. Hubby was out of town. I could feel the anger building...so I threw the bottle she was unable to drink due to the snotty nose against the wall. It broke, milk went everywhere, dent in wall, guilt overwhelming. Ahhhh....good memories :)

6:30 PM  
Blogger Chrissy said...

Newer reader, delurking here. You have my sympathies. I often tell younger soon to be moms that there is no other exhaustion in the world quite like the one you will experience when you have a newborn, and especially one that is breastfeeding. Mine are 18 and 14 now, but I still remember it well. My sleepless nights now are caused by waiting for the 18 year old to come home! Hang in there!

6:38 PM  
Blogger Tania said...

I hope you get what you need from the doctor. Is there anyway that you could pump a few bottles and have a night off? I know that's what I'd be looking to do.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catherine, I wrote this exact post - though not as eloquent - on Saturday and I would have posted it had I not lost it all. I too felt the urge to shake my baby, to walk away and just leave him cry.

It's a hard and scary road, but we're walking it together. We've been down this road before with our older children and we can make it through again!


7:33 PM  
Blogger J from Ireland said...

You poor thing. You are a great mother. Thoughts and prayers with you.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you've had everyone and their sister's cousin's best friend posting a reply here, but let me add to the voices.

EVERY mother at one time or another has felt this way. I won't go so far as to say that you don't need medication, but I would be more likely to refer you to a doctor if you didn't have those kinds of emotions while sleep-deprived and caring for your infant.

It gets better. I promise. To medicate or not is YOUR choice. Keep your power and don't let opinions or insistence of in laws or anyone else sway you one way or another.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Rachael said...

I've been there, definitely. You're not alone. I've had to leave mine crying and step outside or to the other end of the house. It's hard when you hit that moment where you suddenly feel, just for a moment, that you can understand why people hit their kids. You're not alone, but better safe than sorry - I think it's wonderful you're going to take the step to go to the doctor. Good luck with everything.

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have nothing profound to add, just another person commiserating. This all takes me back to when my two were babies and the fatigue and the anxiety that they would wake at any moment, walking on pins and needles. Why can't I forget it? Is it a method of birth control? You are not alone, so please try not to beat yourself up about this. I hope you feel some peace after talking with someone tomorrow. Hugs!

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am where you are. You are not alone, in the middle of the night, with a squirmy baby who won't be soothed. It helps to know I am not alone either.

8:40 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

You are doing the right thing.

I can only imagine how that felt and to share it with all of us, wow - thank you for trusting us Catherine. Everything will be fine.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

We call it The Rage. I wanted to write about it but didn't have enough brain cells to put that many sentences together.

We go to the doctor on Thurs. Not sure I can last that long.

8:52 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

If you feel that you need help and are willing to go get it, be proud of yourself. That is hard.

But just because I think it might also need to be said - I think that flashes of Rage are common in parents, especially in the early years, when you are pushed past your limits on very front. How can your basic human needs not assert themselves every now and then when it's all just too damn much? I think the fact that it shocks us is a good thing, because it means we are not giving into it, and that serves as a warning that we need to figure out a new coping mechanism because what we are doing is not working. Those are the times when I stepped back and reevaluated with Pumpkinpie, and some of my best parenting decisions came out of those moments.

So yes, do what you think you need. But I can't assume from this moment that you are really on the edge of danger. Only you can really know that. Hugs to you, lady, and the best of wishes for everything getting easier. Soon.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Schmitty said...

Getting help is being a great momma. Sending hugs your way!

9:35 PM  
Blogger Maggie, Dammit said...

You are my hero. You walk where the rest of us walk, but you're the only one with the words to speak it. When you breathe them, you breathe life into the rest of us. You are our voice. You are beautiful and amazing and human and you are, despite your title, her very, very, very good mother. And his.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I've been there too, feeling so alone, so frustrated, so tired and so angry. I had to walk away from the baby because I was afraid I was going to hurt her. I put her safely away, then screamed, yelled, cried, pounded my fists on the floor, and had a tantrum. "I can't do this anymore. I WON'T do this anymore!" I screamed at my husband. I was angry.

So few women talk about this even though most of us have these same feelings. This silence does nothing for those who come after us. Thank you for breaking the silence. You're not alone.

I'm proud of you for getting some help.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you, having the self-awareness to recognize when you need help and the self-confidence to go out and get it. Best of luck to you and your precious baby.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I had a lot of that frustration at night with my middle child because he was born when my oldest had just turned 2. I was exhausted and he was so needy and nursed constantly.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when my sister had her baby, and the absolute chasm of exhaustion and resulting depression that she fell into. Her doctor told her to "buck up." Fortunately, she told that doctor to "f*** off" and found someone who listened. It made a world of difference. I'm proud of you for deciding to get help. And don't let anyone tell you to buck up. You can't buck up when you are so wrecked from exhaustion. You just can't.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help is good. And you need it, and thus you should go get it.


You've forgotten - and are to be forgiven for forgetting, given the sleep-deprivation and misery - how normal this is. I had moments like this, myself. Not many, and never more than moments, but moments when I really thought I was about to cause someone harm. And the hell of it was, I didn't have any idea who might get harmed.

Get help, and stay safe, and be well. Just remember that you're not as alone and unusual as you might think, in the middle of the night.

10:54 PM  
Blogger BabyonBored said...

Been there, bought the T-shirt. But for me it happened many nights with the twins. Elby was a good sleeper but the twins were relentless for months and months and I thought I would throw one through a window. Or more realistically my fantasy was to just drive away and not come back. I'd have to put one twin in a crib in their room and the other in my bed so that they would rile each other up even more then I'd cry awhile and then read my daughter stories while the babies screamed and then start again. It will get better but you do need sleep.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, please get your thyroid tested and not just your T3 and T4 but also TPO and TgA antibodies. You could have hyper or hypothyroid if your T3 and T4 are off and if you have antibodies you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis and believe me it will get worse, much worse, before it gets better (with thyroid repacement).

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. Even if the H can't do nights then you have to go to bed the minute he gets home. DO whatever you have to do! We're with you.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Me thinks you should give the lad a bottle. I know breast is best, but we all know plenty of healthy formula babies. How many healthy mom's do you know that DON"T SLEEP?

Sometimes it's a compromise to take the best care of the ones we love. The best care is a healthy mom...no matter what he drinks from.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Mr Lady said...

One: Good on ya. You'll be glad.

Two: As I am sure ever single other commenter said, I have so been there. Like, once a week at least. Okay, daily, I'll admit it. Raising kids is WORK. It sucks sometimes. As long as you remember that and don't beat yourself up too much, you'll be fine little mama.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How brave you are and generous. Your honesty is a gift and an example for every mother. The one thing we wish with all our hearts to perfect, our parenting, is the one thing that tests us completely, rigorously, relentlessly. Until we recognize the impossibility of perfection( a wish we never give up)and decide that our best is what we have to offer, we suffer. Thank you for being such a fine person, for not letting fear or shame keep you suffering in silence. I admire you.

12:30 AM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

I can add nothing profound or different than what has already been said by so many before me, but I'll say that I know these feelings and how terrifying they can feel as you sense them flitting across your mind. I wish you peace.

1:44 AM  
Blogger rantsalamode said...

What an honest, courageous, vivid and amazing post. I'm definitely linking to it at the broadspot. It's the type of honest reflection on post-partum depression and angst every woman should have the opportunity to read.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Atlanta Mommy said...

You know, I remember feeling so sad during those long hours by myself with my baby. So incredibly lonely. I could see my neighbor's kitchen window from mine. They were night owls, but the moment they turned their kitchen light off it was like the loneliness enveloped me. I had to face all those long nighttime hours by myself. I know how you feel, Catherine. There were brief, fleeting moments where I was so angry that my little Sunshine wouldn't fall asleep. That I couldn't fall asleep. That my husband wasn't awake doing this. I wish I had had the courage to get help. Hugs!

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been there myself. Help is the right answer.


8:30 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

i am with you on this.

for me, it was hard to ask for help. but i'm glad you did.

clearly, by the comments you've received here, you/we are not alone.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I agree with everyone else. Every mother feels like this even if only for a split second. You are not alone. I also agree that if you need someone to take the baby, after you feed him during the day or during the night, for a few uniterrupted hours of sleep. I hope you feel better soon.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Last night, tomorrow, this morning.

You, friend, are always a hero. Don't forget it.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

catherine i am so proud of how brave and honest you are.and like all of the other mums have said i've been there too. am so glad you are getting help.is there no one who can come over during the day and help you out? so you could get some well deserved rest.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Mommer said...

Yep. I remember. My son was so exasperating as an infant, never seeming to know what he needed and then not wanting it when he got it.

I remember thinking, "I would never abuse my baby, but I understand now how women can do it."

Then, a month or two later after another one of those surges of rage you describe so well, I remember thinking, "I would never abuse my baby, but now I understand how women FEEL when they do it." I never did. But it makes a lot more sense now, what could happen when the filters that usually keep anger from erupting are clogged by what feels like near-terminal sleep deprivation.

You are doing the right thing, dear Good Mommy.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been there. And you're a braver woman than I.

Hugs, Catherine.

11:30 AM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

I'm with whoever said you should change the name of this blog to Her Good Mother.



12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for that. I am glad that you are going to talk to someone, get some help. I am thinking of you today, and hoping you get some relief (and sleep!) soon!

12:32 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Oh, C ... I'm so sorry you feel so terrible. I have to tell you, though, how impressed I've been by your strength, your emotional generosity. You are a wonderful mom.

I have to say that I had that feeling every single day of my mat leave, from about 5 weeks postpartum forward. Every day. Rage, despair, helplessness. Exhaustion and the fog of clumsineess and stupidity that comes with it.

I have to say, too, gingerly: maybe you're not sick. Maybe the problem is not your emotions and your reactions. Maybe the problem is that you need someone to help you with the kids, not talk therapy or pill therapy to modulate your quite sensible and reasonable responses to a grim situation--too much work and not enough hands.

Maybe you need a night nanny, not a shrink.

I know you've a history of PPD and I don't want to sound like I'm trying to pooh-pooh away your fears. I'm not. I'm suggesting rather that your emotional response is real and it is true: it's not pathological. Your fears are entirely justfied. But maybe the problem is not with you.

If I lived closer, I'd come take over for a day. You should have a break.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the help you need finds you and quickly. I've had those moments myself, and I needed help. I was never frustrated/angry/tired/desperate enough to follow through, but for me, just like for you, that briefest of flashes of raw emotion was more risk than I was willing to take.

I hope you take comfort in knowing you're not alone, and you're not a monster. I take comfort in knowing that you're a good mother and you've still felt as I have at one time, and that I'm not the only one either. And the help, it is glorious.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 51, so I'm old and un-with it. But I had three kids 4 years apart (they are now 23, 25, & 27)one would not sleep during the night and rarely napped (she's 25 now & still loves to stay up all night) and one was a premie who had to be fed every two hours and it would take an hour to feed her because feeding would exhaust her. By the time I would finish nursing her and get her back to bed I would be lucky to 60 minutes before we had to start all over again. Guess what? You can only maintain that schedule for so long before sheer exhaustion takes hold. The wisdom here is You CANNOT do it alone. Get help. Pump. Have a friend, hubby, relative come and spend the night for a few nights and take that middle of the night feeding so you can get some uninterrupted sleep. After you get some sleep in you, take a nap when the kiddies nap. Get a sitter so you can nap. The answer here is call in the reinforcements. And yeah, those flashes of anger, all part of the territory. It will happen and then happen again, whether they are babies, children, or teen-agers/young adults. Get caught up on your sleep & your perspective will be much better. I promise.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you realize that if you take antidepressants Tom Cruise will be very disappointed in you?
Sorry, just a bit of humor to try and cheer you up.
Actually, medication will make you feel much better. You're only human and if you're not getting enough sleep and the baby keeps screaming of course you'll feel miserable. I remember feeling that way myself, although my youngest just started college. When you described the snuffling and the poking and the pushing I wanted to shoot the damn kid out of a cannon!
We mothers get fed this ridiculous crap that we should be calm and loving and easygoing at all times and if we're not then we're (cue the ominous music) BAD MOTHERS!
Fathers don't have to live up to that kind of impossible standard. They're allowed to be grouchy and resentful and downright pissed when the kids are driving them crazy. I believe mothers deserve the same deal.
The good news is this is all a flash in the pan. Your baby won't remember if you were less than angelic at times. My oldest son is almost 20 and he has no idea that when he was a newborn I used to put him in his crib and go sit on the front steps with the door closed so I couldn't hear him crying. My most heartfelt desire was to climb in my car and drive to a hotel, where I would check in and sleep for about 18 hours.
Eventually he got older and started sleeping better. I got used to taking care of a baby. I got my old self back.
This too shall pass and you'll feel better. In the meantime, thank you for sharing your thoughts so honestly. And the world won't come to an end if you put the baby in the crib and go have a cup of tea or take a walk around the block.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh poor Catherine. I so feel you. Been there, done that, with each and every kid. Got help a couple of times, suffered through a couple of times, threw dishes once and put my foot through a wall once. It's normal. Good for you for stepping up and getting what you need. I wish you sleep and peace.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh sweetie. I wish I was there, to bring the baby to you for nursing, then do the changing and rocking and handle the "hey it's 2 AM, time for me to be wide awake!" times of the day (night?). Only you and your husband and doctor can decide what is best for you obviously, but if it has to be some kind of nanny or night nurse or whatever, I hope you are able to do it even for a short time, so that you can pay back your enormous sleep debt to your body. You shouldn't have to suffer like this. I'll be here in Michigan worrying about you xoxo

6:32 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I SO hear you on this post. I hear you. I remember my moment, a moment where I literally wanted to swing my baby over my head by her ankles, the way you'd throw a pillow in a pillow fight.

It scared the hell out of me. You are not alone.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get some help, get some sleep. Hire someone to help you with the two small children. Get a person for the day shift and the night shift until you feel well.

8:53 PM  
Blogger NotSoSage said...

You know what I'm going to say: no assvice, no "this worked for me", just Good for you. And good for you for blogging about it, so maybe someone else feeling the same way might seek help next time.

9:00 PM  
Blogger SM said...

Just one more voice saying, me, too. Finally, in the middle of one night with #2 (and, actually, there may have been a few such episodes with #1) when she was a couple, few months old, I started cursing like a sailor - "If I don't get some effing sleep I'm going to go out of my effing mind!" Charming. But my husband sure did snap to trying to make sure I got some sleep afterward. I was in therapy I believe shortly after that. My therapist, of course, said I needed some sleep. I'm still paying her big bucks for that.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Michelle W said...

You amaze me every single time I come here. Every. Single. Time. This is just proof that you're love for the boy far outweighs any moment of uncontrolled emotion that you might have had.

I can't say that it is not the scariest thing in the world. I know that it is.

Sleep deprivation makes people do crazy things.

I wish you the very best.

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm not sure if a hospital near you has a sleep clinic, but if you can find one, they may be able to help in getting jasper to sleep on his own. when my son was co-sleeping and nursing all. night. long. i took the advice of a sleep clinic and he slept through the night the first night and every night since. he was 7 months old at the time and is 2 years and 6 months now. i never thought i'd do something like that, but realized i had to get some rest, so you know you need as well. i didn't mind that he stopped nursing b/c my supply all but vanished in 2 days. i was sleeping. sweet, glorious hours of sleep. let me know if you want any information - that is, if you and your doctors don't have another solution. i hope, darling, that you and your family can heal.

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm not sure if a hospital near you has a sleep clinic, but if you can find one, they may be able to help in getting jasper to sleep on his own. when my son was co-sleeping and nursing all. night. long. i took the advice of a sleep clinic and he slept through the night the first night and every night since. he was 7 months old at the time and is 2 years and 6 months now. i never thought i'd do something like that, but realized i had to get some rest, so you know you need as well. i didn't mind that he stopped nursing b/c my supply all but vanished in 2 days. i was sleeping. sweet, glorious hours of sleep. let me know if you want any information - that is, if you and your doctors don't have another solution. i hope, darling, that you and your family can heal.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Aly @ Lip Zip said...

I'm so sorry you're going through this. On top of everything you're going through, exhaustion makes things 1,000 times worse. I hope everything went well at the doctor today. Good for you for taking the big step and realizing you want some help. That's huge and I agree with what another poster said above -- that makes you a good mommy.

1:04 AM  
Blogger Mom O Matic said...

Oh I'm so proud of you. What a wise mother you are to get what you need taken care of.

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck, mom. I hope you get some sleep.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So brave of you to get help - I wish you all the best.

I nominated you for a blog award - I don't expect it to make your day, but you should know that people care.

3:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh HBM, you are going to be ok!! I can recall plenty of times I thought I was going to "lose" it w/ my 2 older ones and now I have little Mia Catherine who has not yet brought me to that point yet, but I'm sure she will, she's only 10 weeks! My thoughts are with you, and I'm glad you are going to see the dr...Proud of you..

11:10 AM  
Blogger Mama Smurf said...

I've been following your twits and blog for a while now but rarely (if ever - I can't remember) comment. I just want to tell you that you speak for millions of women and are an inspiration. You are NOT a bad mother. You are an incredibly conscientious mother who gets help when you recognize a problem.

I'm convinced that PPD = sleep deprivation. I've had 3 kids now and it was with the one child that wouldn't sleep that I felt those same urges. Mamas need sleep.

Just delurking for a moment to applaud you.

1:13 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Any exhausted, sleep-deprived mother of a baby and a toddler who says they never felt this way is lying.

You're a good mother. And your asking for some extra help only emphasizes this fact.


6:03 PM  
Blogger Blog said...

Yes, see the psychiatrist, get on the pills (which are safe for breastfeeding), and KNOW that you are NOT a monster. The fact that you have enough personal power in you to seek help says a WHOLE lot. GOOD FOR YOU. Much love to you and prayers.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife went through this, too, including the sleep issues. She DID see a psychiatrist and came out the other side better and happier than I think she was even before our son was born. No shame in getting help when you need it. Good luck!

9:37 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Am thinking of you Cath, and checking back in to make sure all is well. Help is good. Help is...help. And your friends, well we're here for you but there's only so much we can do.

Much love.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Kim @ Ponytaildiaries.com said...

Who hasn't had those thoughts? As a Mom of three and one a colic baby I found myself often thinking how glad I am that we're wired to love our babies because I was pretty pissed off by not sleeping for three days and this baby just yelling because, "I hai, can I haz hold me now?" And I had to take care of other children, too. I'd feel so overwhelmed and I'd sing that lullaby through my gritted teeth. And then I'd feel terrible. But I had a friend who consistently told me, "You're not evil. The difference is you DON'T act out on how that felt." I'm really thankful for her. She saved my life if not my sanity. But I don't think my lack of sanity is child related it's just having them brought it to light, I think.

I hope your appt today is helpful. I'll be thinking of you and hoping for the best.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are normal, although extremely stressed. I feel real bad for you. I felt that way many a time.

My kids are all teens now, and about a year ago I almost lost it. I just felt like leaving home and not returning til they went to college. The crying and the 'why are they putting me through this' and just wanting out.

(I'm not trying to discourage you, I'm pointing out that it happens often in motherhood. How you deal with it now may help you later)

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading this has me plummeting backward through 8 years of time.

I know that darkness, that deep, drenching darkness of the soul.

Reading your post makes me want to hyperventilate, because going back into the dark, dark place is something I have avoided at all costs. (My second child was adopted because the first one made me understand where Andrea Yates was coming from. And that's just terrifying.)

The only thing that worked for me was talk therapy. (And letting my father keep the baby one night a week. Which requires pumping and a willing grandparent, so that you can get those precious hours now and then.) I'm fairly certain without those two things I would not be here today, I would have given in to the voices in my head that said that if I was dead, I would be able to sleep.

Don't let that darkness invade too deeply into your soul.

1:14 PM  
Blogger allison, a flea circus said...

Just one more mother to say well done. Identify the pain, and get some help. There is nothing else with that slow, insidious, creeping, evil torture as persistent lack of sleep. Exhaustion, the real kind, not the kind we all walk around mumbling about on a daily basis, is crippling. You will get past this. You ARE a good mother. And not the only one to struggle just like you are. Peas, and love.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Oh man, how I remember this exhaustion. Knowing that sleep will come eventually is no solace when you're just so damn tired. I was recommended an OTC sleep med that was okay with nursing. She still woke to nurse frequently, but I could fall back to sleep after she did, rather than lie in bed anxiously waiting for the next cry.

Svetlana sounds like good people, too. It's great that you're reaching out.

4:52 PM  

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