For the longest time I did not have the words to describe how I am feeling. I thought it was just my anxiety acting up, or a side-effect of PPD. But I realized what it was during this last growth spurt, as my husband handed Nova to me for what felt like the millionth time that day, planting a kiss on my cheek just as my 8-year old daughter put her arms around me.
I kind of freaked out… “can everyone please stop touching me!”, I broke my daughter’s heart a little bit with that – but I felt completely out of control. I am a very affectionate person when it comes to my family. I love for the hugs and kisses, holding hands and intimacy with my husband – but these past few months I cannot help but cringe every time any of them come near me.
I need space. A lot of it. The moment Nova goes down for a nap (on the few occasions that he is okay with not sleeping on top of me) or when my husband holds him for a bit – I shake my hands out, stretch my neck, and feel the lightness of my arms without the weight of my baby. And I feel guilty for loving it.
Sometimes the feeling gets so overwhelming, and it makes me angry. It drives me insane that my husband can just go hide in his office behind a closed door when things get too much or have a nap when he is tired – honestly. Imagine having that luxury.
I am struggling to understand my feelings, and I feel misunderstood by everyone around me. For once I don’t have to worry about the end of my maternity leave looming. I get to cuddle my adorable, beautiful, scrumptious, gorgeous, divine smelling baby all day long. How can I feel so overwhelmed by touch? How can I be so touched out? I should be loving every second, the only thing I should be overwhelmed by is gratitude (and lack of sleep).
Maybe it is the intensity of the neediness. There is no other time in your life that someone needs you as constantly and fully as a newborn does. You need to be available and ready 24/7. Nova has also refused any bottles or pacifiers since our stint in hospital with RSV – so I am the only one that can feed and soothe him.
I tried to talk to a mom-friend about this recently. I told her that I sometimes go sit in my car while Nova is sleeping – just to not be close to anyone. She looked at me with a confused (and subtle judgmental) expression and said: “Oh, you’ll miss all the cuddles someday.” I wanted to punch her. I wanted to punch her and then get locked in a jail cell by myself where I could go one full day where no one touches me, not my kids, not my husband. No one.
There is a recent study that concluded that parents only get 32-minutes to themselves each day. I think that is generous. I get 10-minutes in the shower, and even then the feeling of the water on my skin is just too much. Nova sleeps in my arms, in bed with me at night – it is the only way to get him to sleep & keep him asleep. Knox joins us at about 3 am. I love the fact that my kids feel safest with us, that they love to cuddle and come to us for comfort – but right now it feels too much. I need a bigger bed. Maybe that would help…
This might come as a surprise, but I happen to be a very introverted person and need lots of downtime and alone time to recharge my batteries. I have three kids, I am constantly holding someone, having a child hanging on me and needing everything from me–physically, emotionally, and otherwise– and I am finding it incredibly, incredibly draining.
We are humans with our own needs and thresholds and personalities and yes, physical boundaries. But this is life… so how do I learn to cope?
Do you ever feel touched-out? What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?