Some of you may know that I grew up in the Exclusive Brethren, recently rebranded as the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church. Recently a group of us got together and did a remembrance event with we called Tie-A-Yellow-Ribbon. We did this to remember our families within the EB/PBCC who we no longer have normal relationships with. It is sad to think that my children may never meet my mom, my siblings or their many cousins. Erin has just started asking questions about her other granny and it is tricky to explain that a belief that is supposed to be about unconditional love, may actually prevent then from meeting. This films speaks for itself really. Enjoy and please feel free to like and comment on the youtube page – and of course share.
I saw the quote below and just wanted to share it. I also wanted to say that contradictory to how my previous post may have came across, I am actually – a lot of the time – a very happy person and often quite a good mother. I guess you have to experience the sadness to truly recognise the happiness, and you have to recognise the problems in order to grow. I don’t spend all my days beating myself up. In fact life is pretty damn good (mostly) with quite normal(I think) highs and lows.
Love & light…
Traumatised child, traumatised mum… November 3, 2013
Since my middle child, Ayla, was born I have blogged much less. This is partly due to being incredibly busy, but I think mostly due to the fact that I have been slightly traumatised and have felt unable to really talk about this, except for to a few close friends, before now.
Before Ayla’s birth I wrote this blog about Letting Go of expectations and fear. If you read the following blog you will see that I went into labour the night after writing the first blog. Now, I have a theory about this. I feel that I did let go of fear enough for my body to relax and go into labour, but I don’t feel that I was relaxed enough. I didn’t exactly explain this in the birth blog (the second one) but looking back now, I find it quite odd that once Ayla’s head was out I lost all desire to push her body out. It took at least another 7 minutes before I forced myself (with Stevens help) to push her body out, which I believe is quite long. Looking back now, I do feel that I wasn’t actually ready for her. As wonderful as I thought my living arrangements were, there was actually a lot of constantly having to shush Erin and stop her from going into rooms and exploring like a normal toddler, and Erin was a pretty quiet, angelic child. (we shared a house). In retrospect I KNOW this caused me a lot more stress then I acknowledged or even realised at the time. I know because when we moved out I felt such a HUGE sense of relief. This was probably one of many factors – there was the ‘how will I cope?’ factor, and many more.
Anyhow, within the first day or two when little gorgeous Ayla began to cry constantly I was completely taken by surprise. My first daughter had practically never cried. I was bloody tired and emotional and nothing I did seemed to satisfy this little soul – and it made me feel so useless – and angry. I felt I never really bonded with her and fell in love with her the way I did with Erin – this process was interrupted by desperate cries and helplessness. Many a night Steven and I would just pass her between us and hold her for as long as we could cope with the crying. She has a hearty, shriek-like cry which seemed to make all the nerves in my body twang and I felt like SUCH an awful mum! Not even boobie would satisfy her. She HATED the car and would literally scream from the second we got in to the second we stopped – I often had to stop and get her out on the way somewhere as I felt so utterly mean allowing her to get into such a state..she was literally breathless, sweaty and bright red by the time we arrived. And there were times when I wore her in the sling and sat in the back of the car with her, and she was much happier like this. It was heartbreaking. I went out as little as possible. Seeing Dr Maryellen Stephens of Westcountry Family Chiropractic was a Godsend, and the crying immediately reduced. But Ayla has always been a needy baby and she has carried that through to childhood.
I feel she is traumatised for a few reasons:
1) me not feeling ready for her due to unforeseen & unchangeable circumstances
2) me being fearful of ending up in hospital
3) allowing intervention in having my waters broken when it was looking apparent that labour would stop
4) me literally not being able to push her body out for ages – having her head in the water, eyes open for well over 5 minutes (a very clear subconscious message??)
5) me being unable to cope with the crying and feeling utterly helpless
I have had three wonderful natural births, that many a woman is envious of & I should be thankful, right? But yet I can relate to how people who have had awful traumatic births must feel. I believe that Ayla’s stress hormones(cortisol) are high and used up fast and then adrenaline kicks in. It is hard. I totally adore this child and would die for her, but there are moments when I just simply don’t know how to be with her. This has reflected negatively on our mother child relationship and I sometimes feel that Ayla is simply a reflection of how I’ve become as a result of her crying and unquenchable neediness, and therefore my feeling of helplessness. I used to be super chilled and easy going, but there is something about that cry (which she still has) that makes something in my brain go ‘twang’ and I lose the ability to cope – over and over again. I say things that I don’t mean and I see the fear in her eyes when I roar at her to ‘stop crying because it’s making me go insane’. Tears are rolling down my face as I write this. I recognise that it is so terribly terribly sad, and I still feel helpless as to how to make it better.
What is also interesting is that when Ayla was 2 months old I broke my finger and had to have it operated on. This put my one hand out of action for over a month. I don’t think I purposely broke my finger, but I do think that this gave me the ability to step back and hand over the childcare a bit more to Steven at a time when I was feeling unable to cope. You have to wonder about timings sometimes…
Ayla is quite aggressive, extremely emotional, quite angry and has a blood curdling scream which makes everyone cover their ears if we’re in a public place. She is constantly hurting Leander or pushing him over (sometimes I think she just wants to squeeze him because she loves him, but then gets carried away and hurts him instead) and hubby and I often find ourselves talking and worrying about her mental health. I know it is a mothers ‘job’ to blame herself, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself – but it is hard. I also feel very guilty that we had Leander when she was so little (she was 27 months old) and I know that of course she must be quite jealous of the attention he gets – and he is a total angel of a baby so he gets lots of positive attention, whereas she mainly seems to attract negative attention although we really really make an effort to give her one on one and as much positive attention as we can.
I myself have been rather down in the dumps and am in fact currently having Counselling – and I must say that I feel a big part of the problem is as a result of Ayla’s babyhood and my loss of faith in myself. I do actually feel traumatised by the crying and have the most terrible guilt for not being able to provide for her needs – I could not stop her from crying, no matter what I did. I have gradually begun disliking myself more and more over the past 3 years and am now actually only recognising this and changing the pattern. How can I expect my kids to love themselves if I don’t love myself?
Regardless of all of this, I can honestly say that I love Ayla as much as my other children, and she probably spends a lot more time going around in my heart & head as I worry about her, and I desperately want to make things right in her world. She is pretty damn hilarious when she wants to be and ever so cute and small and articulate. She can be very loving and adorable, and she can be totally feisty and wild too – all of which I adore. If I had a time machine, I would like to repeat our first few months together – I want to take her on a journey back into the womb and really wish her out into this world wholeheartedly, make things right for her from the start..somehow I feel like if this had been the case she may not have cried as much as she did. If she hadn’t cried so much I would have been able to bond much better. If I’d bonded much better, she would be a much more secure child. Oh, the guilt that comes with parenthood – and of course, there’s no guarantee that any of this would have made any difference.
Another theory I have is that I persuaded her to stop breastfeeding when she was 18 months old. I had just ended up in hospital with severe blood loss after an anembryonic pregnancy, and I just felt too physically drained to continue. I also felt I never had quite the same breastfeeding relationship with her as I did with the others – it was much easier to stop feeding her than it would have been with Erin. I just didn’t feel as ‘connected’ to her. I breastfed Erin til 3 and beyond, and she is such a secure child and I am sure this is a contributing factor. In retrospect I do actually wish I’d continued with Ayla, because I think it could have been really healing for both of us – but I was physically and mentally depleted and felt unable to at the time.
What could really heal her, I think, is plenty of one-on-one time with her. Plenty of praise, endless love, no punishments. (Easier said then done when her shrieks trigger an automatic negative response from me…something I’m working on). I feel I need to allow her to be a baby again too. Life has been hard enough for her…I have no idea why she actually cried when she was a baby, but whatever it was – I believe it has left scars. I believe Love-bombing may well be our answer, and in small doses has worked miracles for as long as a couple of weeks afterwards. I want to do a few days of total love-bombing when Leander is weaned some day and see what that does. I also want to learn to forgive and love myself again, as I’m sure this will reflect on our relationship and I’m happy to say that I am well on my way there!
So now the secret is out – I am indeed human and no super mom at all. But, as I so often say these days, I’m working on it 😉
The end of an era… November 2, 2013
This past week some lovely friends offered for us to use their house while we were away. As a complete contradiction to my previous post – I really enjoyed the creature comforts and am very grateful that all of our friends don’t live like us 🙂 We enjoyed hot baths and heating that came on at the flip of a switch. We had the choice of a dishwasher or washing dishes in hot water! The girls remained glued to the telly for the entire time.
I always find it quite funny because people try to communicate with my girls while a telly is on and they don’t respond. Sometimes people think they are being rude – but they are just totally and utterly absorbed in it. We have a telly in our house but no aerial, so we can only watch dvd’s – and we tend to do much more playing than dvd’s so it’s a bit of a novelty. With the amount of adverts on tv I can only say that I am VERY happy with our choice. Erin started by saying, ‘wow mom, look that’s cool’ to every bit of plastic that was advertised – until I pointed out that they were all plastic. She, like I, knows where plastic eventually ends up. You only need to take a walk on a local beach, hear news like this or watch something like this. Very soon everytime an ad came on we’d be sitting there saying ‘plastic’, ‘more plastic’, ‘even more plastic’. She gets it and she really cares about the earth and it’s creatures. She would sacrifice her desire for a pink princess castle(or whatever), because she knows that in the end it is not going to do anyone good. I’m really proud of her! She also knows she can create her own games from all sorts of things, using a bit of imagination, and her and Ayla are very good at doing this kind of thing together (when they’re not fighting!) This is not to say we are not guilty of contributing to the plastic infestation – we do do plastic – but we’d like not to.
Anyway, I digress! What I really wanted to talk about it the end of an era with my little boy. He is almost 14 months old now and has just started walking. I have been breastfeeding (almost exclusively) for the last 14 months and plan to continue for as long as he wants it. The thing is, unlike the girls, he was showing very little interest in solid food (in any form…) and was feeding what felt like all night, every night. I was/am constantly exhausted and therefore not the happiest person to be around. I am really for going with babies natural rhythm and am 100% pro feeding on demand, and extended breastfeeding, but I got the point where I had to weigh up whether I continued as I was – or reduced night feeds and perhaps became less exhausted and a better mother as a result.
When my friend said we could use her house while they were away it just seemed like the perfect opportunity…I decided to have an evening of one-to-one with each of my girls, using Oliver James’ love-bombing technique(something I’ve wanted to do for ages), and to see how Leander would cope without nighttime boobie(inspired by a friend who recently did something similar). Hubby was willing to have the other daughter and little Leander. Leander has always refused a bottle – even with breast milk – he will play with it, but that’s it. I was so nervous and feeling so guilty about leaving Leander that I nearly changed my mind several times and it almost ruined my evening with the girls. But I know that hubby is a very capable and wonderful dad who is very close to him, and I made him PROMISE to call me if Leander cried (properly), and I’d come home.
I called late evening to find out that Leander was drinking Oatly happily from a bottle (!!) and that he’d been looking around for me but hadn’t cried. He is an amazing little boy and is quite used to being with hubby without me, when I’m at work. He woke up every 40 minutes the first night, and hubby got an idea of how exhausted I usually am. He drank a bit of milk the first couple of times and cuddled up to hubby and went back to sleep the other times, but at 2am he did throw a little tantrum. He screamed, kicked his legs and wouldn’t let hubby touch him, but thankfully this lasted less than 5 minutes and then he cuddled back into hubby and went back to sleep (we co-sleep). I went back at 7am and gave him a big feed and cuddle.
On the second night, Leander didn’t cry – not once. He slept for much longer periods and when he did wake, it was just to make sure daddy was there. He cuddled in and went straight back to sleep, no problems. I was really surprised – I thought this was going to be much harder.
Last night we all slept at our friends house but I slept with the girls and Leander hardly woke at all the whole night. His appetite for solids has increased massively, and although I feel a bit guilty about this and a bit like I’ve rushed him, it is a huge relief and I am already feeling less tired. I have been breastfeeding for the past 5 and a half years (except for 6 months whilst I was pregnant with Leander) and don’t get me wrong, it is wonderfully rewarding, my kids are blooming healthy and I absolutely love it, but it is exhausting.
So it is with both happiness and a certain sense of loss that I am moving into the next era. We are not having anymore kids, so this may be the beginning of the days where I am not awake breastfeeding all night. This just may be the beginning of days when I will not have a baby permanently on my boob. I feel sad, and I will miss it very much. But I also look forward to being a more energised and better mum. Here’s hoping anyway.
And this is all thanks to my lovely friends, without whom we would probably not had a chance to try this out for ages. Erin and Ayla really enjoyed the love-bombing too – I will save the details of that for another post…