General Parenting, Milestones

9 months old!

I’ve had 9 months with these adorable creatures already.

It doesn’t seem all that long ago they were this size.

But it also feels like a lifetime ago. They’ve just fit into this family so perfectly it’s like they’ve always been here.

Such a different experience this time around than it was with Caide. Despite there being two of them it’s been much easier. Is that because I (kinda) knew what I was doing this time round? Is it because I’m on medication for my anxiety and didn’t develop PPD this time? Is it just because they are much easier babies? I’ve no idea, probably a combination of all three.

But I’ve actually been enjoying it.

I went into the 2nd baby thing expecting to simply “get through” the first year. When I found out it was twins I wasn’t sure I was going to even manage that. I’ve certainly not “enjoyed every second” because that’s bullshit, but overall yes.

I’ve enjoyed it.

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That pic is terrible quality but I love it.

#day7of30 #30daychallenge

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anxiety, General Parenting, Mental Health, Milestones

Roly poly baby

One of them can roll front to back and one of them just lies there 😂😍

With Caide I got so stressed out by milestones and what he “should” be doing and comparing his development to other babies around the same age. Then of course worrying I was doing everything wrong, not spending enough time playing with him, not giving him enough tummy time, not talking to him enough etc whenever he was “behind” (which he never even was).

With the twins it’s so easy to see how different two babies can be, even with exactly the same environment and upbringing. So yeah I’m trying not to let anxiety get the best of me. I’m sure Theo will roll over sometime before his 18th birthday

anxiety, General Parenting, Mental Health, Milestones

Is My Anxiety Holding My Child Back?

My son had his 14-month developmental milestones check-up this week.

Full marks for gross motor, fine motor and problem solving skills.

Below average for social skills.

Borderline for communication skills.

Then she asked if I had ever made it to any of the baby & toddler groups in the area.

“No,” I reply, and my heart sinks with shame.

Three months ago I bumped into her at the health centre and she asked how things were going etc and I said I’d been thinking about joining a baby & toddler group or starting a class because neither of us are getting much socialisation. So she gave me a list of the groups in the area.

I went home and read the list. Googled the locations of the groups. Put them on my calendar.

But social anxiety said no.

I never went to any of them.

My son has no cousins and none of my friends have children. He is alone.

“Do you use any childcare at all?”

“No.”

“Do you have any friends nearby?”

“Yes, I have a friend in *neighbouring town*.”

“Does she have children?”

“No.”

“Does he have any cousins?”

“No. The closest he has are my youngest cousins who are 6 and 4 but they live an hour away.”

“Will he be going to nursery?”

“Yes,” I lied. I firmly plan to homeschool. But by this point I felt awful. Like it’s my fault that he isn’t talking yet, and she knows it too*.

She assured me that he is not considered speech delayed yet and is still within the normal limits for communication. And I know he is. I know he’ll talk in time.

But this is just another example of how anxiety can take over.

And I Was Already An Anxious Mess

I caused a bit of miscommunication by not telling the lady at the front desk I was there. Because when I first brought him to the drop-in clinic – held in the same room – I told her I was there but I didn’t need to and I felt like an ass. So I just walked right on past and took a seat outside the room.

My appointment time came and went so I knocked on the door (after much deliberation about whether or not I should).

No answer. She must still be with a previous appointment. I sit back down.

15 more minutes pass.

15 tense minutes where I’m anxious about everyone else in the waiting room and what they’re thinking of me and I know they’re watching us because the only thing that is moving or making a sound is my tiny adorable human.

Please stop trying to play with the fire extinguisher son. I know you like red things but it’s important that you don’t break that. Yes, there’s another one on that wall. Please, just sit with Mummy.

He pulls a notice off the pinboard behind my head. I scramble about in a low-key anxiety attack trying to find all the pins that dropped.

I sit back down. I wonder if I should ask at the front desk or if that would sound pushy. She’s probably just held up somewhere. I don’t want to be that Mum.

A physiotherapist passes and asks if I’m waiting for a physiotherapy appointment. I notice that one of the notices behind my head asks to please keep these seats free for physiotherapy patients.

I panic and knock again.

No answer.

I sit back down. I consider just legging it.

Another health visitor passes and asks if I am waiting on the assessment.

“Did you tell the front desk you’re here?”

“No.” I felt like an ass.

She went and told them for me because anxiety makes it impossible to adult properly, and my health visitor arrives.

I honestly feel like I do something awkward every single time I see her. I also never answer the phone when she calls because I get umpteen sales calls a day so have stopped answering numbers I don’t know.

I wonder how close she is to calling social services on me for being weird and distant and awkward. I probably come across as vague and evasive.

I’d be suspicious of me too.

The meeting begins and the focus is mostly on Caide and whether or not he can stack blocks on top of each other and put Cheerios in a little urine sample bottle.

But Then It’s Question Time

Most questions were generic questions that were easy to answer. One took me totally by surprise.

“Are you on any medication?”

I hesitate. Why on Earth is she asking that? I better be honest. I don’t want to get caught hiding anything. That won’t look good.

“Fluoxetine.”

“You’re still taking fluoxetine.”

Still? I have never told her I’m taking it. Maybe a slip of the tongue.

“Is it still 40mg?”

Do they share my medical records with the health visitor? Are they allowed to do that? That sounds like the Named Person Scheme that the Supreme Court ruled against. How does she know this?!

“Yes.”

Then the above questions about Caide’s socialisation.

In my already anxious state, the questions were exaggerated to mean something they probably were never intended to.

That I am a terrible mother for isolating my son from his peers.

I’m avoiding these groups for my own benefit but it is proving detrimental to my son.  I don’t want him to be the socially awkward hopeless case his parents are. I want him to thrive.

But my anxiety is already failing him.

I Know This Isn’t True

But logic < anxiety. It takes over the thinking part of the brain and inserts irrational thoughts that don’t feel irrational at the time. It ties up your thoughts into neat little negative-thinking loops that are almost impossible to break.

But I know it isn’t true.

But what if it is?

———-

*I would like to mention that she did not ask all these questions in a row like that. It was not an interrogation. She is a lovely lady and I am not bashing her at all. I’m telling the version of the story that happened in my head, the way anxiety saw it.

 

anxiety, confessions, depression, General Parenting, Life Events, Mental Health, Milestones, ppd

How Anxiety Stole My Son’s Birth

It should have been the best day of my life.

But one of the things I was most terrified of, happened.

And that’s going to make for a pretty shit day for anyone. As a sufferer of anxiety, it was the highway to hell.

The day started with 20hrs of the worst pain I’ve ever felt – which had kept me awake the whole night, so I was shattered – and continued with a constant uncertainty about when to go into hospital.

Contractions intensifying and speeding up only to lessen and slow down again. The eventual fear we’d leave it “too late” and end up delivering our baby ourselves in the middle of the motorway.

To alleviate that worry we just went into the hospital. There I was subjected to umpteen barely consensual, excruciatingly painful vaginal exams.

It honestly felt like they were stabbing a knife into my cervix.

I said I would rather not have them because they were so freakin’ painful, but they did them anyway. Over and over and over.

I felt violated.

I hadn’t even got to 2cm dilated and had already had so many I’d lost count.

My spirit was broken. I wanted to go home.

But another midwife wanted to see how dilated I was, even though I’d just had one and could have told her. But she wanted to “make sure”. What she felt was a bum, not a head.

So she called in another midwife to “check” and she wanted “to see for herself”, and was perplexed at why I wanted the gas & air “just” for a VE. It barely even helped.

She confirmed it and it was declared.

I needed a c-section.

I had imagined a peaceful, relaxed, hippy natural birth in the water with nothing but gas & air. But I wasn’t unrealistic. I was prepared for needing diamorphine or even an epidural. I was prepared for the possible eventuality of requiring some form of intervention.

But a c section? Nope. Please no.

Surgery freaks me out.

So there I was, already crippled with anxiety, feeling thoroughly violated, about to be put through one of my worst fears.

Everything happened so quickly, I had no time to think about it, to process it, to mentally prepare myself. I was told to swallow the pre-surgery pill, given an ultrasound to confirm the breech (yes, in that order), and told my baby would likely die if I didn’t go for the c-section.

So I signed the papers and was wheeled off to the operating theatre.

I was so anxious by this point that I physically could not relax enough for them to get the anaesthetic in. They had to re-do the local anaesthetic because it wore off before they got the damn needle in. They gave up and called down another anaesthetist to give it a try.

I was crying.

I couldn’t see through the tears. I’m a snotty crier and I had nothing to wipe my nose on.

I was a mess.

I needed my husband, but he wasn’t allowed in the room.

I worried he was sat outside wondering what was taking so long, scared that something had gone horribly wrong (he was).

I worried they were never going to get the needle in and I was going to have to vaginally deliver a breech baby, which I had been told could kill him.

I worried the theatre staff were losing their patience with me because they were having to tell me to relax, lean further forward, over and over and over again.

I tried to apologise, tell them I suffer from anxiety, ask if my husband could come in to help calm me, but my voice was shaking so much it just came out as garbled noise.

I was a soggy, tense, snotty, shaking mess.

Finally, they got the needle in, laid me down, and confirmed my name, DOB etc. and the operation I was here to have – “elective c section”.

Elective?!

This was not elective!

I was told that my baby would die if I didn’t do this! Apparently, this was not the case at all and doing a c section due to breech alone is considered elective. I felt like I’d just went through all of that for nothing.

I was completely dismayed. And angry. So angry.

But it was too late now.

They finally allowed my husband in the room and I started to feel calmer. I can do this. It’ll be over soon. We’re about to meet our baby. He’ll need his mummy.

I started focussing so hard on my breathing to try and calm myself and prevent a full-blown panic attack.

I was just about coping when the cold crept in. Then the anaesthesia shivers. It was horrible. I felt like I was convulsing. I remembered every episode of ER I had ever watched.

I began to lose control.

One of my monitors beeped and they pressed a button to make it stop but didn’t tell me what it was and I was too terrified of the answer to ask.

I thought I was going to die.

I was trying so hard to compose myself, trying to be strong, because mothers are “supposed” to be strong for their babies.

But I was terrified.

I felt weak.

Unworthy of motherhood.

If I can’t even cope with his birth, how am I going to cope with parenthood? I felt like I would never be good enough for him.

I’d failed him already.

I should’ve done more research, I should’ve been more assertive. Instead I signed the dotted line and relinquished all control to total strangers.

Some mother I’m turning out to be.

They pulled him out of me and held him over the curtain so I could see him. But I couldn’t see him. They had taken my glasses of so all I saw was a blur. I didn’t even realise they were holding him there until my husband pointed it out.

I waited on them to cut the cord so they could bring him closer. Put him on my chest, skin-to-skin, like I was promised before I consented to this surgery.

But then they took him away into the corner behind me. I was told his weight and exact time of birth, but I didn’t want stats, I wanted my baby.

Why are they not giving me my baby? Is there something wrong with him?

Reinforcing this fear, I was informed they’d called down a paediatrician to check his lungs because he was bringing up loads of fluid. Another c section risk I was not told about, and another reason to feel like a terrible mother for putting him through this already, in the first minutes of his life.

Straight from the comfort of my womb to feeling like he’s drowning.

The paediatrician gave him the all-clear, so they swaddled him, put a hat on him and gave him to my husband. Not me. Not skin-to-skin.

My wishes were completely ignored.

My husband placed him on my chest close enough for me to see him without my glasses. I looked at him for the first time, eager for that rush of love everyone gushes about.

I felt nothing.

The angle was weird and he couldn’t move because he was so tightly swaddled.

He felt like a doll.

I tried to touch him but my arms felt so heavy and I was shivering so badly and I couldn’t even really control what direction my arm was moving in. My movements were jerky and uncoordinated.

I felt completely disconnected.

Disconnected from my own body as well as my baby. The miniscule human being staring at me with huge dark eyes could have been anyone’s baby.

I didn’t love him.

It was hard to even look at him. But I stared and stared, waiting for love.

It never came.

I don’t even remember the journey from the OR to the recovery room. My husband says I was holding our son while they wheeled me there but I don’t remember a single second of it, even immediately after, I didn’t remember getting there.

One midwife took my blood pressure and fussed with surgery socks while another changed my son’s first nappy, without asking. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but in the moment, I was devastated that I had missed his first First.

The feeling that he wasn’t really my baby intensified.

I finally got to hold him skin-to-skin. I held him close and stared at him. I was so desperate to love him. But I felt nothing.

Breastfeeding didn’t bond me with him either.

I actually kind of hated it.

Our breastfeeding journey was not getting off to a good start. He kept falling asleep after a few suckles. Then waking up hungry and trying to latch again. Then asleep again. I had no idea if this was normal.

The whole time in the recovery room was just latch, suckle, sleep, wake, repeat, while midwives came and went with all their tests, checks, small-talk and offers of tea and toast, which I felt too nauseous to eat.

After being wheeled down to the ward, it wasn’t long before my husband was told he had to leave, visiting times were over. We hadn’t yet been graced a moment alone, just the three of us. I’d barely even looked at my baby’s father since being taken to the OR, never mind spoke with him.

And I had never needed him more than I did then.

So there I was, a sleep-deprived, drug-hazed, hungry, anxiety-ridden woman, alone, thrust into a strange environment, surrounded by strangers, with a tiny newborn and no idea what to do with him.

He was struggling to feed. I was struggling to cope. But it was the nightshift and I was too anxious about disturbing the other mothers and their babies that I didn’t call for help.

I cried all night.

(Silently, so the other Mums on the ward couldn’t hear me.)

I wanted to run.

Had I physically been able to move, I would have left that hospital. I’d have walked the 11 miles home. I fantasised about it. Planned my route. Calculated how long it would take. I didn’t even consider the option of just calling my husband to come pick me up.

Anxiety is not rational.

Anxiety ruined what should have been the best day of my life.

It twisted it into something awful, something that, 14 months later, I still think about every day. I still have anxiety attacks about it. The slightest mention of anaesthesia or surgery or childbirth takes me straight back to that operating table, shivering and panicking and thinking I was going to die.

It’s getting to the point where I am tempted to avoid the motorway and take the long way because you can see the hospital from the motorway and it all comes flooding back. Every single time.

Anxiety has robbed me of many beautiful moments over the years but I’ll never forgive it for this one.