Tag Archives: depression

Complete

Over the last few days and weeks and months, I’ve been thinking an awful lot about the number one.  Specifically, the number of children we have and are planning to have.  My mother is constantly asking if we’re planning another.  (Having one, apparently, will lead to David becoming spoiled, selfish and antisocial.)  My Nana said that we should have a girl next.  People assume that, because we’re young and because David is nearly one, we’re ready to start trying for another baby.  “When you have another…”, “Just wait until you have two…” and various phrases along those lines are used regularly.

Here’s the thing.  We aren’t going to have another baby.  I can say now, without hesitation, that our family is complete.

The road that led to having David was a long, hard one.  I had an abortion at fifteen: it was the “right thing to do”.  After all, I was clever.  I had sixth form, university, a career to look forward to.  My previously supportive boyfriend got scared and ran away, and I would’ve been a single teenage mother.  I was nine or ten weeks pregnant when my parents discovered it, and had little time to think about the decision: I went along with what they thought was right, because I didn’t know.  I couldn’t think, I just couldn’t make the decision.  I knew that I wanted qualifications and a career, but I never considered the alternative.  I never thought that I could have the baby.  I would’ve been about twelve weeks along when I finally had it done, and it hit me harder than I ever imagined it would.  I will forever regret that decision.

I hadn’t known until then that I wanted a child.  When I’d thought about it hypothetically, I’d reasoned that I’d want to concentrate on having a career, and anyway, noone would commit to me, would they?

Fast-forward a few years.  I had put all thoughts of having a baby out of my mind.  Joe and I had been together for a few months, and although we were serious, we weren’t quite serious enough to think about babies in anything other than abstract terms.

Well, whoops.  One broken condom later…

During my pregnancy, we struggled to adapt to life as a couple, soon to be a family.  Friends and family were shocked that we “hadn’t been more careful”.  They questioned our decision to continue the pregnancy.  (We had discussed it, but it wasn’t an option for either of us after the initial shock had worn off.)  A couple we knew had been trying to conceive for a long time, and we both felt guilty about how it would affect them.

I loved David the moment he was born.  Everybody did.  It didn’t make things any easier.  I’ve written about postnatal depression before, and all that needs saying now is that I, we have come through it, mostly, but it was hard.  There are times when The Crazy still comes back and slaps me round the face, just to remind me that it’s still here.  I don’t want to choose to go back and feel like that again.  It’s not fair on Joe or on David.

All the history and the drama aside, there is one overriding reason why I feel we are complete.  This.

David is enough, more than enough for me.  I don’t have the words to express how much I love him.  He learns something new every day, he’s starting to listen and respond to instructions.  He’s affectionate and caring and kind.  He travels next to me in the car, and we have conversations about traffic lights and slow old ladies in Micras driving in our way.  He gets ridiculously excited when he sees the other yellow Seicento that belongs to somebody who lives near us, and when a traffic light turns green he shouts “Go, go, go!”  He wouldn’t have this attention with a sibling.  He deserves my time, my attention, and all of my love.  I cannot offer him anything more.

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Filed under David, Family, Mental Health

Challenge

I’m participating in the Best Of 2009 Blog Challenge.  Every day this month, I write something different about what’s happened this year.

After today’s wordy Daily Photo, here is a picture to paint a thousand words:

With David, every day brings a new challenge.  One day, he’ll be sweetness and light; the next, a demon from the fiery pits of Hell.  We’ve been to Hell and back as a family, but we’re here, now, in a much better place, and I’m thankful that the biggest challenge of the last few weeks has been getting him to stay with me while walking round an aquarium.  As I say far too often, I love this.  I really, really love it, and I am so thankful for him.

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Filed under Best Of 2009, David, Mental Health, pictures

The Driving Rain

I know I’ve been saving the photo posts for the Daily Photo blog, but I’ve been taking too many photos.  (I also need a new, bigger hard drive.  A few extra terabytes should cover six months’ worth, I reckon…)

We headed down to my parents’ place this weekend, and drove back in the pouring rain today.  I’ve been experimenting with long- and shorter-exposure pictures on the motorway.  These are the pick of the bunch.

As much as I’d love to, I won’t promise that any other posts are coming this week, as I’m still up to my eyeballs.  There will be posts on the Daily Photo, and I’ll try to write something here.  In the meantime, you could make some herb damper, or some cherry-cinnamon cookies, and then you could read about recovery from depression.  See you when the madness has ended!

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Filed under Car, pictures, trips

Handsome Toddler Boy

Oh my word.  When exactly did this happen?

My son, my tiny, tiny baby boy, is growing up.  Yesterday he chased after Eric, demanding a “big hug!”.  He can put the balls in the ball-run at the soft play centre like nobody’s business.  He plays with other children, and is so gentle and patient with those younger or smaller than him.  He’s taken a few steps, and when he’s got his walker he can run.  Last week we had to buy walking shoes, as his feet were squeezed by his cruisers.  We’re also going to have to buy some more 12-18 month clothes at some point: they seemed impossibly big when he was born.  Now, his newborn clothes reach his knees and his elbows, and he’s into the toddler ranges in most shops.  He’s the most loving, affectionate little boy I’ve ever met.  I love him so deeply it hurts.

This journey, it hasn’t been easy.  My pregnancy was wanted, but so unexpected.  We were fraught with worry all the way through; Joe and I had to learn to be a couple before this ticking time bomb exploded into our lives and made us a family.  There was confusion over my due date, with two and a half weeks between my dates and my midwife’s.  At twelve weeks, when I suffered bleeding, I was convinced we were going to lose him; that feeling stayed with me throughout the pregnancy.  He was born eight days before the midwife’s date, and a month before mine, perfect in every way.

Bonding with David took me a long time; longer, perhaps, than it took Joe.  There was this expectation that I’d be ecstatic to have my new baby, that I’d love every element of motherhood.  Who in their right mind loves cracked and bleeding nipples, sleepless nights, shitty nappies, and not being able to sit down on less than six layers of padding?  I was severely anaemic, and had to take iron tablets.  I was ill, and tired, and I hated breastfeeding with a passion, but I forced myself to continue until David was a month old, the time that I could express milk and introduce bottles.  I was adamant that I would NOT use formula, that I’d be a terrible mother if I did.  I remember sitting up and trying to feed David, and passing out while I was feeding him.  I remember sitting in a clients’ offices when David was ten days old, trying to feed him and failing, and feeling so miserable.

When he was about eight weeks old, I started the Pill.  It made me bleed heavily, and I became very anaemic again.  I couldn’t express nearly as much milk as before, and David would either go hungry, or start having formula.  He started on formula, and I knew that I was supposed to feel like a terrible mother.  In reality, I was relieved.

I’d had some mental health support from a community mental health nurse since David was four weeks old, and when he was about three months I was able to see a psychiatrist.  That psychiatrist prescribed a low dose of Sertraline, an antidepressant that is safe to take whilst breastfeeding.  I wish I could say that it provided an instant fix, because it didn’t.  I stopped feeling suicidal, yes.  In fact, I stopped feeling much at all.  My visits to see him consisted of “Yes, I’ve got side effects, no, I’m not suicidal, yes, therefore things must be much better, see you in six weeks.”  In June, when David was six months old, I could take the side effects no longer, and stopped taking the Sertraline.  I felt better almost as soon as I stopped taking it, well, as soon as the week of withdrawal symptoms had passed.  At the end of August I managed to get myself discharged from community mental health support, too, and I felt free.

We’ve muddled along for the last few months, and things have slowly been improving.  I’m not sure at which point it was that I finally felt better, more at home with myself.  Maybe I’ve just settled into motherhood now, and maybe it’s just because David is just easier to look after, more enjoyable.

Because David is easy, these days.  He’s a toddler, he understands what I’m saying and responds to it.  He stops playing to give me a hug, then goes off and does his own independent little thing.  He’s mimicking what we say all the time (including “crap!” in the car the other day.)  Even his tantrums, although trying, are an interesting side of his personality that has only just started to show.  When I was in the darkness, I never thought I’d feel the kind of joy that I feel watching him grow and change and learn.  Now that I am here, I appreciate him even more.

If you are reading this, and you feel like I did, talk to somebody.  Tell them how you feel, and get some help and support.  It is not your fault, you are not a bad parent, and you will get better.  It’s worth all the hardship just to come through it and feel alive.

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Filed under David, Mental Health

A Dilemma

fbFacebook.  Ah, Facebook.  The way to make “friends” with people you haven’t spoken to in years, most of whom you wouldn’t have missed.  The way you keep updated with the minutae of everyone elses’ lives.  A brilliant marketing tool, and a nice way to keep in touch with the people who you do actually care about, as opposed to those you never really knew.  It can be updated from Twitter, used to share blog updates, that sort of thing.

And here is where my dilemma is.  My dad has added me on Facebook.

Dad

A Deliberately Anonymous Crappy Picture

The invite is sitting there, ignored for the moment.  I know that I really should add him, that it would be the polite thing to do.  Well, here’s the thing.  There are elements of my life that I like to share with my parents, and elements that I like to share with everyone but.  Being friends with Dad on Facebook (and therefore sharing my blog with him) feels like a gross invasion of privacy.

My parents: where do we start?  They mean well, I think.  They both have a tendency to interfere more than they should, and Mum does it more than Dad.  For example, within five minutes of walking through our front door, she’ll be “tidying up”, reorganising, and telling me how to run the house.  She organised David’s baptism to the point of telling me which food I could bring to the party and what everyone should wear, and she’s trying to pull the same trick with our wedding.  She is highly critical of everything that I do, and even worse, that David does.  Since David was born she’s been offering her usual helpful advice on what to do, and telling me exactly why what I’m doing is wrong.  She is horrified that we own only THREE baby books (not books for him, books about him) and that we look things up on the internet instead.  She’s horrified that we do baby-led weaning instead of feeding him purees and crap in jars.  She’s horrified that I’m “still” carrying him in a sling (some of the time) at ten months old, that he wears shoes when we go out(?), that he’s allowed the occasional chocolate biscuit or packet of crisps, that he watches TV, that we let him cry it out when he’s tired (“child abuse”, her words), that we eat in restaurants with him(?), that he goes to the childminder, that he comes to work with us sometimes, that Joe looks after him as much as I do… you get the picture.  She’s not afraid to scrutinise my every move, and tell me exactly where I’m going wrong.  She also sends me “helpful” links, (and for the record, Mother, I KNOW he’s probably teething again), and has bought me six or seven baby books (edit: nine) and recipe books to make up for the shortfall of information on the Internet.  I know she’s probably only trying to help, but seriously?  I can’t bear to give her any more access into my life.

Useful Information That Can't Be Found on the Internet

That Which Babies Must Not Wear

Dad goes along with what Mum says, most of the time.  He, again, does try to organise things for me, but I think he realises that I’ve grown up enough to make my own decisions.  (He was the parent who, on collecting me from a rather drunken party, asked if “someone had spilled beer on me or something”, because I smelled of alcohol.  I was about fifteen at the time, and I thought I’d got away with it for years afterwards.  Thanks, Dad!)  He doesn’t tell me that what I do is wrong like Mum does, he just appreciates having a grandson to spend time with.  His attempts to get “down with technology” are usually hilarious, but incredibly annoying: I wish he’d stop sending me joke chain mails and just tell me a joke over the phone, for once.  However, I’m still not entirely comfortable with being Facebook friends.

My parents are not yet aware that I’ve been diagnosed with depression.  As far as I know, they have no idea that I have any mental health issues at all, and I’d rather keep it that way.  There has always been an expectation in my family to hide things, to stay strong and supportive for others: depression is “not something we talk about” (my mother when I tried to broach the subject) and “just hormones”.  My Asperger’s (or whatever it is) is “just my personality” and I’ve apparently “always been like that”, but “can’t be autistic because (I) talked early.”  I feel that by giving my parents access to my blog, I’d be unable to write about these things.  I choose to keep them fairly private, but I don’t want to feel uncomfortable writing about them if I want to in the future.

"But I don't LIKE black and white pictures..."

Still, it would be nice to keep Mum and Dad updated without the half-hourly phone call every day, and without the nagging to send pictures.  Pictures which are always criticised: “Oh, I don’t like black and white photos.”  “Couldn’t you have got his whole head in there?”  “Your brother is SUCH a good photographer, even though he’s only got a little camera.”  It would be handy to get Dad addicted to Happy Aquarium or Farmville, so that I could have another neighbour.  (Come on, I’m honest.)

So, what do I do?  The current idea is to add Dad as a friend on David’s Facebook profile, which has the best of the photos on.  That way, they get updates on David’s development (which, to be honest, is all they’re interested in) and don’t get to see my blog or my status updates.  Blog-wise, I’ve registered a WordPress blog in my married name, and when we’ve tied the knot I’ll cross-post David’s newsletters.  Is this the way to do it, or would something else work better?  We’ll find out, I suppose.

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Filed under Family, pictures