Category Archives: Parent

Parent stuff

Epilepsy update

Hello again.

It’s been a few months, hasn’t it?

Anyway, I’ve been updating some other blogs and having a break away from writing but now I think it’s time for a good old brain-fart.

L was diagnosed with epilepsy 2 years ago after a traumatic 40 minute tonic-clonic seizure. She did a three day stay on hospital where she had an EEG which (at that time) had indications consistent with Benign Rolandic Epilepsy in Childhood (BRE, BREC). She had an MRI just to make sure and when that came back all normal, her neurologist began a monitoring program.

The day before her next consultation, she had complex partial seizure. We did an ambulance journey and spent four hours waiting in A &E majors ( the bit where they have all the seriously ill patients which is pretty gruelling) to be told to go home and update her consultant the next day.

She was then put on six monthly monitoring where she would be discharged if she had nothing after a year.

Well, the first six months were fine, then she started school. We thought “magic hand” – she describes it as her hand moving on its own and says its tingly – was an aura, however when she started to get magic hand more than a couple of times a week, I began to wonder if this was far more significant.

I brought it up with her neuro at the last consultation and she said it is likely to be partial seizures, especially as its generally accompanied by a short period of confusion, clinginess, or feeling strange.

We are now into a new ball game with the epilepsy. No, it’s not severe, but if magic hand is seizure activity, she has had probably 20 seizures over the two year period and seems to have them in clusters when she’s tired. This could lead to the need for medication and that’s a pretty scary thing as it could potentially change her personality.

Anyway, as part of this new discovery, she has to have another EEG in the morning. The last one, though indicative, was inconclusive. So this time I’m hoping for some answers. It won’t change much, but it’ll better prepare us for the future.

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They fuck you up, your mum and dad

This first line in This Be The Verse, a famous poem by Philip Larkin.

An ex boyfriend of mine exposed me to this work after a discussion about having children. Those were the heady days when I didn’t have any intention of having children. They were the days when I thought I couldn’t have children and I’d accepted this as fact.

That wasn’t the case and now I have three. Three lovely horrors I get to fuck up in new and interesting ways. Three cute monsters who are already showing symptoms of my issues.

It’s terrifying.

I grew up thinking that it was my parents’ divorce which had made me the stupid, pathetic shell I was during my childhood. I was the kid always willing to lie down and play the victim. I was that snotty kid crying in the corner. That one they all hated. The easy target.

I’m bitter about the waste. I wasted what should have been the best years of my life by burdening myself with everything. I missed out on so much because I was sensitive and ashamed of myself.

I thought it was a combined effort, until I heard myself repeating things I’d heard growing up. Things that I realised had cut me. These words my mum spoke were dangerous knives, and I caught myself saying them to my daughter.

I don’t like people saying horrible things about Mum. She did the best she could for us. It was hard for her so when I think about the things that hurt me, I think about what I did to deserve them.

There are moments when I was horrible to everyone. Mum won’t let me forget them. The shame wants me to forget, but I can’t. It’s not her fault, though, it’s all mine.

Isn’t it?

And me saying those things to L?

That’s my fault too.

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

Out

We went out today, Ru and I. We went out.

He was crying and crying, and I just needed some space, some air, so I put him in the pushchair and we went out.

No one messes with me when we go out.  No one. Because I look like a mental person. I mean, I am a mental person – or rather, I’m a person who has mental … mental things – but I look like one now.  Actually fucking look like it. My hair is lank, and falls round my face. Not framing it nicely. Oh no. Just kinda hangs there like the creature from that film The Grudge. It’s clean though my hair, I washed it for the second time this week, so it’s clean.

My eyes are sunken and engulfed by black bags and a stupid sadness which is leaking from I don’t know where.

My skin is awful, breaking out in scabs like I have some kind of infectious disease spreading across my chin, eating my face. Maybe I’ll turn into one big scab.

I don’t bother with nice clothes any more. I have a Muse T-shirt on. From a tour about seven years ago. It has baby sick on the sleeve but it covers my stick figure, hides the sins beneath, so it works.

The tracksuit bottoms I’m wearing, complete with al ittle stain of yellow poo, should go in the wash, or be burned. I would say they are the source of the smell which has been following me around for a few days.

Even the fucking crazies look at me like I’m crazy, whispering behind their hands.

No one messes with me.

The crazy is spreading.  Ru has it. I’m giving it to him in little doses. Maybe that shit travels in breastmilk. He’s wearing a grow that belonged to L. It still has banana stains down the front. Banana never fucking washes out, does it? You ask any parent. Banana stains and Weetabix – that’s what they need to start using to build houses. We’d survive everything if they did that.

The grow is red, and he is grumpy.

No one messes with us.

We went to the pond. Through the estate and down to the duck pond on the edge of the surrounding woodland.

Today there were ducks. Actual ducks floating on the putrid green water. I watched them for a bit with Ru.  He looked grumpy.

No upturned shopping trolley today.  No carrier bags drifting around, mouthes open ready to ingest an unsuspecting moorhen.  Just ducks.

We came back via one if the pathes  which cut through the closes, every second I checked behind us, wondering exactly how quickly I could run wearing flip-flops and pushing a pushchair.

Not very. I don’t think I would run very fast at all.

We got to the shops alive, and I spent a good ten minutes choosing a drink. Coke, Ribena, Lucozade, all twenty-three pence per 100ml. That’s a lot. Expensive.

Too expensive for me. Gotta count the pennies, pay for childcare.  Gotta save up.

Ah, water.

I choose water.

At the till, I’m served by the only looney, and even she eyed  me carefully like I’m some kind of rabid creature. I told her I needed electricity.

‘We were just wondering how old your little girl is.’ She said, looking at me with one eye, the other pointing off to the left.

‘Boy actually.’ I corrected her. It’s rude, isn’t it, to correct someone like that, but I’m crazy. Crazies can do what we like.

She looked embarrased and I pretended I didn’t notice her flushed cheeks.

‘He’s eighteen weeks.’ I removed my card from the machine without paying and it beeps angrily at me.

The girl next to me looked at me with sorrow and pity.

‘My youngest, she’s seven months and she’s half his size.’ She said, like it’s some kind of thing to have a little baby.

Like he’s some kind of transvestite giant baby and I’m to be pitied because I’m there in my mismatched clothes. I suppose she thought I hadn’t done it before.  I didn’t know what to expect, obviously, being stood there with just one child.

Just one child who looks fucking grumpy.

‘Yeah thanks.’ I smiled at her anyway.

She doesn’t know.

I left the shop and gulped back water like there’s no tomorrow.

Time to take my crazy home.

(Disclaimer: This is a brain-dump, semi-fictional account of what happened.)

Cliquey cliquey

I have been subjected to the horror that is the playground far too many times for my delicate nerves to take recently.

L finished preschool today. And I could not be happier.

We walked in and she immediately ran off to be with all her friends – all the girls she has invited to her birthday party (only one has responded so far).

Only my child could choose to be friends with the group of girls who have probably all known each other from birth.

So I was forced to sit with a clique.

This clique blanked me, talked over L’s head and were generally very clear about their exclusivity, which has left me feeling very raw.  Not only for myself and my accentuated “poor parenting” (I was the only parent to get up and dance and sing with L though.  I might be shy and anxious but I don’t mind making a complete dick of myself if it means L gets what she needs.  And I quite like dancing.) but also for L.

I wanted desperately to be the cool kid at school, and I could see so much of myself in her. The thing is, now I’m wondering how much of a part the other parents in my exclusion.  I’m thinking in my case not much – I’m still repeating the same cycles now I’m older – but L is so lively and confident.  The other girls wanted to sit with her and hold her hand.  She does get invited to parties.

She’s not any more sensitive than the other girls and she is certainly a bright spark. It was so hard to watch the mothers talk over her head, hold their children close, ignore her, while she tried to play with her friends.  Maybe I exaggerated it because my childhood (my own doing!) was so bitter and ended with me crying in a corner a lot.

I’m terrified she is going to get cut out of situations because of who I am which has already happened in the past.

Chalk up another parenting fail.

 

Health Visitor

Today a health visitor came to see me after concerns were raised about my mental health at a routine appointment.

I’m sure I feel fine.

I’m exhausted as last night was a bad night for Ru and talking about certain subjects always makes me upset but is my mood that low?

She pulled out the questionnaire I know so well and I did it while she took Ru out in the sun because he was crying uncontrollably (again, thanks boy.)

Twelve. I scored twelve. So yes, I’m in the not good place, apparently. Weird thing is, I don’t really feel any different. I’ve felt pretty consistently like this for years so I’m not sure that there is anything that can be done to “fix” me.

More terrifyingly though, I disclosed my pain about not feeling like a proper parent and the torture I put myself through every time I’m out with my older children. Then followed that with the wallop of guilt I get when I’m not looking after them but not doing much else (like now).

The only way to “fix” that is to go out more with them and take time to get to know them.

Is this more pressure I need to put on myself to try and be the parent I want to be?

*Ticks yes to having ALL OF THE ANXIETY*

Trauma

Oscar’s birth was beautiful.  A wonderful and empowering experience.  There is nothing as womanly as pushing another life out of your body, I think.

So, when Ru was born via an emergency C-section, I expected it to hit me.

The physical recovery has been hard.  I had severe bruising on my abdomen where the Drs had been less than careful with me to get him out quickly.  I also had awful anaemia, which meant my legs were bruised from being moved about on the bed. I narrowly escaped a transfusion.

I couldn’t look at The Wound for two weeks because I felt mutilated, the numbness on my tum a reminder of the scar below it.

Ru’s due date came and I felt a moment of grief for the birth I could have had.  The one that didn’t happen. This was quickly followed by guilt.  Ru is here.  He’s OK.

He’s OK because of me.

I’m not going to go through his birth here. I’ve been asked to do a guest post for a very special friend, which I’ve been putting off with a feeling of dread.  I started it yesterday, got to the bit where we couldn’t find the heartbeat and found that the emotion was physically crippling to the point where I couldn’t continue. I will write it, but I need time to deal with the whole experience.

I also spoke to a health visitor.  She is an ex-midwife and she picked up on the lingering anxiety I have; not so much from the birth itself (the hospital staff and my midwife were exceptional)  but from the events leading up to it and the short time I spent in the hospital before we were rushed to theatre. She’s arranged to keep close contact with me.

I find myself becoming very upset and distressed if anyone mentions reduced fetal movements and I’m having weird flashbacks to the feeling of Ru sliding about in there.

Even thinking about it now has raised my heartrate and I’m sweating, shaking and feel a bit sick.

I didn’t understand birth trauma before, but now I get how these experiences can be life-changing and, in some cases, life-stopping.

And why it can be hard finding the right help.  I didn’t really know where to turn.  I’m a member of birth trauma groups  and I talk about it to anyone who’ll listen.  I can’t write it though.  For some reason, writing it down digs deeper and makes it more real and vivid.

So, I’m plucking up the courage to contact Birth Afterthoughts. .

I’ve found it hard to admit, just like I did when I had PND after L.

I have had a traumatic experience and I’m seeking help.

Sharenting

This story begins a long time ago. Twenty years ago in fact.

When I was 12, I started secondary school, the schools in our area being the last to accept 11 year olds.

On the first day, we got to the school gates and I freaked out, refusing to get out of the car. I embarrassed my mother, lost the respect of my peers and gave myself a great opening scene for a NaNoWriMo novel.

I didn’t and still don’t know why I did this and the feeling I had back then follows me to this day. I have been known to drive for 6 hours, fail to find a parking space and just drive home.

In 1994 they didn’t diagnose social disorders or mental illness in kids (which again, made an excellent basis for a story.)

Anyway, my Mum would tell everyone she met the story about how I wouldn’t get out the car.

As if I wasn’t already ashamed enough.

To make it worse, my Aunt would chime in with the story of when I was 6 and clung to a lamppost outside the school because I didn’t want to go in after a Drs appointment.

Now, these stories were damaging to my self-confidence. Every time they were told, I felt that my family were trying to make me out to be the black sheep. The sympathy my mum elicited from them got her friends, people she could share with. The looks of abject disgust I got will stick with me.

Comments like “such a little bitch”, “you need to help your mum more” and “I’d have beat her from here until next Sunday.” accompanied the story right through my teenage years.

Then I had kids.

And found Twitter and blogging.

I finally understood why Mum felt the need to share this behaviour and why it got the responses it did.

Sharenting has been around for a long time, just the means have changed. These days, we can create a comedic post about our preschooler asking awkward questions and gain responses from sympathetic parents having had similar experiences. Back then, toddler tantrums were something which you pretended you didn’t see. After all, your kids were perfect angels.

Ok, so growing up it may have been damaging, but now I laugh about it. I talk about it freely.

And because of that incident, I expect these behaviours from my own kids and know from reading others’ experiences that it’s ok.

Through my intense frustration, I’ve found support and encouragement and even comedy in these moments which would otherwise be recounted with a snarl and horror.

Sharenting is important for the mental health of the parent, to empower them to talk about these experiences in an environment where they can express themselves without venom being spat directly at the child. If my mum had blogged about the car thing, I would have been embarrassed, hurt by some of the comments maybe, but I wouldn’t have had to see the disgusted looks, the horror that I behaved so terribly, the disappointment, as though I had shamed the entire family again. Perhaps my Mum would have got the support she needed as I grew up, becoming more and more damaged. She’d have had someone to talk to when she was feeling guilty because I was self-harming, taking meds and failing to thrive.

Perhaps it would have made us closer if I could read about her experience as an outsider, watching her child on self-destruct.

This is why I sharent – because we’re all just muddling through, doing what we can and, who knows, someone reading might just glean an ounce of hope from your post.

Parenting is bloody hard enough without isolating ourselves and feeling vilified for talking about our children.