Friday, June 16, 2006

Love and Fear

Posted by Anonymous (as always, no relation to previous Anonymous posters. )

If you'd like to use this space to tell stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal mind, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement...


I have for days now... written, saved, drafted, and deleted a post for the basement. Each one, more raw, more detailed, more tears shed...

Tonight I have to make it end. I have to get this out, before I break down and actually tell my friends for the umpteenth time...

I think there really is something wrong with my daughter.

And I blame myself.

I didn't want to be pregnant, I didn't want to have another baby so close to my middle child....... I was miserable. I was so tired, so big, so horrible with my other two children towards the end... it was so hard. I cried for days and days... just like when I figured out I was pregnant... I cried non stop then too. I apologized to this baby so often, I'm scared she knows the sound of that phrase. I'm more scared she knows I was so miserable.....

My midwife was wonderful (having had an 18 month difference between her last two children too!), she sat with me for hours on end... just letting me talk. She had been the second midwife at our last birth, my first homebirth. Our first child was a single footling breech, they took him from my abdomen despite my tears and terror. But that is another story all together, of depression, desperation to be the perfect parent, no sleep, early walker who didn't crawl until he was two, turned picky eater.... oh yes, I still need to get around to some therapy over that one.

I was so terrified of this child's birth, it wasn't even funny. I woke up every morning begging it to not come today, I'm too tired and too scared.

Finally I gave in emotionally and went into labour, with a bit of help (membrane sweep). I had a good early labour, by the time my other two were in bed... I was losing control (NO I am not a sadist... I was desperate for an epidural, a gun to the head... anything to take away those contractions!, but alas with low bp and a scar on my uterus, I wasn't going to chance it... hence the home birth). I was scared, I was hiding in the bathroom telling everyone to go away.
My midwife finally came in, despite my protests... at least I think I protested? She asked what I was so scared of... I didn't know. I told her I couldn't go on. So we broke my water.... she had to help the head down... for some reason it was still very high, despite my body being the required 10 cm's. I flopped my feet towards the floor... and before I knew it, and a few "I DON'T KNOW HOW TO PUSH!!!!" comments... she was out. It took all of five minutes.

Four minutes later, she was in an ambulance with the second midwife and my husband.

I was still perched on the edge of the sofa...

(Which is kinda funny when you think about it, six EMT's in my teeny livingroom, me in black tank top (this is end of October on the Prairies!), towel over my legs trying to keep from delivering the placenta until they left....)

Here is where the guilt comes into the picture.

An umbilical cord is supposed to be like a phone cord, nice and fat and curly..... My daughter's was not. It was around her neck for a long time. She grew with it around her neck, so it was nice and fat and curly from placenta to her neck, neck to belly button. She could have died at any time in utero. We are very lucky that she is alive in general. The neo natal neurologist who cared for her at the hospital said that because we had her at home, unmedicated and so quickly is the only reason she is still alive. When she tucked her chin down to "dive out", she cut off the last little bit of life sustaining oxygen she had from me....

My daughter was born with an apgar. An apgar. One. She had a heartbeat of less than 100.

I remember turning around... and wondering why midwife #2 was getting our doula to grab the phone... why my baby was so blue... why no one was saying anything... What is with the oxygen tank? WHY are you getting out the intubation tray?!

What the hell are you phoning 911 for?!

Someone pass me my daughter!

She was fine by the time they took her in the ambulance. She was pink and howling and fine (she didn't need to be intubated after all). But she had to go. They had to take her to be checked over.....

So I spent three hours waiting for her. Wondering if she really was fine. Calling people and waking them from their sleep... trying to remember how everything went wrong? Was it 2nd midwife who said... okay one more big push ? How come they were so calm? They knew she was in trouble when her head was out...

*I'd just like to say... THANK GOD FOR REGULATED MIDWIFERY!!!!!*

"We had a girl!... no, we haven't named her yet... I don't know how big she is... yup she seems to be as long as the boys were... well because she is at the hospital.... no, they will bring her home again, I don't have to go... Husband is with her and 2nd midwife... no she is fine.... everyone keeps telling me she is fine.... yes, she is fine...."

But is she?

She is very happy, she smiles at the smallest hint of someone looking at her. She loves to cuddle. She squeals with reckless abandon... I swear dolphins can hear her! She adores nursing, eating, sucking her thumb, rolling to the dog so she can suck on his paws or tail.... going after toys...

But she doesn't sit.

She has no urge to sit.

She topples over when I try and let her do it on her own...

She won't sit.

I carefully brought this up with my friend, a chiropractor. She laughed then stopped as she noticed the tears.

I think she has Cerebral Palsy... she took me seriously after that. It seems that my daughter does not have CP, nor does she have an sort of muscle atrophy at all. All her reflexes are fine. All her muscles are developing. Her hips and joints are fine too.... seems that she is a little on the long side though. According to the new WHO charts... only three percent of baby girls are the same length as her... so yeah, a little on the long side.

But that doesn't explain why she won't sit up on her own.

I keep thinking that maybe there is something, something that is wrong. I know that I will always watch her with a careful eye. I can't stand it if she so much as coughs or sputters.... I had a baby who didn't breathe at birth... I want to make sure she breathes every second of the day now! I listen to her breathe on the monitor, I move her back on to the panel to get that little click sound... making sure she is breathing and moving... I am exhausted. I am terrified. I am going insane.

I won't even get started on ambulances. I can tell you which siren is police, fire dept., rcmp... ambulance. Fucking ambulance sirens make me want to crawl out of my skin. On occasion I actually get through listening to one going to its destination, without crying. I have post traumatic stress disorder.... but of course I don't fit the nice little norm of it, so I can't find any help. No one seems to know what to do with me. I don't know what to do with me.

My friends and family all think I should just move on, let her develop at her own rate... ignore the books and charts (obviously she is in length and fine motor skills!). I should just block out the sirens. I should just move on.

But here I am, curled up in my own little basement. Scared to blog about it in too much detail, scared to say it out loud any more. People will stop listening to me, tired of my inane ramblings about something that had a "happy outcome". I didn't want another baby so soon... and I think that I've been punished for that.....

I love her so much I hurt. It hurts to look at her and wonder what I did. To know that I almost killed her. To know I didn't want another baby (her)... and I almost had her die. Some days it is just too much... some days I am the worst mom on the planet, because I am so ... I can't even describe what is wrong with me... It is just too much some days.

Thanks for the corner.

Thanks for listening.

I hope that tomorrow I can be a better mom, now that I've got this out... and sent.


Anonymous said...

First of all, your daughter DOES NOT have CP. She's a miracle baby who, like most kids, is developing at the rate she chooses, books be damned! As long as her motor skills are good, she's probably just taking her sweet time! But if you are concerned with it to the point it you find yourself constantly thinking about it, have her evaluated by your pediatrician/doc for a professional "all clear."

As for you ... my dear, you clearly have a form of PTSD. I can write that without even seeing you personally. PTSD will get worse, not better, and needs to be dealt with. You need to learn some coping mechanisms and you need to be able to move on. The research is fairly new in PTSD following traumatic childbirth, but the research has proven that this condition DOES EXIST. So know that you are not alone.

The UK and Australia are the leaders in this research with the Canadians close behind. I don't know where you are to give you a referral but start here, and do some self research. But I urge you to find someone professional who will talk with you and take this condition seriously.

(By the way, HBM, thanks again for this. Although I feel like the resident basement shrink - hope that's OK!)

bubandpie said...

I think every mother fears that something will be wrong with her children. I know that I'm constantly observing my son (who may or may not have some form of autism), looking for signs of normalcy, trying to quantify whether or not he has a "problem"). I have no idea whether your instincts about your daughter have a foundation, but I do know that the guilt and self-blame you are describing are NOT based on reality.

You DID NOT do this to your child.

The problem with the umbilical cord IS NOT the result of the natural and understandable emotions you felt about your pregnancy. And you love your daughter. No matter how you felt about the unplanned pregnancy, your love for your daughter breathes in every line you write.

The guilt you're feeling isn't you - it's an illness, whether it's PDD or PTSD. I don't know what measures you've taken to get help but please try again. If you've already talked to your family doctor to no avail then see another doctor. It's so clear from what you write that you are a good mother who loves her children desperately. Do whatever it takes so that you can begin to see yourself that way.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any advice to add, as I think the first two commenters took all the words out of my head. Please do see your doctor. I would also recommend that you look for a therapist who specializes in treatment of women. It made all the difference for me personally.

And it really does sound like your daughter is fine. Different rates of development. One of my closest friends has two children who were VERY late bloomers, and they are absolutely fine. It truly does not sound like a medical concern.

I hope that getting this out has helped ease your mind a bit.

Anonymous said...

I feel for you and have on more than one ocassion thought myself to be the worst mommy in the world.

Relating to you a bit, at 6 months my daughter (now 10 months old) started losing weight according to the doctor's scale. There was a question of whether she was getting enough nutrients from my milk, etc, etc. I felt like I must've been starving her, and I'm sure the doctors thought I might have been. I was so afraid that if we had to become hospitalized I'd have to speak to childrens services or whatever. We switched to formula and never looked back and if I end up with a fat kid that's fine as long as she's alive, ya know?

Keep talking about your fears, it really does help!

Mel said...

What the first two commenters said.
I have nothing more to add except a hug for you, sweetheart: (((you)))
Go talk to someone, get some help for what really does sound like PTSD and maybe even PPD. Things will get better. Just ask for the help. It sounds like you're trying to be strong all alone, and it doesn't always work out that way.
Another hug: (((you)))

Dawn said...

When Emily was finally diagnosed with a brain injury at age 5 (most likely pre-natal) I blamed myself, my Post partum depression, my bad breast milk, my raging dislike of her for the first three years of her life ( brought on by my intense depression). I put her down to hard, I didn't love her name it.

But, she is now 8. And she is who she is. In spite of me. Because of me.

Your story - My story, isn't about what Could have been, but what is.

Even if something is diagnosed down the what? You'll deal with it - because you are her mother. Her story, Your story, are being written together. It is all as it was meant to be. Nothing more, nothing less.

The hardest Mommy lesson I have learned is that I have no control over what I think should happen with my daughter. She is not me. Your daughter is not you. But that doesn't change your love for her, or hers for you.

It's just that the story has unexpected twists...and those are the best kind.

Jezer said...

You did not cause anything bad to happen to your daughter. In fact--you said it yourself--you decided on the home birth that saved her life.

I can only echo what the others have said. Do talk to your doctor or seek a therapist about the feelings you're having. Have your pediatrician assess your daughter and let him/her put your mind at ease about her development. And most importantly, give yourself a break.

I know that you are a wonderful, caring mother by your obvious concern for your child. I imagine you are overworked and not getting enough rest. Please take care of yourself.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

So many times I had those feelings because my baby too was unplanned and had a horrible birth and had the oxygen and was in a special nursery for days.
I felt so much guilt, sadness and anger and FEAR.
My fears were different, but it feels the same to me - the way you are expressing it.
Please, go to your doctor. Or call your midwife who you trust who can help you.
I started to get better when I got some help.
My biggest regret about the first year is that it took too long for me to enjoy my child and get over all of that stuff. It does get better.
And, as for the development thing ... my friend struggled with that with her child. Her child developed at her own pace and is now blossoming.
It's okay.

mamatulip said...

I just want to offer you some ((hugs)). I read the comments so far and you've gotten some great advice. I'm sorry I really don't have any to add, but I'm here to support you.

kittenpie said...

As mama tulip said, there's not too much to add but support after the good advice above. I know there is a big difference between understanding intellectually that you are not responsible and actually being able to move past guilt, but I think that finding some way to do so would do you a world of good.

And just for your peace of mind, if it helps - the kids I have know who were really tall or really large have all been late on sitting, crawling, and walking. I suspect it's just that much harder to get off the ground and coordinate all that length of limb! One kid across the street didn't sit until about 9 months, but he's just fine.

Michele said...

I just want to echo what the others have said about not blaming yourself. You are letting your guilt about how you felt when you were pregnant influence your fears. Dont. You have a healthy, blossoming daughter. But do see your pediatrician and tell them everything you are feeling - including the guilt. Trust me, they have heard much worse and can professionally and clinically dismiss your fears that you have done something wrong.
If you were truly a bad mom, you wouldnt care about her development. Please give yourself a break.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Another supporter who doesn't want to repeat what the other commenters have so eloquently written. Another person who wants to offer her support to you. And another person sending you good thoughts and a giant hug.

Take that hug and share it with your daughter whom you obviously love very much.

T. said...

Just wanted to stand in the line of the people who offer support.

Please take to a doc to be assessed. Put your mind at ease. And then go talk with someone yourself.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your girl.

Anonymous said...

I understand the fear. My daughter rocks hard when she's upset or frustrated. I worry that my sunny, beautiful child will show other signs of autism, that she will be autistic, that she won't be the perfect, amazing baby I see now. Most likely this is just fear talking, and she will be fine. But I know the fear.

Veronica Mitchell said...

You have so many informed commenters. I don't have much to add, except that I wish I could wrap comforting arms around you and hug away all the worry.

Jaelithe said...

Don't blame yourself-- there is no way on earth your negative feelings could have caused that cord to wrap around her neck. I myself understand the poetic neatness of imagning your own fear and resenment slowly strangling your unborn baby, but this is NOT WHAT HAPPENED.

I say I understand this because I myself have constructed a similar teleological myth in my own mind about my son. My pregnancy with him was unplanned; I was in a bad financial situation, working at a low-paying, high-stress, at times physically demanding job where I was afraid I might get fired for being pregnant; my pregnancy wound up being very stressful. When we found out at five months that my son had a tumor growing on his skull that probably started growing in the womb, I thought, "I did this to him. My stress did this to him. It's my fault." And when he stopped eating after his surgery, and became so thin you could see every bone in his body, I thought, "He has no will to live because once, before, I thought I didn't want him, and this, now, watching him waste away in front of me, is my punishment for every negative thought I ever had while he was in the womb."

I've seriously thought these things, so I really do understand the impulse to blame yourself for anything that might go wrong with your child's health. But plenty of babies who were completely planned for, even deeply longed for, suffer health problems in utero, and plenty of mothers who sailed through a happy, healthy, stress-free pregnancy during which they took excellent care of themselves did their best to think only good thoughts have difficult deliveries.

It may be true that there is something wrong with your daughter. It may also be true that she is totally fine, and just trying to scare you silly as it seems these babies love to do.

But what if there is something wrong with her? What will that change?

Will that change your love for her? Will that change the fact that she and you are both majorly tough cookies for having made it through that birth experience at all? Will that change her love for life, or the happy nature you so lovingly describe? Will that change the fact that she has been born into a loving, caring family, to a mother that clearly loves her, and chose to have her, even if she happened to come along at an inconvenient time?

If you are really concerned about her progress, I would suggest taking her to a pediatric occupational therapist to have her physical development thoroughly evaluated. If nothing else, they can set your mind at ease, and if there is something wrong with her development, if you catch it early enough, it may well turn out to be something she can easily overcome.

She's clearly a fighter, and I bet she'll do everything she wants to do in her own time.

love and fear mama said...

Morning all. Thank you for all the wonderful support, hadn't really expected so much. I've been picked at by a few in the blogsphere when talking about this... it hasn't been pretty....
Today, once again I hit the brick wall of help. For weeks now I've been trying to get into the "system" to get some form of therapy for myself. Today I was told, that I'm not a good candidate. I'm almost done with the whole thing. I am so tired.
My daughter is doing well. Still not sitting, but she is healthy. We don't have a pediatrician (go ahead and gasp in horror). I challenge any of you to try and find one who has evening or weekend hours! Let alone not scared off by the thought of three kids?! Not so easy. I'm working on it though... She has been assessed this morning at the local health clinic by a nurse practitioner. Seems that she is fine. Doing everything she is supposed to. The sitting thing she attributes to her length! Kittenpie was right =). The NP was a little more concerned by about the third ambulance that went by... I lost it at that point ie. sobbing yet trying to look like I wasn't. I left her a message after the last of the "nope, can't help you" 's this afternoon. She figures I need some help... maybe she can figure something out. I'm done with trying for a bit.
Ironically tomorrow night I am to go to a meeting with a therapist with Cancer Care... to discuss my fathers decline in health... I worked in hospice care for four years... I'm too messed up for the "stages of grief" crap I know will be tossed out for me to chew on. Would it be too cruel to ask if I could trade them in for someone with experience with ptsd? Yeah, I thought that would be too mean too... great heaving sigh. Must try to sleep one of these days too... Thanks for listening again... thanks for being so .... huh.... so great? so wonderful? so understanding? huh... lost for words again... but in a good way.

Anonymous said...

The basement's unofficial shrink here (anonymous poster number 1) ...
Please ask the counselor at Cancer Care for a referral to a therapist - you'd be surprised at their contacts. You are a candidate for help and can get it, but, frankly, and overworked clinic NP is not going to have the anwers for your specific needs. Have you asked a gyno or your midwife for assistance? They might have a better lead in your area. Assuming you're in the States, which is a BIG assumption and probably wrong, here is a link for hotline numbers by state. Try one, please, and get a referral to someone who can help.
And about other blogosphere idiots ... my purely professional opinion is "screw 'em."

Al_Pal said...

Holy smokes.

Not your fault.

A friend of mine has a son with autism and said that taught her that she's not in control.

I hope you can have/have had a similar realization, and have gotten therapy.