Parenting Anxiety, In My Dreams Now??!!

It’s been a big week.  A long week, despite the fact that we are only three days in and an exhausting week.  It’s been stupid busy at work, there’ve been a few challenges at home and I’ve had a bunch of headaches that won’t go away, but it hasn’t been a bad week.  It’s been a good week, just tiring and a little unsettling.

Bubble has started commando crawling.  On Monday he could only roll to get where he wanted, or pivot on his knees by pushing his arms on the ground to face a different direction.  On Monday night he could commando crawl slowly and with extreme concentration.  On Tuesday night he chased Zombie’s fish and chips across the lounge and then the hallway.  He’s fast.  Not the most co-ordinated, but it’s become clear that the days of putting him down to nip to the bathroom for a minute are gone.  We have mobility.

It’s actually pretty cool and I’m super proud.  It’s daunting though.  In no time he’ll be full on crawling.  Then probably running.  I doubt he will ever walk, he seems too energetic for that kind of nonsense.

Speaking of energy, I don’t know where he gets it considering he’s decided to start waking up three to four times a night out of the blue.  We’ve been very lucky.  From just over two months old Bubble started sleeping through the night.  Before that he woke up once a night (except for three nights where he woke up twice).  But this week he’s decided that sleeping is not his thing.  He wakes up crying every couple of hours and will only settle down if I’m touching him.  As soon as I move my hand away, even if he seems to be back asleep, he’ll start crying again.

I’ve taken to cuddling him for half an hour until he’s definitely asleep and then putting him down again until the next time he wakes up.  It’s exhausting, but it’s actually really nice.  He’s too busy during the day for cuddles.  His world is full of new and exciting things to explore and it’s hard to pin him down.  But overnight when he wakes up all he wants is to cuddle.  I’m just not used to the sleep deprivation since he’s been such a good sleeper up until now.  I figure it’s just a phase he’s going through.  He has a tooth now so that could be bothering him, he also has a cold, so it could be that.  At the end of the day he’s a baby.  Babies wake up at unfortunate times.  I’ll learn to live with it.

When I have slept this week, it’s often been filled with weird and vivid dreams.  Dreams with people I haven’t even thought of for years popping up randomly halfway through then disappearing again.  Dreams where I have to climb metal walls with all sorts of hooks and handles just to buy some meat for a BBQ.

And the awful dream this morning where Bubble was dead.

It was horrible.  In the dream I was distraught but no one else was really bothered.  I don’t want to dwell on it, even writing about it is just about bringing a tear to my eye.

When I woke up I was disorientated and freaked out.  I rushed over to the cot to find Bubble fast asleep and fine, but I couldn’t shake the awful feeling the dream gave me.  When he woke up crying a few minutes later I picked him up and held him closer than ever before and silently cried for a while.

After he went back to sleep I decided to hit Google up and see if I was going crazy (honestly, what did parents DO before Google?) I was expecting my search to come up with lots of mothers forums, like all the other random searches I’ve made (including ‘can sneezing while pregnant hurt my baby.  Apparently I’m not the only one who worries about these things).  Instead it came up with websites dedicated to defining dreams.  I reworded my search several times and eventually found the forums and some other information.

Apparently it is very normal to have dreams about your child dying or being in some sort of trouble that you can’t fix when they reach a new stage in their life, like starting school or in my case, becoming mobile.  I guess it’s some sort of symbolism for the end of one stage of their life as they enter the next.  I spoke to a workmate who has kids years and years older than Bubble and she said it’s ongoing.  Bubbles caregivers mother apparently used to have a recurring dream that one of her children was taken from her.

Okay so it’s ‘normal’, but it’s still awful.  I don’t even want to have a dream like that again.  Losing Bubble is my worst nightmare, as losing a child would be any parents nightmare.  The pain I felt in that dream reminded me of how I felt when my father died and the tears I cried after he woke up and that are falling from my eyes right now are real.  I’m looking at him and I still feel that devastating feeling I felt in the small hours of this morning from my dream.  I’ve had nightmares before, but none that have affected me this bad and from the sounds of it, I’ll have dreams like this again.

It’s just another thing to add to the list of ‘things to get used to/deal with when you’re a parent’ but this one hit me out of the blue.  Of course I’ve worried about Bubble a lot, it’s my job as a mother to constantly think about him and if he’s okay and hope that nothing bad ever happens to him, but I never knew it would hit me in my sleep as well.  That might sound naive but I think a lot of parents come across a few things as they go that they had no idea would happen.

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Sleepy cuddles are the best cuddles

Bubble is fine.  He’s currently on the floor in front of me, laughing at and playing with one of his beanies.  He’s happy, healthy and most importantly alive and I feel like after last night I appreciate him even more.  So I guess in some ways the dream was a good thing.  I’m just not in a hurry for the next one.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Parenting Anxiety: The Cot

My regular readers will know all about me and Anxiety and how I can go from zero to ‘worst case scenario’ in a matter of minutes, but when you’re a parent, it’s even faster. My brain will runs on overdrive worrying about little things that could be bad for wee Bubble. Not constantly, I’m sure a lot of parents out there would agree that this is pretty normal, but sometimes a thought will cross my mind that makes me even more nervous and not always out of the blue.

Just over a week ago we moved Bubble from his bassinet to his cot. He was starting to roll over in his bassinet, despite the fact that there wasn’t much room for him to do that and I was concerned that he would topple it over. 

I’m not mentally ready for Bubble to be in his own room yet, so we set the cot up next to my side of the bed. It turned out I wasn’t mentally prepared for him to be in his cot either.
I worry about him rolling onto his stomach in his sleep. Since before he was born we have been bombarded with messages about placing babies on their backs to sleep, without toys, smoke free house etc and it gets ingrained into you. Well for me it did anyway and I always put him to bed safely. So sometimes that goes through my head and I mull over it for a while or sometimes Bubble gives me a hell of a fright when I walk in to check on him or wake up to see him on his stomach.

He’s taken quite a liking to sleeping on his stomach. Thanks mate!

Rationally, I know he will be fine. He can roll over very easily, he has excellent control of his head and he is strong. Plunket, friends and online forums have told me that he will be fine and that’s it’s normal to worry and take a bit of getting used to them sleeping on their tummys. I’ve seen every time he’s on his stomach that his airways are clear and once he falls asleep the toys are gone as well.

It’s hard not to feel nervous about it from time to time though. And then feel nervous that maybe it’s not healthy thinking like this. The anxiety spiral. But it is normal and he will be fine and in time, I will get used to seeing him on his tummy.

Bubble loves being in the cot and he can  be hilarious in there at times.

Anxiety and parenting go hand in hand and as he grows up Bubble is going to give me plenty of reasons to worry about him and I’ll need to find a way to deal with each of those occurrences. For now it’s the cot, but I have to admit I feel calmer about it than I used to. I’m already coming to terms with the cot and the fact that my wee man is not a little baby anymore. 
Smiles and Sunshine

Katie

Suddenly It’s Scarier

Like a lot of Kiwis last night, I woke up at 12.02am. The house was groaning, creaking and rattling, but quietly. I could hear the water in Sheldon’s tank sloshing around and his ornaments hitting the glass almost rhythmically. I lay in bed, watching the wardrobe door swing back and forth while I was jolted around in bed.

I’ve lain in bed throughout countless earthquakes over the last five years in multiple different houses and for the most part they were followed by a rush of adrenaline, a quick check of Facebook and Geonet to satisfy my curiosity, followed by drifting off back to sleep.

Last night was different.

Last nights quake lasted for ages, over two minutes, but it felt like much longer. I actually didn’t think it was going to stop for a while. It hit at the end of a stressful week when I’d lost my shit several times so I was exhausted. And this time, there was a bassinet at the end of the bed containing a tiny human who relies on me for everything.

I was petrified.

While the quake was going on I woke Zombie up. I was freaking out and needed to not be alone. I thought I was trying to get out of bed to check on Bubble, but looking back I’m pretty sure I was frozen in place, getting more and more fearful with each shake. After the quake finally ended, I checked on Bubble who was sound asleep, blissfully unaware that anything had happened. Zombie went back to sleep, I checked up on family and friends then spent the next three hours in a constant state of alert.

Facebook was going nuts and after the tsunami warnings popped and I saw some friends posting statuses about being evacuated from their houses, I let Anxiety that we would also need to evacuate, despite the fact that our house was well into the safe zone.

I wanted to wake Zombie again. I knew he would be able to calm me down, but I also didn’t want to wake him, so I didn’t, spending the rest of the night tossing and turning, drifting in and out of sleep and getting up to check on Bubble every time I couldn’t hear him breathing.

The quake was centered about an hour or so away from Christchurch near Hanmer Springs and Cheviot. It was upgraded and downgraded a few times, but finally settled at 7.5 at a depth of 15km. It was felt over the entire country and caused wide spread damage to areas on both islands. By 2.10pm, 14 hours later, there had been 382 aftershocks.

I’m not saying that I’ve never been scared during an earthquake before, but not like this. All I could think about was my son and what might happen to him. He was safe, there was nothing that could fall on him and Zombie and I were right there, but these are things I am only realizing now. In the heat of the moment I was paralyzed in fear and that scares me.

I was very lucky. I had no damage, I was unhurt, I got to stay in my house and I knew that my friends and family were safe relatively quickly because of Facebooks Safety Check, which I think is such an excellent feature for these types of events. 

But today I learned that no matter the level of danger, it is so much scarier for me now that I’m a mother and I’m guessing that fear will never go away.

Smiles and Sunshine

Katie

It’s A Bad Week, Not A bad Life

As the title of this post suggests, it hasn’t been a good week. The whole family has been sick, even wee Bubble which has given me sleepless nights even though he handled it like a champ and so many things have gone wrong or turned bad to the point where I began to question almost every aspect of my life. In the heat of several moments I seriously considered giving up and starting over.

I was probably being a bit of a drama queen with my reactions but sometimes I think we need to just lose our shit and have a tantrum, even if it’s just to silently fume or slam doors to release pent up stress. I know I’ve been stressed for weeks and maybe last week wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d gotten that under control, but instead as soon as things went wrong it flipped me over the edge.

I was so angry after one event that I yelled at the wall. I’ve never been that angry before and while yelling at an empty house wasn’t going to fix anything, it did make me feel better. Better enough to function at least.

Exhausted but still smiling

I’m still not 100% mentally or physically. I seem to have a nasty cold that just won’t go away and when I think about the events of the week I get really worked up, or worse, glum. But it’s not the end of the world. I’ll get up tomorrow and get on with my life and in time I’ll look back on this week and take it for what it was. The week that it all got too much, but I didn’t give up.
Smiles and Sunshine

Katie

Back To Work

My first week back at work is done and dusted and it was weird. It was strange being back after four months although in some ways it was like I’d never left and in others I felt like the new person being trained as I was sitting next to the person who had covered me being shown what had changed and working together to get me back into the swing of it.

I didn’t cry as much as I expected. On Monday and Tuesday Bubble stayed with Mum, which was good. Everyone needs their mother at certain points in their lives and Monday was one of those days for me. She was right there when I broke down when I had to leave. We also lost Libby, our family dog of 17 years that day so we got to be there for each other for that and Bubs was a good distraction for Mum at that hard time.

Work itself was pretty good. My workmate who had been covering me did a great job. The person who had been hired to cover me ended up quitting, leaving a huge mess when he left, but the workmate who stepped up made sure it was all tidied up for my return. He worked ridiculous hours so that I didn’t have to and for that I was very grateful. It meant I wasn’t stuck at work all week and could rush home to my family which was exactly what I wanted.

On Wednesday and Thursday Bubble started daycare. Zombie and I decided to put him in In-home care instead of preschool. I just felt preschool would be too dramatic a change. But it was the first time bubs had been left with a non family member and I found myself teary and distracted the whole of Wednesday and some of Thursday. I did not get a lot of work done.

But Friday was the worst. Zombie doesn’t work Fridays so they are now known as Daddy Baby Day. Zombie has been looking forward to this but I never realized how much harder it would be for me knowing that my boys were out and about having fun without me. I finally appreciated how awful Zombie felt the first few days after Bubs was born when he had to go home without us from the hospital.

5am wake up calls to express milk then get ready for work before waking up Bubble, feeding and getting him ready for the day, dropping him at daycare then going to work, coming home and still having to eat, express, prepare for the next day, look after Bubs and unwind… It was so much more tiring than I expected. Zombie was great helping out and we were also lucky enough to have our meals donated to us by families through a new Facebook initiative called Meals For Mum which meant one less thing to do but there was more than one day where I was still on the go after 9pm.

I’ve said this a lot this year but I have never been so tired. I keep discovering new levels of tired and each time I feel like I couldn’t get any tireder, but apparently I can. I severely hope that there isn’t more tired than this to come.

I’d like to say that there was time to relax on the weekend, but there wasn’t.  Bubs has been rather clingy this weekend. He’s usually very placid and good at entertaining himself when we need to do things or want to have a sit down but this weekend the only place he wants to be in our arms. It’s lovely, especially since I don’t get to see him much, but the crazy thing is it’s also exhausting. Zombie and I have been taking turns just so each of us gets at least a little break.

When I do get a chance to relax, I feel like I should be doing something productive. The house is an absolute pigsty (we’re still unpacking from the move… Slowly), all the day to day things still need doing and the garden and lawns are quickly getting out of hand. The only thing that isn’t getting neglected is Bubble. I actually wish someone would come over and clean my house, despite being embarrassed by the mess.

It’s not all bad. Since having a routine I haven’t had a hint of depression. I’m not saying it’s gone, maybe I’m just too busy, but it’s nice to be able to say that the only times I was upset this week were when I was missing Bubble. I had no listless periods either. It was nice. 

I also had a wonderful reception when I returned to work. Everyone was happy to see me back and made sure I knew it. Something about being appreciated definitely makes me feel good about myself. 

I’m not sure if it’s going to get easier now, but what I do know is I’ll get better at it and hopefully be less tired. It’s an adjustment, but no matter how tired and cranky I get, I wouldn’t trade Bubble for anything in the world.
Smiles and Sunshine

Katie

It’ll Be Okay

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on here. In some ways it feels like forever but mostly the time has just flown by. I’ve been feeling better than when I last posted. I still have Postpartum Depression, but I’ve been getting a handle on it over the last month.

I go back to work tomorrow. My paid maternity leave is up and for financial reasons I have to go back right away. It’s something I’ve known since Zombie and I first started dating, if we ever had kids I’d have to go back to work, but knowing something and the reality are two different things.

I’m not ready. I’m not ready to spend my days without my little Mr. I’m not ready to rush around at work all day and be exhausted when I get home because I’m not used to it anymore and still having massive responsibilities. I’m not sure how I’m going to cope. I’ve been having vivid bad dreams about losing my wee boy and I often wake up petrified.

It feels like the end of the world. I feel like after tonight I’ll barely see Raiden and we won’t be so close anymore. I’ve finally developed a strong bond with him and I feel like it’s being taken away from me. I cry a lot at the moment because I already miss him, even when he’s in my arms. We spend most of our days being silly and giggling, making the most of the extra hours we have together, but it doesn’t feel like enough. 

Maybe it’s because I’m tired, maybe it’s hormones or just how damn emotional I am right now, but I’m getting really tired of people telling me it will be okay. I know this. I know that it will get easier every week, that crying won’t always be a daily occurance and that the routine will be good for me and most importantly I know that my son will be in good hands while I’m at work.

But knowing that doesn’t change how I’m feeling right now. I know that people mean well, or maybe they just don’t know what to say but being told it will be okay doesn’t make it easier. It just makes me feel silly, like my emotions regarding going back to work are stupid. It makes me feel worse.

It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be a big adjustment. It’s going to take a lot of organisation and planning ahead, which has never been my strong point and it’s going to take a lot of strength at a time when I’m feeling the most vulnerable.

What keeps me going is knowing that this is the best thing for my family. So many women have to go back to work after having babies these days and the reality is that most of us wouldn’t if we didn’t have to. It’s always okay, but getting there is a process I have to go through at my own pace. Just like everyone else.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Internalized 

It’s so hard, because you have to function. There is a tiny defenceless human who needs you to look after them 24/7. But you can’t function because of your depression, so you don’t for a while and just sit or lie there, listening to your baby cry out for you, his hungry cry, his lonely cry, any of his beautiful cries. You feel so guilty, so ashamed but you physically can’t move and you consider ignoring him but you can’t because he needs you to get your shit together, he needs you to look after him in this big scary world, so you finally get up and help him, crying the whole time because you feel so terrible for making him wait, worrying that your mood is affecting him negatively, messing him up before he’s even begun to live. 

You tell him how much you love him and how sorry you are, even though you still don’t know if you’ve bonded with him because you never felt that overwhelming feeling everyone told you about, the one your partner felt the first time he laid eyes on your son. The one they tell you it’s normal not to feel right away but it still plays on your mind every single day, do you actually love your child or are you just going through the motions? And you feel so ripped off that you didn’t get that feeling and you wonder if it was a mistake, having a baby at all, you’re obviously not maternal, you can’t do it, you never should have done it and what if you never get better and you screw up this tiny little baby for life and he ends up a giant mess just like his mother. 

But you’re disgusted at yourself for even thinking like that, he’s amazing, perfect, everything you ever wanted, you just thought you would handle it better, you knew it would be challenging but you thought because you’re a nurturing soul that you would cope, but you just can’t seem to get a hold of yourself this time around and you’re crying while you comfort him and you’re feeling selfish because you’re not the only person who’s had a baby and found it difficult and confusing but everyone you see with a baby is doing so well and you just can’t understand why you can’t do it yourself.

Then he smiles at you, his adorable gummy smile, the one that lights up his eyes making his whole face shine and he gurgles the cutest little sound at you, so sweetly that you melt and manage to pull yourself out of your funk for a while and you function again like you should. But after a while you start to freak out that you’ve scarred him for life, taken too long to respond to his needs. You go downhill again and repeat the process. 

And you know you should be telling someone, your partner, your mother, a friend, but you’re in denial. You know that tomorrow will be different, that you’ll get up early and do shit tomorrow. You’ll have a healthy breakfast, you’ll go for a walk, you’ll get the million things done that you’ve been neglecting for too long and you’ll be a better mother too. The mother that your baby deserves, who responds to the cues and doesn’t leave him to cry for too long and interacts with him, helping him to grow because you know how amazing it is to watch him develop. 

But then tomorrow comes and you’re tired and sore and just need a break, or a nap, or to watch an entire episode of a show on TV without having to stop it to tend to your childs needs and without feeling selfish for wanting that. Or to not have a pile of dishes to do in order to be able to eat something substantial instead of just wolfing down a yoghurt between babies cries. To not be alone with the baby and feeling helpless until your partner comes home and gives you a hand. 

But he needs some time out too because he’s been working all day as well, just a different kind of work and you remember what that feels like and how tiring it is and how terrified you are of going back to work in a few weeks time and how it’s going to be so hard to be away from your little guy and let someone else, a stranger care for him and maybe miss out on his milestones, even though you knew this is how it had to be before you even conceived him. You knew it would suck but you thought you could handle it, just like everything else you thought you could handle. 

And now the thought of working all day, then to have to go home each night and still have responsibilities, little chance for a break and you wonder how you will cope even though it’s what’s best for your family, but you’re scared even though everyone tells you that you’re looking so good and doing so well and you don’t understand because you stopped looking after yourself weeks ago, you just didn’t have the energy to look after both yourself and the boy and soon you’re going to have even more responsibility and you’re lying in bed, paralyzed by these thoughts circling round and round your head, then you hear your baby cry for you, but you’re frozen in place…

How could you be sad seeing this beautiful face everyday