Saturday, May 19, 2007

Looking after myself, looking into myself, looking for a new self?

The health visitor came to visit us yesterday for a chat, after I blubbed at her about not coping very well (I'd been thinking about doing it for a while, and was largely prompted by the infamous feed time disaster.) We had a good talk, and in the end she asked if I would consider taking antidepressants. Yikes! We discussed the options and in the end I decided that, since they can take 2-3 weeks to start working anyway, I'll wait for a couple of weeks, to see how I cope now that Peter is back to work. I tend to be better at coping with challenges than at anticipating them calmly. After two weeks we'll evaluate the situation again, and if needed I'll take the happy pills then.

So why am I blogging about this now? For that matter, why do I keep blogging about things after they stop being a problem? Well, for one thing, because at the time when they're a problem, they're too painful to talk about. There is something about admitting you don't love your newborn that can really break your spirit, and make you sound like a monster to boot. The image of a new mother looking at her infant with stars in her eyes is too powerful. Or, to put it another way, when I tried to talk to my own dear mother about it, her advice was "Don't tell anyone about this! Don't tell Peter! Well, if you must, make an appointment with your doctor and tell him you don't have normal feelings." Gee, thanks mum.

This blanket of silence is terribly unfair to those of us who flirt with depression after giving birth, or who don't get maternal feelings at the flick of a switch. And I think I SHOULD talk about it (even if it makes me cringe.) The thing is, you see, I don't love my newborns. I'm just not very good at newborns, I think. I love being pregnant, but after I give birth, there is this little creature that moves in with us, and to me, it's at best mildly entertaining and at worst annoying. Oh, I take good care of it, I mother it the way I know I want to mother my children; I feed it on demand (and my babies tend to demand feeding quite often,) I wear in in a sling for as long as it wants, I take it in my bed; but I don't love it. I didn't start loving Matilda until she was about 6 weeks. I'm only getting started with Philip (which is why I can write about this now.) And so what? I love Matilda more than anything now, and I know beyond doubt that the same will happen with Philip. It's already started happening since he's become more responsive. But I still feel a twist of pain every time I hear someone talk about her love affair with her newborn at the hospital. And it's just not fair that I have to feel this way.

Check out Philip in the cool bib Blue sent us from her shop!

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Continued on the next day. Erm... I mean today. Instead of...yesterday. You know what I mean.

On the other hand, I think I might be getting better. Let me tell you about my day:

Today after I got up and fed myself and the mites, I asked Matilda if she wanted to sit on her "special seat" (the potty.) She did, so I left her there and did some chores. After about 10 minutes she said she wanted to come down, so I helped her down and went to fetch a nappy. She promptly pooped on the carpet (twice!) and then stepped in it. And wasn't fussed about it in the slightest. Yes, friends and neighbours, by toddler can count up to three objects, recite her books from memory, recognise the letters of the alphabet and sing a whole load of songs (with the right pitch!) but she thinks walking in to her own excrement is normal. Any comments?

Me: Matilda, did you make a mess?

Matilda: Yes! (smiling enthusiastically)

I cleaned her up, cleaned the carpet up, and took them to the swiming pool. There, Matilda peed on the carpet of the creche. I cleaned that up too, fed her lunch, and walked her in the buggy for a nap. I tripped and fell down on the street, while holding on to the buggy, and with Philip strapped onto my chest. While I was falling, I managed to not let go of the buggy (it was downhill; she'd have gone rolling into the street;) and not to land on baby Philip. I made myself land on my knees instead (hands still gripping the buggy.) I reached out and put the buggy's break on before I got up. Yeah. Us mummies are tough.

Then I fed myself lunch, and rushed off to the local Surestart Implementation Board Meeting. They didn't have a place for Philip in the creche, so he stayed with me. Right in the middle of the meeting, in a room full of local minor politicians, agency representatives, health officials and Surestart managers, after the financial manager had finished giving her report, and just as she was saying "Any comments?" Philip had an amazingly explosive, and impressively loud poo. (This is my life! I couldn't make this up!) I ran out of the room with poo dripping out of the baby ond onto my trousers, and into the toilet, where I stripped Philip up, and run him under the tap. Yes, that's literally what I did, because the poop was so explosive that it had shot out of the nappy's leg holes and covered his legs with about 1 cm of brown and runny goo. I then discovered that I did't have any nappies or wipes in my bag, because I had left them with Matilda at the creche. I slunk back into the board room and asked the chair (the only other one with a baby at the meeting) if I could borrow a nappy and some wipes. Went back into the toilet, scraped the poo off of my baby, decontaminated the surrounding area, and returned to the meeting.

And then we went home. But my point is, my point is, that I actually thought this was funny. AT THE TIME. So I must be getting better, see?

Philip, smiling, pleased with himself:

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Doesn't he look uncannily like Peter?

Some Matilda funnies:

A few days ago we were out having cream tea. Well, Peter was having tea -I was having a delicious iced coffee, and I liked it so much I said "This is to die for!" Matilda spent the next ten minutes begging for a sip: "Have to die for! Matida have to die for!"

Today Matilda was singing: "One little babycakes, sitting in the highchair... She fell of and she bomped her head! Mummy called the doctor and the doctor said, No More Babycakes Sitting in the Highchair!" (This, for those of you who don't know it, is based on a song that goes "Five silly monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell of and bomped his head. Mummy called the doctor and the doctor said, No More Monkeys Jumping On The Bed!" But she's improvising on the lyrics! She came up with that on her own!)

She also likes to imitate me or try to take care of Philip herself.

Here she is breastfeeding her "baby":

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And wearing her "baby" in the sling:

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Notice the cool vintage looking rocking horse I picked up at the charity shop for £10, behind Matilda! Way to go, me! Not that she plays with it, but it's too nice to return to the charity shop... Maybe Philip will like it! (Yes, multiple exclamation marks... A sure sign of a diseased mind...) (If you recognise this -mis-quote and I don't know you already, I want to meet you!)