Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Is the good stuff coming?

Tommorow we will have had our tiny human for 6 months. SIX months. I don't know where any of those six months have gone. Actually, that's not true. The first three and a half vanished into the thick black smog of depression and anxiety, the following two were spent on a psych ward getting sane, and the past couple of weeks we've spent recovering and getting used to "normal" life again.

I'd like to say (and believe) that this is a fresh start, that all the good stuff begins here, that this is where BabyF and I will build our relationship from, but I'm not sure that's how this works. I'm the only mum she's had, surely the times when I haven't wanted her, haven't wanted to be alive, haven't taken care of her physically or emotionally will have had some effect. The times I've cried, retreated, hidden, had meltdowns, will have left a residue in her rapidly growing brain and heart. 

I've always been kind to her and gentle, even when I've least felt like it, so I hope that's done something to negate the negatives. I've explained to her that I'm sad but not because of her - I'd like her to know that it's ok to be sad. She's never been left to cry, never gone to sleep without one or both of us helping her, never been hungry for longer that it takes to whip out a boob or make up a bottle, never been cold or dirty or lonely or without comfort when she's needed it.

Hopefully these things will patch over the times I was emotionally absent, and those when Husband and Nana had to take over her care for a bit.

Hopefully she won't be affected by the months we spent in hospital, or by the difficult birth, or by our breastfeeding struggle.

Hopefully she'll remember seeing and being with her mum and dad together every day, no matter where we were sleeping.

Hopefully she feels loved and safe and secure in our little triangle.

Hopefully the trouble she has getting to sleep (which is getting worse again) isn't due to her not feeling safe and secure.

Settling her has always been difficult, especially for me - it has the ability to throw me into a spin and land in a puddle of failure. Since my medications have leveled me out and I've learned different ways to settle BabyF, I've been much better at settling and getting her to sleep. It hasn't thrown me for a while, I haven't had any meltdowns related to her not settling since being out of hospital, but now it's getting harder and harder to settle her, it's getting harder and harder to avoid the spin. She screams as soon as we go into her bedroom. Screams when we lie her in her cot. Screams until we pick her up, and then stops. This goes on and on and on and it's difficult and exhausting. This week we've spent nights in a chair by her bed resettling her every half hour. I'm not sleeping very well despite the medication I'm on which is supposed to help me sleep (as well as "help" me gain weight - I'll discuss this shit in another post). 

Friday night was anxiety night - surprisingly unrelated to BabyF or Husband. I took the last of my discharge meds on Thursday night but had been to the GP and pharmacy to get continuation meds. When I went to take my 6pm quetiapine pill, it looked different to the ones I'd been taking previously so I checked the packet really carefully and realised I'd been given immediate release instead of extended release. The IR would have knocked me out for a while but Saturday I would have been manic. The XR keeps me level the next day and I've been told under no circumstances to miss a dose. So I called the psych outpatients at the hospital up the road (they've taken over my care) in a bit of a tizz and they told me to come up and they would have some prescribed for me that night. So I walked there (nervous energy) and waited a bit for the on call Dr to prescribe and the onsite pharmacy to dispense. They gave me enough for the weekend and told me to come back Monday morning for a full script. 

The old me wouldn't have batted an eyelid. The new, recovering me got into a bit of a state. Husband didn't really realise or perhaps he just didn't care - would have been nice if he had recognised that I wasn't OK and tried to help. I even told him I wasn't OK, but I guess it's hard to understand from the outside.

Anyway, onwards and upwards, 6 month vaccinations tomorrow, then Good Friday, weekend, Easter Monday. We'll have Husband home for 4 days in a row which will be nice (even though it fucks our practically non existant routine in the arse). Hopefully we'll make it to the beach a couple of times. A one year old's birthday party on Saturday (we met on the unit) with a swimming pool and hopefully sunshine. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Things to Not Forget

Today BabyF mastered crawling. She's been moving around for a few weeks but today she joined arms to the leg movement and nailed it. She looks tiny to be crawling about, but kind of awesome.

She has been sitting up on her own for weeks and has the best ramrod posture in the world.

Today she fed herself sweet potato sticks (just oven roasted with nothing else before you start imagining grease and salt - we'll leave that kind of feeding to the in-laws).

Today she also discovered shadows when we went to hang the washing out. 

It's pretty cool watching her figure out her body, how it moves and what it can do, as well as discover all sorts of other things (mainly by licking them. Including the floor which isn't as clean as it could be because mum's not here).

She's pretty advanced, takes EVERYTHING in. Which makes putting her to sleep fucking challenging, she just can't wind down.

Her second tooth is coming through. We hope this is why she was wide awake between 3:30 and 5:00 this morning. Like, WIDE awake.

Disappointment and Freedom

I can't remember where I left off, but that doesn't feel important. I was in the MBU then and I'm still in the MBU now - this feels more inportant, especially since I was expecting to be released/discharged today. 

On Monday it was agreed that I should have a whole day at home without Husband or Brother around to help/just be there. The sooner the better so I arranged to go home that night, stay Tuesday and Tuesday night, and come back this morning, Wednesday, for a meeting with the psych and the Husband.

Aaaaaaaand they didn't let me go. I have to finish working on my WRAP (a plan in case things start turning South again) and sort out a timetable of things to fill my week with so I'm not sitting in the house all day alone with a baby. Again.

The meeting also brought up a couple of "interesting" things with Husband which were pretty upsetting. He accused me of only wanting to stay at home with BabyF because I don't like my job. That I don't like my job is partially true, that this is the reason I wanted to stay at home with BabyF is so far from the truth. I explained that part of the reason I'm so fucking disappointed with the way everything has worked out so far is that I had wonderful visions of how life would be, and how I would be as a mother, and I feel like I've failed totally in every aspect, from the birth to now. 

It was a pretty hard meeting but I explained some things to Husband that he wasn't aware of, and the psych said it was the first time she's actually heard me speak up, that usually in our sessions I'm so quiet and she can tell I have a lot going on in my head but I refuse to say it out loud, that I just wait for her to talk to me and don't answer her questions. I wasn't aware I was so passive, maybe I've missed out on some good shrinkage by being so lame, or MAYBE I was on a psych ward for a reason and the fact that I'm now talking is perhaps a good sign that I'm getting better. 

Still, I want to go home, and I don't want to go home. I'm scared it will be the same, that I'll feel the same. And I never want to feel like that again. Never. 

Well, that was the 11th March. This is the 24th March and I've been free (home) for a week; I got out about a week after the above post that I didn't manage to publish.

Leaving the unit was harder than I thought it would be. Husband came in for a short and sweet family meeting on the Tuesday morning, then we packed up, said goodbye, and left. Just like that. I didn't get a chance to say thank you or goodbye to Phil - our savior mothercraft nurse, but I'll visit in late May and see her then. Anyway, I held it together until we walked out the door, and then I had a cry. Leaving the unit felt a lot like jumping off a cliff. To go from somewhere where you have so much support to somewhere where it feels like you have none is hard. Trust me. 

That first day, Husband had the whole day off work - it would have been nice if he'd taken some more time off (I feel like I've said that before... Oh yes, when he only took a week off after BabyF was born, leaving me alone and scared and spiraling), but there you go.

The second day we saw our GP, DocR. She saw us on no notice because she's lovely and she's been thinking of us - it was DocR who referred me to the MBU. Got the prescriptions for all the drugs that are keeping me afloat. A lot of drugs. 6 months on the ones that make me fat, a couple of years on the ones that don't. Going to start weening off the loraz from next week, slowly slowly.

On Friday we went to Rhyme Time at the library with Mel, Dani, and Vicky. There were LOADS of people there and it was a bit overwhelming for me and for BabyF (and our friends) but also quite fun. Good songs for the babies, instruments and puppets. Think it will be a regular Friday thing with the Mother Nurture crew.

The weekend was strange. I felt pretty low on Saturday and don't think I achieved much, but I just can't remember. Which annoys me a bit. Sunday morning we hung with a couple of friends, had breakfast, a wonder around Freo and some shops, then lunch and a pint (half for me). I think it's also strange because it disrupts what little routine BabyF and I have and Husband takes over a lot of the care. That irks me a bit and then I get down and then don't want to be involved. I know he doesn't get to spend much time with her during the week, but actually if he left work on time he could be home at 5:35 and have until bedtime with her... Rather than leaving work at 6 and getting home just in time to put her to bed. That's not fun for either of them.

I'm trying to get out for a walk every day, and so far we've done quite a lot of walking. This morning we drove for the first time in a while to The Nest (a new pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal education support and resource centre) for an open mother's group drop in type thing. Mel and Dani were there which was nice and the women who run it are lovely. I think that will be a regular Tuesday morning thing for us. Starting mid-April I'll also be doing pilates there on a Monday morning (there's a creche for BabyF). 

I'm trying to find things to do to fill our days (all in the name of relapse prevention), and I think we're doing ok at the moment. A lot of things (like the pilates, a PND support group, Circle of Security course) don't start for a while and go by school terms so won't kick off until after Easter. I make sure we go out every afternoon to buy ingredients for dinner (which I've started making again - or at least starting to make -after months and months of wanting nothing to do with dinner). Not the most economical in terms of time or money, but it gives me focus each day and I need that at the moment. The smallest things feel super hard still, so all this structure and focusing on achieving small goals helps.

I have a lot more medical type stuff coming up (wish me luck). Tomorrow I'm seeing DocR again and then my psychologist, DocK. On Thursday afternoon one of the nurses from the unit is coming to the house (she visited yesterday too) for a meeting with someone from the psychiatric outpatients (Alma Street) at Fremantle hospital. I have no idea what to say at either appointment, when people ask how I am I just say fine, It's easy to say even when it's not easy to be.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Today's Things

Today BabyF is 5 months old.
Today BabyF cut her first tooth.
Today is my dead Dad's birthday.
Today we came back to the unit after 3 nights leave (labour day weekend).
Today BabyF has a rash on her face and chest that we have to keep an eye on.
Today my brother babysat BabyF for the first time so Husband and I could go to breakfast with friends.
Today I did a sweaty workout (tomorrow I'll be in pain).
Today I want to hurt myself. A lot.

BabyF update first I guess. She's teething like a motherfucker, has been sitting unaided for weeks, and is almost crawling. Good times. Advanced little madam. Apart from the rash and refusing to eat for 2 days (breast and bottle), she's doing fine.

The weekend went ok - better than last weekend anyway. Perhaps because I had my husband and my brother to help with me and BabyF, perhaps because we got out and about and I got some yoga in on a couple of days. Perhaps because I'm getting better. Slowly.

We took BabyF to the beach, she loved it. I walked into the ocean with her and it felt real. She ate lots of sand and licked lots of sunscreen - all normal I'm sure.

Friday was a different story. My pdoc is leaving/has left, so I'm seeing the other psychiatrist - the director here. I had a session with each of them on Friday and neither went particularly well. I want them to increase my dose of antidepressant, my old pdoc would have but didn't want to because he had to hand me over to other pdoc. She refused to change my meds because apparently 17 days isn't long enough although they both would have expected to see a greater change in my mood by now. So fuck. I'm still in a fucking mental unit, seemingly for no reason. They're observing me but not changing my meds - I may as well be at home feeling shit as here feeling shit, surely. So I had a major meltdown after that meeting and managed to scratch my thigh to fuck. If I'd had something sharper than my nails I'd have done a lot more damage. I was angry and sad and disappointed and lots of other things and I REALLY wanted to hurt myself. That feeling continued all weekend and I had to distract myself with yoga and beach and working out and tv and games on my iPad and sleep so I wouldn't break crockery and scratch myself with the broken edges. Really strong urges. They solved it on Friday by sedating me. Stopped the crying anyway.

Now I'm back at the unit and the urge hasn't gone. I think we'll put the baby to sleep and then I should probably just take my meds and go to sleep too. Fuck.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Ups and Downs

I haven't written in a while. I think because I haven't felt like it, otherwise I have to put it down to laziness. 

I'm still here, in the nut house/mother and baby unit. A bit over 5 weeks now and counting (only one other girl has been here longer). BabyF is growing and learning and practicing new tricks; she now rolls both ways and shuffles around the floor (mainly backwards), and it looks like she might crawl soon. She bites everything (apart from my nipples - she knows which way her bread is buttered) and drools everywhere. She giggles and giggles and giggles and must be the happiest baby on the unit by miles. She beams at everyone and everything and doesn't seem affected by the shit going on inside me. Which is the plan.

We spent a night at home last weekend, and while it wasn't a total failure, it was hard. Settling issues, meltdown issues, and in the end I was told to take my meds and go to bed. It was like being a child. So much of this whole process makes me feel like a child - especially meetings with the psychiatrist and family meetings. My emotions feel childish somehow, but far from basic.

Today I'm going home for the weekend. Friday to Sunday - it's a big deal. I've been anxious about it for days, and the closer it gets (2 hours and counting), the worse the anxiety.

My brother arrived last night and my mother leaves tonight, and despite the fact that my husband and my brother will be there, I'm so scared I'll feel alone again. Like I did for so long. And that I won't know what to do with myself or BabyF. And that I'll work myself up into a meltdown or four. I can always come back to the unit, any time, day or night they say. But isn't that failing? Haven't I don't enough of that?

So I guess I need a plan. Tomorrow morning I'd like to take BabyF to swim in the ocean before the sun gets too strong or the wind comes up. I'll miss yoga but can do that at home in the afternoon - will be a nice break I think. According to the psych, my breaks have to be activity based rather than sleeping or resting. When husband offers to take BabyF out for a couple of hours so I can have some "me" time I have to refuse and go with them.

My mood has been up and down and down and up, not stable enough to be going home for good. This weekend was supposed to be a test, release usually follows soon after. But after seeing the psych today I don't think that's the case for me. Probably another couple of weeks.

BabyF will start sleeping in my room overnight soon. This worries me a bit because of the sedation (mine, not hers... although that would be nice at times) and having to feed her through the night. Staff will have a monitor and help me when I'm drowsy or incapable. At home my best husband would do those feeds. 

Slightly Off Topic, but the other night my best husband washed my feet before I got into bed. I was so touched by his kindness, I could have cried. He also sent me beautiful colourful gerberas last week, the day we had a dinner date planned. I'm lucky to have him.

I'm also lucky to have a mother who drops everything and flies across the world to visit me every day from 3pm at the unit. We go for walks and stuff, but it must be a pretty shitty time for her too. So thanks mum. Now it's my brother's turn to visit me every day from 3 - I'm sure these will not be remembered as their best holidays...

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Fake It 'Til You Make It

I want her childhood to be enchanted and beautiful. How can I achieve this, feeling the way I do? 

"Fake it 'til you make it" is a mantra round here, and advice that I've lived by for years. But having a baby has stripped me. I'm naked and raw and have run out of faces to put on. Somehow I manage with BabyF - she very rarely sees me cry and I always show her a smile and chat when I least feel like it. But I don't know how much longer I can keep up the charade - eventually she'll figure out that I'm faking. Then how will trust and love grow between us? Fucking "Attachment issues" I do not want to pass on to my little baby.

Apparently I need to start putting into practice some of the techniques I'm learning in group therapy when I feel low and anxious like this. It's hard to find the motivation.

Yesterday it was sprung on me that BabyF has to have her day time naps in my room now, no longer in the nursery. I would rather have had some notice (I appear to meltdown whenever change is mentioned), but managed to get her down for her last nap yesterday and her first today. I'd like to say with minimal fuss but that would be a total lie. She's a demon when it comes to bed time.

But she wakes up happy and squealing, sometimes chattering and babbling to herself. I'm sure she'll talk early and we'll never have a moment of peace again. She's already sitting and rolling and eating her feet (and anything else she can get her mouth on). The nurses here think she'll crawl and walk early too so we're going to have some baby-proofing to do.

Today I feel shit. We picked mum up from the airport on Sunday and she came in to the unit yesterday at visiting time. I feel pressure (not from her) to be better while she's here, to suddenly be well enough to go home. I feel like I should be planning things for us to do and actually doing them rather than sitting here feeling crap and getting into a panic because I haven't planned anything and I don't want to go anywhere and I don't want to do anything and I don't want to ruin what little routine BabyF has. 

That's a lot of don't want. Pretty sure that's not in my group therapy file. 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


I'm tired. BabyF is almost sitting on her own - in any 5 minutes my emotions regarding this range from pride - you go girl - to sadness that she is a) growing up so fast (I'm sure I'll lament this forever) and b) growing up so fast on a psych ward. 

Today's meeting with the pdoc was ok-ish. I cried, didn't mean to, because I feel so useless and so scared. My thoughts and feelings scare me; they're huge and ugly and dark and when I'm at my lowest it's a real struggle to control myself.

That was yesterday. Today I am also tired, mainly because something in the corridor was beeping all night. Apparently it will be fixed today. 

I can no longer go outside alone so the past couple of days my lovely nurses have taken BabyF and I for walks and juices and coffees. Today I couldn't go for a walk because my baby was asleep and there weren't enough staff to leave her in the nursery. I feel trapped, both physically and metaphysically - not a great place to be.

The handful of pills I swallow each morning don't seem to be doing much yet. I want to cry. I want to leave. I wonder if my life will be like this forever, if these feelings aren't anything to do with severe depression, but are just my actual feelings. That would make me a monster and a terrible person and awful mother. These thoughts (and more) in turn make me so distressed that I can't cope or do anything. It's at the bottom of this pit that my worthless self  wants to die. 

Right now I should be looking after my baby but I feel incapable of movement. I haven't even showered. She's been changed and fed and dressed (by me) all on autopilot. Autopilot is no way to raise a child. Things HAVE to get better. They have to.