Thursday, 10 September 2015

When in Rome... (Which I am)

It's hard to know where to start after such a long break. I often have fleeting thoughts that round themselves up and turn into silent sentences, and I think to myself "I should really write that down". But there's something about opening the blogger app on my phone that I just can't bring myself to do. Until right now, that is. Hardly ideal (I'll be interrupted a lot and lose my flo-jo), but K (HN1 for those of you that follow) and I are on the train on our way to Fiumicino Airport; we've just spent a long weekend in Rome. As you do, natch.

A long weekend and our first sans child - thanks Mum. WWJD if he was relieved of responsibility for 3 days? Sleep late, drink at lunchtime, have sex, leave the house with nothing but a tiny handbag, read a book and relax in the knowledge that there's no place to be? Probably. But then he wouldn't have spent 2.5 days pounding the streets of Rome to see EVERY sight - mainstream and alternative (apart from the fucking unicorn museum which was closed for refurbishment).

Drinking a bottle of wine with lunch on Friday at an excellent restaurant near the Colleseum was fun, but led to the tasting of various limoncello varieties. Which in turn led to the purchase of 2 bottles of limoncello and a coffee maker for my brother that we later saw for half the price. They must have seen (or heard) us coming. Bargain Queen fail.

The Vatican museums were overcrowded and hot. So uncomfortable that I think the whole place was ruined for us. Incredible art, I've never seen anything like it. The detail and workmanship and the 4 years Michaelangelo spent on his back painting that one ceiling are awesome. But being hustled through the Cistine Chapel, where there was no room to stand and take it in (let alone whip out a guide and learn something) and no air to breathe because the tour groups had breathed it all, was awful.

Other disappointing things were not finding the pope, and only seeing 2 Swiss Guard having a cheeky break behind a building. We didn't manage to have pizza for EVERY meal, but we did manage to eat more cheese than you can shake a stick at. That's a fuck ton, in case you work in metric.

Anyway, this isn't a travel blog.

I have no idea where I was up to before my hiatus, nor do I suppose it really matters. The following has happened:

K, BabyF and I moved to the UK! Specifically, to Mum's house. It's all the rage to move in with your parents in your 30's, we're bang on trend so fuck off. We put ourselves to work and in the first week pulled up some carpet, worked really hard on restoring the tiles we found underneath, painted some walls and did a lot of reorganising. Then we unpacked an entire shed (hello half the stuff from our house in Brussels packed and shipped 12 years ago and not unwrapped until now) just in time for our container to arrive in the field next door. Then we repacked the shed with our shit from Perth. In the next couple of weeks the solar panels will be installed. We made a new study for Mum and a new double guest room, and I'm halfway through making BabyF's room into a magical wonderland. Think feathers, hot air balloons and fairy lights. Our room looks like shit but we'll get there.

See? Too busy to be depressed. Or something.

BabyF started walking about a week after we arrived. She was 9 months old, unsurprisingly early. Now she's 11 months and still super adorbs - most of the time. She loves the countryside, rolls around naked in the grass, picks flowers, eats dirt and snacks on snails. Actual garden snails - sticks her fingers in and licks them - revolting child. She luuuuurves animals, playing with them, licking them, stroking them (upgraded from pulling their hair), and eating them. Apparently we are not raising a vegetarian - feels like a win for daddy when BabyF has half a sausage in each hand and can't fit any more in her mouth. Or maybe she takes after me. She loves rocks and climbing and making as much noise as possible with whatever is in her hand and dancing (she danced before she walked) and clapping and laughing and riding on our shoulders. This week, she also loves stamping.

Sleep is going pretty well (BabyF), and pretty badly (me). I went cold turkey on my antipsychotics a couple of weeks ago, mainly because of the weight I've put on, with the holes in my brain and lack of memory/vocabulary/ability to follow a conversation a close second. I've turned into a fat idiot which has done very little to help my mood. I can't look in the mirror. I hate being naked. Clothes make me cry. Going out anywhere is hard because I don't want anyone to look at me - plus I have no chat.

I tell everyone I'm fine, and that things are getting better, but I don't believe it. I'm miles better than when I was a resident crazy, but no better than before we left Australia. Perhaps worse. I have dropped some meds though and changed others - my antidepressants aren't available in this country so I've had to swap. The GP was totally useless, and my "urgent" psych referral 2.5 months ago still hasn't resulted in an actual appointment. When I was really low on my Aussie stash I had to do the transition over the phone with a psychiatrist. So much for the NHS being great in mental health. I'll report back when I'm actually in the system.

Meltdowns. Hmm. Had a few, most notably the night of mum's 60th birthday party and one night in Rome. I almost didn't go to the party - thought I could just bake the (14 layer) cake and drop it off, I was so busy in the lead up that I didn't even consider how the actual party would feel. Bleurgh. K had to drop mum off but left with a cuntish remark intended to hurt... Perfect timing to be a wanker. The Rome episode was an attractive affair on a rooftop involving drinks and a river of tears. Tear stained with puffy eyes. Chic as fuck.

I saw a psychologist yesterday for an initial assessment. I suppose the phone interview I did 6 weeks ago was an initial initial assessment. Wouldn't want to help people unless they can definitely prove twice that they're depressed. Both assessments were hard, but the questions yesterday were probing and the whole session was upsetting. I left feeling even more of a failure. The things I feel guilty about aren't the same as the things other mums admit to feeling guilty about. Sometimes I don't want to feed my baby or take care of her. I always, always, do what's best for her though, no matter how hard I find it. Other times I want to hold her and never let go. 

I've started to panic again when she cries. Not a good sign. Handled it like a champ the other night when K was out with the village men's walking group (yep, a real thing. Always ends in the pub, often results in a hangover) and BabyF screamed and screamed. A couple of times I managed to rock her to sleep and just held her like I used to. It's easy to get annoyed when you have to rock and rock and rock a baby, but when I think "she won't be a baby for long" it's easy to rock and rock and rock her while she needs it.

It was strange to be away from BabyF. I really wanted to hold her and smell her hair; if that's missing her then I missed her.

Friday, 19 June 2015


Argh fuck it, I'll write on the plane tomorrow. I have NO idea why I'm avoiding The Blog like The Plague, but it has to stop. I want a record ffs.

The plane (by the way) is taking us to the UK where we will be living for a while. Not sure how long exactly, but we're going to practice the fuck out of some mindfulness and not focus on where, when, or why we go next. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

I wrote this a while ago...

...It's been a while and we've been fairly busy, BabyF has mainly been busy being ill. Coughing and spluttering and snotting all over the place has been our game for the past couple of weeks. She has also decided that breast feeding is no longer for her (thanks anyway to Daisy for the lactation cookies which have now gone to a better, lactating home). I have mixed feelings about the breastfeeding; mainly I'm glad that it was her decision to stop - it takes away most of the guilt - but I do miss the calm cuddle time. We still have cuddles but only when Miss Independent says so. 

She's so independent and now she's crawling like a champ and exploring her world I think she's happier than when she was stationary. But as I mentioned previously, it's getting harder and harder to get her to sleep, probably because she's so stimulated that she can't wind down. Whatever the reason, it's exhausting. 

That was a while ago! Almost 2 months ago, in fact. I know this because BabyF weened herself off the boob from one day to the next when she was six months, and now she's eight months and SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. I'm going to start a new post.

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.