It is always interesting for me reading about my own experience but from another person’s perspective. How did you find reading my story, that you’re used to hearing about from me, through Tania Connolly’s lense? How does it compare to my first ever interview with one Lauren Ingram?
My husband tells me that I favour our middle child. What’s more, my mother agrees. They tell me he’s cheeky, whereas when I look into his big blue eyes I see a child utterly without guile. I kind of figured they were just wrong. After all, his nonna seems to agree with me. He’s a sweet little boy who rarely throws a tantrum and enjoys sitting with his mum or nonna…
… of course there is that time that he said, “Happy birthday, poo poo head,” to his opa. But what three year old doesn’t find that kind of thing funny? And yesterday he did run off with his sister’s Batgirl and try to put it in the washing machine. I guess he did smack his identical twin brother over the head with a giant fairy tale book this morning. And he does lie in wait for his dad and constantly leap out at him like a minature ninja… but he’s still a very sweet boy.
It’s not like his older sister and twin brother don’t have their moments. I seem to be constantly carrying one or other of those pair. I swear they were an Emperor and Empress in a past life. They still haven’t gotten the hang of walking on their own two feet. And the noise, oh the noises that come out of those pair. It is like living next door to an airport. So usually I’d just dismiss my husband and mother’s claims of favouritism. But this morning something happened to give me pause.
During the night my youngest child crawled quietly into my bed and went to sleep down the bottom of my bed. My daughter was already in the bed. It’s not unusual for me to end up with the pair of them in my bed, the only weird bit was that my youngest child didn’t come in screaming and then attempt to sleep on my head. Apart from that it was just your regular Monday night. Me, and my oldest and youngest children, just much quieter and less physically invasive than usual.
At about 5am my mini Empress woke me to escort her to the toilet. I obediently did so but insisted she be quiet as to not wake the baby of the family. There’s only a minute gap between my boys, but it still counts. She did her best to stay quiet but eventually the urge to chat took hold not long after we returned to bed. I reminded her again to be quiet because of the baby. The three year old baby. And then I took a closer look at the baby. It wasn’t my youngest child but my middle child. And suddenly I got filled with this sense of urgency that my daughter must be quiet and my little boy needed to sleep. My heart stuck in my throat and a feeling of panic began to well up.
It’s a feeling I recognise all to well. It’s a very similar feeling that I used to get when looking at my boys when they were first born, and more so for my middle child. He was the smaller twin. The weaker twin. The one that almost didn’t make it.
During my pregnancy with my boys everything was going perfectly until 30 weeks. All of a sudden everything changed. Twin B had dropped off in his growth rate, his heartbeat was getting harder to detect. At 31 weeks my waters broke and I was kept in hospital on antibiotics and receiving daily ultrasounds. Twin B continued to tapper off. One afternoon at 32 weeks they told me that I’d need a cesarean the following day as the growth was now to little and the heart rate too uneven to endure a labour. I didn’t care. I wanted a live baby, I wasn’t fussed if that meant no vaginal birth.
That night the nurses came in and hooked me up to a monitor, I could tell things weren’t great. Nobody yelled or screamed but they decided to start me on the IVs I’d need for the cesarean a bit early. They continued coming in and out and then decided they’d wheel me down for surgery early. And then they felt given we were already there why no nip into the emergency delivery theatre and just get on with it.
My boys came out and both cried. I cried with relief that they were alive. They took twin B out first because he was the most fragile. So twin B became twin 1 and my middle child. He was tiny. 1.7kgs. He was perfect. And he was tough. He and his brother only needed nose prongs and only spent 3 weeks in the NICU. It could have been so much worse. I witnessed so much worse for other parents in the NICU. But it was enough to make me thankful that they were alive. And fearful.
Most of my worries were around my middle child, being that he was the one that had the issues in utero, and was 400 grams smaller than his younger brother. He’s fine now. They both are. Perfectly little boys that play and laugh most of the day. But I guess I still have that anxiety. That worry that he’ll be gone. That he won’t make it. It’s irrational and buried, but it’s there.
So although they’re wrong that my middle child is my favourite, because I love all my kids equally, maybe they’re right that I treat him a little differently. Because maybe I’m just a little bit more grateful that he’s alive, because he nearly wasn’t.
Do think you have a “favourite” child?
If you or someone you know has postnatal depression you can find good resources on the following sites:
Okay ladeez, this week is PANDA’s Postnatal Depression Awareness Week. As most of you know postnatal depression (PND) is a topic that is near and dear to my heart and I started blogging about it after the birth of my twins. This year PANDA is urging people to host a lunch in November and start the conversation about perinatal mental health. I’m not exactly the hostess with the mostess, so this blog entry is my version of having a “lunch out loud.” So let’s start the conversation about perinatal mental health. I’ll go first.
I don’t just have PND and dyslexia, I also have questionable fashion sense.
Hi, my name is Robin and I had PND with all three of my children. Granted child two and three are identical twins, so it was actually only two cases, which makes it a little easier to cram it all in.
Despite the fact I had several things that made me a prime target for PND I wasn’t diagnosed until 9 months after the birth of my first child. That’s an awfully long time to go untreated. I was picked up earlier after the birth of my twins, at 4 months, but by that time I was so far gone that I was immediately admitted to a psychiatric hospital with a Mother and Baby Unit. Hardly a postive reflection on our allied health professionals ability to pick and and begin ttreatent of PND at this time.
Some of the more obvious risk factors I had, but were ignored, were:-
– Premature birth of all three children. my first child came at 35 weeks, and the twins came at 32 weeks.
– I had been through major depressive episode twice before in my life.
– I had limited family support and no paid support to fill that gap.
These were not my only issues but they were three key concerns that health workers should have known to keep an extra careful eye on. They did not.
My daughter, although born 5 weeks early, was big enough and strong enough not to need any medical assistance by the NICU. She roomed with me from the moment she was forceped out of my cut open vagingo. We were in hospital for 1 week and then we took her home at just 36 weeks gestation. One week before full term, four weeks before her eestimated due date.
Awwww, she still melts my heart on sight.
She looked like an angel and I loved her completely. However, she wouldn’t sleep and would spend two hours on the breast, feeding. She out-right refused a bottle, and no, you don’t get to just let a premi baby go hungry to force them to eat, they’re small and have enough issues without adding tough love. Any time that I would try to lie her down she would shriek in pain and vomit.
I was lucky if I got 30 minutes sleep all up in 24 hours. I was a mess. I cried, I vomited, and I began to collapse at random moments. My husband was angry that I kept calling him, begging for help. He told me that I needed to learn how to sort stuff out on my own like every other mother. He had a dreamy 1950s Hollywood fantasy and I was rudely intruding upon it.
I told the community nurses, I told my GP, I told Tresillian, I told a social worker. Their responses varied from – I couldn’t really be sleeping that little or I wouldn’t be able to smile (I’m a smiling depressive) – to – babies like to suck, a breast is better than a dummy, so I should just STFU. Nobody was willing o help me because I loved my baby and had bonded with her. As far as they were concerned, that was the only issue.
I contemplated suicide repeatedly every day. Given that nobody could see an issue with my existence I concluded that I was the problem . I felt that I wasn’t good enough to be a mother to my angel. It never occurred to me that I might have PND because the vast amount of media coverage depicted mothers with PND as being distant and unbonded. On top of that, not one single health professional had suggested it. I didn’t fit the stereotype, I didn’t hate my baby, I hated me.
When it came time for my daughter’s 4 month injection and checkup I couldn’t get an appointment with my regular GP. The receptionist recommended nother doctor. That doctor saved my life.
The doctor immediately recognized that my daughter had reflux and referred us to a specialist. She had a particular bad case. It was a textbook case and should not have been missed. Medication was prescribed. The GP also picked up that my daughter had hip dysplasia and referred her to another specialist. Because this condition was missed by the hospital, community nurses, and my previous GP, it had progressed past the point of a harness or brace being able to fix it. Within two weeks she was in for surgery and placed in a spica cast. It was traumatic for all involved. She is five years old now, her hip is much improved but not 100%.
Spica casts are not an easy ride, it gets better with time but don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it starts out easy.
Soon after that the GP called my husband into her office and told him that I was exhausted and unless he wanted me to end up in hospital he better start helping. From that point on she became my regular GP, I dumped the old one. A good GP is worth their weight in gold. If you find one, keep them, they can truly save your life.
After my daughter was treated and my exhaustion started getting under control my GP started working more seriously with me. So at 9 months post birth I was finally diagnosed with PND, put on a mental health plan, placed in therapy, and given medication. It was a long and brutal road but I got there.
I tell more of my story and all about my time in a psychiatric hospital with my twins in my book “Confessions of a Mad Mooer” which is being released in December. I hope it helps to further breakdown stereotypes and makes PND more relatable for others. We really need to get rid of the stigma and start that conversation to gain understanding and acceptance.
Okay, that was my turn, now it’s your turn to join the conversation. I’d love to read about your experiences in the comment section.
My book! It’s out in December. Woot!
(Note: I’m dyslexic so if you wish to comment to gloat about spelling and grammar errors… your time will be wasted. I can not simply stop being dyslexic and see and write things as you do.)
If you or anyone you know is depressed, here are some great links:
Today my youngest child, yes the youngest by a minute twin, child number 3, got my phone and tweeted. He went into a twitter conversation that I was not part of, god knows how he ended up there, and decided to join it. He tweeted the following message:
So yeah, he tweeted award winning author Margo Lanagan, award winning author Deborah Biancotti, and Elijah who I am not familiar with but assume is a spec fic writer. Thanks Bubba, I already do enough “character building” stuff on my own without you adding to it. However, I’m pretty sure I’ve worked out what he was trying to say:
Hey Deborah, Elijah, and Margo,
Here’s my story idea which is so hot you’ll have to invent a new word like “settrfgaaszz” to describe it. You start with a love story. Like seriously in love, double the amount of kissing you’d normally have but then they get angy, and they’re like I can’t take this shit anymore, I’m not just fed up I’m fucking angry. So then this cow shows up, but the cow is like a metaphor for a bird, but the bird is really symbolic of a sheep dressed as a turtle. The turtle is the important bit. Don’t forget the turtle. Look, I’ll put it in twice so that you don’t forget. Trust me, turtles are going to be big! And then they get swallowed by a whale. Yeah it’s been done before, plenty before, but we’re bringing it back with turtles! Now this whale is allergic to tomatoes. So in the dead of night he accidentally eats a tomato and spews the angry lovers and the turtle off of the planet Earth. It’s like biblical and Pinocchio and Hitch Hikers all at once. So then they get caught by an anchored monolith in space. A sacred monolithic statue in space. But inside there’s like a whole market and town and stuff. There’s even a statue inside the statue. How meta is that. Their main commerce is love so there’s a few love chapels, love factories, love hospitals. And so they go to the love hospital. Will they or won’t they find a cure? Awesome right? We’ll earn heaps of money on this. You’ll earn 6767% more money than you ever dreamed of. Pounds, Euros, you name it, we’ll earn it. Seriously, I cannot express how much money we’ll get. We’ll be bathing in money. Lots of bathing in money. Bathing and showering in money. All because of love hospitals and statutes within statues!!!
Firstly, I’m obviously impressed that he speaks Indonesia. He’s only two and he speaks twin, some English, and apparently Indonesian. Secondly, I’m slightly guilt ridden that I did not realise this before. Where has my head been at that I didn’t pick that up? No wonder he’s off sending tweets to people, I’m clearly not with it. But thirdly, and mostly, I’m hurt. I’m hurt that he didn’t pitch his idea to me first. Clearly we’ve got a lot of work to do on our relationship.
Apparently my boys turn one tomorrow. I’m not ready. They’re so little and cute. They’re my last babies. Just… no…. tear. I want to hug them and love them forever but I know when they’re 15 they possibly won’t let me scoop them both up at the same time, and kissing their bellies will definitely be out. Sigh… Le Sigh. Ugh… I tell you what, they came 8 weeks early, so can I pretend that they’re not one for another eight weeks?
Fresh home from hospital, even 0000 were swimming on them.
Oh, but there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible idea. To begin with, I’ve just eaten a ton of garlic and—like most Italian guys he is a bit of a mummy’s boy. Sure he doesn’t live with her but she keeps his freezer stocked with home made meals and his nonna keeps his biscuit tin stocked with her special recipe ciambella. These facts alone make him an unlikely romantic partner for me, given that I am an independent woman who loves having her family safely tucked two hours away and likes shoes more than biscuits. Not to mention I’ve dated so many bums I’m feeling a little jaded. This bum upon bum avalanche has left me feeling sad and brittle and about seven-thousand years old. Purely as a matter of principle, I wouldn’t inflict my sorry, busted-up old self on the lovely, unsullied Daniele. Not to mention that I have finally arrived at that age where a woman starts to question whether the wisest way to spend your Saturday evenings is to promptly invite a man into her bed. Even one who loves all the cult classic comedies as much as I do. This is why I have been alone for many months now… well mainly because I’ve been having too much fun just being free and drunkenly carousing with Mr Archer. This is why, in fact, I have decided to spend this entire year in celibacy. It’s always good to make vows, just to hear the sound of them shattering as you drop them, creating seven years of bad luck no doubt.
To which the savvy observer might inquire: “Then why did you move to Sydney? Everybody knowd Sydney men are desperate because Sydney woman are meant to be the least welcoming.”
To which I can only reply—especially when looking across the table at handsome Daniele—”For work you dumb arse. These shoes don’t pay for themselves!”
Daniele is my Comedy Exchange Partner. That doesn’t sound like an innuendo because un-fortunately it is not. All it really means is that we meet a few evenings a week here in his lounge room and watch Owen Wilson movies and the like. I always mix up the movie titles, and he is patient with me; he farts loudly, and I am patient with him. I found Daniele thanks to the Bank… no, not a money one, the bar. Ah alcohol, you sassy wench, you have served me well.
Using my slurring, drunk, charisma I ask him, “Do you want to have my baby?”
Daniele responds “Even better. Twins!”
And so years later we now have an adorable girl plus equally adorable twin boys.
So I have come to the conclusion that my life might not be exactly glamorous enough to be made into a Reality Television series. I started suspecting this as I began thumb typing this entry up on the steps waiting for group therapy to begin and am now fully convinced of the fact as I now finish thumbing this up on the toilet… as I do a poo.
If my life was made into a TV show it’d view something like this:
One of the twins waking up crying at around 6 am. It’s the youngest one. Let’s not pretend I don’t know which one it is and that they both do it. The baby of the family does not love sleep. My husband looking at me sleepily says how exhausted he is and then me attempting to kick him the heck out of my bed because I’ve been up all night with one of the twins (yes, the baby of the family again) and I’m exhausted. No sexy lingerie, not even the conflict of a swearing match because I’m to zombified to do much but grunt angrily and flail a foot at the husband’s tail.
Husband gets up, does not pick up crying twin (yes, John you’re the one who was crying) and sits on the toilet for an hour.
I manage to pry my eyes open and stumble out of bed, collect babies in arms, hear the toddler monkey calling for love, duck into her room, she jumps on my back and I carry all three children into the lounge room.
I change the twins’ nappies. The Monkey asks where Daddy is. I say the toilet. The Monkey tells me how much Daddy loves the toilet. I agree. I start day dreaming about going to the toilet on my own during the day. It is magical. Perhaps they could do one of those foggy transitions and then some beautiful rose coloured lighting as they focus on me sitting on the can. Ah, that hit the right spot.
I get the boys bottles ready (yep they’re 9 months and now bottle fed, I guess that could cause some controversy. People could come and have a breast in at my front door and I could douse them with cows milk or formula) whilst getting the Monkey a cup of milk at her desired temperature. She asks for cake for breakfast. I say no.
The Husband gets off the loo and tells everyone about the quality of his poo and the effectiveness of his scissor bone.
I give the boys their bottle, the Husband makes the Monkey some toast. They eat toast whilst the Monkey describes how the world works. If you get blue and gold paint and mix them then you get green paint but if you mix blue and gold glitter you just get blue and gold glitter mixed together. True.
One of the twins vomits all over himself, his brother and me. His brother laughs. John you are lucky your brother has a good sense of humour. Ugh. I put dripping wet boys onto playmat, strip them of their vomit drenched wondersuits, then slowly make my dripping way to the laundry to dump my clothes in the laundry. The Monkey has at some point escaped from breakfast land and finds me and yells, “Mummy is nudie.” The husband wanders over and raises his eyebrows in a suggestive manner. A few weeks later when I complain he never tells me I’m pretty he will say, “What about the time in the laundry.” Yep, romance is going strong in our household.
Husband jumps in the shower. I swallow my bitterness and go off into a fantasy land where I get to have showers too. Bring on another transition and some funky lighting but this time using a shower model because me in the shower is so rare there is no file footage to use. I smell like a mouldy arse.
I hear what sounds like a flock of squarking seagulls coming from the lounge room. I enter the lounge room still naked, you’re welcome nosey neighbours, to discover that the Monkey has left her toast on the ground and the boys have fallen upon it. One twin has a whole piece in his mouth and the other is beating a slice against the ground to ensure it is dead before he eats it. What can I say, I have little cave babies.
Now I’d write more about my exciting day but it’s 11pm, I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I won’t sleep mind you, my stupid mind won’t stop talking to itself but you have to make an effort.
I will assure anyone who read the caption on my pic that group therapy is not interesting. It is not like it is depicted in Fight Club or Anger Management. Nobody has come home and slept nude with me, nor have they hugged me to their bitch tits, but I’ve already complained about the lack of pizzazz in group therapy – https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/confessions-of-a-mad-mooer-ive-just-had-an-oprah-moment/ so I won’t rant about it again. It’s not the participants fault, there’s at least one other person there who I know would be just as keen to whip out a whole bag of crazy as much as I am. It’s the therapists really that keep us from reaching our full Hollywood potential.
But I digress. I shall rewrite my day suitable for a blockbuster movie next time I get a good length of time on the toilet… alone!
I woke up this morning, grabbed an eight month old twin under each arm, waddled into my 3 year olds room, told her to jump on mummy’s back (her legs are apparently broken in the morning so she must be carried), then lunged into the lounge room where I dumped my kids and began to make breakfast. I looked something like this – (see picture below)
And by something I mean exactly like this, that's me sitting on the can this morning.
I changed nappies and underpants, dispensed breakfast, have a long and complicated conversation with my three year old about the ecological implications of capturing and keeping a fairy and make fart noises with my baby boys. They think fart jokes are the highest form of humour, they’re right. Get my little Star Child off to preschool and my boys off to bed and then check my Facebook as I make my morning cup of tea. Mumma needs her morning cup of tea or things go very badly for everyone. What should I come across on Facebook but Tara Moss. Gosh darned, beautiful, intelligent, successful, efferbloodyvescent, writing, mumma, Tara Moss, in the morning.
Talented writer and mother Tara Moss in the morning
I haven’t even had breakfast yet and she’s managed to have a photo shoot… with cowboy boots!!! So I’ve decided to have cake for breakfast. That is all.
Please see attached what people really look like first thing in the morning.
Take careful note of the inability to find the energy to close ones mouth as a result of being woken up at 3am for the last three nights in a row by the little Princess who will not go back to sleep until 5am followed by the twins waking up at 6am. Also the hair that took a whole night of tossing and turning to create not a mere few hours of brushing and glossing like the magazines would have us think. So in short, that “first thing in the morning look” takes all night to create not hours… That doesn’t seem like a valid argument to be making… My point is… I’m tired and I would like a nap? Waaaaaa.
I've become addicted to creating memes... my only regret is that I didn't start this addiction earlier.
As those of you who have been checking in on my blog for the last few months know I’m currently journeying through Postnatal Depression (PND as the cool kids call it), for the people visiting for the first time, hi, I’m Robin, I have Mad Mummies’ Disease. With PND you have good and bad days. Some days I’m so full of anxiety that I have to take zantac and gaviscon by the truck load on top of my regular proton pump inhibitor just to keep the acid at bay. No particular reason is needed for this excess stomach churning. Something as simple as someone rushing a social interaction with me can get me so anxious that I produce enough acid to dissolve the Monument of Light…. or my pancreas. Never mind that they could have been busy, or they have their own issues, or they’re socially awkward, or they could just be a massive bitch, or many other ores, no I jump straight to me sucking completely. Of course they rushed a conversation with me, of course they palmed me off onto someone else, who wouldn’t, I suck, spending time with me must be awful. So as you can imagine with that kind of negative self talk going on in my melon I have more bad moments than is “normal” and they last longer.
When parenting you are faced with these dilemmas on a moment to moment basis. Your child is crying, clearly it must be your fault, you’re a terrible mother, you’re a terrible person, you can’t do anything right, your children will be permanently damaged by being subjected to your hideous company. You’re stuck in traffic, it’s your fault, you should have forseen the accident or truck convoy or L Plater causing it and either left earlier or taken another route, now your kids are going to over heat and die in your moving air conditioning car, or get stung by a bee in your insect free car and have an allergic reaction and die, or you’ll miss their appointment, their lives will be ruined and the world will declare you a dead beat mum. Deep breath. So many ores. Getting anxious just thinking about it.
Now of course there are still great moments of joy. As I have said in a previous entry most mothers with PND love their kids, https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/confessions-of-a-mad-mooer-thats-what-she-said/ yes there are some exceptions but that is more common with Postpartum Psychosis than Postnatal Depression. However, if caught late the anxiety can definitely drive a wedge between mother and child. So in light of this of course there are moments of happiness. Many moments. More than moments, prolonged times of delighting in your child/children but for the PND mum even these can result in more anxiety and guilt. Guilt is the mind killer.
My Angel Cake. She's so perfect sometimes I feel like crying when I look at her.
I’ve had a great weekend with my kids. I had a beautiful brunch with my daughter yesterday. It has been months since we’ve had real mummy daughter time. Time she needs and I need. She was adorable. We went to our old cafe, ordered our old favourite- french toast and strawberry milkshakes, and we sat and chatted happily and then went for a walk finished off by running around a park and jumping about. I loved it. But now I feel sickened with guilt. My little girl needs special time with me so much. But I rarely give it to her. Sure we hang out whilst the boys nap but it’s not the same. I feel sick like her life is being ruined and that her confidence will be destroyed because I can’t get a break from my beautiful boys to spend special time with my little Angel Cake. So even the joy of quality time with my girl was tainted by guilt and anxiety.
They're so perfect I sometimes find it hard to believe that they're real.
Today the guilt bit again. I went to check on my beautiful boys to see if they were sleeping well. I check multiple times. It is a issue I have with my PND. For me PND largely manifests with obsessing over safety. Making sure my babies are alive. Listening to them breath. Checking over and over again that they’re really there. And of course with guilt. So back to the guilt. I was doing my crazy lady SIDS check on my boys and came across them like this. Sleeping whilst holding hands. They’re adorable boys. They love each other to bits and pieces and have such a special bond. I watched them basking in their warm glow for a while then grabbed my camera, took a pic and snuck off back to cuddle time with Angel Cake. But then the guilt started. My kids are so beautiful. They’re clever, they’re funny, they smile and laugh all day. They’re adorable. These are all good things. There’s just one draw back. They’re saddled with me. So the guilt started again, eroding the shiny hue off this truly special moment. These wonderful creatures are saddled with an angry, nasty, negative, pessimistic, witch of a mother. How can they stay happy and confident for long when they’re saddled with such a wretched beast as myself. The self loathing, that nasty voice in my head jumped out and destroyed everything yet again. And as I’ve said in a previous blog I do know what my core belief is, https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/confessions-of-a-mad-mooer-ive-just-had-an-oprah-moment/ heck I even know where it came from, I know exactly who put that awful critic in my head and yet I still struggle to overcome it.
So what to do. Well for me, I’m having a cup of tea, feeling a little bit teary, but know I need to up the exercise tomorrow. A bit of distraction goes a long long way. I need a mummy time out so I can pick myself up, forget who I am and get my energy back. A few hours of escapism would be great. Let’s hope I get some soon. (Note: rushing to the grocery store is not me time Mr Husband!)
I’ve come a long way in the last three months but I still have a long way to go. I’ll keep you posted with more Confessions of a Mad Mooer