Happy birthdanniversary to us

It’s the end of April & the month of May is around the corner. More specifically, May the 2nd. The day our baby boy turns one. And the closer this day comes, the more emotional I’m feeling about it. You see this celebration is not only a wonderful & happy period celebrating our boy’s first year of life, it also brings forth some very painful memories of the past 12 months for me. And in addition to all these memories, the day itself is extremely bittersweet as my baby is growing up & given I’m not having any more, this period & phase of my life is over. Just like that. Like a snap of the fingers, pregnancies, newborns, newborn cuddles & tiny clothes are now part of my lifes memories.

Even though it’s a conscious decision to not have any more kids it doesn’t mean I can’t allow myself to grieve this decision or period of my life. Each time Flynny grows out of a size, I fold up the clothes ever so delicately & gently imagining the little boy in them who used to fill them, but knowing also, that he nor anybody else of mine will fill up those sleeves & pants. And it’s not like he’s grown out of his clothes so quickly either – he’s still wearing 0-3mth tops & I just moved him up to crawler sized nappies – it matters not. The clothes are too small for him & they’re put away with bigger ones put in their place. (Some days I think it’s natures way of providing me with a mini boy so it would give me a ‘baby’ for longer & ease me into the realisation that there will be no more).

I often wonder where the days went as the past year has gone so very quickly since Flynn came into our lives. Sometimes however, I feel each & every waking minute, like when he’s up in the middle of the night in pain or sick & time stands still & the days following until he gets better go ever so slowly. Thinking about him as a newborn sometimes feels like years ago & often feels just like yesterday.

I know the feelings I’m having leading up to Flynnys birthday are extremely common with those mums (or even parents) that have decided not to have any more kids, but I have a few additional things to celebrate, deal with & work through during this period.

September 2010 the wee stick went positive & in January 2011 my 20 weeks scan revealed I had a bipartite placenta, placenta previa & vasa previa the latter giving my baby a 20% chance of survival. I was prepared by my OB that I was going to be admitted to hospital early (as Orli came unexpectedly at 36 weeks & my membranes weren’t able to rupture at all with the baby) & was also told that if I bled at all at any time to get to hospital immediately as the baby had to be taken out asap in order to survive. To say I was anxious from 20 weeks until 34.5 weeks until my early admission would be an understatement. I felt responsible for my placenta not protecting or giving my baby the best chance & start to life. I also knew that if I didn’t get to theatre in time for the baby to come out alive, I would be responsible for it not surviving. I had ongoing internal scans to assess the baby’s growth & see how the placenta was holding up & where it decided to be on any given day. I had very low amniotic fluid intake (AFI) so each leak was a worry that the babes health would be compromised. Each leak was also checked in case it was blood so there were many times I would leave my groceries mid aisle to check myself in the nearest toilet. By 34 weeks I was a mess & we went to the hospital for CTG & obs late one night. I asked the midwives if I could stay there & be admitted a few days earlier but the nurses had no reason to keep me…. they obviously had enough anxious mums on the ward already!

After a week & a half in hospital, we made it to 36 weeks & on May 2, just after 3pm, we met Flynn Jack Rozenblum. He came into the world weighing in at 2.165kgs & not requiring an urgent blood transfusion which was something we had been warned about many times over. After a few minutes of gazing at him & being relieved he was alright, he was taken to special care for observation.

Fast forward to a week of being home & we were readmitted as Flynn was having issues with feeding & was considered ‘failure to thrive’ only gaining 50g since discharge. The nine week admission consisted of Flynny being fed nasal-gastrically (having the tube changed each week & each time he pulled it out by accident which happened quite often), having x-rays, a barium swallow, urine & blood tests, a brain ultrasound, an ECG, an Echo, trying nine different formulas, having chronic constipation (& the many suppositories he had to help) & the violent reflux which was so very painful for him & made me feeding him completely disheartening & heartbreaking. At ten weeks of age (six week corrected), he was diagnosed with Laryngomalacia & started drinking enough to not lose any weight & we were discharged the next week. I found an amazing group of mums with beautiful Malacia kids who have provided us with advice & support as we embarked on a journey of having a son with LM & all the concerns associated with the condition. Thankfully Flynny’s condition is mild but we’re still having a few issues with his feeding 12 months down the track which remains one of my main anxieties.

There were days during that nine week admission that I thought I was losing it & that we would never be going home. I just could not see past being in hospital & us ever going home to Seon & Orli. In that time, I managed to keep my head above water & also dodged any PPD/PND demons that came chasing me. As I’ve said before, there were times I thought I was slipping, however with the help of Seon, close friends & The #PPDChatArmy I managed to keep it together despite everything going on. The difference this time round was that I knew I had bonded & loved my baby boy. No one in the world knew him better than me & our connection was forever forged. Given the circumstances, I had to continuously remind myself that I was having a normal experience in an abnormal situation & that is was the circumstances not my mental state that was affecting my mood this time round.

When I look at Flynn today I marvel at his strength & at his nature. I adore him so much that I often find myself staring at him with tears running down my cheeks. His face is so familiar (he’s looking more & more like Orli), so happy, so inquisitive, so engaging & takes my breath away many times over. His smile in infectious, his nature is beautiful & he gives me joy each & every day. He is just the happiest little boy.

So as May the 2nd gets closer, I’m not only grieving that I won’t be having another baby & feeling nostalgic about my baby growing up, I will also be celebrating the fact that the PPD/PND demon that robbed me of my first experience of motherhood didn’t appear second time round & nothing got in the way of me bonding with & loving my son. I was able to have a better experience with my baby despite the circumstances which is a direct result of  lots of hard work, hours of therapy & plenty of planning. I am also so very proud of myself for not allowing my PMD to impact our decision to not have another baby. It would have been the most tragic outcome of my PMD had it convinced me not to provide Orli with the gift of a sibling & it would have been even more heartbreaking had I allowed my PMD to rob me of the experience of enjoying & loving my baby. Not a day goes by, that I’m not reminded of just how far I’ve come & just how very blessed we are.

As I sit here & reminisce, reflect, gather & share my thoughts, I’m overcome with emotion about the week ahead. Many tears will flow, many memories will be revisited but I will also be constantly telling myself just how lucky & blessed we are. I’m going to allow myself to grieve the fact that my baby is growing up & won’t be an older brother & I’m not going to block out any painful memories of the first three months we had together. I’m going to try really hard to live in the moment & enjoy the celebrations that come our way. I cannot imagine our lives without Mr Flynnstone nor my Flynny Floo Floo & will never ever take for granted the best birthday gift I ever got.

 

My gift with purchase

The term ‘gift with purchase’ is familiar to most. Those of you with experience in advertising, marketing, retail or just seasoned shopaholics are all well aware of what it means. It’s that free product you get after you purchase an item. It’s that lip gloss you get when you buy your perfume or that extended warranty when you buy your new car.

Three & a half years ago, I got a gift with purchase after I had Orli. My purchase was of course my baby girl. My gift with purchase was my Postnatal (postpartum) Mood Disorder (PMD).

Did I see it as a gift back then? Hell fricken no! Do I see it as a gift now? I most definitely do!

Here’s why.

I truly believe I am a better mother because of my PMD. It’s as though I’m more in touch with my kids emotions because my extensive therapy teaching me how to feel. I had spent my life pretty much only feeling things on the surface but not diving to explore the rest of the iceberg. I had made myself numb to most pain & wore a mask for as long as I can remember. Throughout my recovery, I worked on allowing myself to experience emotions and learnt how to process different emotions. How would my children learn to manage their emotions without being shown or taught this fundamental life skill? Thanks to my PMD, I’m hoping I won’t have to find out.

While I was pregnant & after I had Orli I experienced many flashbacks of my childhood which were hard to revisit. I always knew I wanted to do a better job with my children (my parents did the best they could, truly, I’m not blaming them) but I could only do this if I had the tools & emotional wherewithal to do so. Therapy is making me re-explore these memories & be at peace with them, accept them or simply to move on. I’m well aware that there will be things in the future when it comes to our kids & their happiness etc that will trigger my anxieties & memories however, I’ve now got the tools to both recognise & rectify how I feel & how I let the situation affect me… if at all. Had it not been for my PMD & therapy I’m almost sure this would not be possible.

My therapy made me question a lot of things. I had to re-learn things, had to see things differently & had to learn how to make myself emotionally available to Orli – admittedly, tantrums & fatigue certainly tested me, however I did & still do my best to refuel & regroup & try again. Or call on Seon – because asking for help was something I had/have to learn too! Children teach you things about yourself you never thought possible. They teach you patience, they teach you to live in the moment, they teach you that the littlest gesture can mean so much, they teach you the true meaning of advocacy, they teach you strength, they teach you resilience, they teach you to speak up (when they can’t yet & while they’re learning), they show you how to remove the clutter & focus on the little things like a flower or a bird chirping, therefore, they also teach you embrace things we have long ago taken for granted. They are amazing little creatures that bring with them innocence, life lessons you never saw coming & show you the true meaning of unconditional love. If I thought I knew myself before I had kids, I was wrong & dare I say completely delusional! But I’m ok with that. Now I can say that my PMD made me look deeper & guided me to embrace so many of these deeper aspects of motherhood that may well have passed me by.

I had many therapy sessions in the nuthouse, but one of them which I still think about most days was an activity called ‘wait, watch & wonder’. We had to sit & look at our babies & share what we thought our babies were wondering about us. This was a very painful session due to my ambivalence at the time, however, as difficult as this was, it had a huge impact on me. This was a truly empowering exercise as I learnt to connect with Orli on much deeper level. For example, when she was a baby I didn’t want her passed around at social or family occasions, because if it were me, I wouldn’t like to be passed around from person to person. I just felt that people needed to have respect for her personal space & to be conscious that she could not communicate this. (I’m well aware I could be wrong about all of this, but we’ll never know, so just work with me here). Sure she could cry to try & get her message across, but as we all know, that would have been because she was hungry, tired, wet or just being ‘difficult’ in others eyes. I am using this less with Orli as she can now communicate her wishes (oh boy, can she ever), but I am most definitely tuned into Flynn. Had I not been in the nuthouse & had these sessions, I’m certain that I would not have this connection to my kids.

I have said this before & will say many times in my posts & for as long as I live. I truly believe my PMD was one of these best things that ever happened to me. I learnt to explore my own emotions, be in touch with feelings I would not have otherwise done & believe I am more tuned in to how my kids are feeling. It truly was & still continues to be my gift with purchase.

 


ForGIVEness as posted on James & Jax

First posted on James & Jax

I really struggle with the notion of forgiveness. I cling on to my anger & resentment like toddler does with their beloved comfort toy. I take my anger & resentment with me everywhere I go & would never ever consider parting with it as it’s become my protective shield not allowing anymore pain in, as well as repelling the potential for future hurt. The negativity I harbour has also become the flint that ignites all my excuses to forgive whomever or whatever. And so the cycle continues & I go nowhere fast.

I understand the notion of forgiveness & can see how others can forgive, but somehow I’m still unable to apply this to my own life. I know that by being angry & holding a grudge helps shield me from future hurt but also chips away at my overall happiness, however I suppose you need to weigh up the value you put on certain things that have happened & if they don’t threaten your contentment & safety then forgiveness has the potential to be easy. I also know that just because they/you have forgiven someone or something it doesn’t mean you will ever forget what happened. Forgiveness & forgetfulness are mutually exclusive & seldom go hand in hand.

What do I need to do to forgive someone? Can I find a template on Google to learn how to do this? Is this something that can take a long time, because I’m really impatient. Is there a right way to forgive someone? How does it feel? Will I ever be able to let this person back into my life again?

I know that forgiveness can be simple. For example, when Orli is rude or naughty & apologises to me forgiveness is simple. Forgiveness can also be incredibly difficult. I can’t ever see myself forgiving my third grade teacher for calling me stupid in front of the class as it affected my confidence & self-esteem for many years. I know my memories of this event are through the eyes & emotional maturity of my seven/eight yr old self, but even if this happened today it would be just as hurtful & impacting.

The word forgive has many definitions, one of them being ‘to grant a pardon’. Simple isn’t it really? Oh, you did something completely hurtful to me , no worries, I shall grant you this pardon to absolve yourself of all responsibly. Yeah, I don’t think so. This definition also reminds me of the Kings & World Leaders that pardon criminals or the innocently accused of a life behind bars. I see this type of pardon as ‘letting the person go’. I’m not sure I want people to get away with hurting my feelings or mistreating me. Why should they go about their life without ever accepting responsibility of their actions? Maybe it should read, ‘to grant yourself a pardon from allowing that person from affecting you any longer’.

See it’s complicated. And not easy.

When looking at the word ‘forgiveness’, the word ‘give’ is smack bang right there in the middle. How is it that I’ve never seen that before? Have I been blinded by my anger & resentment? I think so. Simply put then, forgiveness is a gift we’re all able to provide ourselves. The word itself has given me a tool to move forward with. If I can change the way I think about & feel about forgiveness, then perhaps, I’ll be able to forgive those that have either hurt me or been apathetic towards me & be free of holding onto useless & wasted energy & no longer give myself the excuses to remain stuck.

I now see forgiveness as a means to provide myself with permission to start, stop, move on or whatever I need to do for myself in order to curb the anger & resentment & living a fuller & enriching life with more room for love & hope. It won’t be easy as I’ve got a lot of hang ups to work through, but at least I’ve got something to start with. Now that the word ‘give’ stands out in the word forgiveness, I owe it to myself & my family to ‘give’ it a go.

Source: http://andrewschultz.com/daily-drive-forgiveness-friday-challenge/

Heartfelt & Pillars of Strength

I wanted to spread the word about two truly wonderful organisations here in Australia. They were created out of  tragedy & have now spread their wings to support other families going through the same or similar situations.

Heartfelt

The first one I want to present to you is called Heartfelt & they are truly amazing people & angels here on earth. They’re a volunteer organisation of professional photographers from all over Australia who are all dedicated to giving the gift of photographic memories to families that have experienced stillbirths, have premature/sick babies or have children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units of their local hospitals, as well as children with serious & terminal illnesses. They’re dedicated to providing this gift to families in a caring, compassionate & heartfelt manner. They have done an amazing job at getting known in the major hospitals in Australia, but are always presenting themselves to other hospitals & medical facilities so they’re aware of the work they do & can call on them if ever they need to.

They can be found here: http://www.heartfelt.org.au/ & here on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/Heartfelt.Australia

ABC did a story on Heartfelt on 20 June 2012. Click onto this link to watch it: Charity captures memories for families of stillborns

 

 

 

 

Pillars of Strength

The second organisation I wanted to share with you is called Pillars of Strength. For the time being they are only able to assist NSW families, but are hoping to go Australia wide in the future. Pillars of Strength provide fathers with support & time out they need while their baby/ies are sick, or to provide support & time out after the loss of their baby. The organisation’s Director started this support group after losing his premature son after being in NICU for two days. He saw a need for fathers needing respite as they are the ones that often get overlooked in times like these. The father’s take on the role of supporting their partners while they grieve & recover from the birth, look after other children in the family, deal with medial bills, have to arrange a funeral for their child etc, whilst trying to come to terms with the loss too, which is why their tagline is, ‘dad’s need time off too’. So far they’ve arranged golf days & been able to watch a few NRL games & they hope to be able to be able to help many more families in the future.

They can be found here: http://www.pillarsofstrength.com.au/concrete/ & on FaceBook here: https://www.facebook.com/PillarsStrength. They also recently appeared on The Project & you can watch it here: http://t.co/GOrdhWyv

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanna….

A few weeks ago there was a thread on the Mama’s Comfort Camp closed FB group that allowed us to explore our ‘ wannas’. The comments appeared quickly, were shameless, funny, honest, full of hope & love & the underlying realisation that approximately 90% of our ‘ wannas’ were just not going to happen or be feasible. However, it was a lot of fun where we learnt so much about each other & for a short period of time dreamt unashamedly & freely.

Allow me to share with you what I wrote as well as more ‘wannas’ that I’ve thought of since then. I’m also hoping that the chances of some of these being feasible works out more favourably, especially the ones where I share my hopes & dreams for myself & my family.

So here goes:

I wanna be able to call Maya Angelou whenever I need or want to.

I wanna nanny (to do the annoying things like clean up vomit & poo & deal with tantrums & I’ll still do everything else)

I wanna holiday home in every holiday destination around the world of my choosing.

I wanna endless supply of cash.

I wanna maid.

I wanna question what makes people famous.

I wanna have warm weather all year round – for it to always be Spring & Summer & to never ever have another Winter.

I wanna infrared capabilities to zap annoying people in the supermarket (grocery store) that are about to come up to me & say something stupid.

I wanna second toilet in our home.

I wanna have more time in the day for just me.

I wanna spend days & days talking to Dr Gordon Livingston.

I wanna chef & personal service from our favourite take away places.

I wanna wand so I can make people’s wishes come true.

I wanna employ the worlds smartest scientists & doctors who will work on getting rid of cancer. Cancer Sucks.

I wanna toy store at the back of our house so my kids can grab another whatever to play with when they’re bored.

I wanna have happy & healthy kids.

I wanna be able to go to the toilet by myself & be able to close the door.

I want my kids to learn they must be responsible for their actions & inactions.

I wanna only travel first class. Without kids. They can meet us where ever we go. Screw that. I wanna have our own jet with a play area, bedroom & lots of staff to do everything.

I wanna ensure my kids feel good about themselves – who they are what they look like & what body shape they have. I hope society, the media & advertising changes to help me with this quest.

I wanna rid the world of sick babies & children. It’s just the cruelest thing.

I want to invent a neurobionic sensor to place in my brain to zap away judgements before they occur. I wanna also be able to insert these into other people. I shall experiment on those people first. You know the ones I’m talking about.

I wanna hire more scientists & doctors to get rid of those ‘extra’ calories in the best tasting foods.

I wanna have go go gadget arms in the supermarket when I need to reach the top shelf.

I wanna be able to look back on my life & truly have no regrets.

I wanna ensure my kids are instilled with the knowledge on how to be good people & how to participate & contribute to society as they grow older.

I wanna end the shame & stigma of all mental illness, mostly all Postnatal (Postpatrum) Mood Disorders (PMDs)

I wanna have Elle Macpherson’s body. I don’t need to be that tall though. I’d be happy just with the overall shape.

I wanna be able to be teleported so I can meet all my PPDChat Mamas & my Comfort Camp Mamas. Maybe the boffins at Skype can work on this one.

I wanna have an infrared zapper in my kids so they get zapped Bart style when they start to whinge or whine.

I wanna ensure no child anywhere in the world lives in poverty or goes without food, water or shelter.

I wanna get rid of the substantial time differences between Australia & the UK/US. A few hours here & there could really help Seon & his game developing & also me catching up with my Mamas.

I wanna remote control for just about everything I can’t be bothered doing. I’m talking to you dish washing, bottle washing, clothes washing & hanging up & folding & putting away & also to you, putting away groceries & tidying up toys.

I wanna make Prejudice a flavour of ice-cream or icy pole & not a nasty human trait.

I wanna invent an anti-bacterial spray that automatically sprays out of the fire sprinkler systems in daycare centres, pre-schools & schools so that my kids don’t bring home lice, coughs, sniffles, diarrhea or vomiting. I know you’re going to tell me it’s good for them to get sick as it builds up their immune system & I shall retort with ‘that’s fine, if my nanny was dealing with it’. Also, I hate seeing my kids sick. It breaks my heart.

I wanna have Diet Coke on tap. Post mix is not acceptable.

I wanna ensure all children can access basic education so that they are given the opportunity to be the best they can be.

I wanna night nanny that looks & smells exactly like me, but isn’t me.

I wanna be remembered for being kind, generous, spirited & loving.

I wanna punch the next person that tells me having my kids at 36wks ‘isn’t really prem’.

I wanna be a cowboy & you can be my cowgirl. Just kidding. It’s just a really bad song.

I wanna let you all know that are suffering with any sort of PMD, it’s not forever & you will get through it.

I wanna be ok with cleaning up vomit, cos I’m not, & I have to be.

I wanna be ok knowing that anyone in the world that knows me or not, is going to read my blog.

I wanna rid my body of ever feeling tired. How good would life be if we didn’t get tired?

I wanna be happy, healthy, content & a good enough mum.

 

I know I’m not done with these & I’ll probably add more as the days go by. In the meantime, want to share some of your ‘wannas’?

Special thanks to @story3girl & for @jamesandjax for having the conversation on Twitter & opening the discussion up, giving us all the permission to dream.

‘Button pushers’ – my guide to you

I suppose this post needs some sort of introduction or disclaimer due to the nature of what you’re about to read & learn about me. See, I wouldn’t describe myself as an angry or hyper-vigilant person, however, I would say the terms passionate & highly defensive would be generally right up there but multiplied when my buttons are pushed. It’s not so much the extent of the button pushing, it’s more the number of buttons I have! I’m slowly disengaging some, re-setting some, removing some & trying to turn the lights off the real flashy ones, but in the meantime, they’re still there.

I’d like to share these buttons with you, so you can help me reorder &/or tone them down or perhaps even avoid them all together when you consider pushing one when next time we meet. I’m (probably) not directing my words to those that are reading this post. It’s more targeted to the know-it-all strangers, mean-wellers & pedestal sitters that I seem to cross paths with on a daily basis.

A word of warning should you decide to continue reading. I’m not going to apologise for anything you’re about to read as this is my domain (literally) & in order for me to be true to myself I need to be true to this space. So I apologise if you’re offended about anything I’ve written & I hope you’ll be back.

Ok, here goes (in no particular order):

The Smug/high-horse parents button: Some people become more humane, down to earth & grounded when they become parents. They quickly learn humility & not to judge others. Seeing a child tantrum, my pre-kid brain went to, ‘spoilt brat, discipline lessons for the parents, crap parenting blah blah’. Now, I instantly think, ‘shame, I wonder if the child has any behavioural issues or cognitive delays etc’. Sadly however, there’s another group of parents that think that being a parent gives them the right to judge others & they make no apology for it. They shit me. And to think their kids will grow up learning that behaviour trait, well, that shits me too.

The I’ve done it before know-it-all/well-meaner down at the shops button: Please don’t presume you know me or my kids. You don’t. You are seeing but a glimse of our life. Go about your business.

The sensitivity button: I know the term ‘failure to thrive (FTT)’ is a medical term used to describe infants not gaining weight, toddlers at the low end of off the chart scales or premmie/disabled kids that are just taking more time than others, but when Flynn was admitted to hospital due to FTT & I heard this term too many times a day for weeks on end I started to personalise & internalise it. I started becoming really defensive about this terminology as all I could hear was ‘your son is a failure’. I would tell people we were in hospital due to feeding difficulties because I didn’t want Flynny hearing me use the words that I had started to resent & wanted to protect him from hearing it. I knew not to take it personally, however I was still hormonally charged/compromised at the time & took it to heart. I can now use the term with ease & know that it doesn’t define Flynn, but describes his journey.

This button actually stems from me hearing lots of comments about Orli when she was a baby/toddler, that she was ‘being lazy’ as she was developmentally delayed & only started walking at 25 mths. Someone actually said to me once, ‘she’s not walking or crawling yet. What does she do? Just sit there like a blob?’.  Yeah, exactly the right thing to say to an mum recovering from a PMD & blaming myself for everything my baby wasn’t doing ‘on time’. But more to the point, how dare you talk about my child like that? Shame on you.

This button has taught me a great lesson in humility & sensitivity & through it a valuable lesson, as I need to learn how not to assign a meaning to everything that is said to me. I’m trying.

The stereotype button: I’m Jewish. This doesn’t mean I’m tight with money, doesn’t mean I’m rich, doesn’t mean I only have Jewish friends, doesn’t mean I only care about Jewish interests or only donate to Jewish causes & it doesn’t mean I am, or am married to a doctor or lawyer. However, it does mean that I would appreciate if you thought hard before you share a joke about the Holocaust or Hitler with me. Oh & using the term ‘Nazi’ instead of custodian or task-master – yeah, don’t do that. It’s really inappropriate & frankly an insulting comparison.

The  ‘I know everything cos I watch the news’ button: Now, I admit I’m not completely educated on the Arab-Israeli conflict, but I have a fair idea of the history in the Region. I love Israel as a country – I speak Hebrew (not well I might add, ok, maybe I understand it), I have family & friends that live there that serve in the Army because it’s the law & they defend a country that would protect me if, as a Jew, my life were in danger due to anti-Jewish uprisings anywhere outside of Israel. So, I’d really appreciate you not giving me your opinion on the conflict, about the suicide bombings, the border protection issues, the whose land is it etc unless you are educated on the subject (which I would actually encourage & enjoy as I love listening & learning) because the media already does a great job at giving me a biased one sided story.

The Gavel Graber button: Really, you’re going to judge me. Where are your qualifications? Nuff said. Bye bye.

The interpreter button: I can speak english & I can understand most accents, so please don’t talk to my kids through me. Don’t lean in to my baby & say, ‘your mum’s mean because she won’t let you <insert anything here>’. Don’t ask my child if she wants to do an activity you know I would not agree to, or offer food you know I would not allow. I am their mother. That gives me the right to make decisions on their behalf while they’re unable to, as well as to teach, guide & educate them so they can make their own decisions one day. What you do when you use them as a go-between is belittle my role in front of my kids & send them the message that you don’t care or respect my position. And if the way you are using my child as a confessions booth has nothing to do with how you feel towards me, well then, don’t patronise or insult my kids. You’re only smarter than them because you’ve been on earth longer, so in terms of intelligence, they’re going to catch up.

The anxiety projector button: Please don’t project your anxieties onto me (I’ve got my own thanks). Don’t ask me if I think my baby is warm enough, full enough or slept enough. I know the answers to all of these questions cos you know, I know my kids. Please don’t come up to me in the store & remind me to watch my baby in case he suffocates to death (Flynn slept on his stomach & face-planted due to his laryngomalacia – I could also hear him breathing as he snored really loudly). This is insulting. Please don’t treat me as if I don’t care or know my child. You certainly don’t.

The ‘pack your bags we’re going on a guilt trip’ button: Please don’t share with me your tragic stories. I’m truly sorry you’ve had pain & sadness, but unless I ask you details, please don’t assume I can handle it, want to hear it, won’t be scarred about it & have it impact me negatively as soon as you walk off & go about your life. There were many social occasions I left the ‘my labour was worse than yours pack’ before I had Orli. I was at the chemist with Flynn after we got home from hospital & a lady left me in tears when she told me (when he was face-planted in the pram) to ‘watch my baby because she knows what it’s like to lose one’. Talk about the stabbing feeling in my stomach, leaving me breathless & in tears. She had no idea what I had already been through with Flynn & it left me angry for days. I actually resented her talking to me, but because I’m not heartless I also empathised with her on some level (when I wasn’t angry).

The someone else is worse off button: Don’t tell me a sad story about how hard someone else has it when I’m struggling. My struggles are my struggles. My pain is my pain & by you down-playing it is both unfair & wrong. I had just been diagnosed with depression when something tragic happened to a friend of mine. The first thing someone close to me said was, ‘makes what you’re going through pretty insignificant don’t you think’. Um no. Actually, I had been suffering for months before I was diagnosed & while the diagnosis was both met with welcomed relief & a care & recovery plan I still had a long road to go. Plus I had to get used to the fact that now I was one of those people with a mood disorder/mental illness. My stuff & my pain was still worthy of me going through the motions & not sweeping it under the carpet because someone was worse off. There is always going to be someone worse off, but that should not diminish or make my pain any less worthy of me dealing with it.

When I was in hospital with Flynn for nine weeks I used to have pastoral carers drop in to check up on the patient (that was usually asleep & couldn’t talk anyway). I decided one day, rather than exchanging smiles & pleasantries, I would tell the person how I was really feeling. I admitted that I was feeling robbed & sad & that I just could not see an end to our admission. I kept reiterating that I knew my baby’s life wasn’t in danger & that he ‘just’ had feeding issues, but my journey was becoming very testing & honestly endless. The pastoral carer listened intently & started off by saying, ‘you know I have also counselled parents that have lost their babies’….. It was as though she had ignored MY pain & wasn’t listening to me at all. I kindly told her that her comment was not helping me & actually invalidated everything I had been telling her. It was the first time I had opened up to one of these carers & sadly, the last time.

The ‘I’m going to tell you what I think you need to hear’ button:  If you’re a close friend of mine, I value your honest opinion. If I ask your advice, I appreciate it & take on board the words you’ve said. However, I always have an undercurrent of weariness when trying on clothes in a shop with their ‘oh, you look great in those’ attitude & the ‘I would have totally done what you did in that situation’ comment when you know that’s nothing like you would have handled the scenario. Don’t bullshit me. I’m not stupid & as I said I asked you because I wanted your honest opinion. No one likes a bullshitter.

The ‘just because I have more money than you means I’m better than you’ button: No. Quite simply it means you have more funds in the bank than me. Money, privilege &/or entitlement does not provide a person with class or manners. It might provide someone with a better education, but the school of life is much harder to learn than any text book I’ve seen. So if you have more money than me, that’s great, & your life is financially easier than mine, but please know that it doesn’t mean you’re better than me & I’m certainly not going to accept being treated as a lesser person.

I think I’m going to leave it at that for now. I think this post may be organic in nature & be updated as time goes on & as my life & learning evolves. Maybe I just need to learn how to operate from my ‘ok self’ so none of these buttons can or will ever be pushed again. I promise to work on it if you promise to mind your own business & be more sensitive to each other. Respectfully.