Monday, 17 September 2012

Happy birthday, my love.

At 4.30am this morning Frankie woke up distressed and I decided to take her into my bed. I lay her down, coaxing her back to sleep with a rhythmic, gentle shushing. But this time,  I wasn't able to join her in a state of blissful slumber. Instead, I remained awake and positioned myself so that her dream-breath kissed my face. I love the smell of her breath; it sticks to my skin like laundry powder on fresh linen.

Frankie is turning one this week. Time is never truly measurable until you have a child and witness the change that a day can make. It can mean the difference between a stumble, and a stride.  A gurgle, and a word.

The bad days pass agonisingly slowly, and yet by the time dawn breaks the child you put to bed is not the child you now hold in your arms. She is bigger. Wiser. Stronger. And always, eternally, surprising. The good days are the ones you brag about. The ones that you simply can't hold the pride inside, and must share it with the world or you will burst. They're the days that you bombard Facebook with videos, or call your cousins just to say 'hello' (but secretly, to brag a little bit that your baby is now crawling!)

Frankie - Frances - because of you I now live on a wide, flat plain of love. There is air, there is earth, and there is you.

Happy birthday, my love.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Mumma Anxiety: Stress Less Jess

I take a deep gulp and feel the blush creep up my cheek, hot with shame. Invisible pins prink my eyes so I close them, knowing that the embarrassment will be worse if I cry.

"I'm not coping", I whisper. My stomach heaves with the effort of the words. "It's taking over my life".

I open my eyes and see compassion in the face of the doctor opposite me. She sees my child writhing about in my arms, and a look of sympathy washes over her. Instantly my shame dissipates - I know she doesn't think I'm a failure. She just recognises that I have a problem.

Before I had my child, I was an anxious sort of person. Since having Frankie, I've become a mess. I knew things were getting bad when even the thought of doing 'ordinary' things started to paralyse me. I long-ago gave up taking Frankie shopping; it was simply too difficult to have her in the pram for such a long stretch of time. And here I was thinking it was her....restless, active, energetic Frankie. No, quite simply, it was me. And my issues. It's never been about her. The truth is, she feeds off my anxiety - not vice-versa. She sees me panic, and has a field day.

Last weekend I knew it was serious when Andy and I went for a hiking trip in the Blue Mountains. We hadn't done our planning in advance, and I was in a state of full-blown-panic. I screamed at Andy that we couldn't go. How could we possibly expect her to sit still in the backpack for a few hours in a row. We hadn't prepared her food. Where would we change her nappy? She would need to be in the car for 1.5hrs......IMPOSSIBLE!!! The fear welled up inside me and manifested itself into rage, poor Andy bearing the worst of my attack.

Gently, Andy insisted I get help.

This is killing us. This is killing me. And I'm sure, soon enough, I'll be the one to blame for all of Frankie's insecurities too.

It's tough to admit when you're not coping. That the slightest of tasks leaves you feeling weak at the knees. I look at other mums who manage to work, bake, exercise, and wax and I wonder HOW they do it. It's too steep a mountain for me to climb. And I need to stop using my overly energetic child as an excuse and look at the real problem source. Me.

I feel like a spectacular failure, and I wonder why the Universe doesn't hand out points for how much you love your child and the higher the score, the easier the motherhood experience. If that was the case, than I'd be the most chilled out mum in the world, because I love Frankie more than I love breathing. I never cease to wonder why I find things so.........difficult. And not just difficult...........frightening. 

Next week I have an appointment with a psychologist to help me get things back on track. I hope that the adage "Happy Mum, Happy Bub" rings true, and soon enough I'll be calmer in myself and have a calmer child as a result. Wish me luck. I feel I need it.