Friday, 5 February 2016

Life is a Roller Coaster....

I'm not sure what particular planetary alignment is going on or whether the solar flares are weaving some sort of magic spell but my children are on another planet at the moment. 

Actually I'm at the stage when I'm wishing I was on another planet. I keep thinking about the scene in the film "Parenthood" when Steve Martin is watching his son destroy the school play and feeling like he's on a roller coaster. I want to skip to the part when he lets go of all his expectations and anxieties and just laughs uproariously at his son's antics. 

Katie's behaviour bulldozes along the paths of "I don't care about anything"; "NO I'm not going to do a single thing you ask me to do"; If you do ask me to do anything I'll pretend I haven't heard you or I'll run away laughing manically (one of my personal favourites) and "I'm going to act like a 2 year old in all my emotional responses". The precise reasons for this have not been confirmed. I suspect there are some emotions simmering about her birth mum currently because she's looking in her memory box a lot.

I've tried asking her what's wrong but can a 2 year old really tell you what's wrong? I've tried wondering if she's missing her birth mum and wanting to talk about that. I've tried cuddles. I've tried yelling back "I don't care that you don't care" (not my finest hour but we were really late for school that particular morning). I've asked if everything is ok at school. Is she playing with her friends? Is she happy with her lessons? According to Katie everything is fine. Eventually, wondering if she just doesn't know why she's all over the place I told her that the doctor thought she had ADHD. Interestingly, after some initial anxiety, I'd say that chat has had the most impact and she seems calmer. Maybe on some level she knew that our visits to the paediatrician were more than just talking about her sleep. I'm not going to tell her about FASD until she's much older. The emotions linked to that are so complex that I think it might be too damaging for her. ADHD she's heard of. It's something tangible that we can openly use to explain her reactions and help her understand why she behaves the way she does and how her brain works. It's something almost outside of her that we can discuss without her carrying the burden of responsibility at such a young age.  The explanation of the physiological cause of it all is not really important currently and can wait. 

Pip is 3 and (to return to the film Parenthood again) he's good at it. He's in full "copy my sister" mode; practising a few swear words and walking around saying "butthole willy" and "penis" on a loop (thank you Katie for teaching him those) and refusing to do anything he's asked. He distracts himself from his willy obsession by either asking "why? why? why?" on a loop or throwing himself down in the floor at every opportunity shouting "That's not fair (or "ware" with his pronunciation) every time he experiences something unjust. The competition of fairness between Katie and Pip rages on during all waking hours. "She's had a biscuit. That's not fair!" "Yes but you had your biscuit before we collected Katie from school Pip" "Nooooooooo it's not fair" *falls on the floor crying*

You get the picture.

Pip's level of cheeky naughtiness is reaching fever pitch currently. He cannot stand still for a moment and is like a caged animal. He's on a curfew after the whole getting lost incident last week so has to hold my hand all the time. The phrase involving the words "lead" and "balloon" describes his response to this turn of events. He's slowly understanding though and the past two days has brought a willingness to comply on the hand holding front at least although, obviously, it's not fair. Two visits to the vets with Willow and Leo for their annual check ups has left Mummy with a very red face though as he buzzed about in an over-excited hyperstimulated fashion, touching everything in the consulting room and ignoring my pleas to stand still. A particular high point was when he took the key out of the consulting room door and threw it into the waiting room, much to the amusement of the people waiting. I retrieved the key and smiled brightly at the eyes of judgement staring at me and muttered about the fact that he was 3 and exceptionally good at it. Add this to him knocking over the yellow "Wet Floor" sign and tripping over the lady in front of me in the queue and you'll understand why I was glad to leave there. I'm sure I could hear the sound of that roller coaster following me. At home he vanishes constantly which with builders in the house isn't safe. I turn my back and he's gone and can generally be found flushing things down the toilet or tipping the contents of anything he finds on the floor or trying to run out the front door to find the builders. My brain hurts from second guessing what he might do next and the fear of what that thing might be.

Maybe I'll just let that roller coaster mow me down and be done with it. I'm trying to find it all funny, I really am but I think I any humour might be tinged with an edge of madness. If I go quiet for a while it might be because I'm rocking in a corner muttering "It's just a phase" in a manic attempt to reassure myself that this is all transient and before long they will have both moved on to a new phase.

I look forward to the next one.....

Thursday, 28 January 2016

A Lost Pip....

Today I lost Pip for about 5 minutes. 

We were watching Katie's swimming lesson at the pool and one of the mum's from school popped over to say hello just as Katie's lesson was finishing and it was time to go down from the viewing area to meet her in the changing rooms. Pip, who, was restless after half an hour of staying in one vicinity and has been a bit of a pickle just lately with running ahead and not stopping, started walking off down the viewing area towards the stairs. I called him back but he continued walking on and disappeared around the corner. I grabbed our bags, said goodbye and speeded after him expecting that he would just be looking at the little pool from the window there. 

There was no Pip anywhere to be seen. 

I called him loudly. Years of parenting Katie has enabled me to shout loudly when required (not a fact I'm proud of but most parents can embrace their inner fishwife when required I'm sure).

No reply. No shuffling of size 10 feet. Nothing.


I span around, sweeping the area visually with panic forming in my stomach.

No sign of him.


I raced downstairs. My instinct was that he'd gone back to the poolside to meet Katie but what if I was wrong?

At the bottom of the stairs in the reception desk. I saw the swimming coordinator and asked if a little boy had come down the stairs wearing a red jacket. I quickly gave a description of him and the rest of his clothes including his Spider-Man trainers and she put an emergency alert out to all staff for him. 

Staff appeared from everywhere. Within seconds the doors were manned and staff were looking for him.

I'm not sure I can articulate the fear and panic that I felt. Was this really happening?

Giving an impression of someone calm(ish) I told the swimming coordinator that I was going to quickly check by the changing rooms to see if he was there. 

I rushed frantically to the changing rooms, wildly calling his name.

I turned the corner to the pool entrance and there was Pip standing looking very nonplussed and relaxed in his orange hoodie (not a red coat) and actually rather pleased with himself for finding the poolside to wait for Katie. Although my instinct was correct as to where he'd been headed and I'm secretly a little bit proud of him for finding the way unaided, I was still flabbergasted that he'd managed to get there so fast. 

I rushed over to him and gave him a "panicked and relieved all at the same time" ticking off before hugging him and explaining to him that I was scared that I'd lost him. I was also suddenly feeling an utter numpty for forgetting he wasn't wearing his red coat and I'd given the wrong description to the swimming coordinator. What sort of mother forgets what her child was wearing? He had been wearing the red coat all day in my defence and I'd left it in the car because we'd managed to park so close to the leisure centre entrance for once. What if he hadn't been there and had gone past the staff because I'd given the wrong description? It doesn't bear thinking about. 

My mind was awhirl with fear and relief and panic and delight and embarrassment.

"I sorry Mummy" he said with a sweet little face, interrupting my thoughts, and my panicked heart melted. I hugged him tightly again.

We quickly raced back to the reception staff to let them know he was safe and to explain my new numpty status and apologise for being such a plonker and rushed back to meet Katie.

Katie gave him a telling off as well once I'd recounted the story to her although that is a case of the pot calling the kettle black because it wasn't that long ago she gave me the slip in the egg aisle Asda (I'm an observant mum I promise. I just have two children who think they can go where the mood takes them). I saw her give him a sneaky cuddle though when she was getting changed and suspect she really does care for the little monkey, even if she does continually call him a "Nut burger". 

Because Pip has made a habit of running off just lately, and I have to keep checking with him whether his ears are working, I've told him he's back on his reins now until he learns to stay with me. 

What a scare! Thankfully it proved my instincts about my son's intentions were strong but also proved just how much ground he can cover in a very short space of time. 

Usain Bolt beware.......

Sunday, 17 January 2016

If I Were a Child

I feel like I missed a lot of my childhood. I can't remember much of it at all. Not remembering was my defence against things I'd much rather not remember. The only trouble with that is now my brain is well and truly trained not to remember things, well except the words to songs. I can tell you the words to most songs I have heard.  It's interesting that these are what I can remember because I used to sing in my head to blank out things that were happening when I was a child. 

Singing was always my greatest love as a child and still is as an adult. It was my expression and it was my protector.  If I was a child growing up in a different life and in a different time I would sing with joy. I would let my heart fill with the joy of music and sing for the world to hear. I would sing to the breeze and sing to sun, moon and stars. The music would bubble up inside me and froth over with the excitement that the sounds and words can bring. I would open my arms wide, spin and laugh, sing and be free in a very Maria in the Sound of Music sort of way.

I wouldn't be scared to do that if I were a child again. I wouldn't let other people put me down. I wouldn't care. I would share the music of the birds in the trees. I would share the joy that is all around. It would be easy to do so because I could feel that joy uninhibited by the sadness and fear that I felt when I was a child. I would let my voice ring out all the love I have inside me. 

That's what I would do if I were a child.

This post was inspired by this week's #WASO title at the Adoption Social. Pop over and have a read.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

In the still of the night.....

There's something soothing about being the only one awake in the house in the middle of the night. Well, when I say "the only one" what I technically mean is that I'm sitting in Pip's room trying to get him back to sleep after I accidentally woke him whilst putting his duvet back over him.

As I tiptoed out of the room his little head popped up and a voice said "Don't go mummy".

My heart just melted. I could read so much into those words. 

"Don't go mummy"

I'm possibly reading more into those words because I'm currently reading The Primal Wound by Nancy Ferrier. It's a book that is literally ripping my heart out from my chest both with enormous sadness for my children but also for myself as I open up my heart to feel the loss of my own mother and our estranged relationship in order to fully understand the loss of the bond my children have had with their birth mother. I've had to put the book down over the past week to spend a little time understanding my reaction to the book and to settle my heart again.

When I hear my son sleepily yet urgently saying "Don't go mummy" in the middle of the night my heart breaks a little because I know he needs me close to feel safe enough to go to sleep. Is he really asking me not to go or is his sleepy heart calling longingly for a mother he knew only for a short time? I expect it's a little of both. 

If you met Pip you'd probably think he's mostly unaffected by his early loss and adoption . He's happy and smiley and full of cheekiness and mischief. He's well attached and loving. He's fun to spend time with. He loves tinkering with things and will happily play with his toy kitchen or tool set keeping himself busy. He's bright and very switched on. His speech has caught up now and he can count and do all the things regular 3 year olds can do.

There are little things that I know though, like the fact that he's started speaking in baby speak when I change his nappy partly because we've moved house and partly (I suspect) because I've been talking to him about saying goodbye to his nappies. Part of him wants to be a big boy but conversely he tearfully told me last week he doesn't want to be a big boy and he wants to be a baby and stay in nappies. Pip has always felt younger than most of his peers. He's growing up fast and gaining independence but he's very much a baby still. I feel he needs to be babied for a while longer so I'm not going to argue with him. We'll try the nappies again in a few months time when the weather is warmer. He's taking little steps to emotional independence so I feel confident he'll get there in his own time. Over the past week he's slept all night in his own bed nearly every night. This is a major step forward after nearly 18 months of creeping into our bed in the middle of the night for cuddles. To me this shows he's feeling more secure and sleeping more soundly (except tonight when the mere act of pulling the covers over him was sufficient to wake him). I'm enjoying some better quality sleep as well.

So do I mind sitting on the chair in his room in the still of the night listening to him breathe and yawn every now and again and making little huffing sounds like he's holding his breath for a second? Not at all. I'd like to be doing the same in my bed and I will admit I'm now getting a bit chilly and dreaming of having a warm duvet wrapped around me. I'm also feeling a bit cross that Leo the cat has just jumped on Pip's bed disturbing him again and setting us back at least 10 minutes or more but I'm happy to offer him the comfort he needs. I hope that if I can get it right now, whilst he's young, and try and help him feel safe and protected we can go back in time in his emotional development and heal some of those wounds and losses and insecurities and maybe I won't have to spend time sitting on his bedroom chair writing, in the middle of the night, to reassure him back to sleep.

What shall I do now I've finished writing this post? Thank heavens for my IPad, there's lots I can do to keep myself awake.....

I've linked this up with #WASO over at The Adoption Social where you'll find lots of fantastic adoption blogs to read. 

Friday, 8 January 2016

Katie's ARND Diagnosis

They say when your child has been diagnosed with a medical condition that nothing has changed, they are still the same person that they always were. This is, of course, true but the reality of hearing the diagnosis changes a lot for the parent and the child. It doesn't change the love you feel but, in the blink of an eye, it can change the possibilities and dreams you have for your child. It can change the hopes and plans and expectations you had for your own future. That diagnosis, even when it was suspected, can open a door to feelings of sadness and grief for what might have been and anger at what should have been and confusion about what will be. That is very much the emotional place I am in since our daughter was recently diagnosed with a branch of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) called Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS); FASD and ARND are caused by exposure to alcohol in the womb and are completely preventable disorders.

After many years of infertility and recurrent miscarriages my husband and I decided we would build our family through adoption. We adopted Katie in 2010 when she was 2 years old. It was love at first sight and she captured our hearts immediately. She was, and still is, a bright and chatty, fantastic little whirlwind. Before we met Katie we read reports about her health and development and spoke to Social Workers and the Medical Adviser about her start in life. We knew she was exposed to alcohol when in the womb (although reports varied as to how much) and that she was born with a small head circumference which we were given no cause to be concerned about other than being told that any difficulties might not present until she was at school where she might need a bit of additional support. Nothing that would be of concern. Katie was meeting all her milestones and was bright and articulate. That remained the case for our first few years together but over the last few years we have gradually pieced together a different story. It has taken us a few years of unbelievable stress due to Katie's behaviour and a lot of research to reach a diagnosis.

We noticed very early on that Katie found it hard to amuse herself and was also very bouncy and busy. She is always in constant motion but toddlers and young children generally are and it wasn't until we adopted her brother, Pip, in 2013 and we noticed at even at 7 months old his ability to self amuse and be calm was far more developed than Katie's. We learned that Katie could not be left unsupervised for more than 10 minutes without immediately getting herself into mischief, doing things she had been asked not to do and taking no notice of house rules. Currently, at 8 years old, this has not changed. We discovered if Katie was quiet then there was trouble afoot. She is rarely quiet though; talking and singing loudly at 100mph; discarding toys and mess all over the house and taking things that don't belong to her. The stress is enormous because we are constantly worrying about what she is doing. I can't even have a shower without worrying what she is up to.

After initially sleeping 12 hours a night sleep became an major issue when in our first year together Katie struggled to adjust to the clocks going back, resulting in a winter of 5am wake ups. Going to bed then became a challenge once Katie came out of her cot. We spent hours putting her back to bed, trying every parenting method we could to keep her in her bed long enough to sleep. I eventually spent about 2 hours each evening sitting on the floor outside her bedroom door to ensure she stayed in bed. It was exhausting! We felt angry; frustrated and unsure how to manage the situation and initially putting it down to defiance but eventually realising she was anxious about sleep because she was unable to switch off. Our evenings as a couple were ruined and we often didn't eat until 9pm or 10pm when she finally went to sleep. We rarely went out as a couple because a babysitter could not be expected to deal with the bedtime challenge.

Defiance is probably our toughest challenge. What started as a cute little 2 year old saying "no" and having normal toddler tantrums became the angry and often violent tantrums and meltdowns of a 6 and 7 year old. We noticed, as she grew older, that when she has a tantrum she was hard to communicate with but there is a glint in her eyes that looks like she is deliberately behaving badly, and enjoying it! Screaming and shouting, swearing and slamming doors is an hourly occurrence in our house but interestingly Katie rarely displays this behaviour to anyone outside of the home so we find that people do not really believe us, my own family included. They see a beautiful and polite and seemingly compliant little girl. In a way I'm glad of this because it means she can have play-dates without any cause for concern and behaves pretty well in school but frustrated because we get the fallout from the effort of that compliance and many people assume it's just bad parenting that causes the problems. It really isn't. Believe me, we have tried every parenting trick in the book. What makes it harder is Katie finds it difficult to show any remorse or empathy or pick up on social cues so finds apologising difficult because she seemingly cannot understand or feel that emotion or understand how we are feeling and what is expected. This is common for people with FASD and incredibly challenging as a parent because you can forgive your child anything if they are able to show they are sorry. You have to be very forgiving when parenting a child with FASD. I will admit I don't always find that easy especially when she is holding the cats and not listening to their pleas to be put down or when obscenities are being shouted at me.

When Katie started school she was a quick reader but struggled with maths particularly understanding the relationship numbers have to each other. She was identified as potentially dyslexic after Reception Year tests but I told her teacher I'd be more inclined to lean towards dyscalculia. In Years 1 and 2 this difficulty became more apparent. Many people struggle with maths concepts, myself included, so my concerns were initially dismissed but I explained repeatedly that Katie's understanding of numbers was different. After two years of us and school trying to teach her number bonds to 10 they finally agreed there was a problem. By the time Katie reached Year 1 I had started to query whether Katie had FASD. A chance conversation on an adoption support board triggered some research on FASD and as I read the description of ARND I realised that Katie ticked all the boxes. Katie's physical appearance is normal showing none of the facial characteristics of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome but her small head circumference; her behavioural difficulties; the problems with sleep; inability to show empathy or remorse; not learning from consequences; taking things that don't belong to her; not remembering home rules; articulate speaking but not fully comprehending replies; hyper-stimulation; restlessness; anxiety and OCD; difficulties understanding numbers are all indicative of ARND.
A helping picture depicting the differential between age and understanding in a person with FASD
A wonderful Year 1 supply teacher eventually backed up my growing concerns about Katie's learning and issues with struggling to concentrate in the classroom and advocated for us in school. Katie was, and still is, however very well behaved and fairly compliant in school (although staying in her seat is a challenge) so it's taken a lot of impassioned conversations, and the support of an Educational Psychologist who I contacted through our Post Adoption Team, before school understood our description of our home life. They were great at supporting her transition plan to a new school in Year 3. The change in schools has been a revelation. The Head Teacher and other teaching staff have listened and reacted fantastically to my concerns and suggestions and Katie is making good academic progress at school and is more importantly feeling more confident with maths and all her subjects. She is excited about learning French and her reading is well above her age. She has an amazing singing voice and has joined the school choir; goes to brownies; swims and does gymnastics and has a good group of friends although her emotional immaturity impacts on her friendships at times.

Getting a diagnosis wasn't straightforward. We had already sought support from our local Post Adoption Team which has been helpful with managing Katie's very controlling behaviour but we needed to see a paediatrician for a diagnosis. I took Katie to see our GP who didn't understand anything about FASD. He refused to refer her to a paediatrician, saying we needed to access a referral through the Educational Psychologist at school, although agreed to prescribe Phenergan, which we had found helpful, to enable Katie to fall sleep. Undeterred we found a local paediatrician who was able to diagnose FASD and asked directly if they would accept the referral. When they confirmed I returned to our GP with the details and he agreed to refer Katie. We saw the paediatrician in November 2015, when Katie was 8, who confirmed our suspicions of ARND, additionally diagnosing ADHD. Katie was prescribed melatonin to help her sleep and this has revolutionised bedtime for us because generally Katie falls asleep within 45 minutes of taking her tablet. Katie is delighted that she can now sleep like other children and we are hopeful of an evening out in the very near future and having some time together as a couple. For us the next steps will either be a psychological profile from a Clinical Psychologist locally or a referral to the FASD clinic in Surrey headed up by Dr Mukherjee if local support is unavailable. He is the country's leading expert on FASD. We want to understand exactly what parts of Katie's brain have been damaged by the alcohol exposure so we can help develop her many strengths and support her challenges more effectively and understand her prognosis.

We haven't yet told Katie about her diagnoses. She struggles a lot with the emotional impact of being adopted and feeling different and we don't feel she is ready to be exposed to things we don't yet understand but we are drip feeding little pieces about how her brain works so that she can understand her emotional responses and learn coping techniques as she grows up. We don't want her to feel limited by any diagnosis or use it as an excuse for not reaching her potential but equally feel it is a part of who she is and we would want her to understand her whole story in time.

Some website that I found useful for piecing together Katie's diagnosis are:

The book I've found most helpful to date is Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Parenting a Child with a Hidden Disability by Julia Brown and Dr Mary Mather

 There are also a growing number of support boards on Facebook where you can talk to other parents of children with FASD and also adults who have the disorder. Just type FASD into Facebook and you will find them.

Our story about Katie's diagnosis was shared on Mumsnet as a guest post. Click HERE to read the post.  

Sunday, 13 December 2015

A Long Journey Home.....

The first night.....

I'm sitting in Pip's bedroom on the first night back home waiting for him to go to sleep for the first time in his car bed. He's anxious but exhausted. I can hear his breathing regulate and deepen as sleep overtakes him and I reflect on the journey that has brought us here.

Even though we are living in a house that's still incomplete and there is dust everywhere irritating my asthmatic cough, I could feel the knot in my stomach loosen as I walked in through the front door. 

We're home. 

It's been an horrendous year. One I'd mostly like to allow time to quickly fade; to blot it out; to reflect on lessons learnt swiftly and acknowledge my own 18 month inner journey briefly. I learned a lot about emotional and financial stability and how they effect me. My marriage has been battered from all the stress of bereavement and house building. I've developed a lot of confidence in negotiating for materials and I hope those skills will help me move forward positively and more assertively in some of my relationships. I feel tremendous guilt that our decision to uproot and move the family, whilst we fulfilled our dream of renovating and extending our house, has impacted on the children's stability, especially Katie. Pip takes things in his stride far more than Katie does although is currently experiencing some pre-verbal regression after the move. For Katie the reappearance of the packing boxes wound her up like a ticking time bomb that speeds at triple time towards its ultimate conclusion. Even Jack Bauer would struggle to diffuse the bomb in time. She's wired constantly, speaking fast, whistling, singing constantly in a frenzied pitch. The only saving grace for Katie has been the introduction of melatonin at bedtime. It's impact has been nothing short of revolutionary, sending her to sleep within 45 minutes and returning the evenings to myself and TCM. 

I'm hoping that the mammoth increase in space will calm all our souls. I feel more peaceful even when walking through the dust and the shell of a kitchen the builders are currently installing. Now I have finally cleared, cleaned and handed back the keys on the rental house I can breathe a deep sigh of relief. Walking around the almost empty rooms I realised I felt no emotional connection to the house whatsoever. I spent the year disconnecting from a lot of painful feelings and somehow I've now got to feel a sense of reconnection to the world. We existed in that house. We did not live. It's hardly surprising we're all emotionally battered and bruised and are finding it hard to understand each other. 

Three days.......

It's now three days since we moved home. I have no internet so I'm writing blog posts whilst sitting in with Pip as he falls asleep each evening. Three days has definitely started to do something to us all. After two awful days with Katie and a bed wetting on the second night there has been a slight change in her behaviour this evening. She sat and played with some toys in the floor in her room, making up a storyline with her dolls house and some of Pip's WOW toys. They've both got WOW advent calendars as I just didn't have time to make mine this year. Although Katie is a little too old for the suggested age range for the calendar I had a sneaking suspicion that getting them both something similar might be a good idea this year. So far I think I might be right. To see her playing calmly and imaginatively was a little blessing and gave me a little bit of hope that this house might be working some magic on her as well.

A week and three days......

Pip has realised we're staying here now and is clingy and fractious and tired. He is enamoured with all the Christmas lights and we take a walk each evening to look at the local lights. He spends all day arguing about when it is time to see them which is hard as he reverts to a pre-verbal state for this. Lots of grunting and groaning and melting down on the spot. He's sleeping better though and actually slept through the night for the past two nights. He's generally an easy child and it's easy to miss his feelings. He's not right at the moment. Our routine has been interrupted and there are builders in the house constantly making our usual chill out time a challenge. He needs some quality time with me I think. My days are busy and it's hard to offer him that at the moment. I try and take him out of the house when I can to spend some time together but it won't be easy for the time being to really relax together.

Katie is doing really well, albeit still fairly confrontational. I had an unexpected heart felt apology for a transgression tonight which was a lovely surprise. She had an INSET day on Monday and we had a girly lunch and I bought her some new boots. She's chuffed to pieces with them and seems to be remembering that we can actually be loving towards each other.  It's a strong reminder that she needs time alone with me.

I need time alone with me too....

The children love having the builders around and rush around the house getting involved with everything. Pip helps the builders and is noticeably calmer when Katie isn't about but they are both sometimes dangerously hectic together. I find itvery stressful having the house in such chaos although it's still a more positive chaos than living in the rented house. The builders work until the children's normal bedtime which is resulting in later bedtimes and consequently more emotional children. Pip is taking longer to go to sleep and needs me close by. There is a sense of shifting and changing and progress and possibility however. It's early days though and I'm not expecting too much from the children. A house move plus the Christmas build up do not make good bed fellows. 

A good nights sleep keeps me happy..... 

We're home. Things can only get better, right?

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Regression X 2!

I'm sitting again in Pip's room waiting for him to sleep. This is currently my reflection time. If I'm honest I use this time to escape from the rest of the house for a while. If I'm brutally honest I don't mind when he takes half and hour to settle because it gives me time to quieten down and regain some equilibrium before settling Katie back down.

We're nearly two weeks back home and regression has reared its ugly head for both children. One regressed Katie is mindblowingly stressful. Add to that a Pip who's become pre-verbal a lot of the time and I'm feeling in shock. I'm almost pre-verbal from the stress of it all on top of the ongoing house build and builders and other trades people in the house all day long. 

I anticipated Katie would regress. At the moment Katie is like a hyper 2 year old with the attitude of a teenager. She speaks at breakneck speed often in baby talk; shouts all the time; is highly confrontational; whistles or sings when she's not talking; her muscles and limbs do not stop moving until she sleeps; she's highly controlling and non compliant with the odd bit of sweetness and gorgeousness thrown in. She threatened me with a pair of crutches she's been playing with today. They are now in the skip. It's a worry that she thinks it's ok to do that but she was in a hyper place where reason does not live at the time.  She's caught moluscum contagiosum and has patches of itchy spots over her shoulder and back and on her ankles. It's not pleasant for her and I'm concerned that other children will be mean to her. It can take up to 2 years to go. Her eczema has also developed on her elbow again so she has steroid cream and body cream to help it settle back down. Her whole system is clearly overloaded and I need to wrap my head around some Bach Flower Remedies to help her. I want to be a wonderful and supportive mum at this time of stress and distress for her but she makes it hard to be the mum I want to be. We are seeing the signs of the FASD so much more clearly now and trying hard to understand but there are times, I'm embarrassed to admit, when I find her behaviour so irritating and upsetting I want to scream like a toddler in frustration.

I don't know why but I didn't really anticipate Pip's regression. He moved easily to the other house and generally takes life in his stride but he's clearly not my happy Pip at the moment. He, too, is volatile and edgy and melting down in tantrums over anything and everything. He has moments of being normal Pip, full of love and cuddles and then suddenly the pre-verbal, baby-like screaming and sounds start. He's easier to reach and pull back though. I repeat his name until his reptilian brain lets his rational brain return. He responds to back rubbing and being asked to use his words; tickles and giggles can be used once he can hear me again. It's emotionally tiring though. I find it hard to engage my creative parenting brain when both children are bouncing off each other; to step back and see the bigger picture.

Both children have now said to me they don't want to be in this house and want to go back to the other house. I can understand it all. They've forgotten living here after so long away. They had settled in the other house and become used to the way of life there. We're in a much bigger house again now, a far cry from the tiny house we've been in. It's ironic because TCM and I are delighted to be back home, even with all the crazy. I'm honest enough to admit though that much of my own feelings and behaviour is similar to Katie begging the question who is mirroring who? I suspect, being the highly sensitive empath that I am, I'm mirroring her. I'm finding I'm speaking at breakneck speed and struggle to feel inwardly calm. I feel confrontational. I feel angry. I'm shouting at times. I'm almost at the end of my tether. I just want my house back. I've had enough. I'm struggling not to regress myself I think. Feeling overwhelmed will do that to a person I guess.

I know we will weather this. I know I can bring the children back up to reasonable ages again. I know time will pass and the memories of the other house (that I hated) will fade for us all and the joys of our new environment will embed themselves into all our psyches. We just need to form a holding pattern; keep to the routines and breathe and wait. I bravely told one of the mum's I trust at school about Katie's diagnosis. I feel I need someone to understand and I felt she did. It wasn't really a thought through decision though. It came on the back of another mum stopping me to say Katie had given her daughter (one of Katie's favourite friends) 6 Christmas cards. She was clearly bothered by it (the mum, not the child). What do you say? I just brushed it off and said Katie had found some cards and was sending them to her favourite friends. "It's just Katie being Katie" I said. It bothered me though. I was made to feel she was socially unacceptable. The mum was clearly uncomfortable although it's hardly the crime of the century. I joked that Katie wasn't stalking the other child but just being friendly and said to feel free to recycle the cards and left it at that. My fear though was whether this is where we start to see how Katie sees things differently and whether parents will think it's odd and distance themselves from us. I worry how Katie will feel if that happens. I worry that I'm just seeing trouble where trouble hasn't arrived. I felt confident the mum I spoke to would understand so I just blurted it all out. It's highlighted for me that I need to think carefully about my own fears. I'm a chameleon. I blend in. I've never been one for standing out too much.  I've been working hard on addressing this; understanding myself better and becoming more assertive; more able to stand my own ground. I will need to develop this fast if I'm going to help Katie. I've been thinking a lot about Bryan Post's theories of love and fear and can see how fear manipulates my responses far too much. 

Pip has now been asleep for about 15 minutes. I've let Katie have her iPad to calm her down. I'm going to brave taking it from her and settling her down. My aim is to get as many early nights under their belts this week to help them heal.

As for me, I'm back on steroids for my asthma which means 5 days of little sleep for me as I take the course. Perfect timing. I might find some Rescue Remedies for me as well as the children.....