Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Where is the life that late I led?


There is a line from 'Sleepless in Seattle' that has stayed with me for many years. Tom Hanks says to Dr Marcia Fieldstone when asked what he is going to do about the fact that he is grieving the death of his wife. He says:

 Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out... 

I remember that line a lot. Not necessarily in the context it was used but it is a good metaphor for life and the various challenges that arise. 

Why am I quoting it here you may ask? Well to answer that I will use a quote from a song sung by Howard Keel from another film 'Kiss me Kate" 

Where is the life that late I led? 
Where is it now? 
Virtually dead!  

I'm struggling to write this because I feel like I'm whingeing and I don't like whingeing. I'm an independent lady who gets on with things.  I'm not even sure how to write it with any clarity because I'm not really sure what the issue is yet. So please bear with me whilst I gather my jumbled thoughts.

When we first adopted Katie. I didn't bond with the knowledge of her at first. we got to our matching panel and I had a knot in my stomach until I saw a new photo of her and I fell in love. I felt very confused about my feelings. The bond happened though. With Pip the bond was forming from the moment I knew he might be matched with us. I was excited about him coming to join us.   Now the bond is definitely there, I'm not worried about that. I'm more worried that I'm feeling quite indifferent to everything at the moment, including Pip. I feel flat and disinterested. I'm exhausted and finding everything a physical struggle. I don't feel on top of anything. I'm missing things that need to be completed at Katie's school. If I miss a day's washing then it feels like the washing basket overflows within minutes. The house feels like a constant mess. I feel like there is always something that needs my attention. I feel like a failure.

Oh and the dishwasher has broken down!

Pip is lovely. He's gorgeous and funny and he is so chilled and so good it is amazing. He sleeps through the night. He eats everything I give him.  I'm so bloody lucky. Everyone constantly tells me how thrilled I must be feeling. And that's the problem. I don't feel thrilled. I don't feel much of anything at all. 

I feel tired. 

Actually that's not the full story. I've also been feeling frustrated and overwhelmed at the increase of requirements on my time and the lack of time I have to actually do any of those things because babies need constant supervision when they are awake. I get moments where I can pop him in his playpen for half an hour or when he's napping but, for the most part, he needs me. He needs me to play with him and help him explore. To provide him with stimulation. To cuddle him and reassure him. To let him crawl and make sure he doesn't come to any harm.  And I do all those things but....

I feel like my brain has atrophied.  I have no memory to speak of at the moment. I feel that I'm letting Katie down because I'm not meeting her needs and she needs me too. I feel angry with her for not understanding that Mummy is tired and can she please stop arguing with me all the time. Daddy needs me. The cats need me. Heck I need me too! I'm frustrated with myself for not just getting on with it all. 

My body is so stiff from lack of yoga that I'm in pain. My neck is so painful that my head is hurting.  It doesn't help that we've currently got a sickness bug and I'm weak and exhausted from being sick. I told Daddy that I could happily get in the car and just drive away. Not because I want to leave them all but because I just want to remember who I am for 5 minutes and maybe just sleep, for a day or so. 

I was worried that a bout of depression was sneaking up on me. I'm not so sure at the moment although I will keep an eye on myself. I then worried that maybe I wasn't bonding with Pip but I don't think that's the problem either. I think I'm just tired. Tired after a long and gruelling adoption process, preparations and introductions. Tired after lots of battles with Katie. Tired from all the demands on me. Tired from the massive change that's happened. Worried I'm not going to be cut out to be a good mum to two. Tired from thinking about it too much.

And guilty for feeling all those things. I should be feeling happy. On top of the world. 

I am lucky to have lots of friends but I don't have much family to help me. I'm envious of all the help from their mums that many of my friends get.  I'd love to have that sort of mum. I'm not great at asking for help. I'm independent (I've really had to be).  I've always had to be the big sister. The one who sorts everything out. I put far too much pressure on myself to be able to get on with things and sort everything out.

I know it has only been a month since Pip has become part of our family. It's not long. We're still adjusting. I'm probably like a new mum with a newborn baby but I feel guilty of making that comparison because I do get full nights sleep.... mostly. 

Do all new mums feel like this? Is it normal to feel so indifferent and disinterested in life? 

I think it doesn't help that I've not been out much since Pip joined us. I've not yet joined the baby groups I planned to. I wanted some time to find our groove first but I'm wondering whether being home too much is too isolating now? I've not rushed out to introduce Pip to the world but now I'm feeling that people aren't interested in us.  I'm missing the life that I led before Pip.  I'm missing the freedom I had. The time I had. I feel so guilty for even thinking this. We chose this. I chose this. 

So I know this is where Tom Hanks comes in ....once Howard Keel has stopped singing about the life that he once led that is (and it's quite a long song).  Breathe in and out until it feels better. Go through the motions until the enjoyment returns. I know that babies are pretty hard work; highly absorbing yet pretty boring (sorry Pip, it's not your fault). I know that I'm better with older children. Ones who can speak, and converse and interact. Pip and I chat but it's mostly me doing the talking. That gets pretty boring day after day after day. The only converses I have are the ones I wear on my feet too and from school. I've felt very guilty that I've happily let Daddy deal with Pip whilst I've been feeling ill and I feel like the worst mum for saying that.

I know it will get better. I'm old enough and wise enough to know I need time. Time, not just for all the things I'd like to achieve, but time for the dust to settle. Time to learn how to live life as it now is.  Time to adjust. Time to regroup; regain some energy and some interest in life. Time to learn to say NO to some of the stuff in my life The adoption process, amongst other things, has, yet again, sucked the life out of me. I'm missing my spiritual life. My Reiki group. My yoga and meditation. My tap class. All the things that make me, well.... me.

Please just reassure me that's all this is. I'm too tired to do that ...... besides concentrating on the breathing in and out is distracting my tired brain.

21 comments:

  1. *hugs* Sounds almost like you've got the adoption version of post-natal depression. Might be worth a trip to the doc's if it carries on.

    Hope you manage to get some 'you time' soon.

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    1. I will be keeping an eye on that Lizzi, thanks. I've been down the depression path before and don't care to return so I'm taking some St Johns Worst just to keep me on the right side of the path. I think I'm just a little hard on myself and feeling emotional and overwhelmed at the crazy that my life feels xxx

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  2. I noticed you had at least one "I should be" in there. Whilst I understand society is full of "should bes" it is one of those things that in and of itself is a massive stressor and needs to be seen for what it is - unrealistic and often idealistic expectation most likely formed by people who have no reasonable qualification to form such things.

    I also think that "tired" is a massive thing. I had insomnia for 18 months-2 years until I got medicated which sorted it out and all I knew was constant "tired/exhaustion" and it affects *everything*. Emotions become dulled, concentration none-existent, day to day functioning slowed/impaired etc.

    Give yourself some grace, set some small goals like not worrying about or anyalizing anything for the first 6 months and THEN do a review of things. As with all things there is a "season" and it might feel that Pip's season of constant work/pretty boring goes on forever you will find it passes very quickly when you look back on it.

    It is not a "normal" situation whereby the child in situ has had a whole 9 months to get used to being an older sibling. Katie has not had the months of preparation of "watching the bump grow" and "talking to the bump" etc that "standard" children get. She has gone from an abstract mental concept to hard reality almost overnight as she probably had less idea of timescales than you yourself did during the adoption process. It is more of a *massive* change than when a baby comes by birth into a family. The child minder's daughter had a baby in February and we work with both that baby and her 2-3 year old sister - that sister has had almost half of her own young life to prepare for her "big sister" role and that new mother has had a whole 9 months to prepare for becoming a mum again. The adoption process does not allow us such luxury. We have the 9 months or more of process but until the very very end there is never any "certainty" of a child - I know pregnancy does not provide absolute certainty either but you know that once you are past 3 months you have a *high* % chance of having a baby at the end of the process and so you get more time to "prepare".

    You are doing *amazingly* well, inspirationally so. Just give yourself a bit of slack for the time being and worry about getting back to the "other" things like the dancing etc in a few months time, just sleep as much as you get chance to now and try to enjoy the "season" you are currently in.

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    1. You are a very wise lady Greta and are going to be a great mum soon yourself. I will be taking your advice and trying to let myself off my self-imposed hook. Thank you x

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  3. Very well explained. I would like to say that it is very interesting to read your blog.

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  4. As Pip has only been with a short time, the only ting to do atm (imo) is to plod on for a bit. Do what is essential and let the rest go and don't feel guilty about it. It's gonna take time to find out what your new life IS and how you want to play it. Definitely join some of those mother/baby groups to give you support and also see that most mums with babies at home are battling similar to you although they've had a few months to get used to it and adjust.

    When Pip is fully settled I have a one word solution - babysitter. Once a week you should get a babysitter during the day when Katie is at school. Just for 2 or 3 hours so that you can do what you need to do. It may be Yoga, coffee out, or even catching up on housework in peace and quiet.

    Good luck. xxx

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    1. Thank you. You're right and I will, although ill need to brace myself for the mothers groups I think based in my experience at clinic today with the mums with their tiny, breat fed babies who all commented on how beefy my baby was. I felt there that I will pick my group carefully. But find one I will. I'm gong to go to Maraca Jacks in the next week or so. Made it out to soft play today which was nice.

      Yes a babysitter will be nice. We currently have no one CRB checked for the job so will need to wait until that has been sorted or we've formal adopted as we ant leave Pip with anyone. I will make it back to Reiki group though soon I hope. Thank you xxx

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  5. *hugs*

    Really does sound like the start of a depressive episode, I'd defo get down to the dr, if only so that they have you on the radar in case it gets worse. St John's Wort is good but obviously depending on whether this gets worse or not it may not help...

    feel free to drop me an email if you need an ear

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    1. Thanks honey. Funnily enough, just writing this post helped tremendously. I often find writing helps me organise my thoughts. I've also had a vomiting bug and was just feeling crappy. I had coffee with a friend today and have plans in the diary for next week now. I've taken all the advice on board and am going to join a baby massage group and a baby music group. I've been to soft play with Pip this week which was nice as Katie came too due to being off school ill. I still find it all a tad boring at times but I felt much better today. I was reassured to have friends comment that they felt similarly and I ffeel happier knowing I'm not an awful person. I will keep an eye on myself but I'm so glad I confronted these feelings. Thank you for your support.

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  6. Sounds like a bit of adjustment disorder- your life has undergone a major re-organisation and it is normal to grieve for what you've left behind. There is a big expectation in the UK that you have a child and suddenly the only thing you are interested in and want to be around is your child. The fact that the week before you had a child you loved the cinema and reading novels and going for walks seems to be expected to disappear entirely as you've now got the "parent" identity where if you ever admit you'd rather say, watch Friends then change a nappy for the 400th time, you are suddenly judged as selfish.

    And you are right, babies can be a bit dull! One of my close friends has a daughter who is now three. She says she'd have a second child in a shot if they could come out at 3, full of interesting questions and engagement but she said her year of maternity leave was the most boring and lonely year of her life. She said the period when she was getting close to a year was the worst because her daughter loved to hear her talk and babble back, so she was having to make one-sided conversation for 11 hours a day each day. She also never got on with the parents in her mother and baby group and said the only thing that kept her sanity was visiting the cinema to enjoy the "mother and baby" screenings!

    If you aren't keen for just a mothers and babies group you could try and combine some old interests with new- do you have a mothers and babies yoga group you could try out near you? Might be a bit focused on "getting your post-pregnancy body back" but it would be a chance to do some yoga with Pip. Another thing one of my friends loved (and was offered by her local Sure start for £10 for 8 weeks) was baby signing classes. Way to get out of the house and meet people and include baby.

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    2. Thank you for the reassurance and normalisation of my feelings. That's helpful. I like the cinema idea. I might try that. I think getting out of the house generally is the key for me. I had some adult company today and it put a spring in my step. Going to take the little man swimming soon too. I'm glad your friend was ok in the end. I think I need to adjust to having a baby. Katie was 2 when we adopted her and it was obviously so different. I'm still learning how to communicate with this little man, although I'm getting better. Thank you.

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  7. Gem, don't be so hard on yourself! You've just done this crazy big hard wonderful thing. Even though Katie was 2 when you adopted her, it's still a complete life shift from where you've been at the last few years.
    I think you are bang on about taking some time for yourself and going back to what you love so you can feel more like YOU again. I know I felt...feel...the same sometimes, and sometimes even though you have no motivation to even do something you like doing, once you get going it gets easier. I can totally relate to the no family thing too- we are a three hour drive to our closest family (and the next closest is a four hour plane ride). It's hard, even when you have great friends to lean on:(
    I hope things start to settle in for you

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    1. Thank you Lindsay. I think I'm a terror for expecting too much of myself and this is a prime example. I'm too busy trying to prove I can cope rather than enjoying it all. I need to be reminded of this, so thanks xx

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  8. Having a baby and an older one to entertain can be hard, especially at 6-12 months. As much as possible id let the housework come last, maybe hire a cleaner if you can but if not a messy house for a few months is not the end of the world. The other thing I would say is try and get hold of a good baby carrier, something like an ergo, connects or manduca or something. I definitely found they help in getting things done, they are attached and can see what you are doing, but you have your hands free. I really hope things brighten up for you sound, it does sound so difficult.

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    1. Thanks so much. I do have a sling carrier that I've not used due to Pips weight. I might look at this again and rethink it all. Xxx

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  9. You have had so much going on it is no surprise you feel like this. That washing and the house are not going anywhere and you children are more than well cared for even when you're feeling low. Be kind to yourself, maybe give yourself a little break, a bit of yoga, just something for you. Sending lots of hugs and reassurance that you are a great mum who's just got a lot on her plate.
    Thank you for sharing on The Weekly Adoption Shout Out. xx

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    1. Thanks Sarah. I'm taking this all on board and trying to curb my OCD tendencies re housework. I'm getting there xx

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  10. You're tired! It's tiring!!! And it's not just about lack of sleep. When I just had the one baby at home, it was pretty tiring, but when I suddenly found myself with two toddlers, it felt like I had hit a brick wall, even though they were both decent sleepers. I simply could do nothing more than see to their needs, get through the day and fall into bed every night. Absolutely nothing got done unless it was totally necessary to our survival for at least two months. For the first two weeks, we lived off food that kind friends brought to our house for us! Don't be hard on yourself, and don't underestimate the power of your children to utterly exhaust you. It is absolutely certain that two children create at least four times as much laundry, mess, and stress as one child! And, yes, sometimes little babies are a bit boring - it's not unreasonable to find that your brain doesn't want to spend hours each day babbling, singing, talking essentially to yourself, drinking cups of fake tea (I've blogged about this!!) etc. etc. You are a fully functioning adult with interests of your own, and it doesn't make you a bad mother to admit that doing 'Round and round the garden' 40 times a day isn't exactly intellectually stimulating for you! But you'll do it anyway (most of the time!) because it's what we do, and then, mostly when baby is asleep, you'll do something else :) I found it helpful to put baby in the pram and go on long walks to get some fresh air and exercise, and then use his sleep time for me time. Pip should still be sleeping in the day, so make the most of it! And do try to get out to some activities - it's daunting I know, but worth it. My local library does story and song sessions that I took my little one to from about 6 months. We also used the Sure Start Centre. I didn't bond too well with the other mums to be honest (I wasn't even a mum myself at the time, and there seemed to be a lot of sharing of gruesome birth stories!) but it got us out of the house and meant that somebody else was assisting with providing the endless stimulation that OB needed at the time. Also, I used the Bumbo and the door bouncer extensively when trying to get things done in the house - sometimes you just need to pop to the toilet and be assured that your little one isn't eating the electric flex while you're out of the room!

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    1. Thank you so much for this reply. I found it I credibly reassuring. Little man isn't very impressed at being left in anything other than my arms at the moment and, whilst I only agree to this when I know it's tooth related it is difficult with him screaming. I'm getting tougher and learning to ignore some of the housework. I know I'm not depressed, just tired and needing time to adjust and it's lovely to hear you say that I'm not going mad by feeling this way. Thank you xxx

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