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.....

Monday, 7 December 2015

A Long Awaited Appointment

Because the past few weeks have been so intensively busy I've not had time to write about our recent appointment for Katie with a paediatrician. For us it was an emotional outcome; one we expected but hard to hear nonetheless.....

My suspicions of Katie having Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, a branch of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder were confirmed along with a diagnosis of ADHD. I'd really hoped to be wrong with my fears and it was a time I would have been happy to be proven wrong because the fear for her future outcomes is at the forefront of my mind. Once the dust of the house build and move has settled I think we might look at more testing to understand the impact and long term implications of Katie's learning and what support she will need. There's a part of me that wants to read more and understand as much as I can and then throw away the books and not feel held back by fears. For the time being we've decided not to tell Katie about the diagnosis other than to say the doctor is helping us understand why she can't sleep. We've talked about the wiring in her brain not producing the right hormone to help her sleep and she is delighted that the tablets help her sleep and make her feel normal potentially opening up the door to future sleep overs at Brownie camp and with friends (if my anxieties ever quieten down). We've decided against medication for the ADHD for the time being. Katie is coping well at school and is well supported in the classroom. Her restlessness and hyperactivity are noticed but she is making good progress and the school manage her well. 

My main worry is for friendships as she grows older and whether a gap of immaturity will become a hindrance. Having solid friendships is such an important base for future outcomes. Having friends who are caring and will take care of Katie and not lead her astray. Katie has a high level of non-compliance at home, will this seep into school life and beyond bringing problems for her? How can we help her?

Reading about FASD online provides good information but I need to hear more from young people with FASD to hear about their lives as young adults and the challenges they face and the successes they have. Do they live independently with success? Do they have positive friendships? Does their emotional vulnerability and naivity cause problems with friendships and being taken advantage of? Are they more likely to have difficulties where poor decision making gets them into trouble with the law? I have so many questions. I think a step forward will be to understand Katie's cognitive processing and IQ more fully to try and understand her unique strengths and challenges and try and understand where on the spectrum she sits and how we can help her develop her strengths and find coping mechanisms for the challenges she experiences. 

The stress of the house is over-riding my emotions on Katie's diagnosis somewhat currently. I feel I need some emotional space to reflect and maybe even have a really good cry. I know I feel angry that someone else's choices have impacted so heavily on Katie and will do so for the rest of her life. I've got to find somewhere to try to understand and unpack my feelings. I'm concerned about what that life will look like for Katie and for our family. She is very challenging at the present time and we need more training in how to parent her well to try and lessen the stress on our family life. Life is full of arguments and door slamming and swearing and oppositional bevahiour. It's unpleasant and reminds me of the family I grew up in. I escaped that life and most of my family as a result and I'm terrified of my home life continuing to be a war ground and how much that might escalate as Katie grows older and bigger. I want to be a good parent, not the overwhelmed shouty mummy I become after a day of endless oppositional behaviour. I need to find the love more but it's so hard currently. I'm reading Bryan Post and trying to understand how to step back and see the fear behind the behaviour and not just react to the behaviour. I'm not even sure how that works with someone whose brain reacts differently to scenarios. Is it just a fear response? Is it the wiring in the brain? Hopefully with extra support from Post Adoption and some time to settle back Into the nurturing environment of our soon to be lovely home we can find our feet again and create the life we all need. I hope we can fulfil that dream, I really do. 

If you've been effected by FASD and ARND and can share your experiences with me and answer some of my questions I'd love to hear them. 

Thank you.....