Things I talk about when I talk about anger

I am an angry person.

My anger is like a volcano: there are a lot of things I’m angry about and they are mainly under the surface, but sometimes something triggers off the volcano and it explodes, often disproportionately to what the trigger actually was, because I’m not really angry about the triggers, I’m angry about other, bigger, things (hence the over reaction). I have decided this has got to stop, because it is anti-social, inappropriate and could lead to injury to people or things. Also, I am just fed up with being angry, and with feeling bad (or even angry!) about about being angry.

I went to see a counsellor last week. She said it’s OK to be angry about bad things that have happened or good things that have been taken away that (it turns out) I’m grieving for. I said OK, but how can I deal with the anger without being like a volcano? She said, I think you need to feel like your anger has been heard, so how could you make that happen? Writing? I suggested. How about talking about it? she said. How about both?

OK.

Confessions of a struggling mother

On Monday, I turned into That Woman. You know, the one you see (and hear) yelling at her child in the middle of the high street. B was playing with her “sticks” (some coffee stirrers), drumming on the pavement, and didn’t want to follow me to the bank machine, which I had to go to because I had no money on me for the bus ticket I thought I’d lost (it was in my pocket). Because I ‘made’ her come into the bank she then threw her sticks to the ground in protest, then threw my work lanyard (which she has taken to wearing) to the ground also, and said “mummy pick up [the sticks]”. I didn’t want to pick up the sticks and said so and asked B to pick them up instead, to which she refused. There was a stand off, which would have been a lot better had it been a silent stand off, but sadly it wasn’t – I made most of the noise, getting increasingly louder and ending up (if only this had been the end of it) shouting at B to “pick them up NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (the number of exclamation marks increases with the loudness of the shouting). In the bank. It was not a good moment. Of course B didn’t pick them up (why would she?) so I picked them up and said I would throw them away (I didn’t – no follow through=bad parenting), to which B cried most noisily and sadly and still refused to follow me (again, why would she?- No one in their right mind would have followed this crazy shouting woman) so, having totally lost the plot by this point, I bent down and shouted “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” right in her poor, sad, face. I had become That Woman.

I then picked her up and put her in the pushchair and haired off, B wailing piteously, to the bus station, but we had missed the bus by this point so I went to buy some fruit (attempting to be a better parent by feeding her healthy food?) in Sainsbury’s but we kept getting in everyone’s way with the pushchair and that was the last straw. I broke down and sobbed next to the cucumbers. B (who had previously calmed down) joined me. Eventually I pulled myself together because I had regained enough sanity to see that my crying was making B cry, and managed to buy the fruit and get to the bus stop. The bus came and we went home. B was asleep by the time we got in the door.

I lay awake that night and cried a bit more.

This incident made me think more about That Woman. My only defence for my behaviour was that I was tired to the point of exhaustion, Mr C had been away so I’d been looking after B on my own more than usual, and I hadn’t had any lunch. If there is anything positive to be gleaned from this sorry tale it is that it has made me more empathetic with those women like me who shout at their children in the streets. I have a helpful husband, enough to eat and a steady income and I still get overcome with anger and emotion when things get too much. There isn’t an excuse for shouting, but it is easier than you might think to get into that state.

I researched ‘shouting and toddlers’ (as I do, the librarian in me can’t help herself) and found some useful links:

How to handle your anger at your child

Discipline and cooperation

Toddlers: your game plan for the terrific twos

I have to admit, reading some of this made me feel worse before it made me feel better, but that’s OK. I know I need to find a way to deal with my anger – it has always been a problem. The irony is, my dad was/sometime still is very shouty and I hated it. I can’t cope with people shouting at me – I just cry, even now – and I really, really, didn’t want to be like that with B. Must try harder. I’ll let you know how it goes…

What are you waiting for?

I have had this bottle of Molton Brown bubble bath (see below) for almost a year. I got it from my sister-in-law last Christmas (I know, nice sister-in-law), and I only started using it last week. This was mainly because I had loads of other bath stuff to use up, which I got for my last birthday (what to give a pregnant lady with gestational diabetes (i.e. no chocolate) I suppose!). I was saving it to use until I’d used all the other bath stuff, which was going to take me a while because I only bathe once a week. Yes, that’s all, one bath a week and no showers in between. If it was good enough for my elders it’s good enough for me. I don’t known why people think we need to shower/bathe every day. Perhaps some people do…perhaps I do – well, even if I do I’m not going to because we’re trying to save water now we’re on a water metre and I just don’t think more frequent bathing is necessary. Plus, baths take up time I don’t have. On a(nother) side note, I like to have extremely hot baths, so the water’s just uncomfortably hot. I really missed them when I was pregnant.

Anyway, I was thinking about the Molton Brown bath stuff – it kept looking at me when I went into the bathroom – and one day, the week before last I thought ‘ why don’t I just use it? What am I waiting for?’. Well, I suppose, technically, I was waiting to have used all the other bottles of bath stuff, but the point is that I could have waited until I’d used them all only to find that life was too short for me to finally use the Molton Brown stuff. Yes, I’m afraid I have been dwelling on my own mortality recently – not for the first time – I think it’s having to take the ACE-inhibitors. This is probably silly, but it has been getting me down a bit this week, now I’ve actually started to take them. I suspect it is all the mentions of ‘heart failure’ in the leaflets, etc. – I suppose no one is going to expect me to be cheerful about that, but I’m probably (hopefully) being a bit over-pessimistic about the state of my heart.

I think I frown on frivolity a little (as I see it, it’s all a bit subjective). I think it’s how I was brought up, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can sometimes get in the way of me enjoying life as much as I could do. Perhaps now is the time when I’ll start letting myself off the reins a bit more – not in a mid-life crisis kind of way, just in a ‘being a bit nicer to myself’ way. I’ll see. Don’t expect me to pay for a haircut any time soon, though…

Bath stuff

I think I failed my MOT

Not completely, I’m still working, but at my appointment on Monday my cardiologist said my heart muscle is gradually getting weaker (still only mild-moderate weakness), so she is going to put me on some medication – ACE inhibitors (I tried to think of a Doctor Who pun to put in here but I couldn’t think of a good one. I loved Ace, she was my first Assistant/Companion). It’s not just having Babymouse that’s weakened the heart muscle, there are 6 or 7 other factors that haven’t helped, e.g. getting older (!), the operations I’ve had, and even the pacemaker, which apparently my heart “doesn’t like”, which is a bit unfortunate as it needs it to keep me going properly!

I have mixed feelings about going on medication. I’ve always been sort of proud of the fact that I’ve never previously had to be on long term medication – I like telling people I’m not on any when they assume I am. I know that’s a bit silly. So, in some weird (or maybe not so weird) way, it feels like a step back – like my health is getting worse, which, I suppose, technically, it is. I just don’t really want to accept that, especially as I’ve actually been feeling quite well recently and thought I was coping alright with all the extra exercise looking after a baby entails. I think it was reading the words “heart failure” (as in ACE inhibitors are used to treat heart failure (these words were, wisely, not used by my cardiologist!) that was a bit distressing. Unsurprisingly, I don’t really want to think of myself as having heart failure. It seems so…final.

But, coming on to the positive side of my thoughts, it’s not final, precisely because there is medicine to take, and I’m fortunate enough to be in a place where I can take it! Hopefully it will prevent my heart getting worse, or at least it will get worse at a slower rate, and there are other things that can and will be done, apart from the medication (new pacemaker, another new valve, both a few years into the future), so I’m hoping I’ll be fairly well, even if my heart isn’t working at full strength. Well, it never has worked perfectly, and, thanks to the NHS I’ve been (relatively) OK, so hopefully I’ll continue in the same way.

Anyway, I will leave you with a lovely clip of Ace and the Doctor. It’s sort of appropriate…

June, June, June

  • We went to visit my parents again, and met up with some ex-library trainees at the same time.
  • I think BabyMouse has started teething – she is crotchety, dribbling a lot and constantly chewing her fingers and anything else she can hold and/or get into her mouth.
  • I went to Library Camp South East. It was an interesting day, and lovely to see library friends/colleagues again.
  • I tried to knit again, again without much success. I’m trying to do a garter tab cast on, which I’ve never done before, which isn’t helping. I’ve looked at YouTube videos, which are very helpful, but I must still be doing something wrong.
  • I finished Life After Life and started and finished A Delicate Truth.
  • I’ve been a bit miserable again this month – feeling a bit sad and lonely and not always coping very well with BabyMouse. It was good to go back to my home town for the weekend (see first item) but it was a bit bittersweet as being there just makes me want to be there all the time. I like where we live, and we do have lovely neighbours and friends here, but most of them are a lot older than us, and/or busy, and work-related friends live quite far away. Mainly, I think I miss my mum, and I’ve been spending too much time on my own with BabyMouse who, lovely though she may be, hasn’t really mastered conversation yet. Anyway…
  • …I’ve been trying to go to more mother and baby groups. I think we made it to the library’s Baby Bounce and Rhyme sessions every week and we managed to get to the Salvation Army group twice last week, all of which helped. I think I need to get to know some other mums a bit better so I feel a bit less isolated. It’s just easier said than done when (a) I’m rubbish at talking to people I don’t know and (b) all the mums seem to know one another and have their cliques which are quite hard to break into. But I will persevere.
  • I bought a new dress for Mr C’s cousin’s wedding (August).
  • Sorry this month’s upate has been a bit moany!

A little update

Sorry for the lack of blog posts recently – BabyMouse has been keeping us very busy, and when I’m not feeding, changing, winding or washing BM, or expressing milk or trying to sleep my brain hasn’t really been working very well. We are sleeping, but our sleep is in two or three hour chunks (if we’re lucky and BM spaces her feeds out), rather than a full six-eight hours at a stretch, so it doesn’t really feel like we’re having as much sleep as we used to – probably because we’re not!

BabyMouse is progressing well – she is eating quite well and putting on weight, and the health visitor was pleased with her progress when she last visited. We did have a bit of a worrying week where she was seeming to eat all the time but didn’t put on weight – I think this was because she wasn’t latching on well when breastfeeding, so she seemed to be eating when actually she wasn’t taking much in. Partly due to BM not latching on, I got mastitis, which was horrible. I felt really ill, like having a bad bout of flu, and I was actually sick, which apparently can happen with mastitis, although it’s not common. As breastfeeding was already very stressful for both BM and me, because of her not being able to latch on properly, I decided that the mastitis was the final straw and stopped feeding her at the breast. I’m still expressing breast milk, though (partly in an effort to try and get rid of the mastitis), so BM is still getting all the nice nutrients, etc., but without the stress for her and pain for me. She is also having formula milk, as I’m not able to express enough to feed her purely with expressed milk. I know lots of people don’t think that ‘mixed feeding’ is a good idea, but it works for us, and is better than the alternative of a stressed mum and baby, and, more importantly, BM is getting enough to eat.

As a further ‘excitement’, I’ve also had the delights of postnatal depression (PND) to contend with. I took everyone’s advice and went to the GP, who gave me some medication, which seems to be helping, thank goodness. And thank goodness for a sympathetic GP, and for grandmothers – my mother in law and my mum have both been to stay to look after me and BabyMouse since Mr C has gone back to work. I don’t know what we would have done without them!  This week coming will be the first full week I’ve been on my own all day every day with BabyMouse (apart from the health visitor’s appointment), so we’ll see how we get on! Mum has said she’ll come back if necessary, but I’m hoping that I’m well enough to cope on my own now.

Needless to say, becoming a parent takes a lot of getting used to – it was much more of a shock to the system than I expected it to be – apparently this is quite normal! We’re learning more every day; about BM and about ourselves. I was going to make a list of all the things we’ve learned over the past six weeks, but I couldn’t even count them, there were so many (and did I mention my brain isn’t working?). It has been a tough few weeks in many ways, but it’s also been amazing and fascinating and good. And BabyMouse is lovely.

BabyMouse's hand
A little hand in a too-big babygro!

Baby update number 3

The main items of news for this update are (a) that we have a provisional date for the birth (by C-section) of BabyMouse and (b) that I definitely have gestational diabetes (GD).

The first item is good news; I’m glad we have a date to ‘work towards’, although it is a bit later than I hoped it would be, as it’s nearer to 38 than 37 weeks. However, I’m going to discuss my concerns about that when we next see the consultant. We saw her yesterday, but it was one of those moments when I thought – ‘perhaps I should mention this’ and then didn’t, and then regretted not doing so! Having the baby slightly nearer to 38 weeks is better in terms of the gestational diabetes, but possibly not so good in terms of the obstetric cholestasis (OC). As I’ve already had steroids to help BM’s lungs develop I’m wondering if we should try for a slightly earlier date, but I didn’t say this in our meeting yesterday. I suppose I assumed the consultant would have mentioned it if necessary, but then I realised that no one had written about the steroids in my London hospital notes (it’s in the ones from the local hospital)  so she may have forgotten about it – the perils of being looked after in two different places! On which point, the consultant said me being treated at two hospitals is getting a bit too confusing (which is true) so it would be better if I also have my liver function tests done in London, then everything will be on the same notes, which sounds like a good plan to me! I will mention about the steroids at our next appointment.

Item (b) is obviously not so good. I could really have done without having GD on top of everything else! I will have to adjust my diet and monitor my blood sugar levels at regular intervals throughout the day, but we don’t know exactly what this will entail until we go to the GD clinic next Tuesday. I’ve already started to alter my diet a bit by not eating cakes, sweets, chocolate, etc., and reducing the proportion of carbohydrates to other foodstuffs. I would just like to say that I don’t think we usually eat particularly unhealthily – GD is caused by changes in hormones during pregnancy rather than a ‘bad’ diet, although you are more likely to develop GD if you’re overweight (which I’m not). Apparently it also quite often accompanies OC.

In other news, we had another growth scan yesterday and BM has grown – hooray! Although she is still small, she is at least all on the charts now, so that was reassuring. We have another scan booked for 2 weeks’ time.

Despite having a date for the birth, I’m still feeling rather rubbish and anxious about everything. Just under five weeks seems like a long time, even though it’s really not. I just want BM to be alright, and I don’t feel like she’s safe at the moment – I feel like I’m a sort of broken incubator – and the worst thing is that there’s not very much I can do about it, especially in terms of the OC. Mr C is doing lots of organising (he has made many lists!) and moving stuff around in the house, and we’re going shopping for baby things with my mum on Friday, but I don’t feel like doing any of this. I want BM to be here and be well, and then I can think about everything else – which is obviously not very practical because we need some things ready before she arrives! Anyway, I’m going shopping on Friday so that’s that. It doesn’t help that I’m not a fan of shopping at the best of times! Could be an interesting day.

My midwife was a bit worried about my emotional state, so she put me in touch with a midwife who specialises in mental health and I went to see her on Monday, which was helpful. It was good to express some of my feelings (inarticulately as ever) and she had some good practical suggestions about how to cope. Mainly, it was just nice to be able to tell someone other than poor Mr C (and you, poor readers) about how I’m feeling. I must say that all the medical professionals (bar two who I don’t have to see again) that I’ve dealt with since I’ve been pregnant have been lovely, competent and helpful, and have made us (yet again) mightily thankful for the NHS.