My period took pity on me yesterday morning, and finally arrived. I think one more day of the searing Pre-Menstrual Torment would have spelled Doom for some poor unlucky soul. Dear God, I’ve been soggy. I’ve had the hormone weepies, the new-baby weepies, the OMG-our-child-will-be-a-DWARF! weepies, the OMG-our-child-will-STARVE-TO-DEATH-SOON weepies, the why-won’t-he-talk weepies, the unsalvageable-and-expensive-washing-machine-colour-run-incident weepies, the why-am-I-soaked-in-vomit-AGAIN weepies, the broken-wisdom-tooth weepies, the child’s-chest-infection-is-just-miserable weepies and the oh-fuck-I-just-cried-in-front-of-someone-I-don’t-like weepies.
On the subject of dwarfism and starvation, I may be guilty of giving the subject too much brain space. However, Harry is now flirting with the 2nd centile – above and below – for both height (72cm at 13 months corrected) and weight (too worried to weigh him). He has two really quite short grandparents and Hubby’s twin brother wrote this to me about his full-term, normal birthweight daughter yesterday: T was 29” (about 72cm) at 13 months old and was 30” at 18 months. She is currently off the chart for her age (6yrs) but is developing perfectly fine. The doctor predicts she might get to 4’ 11”.
Argh! Harry was also IUGR, for no discernable reason, and a third of those children experience permanent growth restriction. So, what with general family-stuntedness AND a possible growth-limiting factor to boot, we’re not looking at a tall chap here. I’m so fed up of hearing ‘Oh! What an absolute little DOT!’ wherever we go. If he ate, it might improve matters. But he is barely nibbling enough to keep a bird alive, and I feel the ulcers on his tongue are a longer-standing problem than we realised – they look ugly, and the GP is mystified. We are surviving on an eclectic mixture of finger-foods, boob-milk, lignocaine and benzydamine hydrochloride.
Despite a raging chest infection and Yukky Banana Bleurrgh Antibiotics, he is walking so very much better this week; watching him has really cheered me up – in between mopping up the chunky tides of cough-induced vomit. But he still persistently walks on his toes, still won’t imitate a single gesture, still looks permanently pissed with all the wobbles, and still hasn’t said a single word – at approaching 15 months old. So, what with the seizures and the suspected brain-damage at birth, I’m half-expecting a cerebral-palsy diagnosis at some point. I have been for months. I can clearly see he’s not cognitively impaired at present, so I’m not actually dreading it. But I do wish he’d bloody well A) grow 4 inches overnight B) eat like a hungry piggy and C) say Mummy. Or even Daddy, at a push.
Anyhoo. Our Health Visitor visited yesterday, at my invitation. Our GP felt that a feeding assessment would be helpful in getting a complete picture regarding Harry’s food refusals. I had stopped taking Harry to be weighed months ago, and I was well aware that she would not see his current size or weight as a problem – and indeed she did not. His growth chart was, I quote, ‘perfect’.
Despite my irritation with her attitude towards my infant’s plummeting weight, I have to admit that the woman sized me up pretty accurately, and she was increasingly sympathetic (and decreasingly ‘don’t-worry-your-head-about-baby’ formulaic) in her remarks – as the conversation wore on and she dug away at the surface a bit. Various probing questions elicited a number of facts – yes, I was still enormously hung-up from the knife-edge pregnancy. Yes, I was still hugely traumatised by the NICU. Yes, I felt personally undermined and tormented as a parent by SCBU staff. Yes, I worry constantly about my child. Yes, I’m often very weepy. Yes, I’m wound up ever so easily. No, I never used to be like this.
I don’t deal with face-to-face kindly sympathy in a very practised fashion (I’m not complaining, but I don’t exactly get much psychotherapy around here) so naturally, as soon as she told me that I had Been Through Such An Awful Lot That No Wonder I Was Worried About Baby, and That I Was Doing Such A Wonderful Job As A Mother, I sat in a little tubby heap on the floor and cried. So really, she wouldn’t actually have been doing her job right if she hadn’t asked me to consider that I might be depressed. Despite her immediate qualifying assurances that she hadn’t labelled me as depressed, and was merely asking me to think about the possibility, I struggled hard not to take internal umbrage. I don’t do depressed, thank you! I’m far too clever to let that happen without noticing. Oh, certainly not. I would head ANY signs of depression off at the pass, no problemo.
It suddenly struck me that I could hear the inner lady protesting far too much.
As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’m depressed. I look forward to each tomorrow because it has to be better than the exhausting heap of shit that was yesterday I do love being a full-time parent – on the rare, rare days when Harry isn’t running a temperature, miserable with raging snots or ulcered tongue, eats 3 decent meals, takes his naps without screaming like a violated banshee, and lets me change his nappy without a full-on wrestling match. I will hold my hand up to some sort of anxiety disorder, mind you – it’s just whether I can take myself seriously enough to go and get diagnosed. I’ve no intention of taking medication, and I already see a counsellor, so it hardly seems worth the effort.
Health Visitor was implicitly unimpressed by my denials, as she is coming to see me again soon – me, not the child.
So. It’s a good thing she didn’t know about the walloping great family history of depression, or she might have been really worried about me.
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