Moans & Groans

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.

13 Responses

  1. How come you always make the most serious topics, ones where we should be shaking our heads and wringing our hands in sympathy, into posts that have me laughing? How do you DO that? It’s a gift, is what it is.

    I have no idea what to say about Harry’s growth. I have a few thoughts about the Health Visitor but I will keep them to myself. It’s nice that she’s kind to you and I think it’s good that she’s keeping track of your mental health. But it would be awesome if she could do that and at the same time keep a realistic perspective about Harry’s health as well. Because if even the ped. is concerned, well, she ought to rethink her position on the whole matter.

    FWIW, my lovely nephew is nearly three and only recently began saying words. No NICU, no IUGR, no wonky growth. His early interventionist said that she is seeing more and more children who are talking late for no discernible reason. Please don’t think I’m making light of Harry’s considerably difficult life so far. I just want to offer a smidgen of hope that maybe he will be okay. Maybe he’s just on his own time schedule. Whatever the case may be, it’s hard on you. And I am more sorry about that than you can know. I’m hoping hugely for no CP diagnosis. *hugs*

  2. My husband is fond of saying that the more complex the organism the longer it takes to develop. He then would go on to quote all of the really smart people who didn’t talk until they were three of four, Albert Einstein being one of them. That said, a suggestion is to have Harry’s hearing tested, a common cause of speech delay, is impaired hearing in early babies. I worked with a 25 weeker for months and we didn’t catch on that he couldn’t hear us until he didn’t start talking. It is just a thought.

  3. FWIW- my health visitor equivalent is a dragon full of daft old ideas. I can barely stand the woman!


  4. You could not do a bad job of mothering if you tried. Your inimitable way of finding the humour in the most dire of parenting circumstances is a sure sign of parental competence. Because, and I speak from personal and professional perspectives here, being a parent is the toughest gig going and you simply have to laugh at it and the crap it dishes up on a daily basis.

    Hang in there. Things will get better…and worse…and better. Something of a fugue state, if that helps.

  5. I’ve just read your last two posts and wept over harry’s first picture and your extraordinary words and so i am no help at all to you except to say FUCK and I am in awe and it will be alright it will it will it will

  6. Admitting to depression is not admitting defeat. My Mum has been depressed since the birth of my brother 21 years ago. I had a fabulous childhood, my Mum, as she puts it is still not non-crazy enough to come off her medications, but with them she’s as normal as I would ever wish!
    I like her slightly batty, makes me feel better about my craziness!

  7. You and I make a right pair, don’t we? Shall we meet perhaps halfway and weep in a layby or something for a few hours?

    I’m with Flicka though – stop writing such serious stuff that makes me laugh. It feels so…wrong.

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, I am sick of people telling me how DINKY P is all the time. I thought it would stop when she was no longer a baby, but alas, not. Dinky P is kind of a funny name though, I might start calling her that. Like a rapper. Or almost like a wrapper, which is what I typed originally. Either way.

  8. Dude you would be so entitled to be depressed. Or anxious. Or frothing at the mouth crazy.
    Come! Join the ranks of the depressed! We are legion and very nice. I have been on anti-depressants for years now, and they will have to prise them out of my cold dead hands.
    That’s a bit flippant but I even worry about you here from Belgium so am not surprised health visitor did. Is very hard what you are doing but you are obviously an awesome mother. Have a fuck off huge gin and a nice afternoon in front of Cbeebies both of you.

  9. Umm, i wrote you a really really really long comment. Where did it go???

  10. Oy. Poor sicky Harry. Poor sicky Harry’s worried Mum. Bloody health visitor. So, she’s taking your state of mind seriously, but not one of the main reasons you’re in that state? Ummmmmmm….

    My vast family has produced several premature and teeny-tiny babies, every single one of whom remained small and delicate until the teenage hormone rampage, whereapon they all grew about two feet taller and muscles came up all over them like inflated rugby-balls. My youngest brother was one of they food-refusing shrimps – he lived on celery and peanut butter for two years at one point and his poor mother used to sit in the kitchen and cry into his left-overs. He’s fine now. He eats kebabs and plays rugby.

    I’m not saying this in an ‘all your concerns are now officially invalidated’ way. I merely think your health visitor has probably seen babies like my brother and two cousins before and seen them grow up into strapping adults and is letting this optimistic bit of knowledge blind her to the immense anxiety a teeny child who WILL NOT EAT causes in his parents. And that his parents are NOT overreacting, it IS godawful. Knowing Harry will probably be a normal size at twenty is not helping with the fact he is little now and might be little and delicate for his entire childhood. I say might, because I am still hoping very much it’s his reflux/ tongue ulcers (poor lamb) and if they are sorted, he WILL eat like a little piggy and shout MUMMYMUMMYMUMMY all the way home.

    I also wonder if he isn’t talking or imitating much because he is concentrating very hard on nailing the walking thing. Lots of babies tend to develop one skill at a time. Diva didn’t speak until she had mastered walking, running, using a spoon and removing her own shoes and socks (laces! buckles!) and then suddenly her first word was ‘Sock!’ to my mother’s horror, and within weeks she was getting multisyllabled and peremptory.


    If you don’t want the pharmaceutical assistance (‘mother’s little helpers’, they used to call valium. I used to wonder why…), would it be possible to step up the counselling and get that more often while this horrible patch is being battled through?

  11. I loved my health visitor. She took care of my “failure to thrive” babies, my PPD, and the ongoing drama known as “Dear God, I have these things with me, now what?” She rocked. I too used to hear that my babies were so tiny, too tiny, etc. Once they finally started eating, their weight shot up. My daughter now looks downright podgy, something I’m pretty damn proud of, and when my folks comment on it I get a bit stabby.

    We should get together when you have PMT. I become Zorastra, Queen of Aggression. You can weep and I can beat people senseless. It’ll be good times.

  12. It’s awful when mothers have concerns and no one understands that the source of anxiety is the CONCERN.
    you are in my thoughts

  13. I also agree, as someone who suffered in the past, that depression isn’t something to be ashamed of. I took some drugs for a time and I had some counselling for a time and as much as both of them were a struggle in the beginning (I didn’t “do” depressed either) coming out the other side I could see how much of a help it had been.

    You have plenty to be worried and concerned about but it seems to me the person you should be most worried and concerned about (you!) is the one you neglect the most!!!

    On a side note – when my husband was little he wouldn’t eat and got thinner and thinner and my MIL was beside herself. They lived in Australia at the time and she went to the Dr and he suggested that she feed him carnation condensed milk. Husbando took to it right away and in no time was back up on the charts – I’m sure no Dr today would ever tell you to do such a thing but I’m all over anything that works! Hang in there! xoxo

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