It's been three months since I last wrote. Three months that have seen joy, happiness, sadness and illness. Lots of illness; noro virus, ear infections, conjunctivitis, chest infections and me laid up in bed for a whole week with the flu.
But mostly the last three months have been me, struggling again to get a grip on my post natal depression. It has amped itself up again, and I am now in the same state I was before I started my medication. I went to the dr a month ago and explained, she thought it was exhaustion due to me recovering from the flu. It's not. I know it's not. My dosage of medication is no longer effectively managing my mood. I'm shouting again, I'm losing my patience more quickly than I was, I've lost interest in doing things I previously found fun; blogging, going out, playing with the boys. I know the symptoms. It's been the same my whole life when my depression has acted up, not just through this post natal bout.
The last few weeks or so I've been struggling again with sleeping. I'm still bed sharing with Benjamin and at 21 months we are still happily enjoying our breastfeeding relationship. Some don't understand this. And I will be totally honest, this last week I have been desperate for space. Benjamin is very clingy, he is going through quite an intense period of separation anxiety. As soon as I sit down he's on my lap, hands in my bra. Or he's straddling me as soon as I try to read a book or watch tv. If I leave the room he screams hysterically.
I actually wondered if it was time to night wean him and move him in to his own room so that I have more than one hour to myself a day. (Although last week has been school holidays so my time spent with them has been increased somewhat) I asked my pink ladies what they suggested. The over whelming suggestion was do what is right for Benjamin, me and our family. Family are suggesting I stop breastfeeding and stop bed sharing with him, I considered this.
Then I opened blogger.
I scanned through the blogs I follow.
Two caught my eye immediately.
I do not know the women who wrote the blog posts personally. But they both write blogs I have read over the last few months. The thing about the parenting blogging community is you feel as though you know each other through reading about the women and their families. You interact with members of the community, you comment on each others posts that strike a chord with you, you follow on twitter. It's a hard connection to explain to non bloggers/tweeters.
Both women lost their babies to SIDS/ SUDC (sudden unexpected death in childhood) within a week of each other. Matilda Mae was 9 months old the day she died, and had learned to crawl the day she died. Patrick was 14 months old. Both babies happy and healthy. No reason to suspect that they would go to sleep and never wake up.
My heart broke. I had naively thought my children were safe now. They are both well past the ages drs say that children are most at risk from dying of SIDS. For the last three weeks, I've been reading both Mummies tweets and feeling horrendously guilty. They have lost their babies. They are grieving for their lost children and trying very hard to be good parents to their elder children. And what am I doing? I'm shouting at mine because I've lost patience, I'm considering ending my night feeds with Benjamin because I lose 20 minutes sleep each night. They are living with a Mummy who is battling depression and spends most of her time miserable. I am selfish. These women were both breastfeeding mummies. Both have had to go through the process of their bodies returning to a pre pregnancy state, losing their babies milk. Their last physical tie to their babies.
Of course, how a mother chooses to feed her baby doesn't detract from her grief, I mention it only because I too am a breastfeeding mummy, and my struggle this week has been more heightened because of what these women are going through. To suddenly stop nursing like that would add physical pain or discomfort to the horrendous emotional pain. The end of a breastfeeding relationship should be mutually agreeable, both parties should want to stop. These women have had no say.
I read about how Jennie is wishing she could go back to her last breastfeed with baby Tilda, and how she would have cherished it so much more if she knew it would be her last feed. I then think of the times I've read through that bedtime feed, or through the night feeds when I've sent emails etc..I can't believe I've taken these times for granted. Like it's guaranteed I'll get to feed him again shortly.
I get up and I complain about how messy the house is, how the boys refuse to eat what I've cooked or how tired I am. Then I read Julie's blog today and she is desperate to have that life, these "problems", because if she did it would mean Patrick is still here.
I live in fear. Fear that my boys will be taken. I've put Benjamin's breathing monitor under my mattress. After he stopped using his cot and started bed sharing with me, I stopped using it. But now I have the familiar beep, beep following me around when I go downstairs. I wake numerous times in the night to check he is still breathing. I've started going up to check on them more regularly before I go to bed.
I know living in fear is no way to live, but I fear if I become complacent, and I start thinking that they will both wake up everyday guaranteed, that one day it won't happen because I have taken that for granted. I have said the same three sentences to each boy in the same order each night since birth. I never forget to say it, it's almost like a superstition, that if I don't say it, something will happen. I don't know how much of this fear and anxiety is part of my depression and how much is normal parenting worries. I know every parent worries, and every parents biggest fear is to lose their child. Somehow though, others seem to live their life without the constant fear and anxiety.
This week, a very good friend of mine put a picture on her facebook of her poorly baby snuggling with her. Her comment said that when she is old and grey she'll never look back and regret being there for him. That sums up everything I feel.
So I'm going to continue to breastfeed Benjamin until he decides he no longer wants to, I'll continue to bed share, sit with my boys as they need me to to fall asleep. I refuse to put them in their rooms and let them cry it out because they want me up there and I am too selfish to give up more of my time, or that "they should understand they have to be quiet and stay in bed". I refuse to not be there for my boys when they need me. When I'm 70 I'll never regret showing them that I would do anything for them. However, if something were to happen, I would regret everything I didn't do, everything I didn't say,
Because nothing in life is guaranteed. There is no guarantee that I'll get them out of bed in the morning. So I'm going to cherish every moment, every night feed, every chance I get to hug them, and I'm going to do my best to show them that I'm there for them. Always.
In memory of Matilda Mae, Patrick James, Belle and Noel. Sleep peacefully beautiful angels x