I was reading a fellow BLM's blog the other day and it got me thinking about how I parent Bee. In my mind and my heart Bee is my 3rd child. She has two older brothers and though they do not reside with us, but in Heaven, they are still a part of our family. I became a mother the day we found out we were pregnant with Ty. Now, though I've been a mother for a very long time, I've not always been a parent. I am a first time parent with Bee and a lot of what I do makes me wonder.
I do have a lot of hopes and dreams for Bee and want her to become the best person she can and know that she is surrounded by love and support no matter what but how does my parenting affect her? How do I parent Bee? Would it be different if the boys were here? I'll admit, Bee is pretty spoiled with a ton of love and affection and she will never have to worry about being hungry or cold. I like her to have nice things (though I am NEVER willing to pay a nice price for them so most of her things are second hand) I will admit, I have a shop for Bee clothes addiction. I just simply cannot resist. The girl has a basket full of shoes and of course, her feet have yet to grow since she was born (seriously, she is going to be in 0-3 month shoes until she is one!) She has headbands galore (though she often does not wear them, only when we go to special places) She even has a hat for every season in a variety of different colours. That being said, Bee's clothes, hats, headbands and shoes are all that define her gender (and no I'm not saying she is a "girl" I know some girls feel they are more boys and I'm cool with that, I don't judge) But for me as a mom right now in this moment, she is my little girl, pink frills and all. If she so chooses at a later date that she feels more comfortable as a boy, again, we will love her and support her no matter what.
Anyways, everything else we have we bought or received in preparation for the boys, so it's either gender neutral or boyish (per society standards, even though I am totally okay with Bee dressing in some of her brothers clothes, mostly pj's) so when we found out we were having a little girl I had to shop and I feel the need to continue to shop and there lies one of my problems. I can't go out without getting something for Bee. I feel this urge to buy, to buy her those cute green jelly sandals, to buy her a matching hat, to buy her shirts that match her cloth diapers so on really hot days she'll still match. I do it because I can. I do it because I've waited so long for her. But would I have been like this if the boys were here? Even though she is not a boy, would she still be spoiled like she is or would she get all hand me downs and goodwill clothes, which we still do, but I have also bought a few things and by few I mean a lot. Would she have the best sippy cup, the softest blanket, the best baby led weaning food there is, would I do that all for her had the boys lived? Or do I do it because I've waited so long, and now that I have the chance, and don't know if it will be my last, I have to do it.
I want Bee to have it all, I want her to have every chance possible in life because I know life is not guaranteed. I want her to be able to take swim classes and music classes when she is older, (listening to Fred Penner and Sharon, Lois and Bram are good for us at the moment) I want her to have cute shoes, I want her to match (though that's more my OCD than anything) I want her to have the best products (at discount rates) I just want to spoil her to pieces but without her knowing!
Ever since the boys died, my husband and I do not place any importance on material objects. We know they do not matter and we know they can all be replaced (expect the boys things, those I do care about because those cannot be replaced) We want Bee to experience the world, we want her to grow up and become a laid back person. We want to share our materials don't matter motto, but for me right now, I need her to have those cute shoes, I need her to have the matching hat because my grief needs to be replaced with joy and no I know material objects can't ever come close to the love, affection, kindness, caring loving little girl that she is and provides me with so much joy, but the girl can look cute while doing it and oh did I mention, I am sick of people asking what HIS name is when I am out in public, I mean come on, boys don't have those eye lashes!
I wonder if I would have be done with cloth diapers and wipes by the time Bee came around. I always intended on doing cloth with Ty and Jacob but not cloth wipes, that was new. I wonder if I would have spent weeks researching the best baby products, health and safety wise and spending more money on bath products to make sure they were as natural as they could be. I wonder if our eating would have changed to more local and organic. I wonder if I would still be eating at McDonalds, the occasional time (I will never eat there again) A lot of how our life has changed is because of the boys. I had and continue to have tremendous amounts of guilt over what I put in my body while pregnant with them. Its not like it was horrible but we ate unhealthy food and used very chemical based products. Of course I contribute it to the boys being unhealthy and ultimately dying. But had they lived would Bee only be getting the best of the best? Would I work harder to make sure everything I eat that passes through my breastmilk is the highest quality it can be. Would I make sure any products that touch my body or hers were rated 0's and 1's on the EWG website for health? Would I care that the next car seat we are getting is made of steel or at least I hope the next car seat we get is, they are so pricey and with two vehicles, wow! Would I have even discovered Baby Led Weaning?
Would I have been as terrified about SIDS to the point she wears a breathing monitor while she sleeps so if she stops I know. I feel I parent Phoebe very delicately. I parent her like the miracle she is, like the very precious life that she is because I know it's not guaranteed. Sure the matching shoes and clothes don't matter much, the adventures we take her on, the memories we build, the love and support that she feels is whats' important but for me, right now, because I can, she will have matching shoes and outfits. At times I will parent her like she is my first and only and other times I will parent her like she is one of many, there will be a balance and honestly, the material things are more my want and need then hers because honestly, what purpose does a 6 month old have to wear shoes? Given, I put them on most of the time to keep her amber teething bracelet on or to keep her socks on so they do serve somewhat of a purpose for us. I wonder if I would have even discovered amber teething necklaces had the boys lived, or would I have just given them Tylenol because I didn't know any different. I have become very natural, organic and free from chemicals in my parenting as I possibly can and I don't know if I would have been that way had the boys lived.
All I do know is that Bee is my world, she is my life, she has brought so much joy and happiness into our lives and no matter what she wears or if it matches or not, the love and happiness she provides us is priceless. Speaking of priceless, check out her first masterpiece.
Titled: Peacocks in Pansies
A Phoebe Faith Original
I think I have a little artist on my hands!
Despite me promising myself I would be in bed before 9pm tonight, I can't. I simply can't because I know I will lie awake and think about what I need to write, I need to write because this has been a long time coming.
Today I swallowed my pride yet again, which I find I do often, and headed to meet the psychiatrist. This meeting was my own doing, I requested it because I know I am not mentally well. Yes, I'll admit it. No, I'm not ashamed of it. I sought out help because I need it, I can't do this alone, I need help.
Today I was officially diagnosed. It feels so immensely satisfying to actually have a real diagnosis now. A diagnosis from a real doctor who picked my brain and picked it for 2 hours at that! I no longer need to wonder if it's exhaustion that causes me to think the way I do or feel the way I do. I no longer have to feel alone. I no longer have to sit and wallow in my struggles.
Today I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and General Anxiety disorder. Neither came of any surprise to me, I could have guessed it myself, but for someone else to recognize it and label it, I feel like now maybe I can tackle this problem. I feel like now I know and now I can set a plan with a team. I feel like now that I am officially in a mental health program that maybe, just maybe, I can start to work on things so I can feel better. I was given a few options for treatment, psychotherapy and drugs. I opted out of taking the drugs right now, I rather use those as a last resort, not to say I won't use them or that I'm against them because I'm not but for me personally I rather wait. I still would really love to give acupuncture a try (despite hating needles, I will try it) and talking it out has always helped me. Given, the social worker I have to see is one we had after Jacob died and we were not a huge fan so I have a lot of anxiety about that and talk about triggers, I'm really screwed on that front because there are no other social workers in the program but I am willing to give her a second shot.
I know I need to do this for me, I know all these fears, anxieties and worries are not normal and that sometimes there isn't a real explanation for them so I really need to get to the bottom of things. I need to do it for Bee, I need to do it for Stephen, Most days I just so badly wish I could feel great, feel happy and feel relaxed, but I can't and I can't pinpoint why. It frustrates me that I can't figure it out on my own so I really do hope this program can help. The best part is, I can bring Bee with me because trust me, being away from her for 2 hours this morning was killer! I missed that little bug so freaking much and I was so stoked to get home and see her. She is the main reason I am doing this, she is the main reason I sought out help and will do whatever I have to do so I can be the best mom, to set a good example of how to be a strong, independent, beautiful, loving woman. She is my reason for living, but I need to make sure and feel that other things are as well and at the moment, I'm not there.
I think one of my biggest issues in dealing with my grief and anxiety is that I've been shuffled from one person to the next, either due to benefits ending or hospital politics. It's not good and it has been hard for me because I go see someone, I tell my story, we start working on things and then I'm done way before I'm ready. I'm done because my benefits have run out and we cant afford the $400 to continue seeing that person or because hospital politics dictate that because I am no longer in a certain area of the hospital (ie, OB, or women's health, NICU etc) I have to go see someone else. Even after I have worked with someone for two years and have built a connection and feel safe, no, hospital politics say I have to start over all again with someone new. I can only hope that this program I am in has no time limit. I hope I'm not only given 8 or 10 weeks to figure my shit out because I know I need more time. If I am going to be forced to see a social worker I am not fond of, then I need time to really build trust and feel safe and comfortable. I don't want to be shuffled around anymore, I really do want to tackle this. I'm tired of it all, I want to fix it. I want to feel like a person again. I know I won't ever be normal or feel the way I use to but I need to find a new me.
I will tackle this issue and I have all the reason in the world to beat it , my family means the world to me and I have to be my best for them and me too. I'm just thankful I have a diagnosis. I'm thankful that after spending 2 hours with someone else and talking to them, they have seen it too. They have seen that it is not just exhaustion, they have seen that it is just not being a new mom, they have seen that I'm a mess and I really do need some guidance and direction. They are there to help and I am there to be helped. So here is to an infinite number of psychotherapy sessions in hopes that I can sort my brain out. It's time.
Most days I feel like I have been defeated. There are times where I feel I will never belong. Then there are the times when I think about where I would be without Bee. I live for her, I breathe for her, everything I do, I do for her and to let myself think where I would be without her, it's scary. It's not a place I like to visit, but truth be told, if it weren't for her I really don't know where I would be.
I'm really struggling with a lot of self issues. I don't feel I belong to any group. I surely don't belong in a new moms group because I'm not a new mom, I don't have the joy and bliss most new moms do. I don't feel I belong in a post partum depression group (even though I have it) because my depression stems far beyond the expertise that is just post partum depression. I don't feel like I belong in any play groups because I am not socially, actually I am social, socially awkward! Most of my friends from before Ty died have disappeared, I guess it makes people uncomfortable to be around me. I know I have changed and I never will be the same but most of the time I don't even talk about the boys. I guess some friendships change when babies come a long anyways , people grow apart and leave others behind.
The only group I feel comfortable with is my baby loss group members. Not even the online ones make me feel welcomed anymore, its just the people in London who are physically here to help me through. All my friends these days are baby loss mamas and that honestly doesn't bug me too much. We have really been blessed with finding some amazing people through the dark, people who have become our family, people who understand, people who get it, people who don't need explanations, people who aren't afraid to mention our boys names or talk about them, it's what we do because we know. The only downfall is, some of them don't know who they are, some of them don't know where they fit so trying to help me figure me out is hard.
Somedays I feel like giving up, but I don't because of Bee. Again, if it weren't for her I don't know where I would be and I don't want to go there because I don't think it is a good place. Ty and Jacob dying profoundly changed me as a person and who that person is, I'm still trying to figure out. On top of that, add in a new parent now and I'm lost. I don't know who I am, I don't know where I belong, what I knew is gone and I don't know where to go. I don't feel comfortable around most people, I don't feel I belong to any specific group so I avoid it. I avoid people when I can. Somedays I just let the defeat win.
Somedays I wonder how people view me, what they think about me. I know I'm socially awkward and very introverted and I think it comes across as rude sometimes. I don't mean to be but when I have so much to deal with and such self hate, I don't want to be around people. I know some people don't want to be around me because of Ty and Jacob dying and how it's changed me. I still like to do thing, I still like girls nights and cookie exchanges and "normal" things woman and first time parents do but it's hard. It's hard to try and fit in where I don't belong and where I'm only doing it for Bee's benefit. Bee will always come first but it scares me to think of how I can help her become a strong confident woman when her own mother has such self hate. I know I need to change, I need to fix it but it is exhausting and I don't even know where to start. Okay I do, I know I need to lose weight first and foremost and get my physical self healthy and then I can work on mental, emotional and spiritual. I know it's a long road and I need to put in the effort but lately, lately I just want to be defeated. It's much less exhausting!
We successfully took our first trip away from home and with the little one in tow. The car ride down was pretty bad, my anxiety was pretty high but I had my barf bag on stand by and a cute little girl whom needed to be distracted for 4 hours! Once we got to my parents the anxiety eased up but it was replaced with irritability and annoyance. I don't like not being home, I don't like not knowing where things are, I don't like not being on our own schedule but Bee adapted quite well. She slept well, I slept horribly, she LOVED her ring sling as did I (she even napped for 1 1/2 hours at the zoo, that is unheard of) we got to see our family, bought a few things for the house and of course a few things for Bee, ate some yummy food that we miss and headed back home. I didn't feel the anxiety of leaving the boys because I knew they were there with us. It is done, we did it. I now know we are capable of adapting when we need to and Bee is fantastic at adapting because she rocks!
Given, we are home now and the anxiety is creeping back into my body, not sure why, perhaps a day trip to Toronto in a few weeks has my mind boggled even though it's only a day trip and we just managed a 4 day stay away from home trip. Who knows, I don't. It does feel good to be home though, picked up a few new things for the house and will be working on that as Bee allows me. I also plan on getting out to see the boys at some point because the guilt of not visiting them is just too much lately. I do feel horrible I can't get out to see them as much but it's hard sometimes and I feel bad making an excuse but I'm still barely hanging on by a thread so I need to limit my activities. I find one activity a day is more than enough for us. I tire easily and so does Bee. I can't remember when the last time we stayed inside all day was, it has been months! Not to say that's a bad thing we just get tired, well I guess mostly I get tired and find the idea of going out daunting.
I'm sure one day I will wake up and feel semi "normal", it has to happen at some point. I had that one day back in April, I'm due for another one sometime soon. It's so hard though because with Bee growing and learning new things (rolling front to back, using a sippy, cutting a tooth) all those are so bittersweet. I'm happy for her and love seeing her grow but it reminds me of what I missed out on with the boys. I'm just really thankful to have some close friends who get it, who get me, who get that when we go out for lunch there may be tears and that's okay. Friends who understand my neurotic thoughts of Bee and life, friends who know how it feels, friends who know what to say, friends just to be there and enjoy the moments we can find to enjoy, to share the love we all share for our children. It's been rough recently but I do know it has to get better at some point, though I do fear it can always get worse, once you've been through hell you know your not guaranteed anything! But on we go.
Stephen, Bee and I are embarking on a new journey tomorrow. For the first time in 2 1/2 years, Stephen and I are leaving London. We are leaving our home, we are leaving the boys and we are leaving the country. To say I am anxious does not even begin to describe how I am feeling. My anxiety is consuming me, it is seeping into every pore of my body. I feel it in my bones, they ache. I feel it in my stomach, it is upset. I feel it in my head, it is lightheaded. Every inch of me feels the anxiety. I try to breathe but it is hard, it is a struggle. To leave is incredibly fearful to me. Yes I know we will return, yes I know things will most likely go okay, but it's the unknown, it's new uncharted territory. Not only is it our first time away, but it's our first time traveling with a little.
Perhaps you are wondering what I am so anxious about. Well, just about everything you can possibly think of. I'm worried about leaving our home, though our neighbour will watch it for us and we are taking the boys (the fur boys). I am worried about leaving the boys here, yes I know they aren't technically here but everything we have that is them is here and I worry something may happen to it. I don't care about anything in this house but the boys things, those are irreplaceable. I'm worried about driving on the highway, I've been in one too many accidents to ever feel safe on the road. I worry that we are taking a Ford. The last time we took a Ford we nearly died. I worry about them pulling us over at the border and having a screaming baby plus two terrified cats to deal with. I'm worried about Bee in her car seat for 4 hours, girl hates it for 20 minutes! I'm worried she will get bored and scream. I'm worried we won't make it. I'm worried we'll have to turn around. I'm worried things won't go right. I'm worried we'll get there and I'll be incredibly anxious and not enjoy myself. I'm worried I'll see people I know that don't know about the boys. I'm worried I'll see people I know that do know about the boys. I'm worried that I forgot a vital item to pack that we cant run out and buy. I'm worried I'll leave a vital item there that we can't replace here. I'm worried about crossing at the border and how long it will take. I can't really pull over an breastfeed while we're waiting in line at the border (but I am packing bottles to hopefully avoid that issue) I'm worried we'll have car problems. I'm worried one of the cats will get sick (though I know a good vet clinic there) I'm worried about how Bee will sleep in her pack and play since she never has. I'm worried her routine will be so out of whack it will be a disaster. I'm just worried and anxious about every aspect of the trip. It is our first time away and I feel horrible for leaving the boys.
I know it has to be done sooner or later because we want to travel a lot with Bee so eventually I'll have to take the step to leave and even leave the fur babies one day. I have to do it. We have to do it. We can't stay in London forever and never travel or enjoy the things life has to offer. I know it's a huge step and I know it's hard but I remember the first time after Ty died (the last time we went away 2 1/2 years ago) that it was okay once we got there, though all I wanted to do was come home. I know it has to be done and I want it to be done. I know the first time is so hard and it will eventually get easier. It will eventually become a part of life that we are use to. But, it's the what if's, the should have's that are killing me. The worry is consuming me as is the anxiety. I have no way to escape other then not to go but that is not an option. I know we can pack up and come home at anytime but I don't want to. I need to force myself to do this, to take this huge step. It has to be done, it simply has to be done. I may be vomiting the whole ride there with fear, but it has to be done. I may not sleep tonight due to worry, but it has to be done.
I went to visit the boys tonight and prayed to them to protect us, to protect everything surrounding us, our house, our car, the roads, us, everything. So here is to taking a HUGE BIG terrifying step. Hold on this is going to be a bumpy ride.
It melts my heart when I am out with Bee and strangers come up to me to tell me how beautiful and gorgeous she is (I mean I already know but it's nice to hear from others) I especially like when they talk to her (in non baby talk) and she responds by smiling away and they say that she has made their day. I know my little girl is extra special, she makes my day everyday and I know she has a very special reason for being here with us, I don't know what it is but I just know it's something. I really love that her smile can make other peoples day. It truly does make mine everyday and her smile is one more thing I never got with the boys. So many bittersweet moments, so many moments that make me hold her tighter and make me never want to let her go. She is truly my heart, I never knew love could be this amazing.
Speaking of love, I am trying my hardest to work on my guilt about the fact that my love for the boys is quite different than with Bee. It's not the same and I feel bad about that but I know the love they each require is different. The boys need a more respectful love where as Bee needs physical, mental, emotional love. I'm trying not to feel like a bad mother because my love is different but it is hard. I wonder if a day will ever come where I am not completely exhausted from grieving, learning to balance my grief and life now and being a mother. In the meantime, I am just enjoying every moment with my little love.
We are still here, we are still alive and healthy. I just did not know how exhausting being a new mom is! Given, my thyroid is acting up and I've had this horrible tummy bug for a few days now on top of headaches and being out every single day! Lots of family events have been attended/will be attending. My mom came up to visit so I took the opportunity to go for a massage and some chiropractic care (which I will continue but I can bring Bee with me) My husband and I even got to go on a dinner date sans Bee, GG babysat.
There has just been so much going on and we're all pooped over here! Bee is doing okay at night, we had a few rough nights but they are getting better. I've been able to get sleep here and there and have a feeling tonight will NOT be a problem! Counting down the days until I can see the psychologist, my PPD and grief are out in full force and I need some relief! Friends of ours are having a little boy so I have been out shopping for him, it is my intent to spoil him to pieces because I can. However, at the same time it has been extremely difficult for me to shop for little boy things because I haven't in a while and it hurts my heart a bit to not be shopping for my little boys. So many emotions, so many thoughts, so many fears and my anxiety has been through the roof, I'm wondering if the stomach issues are related to my anxiety as I know they have been in the past. But on I must go! It does help that Bee is a doll and has started giggling, which just melts my heart but at the same time, she has also started teething which is reeking havoc on my poor buggles! I have so many things to say but I'm calling it a night (yes it is only 7pm but that's how I am going to roll tonight)
Oh and in case anyone forgot, Bee is 5 months today (don't ask me how it is possible that she is already 5 months but she is)