Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ten Years - Long and Morose

Ten years ago on the 28th December, I was admitted to hospital, pregnant with Emily and with very high blood pressure. Ten years ago yesterday, I was having steroid injections to boost her lungs in the womb. Ten years ago today, I was a nervous wreck and so was Jon. Ten years ago tomorrow, New Year's Eve 1998, we sat and listened, late at night, to the baby's heart rate dropping on the monitor and it looked as if we were going to have the first baby of 1999. We spent New Year's Day 1999 in a state of fear as the baby's heart rate deteriorated, before finally, in the early hours of the 2nd January 1999, I had the emergency caesarian and tiny, premature Emily was born.

We can't quite believe that ten years have now passed. The last thing Emily's Newborn Intensive Care nurse said to us when we were finally able to take Emily home was "Enjoy her."

Ten years down the line, those words ring in my ears like some kind of siren of guilt. I spent the first four or five years of Emily's life in a deep depression, even though I didn't realise it at the time. Assorted reasons, including my only brother's spiteful and deliberate rejection of my only daughter and his only niece, plus the shock and trauma of Emily's early birth, kept me in a state of anger for years and far too many of my memories of Emily's early childhood are of me being angry for one reason or another. I was a virtual hermit, not even taking turns with Jon to take her to playgroups.

I remember shouting and shouting at a tiny two year old who couldn't get to sleep - why didn't I just pick her up and cuddle her to sleep? I remember exhaustion and pure resentment when a tiny baby, a few months old, wouldn't be put down for even a few moments without crying. Why did I want to put her down in the first place? What I'd give now to get another shot at those moments. Jon was exhausted too when Emily was tiny....but he never lost his temper. My memories are of him as the best father I could ever have hoped for for my child ... my memories of me are of screaming, shouting, walking out of the house and a sinking feeling when my baby woke up.

Of course these are isolated memories - I wasn't a total harridan - but it was an awful time. I loved Emily with all my heart; I wasn't a bad or neglectful parent in that sense, but I was detached and too wrapped up in my own feelings. I now recognise I was ill. So I didn't "enjoy" her (or at least, looking back, I don't seem to remember much of the good times) - and of course, I can never get that time back again.

Things got a lot better once Emily was four or so, and particularly once she was out of school and these days we, all three of us, have a wonderfully close relationship. But this is a very poignant time, as Emily grows out of being a little girl and grows into being a young woman, and large parts of me yearn for the little girl back again so I can have a second chance. I didn't expect to feel this sad or this guilty, so these feelings, largely coming around since Christmas, have hit me quite hard. Jon reassures me that everything was in fact pretty much fine when Emily was little....but even if that's true (and I guess he would have made sure that was the case and would have sought help for me if it wasn't the case)...even if that's true, it's not my memory. What can I do? I'll just have to learn to live with it.

The anger and hatred I still feel towards my brother isn't going to go away - I haven't seen him since Emily was a few months old and I hope I never have to see him again - but ultimately, that's an excuse. I chose to react badly to his spite and crassness and the associated family fall out from it - I could have chosen a different route, but I didn't. I've come to realise that I can't blame anyone else for the way those first few years went, much as I'd like to. I did what I did and I can't undo it or shift the responsibility on to anyone else.

So. As Emily approaches her 10th birthday, I'm filled with very mixed feelings, in common I'm sure with many other parents of growing kids. I'm hoping to shake off my moroseness and guilt by the end of 2008. My one resolution for 2009 is to stop looking backwards, let go of the guilt for mistakes I made and to look ahead to the future. To "enjoy" our beautiful, growing up daughter for every minute from now on and to stop wasting time weeping over things I cannot change.

Wish me luck!

[added]This blog was taken off the Home Ed ring as I hadn't posted.... I can't work out how to put it back on again. It won't let me re-add it at the ring hub; does anyone know what I need to do?


HelenHaricot said...

hugs and more hugs,
and yes, i'll tell jax to reinstate you

Jax said...

Tis done. If you reply to an email changing state it'll get through to me so that I can deal with it, or you can find me at no 1, 'cos I'm back on the ring now too :)

Sarahs Home said...

I dont think that there is any advice I could give you. However the feeling I get from reading your blog and been allowed a very small look at your days( and yes I have lurked for ages and ages) is that you have a wonderful, well adjusted young girl who seems very happy. There are times when we would all like to turn back the clock and make changes to the way we have parented our children, it is these events that have made us who we are today and we learn from those moments. I have two children (girl ten in February and a boy age 7 ) and honestly there have been times when it has not been easy, but you come through the other end and see the bigger picture.
OK so enough of my babbling, I am glad to see you back to blogging. I love this blog and must admit you have given me lots of inspiration and ideas for what I can do with my own children.
Happy New Year,
Sarah xxx