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Week 9 The Monsters in our Heads

I want to curl up and watch “2 Penttutikal” but this blog keeps snapping at the back of my mind like my childhood Australian terrier and our postman (yup- my dog used to actually chase (And bite) the postman)

I have (amongst other things) PTSD. That is one of the few boxes I’ve been put in that made sense. 

Big M my its-so-bloody-complicated-and-not-for-this-post is my Carer.

If we didn’t have kids, people might see things differently.

If I had physical therapy, was in a wheel chair or had a cast, people might see things differently.

If I was vomiting from radiation or even just had a run of nasty virus'(knock on all wooden objects within sight) people might see things differently –less likely in this medicate and get on with it world but still…

If every day Big M got up and went to someone else’s house dressed in a snazzy polo shirt with a logo, while a different person in said snazzy polo shirt came here, people might see things differently.

Just look at those snazzy button up shirts (nothing against outside care at all- people who do this as a job ROCK)

As it is we are two stay at home parents ( to most)

To some : I’m not doing brilliantly, he’s my Carer but – so?

 To very few we are both coping – Big M with a 18/7 job and I with being a full time Mum with PTSD, ANA, GAD and BPD (plus even more abbreviations irrelivant to this post).

These people are few and far between (And much appreciated)

On a bad day Big M isn’t even one of them.

On a bad day caring for me isn’t a job or responsibility – it’s a hinderence.

On a very bad day I offer to get in another Carer or leave so he can manage others expectations and his wants and I can look after what bub and I need.

It’s been a very bad week.

Because in my mind- and in  some others I’m meant to just cope when this bugger of a disease interferes withmy plans and thus their plans either for me, Big M or my children.

I’m fairly sure no one would tell an obstetrician they should have skipped the birth of one of their patients because it meant they and their partner who had to stay home for the kids missed a dinner party.

I can imagine the conversation:

“But couldn’t you have just ignored your pager? I checked you were coming three days ago and you said yes!. Surely you could just have just ignored her? And I can’t believe Matt didn’t turn up- toddlers are okay on their own”

 Ok – appalling example but thats because there isn’t one that matches.

There is nothing quite like the hell of being told what you can and cannot do by experiences you lived half a life ago that won’t leave you alone.

The irony of a disorder that makes you desperate for contact with people but then finding it impossible to cope with.

And then that people resent you for needing the supports you have put in place – it’s like that thing in primary school where everyone wanted a go on the crutches when someone sprained their ankle. Except no one gives them back when the bell rings.

I just wish everybody knew I’m doing the best that I can but that my absolute best will always always be reserved for my youngest, then the rest of my little lot.

I wish they could be understanding. Hell, I just wish they were okay with it.

And to anyone out there going through this- one person gets it. Just one voice but (trust me) better than none.

Which is why if nothing else came out of this week at least I found pins like this one :

And this one:

 And this one

which led to this post.
 So there, task complete.

Read on for some helpful info :

 

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Week Seven PART TWO(finally)

Here is the promised part two of post about this  pin.

 

 I hope I didn’t lose too many of you with the incredibly convoluted sundae analogy? Good. Thought not. So anyway…

Bub ended up getting the full blown reaction temperature/not sleeping/snuffle. Blah. 

It meant that for three nights we had a total if maybe six hours sleep?. Urgh. 

But I kept up with the new things that have become part of our routine and they may have helped us through – at least a little bit.

Where did I leave you last time?  Ah yes

RELAXATION CORNER

Babies really benefit from a ‘relaxation corner’ in their room, ideally visited before naps to help calm them before sleep. The focal point of a relaxation corner is a light feature. Bubble tubes are ideal, but a simple lava lamp will also be effective. “
Ok. So I still haven’t gotten that together. 

Mainly I think because I have a very fixed idea of what it will be (draped tipi over floor cushion with lantern ).

 In the meantime bub has fallen in love with her “paddle pool” and also loves “massage blanket” so it’s almost as though she’s establishing the relaxing and safe space for herself. 

Ok- for example- bub hits me in the face- as toddlers do, flailing randomly is part of their modus operandi. 

This leads to a very loud and sudden “Ow ****” 

(Not something to say near  a toddler but I have a fairly new nose piercing so serious pain involved. Usually when swearing is needed – stubbed toe etc- I’m a little more creative- “Oh blogger” is always good)

Anyway- flail leads to a leads to sudden loud noise from Mum which is actually very unusal and bub thinks she did a very bad thing or just simply gets scared. 

When she was littler this would mean breast feed;  then she progressed to asking for a ‘walk’ or ‘cooking’ (favourite things) all while sobbing  (poor bub)

This time her automatic response was “paddle pool?” 

So her paddling pool is her safe and happy place. 

(Maybe I’ll just hang the curtains over one end of that and stuff it with pillows…either way. It’ll warrant a post all its own. Pins are bound to be used)

So- massage blanket. 

Baby Massage hasn’t been something that I ever saw myself doing.  Eldest loathed it and with Middlest it wasn’t exactly ‘en vogue’ so no one really mentioned it.

With bub it was a small part of the pre birth classes.

 I didn’t really think about it much, truth be told. I always thought keeping a very small baby naked (which all of mine seemed to hate) after a bath (which all of mine seemed to hate) didn’t seem quite fair.

Eldest had colic so we did the routine circular tummy rubbing and bicycles.

Bub had reflux and colic (still does a little) tummy rubbing & bicycles became an ordinary activity.

It was when I was looking at videos and pins for infant massage (If anyone finds a good one for “toddler massage” please tell me- that I realised I’d been doing a lot of the things they were suggesting and demonstrating already.

A foot rub and head massage every night as she feeds to sleep. Head rub if she stirs (yes. I do sleep. Yes. I love it. Yes. My baby goes to sleep in my lap. No. I’m not a “political co-sleeper”* No. I don’t feel the need to stop. My eldest two left my bed by two. I can’t see bub doing that. I’m not fussed.)

So yes, foot rub and head massage, tummy rub if she has wind, legs if she’d particularly restless.

But I didn’t do anything structured.

The article said

The benefits of massage for babies are well documented and can include improved sleep, bonding and reduced periods of crying. Infant massage classes are a great way to learn but there are also some high quality videos on YouTube for those who want to get started right away.  Baby massage is easy to fit into your daily routine and works particularly well after a warm bath.”



So it’s a very good thing.

 I thought, from watching all the videos and reading all the articles (which I did with bub snuggled on my lap watching the “bubbies” at 8am one wintery morning but- more on that later ) that I should make it part of “bedtime”.

Bub has a fairly fixed dinner/bath/bed routine because otherwise getting her to sleep is not easy. 

It moves in time ; between 5.30-6.30 start- bed has to happen by 7.30 or else she just won’t sleep until at least 9.

Adding anything else in there seemed too much for now so I put it first. 

I wanted it to be special so I used one of my Ishka throws (ah- how I love Ishka and how I hate the term ‘throw’ can we go back to blanket please?)

It goes something like this- At about 4.30 – 5  I  (or bub recently) say ‘massage?’ and then bub says ‘massage blanket?” and we grab that and put it on the bed. I don’t undress her.

 We either talk – at first there was a lot about oil and how often you need it and if you are ‘cleaning’ your hands with it that isn’t more often that ten minutes, could you put the cap on please?, Panda isoily enough maybe massage him now, would you like me to do your back? Can I have more oil please? Yes you can have more but just two dots, see- dot dot. No you don’t need more. Do pandas feet. “ to more recently massaging all of her toys in turn. 

I made the mistake of watching some baby massage videos while massaging. Or trying to. Bub likes pressing buttons. Loves looking at babies. And that’s how we ended up here (which is amazing)  here and here (Also at birth videos- why on YouTube? Why? Not the “teach how a baby arrives” kind the “dad and phone” kind. ) and why now ‘massage blanket’ is often closely followed by “bubbies?”

 So sometimes we’ll watch other babies massages and talk about them.

I’m also kind of all for mindfulness and love the fact that it works. I had the worst pre natal anxiety- Smiling Mind made it liveable – well I got through it – and those ten minutes of calm a day definitely helped, as did the breathing in labour, believe it or not.

Recently – thanks to Emma Watson actually – I found Headspace  (Mindfulness exercises, not the counselling/GP service for ‘young adults’)

I love it and would totally recommend it to anyone anxious or stressed. 

I love the way it’s run, I love the packages of exercises, I love they have an SOS button for when you are falling apart.

 I love how tailored you can make it. 

I especially like the fact that there are exercises for kids- toddlers even. 

I love that I wrote to them and asked if I could access the toddler activities to see if they worked for bub on my free trial and they unlocked all of them for me- without me asking. 

Most importantly I love Andy’s voice. 

That is actually vital.

 You can’t do anything meditationy or mindfullnessy if you don’t like the voice or the whale song is driving you mad or the water noise makes you want to wee.
“Mindfulness for toddlers?!” I hear you cry “how can this possibly work? They won’t understand! They won’t stay still! It’s a farce!” 

My experience is at the end of this post – bub likes it & I do too.

Best people to explain it are Headspace themselves (here)

Also she asks to listen.

 That means she likes it and that is a great thing.
So anyway – while we talk/ watch/ listen I rub her legs and feet and often her back in a semi confident “of course I know what I’m doing rubbing coconut oil and lavender my child- watch me masseuse” type fashion. 

A photo of a photo- it’s “post modern ” 😉

(I must get some nice baby moisturiser that is enviro / world friendly – hints anyone? Using foodstuffs just feels odd).

She loves it and I think it calms her a little. A lot less food is thrown at dinner.

I love it too.

FAMILY CUDDLE TIME

Taking time to lie on a bed or the couch and quietly talk, stroke and cuddle your baby together for just a few minutes a day can help you to reconnect and develop as a family. “

This one was easy when I thought about it. 

Every morning after bub wakes up she curls up in a seat made of my tummy as the backrest and a pillow as the base. As I’m not quite ready to get up at still dark o’clock she will feed and doze then move onto feeding and watching Bollywood clips on Instagram or cats or miniature horses or ballet. Mainly Bollywood as I wake up. She’ll also quietly play with one or two of her soft toys- pretend picnics are popular.

 In between all of this are snack feeds and throughout it all I  have my hand on her back or am playing with her hair.

I also haven’t been able to fall asleep without one hand touching her from the moment she was born (that made hospital fun)

Unless I’m misreading it- there is family cuddle time. Oh plus all the cooking/walking in a sling. But that might be more outdoor play…


QUIET PLAY

Quiet play is a great way of relaxing baby before bedtime. Many parents recognize the value of a night time routine, but extending it a little further and incorporating some relaxing play can help your baby look forward to bedtime and sleep for longer. Begin by dimming lights, turning off any screens and keeping talking to a minimum. Some popular ideas are playing with lights such as fairy lights and small torches, bubbles, making shadow puppet shapes on the wall and slowly singing a favorite nursery rhyme or lullaby.”

This one was already in place before I started with this pin. 

From birth at night we’ve had lights dimmed , special lullabies and stories.( I can’t manage the no screen though (PTSD/Anxiety etc I need distracting) so screen is small and silent (love subtitles) & only on when bub is going to sleep.)

Currently her bedtime routine is massage time, candle & story time, dinner and song time- anything from Bic Runga to Teddy Bears Picnic, bath or shower with mum, PJs while musical star plays (As soon as star goes on no more grown up conversations), her lamp on, story with M while I finish getting set up to feed/hold bub for 4 hours or so, feed (sometimes feeeeeeeeeeed) and sleep. 

Quiet play – Sorted before I even knew it was helping!

Bubs lamp- another Ishka purchase

(Recently bub has started watching the screen more- while not worried I am wary when she asks for “candle show?” (watching an Indian historical drama series- many candles) on the plus side maybe she’s learning Hindi or how to read already…or maybe not. I don’t think it’s any worse than those Fisher Price lenticular light shows that were around when I was small but just in case were switching from laptop to tablet.)
So there we are. 

Is bub more relaxed? Sometimes.

More calm? Sometimes. 

But life has also during the time I was doing this given her a lot to deal with- massively stressed parents, upset mum, unwell siblings and several arguments – not to mention immunizations. 

So I’m going to keep trying it all because I like it. 

I like knowing I’m helping and making her world better and bigger and if nothing else giving her the chance to make jokes and see babies massaged in India.
I’ll update you when I write my post on making her “relaxation corner” (is it just me, or is “relaxation corner” starting to sound a bit like those 70s ish ultra hippy but want to be living in the 60s not now and took a very wrong turn  parents (i.e. Ben Lee’s parents in ‘The Rage in Placid Lake? – love that movie) would use as a ‘naughty step? Or does the word pod need to be incorporated for that?)

Here’s some bits I moved from earlier about how headspace works with bub & political vegetarianism. I do go on sometimes!

Headspace for Toddlers

All I know is- and I’ve got no idea if it’s working in a mindful therapy way- but if we listen to Andy – be it the duck one (calm), the icy pole one (kindness), or even the glasses one (focus) and talk about them as they run for their one minute that bub will ask for more. 

Also she remembers things from them and talks about them. 

She very seriously told me “Bears in big bath” during dinner a few nights ago “eating bubbles” was the punchline and caused much laughter. 

The “focus” meditation uses frogs & a stream- the first time we did it I realised I wasn’t sure that she could imagine a frog or a stream so I talked about what if they were teddy bears and for stream – water. 

Bub added the big bath & eating bubbles (something that I spend quite a bit of bathtime trying to get her not to do) 

Also the ‘kindness’ exercise asks them to imagine someone they love and giving them something they really want. 

As we did this I suggested “Daddy” & “ Coffee and a big hug”.

 Next morning when Daddy went to get coffee, bub cried ‘Big Hug!’ & leapt at him.
So something is working somewhere there.

*in the same way I’m not a political vegetarian – I’m vegetarian for various reasons but I don’t feel the need to make you vegetarian. . Eat or don’t. It affects me not. I’d  rather you didn’t try to convince me to eat meat though. Try replacing vegetarian with co-sleeps and eat too and you’ll have a poorly constructed sentence that hopefully explains my position.