If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that the last almost-three years of my life has been very much shaped by the traumatic birth of Sausage, and how angry I am about the circumstances surrounding it all. But, although I’ve written my birth story, both on here and for Maternity Matters, I’m not sure I’ve ever really gone into detail about how it’s really affected me.
I mentioned in a blog post recently that I used to be an outdoorsy, summery type person, but how I now like it when it rains as it takes the pressure off of me, in terms of leaving the house. No one expects you to take a small person out of the house for a non-essential trip when it’s pissing down outside, do they? This means that we can stay in the house, within our little cocoon, where it’s safe and familiar. About a year and a half ago, when I thought I was doing better with the PTSD, I was on the bus home from town with Sausage when I had a weird vision that a car was going to drive into the side of the bus. It sounds so crap to say vision, but I can’t think of any other way to put it. Think ‘Final Destination’; it was that realistic, I saw the car driving into the side of the bus, the section that Sausage and I were sitting in, and in that split second I calculated all of the ways that I could dive in front of the pushchair and protect her. I’m certain this was all down to the residual feelings of guilt and resentment about not being able to protect her during her birth, but nevertheless, I go so worked up that I got off of the bus about 6 stops early and walked the rest of the way because I was SO convinced that a car would crash into the bus. God knows what my poor Husband thought when I burst through the door, 20 minutes later, sobbing, unable to properly breathe and talking about a bus crash.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve had many moments like this and have become accustomed to the fear and anxiety that I feel on an almost daily basis. Every decision that Husband and I make regarding Sausage is doubly analysed and picked over, we know we’re what some people might consider to be over-protective, but it’s the only way we know how to function. Most parents are happy for their kids to go to playschool. I feel like someone is sitting on my chest when I think about sending her to playschool.
Along with the constant fear and anxiety, I also have regular injections of guilt, when I feel like I’m holding her back because of my anxiety. But I comfort myself with the fact that she’s loving, bright and very forward. At our last Health Visitor appointment, Sausage was described as ‘exceptional’ and completed tests deigned for a five-year-old. She’s good with other kids too, we took her to our local soft play centre recently and she and another little girl latched onto one another and ran around holding hands, laughing and playing the entire time. But I still feel guilty. I think I always will.
Things that are normal to other people will never be normal to me. We live in a bungalow, a fairly small one, and despite the fact that the bedrooms and the living room are all off of one very small hallway, when Sausage falls asleep at night she stays in the lounge, asleep on the sofa, until Husband and I go to bed. If we do put her in bed, which we’ve been doing a lot more recently, we sit in Husbands office for the evening, because it’s closer to the bedroom. And when I say bedroom, I mean OUR bedroom. Sausage has her toddler bed in our room and I’m just not ready to even conceive of the idea of putting her in her own room. I honestly don’t think I’d get a wink of sleep if she were two doors away.
It’s never easy to talk about mental health, or the effect that it has on us, but it can be even harder to put those issues into actual real-life terms. Yes, we have the flashbacks, the anger and the sadness, but it’s how we translate all of this into our daily lives to make them work that’s important. No, I don’t like to take Sausage on trains, which means I don’t take her on visits and people are missing out on seeing her growing up. I feel bad about this, I really do. But I need people to know why I am the way I am. And trust me, it’s not easy. Not doing things is by no means the easiest decision. I can only hope that one day, I’ll get better. But until then, I just have to get by.