You’ll Never Want For Love


Before entering the realm of Motherhood, I truly never understood just how strongly I could feel about someone else. I’d always considered myself to be empathetic and emotionally astute but even then, I could also be so emotionally detached. As far as Motherhood went, I’ve kept no secrets that it wasn’t something I was looking forward to.

It always felt so hard to relate to those who swore I’d feel differently once you and your Sister arrived. Babies made me uncomfortable, nervous and a little scared. Even around your cousins and friends, I couldn’t relax in the company of infants. I didn’t know how to hold them – how to comfort them or reassure them. I assumed, in plain, that this wouldn’t change once I had my own treasures to care for. 
It’s true though – what they say – you are always different with your own. Yes, it took me a few weeks to settle into the role of Mother but once I had, I knew it was my calling. 

Both you and your Sister arrived into our lives like tornados! You came in screaming, threatening to disturb the peace, life-changing and altering all in an instant. You changed me eternally, made me so scared to envisage a life then without you…taught me true pain, true heart ache, true love. You showed me the flaws of my soul, showed me a way to want to be better! 

Your Sister arrived even more turbulently, traumatic and harrowing, she taught us all that tragedy is real – that our lives aren’t protected, shouldn’t be taken for granted. Even though her story ends positively, her entrance made us all aware of just how precious life can be. She confirmed what you’d already taught me – that no one else matters, no one else is just as important as you two. 


That’s why – you’ll never want for love!

Life has been challenging recently, more challenging than I’m ready to admit aloud. Your Sister’s poor immune system seems to have darkened our spirits, left us all feeling vulnerable and exposed. It’s made me question my parenting, evaluate how I can ensure you’re both safe from harm’s way.

It has matured you massively. It saddens me so much that at the age of three, you’re already so aware of the signs to look out for. You’re anxious and cautious, protective and caring. So caring! At the age of three, your imaginative play consists of administering your Sister her inhaler and medicine. You tell me to check on her, that she’s coughing and poorly. You worry so much;  I worry that your heart is burdened by things you shouldn’t even be aware of. 

The past few hospital visits have hit you harder than we all could have imagined. I sense it still plays on your mind, still lingers in your thoughts. 

Suddenly, you’re nervous about me leaving. 

38 months we managed without you being needy. 38 months we survived without attachment issues…and yet here they are! 

You were only nine months when Siena entered so poorly. The five weeks we spent in hospital should be a distant memory by now but they aren’t. Moments of recent have taught us just how much they affected you. Last time Siena was in hospital, you cried for me for nearly three weeks after we returned. Even when I was there – even with my arms around you!


I remember distinctly a moment not long after we came home. I’d ran downstairs quickly to answer the door, leaving you and your Sister on the 1st floor. When I returned, moments later, your cries were so violent you’d nearly vomited. When I asked why you were crying, you told me “I’m crying for Mammy”. 

One sentence, one small simple sentence broke my heart in an instant. Baby, you never have to cry for me. 

Sibling rivalry was also something we manage to go unscathed by…although, undoubtedly, we’ve seen small glimpses of it…this wasn’t something that has ever truly affected us. Yet, it’s something that seems to be play a huge part in every day. You’ve become jealous of your Sister, resentful of the extra time and care she needs. I can understand it, it mustn’t seem fair that she gets to be carried for most of the day. I see it in your eyes (you’ve told me honestly, aloud), you want me just as much as she needs me. 

It’s hard for you – having a sister with Cerebral Palsy affects you in ways I don’t think I’m even sure of. At most, we don’t give you credit for just how amazing you are! We expect so much understanding from you, expect you to help us when all you want is to be three…and free as all children your age are. 


I wish I could magically change things for you. I wish I didn’t need to care for your Sister additionally. You know she needs extra support, for the main, you’re brilliant and understanding but I can see how it pains you – I can see why you feel the need to act out.

I can’t promise you the world. I can’t promise that I can protect you from heartache, from failure or hardships (although I swear to do my best to prevent them). I can’t promise your future will be easy, that you’ll get everything you ever need or want…but I can promise that you’ll never want for love. 

What Motherhood taught me was that selflessly, my life is no longer my own. For now…it belongs to you and your Sister! Whilst you’re both so young and so needy, I’m yours as you need me! To cuddle, to protect, to make you feel better…to be tough when I need to be! For every fall, for every scrape or scratch – my lips are for kissing you both better…my arms are for wrapping you up and making you feel the extent of my love.

And of course, I promise that I’m never leaving so please don’t ever cry for me – I’m doing my best to make you feel that you’ll never want for my love, attention or affection.

It’s already all for you and your Sister!

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I Could No Longer See You

  
You scared me today; scared me more than I’ve felt since the day your sister arrived nine weeks prem. You scared me intensely, deeply, painfully.
You made me recognise every Mother’s worst nightmare, presented me with how it would feel to go on living life without you.
You wandered off…in a crowd…where I could no longer see you.

  
It happened so quickly, my eyes left you for a brief moment to attend to your sister. There were four adults amongst the party, I stupidly assumed someone else would be watching you. As it happens, they weren’t. We weren’t. 
“Where’s Tristan?” I asked, trying not to jump to conclusions. In the end, the conclusion was drawn that you were no longer in sight.
I can honestly say, in that moment, my heart stopped. There was no longer time to hide my panic, there was no time to figure which direction you’d wandered into. 
Instinctively, I ran. I ran and I screamed and I screamed and my heart pounded and I fought back the tears. 
I bellowed from the very pit of my stomach. I chanted rhythmically “Tristan, Tristan” but you didn’t answer.

 
A few moments felt like a lifetime. I found myself in the centre of a freeze-frame, only I was moving. I looked around at the passers by whom appeared to be standing still in time. ‘Why aren’t they helping? Why hasn’t anyone seen you?’ I thought, angrily. 
My mind was cluttered with images I didn’t want to see, thoughts I’d do anything to avoid. Had you been taken? Had someone had the chance to snatch you? You’re insanely beautiful (and not even from a biased view), I can imagine that would make you a prime target. Had you fallen? We were standing on a walkway beside a penguin enclosure, had you tried to climb in?
Either way, I was imagining the worst possible thoughts. Was I going to find you injured or worse? Was I never going to find you? My heart hurt with such vivid and intense pain. A TV programme popped into my head – a man had been at a Football match with his son, he’d left go of his hand for a second to chant at a goal. The boy had wandered off, was never found. I pictured poor Madeline McCann and how her parents must have felt (if innocent) upon discovering her abduction. I thought of James Bulger and how easily he’d been led astray. This could have been our future, this very easily could have been our reality.
Thankfully, it wasn’t.
By the time I’d raced back to my starting point, you were snuggled tightly into the chest of your Grandad. His face was that of relief, delight. He’d found you chasing after two small boys. They were racing and you’d been eager to join in.
I was so mad at you. I was so mad at myself! But I couldn’t show it or express it. I wanted to grab you, wrap my arms tightly around you and never let you go. I wanted to kiss you repeatedly and feel your warm breath on my ear as I cuddled you. I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry with joy and gratification but also for all the Mothers who had found them self in such a harrowing situation. 

  
I felt shit. Utterly shit.
I’m your Mother, I should have never let you out of my sight, regardless of who else I was with. I need to have tighter control of you, I need you to learn that you can’t follow strangers.
One thing’s for sure, I can NEVER feel that way again. So I’m sorry Son, that sheer desire for freedom you have, it’s not working for me. From now on, you’re never leaving my side.

  

Heartbreaker, You’ve Got the Best of Me.

  
You broke my heart today; you made it ache. I wish I could say that this was an isolated occasion but you break it more the older you become. 
You’re only two – how can I blame you for such anguish and pain? How can I say you’re the cause of such hurt?

I know that two is typically an age of change and unrest. You’re developing quicker than your mind can handle. You’re advancing so fast but this leaves you conflicted and confused. 
You WANT to be able to do things. You somehow seem to think you know best – it’s suddenly became about ‘your way’ or no-one else’s. You can’t handle us telling you otherwise. You despise the concept of control. I can no longer expect you to sit in a highchair, the gate on your door represents entrapment and boundaries. Boundaries you’re eager to explore. 
I had naively thought that the whole ‘body launching’ off the floor was just a Media depiction created for comedy value. As it happens, that stage is very much real…and not funny in the slightest. Today, you’ve thrown yourself towards every surface you’ve encountered – including the floor of a particularly busy restaurant. You’ve left me twitching with anger, raw with embarrassment. 
You’ve climbed out of your car seat and launched yourself towards the base of the car, legs pointing towards the ceiling.
You’ve even attempted body-diving straight from the bath!
It was this last occasion which caused my heart to break. I can’t even tell you why you were crying. Most frustratingly, neither can you yet. It started as we made the ascent towards the bathroom. We bypassed the lounge and subsequently, your beloved Dinosaur Adventure. This, I assume, can be the only catalyst which kickstarted such violent tantrum-ing. You howled immediately. So much so, it was unbearable trying to remove your clothing.
Thinking the gentle lull of the bath water would soothe you, I manically tried to get you into the tub. I was convinced that as soon as the menthol bubbles caressed you, you’d fall silent. Instead, you fell face first!

  
Luckily, I was at hand to catch you but the impact caused you to bite down on your tongue. As blood smothered your face, you smothered into mine in a bid to find comfort. You no longer craved the floor but the tender embrace of my arms. I was there for you.
There to wipe away the blood, sweat and tears. There to clean up your face and kiss better your ouchies. There to reassure you that you were safe and unscathed. 
As you settled, I nursed you in my arms. Cradled you like I once had at three in the morning. I blew on your skin and whispered lullabies in your ear. As soon as I recognised you were calm and controlled, I carried you to bed.
But you didn’t want to be alone.You needed me to stay. 

  
I guiltily scampered from the room, denyingly believing you’d settle quite soon. As I bolted downstairs, I held my breath – desperate to escape the blackmail of your cry. “Leave him” your Dad barked, “he needs to cry it out” he insisted…but this is something I’m incapable of! 
Listening to the panic in your cry, I understood how much you needed me. How could I leave you pleading my name? How could I teach you that I wouldn’t be there in your most vulnerable moments?
As I entered your room, your eyes told me your pain. You were no longer a two year old but that newborn boy who was so scared of the world. I climbed in beside you and you wrapped your arms so tightly around me, petrified I’d leave again. 
I’m not going anywhere baby. I’m never going anywhere! 
Your usual desire to be free makes me worry about our future. I know there’ll come a day when you embark on your own adventure, when you’ll cast me aside for a wife or a partner. It won’t be me that you need to settle you forever. Someone else will be responsible for kissing your ouchies goodbye. That breaks my heart!
So, as I lie beside you right now, heart-broken from your tantrum, I admit that my heart aches for my little boy. I know that I’ll always be your Mother but I have to admit that mine will be the first heart you’ll ever truly break.
All I can do, is promise I’ll never break yours in return. 
When you’re older and someone dares attempt to break your heart, just remember that my arms will always be there to carry you. My neck will always be poised for you to hang from, my heart will always be filled with enough love to last you a lifetime.  

  

Ready, Steady…Eat

  
I’ve never shied away from admitting that my approach to Motherhood pre-baby was to believe everything I saw on TV. I entered Motherhood fully accepting that the Disney version was EXACTLY how it would be. 
Obviously, now I know that I’d set myself up for a harder fall.
My understanding of babies was that all they loved to do was eat, sleep and poo…and even though that wasn’t really far off the truth, I had no idea of real-life issues such as: day and night confusion, reflux, colic and constipation. Ignorantly, I expected my son to arrive in this world as a natural faeces-passing, milk guzzling sleep addict. He was none of the above!
I’ve spoken about his sleep habits before but what I haven’t mentioned is that the only way I knew to get him to sleep was with milk; detrimental as this sometimes was. 

  
Like many first time Mothers, I’d believed that breastfeeding was the only way forward. In truth, I struggled much more than I’d ever thought possible. Having suffered badly with jaundice, Tristan had been given formula much to my dismay. I hadn’t had time to research, I only knew the name of one brand! Desperately, I clung to breastfeeding with much stealth but my milk supply just was no longer enough to satisfy his newly-stretched full stomach. He’d take to my nipple but he’d instantly fall asleep. After two weeks, Tristan had lost so much body weight that the decision was made for me by the midwife – I had to swap fully to formula.
This wasn’t easy; not just because of my desire to breastfeed but because Tristan didn’t seem to like formula any more than my milk. Well, I mean, he both loved it and hated it all at the same time.
Tristan struggled to digest formula. I knew babies should posset after a feed but I didn’t know how much was normal or acceptable…so I plodded on thinking his sickness was just what happened. After most bottles, he’d vomit even up to three hour after. Sometimes this would be projectile, sometimes it would be trickle after trickle. Each time, he’d scream in pain. It was a vicious circle, he’d demand a bottle, he’d crave the soothing silky liquid then he’d cry in agony.
I recall one time, he’d cried all morning. He wanted feeding but I just didn’t know if I was doing right by giving him a bottle and inflicting more pain. Obviously, I fed him and the crying stopped…for minutes. Needing a break from the constant screech, I put him in his Moses basket and left the room. How long was I gone? Maybe minutes, maybe even only seconds but I needed it. I needed to walk away, count to ten, let the tears roll and collect my sanity. When I re-entered the room, his delicate little face was covered in a thick white substance. It was in his eyes, his eyebrows, his nose, his ears. He’d been sick and I hadn’t seen it. He could have choked and I wouldn’t have been there, I was mortified at myself! It was the last straw, I knew I needed professional help.
The Dr. Prescribed Tristan infant Gaviscon – apparently, he had reflux. He also told me to swap to ‘comfort’ milk. I did both and was so relieved that the sickness stopped almost immediately. Problem solved? If only!
The change to Tristan’s diet caused constipation. We swapped crying through reflux for crying through this instead. Equally, both were as soul-destroying as the other. Throw colic into the mix and you can imagine, life wasn’t the dream we’d been expecting. 
We put all our hopes into believing that weaning early would be the answer. So, at 4 months, we ventured into the world of ‘baby food’. It wasn’t what we’d been expecting – Tristan’s constipation became worse and he flatly refused to drink water. We were, once again, at a stage of desperation. Quitting almost as quickly as we’d started, we decided that we’d have to wait for another two months. Nerves grew worse as we approached 6 months, knowing we’d have to wean again. Would it work? I couldn’t handle seeing my baby in so much pain again.
Thankfully, He was ready! 

  
I’d love to tell you that this was the answer to our prayers but Tristan’s relationship with food has never been one I’m proud of. It’s always made me feel like a failure. I’ve spent too many nights begging him to eat, I’ve even had a few moments I’m not proud of myself. I’ve shouted, I’ve cried, I’ve forcefully held the spoon to his lips. All of which have made me feel so horrid that I’ve even lost my own appetite. I’ve tried everything, all the techniques that would usually work. The ‘you feed me and I’ll feed you’ was definitely the worst! 
There was a time that I blamed Tristan’s attitude to food on the anguish he felt when his sister arrived prematurely and poorly. It’s taken me a long time to admit that his issues were there long before his sister was born. 
As he grows older, his desire for food comes in phases. He’ll have weeks were he’s hungry, where I can feed him everything from Avacado to Zuccini (see what I did there, A-Z?). Then, there’s times when he’ll only eat sausage. As he grows older, I’m learning to feel less guilt. He’ll eat when he’s ready…

  
At the moment, he’ll only eat if I chant ‘ready, steady…Eat’. Who am I to argue with that?

  

Just You and I

  

Do you remember the time when I was all yours? When you were all mine and the world was all ours?
Do you remember the days we’d spend completely together? Nothing could dampen our spirits, not even the weather? 
Do you remember the nights you’d sleep in my arms? No anxieties ahead of us, no need for alarms?
Do you remember the days we’d spend in the park? Out in the country until it became dark? 
Do you remember the sound of my soft lullaby? I’d sing to you every time you started to cry?
Do you remember the long savoured afternoon cuddles? Or the times we’d venture outside to go splashing in puddles?
Do you remember the moments you’d look in my eyes? It still makes me feel like I’ve won the best prize.
Do you remember the way you’d smile as you saw me? It was amazing to know that I’d made you happy?
Do you remember the times I cried out of joy? You were all that I’d dreamed of, my perfect boy.
So,
Do you remember the time when I was all yours? When you were all mine and the world was all ours?
I remember it clearly, I could never forget. You made me a Mother, something I’ll never regret.
I remember so vividly, those times, you and I. You still make me proud as life passes us by.
Your cuddles I cherish, your kisses are divine. I love you like crazy and I’m in awe that you’re mine!

  
Love you baby, your Mama xx

I’m Just Waiting For You to Need Me

You had a nightmare last night. Woke up screaming at 2am. For a while, you were inconsolable, obviously still affected by the images haunting your dreams.

I thought you’d want your Daddy so I sent him to calm you. You always want your Daddy.

This time was different, it was my name you chanted when you saw him enter your room. Daddy wouldn’t do, you needed your Mother’s touch.

I scooped you up and you instantly wrapped your arms around my neck, allowed your legs to coil around my waist and nuzzled your head into my neck.

I held you as you sobbed loudly and erratically. I rocked you and reassured you that everything would be alright. I took you to my bed and held your body until you were completely soothed. Then, I lay with you until you fell back to sleep.

The feeling was bittersweet.

Partly, I felt saddened by your distress. It broke my heart to see you hurting, to watch you cry with fear in your eyes. Yet, partly I felt happy.

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For so long, I’ve worried about our bond. It’s never me you crave, never me you look for. Since Siena was born, I worry that you’ve learnt to take comfort in others first. I’ve anxiously wondered whether you became accustomed to my negligence, if you learnt to turn to others when Mammy couldn’t be there for you.

I never want you to feel that way. That, in itself, breaks my heart more that anything else ever could. I’ll always be there for you and I’ll always love you unconditionally.

When Siena was born, her prematurity and illness meant her needs were momentarily greater than yours. I tried my very best to make sure you didn’t notice. But I guess you did.

Before she arrived, we were so close. I was your comforter, your entertainer, your best friend. I was yours. You loved me and I knew it, I felt it in those delicate moments we shared. Your cottage pie kisses were gentle and tender. Your cuddles were long and generous.

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Now, I wonder whether you feel differently about me.

It’s no longer me you cry for. It’s no longer me you turn to for comfort or for fun. I sense the disappointment when it’s me you get and not your Dad.

I don’t know how to fix the distance between us. I look at other women with their sons and cry that our bond isn’t the same. I love you insanely and want you to be aware of that.

It breaks my heart when you push me away, when you cry because your Daddy has left and you’re stuck with me. When I ask you for a kiss and you turn your head, when I try to cuddle you but you kick away.

I wonder if you’re angry with me, if you feel as though your love wasn’t enough? It was baby. It would have always been enough. Your love could move mountains. Your love taught me what love actually was.

Once Siena arrived, I made special effort to still do things together. Your Art class was meant to be an opportunity for us to still do fun things together, our Monday’s were also Mother and Son fun days. Then I returned to work and the gulf between us intensified.

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So, tonight, as you cried, I selfishly took comfort in your neediness. You cried for me and that meant the world.

As you grow, I hope our bond does too. I want you to know that I’ll always be the person there for you first. I’ll listen to your problems, wipe away your tears and always care about your hopes and dreams. I’ll hold your hand through hardships and celebrations. I’ll kiss your scraped knees and mend your hurts. I’ll always be ready to comfort you.

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I’m just waiting for you to need me.

The Twinkle Diaries

I Survived the Baby Blues

 Before my children were born, I lived in a world of ignorant bliss. My idealistic views of Motherhood stemmed from American Soap Operas and Chick Flicks. They were, in truth, Disney influenced. 

That’s why, when my children were born, I suffered so badly with guilt. As a new Mam, I’d no idea of the trials and tribulations each day would hold. My visions were cloud lined with images of me cradling my newborn, cheesy grinning, prancing abound my living room like Mary Poppins. It wasn’t that I expected it to be easy, it was how the Media had led me to believe.
I expected that my son, Tristan, would be placed in my arms and I’d cry with happiness. That I’d scoop him up in a loving embrace and declare to the rest of the world ‘it’s okay, I’ve got this’. I expected that when he cried, I’d know instinctively what he wanted and how to handle him. I expected him to latch to my breast harmonious and feed like he’d been waiting for me forever. Only now, a full year on, am I ready to speak the truth.
Tristan’s birth had been slightly traumatic. I pushed for hours upon end without any medication. I’d been allowed to continue pushing because his heart rate had not faltered, he was not feeling the same distress as I. However, it became apparent that something wasn’t right. Tristan was lying on an angle that would prohibit him from coming naturally. I was taken to theatre and given a spinal block in preparation for an emergency C-Section if his heart rate plummeted whilst moving him. In the end, no C-Section was required but I was left paralysed from the armpits down.
As I lay exhausted and convulsing from the medication, the midwife cleaned Tristan up then rested him on my chest. This was the moment I’d been waiting for. The moment where I was meant to kiss his blood stained head and cry. Instead, I froze. ‘Somebody take him’ I sobbed. I didn’t have the confidence. I was tired and didn’t have control of my arms. How would I protect him if he rolled?
So there it was, the most important moment in my life and I was already a failure. But was I? The dream is, and always has been, that you’ll look dotingly into your baby’s eyes and immediately bond. I loved my son immediately, intensively but I didn’t bond with him as quickly as I’d hoped. I remember being scared of him, thinking that I wasn’t what he wanted, thinking that he didn’t like me (I know, ridiculous right?) However, many mothers feel this way. Many new mothers have experiences like myself.  This doesn’t seem to stop us lying through our teeth and saying aloud what society wants us to say. We all contribute to the Media’s representation of immediate Motherhood.
So what else do we lie about? I remember being asked a million times whether my son was ‘good’. ‘Oh he’s a dream’ I’d state ‘he’s just the best baby EVER’. What I meant was ‘he cries…all the time. I don’t know what I’m doing. If he’s good then it’s definitely me that’s bad. Oh god, I must be rubbish’. I remember one awkward moment with my male next door neighbour who dared ask me this question on the wrong day at the wrong time. He got my honest response. ‘Welcome to parenthood’ he declared. ‘We all felt that way to begin’. This was a revelation. If we all feel this way, why don’t we say it?
The guilt I felt in the 1st few months will never leave me. There’ll always be a part of me that feels massively ashamed. I felt guilty that I didn’t know how to soothe my crying baby within milliseconds. I felt guilty that I didn’t know how to read his mind. I felt guilty that I struggled to wake four times a night for feeds. I felt guilty that I wanted to cry so much. I felt guilty for feeling so scared. I felt guilty that I no longer had time to listen to my husband. I felt guilty for giving birth when I so clearly wasn’t equipt. I felt guilty because sometimes I found it hard to smile. I felt guilty because I was, so clearly, a million miles away from the Mary Poppins Mother I’d dreamt of being. On the whole, I felt guilty because I was the only one feeling like this. I looked at other mothers, I saw the way the beamed and glowed. I felt low and anxious that I’d never be like them. I looked at other mothers and saw the way the looked at me. I immediately believed that they’d guessed my secret, they knew how utterly weak I was.
With my second child, I vowed that I’d do things
completely differently. I wanted, because I knew the score by now, to be in control. When she arrived 9 weeks early, I was thrust into a new turmoil. Yet again, I missed my movie moment of feeling her against my chest (I had her for 30 seconds and we did cry this time, through joy that she was breathing). I thought that when she came home, I’d take over from the NICU nurses and be exactly what she wanted/needed. Yet again, I found myself pacing the floor at times unable to satisfy her and doubting myself.

It took me three weeks to fully adjust to Motherhood. That was, three weeks of making myself Ill with torture. Don’t get me wrong, and I know you’ll understand me, I LOVED my babies. I loved them so much that my heart would literally beat outside of my chest. The worry and anxiety I felt was all BECAUSE I loved them more that I’d ever known possible. The pressure I put on myself was all because I wanted to be the very best for them. It took me three weeks to learn that these feelings were normal, that many new mothers feel exactly that same as I did. It’s taken me a full year to say this out loud. And even now, I know there’ll be some who judge me. Some who will never understand because they never felt that way. I envy them but only for their ‘perfect’ transition. A full year on and I’m confident in my abilities. I hold my head high (even throughout the tantrums) and KNOW that I’m good. My children are happy, they’re blessed with a loving home. Their laughter and smiles reassure me that I’m on track and…eventually…I can say ‘it’s okay, I’ve got this’.

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