To Make or To Break...
The power of words...
I am learning the power of words, specifically the power of my words! It is not a pretty lesson, but it is one that needed to be taught - and in my situation, the sooner the better; far less damage done this way.
See my son has so far been what I would call 'an easy baby'... he doesn't appear to have any of the challenges we faced with Button (reflux, allergies, severe wind etc); however I am aware that until he is 8 weeks old, I can't rule out the possibility that these may yet flare up and cause problems.
Despite that - Button, from her first night, started screaming and didn't stop until we got reflux medication into her at about 6-8 months; so even if he does have some, or all of these issues, he deals with them in a completely different manner, which in turn is making my life easier (currently).
The problem being - is how I describe the difference between these two... I have realised, on listening to myself, that I tend to 'lay blame' at Button's door for the rough start we had. It was NOT her fault, and she didn't do this to make my life miserable - and yet, that has been how I have looked back on that time. I understand that part of the reason behind why I think like that is related to the Post-Natal Depression I succumbed to; but that is no excuse, especially now that I am through all that.
I love this child to pieces - she is everything to us, and I can't imagine my life without her, wouldn't want to imagine my life without her... but it took a long time for me to 'feel' this; I knew it, but I didn't feel it for the first six months. So when I look back on her first year, I feel quite apathetic about it all, and forget (almost) that this is a little person who is now starting to understand in far more depth, things that I say to other people.
I don't want her to grow up believing that I think she is 'difficult', that I don't love her as much as her brother, or that I blame her for the PND - these are not her issues, they're mine. She needs, and has the right, to grow up secure and confident in who she is, and where she stands within our family.
It dawned on me recently that every time I say these things outloud in front of her, I am damaging her spirit... every time someone asks me how things are going, and I smile and tell them that 'lil M is a dream compared to his sister - I am causing untold harm on her psyche. I know, that as parents, we're not perfect, and my child is not going to grow up in a perfect home and come out totally undamaged by us; but I don't need to make it worse due to constant thoughtless comments and words.
I was talking to a friend the other day - she has also 'been there, and done that'; her eldest (son) had the silent reflux and allergies like Button, and she has now got a 5 month old daughter who has been a dream; because although her girl also struggles with the reflux, they got onto it a lot sooner and she is a happy little one. We were talking about the difference between our two kids, and how much easier it was to 'feel' the love for the second child... I ended up in tears due to the guilt associated with Button's early months and my lack of ability to cope. Apparently this perceived 'lack of love' (or bonding is probably a better word - we both knew we loved our kids; but we didn't bond with them easily) is 'normal' in 'our situation', as well as the guilt that accompanies it.
Another good friend I know, whose eldest child also suffered, and who was the first person to tell me something was wrong - has always said that until you've been there, you'll never understand. And that is so true... I am grappling with the words to describe the depth of the guilt, the worry, the fatigue due to the constant screaming. Watching your child in pain and not being able to do anything does something to you, it screws you up; because as a parent, especially when your children are small, you're supposed to be able to fix all their problems, take all their pain away. And yet, of all the big and little things associated with a sick child - the worst is the way it plays with your head; 'Is this my fault?', 'Why is my child the one who constantly screams?', 'Am I a bad parent?', 'Is there something really wrong with her, or am I being a drama queen?' and the best one of all, 'Maybe I am not cut out to be a Mum after all?'.
This is the friend who brought to my attention how I talk about Button - she even inferred that the way I speak of her can almost come across as though I don't love her. That is so totally the opposite to how I feel; but it slammed home the importance of my words... If that is what others are 'hearing', then what is Button hearing? Children are such literal beings, that she could grow up completely believing that I didn't/don't love her; oh what this does to my Mother's heart.
So I am learning to say to people our first year was difficult due to Button's health problems, but the second made up for it - Button was better and I came out from under the depression, and there was a lot of fun had. She is the sweetest easiest toddler ever; maybe I am biased, but she really is the sweetest, easiest AND cutest toddler EVER! Seriously - you can ask her Dad or her Grandparents, they'll back me up, honest ;-)!!!!
If you're concerned about your baby - check out this website for a list of symptoms and much more...