Separation Anxiety

Babies, when they are around 6 months old, often start to get anxious when their mother or father leaves the room. They will reach a stage where they will scream until she comes back, wailing as if the world will end just because she has gone to the kitchen and then hold their arms up desperately as if they have been waiting all day to be picked up. This is something which is, for the parent in question, upsetting, annoying and probably slightly gratifying at the same time. I say probably because, though I have seen several other people go through this, Hannah hasn’t reached that stage and hopefully never will. But this post isn’t about Hannah. It’s about me.

I think my baby is the most beautiful baby that was ever born, even more gorgeous than Prince George, and he is seriously cute (I wonder if Hannah will ever have to wonder whether it’s wrong to fancy the King …) and I am totally in love with her. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me and we have been together for 15 months- longer than some marriages. And while I started this journey not having much of an idea at all about how to look after her, I am pretty sure I know what’s best for her and would bite the head off anyone who told me how to raise my child. Raising her is the sole responsibility of me and my husband and always will be.

I don’t want you to get the impression that I am some kind of over protective lioness; I’m really not. The first time I left her – to go to the hairdressers over the road- I briefly cried and then an enormous sense of freedom came over me. In the end, while I didn’t enjoy leaving her, I was comfortable with the people who were looking after her and knew that I would be back in 3 hours. On that occasion I was more upset about the disastrous highlights I ended up with that I had waited a year for. I’m very happy for her grandparents to look after her, and made the decision about 2 months ago to join a gym and leave her in its crèche while I worked out (you wouldn’t know it to look at me). That was weird but I knew that it was a good crèche and that I would be back in a couple of hours. But the other day I took her for a settling in visit at her nursery and I think that is what has set me off….

The nursery in question has an excellent reputation and I am totally convinced that the staff there will take great care of my little girl; more so because they did an excellent job with my wonderful nephews who are growing up to be happy, confident and capable young men. I want the same for her. So why was I getting tearful when they started to look for a date for a home visit? Was it because my house is a complete tip? No. It was because putting her in nursery is now getting very real. There’s only a month to go now. I know I’ve written blog posts that are along similar lines in the past but as D Day approaches I find myself feeling more and more guilty, more and more like I want to kiss her all the time and less and less like I want to leave her with anyone- even when she is being a complete toerag and I feel like putting my head on a blender. Even today at the gym I couldn’t get into it as much as I would usually and I think it’s because she was crying when I left….

I clearly need to toughen up and accept that while no one will love my daughter like I do, no one can ever love me like she does either and that other people can enrich her life and advance her development far more than I can alone. So my fervent hope is that we are now bonded for life- me to her and her to me (at least until she leaves home) and that when she comes home in the evening she will still need me and love me as much as she does now. It will be OK because it has to be OK, and if so many other women can rear a happy baby and bring home the bacon I know I have that capacity too. But I tell you right now, one of the hardest things I will ever have to do will be that first drop off at nursery, and I pray it will get easier. My boss had better prepare himself….!

Perhaps you have had similar concerns or could even offer me some pearls of wisdom…..?

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Who am I?

The other day I asked my husband if he thought that motherhood had changed me.  He said “yeah, you’re calmer and more patient”.  That doesn’t sound like the stresshead I though I was. Am I still me? About 18 months ago, if you asked me to describe my life I would have said it was pretty free and easy.  I had a job that was interesting and fulfilling, I had lost a load of weight and physically at least felt great, I had long highlighted blonde hair.  Evenings were spent cooking something yummy or, if we were tired, in a local restaurant.  We’d spend weekends in the pub or watching a good film on TV after a long lye-in, and the rest of the time was spent gazing at the beautiful view from our little flat.

If was to describe it now I would say that I look like, and often feel like, a sack of spuds.  The highlights are pretty much gone (I would worried that maintaining them would harm my unborn baby); the food I eat is wolfed down on-the-go, a lye-in is now 7am, and weekends are spent alternating supervision of our little girl while we catch up on sleep or do the various jobs that need doing around our new house (our view is now of a huge roundabout).  Watching a film only happens by accident and, though we do occasionally go to the pub with our daughter, there’s no room for the 6 or 7 pints that I could down in one sitting before.

I certainly don’t want to sound ungrateful.  I passionately wanted this baby and I am thankful beyond belief that I have been blessed with this wonderful little person in my life.  But it does get waring sometimes when I don’t seem to be able to find time to pluck my eyebrows, and it would be nice to be able to have a glass of wine of an evening without wondering whether it will stop me from breastfeeding later (sometimes, I admit, I take the hit and just give her a bottle – though I know that I’ll pay for it with a reduced supply the next time I want to feed…).  And it would be nice to look in the mirror and not see rolls of fat and clothes covered in sick (I’m doing something about both, by the way). Continue reading