This is my little girl Alice. She is 6 weeks old today 🙂
The birth didn’t exactly go to plan. I guess hypnobirthing helped me to stay calm early on. After nearly two days in early labour I went into hospital because I wasn’t coping. Two nights with contractions and no sleep! Hypnobirthing went out the window. Bouncing on the ball helped for a while. After pethadine all hopes of an intervention free birth went out the window. I’ve not had a debrief yet, but I think in reality there was no possibility of Alice making her entrance without intervention. She had her hand next to her head so labour didn’t progress. I know I had drugs to speed up labour, a cut, and the doctor pulled her out whilst I pushed. Plus I tore. Six weeks on, I continue to feel that if I was ever to be pregnant again, I would want a planned cesarean!
Breastfeeding has also gone out the window. I think I will try it for the last time today. I feel quite emotional about it. From day one, Alice had top-ups of formula. I never did produce enough milk for her. At two weeks I crashed mentally and switched to predominantly formula. Since then I have tried pumping and have had her on me some times, but it has steadily declined. I find it difficult to find the time to pump and now I am getting such a small amount that it doesn’t feel worth it.
Alice herself is a good baby, especially at night. She has understood night from the start. She’s only woken me at night two or three nights. The rest of the time it has been me waking her for a change and feed. From a week in there has been just one night feed, and from two weeks in, I’ve done it when I’ve woken naturally and not been woken by an alarm. Everyone has told me she is very settled. There are times when I get annoyed with her. She frequently has a wee when I change her, but most challenging time is when she decides she wants to feed when my cooked meal is ready. She also frequently goes from no signs to howling when she wants a bottle, and it takes me several minutes to make a bottle. I am comfort eating every day in response to her crying.
What has made things really really hard is the involvement of social services. I was assigned a social worker as a precaution. But after my wobble at two weeks in, I have had heavy handed involvement. People are telling lies about me. People who are ignorant about mental health. It has apparently gotten serious. I am lacking the mental capacity to take in and understand what is happening. The social worker hasn’t explained things to me. I was subjected to daily visits for two weeks, massively stressful for someone with anxiety and who copes by isolating themselves. For some unknown reason, Alice has been declared seriously at risk whilst in my care. There was a child protection conference last week where they decided a child protection plan was necessary. I didn’t attend because it was too much for me. I had no one to support me, no one to advocate for me, and I was expected to go with Alice in tow and cope with changes and feeding in front of a group of professionals, a group of professionals who have been scrutenizing and judging me whilst I learn how to look after a newborn. I have had to make my new mum mistakes publicly. I’m being judged for what they see in my interaction with her, and of course they see issues, firstly because no one has taught me how to interact with a baby, no one has taught me to bond with another person, and my lack of confidence means I have been slow to talk and sing to Alice in front of other people. I have been left scared that they will try to take her off me. I’m not allowed to make any mistakes. I’m not allowed to have mood issues – how unrealistic is that! Currently they are “supporting” me to keep Alice, however their idea of support has been causing me a lot more stress on top of the stress of being sole carer to a newborn with no previous experience.
One of the things I have been given as part of the support is respite care. Alice is meant to spend two days a week with foster carers. Two days ago was the first time she went with the carers, the first time I was separated from her. It was bloody awful. It was a Friday so I could go straight to the drop-in and not be alone, only things went from bad to worse at the drop-in. My usual support worker is on holiday. I accepted an offer to speak to a worker that I occasionally speak to. She is the only one who is a parent and obviously the best person to offer me support with the first separation. Only I wasn’t allowed to have a private conversation with her. Another worker barged in and said it wasn’t appropriate under the circumstances. What circumstances??? Very angry and upset I shouted at her to get out but she refused to I left. I did remain in the drop-in, but was left very angry and upset. Here I was in what was supposed to be a support group, upset having been separated from my baby for the first time, and I was not allowed to speak to the person best experienced to support me. At lunchtime my friend said it was a safeguarding thing and two people would have to be present to speak to me. I don’t know what the hell is going on. I feel like my most important support has suddenly disappeared. My therapist is still supporting me. Social services have tried to get to her but she has ignored them. But otherwise I do not have support, for my mental health, for the child protection process, for continuing to learn how to look after Alice (midwives have gone and health visitors talk to social worker), or for the Christmas period when my therapist is on holiday. I am very very angry and upset. My first few weeks with Alice have been marred by the unnecessary involvement by social services. At this point, I’m not sure I would have had her had I know what would happen. I knew people said looking after a newborn was hard. I was expecting disturbed nights. It has been hard for me to adjust to having to put someone else first and to not being able to get things done. This is the first time I’ve been on wordpress since her birth. I’ve had very little opportunity for even getting stuff out in my hand written journal and no time for crafts. Never did I imagine the stress I would be put under by social services involvement. No one who hasn’t done anything wrong should have to go through this. I feel scared and alone. And I fear the mental distress caused by social services is going to lead to me doing something which confirms their dark imaginary idea that Alice is at risk with me. I’m surprised that I didn’t actually swear at the worker on Friday. I would have regretted it, not because I was sorry, but because I would have had to apologise and it likely would get reported to the social worker. There are only two people I can trust now, my therapist and my friend. I have had many thoughts of leaving the country in order to get away from social services. Leaving the area isn’t good enough. I just don’t have the resources to leave.
What I do understand is that the social worker has to see Alice every two weeks. It wont be so bad if I can avoid contact with professionals otherwise. It’s my mouth which has got me into trouble. Just being honest about my mood issues and my family situation. I received a letter from my father this week. I had to check it was from him so opened it and just saw the first line, before dispatching it to the pile of unopened stuff in the cellar.
Just gonna have to cope with being on my own over the next three weeks before mother and baby groups start up again. I can’t trust any paid workers now apart from my therapist and need to stop talking to them. I am doing my best to be a good enough mum to Alice. I kiss her and tell her I love her several times a day. I read her stories. I give her time on her play mat. She likes noises. She likes grabbing my fingers and muslins. I guess she will start to be more interested in toys soon.