Monday, June 11

My girl?


Through the letterbox came the written report of the last appointment at 15 months corrected with the paediatric team which had gone fairly well. They were happy to leave it until around August, just before Wriggles is 2 and seemed content that I was doing all the right things and generally being a Good Mama.

" clinic, Wriggles was quite happy playing on the mat and was reluctant to go back to you [me]."

Like a dagger to my heart.

Inside I crumpled up again, momentarily back swimming in confusion, hurt and rejection. 
After I got over the initial struggle of NICU coming to terms with my very new, very surprise and very vulnerable little scrap in an incubator, I fell in love. There was never a question over that. The struggle I had was accepting that Wriggles felt anything in return for me. This struggle was a very long one and took many session of counselling, many cuddles and many many months (I would say well over a year) until she started blowing me kisses and hanging onto my leg.

Parenting is a very unique relationship that breeds unconditional love from the responsible carer towards their dependents. And it is always assumed that this love, in a different more taken for granted way, is returned by the children. At it's least sentimental, because in most cases, the child knows no other parents and no other love. It is the first relationship, and hopefully most long lasting and simplest yet most complicated they will ever have.

When our minds play with our confidence, cruelly, we question even these most basic facts. Whether she knows what love is, I am Wriggles' constant and the person she is with by far the most. I am there morning, I am there night. I am there in the middle of the night. Just me. Just us. I am there in sickness (either of us) or in health. I am there in good spirits and there in a grump. So knows that. As my friend V pointed out recently while Wriggles was blowing kisses to her, she knows what kisses are and distributes them so freely because we have such an affectionate relationship and to her, kisses are the norm, because she has always got them. What a lovely innocent world.

I know the report was not in any way criticising me or suggesting my daughter is indifferent, or worse, doesn't know who I am. It's my fear shouting over my rationale and that if she didn't know my world of security and comfort, she would be fearful to do any venturing. It's just that my (not so) secret fear is that deep down she doesn't understand who I am, and running on from NICU thinks that the entire world is her family, happy to embrace and be caressed by stranger after stranger taking my place.

When I first discovered the world of blogging, particularly those with a premature baby aspect, one of the most important posts I read was this one by Beadzoid. It very much spoke to me and in my dark moments when I felt very alone, offered a chink of light that someone had had similar worries to me, and if they hadn't been certified then I wouldn't either.  

This week, Wriggles is in temporary childcare; not an ideal situation but a necessary evil as she will only try and eat the printer at work. She has started to cry when I leave and I am told, stand by the stairgate for a while after looking out. It breaks my heart and I smother her with guilty kisses on return. You do care. I'm so sorry I doubted you. I'm not leaving you. I love you. The minute we are home, she scrambles away to explore new worlds and hoot down toilet rolls. Then out of nowhere gives me a big hug or grabs my hand. Then the spell is broken and she is off again, but I am revived.

Oh, to be a parent. You just can't win either way.


  1. Bide your time. Joseph was exactly the same at Wriggles age. You have done such a good job she doesn't need to demonstrate her love for you, she trusts you and feels strong enough not to have to be attached every moment.

    Joseph was exactly the same, but now at 3 he's a hand holdiing, snuggling, kissing little darling! So it could happen! No one is more surprised than me that he's like that now!

  2. I'm not sure why they would put such a comment in the report, it could be implying that wriggles is confident. anyway what it tells me is that she is interested in the world around her. A credit to you! well done!

    1. I'm hoping that is what it was implying! I imagine it was that our normal consultant was away and the stand in one could have had both a better grasp of English and a more legible hand for her secretary to type up! She is certainly VERY interested in the world, especially if she can fling it or sit on it.

  3. eeesh I'm so scared Skittle doesn't know who I am. Last weekend he fell asleep on my sister-in-law who wears the most overpowering perfume so I was hoping he would know it wasn't me but no he drifted off happily :-S apparently it's a baby thing and I'm being too extreme!! Thank you for sharing this xx

    1. Bad Skittle! Wriggles has had many traitor moments like that. I thought when she was a few weeks term, that I was the only one to soothe her when crying. Wrong. Anyone who picked her up was her best friend. But it's hard not to be extreme when your first experience of motherhood is that of separation, so be nice to yourself! Babies are really fickle, and I know in my most sane moments that Wriggles does know who I am and knew long before I realised she knew. Skittle will know you: you're the person that has always been there, day in, day out throughout shift changes, crowds of relatives and doctors. It might have sometimes been through an incubator, but he will know you. xxx

  4. I can't believe they wrote that in the report either - total lack of tact or what!?!

    Thank you for mentioning my post - and indeed reminding me of it :) I'm glad it gave you some comfort and I'm glad to be able to follow it up and tell you where we are at now. My daughter is coming up to 3 and she is so loving. I hate leaving her when I go to work, but when I pick up she runs to me in delight shouting "oh mummy!" and gives me all the hugs and kisses. Melts me every time when I think back to how I would feel quite often spurned.

    However, I do think she has the normal abandonment anxieties because she often withholds her affection when I'm about to go to work - I think she's punishing me. It upsets me, but I've started saying "Okay, fine. Bye then" and she begs Daddy to bring her to me for a goodbye kiss. I stiiiiill sometimes automatically think back to the issues like I wrote about when things like that happen, but the doubt is far less potent as I start to realise that this is kind of normal for any working mum. And normal is good I think after that whole load of abnormal starting with NICU.

    You are right though - either way you cannot win, but I've become more confident in the role I (like you) was denied for those first few months. And you will too :) x