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.
"...at 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.
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.
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.