The other day I wrote about my sleeping arrangements and my fear of being far from my daughter at night.
I like to think I'm going to be a cool mum, but I'm having to face up to facts.
I am terrified of being apart from her.
It's not a desperation to apart exactly, more like a terror that something awful will happen and a completely irrational feeling of betrayal. She would be fine, after all, I worked 3 days a week between when she was 8 months and about 21 months. She is now more reluctant to part but is such a sociable thing. It's me.
I thought I had put Neonatal and everything that followed behind me. I received excellent counselling until very recently, took a course of Sertaline (a SSRI anti-depressant also used for anxiety and in my case PTSD) and then unfortunately this summer happened and we got a feeding tube, starting diagnosis and reunited with some of the PICU consultants although thankfully avoided their unit by the skin of our teeth. Right now, two years ago, Wriggles was in NICU and this anniversary period is a funny old time. Full of flashbacks and bittersweet pride. Sometimes I think I over exaggerate the past, and then find a scrap of something from the time and it hits me again like a ton of bricks. She was that small. She was that sick.This lunchtime I was looking at her first nappy size given to me by special care when we left. I was shocked how small it was, fitting in the palm of my hand. I remember her looking dwarfed in it. Curled up in a special nest in an incubator, small, so small, with a huge chunk of machinery attached breathing for her. Then a little white hat keeping the CPAP apparatus on so she could breathe with some help. The feeding tube in for weeks and weeks because she was gestationally too young to have developed the suck/swallow reflex. The weeks and weeks of one cuddle a day, at 3pm sometimes for less than fifteen minutes. Oh god.
When I went back to work, I made myself because as a single parent I felt I had a duty to provide as best as I could and also not to conform to stereotypes. I did enjoy aspects of my job, but after giving birth so much felt like clock watching. There were days I loved and days I hated. The worst bit every morning was saying goodbye at the childminder's. I never dawdled leaving the office, but pelted back as soon as I could. Since being made redundant, Wriggles' needs are arguably a little more complex. Aside from the feeding tube there is a greater understanding of why she gets so poorly, which in itself comes with more caution to be exercised.
Since she was rushed to hospital late July, we have not been separated for longer than half an hour on a sparse handful of occasions.
This weekend, I was supposed to be travelling for a weekend away probably involving some babysitting.
This evening I broke down and admitted how scared I am of loosing some control and not being within running distance of my daughter. I have not had a panic attack for a long time, but I sat here, dizzy, tears streaming, my heart racing and my throat tight and painful. It's too soon.
My worry is, when won't be too soon? She is now 2 and it's not like we're going to be able to forget prematurity or hospital visits for a long time, such are her medical conditions and health. I don't want to become a paranoid overbearing parent, embarrassingly clinging to her trouser leg in the playground. I want her to keep her independent streak that makes her so her and that I cherish for her beautiful personality of her own shining through. I'm going to have to let go in small amounts at some time in the not too distant future, for nursery, then school and my eventual return to work. I'm going to have to trust other people to do their best by her, to learn her cues, to know her danger signs, her quirks, her needs. But not yet, not now. She is still my baby and I am still cocooned in the after-effects of scare after scare. I need to build myself up gradually and look back out into the light.
I just hope these needs of mine don't step on her needs of finding out about the world without me.