This is a true story.
“Oh, look,” I whispered “It’s a little angel”
It was twenty past ten in the morning at The Birthing Centre of the Royal Women’s Hospital in Paddington on a chilly May morning. “Oh, look,” I whispered “It’s a little angel.”
Little did I know.
Even before she had teeth, this little angel bit my nipples so hard with her gums that it brought tears to my eyes. She went on doing this for as long as I was breastfeeding. At the time I thought that all babies did that. As soon as she could talk she told me that she would like to cut me up in little pieces and fry me in a frypan. The first words she wrote down on a piece of paper said: “I hat you”.
I loved her more than I had ever loved anything in my life.
The feeling of euphoria after her birth was, and still is, unequalled. The feeling of despair that followed is similarly unmatched.
I still don’t know if my feelings of despair were due to undiagnosed postnatal depression, chronic sleep deprivation or the inability to cope with a baby born with rage in her soul.
My beautiful newborn baby didn’t like me or the world very much and she made sure we all knew it. From the moment she was born till the birth of her sister two years later, she cried or screamed most of the time, unless I held her.
No time for dreaming
My husband being a doctor, people thought that I had it all under control. In my dreams. That is, if I was ever to get any more dreams with this child demanding two hourly breast-feeds around the clock. And even well after her first birthday, she still refused to be weaned. She trained me so well, the only option left for me was to oblige.
She refused to be cared for by anyone other than Mummy. This arrangement was flattering, impractical and utterly exhausting.
When Georgie (her birth certificate reads Georgina Angelina) was fourteen months old, I hadn’t slept more than two hours in a row since her birth. The only thing that seemed to pacify her was rocking her to Joe Cocker or BB King tunes. Remember the one ‘getting by with a little help from my friends?’
I can tell you right now, not a friend in sight when I was carrying my screaming baby.
Big salty tears
In a desperate cry for help, I took my severely sleep deprived body and baby to the Canterbury Children’s Hospital.The registrar at the hospital assured me that the rats crawling over me at home at night were mere hallucinations due to chronic sleep deprivation. I found comfort in this.
The hospital didn’t help. A shortage of beds meant that I attempted to get some shuteye on a straight-backed plastic chair. The screaming of other children kept me awake. After one night of this, the third in a row with my eyes wide open, I took my baby back home. My husband collected me from Bondi beach with my eyes still wide open and big salty tears running down my cheeks.
Two days later there was a knock at the door. The hospital had sent a social worker to check up on us.
The timing was perfect. It was another of those mornings when I had forgotten to check what Her Majesty wanted for breakfast. Georgie wanted cornflakes. I opened the front door with my face and hair covered in porridge. The social worker looked at us and asked if I wanted any help.
I said, “Yes please”. My husband said, “No thanks. We’re coping really well”.
Who’s the captain?
After the social worker left, there was one sentence playing endlessly in my head: “Who’s the captain? Who’s the captain?”Sh..t, I didn’t even know I was on a ship, let alone that someone needed to be steering it.
I get seasick at the best of times .. no wonder this wasn’t working.
Thank you God.
Some months later Crystal was born. Georgie now has a playmate. A sister who not only tolerates her quirky and energetic behaviour but actually delights in it.
Thank you God.
Georgie was a demanding baby. Nothing prepared me however for this demanding baby turning into an angry two year old, an obnoxious three-year-old and a bossy and fussy four-year-old. When Georgie turned five we all agreed that she wanted to go to kindy. I took her to our local Rudolf Steiner School a couple of mornings a week, for socializing. She could be utterly charming when she wanted to be, she approached all strangers with the biggest widest smile you’d ever see and a greeting of “Hi, do you want to be my friend?”
She was forceful, bossy, angry and disarmingly charming. I discovered that when she ate certain breads with sugar and preservatives in them, she transformed from a reasonably ok child into an angry belligerent monster. Georgie went through periods of phobias and food disorders, and by the time she was nine I’d taken her to see every alternative therapist within fifty kilometres of where we lived.
Many sand therapy, Alexander, Bowen, Homeopathy, Yoga, Aikido and herbal remedy sessions later we’re still none the wiser.
By the time she was twelve, Georgie had had several bouts of severe depression, written several suicide songs, and invented a mood meter. By then I had taken her to see all the doctors, paediatricians, counsellors, psychiatrists and natural healers I omitted last time around.
The treasure I was left with after my travels was a free trial box of Zoloft (anti-depressant) to give my twelve-year old, “As you see fit.”
At my wit’s end
I was truly at my wits end. I discovered that Georgie couldn’t eat chocolate or anything containing sugar without getting severely depressed. She needed regular meals or would become hypoglycaemic and severely depressed. She needed to stay in a safe, secure and familiar environment or she became disoriented and guess what? Depressed.
Upsets, loud voices, arguments and disagreements all led to silent tears and Georgie checking out. In fact, any stress she experienced, no matter how small, was likely to find her in quiet little corners of her bedroom with eyes staring blankly into nothingness.
I don’t know which one I found harder to cope with: the raging toddler destroying anything in sight or the despondent, withdrawn teen. Some of her depressive episodes were severe and prolonged and the only way I knew how to nurse her out of them was to hold her tight, kiss her tears away whilst repeating a million times over; “it’s OK,” don’t worry, it’ll be OK.” When these episodes occurred, all was black and dark in and around her, access was denied and she couldn’t perform even the most basic of human functions without help or assistance.
The whole situation was becoming quite unmanageable.
To be continued
All rights reserved – I Thought It Was A Little Angel –
copyright myemmanuel 2014
names and places may have been changed for privacy reasons.