Friday, January 25, 2008

Another Quickie

Pat has finally booked her plane ticket home. Oh, the relief!

It's not that I don't love her. And she has actually been a pretty good house guest - picking up after herself most of the time (which is a big effort for her, because her own place is always cluttered), helping with the dishes and the cooking and the laundry. And although she's depressed, she is very much in survival mode and preoccupied with practical things, rather than the weepy mess I thought she might be.

But, to be honest, I am so over this. I'm exhausted. Work hasn't let up, the Big Dude is stressed out and sick (his shrink is not impressed by our current household situation), and having to be friendly and polite and supportive all the time instead of just slumping into the sofa at night is wearing me out. People keep telling me I look tired and I am.

To top it off, I am trying to lose weight and bring my coffee and alcohol consumption down, preferably to nil, before our fertility treatment. With the caffeine headaches and the end of my regular Friday night takeaway and wine catharsis, I feel crap. Also, we are broke, following Christmas and supporting house guests and then preparing for huge IVF bills. We had a fright this week with the stockmarket crash, as it looked like our IVF fund was about to melt into the ether.

I think, to be realistic, I am going to have to postpone the IVF to March. I'm just too tired and stressed out to embark on fertility treatment the moment I get back from overseas. Not to mention that it would be good to have some time alone with the Big Dude before going into all that. Have I mentioned that we haven't had sex since November?

But the other day, Pat finally came home with a plane ticket, booked for the first week of February. And yesterday, I drooled over the descriptions of the place I will be staying at during my work trip. A lovely hotel with a huge pool, beautiful white beaches and the emerald-green sea across the road, nice restaurants...although I will be working, surely there will be a few moments to enjoy my trip to a tropical island!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Quickie Post: Motherhood Sucks II

It is flat out at our house. Between looking after my Little Dude, dealing with the Big Dude's annual health slump (he is always particularly bad in January) and now Pat and the baby, I hardly have any time to myself. So I won't be posting often, but I suddenly have a spare hour to unload.

My friend Pat is not in a good way. Superficially, she seems okay. She takes excellent care of the baby, who is a sweet little thing. She makes conversation. She even manages to help with the cooking and laundry.

But it's pretty much a facade. At first, I thought she was just somewhat depressed and her apparent obsession with the birth was a symptom of that. But she has now been diagnosed with Birth Trauma, which is a variant of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Now that we know what is going on, we can see she had just about every risk factor for this around, including previous sexual abuse, a bad birth with high medical intervention, the baby's stay in intensive care and a long previous history of depression.

Poor girl. I truly feel for her. Even though it is driving me crazy having such long-term house guests (I've never had anyone staying with me for more than a week, let alone a severely depressed woman and her baby for weeks on end), I truly want to help her.

The trouble is that there are serious limits to what I can do. I've listened to her sympathetically, for hours at a time. I've encouraged her to get help and gone to great effort to find her a decent therapist (there are not many specialists in this particular field). We cook good meals and go for plenty of exercise. We go out to have fun and have a bit of a social life. I take the baby when she needs a rest.

I think she is better off with us. She manages better at a day to day level and she says the baby seems a lot happier with more people around and more stimulation than she can provide.

But the bottom line is that Pat is at the bottom of a very dark hole and all my efforts are happening somewhere at ground level.

The question is: What can you really do for a traumatised person? I know from previous experience from my Big Dude that PTSD doesn't really go away. You can get therapy, it can be managed, you can work around it, you can reduce its impact on your life, but nothing really heals that fundamental loss of trust in the universe. You are changed forever, transformed. It's a deep wound at the centre of your soul. It's not really "fixable" in any permanent way.

And the truly distressing part is that Pat is struggling to feel anything much for her daughter. Litle Mary is a most beautiful child. Very pretty and sociable and cheerful. The fact that I think she is gorgeous has almost nothing to do with the fact that she is my goddaughter. But Pat, for all her very dedicated care for her, apparently feels almost nothing for her. She meets all the baby's needs, she plays with her, sings to her, and no one just from looking at her would guess she that she finds it easiest to relate to Mary when she imagines that Mary is not her baby at all but an orphan who has been left in her care.

Isn't that sad?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Back in February

With Pat and the baby here, my sister and brother in law visiting and imminent travel for work, I just have no chance to be alone to blog at the moment. So I will have to take a break.

Expecting to be back in February.

I will still be reading you all, so keep writing!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year 2008

We had a lovely New Year's church service this year, including some very moving (to me) references to people who are carers. It was particularly meaningful to me because, in a way, I am a carer twice over at the moment, looking after Pat and her baby as well as the Big and Little Dudes.

It ended with a blessing that I particularly liked, and I hope you will, too:

May your eyes be opened to the wonder of the daily miracles around you and your sense of mystery be deepened.
May you be aware of the light that shines in the darkness
and that the darkness can never put it out.
May you be blessed with companions on the journey
who will listen to you and encourage you with their presence.
May you learn to live with what is unsolved in your heart,
daring to face the questions and holding them until,
one day, you find the answers.
May you find the still, quiet place within yourself
where you can know and experience
the peace the passes all understanding.
May love flow in you and through you
to those who need your care.
May you continue to dream dreams and to reach out into the future
with a deeper understanding of God's way for you.

- Linda Wright