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?


Blogger Satan said...

The whole situation is hug-inducing, but for some reason I see where Pat is coming from. Either way, whatever spin she puts on it to stay more positive about the enormous responsibility of caring for the baby is okay with me. I hope little fantasies do more good than harm.

Good luck, Em. You do sound fundamentally hopeful and able to withstand all that life's throwing at you right now.

5:53 AM  
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1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She should put the poor child up for adoption. Wouldn't that be the best thing for the kid?
I don't know why people think that anyone can have a child. This is one of the reasons there are so many traumatized children on this planet.
Put the kid up for adoption, and then get Pat on birth control immediately.
She should have been on it and none of this awfulness would have happened.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Mu Ling said...

I don't know anything about parenting, and I wish I had some sort of helpful observation to provide. I don't, but I do feel for you and your friend.

6:42 AM  
Blogger oldbear said...

Hi Emily, yes it is sad.

This scenario kind of reminds me of that line from an Elton John song "I cant light, no more of your darkness".

Bless you for looking after her, and for the slight chance it gives the baby for a better life.

Aint much left to do for them but Pary and hope.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous C-Marie said...

She's very lucky to have someone like you for support and friendship. Hopefully things will get better for her. You're a Saint.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Sailor said...

You're a good friend, and that's all you can be- pray for them, give them warmth and love.


7:32 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

I wish I was a saint. I'm currently averaging around 20 irritable/frustrated moments and thoughts a day, with Pat and the Big Dude so dependent - so nobody is going to be electing me to sainthood any time soon!

9:18 PM  

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