Losing it - young mama to a special needs child - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 04-06-2003, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I originally started to post this message under the young mama thread, but it became about more than just my age.

I haven't gotten any comments about my age, but I certainly feel young to have a baby. And I'm going to be 24 next week! I guess it's just that I go to LLL meetings or to playgroups, or while I was pregnant to prenatal yoga and childbirth class, and everyone's 6-10 years older than me. I'm constantly doubting my entitlement to this life, or if it's the "right" thing. But it feels right. I guess I'm just too self-doubting (or maybe too self-centered). I've been married for 4 1/2 years, and though we didn't plan Aleksander, it did work out really well for us. Dh started grad school right after ds was born, and thanks to family housing, dh's teaching assistantship and student loans I am able to stay at home rather than stick Alex in daycare (frightening thought). So though we're incredibly poor and have mountains of debt, it's not like we're suffocating under the weight of our choices. In fact, we're quite free and have good things to look forward to. And yet I create staring eyes in my head and sense immense disparities in experience between myself and the older mommies. Actually, I think I sense those disparities between myself and everyone these days. Maybe I've just become way too attuned to them. Sometimes it's the age difference, or an imbalance in intellectual endeavors (be it my education or theirs). Other times its parenting styles, or some other fundamental value that's not in sync. When I'm feeling especially lonely, however, it always seems to come back to my son's cleft. I remember talking to a woman from my prenatal yoga class a few days after Alex's birth and asking her how her birth went. She told me about the birth and the subsequent time with the baby and how perfect it all was. Her biggest problem was that she'd eaten lots of broccoli and caused her daughter gas. I couldn't believe it. I'd had a great birth with no problems, but my son was born with a defect and couldn't bf and hearing about some other person's perfect life just made my skin crawl. And when I'm feeling like I just can't make any friends in this town (because I'm having a really hard time), I remember that instance. I see women out with their babies and think of trying to make friends, but then remember that we've got a surgery coming up and I just don't have the time to invest in making friends. Or I get really ridiculously down and start feeling all this jealousy. Sometimes I just don't understand why I couldn't have a perfect baby (not that Alex isn't perfect - he's wonderful, but a defect's a defect and I don't want him to have to go through this crap). Because there are so many of them around. It seems so easy to have a perfect baby. I see them all the time. And I know that every kid has their own things that they'll have to deal with - be it allergies or trouble in school or not fitting in, or whatever. I also know that we have it great compared to what's possible. I guess I just haven't gotten to the point where I can just accept how much Alex enriches my life and not be pissed off for him and for myself about the years of struggle that lay ahead. That is what I come back to again and again - that I'm really pissed off about this. I'm jealous of other women, I feel like all of this is so unjust, unfair, miserable...

I know this turned into a rant, and I apologize, but these are the reasons I came to MotheringDotCommune in the first place. I'm isolated and alone and need some sort of support. I feel like my emotions are on a great pendulum swinging between appreciation of everything I've got & where it all leads, and how much I'm missing out on.

anna kiss partner to jon radical mama to aleks (8/02) and bastian (5/05)
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#2 of 16 Old 04-06-2003, 03:54 PM
 
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It seems like there is a support group for everything these days, so I was wondering if maybe there is a group for parents whose children are facing surgery or cleft palats. I would check with your hospital or your doctor's office.
I had a lot of the same feelings you did when dd was first born. While the difficulties I was facing were not like yours, they were still frustrating to me. I would see women with their "perfect" babies and wonder how they got so lucky. Why did they seem better able to cope? And then I had lunch at my mom's and one of her friends was there. She told me that I seemed really together and adjusting well to motherhood. It was then that I realized that no one can see inside your head. Those moms with their "perfect" lives and babies may not be. In fact. Im 100% certain they don't feel like everything is perfect, but they're not going to run up to everyone they meet at the mall and tell them how they feel. So you aren't alone in your feelings, but it feels that way because you don't have anyone to talk to.
Is there a mom and baby group at a local community centre or in your neighborhood?
You could start a special needs baby group yourself if you have the time and energy. Put up a notice at the hospital, grocery store, where ever. Im sure there are other moms just like you who feel lonely and overwhelmed.
It will be okay and it sounds like you know in your heart that you are a good mom, no matter what your age(and 24 is not young in my opinion).
I hope I was able to offer some comfort. Hang in there and good luck to you and your son.
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#3 of 16 Old 04-06-2003, 11:52 PM
 
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First of all, rant all you want. It really helps clear the cobwebs int the brain.

I think it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed with parenthood. I also think it is absolutely normal to greive what your dream was for this child vs. the reality. It is obvious you love and cherish your child and it is totally normal to wish they could have a "normal" life and you could be dealing with "normal" problems.

I also wonder after reading your post if you maybe have PPD. I would really encourage you to reach out to some groups. Personally, I find this really hard for me, but it has helped me a lot with my emotional health. Library story times, the YMCA often has playgroups, any community oriented thing...special events at the zoo, children's theatre. You said something about being students...try the nontraditional student organization. They often have a lot of information reguarding community stuff. You might also be able to get some counceling at a reduced rate through the college...or possibly find some support groups sponsored by the college...check with they psych dept or nursing dept.

Most of all, just hang in there. Come here and rant, cry, and laugh with us here at mothering. I originally came here when I was really overwhelmed and depressed about life and have found a wonderfully supportive, fun and loving community.

Mom to 10yo Autistic Wonder Boy and 6yo Inquisitive Fireball Girl . December birthdays.

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#4 of 16 Old 04-07-2003, 12:27 AM
 
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Please check out www.widesmiles.com. My son was born with a cleft (unilateral incomplete - no palate but some gum and tooth defects) He had surgery at 3 months (his only one so far) he is 3 and half years right now and we are starting to talk about another surgery in the not too distant future. His cleft was a total surprise. The midwife looked up at me and said, "uh did you know he had a cleft lip?" (She did not do my ob care - so she didn't really know us) Of course I thought he was perfect and was kind of freaked out by all the people who stare, but at the same time, I had a TON of people say, oh my daughter, son, grandchild etc had that and then share really nice encouraging stories with me. He does have speech difficulties which we have gotten some therapy for and he has an extra tooth which we will have to deal with as his adult teeth come in. And while we were pregnant with our 2nd child we really addressed it with him for the first time (showing him before and after and surgery and hospital pictures) Just in case we had to go thru it a second time - we didn't. I was just barely 25 when he was born and sometimes I feel young too. At 28 years old, I was the youngest Mom at his preschool!! Well, I think you sound like you need a friend, if you want to pm me I would be happy to chat more about cleft specific things. Please check out the website, you might find a lot of support there.
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#5 of 16 Old 04-07-2003, 12:29 AM
 
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I also wanted to add that surgery is soooooooooo stressful, please take care of yourself so you can be there for your son. I cried for 3 days before ds's surgery. My dh couldn't understand it. It was just my stress release.
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#6 of 16 Old 04-07-2003, 12:32 AM
 
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ok, I just tried that link and it seems they aren't there anymore. I will see if I can find them and repost.
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#7 of 16 Old 04-07-2003, 12:33 AM
 
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try www. widesmiles.org
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#8 of 16 Old 04-07-2003, 03:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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First of all, thanks for all the replies & recommendations everyone!

Wow... where to start... I suppose I must say that coming to MDC was sort of a last ditch effort to communicate with ANYONE who'd listen (though I suppose it should have been a first - I'd never joined a BBS before). I've gone to the periodic LLL meetings here in town (I pump exclusively), a couple of different playgroups, a new mom's support group (which is hosted so rarely I wanna tell the lady who runs it that I don't care how many people are signed up for it, I NEED it), and even found another cleft mom in town (I also have tried widesmiles repeatedly, with no response to my attempts to join Cleftalk) - and yet, I've not found anyone that I've been able to connect with. Let me add to that - I did recently meet with a couple of women who I really like & am interested in getting to know better, but getting to know people takes time and when you're having a surgery every three months (Alex has had 2 already, his 3rd is in May), it makes it kind of difficult because that process gets interrupted. I did just stop at the library the other day & got their storytime handout. Before I thought that I didn't really belong with the older children's groups since Alex is just barely sitting up, but now I realize that I don't give a crap. The hardest part of all of this is that dh moved us 6 states from everything we know for grad school right after our son was born (Alex was 10 days old), so I just don't know anyone. And I've had a million interruptions in the process of finding anyone to know. First, I was postpartum and could barely get dressed & often didn't, then we had Alex's first surgery, then we went home for a month during the holidays (which was fabulous), then Alex had his 2nd surgery. Right now I'm at a point where I can get things done & can go to playgroup regularly (when people actually show up), but I just got to this point in the last few weeks. Whenever there are surgeries, I'm pretty much out of commission for a month - 2 weeks prior to surgery to avoid illness & 2 weeks after for the healing process & to avoid illness again. We were all sick over a couple of weeks shortly after the last surgery too, which I didn't really want to spread to other children at playgroup or LLL. So, I've tried to meet people - I've actually just recently sort of succeeded at it, but every now & again I start feeling insane from not having spoken to anyone for what seems like days (dh is in grad school - this prohibits him from having too much time for much of anything, though he does try very hard to make time for us, so for days excluding him & whatever minor conversation we may have had). Sometimes I see mommies in line at the grocery & I just want to start rambling about how difficult it can all be, though I don't because they'd think I'm crazy. So instead I seem to have found my way here to ramble incoherently and come to no further conclusions about anything at all. I don't think I have PPD, because I've dealt with depression for years and miraculously, though I don't necessarily sound it, I've been doing extraordinarily well here despite the massive evidence I've provided to the contrary. The main reason I'm here at MDC is to further voice my frustrations. There is an end in sight, however. My sister is coming to visit next week & spring should be hitting Montana sometime in this century. After this next surgery, we're headed back to my family's in Ohio for the summer - which will further interrupt my friend-making, but will bring me much needed relief from 24/7 babycare and the unfathomable depths of loneliness. I spent the last 2 months of my pregnancy at my mom's last summer and it was great - my sisters and I ate ice cream at least 3 times daily, sat around being lazy, went swimming, watched movies... It will be wonderful to be there with Alex as he learns to crawl (though he'll probably do that before summer if he gets this balance thing down), then walk & talk - I can't wait. It's what keeps me afloat, honestly, even though every now and again, as evidenced here, I sink a bit.

anna kiss partner to jon radical mama to aleks (8/02) and bastian (5/05)
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#9 of 16 Old 04-08-2003, 12:40 AM
 
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hey Anna,
It's Meagen from the baby group. I'm sorry to hear of all the problems, it must be tough to feel you are going this alone. The endless gray days here don't help either. But, spring is coming and everyone will start coming out of hibernation soon. Are you house-bound again? If not, maybe we could meet at a park on a sunny day. Anyway, just wanted to say hello and hang in there, it will get better soon.
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#10 of 16 Old 04-08-2003, 01:41 AM
 
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anna, hello & welcome. sorry to hear about your son's troubles & how hard it has been for you. i want to second whoever said that the moms you see who LOOK like they "have it all together" may be feeling just as lost as you. my best friend's daughter has autism, & to the outside world she seems amazing- clean house, happy homeschooled kids, church choir director, etc. she IS amazing, don't misunderstand. but i am like the only person she vents to, calling me in tears late at night 'cause she is under so much stress. and no one looking from the outside would ever suspect. maybe the moms you are envious of are looking at your life & wishing it was theirs- ya never know!

i hope your playgroup starts up again soon. i know for me, whatever i am going through, it seems 1000x worse if i am cooped up in the house!

good luck & i hope someone can give you better advice than i!

kiss alex for me, & feel peace!

love, jenny
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#11 of 16 Old 04-08-2003, 11:54 AM
 
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Anna- I too wanted to run up to other moms I saw and talk to them, but thought too weird, no way, they'll think Im nuts. But, I try to now. Lots of times I'll just ask where they got the outfit their dc is wearing or something equally lame, but sometimes it turns into a real conversation and once a new friendship.
It can be hard if you're shy, but worth it just to feel connected to the outside world.
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#12 of 16 Old 04-08-2003, 03:28 PM
 
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Anna, we sound a lot a like. I don't have a child with special needs, but I am on the young side, we moved here for dh's grad school, live in student housing, and i was a sahm when ds was younger (i'm back in school now and getting ready to have our second child). I haven't experienced having a child with special needs, but I do know how it feels to be a young parent, and to feel so alienated at times. It can be really hard. I don't know any moms my age around here who have much in common with me and it does get lonely. I find that I can get along well with some older mothers, and others I can't connect with at all. Anyway, just wanted to say that you're not alone, and you sound like a great mom.
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#13 of 16 Old 04-11-2003, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel much better! I went to playgroup & made some other mommy friends. Plus the weather's been nice, so I've been taking walks by myself (well, with Mr. Person). Loneliness still hits me, but my sister will be here in 2 days!

anna kiss partner to jon radical mama to aleks (8/02) and bastian (5/05)
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#14 of 16 Old 04-11-2003, 07:17 PM
 
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Glad you're feeling better! We moved last summer when ds was 10 months old, and I've had a hard time meeting people, too. Winter was INCREDIBLY long, and dealing with the stomach flu three times made it worse.

Hang in there! And have a great time with your sister!!
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#15 of 16 Old 04-14-2003, 06:29 PM
 
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I was 18 when my dd was born and now I am 20 (21 in June) and am pregnant with #2.

I know EXACTLY how you feel about feeling so young as a mother but one thing I have learned is that it takes a woman who trusts her body and her instincts to raise a child and that sort of intuition trancends age!

I had a water birth at home with dd and it took a lot of determindation on my part to get myself heard and taken seriously! Its all about faith in yourself!

I hope you dont doubt that you are a good enough mother! You seem like the kind of person who is very sensitive to the needs of others and thats a good thing.

Just know that you will never be judged here!
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#16 of 16 Old 04-14-2003, 10:42 PM
 
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I hope you find the support here that you are looking for. Hugs to you for all the difficulties you are facing! I also wanted to suggest that you look in the Special Needs board in the Parenting Issues forums. Maybe not all the mamas have babies with clefts, but I'm sure they can relate to you in a very unique way.

teapot2.GIF Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)  ribbonjigsaw.gif blogging.jpg homeschool.gif

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