Sunday, April 29, 2012

Quite a bit

So sorry for the radio silence. Would you believe it, as soon as I posted my post last week the therapist called! We had a proper session over the phone and I felt so much better afterwards. In a nutshell the problem is of course that my past came back hunting me and that I must work through it and overcome what had been. She said the main problem, a part from what happened when I was young which we can't change, is that if I don't come to term with it (try first to understand/accept why/that it happen and maybe eventually forgive my parents)  I may never forgive myself should I once snap with Oliver and that will cause of course a lot of problems as he'll be a teenager. She said the fact that the past came so violently back was of course caused by my dad saying what he said in the way that he said it, but that there is this subconscious mechanism that makes you think "he loves me more than his life, and yet he wasn't at all perfect, so I can do the exact same with Oliver". Of course the point is not to be a perfect parent, but to be better than you parents, it's normal in evolution, we have to do a little bit better, in whichever field we choose to do so. Anyway, I have started processing everything and already I can feel it's recessing in my mind. Try to understand why my dad would have snapped occasionally is not so easy. He's a well educated person, full of friends, very generous and very happy in is job and at home. But the key is that he just didn't know how to handle the feelings that my behaviour (whatever that was at the time) would bring up. It is and it was one of his limitation and a weakness, and so that was it, he would snap. And then the damage is done. Much more difficult is to comprehend why my mother let it happen. Right, if it was one slap, what could she do, but when she was there and it wasn't just one slap? I'm still not there yet but I feel I have the tools to get over this. Thank you all so much for the kind words of support as always.

Also, I got the vomiting bug too in the end. Initially I thought it was food poisoning but the doc thinks it was the virus. Getting better now but it's been rough. One positive thing: I'm one kg over my pre-baby weight! I mean before the steroids and all that shit! Wohooo!

And finally, we have tooth number 7 (not a bother on him, really)! I know I know, at this pace he'll be 3 by the time he  has them all LOL what can you do? He's the best boy ever, and so so sweet all the time. Not long now and we'll go again...oh my...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Not much to say

I don't really have an update on the family situation yet, I decided to write a letter to the therapist explaining the situation which I thought was beneficial so that our conversation could be more productive. Hopefully she'll let me know when we can chat. I am still definitely not over this and though they skype me almost every day (to see Oliver) my conversation is kept to the minimum and I have decided I'm always going to say that Oliver is well, that he had a great day, regardless. I just don't want to prompt any comments.

In other news Oliver is great, despite a vomiting bug he got at the beginning of last week and that lasted a few days, his nights were uneventful and if he woke he would go back to sleep on his own. Again, just sayin' and recording it for the future.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Time-travelling (part two)

I'm at the airport in Graz on my way back home.

I will be talking to my therapist on monday night and I look forward to it. These couple of days away did wonders to my spirit, I still found it almost impossible to sleep the first night, but I had a very good day yesterday with newly met people and so I felt much better going to bed and had a good night sleep. So did Oliver at home I am being told. No fussing having dinner, no fussing going to bed, no fussing in general. He did wake up the first night I was gone (and my parents were gone too), but not in a state like the previous nights, Mike realised after an hour or so of on and off sleep, that his gums were bothering him, gave him the soothing gel and he went straight back to sleep till the morning. Last night he gave him teething granules before going to bed (a homeopathic remedy) and he slept through the night. Made a couple of noises, but Mike never had to get up as he settled back on his own. Just saying.

Back to my memories.

When I was a teenager and then more so in my early twenties, I started being very uncomfortable at home. Really thinking of leaving some how. I am quite sure this influenced my studies when I went to college. I wanted to do medicine, but the thought of the number of years I would have had to be economically supported by my parents was unpleasant. Note that my parents never had issues in giving me money, still I really wanted to work a bit here and there so I didn't have to ask. I baby-sat, taught swimming classes, worked in a perfume shop (all this was met with hostility by my father who did not understand why I wanted to work instead of just focussing on my studies). I had a first "serious" boyfriend when I was about 17. I knew perfectly well everything about safe sex by then and certainly not thanks to my parents who never ever felt comfortable in talking about these things. Also, the thought I may be having sex never crossed their minds, I'm sure. In fact a year later or so, we all went skiing and the boyfriend came along (though he was staying in a different hotel which made everything all the more exciting). My mother saw some pics if us making out on the slopes (remember when we all used film cameras?) and got all worked up and said something like "I hope we are not there yet" ehhrr yes we are mom for a while now, but no worries you can keep your head in the sand, thank God I can look after myself. Of course I didn't say this, I just let it be. This one boyfriend happened to be a right ass, but you know the way your first love seems so unmatchable you really don't want to break it up. We did break up several times and every time my parents interfered. They were only delighted to get rid of him and seriously opposed resuming the relationship, which of course had the opposite effect on me and made it last much longer than needed. The next boyfriend came along and oh boy was this one even worse in my parents eyes. Again, it turned out to be wrong too, 13 years my senior (my father started saying I was going out with someone who could have been his brother), didn't go to college and in general had a very different character from mine. But sure he looked perfect to me. He had a solid job, he was very kind, had a fast motorbike and looked so hot in his leather gear. Sex was amazing and he really could get me out of my parents' house. By this time I was also going to therapy, my parents thought I had completely lost my mind, and our relationship was at its worse. Firstly I was feeling guilty (with a huge help from my parents) at the fact that I was so uncomfortable at home. How could it be? I had everything I wanted, a car, holidays, money. And yet. My therapist helped me greatly. It was normal that I wanted my independence, it was normal that I felt my parents' house was not my house. She said it actually meant I was a mature adult wanting to live life in my own way. That's good right? But I suppose you can get to that point in a right way or in a wrong one. Not sure it was the right way in my case. You know, when I was off on holidays with friends or boyfriends (these were of course other battles I had to fight) I never really felt the need to call home. I was just fine on my own. I would never talk about my feelings and how things were in a more personal sphere. Of course I would happily talk about college, exams and research in the lab during my PhD. Safe stuff. Then I got married. My mother the night before my wedding said "should things go wrong, know that we are here". Not the most encouraging talk at the time, though it became true a few years later. They helped us buying a place, gave me my half of the money, which I didn't have, to match what my husband had saved over the years, and we had a mortgage together to pay the rest.  But oh boy the freedom of having my own place! Closing the door and do what the hell I wanted with my time, going out, staying in, without having to report to anybody! I was a new person. And our honeymoon period lasted about a year or so. Then the differences were just so apparent it was impossible to make it work on great sex alone. But sure, it wasn't that simple to break up. Going back to my parents? oh my God, any other options? Anyone? Seriously, give me any other option. I was about to finish my PhD and thought I can just leave then. I mean leave Italy, not just my husband. When our relationship started braking up (about 18 months into the marriage), it was complicated by the fact that my father-in-law become very ill. I mean, I wasn't cruel and my husband did nothing to make me hate him, he needed me and I was there for him. I few more months went by where the topic of breaking up was not brought up again. We all new, including my parents, this was probably not going to last much longer, but it wasn't for them to call the shots and there were far more serious things going on. On the day of the funeral of my father-in-law, I remember holding my husband's hand throughout the ceremony and my father outside the church must have got quite worried I had changed my mind, so decided to bring up the separation subject that very day. I told you already he believes he can speak his mind whenever he wants, apparently oblivious to other people's feelings. Anyway I reassured him I had not changed my mind but that this was not the time.
Another couple of months and my husband and I started working out how to split everything up and agreed we would share the house till I was leaving at the end of my PhD (I had found a post doc in Ireland already). That was so difficult. Packing everything up, dismantling what we had put together, it was the hardest bit. We put the house up for sale, we went to a lawyer (colleague of my father) who explained the process of a consensual separation and clarified for us rules on goods and money. On the day of my birthday (September 2001) I went out for lunch with my parents and somehow my father thought it was the perfect moment to upset me over what we had decided about splitting furnitures and the like. Of course he decided it wasn't right and that I was letting my husband having more than he was entitled too. Which wasn't true of course. I had to explain to my mother the maths and why everything was ok so that she could go back to her house and tell my father (who never brought up the topic again). We sold the house for exactly what we wanted to realise, we didn't loose a cent, gave back the money to my parents, split the furniture and shook hands. I left at the end of October of that year and never moved back to Italy. The relationship with my ex-husband is fine (though lately we are not in touch much) we got together a good few times after our separation, you know, just for sex and for the good ol' times. Till I met Mike and everything turned out to be just perfect.

Living away from my family was the best thing I have ever done. We were able to rebuild a relationship which benefited of short periods of close contact, enough for love and happy moments and just right to avoid frictions. For the past eight to ten years I don't remember a bad time with my family. They liked Mike immediately, celebrated genuinely our engagement, loved our wedding and rooted for us to be successful in making a family. Our relationship had changed so much they knew everything about our treatments, often mentioned if we needed money to just ask. They cried with me when I had the first ectopic. They were the first to know we had a positive test. My mother flew over when I had the second ectopic to offer support and help. We cried some more. They were over the moon when I was finally properly pregnant. Though I went back to my old self in not sharing my fears with them. And started feeling a bit annoyed when my mother insisted to be with us when Oliver was about to be born. I really wanted that to be a moment for me and Mike, but my mother (armed with the best intentions) booked a flight on the 31st of December when it was clear I was getting induced that very day. When I went home from the hospital and I had all those sad days I always had a mask on around my mother (who was a fantastic help with managing the house and keeping us fed) and wanted some space.
It seems that the arrival of Oliver is impacting negatively on my relationship with my parents. Again they feel entitled to give unsolicited advices which have escalated in the last week. Let's hope I can find my happy place soon.

Thank you for listening. Boarding shortly, I finished typing just in time.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Time-travelling (part one)

Written on the plane, posted from the hotel.

I’m on a plain on my way to Austria for a EU meeting couple of days. Getting some space is exactly what I need at the moment.

I feel the need to write down my feelings now, though I’ll only be able to post this from the hotel later this evening.

Yesterday I recontacted my therapist in Italy who had offered in the past to talk if I ever felt the need via Skype. I really need to work through what has happened with my parents as I have not felt this distressed in years. My mother came talking to me last night saying that not soothing Oliver when he wakes up at night (no matter the reason) may scar him for like. Talk about being dramatic. This morning on the way to the airport (they left today to go back home and I was leaving at the same time for the meeting in Austria) my father said that they don’t think we are bad parents (thanks) but what he said two nights ago was limited to that instance and our behaviour in that situation (as if I asked his opinion). He also said that he pretends I never said that Oliver started acting up at night in connection to their arrival that he refuses to believe I really think there’s a connection. I am stating the facts. It may just be that they are upsetting me and Oliver picks up the vibes, I’m not saying they are upsetting him direclty. At least last night Oliver slept through, while I barely had a couple of hours. Anxiety does this to me.
The thing is, I am not at all concerned about our parenting skills, I do believe what we are doing is correct, far from being abusive and, as I mentioned before, it works for us. I am reliving the feelings I had when I was living at home. My parents seem to think they were the perfect parents. Well, that’s not what I would remember. Strangely, I was sure I was over all these thoughts but obviously they were just silently waiting to come back up again if given the chance.
I am sure I was happy most of the time, but somehow at the moment I can only muster the negative feelings I had back then. I remember clearly when I was in primary school that some of my friends had parents splitting up and being upset about it. I could not see what the big deal was. I really thought I would have been happier if my parents split up. Imagine that. I couldn’t see how my mother could/would put up with my father‘s attitude.
Since I was very small, I never really remember going to my parents if I had a nightmare. In fact, I remember thinking they could have been the monsters in my dream and so I was safer in my own bed.  My first memory of my father shouting at me seems to be somewhere between the age of four or five. He had asked me to go and get something for him and I answered “you go!” (I suppose I didn’t see why he couldn’t do it himself).  Of course I didn’t know any better at the time, but I do remember my mother calming down my father as he was shaking me, telling him I didn’t mean it and that I wouldn’t say that again. I remember it like it was yesterday. Then I remember my mother making fun of my first crush on a guy, you know the kind, primary school sweetheart that makes your heart skip a beat if he talks to you during the break. I know now that was a child thing, nothing important, but it was important to me at the time and could have done with a bit of sympathy rather than being laughed at. Needless to say, I never said anything anymore about my feelings for other boys till about I was 17 and started going out with a guy a bit more officially. I would not go to my parents to discuss personal things, like ever.
Then there was the sport thing. My father is mad about sports and believes they are an excellent way of socialising and keeping fit. I agree completely. Since we were very young we did all sorts of things. I so happened to be quite good at artistic gymnastic and got to competition levels. At one point training was very demanding (5 days a week and then competitions at weekends) but my dad was so proud and would bring me everywhere. At about 12 years old or so, I started becoming scared of the various things I had to do for the higher levels. Every time I had to go training I had a knot in my stomach. Which was every day. I started thinking of quitting and couldn’t muster the courage to tell my family. My dad would bring me to every training session and this one time I remember falling from the balance beam and hurting my leg, started crying that I didn’t want to do it anymore and dad got so angry he slapped me in front of everyone. How on earth was this normal I have no idea. Still I kept going till I finally told my mother I wanted to quit. She had no problem at all, never been the sporty type, but I had to tell dad. When I eventually did I think he didn’t speak to me for a day or so (or so it felt to me).
The thing is, my sister seems to have had a totally different experience with the same parents. Maybe it’s me taking things the wrong way at times, re-elaborating over and over, still I don’t want to be that kind of parent. I mentioned in my previous posts a few other incidents, but also my parents (father) seemed to believe that it was ok to interfere with my life at every level. And I mean, it’s not like he would tell me his opinion and let it be, no, he would say it over and over, getting louder and louder, with the excuse that he says what he thinks and is entitled to do so. But I wasn’t. I always perceived him as very confrontational and aggressive in his way of talking. Maybe he can’t help it, but his voice is loud to start with, so it takes very little for him to start shouting. I hate shouting. It freezes my blood if someone shouts at me.

To be continued. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


First of all thank you so much for your support it means the World to me.

Last night it was the worst night yet. Oliver had a great day with his grandparents, out and about in playgrounds etc. Which of course is fantastic but in my opinion children that age do need some quiet time too during the day, playing alone and "regroup". I would not say this to them of course as I'm sure their intention was to have him tired by the evening. We came home and Oliver started acting up a bit, nothing major and nothing unseen before. I fed him dinner, bath time and then bed. He went down no problem after his bottle. It may have been 8.15 pm. We all went to bed early not knowing what the night ahead would bring.
It brought Hell.
Oliver woke up around half past midnight screaming. Both Mike and I went in as it sounded like he was either in pain or had a nightmare. We picked him up to soothe him and gave him some painkiller just in case. I went back to bed and Mike started the "going back to sleep" task. Oliver would stay in his crib quite happily but no sign of sleeping. He was wired and just wanting to play. At this stage my parents were in bed and did quite well at staying put. Oliver never cried with Mike unless he was trying to leave the room. I got up again around 2 am and warmed some milk to see if it would help getting him back to sleep. He took the milk but no joy. No crying either. At 3am Mike came into the room and asked me to take over as he was at the end of his strength (also we get up around 6.40 in the morning...). So I went in and Oliver started crying (you know, the tantrum cry, loud ear piercing crying that stops instantly if you do what he wants), he just wanted to be picked up but I stuck to my guns and kept putting him back down. Of course this went on for about 10 minutes at which point my father came into the room and said he would stay there to keep him company if I wanted to go back to bed. I declined. All this while I kept putting Oliver down on his back and  he kept rolling over and stand back up crying. My father started loosing it and accused me literally of being abusive towards my son and showed surprise that nobody had called the police and social services on me yet. Seriously. He was practically shouting at me (which had the effect of quietening Oliver momentarily, we in fact never shout) which brought up memories and not of the pleasant kind. Memories of my childhood when he would slap me across the face several times because I was looking at him the "wrong way". I had bruises the day after going into school. Or another time when I was a bit older, and I got a mark in school below my average (I was generally an A student, this one time I must have got a C) and he shouted at me that this was a "signal" (no idea what signal) and that I was getting distracted. Of course I got another C the same week somewhere else and I clearly remember being sick to my stomach in fear. Or another time, again a bit older, say about 16, when we were leaving some friends' house after dinner and he was being quite loud so I told him to keep his voice down as people were sleeping at that time. He slapped me hard across the face (imagine the look on friends' faces and the embarrassing silence that followed).
This is abuse in my eyes and not what I was doing (being consistent with a child who is just fussing at night because he's been hyper all day). I so wanted to shout back at him and tell him what I just wrote down here. I didn't. I think the last slap was in fact the last ever he gave me and I remember clearly thinking that should he dare lifting a hand on me one more time and I would have called the police. And you wonder why I couldn't wait to leave home? Or why I got married at 24 to the wrong guy? It looks quite obvious to me.
My mother in all this never intervened in front of him, though I am sure she always talked to him as often apologies were offered (and regularly turned down by me).
I certainly don't want to be that kind of parent. He may have rocked me to sleep when I was small, bought me all sorts of things and loved me dearly most of the time, but that is not all that I remember.

Oliver went to sleep within half an hour of me taking over. In the end I gave him a biscuit and that settled him for the rest of the night. When we left this morning at 7.30 he was still sound asleep.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sleepless Easter

My parents arrived on thursday of last week. Oliver stopped sleeping through the night thursday of last week also. He may have been up for 3 hours between 2 and 5am. Crying like it was going out of fashion. We were up, my parents were up and we all had a terrible night. This would have been bad enough without a series of unsolicited advices from my parents on what we should do (obviously the opposite of what we were doing) and recollection of what they were doing with me when I was small (again, never did what we were doing etc). I talked to them the day after saying they weren't really helping and to please stay in bed and let us do our own things. Friday night was much of the same, Mike took the first shift and 5 minutes later he was back in the bedroom because my parents decided to take over. So I got up, my mum was holding Oliver, chatting to him etc. I took him and told them to go back to bed. More comments on how they never let me cry that much.
Miraculously, Saturday night was much better. Another good night on Sunday, though it took Oliver a good hour to fall asleep (more crying etc with my parents saying he was awake and we should just let him be up for a while) and back to hell-night last night. We are wrecked and also back in work.
My parents are leaving on thursday and want to babysit Oliver (no crèche), which we have no problem with, but we have to find a solution to this behaviour.
Let's talk about what these two terrible pair (Mike and I) are doing that is so wrong and by all means do comment and let me know your point of view.
1) We believe in routine. Oliver has dinner around 7pm, then we have happy time in the bath and then he goes to bed, takes his bottle while we chat to him telling stories or just talking to him about our day, he gives us the bottle when he's done we kiss him and cuddle goodnight and close the door. Normally he goes asleep no problem without a sound. Occasionally we have to go back him a couple of times if he really doesn't settle.
2) We believe in a scheduled nap time (routine again I suppose). Same as when he is in the crèche, we put him down for his nap after lunch and he can sleep between 1 and 2.5 hours but he has to be up by 3 or the rest of the afternoon is a mess, then he doesn't want to eat/sleep etc.
3) When he wakes up during the night, we assess the situation (he's well, dry and doesn't really need anything other than company), give him back his soother if he has lost it ("soother emergency") and we consistently put him back down in his bed. Often he goes right back to sleep. If he's very upset, we give him a cuddle but keep the talk to a minimum, the light is always off (bar the night light), we do not engage in playing or other activities that may delay the go back to sleep. Of course if he's not well, we pick him up, give him paracetamol or similar, and stay up with him looking out the window etc. If we think he's hungry we of course feed him and by now I think we can have a good guess from his crying at what the problem is. I know there are different opinions on this but I am not sure there is just one right way of handling a crying baby or everyone would follow that one!
4) We don't have Oliver falling asleep in our bed, in front of the telly (which he doesn't watch yet) or other places. His bedroom and bed is where sleeping happens (of course the car seat is a valid alternative for him or the stroller if we are out during nap time).

I don't have anything against co-sleeping or never let a baby cry and such, but just it doesn't work for us and I think that being consistent is the most important thing. If Oliver has a bit of a fall or hits his head against a chair I tend not to make a big deal at all of it and he's quickly on his feet and back playing. If he plays with a drawer (safe content and safe drawer) he can just do it without me obsessing on the possibility that he may catch his finger in it (if he does, I console him and kiss said finger and he can keep playing if he wants to). I cuddle him loads and have lots of fun together playing any sort of games and he seems really happy to me. I cannot believe that I have to let him do what he wants when is sleeping time or else I'm a bad parent.

I think I'm realising now that perhaps I never knew how my parents would react to a particular request because there was not a consistent behaviour (yes to a brand new moped, but no to sleepovers. I could have my opinion but I had to be careful how I express it, while they could just say it as they saw it).

We had a series of disagreements on what we should do in particular situations (my father is convinced that if he has a bit of a cough we should not bathe him. As if we are bathing him on the balcony in cold water...Yet we should bring him out for walks no matter the weather. He should not sleep in a sleeping bag because he cannot stand up easily if he wakes...I argue that the sleeping bag is the safest thing) and I know that they just want to let me know what they think but this is my son and I don't think I have to justify what we do to them! It's tiring.
One last thing I need to vent. I mentioned we will be doing a FET this summer and my mother commented "Do you think you can handle two?" do I even have to answer?
I love them dearly and they would give their life for me and my sister but at times I just wish they stopped treating me like a child who doesn't know what's best.