Working mum of three

Figuring it out as we go along. Blogging is cheaper than therapy.

Stockholm syndrome

Send help: I’m being held captive. Tortured in fact. My body and decisions are not my own. He seems irrational, uncompromising, cruel. But I am completely in love with him.

Throughout the night, every night, I’m woken abruptly at all hours. Sometimes over and over again. Patterns are lost as quickly as they are established. I stumble around in the dark, covered in vomit and crap searching for wipes and blankets. We fall to sleep while feeding and I jerk awake with fear. I rock back and forth for hours, arms throbbing under the weight of 7 bags of sugar. I ease him into bed and stand, doubled over, back aching, hoping not to wake him. I silently move away, releasing each fingertip at a time. His eyes flash open, my heart stops, I stand frozen, afraid to move. He cries, we start again. I curse myself for unleashing untold hours of wakefulness.

I’m rendered powerless throughout the day. An expert in one-handed chores but defeated by basic tasks (like putting on socks and buttering toast). I can’t achieve anything worthwhile. My body is at his beck and call. He frequently humiliates me in public by exposing my breasts in restaurants and playparks. I sit still for hours, lose feeling in my limbs and toilet breaks are rare and rushed. I stare longingly at out of reach cups of tea and remote controls. The battery life countdown on my iphone strikes panic through my soul.

But from the depths of this grim and murky torture, I begin to sympathise with my captor. It’s almost as though it is he who is dependent and powerless. At the peak of my exhaustion, the limits of patience, the brink of tears, there it is: a glimmer of a wonky smile, an unmistakable moment of recognition, a gloriously excited coo. It turns out he’s not a cruel tormentor. There is no malice. In fact he runs on instinct, survival and total dependence.

Rich says this blog sounds like the opening of a crime novel, so I fear I may have taken the analogy too far. I promise this is not a cry for help. It was meant to be funny. Nevertheless, I’ll post it anyway because we don’t talk enough about how hard it can be. There’s no doubt that I am completely in love with my babe (I will bore you with that another day), but the hard work, self doubt and exhaustion play a large part of this period. And mine would be considered an ‘easy’ baby (is there any such thing?). I don’t joke when I tell people that the first few weeks are tantamount to torture: sleep depravation, disorientation, disempowerment. No wonder so many new parents battle with depression. Not helped by the feeling that we shouldn’t talk about this stuff, that it should appear effortless and perfect, and constantly told that we should enjoy every minute (see examples of unenjoyable minutes above). There are endless ‘experts’ telling us what we are doing wrong and that we shouldn’t allow our baby to manipulate us, as if babies have a cruel master plan. A wise friend has recently said “don’t read anything, every child is different, just follow his lead”.

So here I am, shattered and besotted. For the time being, we are an inseparable team. And what a privilege it is, bloodshot eyes and all.

1 Comment »