loss

All posts tagged loss

I feel sick, but its ok isnt it!

Published March 17, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I had a phonecall from school Friday.

School: ‘Baby girl is feeling sick and looks very pale’
Me: ‘I’ll come get her’

I collected a very miserable looking baby girl with a pale face and red blotchy watery eyes.
‘Oh dear’ I said
‘I feel sick mommy, but it’s ok isn’t it, I’m not in trouble am I’ She said.

I became suspicious from the moment we stepped in through the front door. Her mood lifted, she was chatty and smiley.

‘Do you really feel pooly, or did you just feel a bit sad?’ I asked her.

‘If I was just feeling a little bit sad will I have to go back to school?’ she asked.

It seems baby girl had found lunch time difficult.

‘My friend Gxxxx said she didn’t want to be my friend and I don’t know why because I looked after her when she had a nose bleed, it was gross, but then she said she didn’t want to play with me any more and wanted to play with Fxxx and they said I wasn’t allowed to play and at dinner time I wasnt allowed to sit by them so I didn’t have any one to sit with but Mxxx did sit by me but she wasn’t being kind mommy and I didn’t eat my dinner because I started to feel sick but Mxxx said I wasn’t felling sick but how would she know mommy, my tummy was really hurting, she didn’t know did she but she said I was lying, so I went outside but I didn’t have any one to play with and I waited by the friendship spot but no body came to play with me mommy and they’re supposed to aren’t they. Some children looked at me and just said ‘urgh I’m not playing with you’ well they didn’t actually say that mommy but that must be what they thought because they didn’t come and play with me’
(said really fast without pausing)

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She then started chatting about a girl that recently left:

‘I used to play with Txxx but she’s gone now and I don’t know where she is she even left her school bag and her lunch bag at school, maybe she had an accident and is in hospital, perhaps she is lost?’

After reassuring her that her friend (travelling family) had just moved house and gone to a new school and that nothing terrible had happened to her, she calmed and enjoyed the rest of her day playing.

My poor baby girl, she probably did feel pretty sick inside.

Lonely, rejected, sad and sick.

Things that matter.

Published January 21, 2014 by thefamilyof5

There are so many things that we were unprepared for, but in all honesty, I’m not sure how we could have prepared ourselves any better.

We read the books, we met with other adopters, we researched and we listened to our social worker.

But there are somethings that no one could have prepared us for, not really.

I want to write today about the losses and changes that we would face ourselves, not the loss of hopes and dreams of a birth child, because for us, this wasn’t an issue. I’m referring to the losses and changes within our lives, it sounds dramatic I know but so many things have changed over the years and it hasn’t all been good. We’ve lost many friends along this journey, people who we once considered to be our closest friends we now call strangers. Some couldn’t handle the hard truths about adoption. Some just didn’t understand that we were so busy regulating our kids that we were unable to come to their hyped up play dates. Some just drifted, I have no explanation for those and they probably make me feel the most sad. Some lost interest in us, I guess we became boring over time, the predictability and routine of our lives now does take some getting used to, I guess it’s the same when you have a child by birth. Suddenly you stop drinking in wine bars, swap your stilettos for comfy slippers and share more In common with other parents at ‘stay & play’ and the health clinic. For us though, with older children being placed there was no ‘play & stay’, there was no health visitor never mind a health clinic so rather than swapping our friends, we just lost them.

Then there’s family, inevitably your relationship with family members changes, suddenly you become a parent of an older child and possibly have to deal with things that some family members who have had children by birth, haven’t got round to yet. Like school, friendships/peers, spellings, math, tooth brushing, the tooth fairy, toileting, you get the idea. Then there is all the attachmenty type stuff, the control battles, the loss the trauma and even the most enthusiastic friend or relative just wont ‘get it’, you have to ‘live it’ to ‘get it’ I’ve learned.
So family can respond in different ways. There’s the ones with children of their own that go in to a panic and fear for their own children’s status within the family. The ones that try to over compensate and completely freak out your kids with their over the top fake attention and affection. The ones that aren’t sure how to ‘be’ and inevitably end up rejecting you as a family. The ones that don’t really consider these ‘new’ children to be part of the family. And of course the ones that already have children (or not) and know ‘everything’ and make it their job to tell you what your doing wrong. Even with the ones who manage the new arrivals well, the relationship between you changes. Your no longer just their sister, aunt, niece, daughter, cousin, your a parent, and that changes things.

The relationship between your partner changes too, they’re no longer just your wife/husband, they’re also the parent of your child/ren. You hold new expectations for them within your relationship and new expectations for yourself. The person you are used to being intimate with, suddenly looks less sexy and more ‘dad’ or ‘mom’ like and that takes a bit of getting used to, there is no post pregnancy glow or aura, just mental exhaustion and needy children. The dynamics of your whole family changes, suddenly there are more people to consider when planning a trip or lunch or even bedtime, there’s no more helping yourself to a chocolate biscuit from the barrel unless your prepared to share with the beady eyes that will suddenly appear, and they will appear, I promise you, like cats to a tin opener, kids will appear as if by magic the minute you so much as approach the biscuit tin.

Then there’s your role within the family, there’s no more coming in from work and chilling on the sofa for 10 minutes, its go go go! There’s homework to oversee, reading to be listened to, after school clubs to be taxi’d, dinner to be prepared, children to be bathed, bedtime routines to be put in place, uniforms to get prepared etc etc etc and there is a lot of etc’s I assure you, so who does what, how do you decide when its thrust upon you over night and in the middle of all of that you still need to find the time to spend with your child, to love them, nurture them and help them ‘belong’.

Car journeys need to be planned, toilet breaks factored in, snacks and entertainment thought through. Visits to family and friends need to be well planned, what will the child/ren have to keep them entertained, pack sugar free drinks you dont want a sugar rush happening in someone else’s lounge, pack the wet wipes (yes even older kids get messy), working out if the visit will overlap a meal time, and if so how will that be tackled, if there are food/eating issues that can be tricky. Going to a busy place can be a problem for hyper vigilant children, there is just too much to listen to and watch out for. So that small dark and busy pub you used to eat in or that popular resort you liked to holiday in, could just be too much for them to handle.

Then those times when you casually flick the tv on during the news report and don’t realise until its already been heard by little ears, that the days headlines involve murder, rape, child abuse. Or worst still, its one of those programmes where people with no shame air their dirty laundry on tv, you know the ones, ‘I found My baby momma and my mom in bed with a giraffe’ or some equally absurd headline, all of which will need to be explained. Thank god for catch up TV I say because these days you really don’t know what your going to be presented with when you switch on that tv, but a long long time ago in a life a million miles away from this one, it didn’t matter, and neither did any of that other stuff.

In that life things were different. There was a much slower pace and less planning. I didn’t need a diary to keep track of appointments and school events, in fact I didn’t need a diary. I miss some of that. I miss the spontaneity. I miss the relationships that were lost along the way. I miss the ideals I’d hoped for for family life. I miss trashy tv. I miss just being a daughter, wife, sister, cousin, niece. There are no training groups that can prepare you for these losses.

I don’t miss everything about that life, because in that life no one called me ‘mummy’.

The Silver Lining

Published November 17, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Well as you know, if your a regular reader, there’s been somewhat of a hiccup with my blog lately. My anonymity has been compromised and my privacy invaded. A ‘professional’ decided that my blog needed to bought to the attention of an organisation that the girls attend. This organisation decided that my blog needed to be bought to the attention of the child protection gate keepers. ‘What an outrage’ you might think!

My blog is currently read and supported by teachers, social workers, educational psychologists, authors, therapists, psychotherapists, adopters, prospective adopters, adoptees, birth parents, and general bloggers. So a few more isn’t going to hurt really is it.

After a brief chat with the lovely gate keepers about the lack of understanding on attachment and trauma within both the educational and health sectors, I decided that actually, this wasn’t such a bad situation after all and I was encouraged to continue to advocate, and help others to understand what I already know about my children.

I’m secretly pleased that my blog is being read by so many people that have the ability to change the way adoption is viewed and approached, although I wont deny being infuriated at the way my families privacy has been invaded with this breach of my anonymity.

I started my blog in the hope that I could reach out to other adopters and find support for myself, this quickly changed to me wanting to reach out and support others. My aim now is to reach out to the world and educate people on the effects of trauma and loss and attachment difficulties by sharing my own experiences in the hope that the world can be an easier place to live for adopted children and their families.

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So I’d like to say thank you to that ‘professional’, you’ve helped me reach even further and opened up some valuable lines of communication. Every cloud really does have a silver lining!

I’ve linked up this with this weeks #WASO over at The Adoption Social where you can read lots more great adoption blogs.

I Doubted Myself

Published August 25, 2013 by thefamilyof5

You know those moments when you doubt yourself, you wonder if actually it’s all just in your head. Are the issues the girls have just a figment of my imagination, a product of my overprotectiveness?? (yes, I made that word up).
Well today I had one of those moments. The weather had forced us to change our plans so we decided a trip to the cinema and lunch would be a better idea. Smurfs 2 was on, I remembered an adopter friend warning me about the storyline and how it may trigger some fears in ‘adopted children’ with a history of loss , but I also recalled another adopter telling me they’d been to see it and their child had loved it. ‘maybe it’s me just being over protective’ I thought, ‘it’ll promote resilliance, they’ll be fine, I can’t keep protecting them’ I told myself.

So we went.

I cried at several points in the film, well I fought back tears and lump in my throat I should say. It was a film with a strong storyline line about ‘loss’ ‘identity’ ‘belonging’ ‘being part of a family’.
It was also very funny, and we all laughed, a lot.

We left the cinema and seated ourselves in the neighbouring Mexican restaurant. I busied myself with menu’s and finding out what everyone was going to eat and drink and ordering our food. Whilst I was sorting out the food order I became aware that baby girl, who was sat beside me, was becoming increasingly hyper. Once I ordered the food I turned to baby girl and suggested she calmed down.
She wasn’t able to look at me, her muscles tense, her body flinching, she wasn’t really there.
I held her hand and asked her to look at me, I softly stroked her hand and asked her what was the matter, she was wriggly and fidgety and was still unable to look at me. I lifted her chin and looked in to her eyes, she looked sad and scared. I asked her again what was the matter. She cried. She cried a lot, she cuddled me and clung to me and cried some more.
Eventually I asked her again ‘what’s the matter?’
‘I don’t know’ she sobbed.
And she probably didnt.

I really could kick myself, I should have known better, I should have trusted my instincts. It was only a few weeks ago that I linked a downturn in the girls behaviour with a different TV channel. We’d change the channel on the TV in the playroom from Cbeebies, which is aimed at toddlers and pre school children, to the channel aimed at children a little older, Cbbc which amongst other things, does have its own ‘news’ feature, which is real life news presented in a easy to understand child friendly manor, but it’s still REAL news with war, death, accidents, fires etc. Their behaviour became increasingly worse, they were constantly bickering, impatient and irritated with each other. We reverted back to Cbeebies after a couple of weeks and the calm descended upon the playroom once more.

They don’t need to be reminded that the world around them is scary. For now they just need to feel safe.

I may sometimes protect my girls from the world around them, and I may sometimes make choices that seem odd, maybe even controlling, to others, but never again will I doubt myself.

My girls are not emotionally strong enough to cope with the real world and all its diversity. They don’t yet feel safe and secure, they’re not sure who they really are and where they came from, they don’t know why bad things happened to them in the past and I don’t think they always feel like they ‘belong’ anywhere.

They smile, they hide, they comply.
They rarely show their emotions because it’s just too much, they feel too vulnerable.
They still need me to protect them, to wrap them in cotton wool and tell them stories of fairies and princesses and happy ever afters. They don’t need to hear about death, destruction and loss. They’ve felt the real world before, and it was scary. They’ve felt emotions before, they were scary too.

When they feel safe and secure they’ll be ready to deal with their complex emotions, they’ll be ready face the world and all its diversitys, and I’ll be ready and waiting to help them.

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This feels like a good time to tell you about some decisions we’re currently making/considering.
We received a letter from camhs, it was kind of a reveiw about their veiws on the last few meetings we’ve had with them. It became clear in this letter that they don’t really understand the girls and they don’t really understand us as a family and our needs. So we’ve had some discussions with the placing authority and have expressed our concerns about CAMHS and how we don’t really feel like the girls are benefitting from seeing them and how we feel that we’re no further along as a family than we were 18 months ago when we first started with CAMHS. So they’ve offered to fund some commissioned therapy and life story work for the girls with an alternative service/therapist. This is great news, this will be someone that will look deep in to the girls past and help them and us, make sense of it and help us to move forward as a family.

Perhaps then, they’ll be ready to watch Annie 🙂 or maybe I’m just being optimistic!

Watch this space………….

3 Years ago today!

Published May 19, 2013 by thefamilyof5

3 years ago today we travelled 3 and a half hours to the girls local authority and met with their teachers, nursery staff and foster carers.

3 years ago today I knew very little about child development.
3 years ago today I knew very little about the lasting effects of trauma.
3 years ago today I knew little about attachment.
3 years ago today I knew nothing of the education system.
3 years ago today I knew nothing of the mental health care system.
3 years ago today I knew nothing of post adoption support.
3 years ago today I had no understanding of how much adoption would change our entire lives.
3 years ago today I didn’t know how significant a tiny hand holding mine would be.
3 years ago today I had no idea how much ‘sleep’ would impact our lives.
3 years ago today I knew nothing of parenting a child on the autistic spectrum.
3 years ago today I didn’t know how warming childrens laughter could be.
3 years ago today I didn’t know how the tiniest of milestones would bring us the greatest of joy.
3 years ago today I didn’t know how many tears I’d cry.
3 years ago today I didn’t envisage life often feeling so hard.
3 years ago today It didn’t occur to me that some of my friends weren’t my friends at all.
3 years ago today I didn’t even know what CAMHS was.
3 years ago today It didn’t enter my head that some of our family would choose to leave our lives.
3 years ago today I didn’t know how many people would judge, criticise and berate me.

3 years later I now know Post adoption support is something you have to fight for.
3 years later I’m fighting a school system that doesn’t and won’t even try to understand.
3 years later I have a child with an ASD diagnosis, 1 with Auditory Processing Difficulties and the knowledge that there may be more to come.
3 years later I know about attachment.
3 years later I’m living with the effects of early trauma.
3 years later I still don’t understand the mental health system.
3 years later I still don’t understand the education system.
3 years later I’m somewhat of an expert on childrens sleep disorders.
3 years later I’ve attended over 25 CAMHS appointments.
3 years later I know how precious any kind of ‘touch’ is from a child with attachment difficulties.
3 years later I’ve lost count of the tears I’ve cried.
3 years later I love to listen to the girls laugh.
3 years later I’ve still not got used to friends and family ‘leaving’.
3 years later I’m still not used to being judged, criticised and berated.
3 years later an act of defiance is classed as a joyous milestone.
3 years later I know how hard adoption can and does feel.
3 years later I have more (adoptive) friends than I’ve ever had.
3 years later I know what a dramatic difference adoption has made to my life.

3 years ago today I wasn’t a mummy.

3 years later I’m a mummy to 3 school aged children, they’re 3 traumatised children with attachment difficulties.

3 years later, like any new mum 3 years in to their first parenting experience, I’m still learning………………………every day.

Baby Girl and her ongoing Battle with Loss.

Published April 11, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Something odd happened last weekend, something that I really don’t understand. My family went on holiday. That wasn’t the unusual thing though, they go away for a long weekend every year at easter. What was unusual though, was baby girls reaction.

We spent some time with my family last Wednesday, and it was mentioned in passing that they were going away on Friday until Monday. Baby girl was quite interested to hear this and started asking ‘why’ ‘when will you be back’ ‘why can’t I come’ ‘where are you going’ etc. It wasn’t really mentioned again then until Friday morning. Baby girl commented ‘Nanny and Grandad are going on holiday today aren’t they’ and then a few other random remarks about them being away. The weekend continued like this with comments from baby girl about them being away and how they would be coming home on Monday and wondering what they were doing, she even found their holiday destination on a uk map that we have displayed in the playroom etc.

Now don’t get me wrong, she loves her nanny and grandad, but she doesn’t really mention them this much in between weekly visits with them, and if it hadn’t been mentioned, she’d have never even known they were away. They go away every Easter, Perhaps she just doesn’t remember last year or the year before, she has been in a state of sleep deprived craziness I guess.

Then Monday came. ‘Nanny and Grandad come home today’ is what I was greeted with first thing in the morning. Followed by a constant stream of questions throughout the morning about what time they’ll be home, will they have breakfast and dinner before they leave or just breakfast, will they go straight home or will they go somewhere else. By this point I was starting to realise that she was clearly feeling anxious about them being away. (I know, I know, I should have realised sooner, I suck!!).

The rest of the day just went down hill from there. Baby girls play was all negative, it was all about naughty children, broken bones, dead people, injured animals, dead animals, people hurting each other and going to jail and people being killed. All 3 girls were playing together and whilst big girl was the one giving out orders and telling her sisters what to do, baby girl was the one defining the theme of their play today.

It was awful to listen to. Judging by the heightened anxiety levels in middle girl and big girl, they also found it difficult. I intervened in their play several times that morning, I suggested alternative themes for their imaginative play but it always led back to something tragic and awful, I even stopped imaginative play and set up some structured activities but it made no difference. In the end I had to stop play altogether and we spent the remainder of the day watching a film and being calm. There were still the odd comments throughout the film from baby girl about death and injurys, I just refocused her on the film and reassured her everyone was ok.

Baby girl will often use a negative theme in her role play, but usually when I intervene she will move on and play something with a more appropriate ‘happy’ theme. But not this day.

As I said in the beginning, I really don’t understand what it was all about. I understand that her outward play was a reflection of the negative feelings she had inside. What I don’t understand is why she was feeling this way?!

I know consistency, reliability and predictability are the things that help children that have suffered loss and trauma to survive. And I know baby girl has suffered the most loss out of all my girls.

Holidays, days out, change, have never been something my girls have really struggled with. Until now it seems?!

So why now, what was it about this trip that freaked her out so much!?

Loss

Published March 15, 2013 by thefamilyof5

After a busy swimming class I tucked my baby girl in to bed tonight, and like every other night I said

‘Snuggle down, straight to sleep’

She replied with

‘Cause you and daddy won’t leave each other will you?’

Needless to say, we had a good chat about how mommy and daddy love each other and always will and how we’ll always be her mommy and daddy and we’ll never leave her, ever.

I’m not sure what prompted this little chat, could be many things, we have a recently divorced neighbour and also a family member going through a separation or perhaps it was something said at school or a story that was read or a tv programme watched. I don’t suppose I’ll ever know.

It makes me so sad that on top of all the loss that baby girl has suffered in her short little life already, she still anticipates that there may be more.

Needless to say I’ve told my husband that no matter how unbearable a wife I may become, he’ll just have to put up with me, I promised her you see!

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