Thursday, July 22, 2010

Political Correctness, or How to Walk on Tenterhooks All Your Life.

I am posting Throbbing Thursday later today, but a couple of posts on blogs I follow have made me drag out the soapbox again. Now bear with me, I am still ill, and probably quite short on tolerance at the moment. And I will add, I think it is a good thing when people's blogs make you sit and analyse and look deeper than you usually would.

The first one which provoked a reaction was a hot potato topic. One of my favourites, Trav, over at I Like to Fish...  posted a letter to a certain type of parent, one which I have never put myself into. The can of worms he was opening was the issue of fertility - or as what I see on a lot of parenting websites I visit as :  infertiles versus fertiles. Now I will add, that is the terminology used on those sites, not my choice of phrase. Obviously, a highly sensitive topic at anytime or anywhere.

Now, I have no issue with the majority of the letter, (though I must admit I felt a little ill at the early use of one the most abhored words in our world, retarded, even if it was used in the correct context here) and no personal experience of our own with infertility but some of it raised points which I would like to reply to.

It was the second section of the letter, where Trav complains about people who think because he does not have a child, he cannot help or hold a child or baby in this case. Now, I can only base this on our experiences with the people close to us who struggled with infertility. When we had our first son, close friends were following the path of ferility treatments. Now I won't go into details, it is personal, but let me tell you it had been a good few years of pain and disappointment. And it was not just one couple, it was two. After being good friends for over a decade, my child became the catalyst for destroying these friendships. It was a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't...

Trav, I'm going to respond to you as I would a mate, as it is the only way I know how to answer your letter. I knew all four of these people really well. We had laughed, cried, suffered loss together (one was the main reason I made it through the loss of my Grandma), I thought I could read them like a book. I was wrong. By the time my son was twelve months old and I was pregnant with our second, both couples had distanced themselves from us. And I was a nervous wreck every social gathering where they were included.

If I involved them in anything to do with my son I could never judge the reaction from either couple. At various times I was accused of doing exactly what you complained of: excluding them. But only weeks before they had thrown reactions at us about "rubbing it in"  that we had a child and neither of them did. I got to the point where I was on tenterhooks, trying desperately to read the signals before even opening my mouth, crying to Big Boy when I made the wrong choice. It was impossible a call to make, if I mentioned anything about his development, or the new pregnancy I was a demon bitch, and if I didn't I was a self-centred cow shutting them out.

Of course, it didn't help that neither couple discussed what was happening in their lives anymore. We had no idea what the week had brought them, no inkling of hormone injections and mood swings to be considerate of. We were the pariahs because we HAD a child and could not conceive of the pain they felt.

To be honest my feelings were that it was exactly why we could conceive of the pain they felt...

Years passed, friendships evolved, rotated, died, were re-born. I wish I could say things recovered. One link did, the other did not. But that is not the point. The point here Trav is that it is REALLY hard to know what to do sometimes, no matter how much you care and trust someone. I wish they had written me a letter, or spoken to me truthfully. All I received were bitter accusations which changed from one direction to another. I tried, I really did, but the wall was too high to scale, and I was a sleep-deprived first time Mum.

Go talk to 'em Trav.  Really, seriously worth it.

Now the second post which provoked a reaction, and a comment which I am wondering if it will be approved to appear on the blog... This one is from Psych Babbler at Over Cups of Coffee. Co-sleeping. Attachment parenting. Another parenting website hot potato topic.
Now, I have had statistics and outcomes quoted at me for the last decade since Boy 1 was diagnosed. The ones who tend to quote at me, usually whilst telling me what a terrible parent I am and how much I am lacking, are most times THE ONES WHO DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN OF THEIR OWN. Sleep deprivation can be crippling, and there are times when co-sleeping is the perfect alternative.

When Boy 1 was born we went straight into a wonderful sleep/feed pattern. Seriously. Then at four months old he developed Bronchialitis. Luckily for us, unlike a lot of babies during this 1990's epidemic, instead of refusing to feed he went into a feeding frenzy. Hourly. And because of this did not develop dehydration which was the cause of a great number of hospitalisations at that time.

But it was mind crippling for me. No sleep, for as I began to doze he would wake. And so we moved him (in his foam sleep thingy) into the queen bed with me. Now he recovered from this and with a little controlled crying (mainly mine), settled back into a routine. Then we had a friend move in with us. Who complained at the noise. Yep, ended up with him back in my bed. Once more, when she moved, we went back to routine. Then the horrific hail and wind storms hit, taking our roof with them. Terrified now a little older boy, back in my bed. And this time he refused to go back to his. As we were about to move we didn't push it.

Life threw so much more at us and our sleep-ideals, but I won't bore you with it all. Suffice to say our beloved, much-experienced Early Childhood Nurse gave us the best advice:
"Do whatever works for you. Go with your gut instinct. And worry about it if it is still an issue when he is eighteen!"

With the many complexs issues, the anxiety, the nightmares, the sleep-walking, and so on, some weeks it just does not work with him in his own bed. And so we co-sleep. For the first nine - yes NINE years of his life, he and I mainly co-slept. Big Boy slept in the spare double bed, Boy 2 slept in his bed, but Boy 1 and I blissfully dreamt on in the queen bed.

Since then it is a bit of an off and on thing. For both boys (Boy 2 hated sleeping in the big bed until the last year or so). And it works. For all of us.

So come and talk to me post children. Then maybe I'll take your statistics a little more seriously. Or maybe not.


Epskee said...

Two subjects I know a bit, and feel strongly, about. And I am in agreeance with you totally.

re fertility - We are your friends for a reason. We care for you, as you care for us. We want to wave a magic wand and "fix" your pain and your problems, and not just child related ones either. But we cant, and we don't know what to say or do to not cause you pain, so we try our best, and sometimes we fail. Whether we share or hide, we do it out of love and respect. We dont know where the line is. Tell us. We want to know. And when we share, know it is because you are our friend and we want to include you in our lives. When we hold back, know it is because you are our friend and we dont want to disrespect you. When we stuff up, which we will, know we didnt mean to, and that we are sorry.

Nobody, not even your worst enemy would ever hurt you like that on purpose. Especially not a friend.

re cosleeping - sproglet is difficult, and 9yrs old, and still sleeps in my bed more often than not. Believe me, i KNOW its not ideal, I ant him in his own bed, but I also need an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep. And more often than not, that is just the only way I will get it.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had your early childhood nurse - I got the dragonlady who insisted that we do everything the right way which was her way. Mum's advice was better - do what works for you and your child. After 4 kids found out there is no magical formula - what works with one may not work with the rest. Cathy

Melissa Mandy said...

You know your health nurse is right, its all down to what works for you. We didn't / don't co-sleep with our kids/babies but that's partly because I am too frightened that I would roll over and squash one of them. However, with the toddler we have had many naps together in our bed and in hers. She loves it, and sometimes it just what the doctor ordered. So do what suits you and stuff everyone else!