Meltdown: “a disastrous collapse or breakdown.” (Oxford Dictionary)
While it was a relatively passive one in terms of reaction (if you count the panic attack and calling Wes to lay with me while my body felt both hot and cold at the same time, passive) as there were no tears and enough self control to not deflect my feelings and cause an argument; but it was my first breakdown as a mom where I felt inadequate and unable to carry out my mom duties because I was tired and numb to parenting as a whole. This happened last night, after a visit to our paediatrician, which I’d arranged in the first place to calm my anxieties around food allergies that I’d addressed in my previous mommy post (click here to read about our trip to the ER when Scout reacted badly to a known allergen). The appointment went relatively well as Scout responded well to milestone tests, showing that her development is on track. But when her weight and measurements were done she was not progressing on that front as much as she should be, having gained very little weight over the three month period between our last visit and this one. It’s not a great concern at this stage and we have to add more food to her diet and return for measurements in a month’s time but hearing that she’s not growing as much as she should be was the start of me finally unraveling now that our experience with solids has changed. I’ve found it really difficult to offer her food while I’m worried about allergic reactions and it’s as troubling when she rejects certain flavours and textures, even more so now that I know she needs to gain weight.
I’ve felt real mom guilt since her allergy incident because, despite doing so much research even before introducing the egg, I was made to feel that I should have taken more precautions and that I should have known better. The doctor on duty at the ER used her experience of waiting to introduce an allergen with her own child at a later stage to question my decision to start earlier, even though my paediatrician follows the school of thought that says to introduce it all earlier (without there being a known reason not to, of course). I’ve also felt incredibly nervous about feeding in general, being cautious about food consistency and texture because I am now hyper vigilant about things like choking and baby readiness with stages of feeding, something I was only passively aware of before. My lived experience says that I have very little to worry about because Scout is showing the right amount of interest in her food at this stage when grabbing and pulling the spoon to her mouth when we feed her vegetables; she’s also started playing with her food and smacking her lips when we eat, which are all healthy signs that she will one day be ready for baby led weaning, which I’ve been advised to hold off on until she is a little older. Despite all of this, I still feel really anxious about food now and am so confused about the best way forward as we await the results of her allergy test.
That was another blow in yesterday’s events that resulted in my emotional collapse; I did not go to the hospital anticipating that we’d need to have blood drawn and watching the nurses at Pathcare swaddle and hold Scout down while trying to draw enough blood was traumatising. The healthcare workers were incredibly professional and really loving towards her, which I appreciated so much, but her relentless crying really tipped me over the edge. If you have had to visit a hospital during this pandemic, you will know that the entire experience of being in that environment is already stressful, so having to manage myself through the unexpected was really difficult. I fed her when we got to the car and it helped her sleep but I was emotionally shattered and the experience broke me.
From these experiences I’ve realised that:
- All the information in the world cannot prepare you for real life parent experiences .
- While there are guidelines, they are merely that as each child responds differently (my paediatrician cannot explain Scout’s reaction to eating pears, a food that is safe for almost all babies). In a moment my child stopped being a textbook baby.
- It does not need to be a serious thing that causes mom guilt or parent doubt.
- Where you are, mentally, can affect how you respond to situations.
- It isn’t helpful when other parents tell you how they were natural masters when you’re grappling with a parenting issue; how one responds can be really damaging, so asking may be more helpful than telling.
- Parenting is not a competition and moms need compassion for melt downs as they are often not caused by the situation itself but by everything else that’s going on, too.
- A lack of sleep can make curve balls seem like bulldozers.
- Kindness, care and listening are the best band aids.
- I am still the best mom for Scout.
- We will have answers and a way forward soon.
- Admitting that I’m struggling does not make me a bad parent; it makes me human.
- I will gain confidence and trust my instincts again.
As I end this post this morning, Wesley is upstairs at the clinic where we had to bring Scout for her vaccinations. This pandemic has also caused a back log with appointments and so she’s getting her six month vac today. I’m usually the one to take her in, as they only allow one parent to accompany the child, but I decided to give up some of the control and let Wes take her because he is also capable of seeing to her. Mostly, I don’t feel strong enough to listen to her cry like she did yesterday, so I’m sitting here in the car, waiting for them to return and ready to give her a comfort feed, should she need it. The irony is that she will probably be fine with him, having cried it all out yesterday! As vulnerable as I’ve had to be writing this, it has helped me sift through all that I’ve been feeling over the last two weeks.I’m really hopeful that the test results will help us to have a clearer picture and a better plan going forward with food. I share my experience with you because our journey has been a little unique in that my friends have not struggled with severe allergies in their children, so I’m moving through unchartered waters without experienced guidance. Mostly, I share these events to continue the narrative that parenting is unique and beautiful but that challenges and weaknesses are also a part of the journey. I am appreciative of my friends and family who have shown care and concern, and of Wesley who really does his best to support my motherhood and who steps up to the challenge of equal parenting all of the time. We’ve learnt to communicate better and it has made going through this a little easier because I’m not alone in it all.
Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comment section as I love hearing from you.
Until my next post,