31 January 2018

I asked F if she wanted her cot in Mummy’s room last night and got a respounding “Yes.” So I moved it.

Last night’s sleep:

19:00 C complains and whines and cries because he wants to sleep in Mummy’s room too. I feel like banging my head against the wall.

20:15 All kids in bed, and I’m in bed. L actually drops off without getting back out of bed. So far, so good.

22:00 I finally fall asleep after fretting for 90 minutes that I am not falling asleep.

22:30 F screams. I stroke her hair and she goes back to sleep.

23:15 F screams. She says she wants to hold my hand. The cot isn’t close enough to the bed for this. I wonder if she’d be happier if she was still in the womb. I tell her to go to sleep.

00:00 F cries. She then cries every 10-15 minutes for a minute or so until…

01:15 F asks for milk. I get her a drink of water. She finally goes to sleep.

7:00 My alarm goes off.

As you can imagine she has been about as much fun as a hangover since about 11am today because she is so tired. It’s REALLY hard to have sympathy for her irrational, overtired behaviour when she was the one faffing around and not sleeping for three hours in the middle of the night.

Bathtime

Toddler F’s latest fear is the bath. It’s been increasing over the months, but has finally gotten so bad she now gets hysterical when I start running the water. She’s not having a tantrum – she seems genuinely terrified. She watches the boys get in and have fun, but she won’t have any of it. So I’ve given up trying to get her in – it’s too upsetting seeing how upset she gets. We have resorted to a warm washcloth in the interim. And ponytails for her mad hair.

Dinner

The lentil spag bol I made yesterday was lovely. It was a mix up of a few recipes I’ve read, and I used some home made tomato sauce I already had in the freezer. The kids wouldn’t touch it for two reasons: you could see the green lentils and you could feel the green lentils. I should have boiled them five minutes longer and maybe whizzed them into a sauce. Next time.

Tonight was chips and black bean burgers. Again the recipe was a non-specific mix up of a few I’ve read, using what I had in the cupboard. These things were brilliant. I am not kidding – I loved them. Even the kids ate some. When I make them again I’ll write up the recipe.

This is an actual photo of an actual beanburger I made this evening:

Amazing!! I had mine with no bun, loads of ketchup and fried onions. The two plant-based/vegan dinners I’ve tried so far I have really loved.

Aiming for another early night tonight, wish me luck.

30 January 2018

I’m blogging loads at the moment – it’s keeping me sane. I can’t be bothered with titles any more. I’m just going to use the date. Hello online diary!

Sleep report

Here’s last night’s shenanigans:

21:00 – L finally gives up getting out of bed and pestering me for things and falls asleep
21:30 – I go to bed
22:30 – F screams. I go in and stroke her hair, she falls asleep
03:15 – F screams. I go in and stroke her hair, she falls asleep
06:19 – L comes in and wakes me up because he had a bad dream

Sigh. Not the worst night, but far from ideal.

I spent the morning with Mum, as I do most Tuesdays, and I need to go to the supermarket before getting the boys from school. The washing needs doing and I didn’t finish cleaning up the kitchen last night, so that’s also a mess. It’s also a late night from school as I get C, but then come home and an hour later we go out and get L who has an after school club. Then I also drop his friend off at his childminders before we all come home.

All I want to do is go to bed. I shouted at the kids again this morning – not because I’m tired, I think. It’s because I’m frustrated and angry at not being able to sleep without someone screaming at me, and then when there is any screaming or bickering or whining at breakfast I just cannot deal with it.

It’s not who I am – it’s turning me into a horrible mother. I wish F could somehow understand how difficult it is to deal with constant screaming. I am thinking of moving her cot back into my room – it seems to stem from needing to know I am there – she never opens her eyes when I go in. I just stroke her hair once and all is quiet. All that screaming for 3 seconds of touch! I might ask her tonight if she wants to move into my room. She’s old enough to understand – maybe it’s what she wants to do.

Experimental dinners

I’m trying out some plant-based meals this week. First up is lentil spag bol tonight. Tomorrow I’m trying black bean burgers and maybe falafels on Thursday. I’ve got some great breakfasts going on this week, which I’ll write up separately. I’m hoping to get the children on board with at least one meal so that I can share dinners with them that I actually like 🙂

Use It Up Update

I have to start by saying that last night, for the first time in SO long, toddler F slept through the whole night. I sat with her last night for ages while she fell asleep, which is something I always try to avoid doing. However, I’m wondering if that was the key to her having a restful night?

I felt so much happier when I woke up, not so much from the sleep I think, but more from the respite from being startled out of sleep over and over by end-of-the-world screaming. It is so unpleasant and stressful. This morning, in comparison, felt like a sunny dawn on still waters.

I sat with her again this evening. We shall see what happens.

Food

That aside, here’s where we’re at with the groceries. We’re one chicken breast away from being a vegetarian house again, which I am really pleased about (UPDATE: apart from the tuna. I forgot about the three cans of tuna!). That was my first goal and it is something I’ve thought about often in the last few years. I might eat it for dinner tomorrow and then it’s a fresh start, yay! I’m going to get used to cooking veggie again for a while before doing anything else. Although I do have plans to overhaul my own breakfasts this week, which I’ll write about separately.

FRIDGE

Continue buying for now (mainly for the children)
Organic butter
Organic cheddar
Organic yoghurts (kids)
Organic milk

Undecided yet
Pesto
Organic eggs

To finish
Whole, organic chicken
Mini Baby Bels

Plain yoghurt
Dairy-lea dunkers
Mayonnaise

Salad cream (1.5 bottles left)
Salad dressing (1 full bottle left)

FREEZER

2 packs of leftovers from the roast chicken
2 wild caught salmon steaks
Fishfingers
5 hot dogs
1/2 pack organic minced beef

1 organic chicken breast

 

CUPBOARD

Organic instant hot chocolate
Beef gravy instant pot

Wine (usually prosecco)
Nature valley granola bars
Honey
Tuna (3/4 tins left)

VITS & MINS

To be done

HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS

To be done

Lives of Quiet Desperation

It was Henry David Thoreau who said in Walden: 

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

I think he must have meant not just men, but women also. Sometimes I feel a huge discord between the life I talk about and the life I experience internally. Quiet desperation (and at times not so quiet) has been the theme of the last two weeks for me. I tend not to blog much about difficulties at home, and I suppose that’s why I don’t talk about them in real life either. It seems ungrateful and like I am craving attention when I begin to talk about the things that I am finding hard.

But the last two weeks have been hard. Hell, the last two years have been hard. Hard in a different way to the years before them. When baby F arrived I thought I could never have a sad day ever again. But of course it is impossible (I think?) to spend every day of your life in joyous rapture – unless you are Buddha. And baby F was sent to test my parenting skills to the absolute limit. After my husband moved out, we had a week of calm at home. The children were all sleeping. I was sleeping. No one was arguing. I was planning a long period of early nights and restoration of my poor weary soul.

But toddler F got sick. It started with a cold, and then a cough. That developed into days of extreme fever (105 degrees), which gave way to more coughing and then a severe sinus infection and still the coughing. The result of all that is that she has woken around 4 times every night for two weeks without a break (up from the usual one or two wakings that have never settled). She goes from silent sleep to blood-curdling screaming in an instant. It never fails to shock my system into panic as I hurtle into consciousness. It’s a distressing and depressing thing to deal with every night. It starts around 22:30, which is usually not long after I’ve fallen asleep. She will then wake at midnight, 2am and 4am. Every. Single. Night.

And the screaming never seems to stop. In the daytime she is as demanding as ever, freaking out if I misunderstand what she is saying, or don’t give her exactly what she wants. She often screams on the entire school run, and then clings to me red eyed and silent while I wait in the playground, refusing to walk or stand on her own two feet. She is afraid of seemingly everything (refusing to get out of the car at the beach today, for example, and crying to go home). She screams blue murder when I try to get her in the bath. She cries if I walk too close to someone’s dog.

She can’t sleep unless I am in the same room at bedtime, which is not easy when it comes to doing bedtime for the boys. She sleeps around the same number of hours as my 6 year old and I am sure she is constantly exhausted.

On top of that, my 8 year old is rarely asleep before 9:15pm, and cannot seem to stay in bed before that, so there is no evening time for me to unwind. By the time I’ve settled him and crawled into bed myself, it’s not long before toddler F starts up the first screaming session of the night.

As you can imagine, my state of mind is not at its best. I’m irritable with the boys, impatient with everyone and everything. All I want to do is sleep and yet I never can. I’m a crappy, miserable mother and my empathy for my children’s problems has been much reduced of late. So then I add guilt and self-abhorrence into the mix. My children are crying and I don’t care, but then I do care and I regret feeling so detached and then I cry because it all just hurts and feels so bloody hard and they deserve better than I can give.

My husband took all three children out for the day yesterday and I crept back into bed at 9:30am after saying goodbye and didn’t wake up until 2pm. Today he was here and I had to creep upstairs and sleep for 90 minutes in the afternoon because I couldn’t think straight and was losing my patience with the kids yet again.

My exhaustion feels bottomless and I have no idea how to stop the night screaming that is disturbing all of us.

Add to that my period (nice timing), and the fact that I have started having regular nightmares again for the first time in years (I think caused by the general unease of my husband not being here at night), and I am an all round basket case. I’m in tears one minute and laughing the next. Then I’m shouting at everyone for some stupid misdemeanour that wouldn’t normally bother me. It’s a horrible, unpredictable, exhausting way to live.

So I am leading a life of quiet desperation at the moment. I am praying for easier days (and nights). I am hoping that the haggard, lined and faintly surprised face I see staring back at me in the mirror starts to look a little less sallow and a little less aged at some point soon. I will take my quiet desperation out into next week, on the school run, and to all the activities that I do. And hope that someday soon I get enough rest to feel a sense of quiet happiness instead.

Chance Letter

We often get letters delivered to our house incorrectly. There’s one house in our village that has almost the same address (one word different) and we’ve had crossed post several times. Often we get letters for next door. Sometimes the postman just gets it randomly wrong.

Like today.

I saw the address was wrong – it was for a house around the corner. I was just about to put it to one side to deliver later, having already recognised it as a hospital letter (I’ve had enough of them to know), when I noticed that you could read some of the letter through the transparent envelope window.

This is what it said:

... 2009 breast biopsy ...
 2009 radiotherapy, started on tam ...
... bone scan osteoporosis
10/1/2018 CT scan metastatic ...
cancer

Pretty sobering, right?

I know I shouldn’t have been reading this (although it was displayed for all to see). I felt shocked, seeing it written there. A lady around the corner was going through hell right now. I felt awful for reading it. Like I’d invaded her privacy (which I had), but most of all I felt such a sense of sadness and grief for her. How awful and unfair that she had to be in this position. Presumably she knew, presumably this was to confirm the ongoing care plan and how they were going to deal with it. But I know that cancer that has metastasised is not something many people come back from. It kills, rapidly.

When I dropped the letter off after the school run, I recognised the house. I’ve spoken to the lady there once. She lives in the road behind our house and next door to a man who has a really irritating, noisy dog. We spoke about how annoying it was listening to it bark all day long. I know her husband – he often visits an elderly couple across the road from us.

It really puts things in perspective doesn’t it?

Here I am, sleep deprived after around eight severely broken nights with a poorly toddler. My skin has developed the worst acne I’ve seen in ages for reasons I am unable to fathom. I have terrible period-related backache. My arthritic joints are constantly hurting from the lack of sleep. My dentist confirmed today that I have gum disease at the back of my lower jaw. I feel tired, and old, and pretty sorry for myself.

And then I wonder how the lady with the letter feels. Is she wondering how long she has left? Is she thinking about how she has lived her life, the choices she’s made and the paths she’s chosen? Is she afraid for what she has yet to face?

Our health is really our most precious gift. Because without a healthy body to take us forward and allow us to live each day, what else do we have?

I wish I could magically make her better.