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Forgive me a thread that's sort of AAT?

(30 Posts)
Polpo Sun 28-Jun-15 19:50:15

I was reading the 'My friend did something weird' thread on here and a lightbulb went off in my head.

Without giving too many details away, I had a very traumatic birth with my first child and I feel like my DSD (6) played an instrumental part in making the days after the birth and my recovery much more traumatic that it would/should/could have been.

It's really damaged my relationship with her - and by extension I've developed an irrational dislike of DP's ex, who was the reason DSD had to be with us at that time when normally she wouldn't have been.

Someone said on that other thread that the OP had made a certain person a vessel for the trauma and I think that's what I've done with my DSD and her mum.

So the thing is: now that I've realised this, what do I do? I can't afford private counselling. What would be the next step in moving forwards past this. Things have been really shit for about a year now because I'm still so angry about it all.

TheHumblePotato Sun 28-Jun-15 20:02:43

Have you looked into NHS counselling? If you go to your GP you can get a referral. It might take a bit longer than a private booking and I think due to cuts you'd only have around 6-8 sessions, so obviously not enough to make any sort of headway but it is a start.

Step-parents tend to receive an unnecessary amount of vitriol I think. Have you also checked out the step-parenting boards?

The fact that you can are gaining awareness speaks volumes. What sort of relationship do you have with her now? How often do you see her and is your DP supportive of her and you?

Polpo Sun 28-Jun-15 20:14:26

We have her here half the time. DP is amazing but I haven't told him how I really feel. I'm not sure he'd get it. He's pulled me up for being 'off' with DSD before but it always ends up in a big row and me trying to deflect the issue because I can't say how I really feel.

It's been really toxic to our family dynamic. Weirdly I don't blame DP since he'd just been through the trauma with me and I think he felt obliged to take DSD despite it obviously not being a good time.

TheHumblePotato Sun 28-Jun-15 21:02:04

For a start you need to be open with your DP as you are after all supposed to be a team. It may be an uncomfortable truth for him to hear but your emotions/thoughts & feelings are valid as such he needs to listen to them. If you keep it bottled in you may end up resenting him especially as he is quite capable of pulling you up on what he perceives to be your 'off-ness' with DSD.

She's 6 yrs old, not 16. And considering you have her there half the time you are in a position to build a close relationship with her and become a parent, a mentor and guider to her. You haven't said much about her mother but that's not the point here. I think you owe it to yourself and your newborn to make an concerted effort here. Not only is she adjusting to her dad's relationship with you, she's also adjusting to having a new little sibling and no doubt whatever else is going on with her mother.

You need an outlet that is just about you to get yourself across so do speak to GP r.e. a referral but keep in mind that a 6 yr old would be challenging even if she was your biological child. I know it's not easy.

arsenaltilidie Sun 28-Jun-15 21:07:11

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

goddessofsmallthings Sun 28-Jun-15 21:09:13

You say that you've developed an "irrational" dislike of your dp's ex and that his dd, your dsd, played an "instrumental" part making your recovery more traumatic than it could have been, but surely it's the other way round?

At 6yo, or whateve age your dsd was at the time, presumably she had no choice in the matter when your dp and his ex agreed that she would be staying with her df at a time when his new partner was due to give birth, in which case the adults responsible for making this decision can be said to have been "instrumental" in the child staying at your home and your dislike of her is irrational.

Would it help if you vented your anger here by offloading the reasons why your dsd was staying with you and what exactly she did which has caused you to believe that she caused your recovery to be "much more traumatic that it would/should/could have been"?

If you only have one dc it's entirely possible that your dsd caused no more 'trauma' than would have arisen if you had other dc to look after immediately prior to and shortly after giving birth.

As could be the case on the other thread, it may be that your dc's traumatic birth has caused you to project whatever feelings you may have had about your unfortunate experience onto those who played no part in what occurred at the birth.

In short you could be harbouring feelings of resentment that your pg did not end in the problem free enjoyable birth and recovery you had hoped for, but such matters are usually entirely beyond our control and that can be hard to process for some.

Polpo Sun 28-Jun-15 22:47:06

In short you could be harbouring feelings of resentment that your pg did not end in the problem free enjoyable birth and recovery you had hoped for, but such matters are usually entirely beyond our control and that can be hard to process for some

Well yes that's why I started this thread. Because I think this is what has happened.

My DSD was present very soon after I gave birth and was still very much in recovery and not up to visitors from anyone. I think, had this not been my first child I wouldn't have wanted my own elder children with me at that time. I was a state. Very vulnerable, traumatised, probably still in shock, bedridden with birth injuries and reliant on the nurses for the most intimate care. I needed time alone with DP and the baby to process what had happened but DSD was there in my private room at the hospital with us all day. Moaning, bored, wanting to play and do things which were just impossible to do given how ill I was. At one point I remember she climbed up on my bed and sat on the drip tube that went into my hand. I was also sitting on one of those massive absorbent pad things and was bleeding heavily and when she sat on my bed, she made the top sheet soak with my blood. I couldn't move to protect my dignity it was awful. I felt very powerless. When I remember things like that I feel really angry.

It wasn't as simple as I brought the new baby home and she started acting up a bit.

Polpo Sun 28-Jun-15 22:52:57

Basically I just didn't want anyone except DP there and I felt like I had no choice and no control at a time when it was paramount that I felt I had both.

But it was either have DP and DSD there with me or be on my own while DP looked after DSD at home.

I found out afterwards that the reason DP's ex couldn't have DSD was a really flimsy reason and not really a good enough one to 'trump' my ordeal. That just compounds the anger tbh. That it was unnecessary.

chairmeoh Sun 28-Jun-15 22:58:51

That sounds truly awful for you. It's not ideal, but could you try to 'transfer' your anger to her DM? You rationally know that the child was not in control over whether she was with her mum or dad on that day.

TBH, I'd be pretty pissed of with DP. He should have said no, or found a grandparent or auntie who could have looked after the child for a day.

I really think some GP referred counselling is necessary here.

Polpo Sun 28-Jun-15 22:59:18

stop being a twat

Excellent advice, thanks. Glad I posted.

SanityClause Sun 28-Jun-15 23:07:03

Okay, that does sound awful, but it was your DP who allowed those things to happen. He (along with the ex) is the one you should be angry with, not the little girl.

Go to your GP, because this seriously needs sorting out.

Polpo Sun 28-Jun-15 23:12:05

It's not ideal, but could you try to 'transfer' your anger to her DM? You rationally know that the child was not in control over whether she was with her mum or dad on that day.

Yeah that's logical. But the problem is one of illogicality!

Her DM wasn't in the room IYSWIM? DSD was there and her being there made me feel that distress. So irrational though it is on an intellectual level, my brain has processed it as part of the trauma on an emotional level and she's a 'trigger' (for want of a better word) for that discomfort.

I know it's not right. I'm not posting for people to say it's okay for me to feel like this.

But realising that's probably the catalyst for the damage to our relationship has been a big weight lifted. Because I feel like now I have a tangible reason to hang it on and can do something to resolve it.

The question is what? Counselling seems to be the way to go. I need to disassociate her from the feelings I had around the trauma.

Jackw Sun 28-Jun-15 23:21:23

I think you are angry with your P but because it is understandably difficult to accept that he prioritised his D & ex over you when you needed him to prioritise you, it is easier to direct your anger at them.

BeyonceRiRiMadonnna Sun 28-Jun-15 23:25:56

Oh Polpo that sounds awful for all of you.

I don't have any advice but I can understand why you are struggling with this, from you OP it wasn't clear. I'm the first to defend a child, and she was/is a child, I really hope you can move on from the anger and resentment you feel towards your DSD as it really wasn't her fault at all.

goddessofsmallthings Sun 28-Jun-15 23:43:01

Did you have a home birth?

Your dsd is only a little girl and I'm wondering in what way her being present at the birth of her half-sibling made the event traumatic for you?

arsenaltilidie Mon 29-Jun-15 00:35:04

Polpo in the nicest way possible because I cannot imagine what you've been through, but you are indeed being a twat to your DSD.
She was present through no fault of her own.
But resentment will destroy her self esteem and do long term damage to her.
Nip it in the bud if those feelings start to creep in.

mrstweefromtweesville Mon 29-Jun-15 00:44:31

Sorry, haven't read the thread, only the opening post. Contac the hospital where you gave birth. They will provide counselling.

Well done for spotting what is going on. Its hard to identify things like this in ourselves. Hope your relationship with your DSD can improve.

Atenco Mon 29-Jun-15 02:49:01

I think it is extremely helpful that you have traced the origin of your irrational dislike of the child. It is not fair of people to criticise you for this and you obviously care and are looking for solutions.
I have no advice about counselling, I'm afraid but sometimes just knowing why can be curative

sillymumzie Mon 29-Jun-15 04:22:52

Hi Polpo

I do not think you are being a twat. I think you are perfectly normal and human. Personally, I don't have step children so cannot speak from experience, but I have read about it and know people who do.

I don't think that the heart of the issue is that you are associating DSD with the trauma of the birth. I actually think it goes deeper than that, and that the birth was a brutal reminder of an uncomfortable situation for you.

Human beings are not perfect, and parents can't help but love their own flesh and blood even that tiny little bit more than a step child. What's more, a step child is often a constant reminder of a previous relationship, and is also another woman's child who automatically needs and deserves your partner's attention as much as your own offspring with him do (and you yourself).

The step child is completely innocent and deserving of all the love he/she can get, so it is quite tragic really, that through no fault of his/her own, he/she may cause deep feelings of resentment or discomfort to a step parents. You have to feel sorry for the step child because even if they are oblivious to the fact that step parents rarely love them like their own, they are going to pick up on the feelings and suffer for them in some form.

I think you were looking forward to the birth of your child for all the usual reasons, but one of those reasons may have been that finally you would have a child of your own who also really needs your partner, just as much as his step child.

I am sure you have been frustrated because the fact that your husband's ex has a child with him gives her some power over the way you conduct your life with your husband.

It would have been horrible to then finally go for the birth of your own child, and be traumatised by the very person who will always be there and need your husband and compete with your own biological family's needs, in such a physically intrusive and traumatic way.

It stems from the primitive side we all have, and it is not right, but I wouldn't judge you negatively if that is how you feel. You are only human! But anyway, I thought I'd take the time to write this out, because I feel for you. I think you need to factor in that it isn't just this incident that has upset you, and I don't think you are mad at your darling partner so much as at the finality of the situation and the 'unfairness' of not being able to get the level of control and privacy you want over your own life with your own little family.

I think if you go for counselling, it should be with someone who specialises in stepfamily dynamics. Maybe you need to develop internal ways to get some mental space from your husband's ex wife and child, whilst still being a loving step mother towards the step child who is blameless in the situation.

chairmeoh Mon 29-Jun-15 08:04:26

Morning OP.
I'm sure that you must be feeling pretty turmoiled at the moment, you've been through a lot and now you are going through the difficulty of trying to unravel your feelings.
I don't think you are being a twat.
Mrstweet makes a good suggestion to contact the hospital where you gave birth. They may well be able to talk through the whole situation with you, and offer you someone who you can discuss your feelings towards your SD.
It must be awful for you having this scar across the your child's first year, but I'm sure you can come to terms with events with help.

SomethingOnce Mon 29-Jun-15 12:22:40

I'll tell you what I would do in this situation. Forgive me if it's not helpful.

I would imagine my own DC being in the situation in which your SD found herself, through no fault of her own.

I'd imagine how it would feel to be that child and how I would feel about an adult who was having those feelings about my DC.

Like an intense and conscious exercise in empathy.

I hope that doesn't sound like I'm judging, but I've been on the receiving end of misdirected adult resentment and it is, as others have said, very damaging.

Mandatorymongoose Mon 29-Jun-15 12:49:44

I would also advise contacting the hospital, I had a traumatic birth with my 2nd child and was able to access counselling through the hospital. There was no waiting list and the counsellor was specifically trained in that area.

The thing that really hit home with me was when she described it as a grieving process.

Grieving for the birth you expected / wanted. The lovely time you were supposed to have with your baby, all those kodack cuddle. Which were replaced by pain and fear. If you look at the stages of grief models you might find you identify with some of the process - a lot of the emotions are the same, the helplessness particularly I think.

There are also various resources available aimed at dealing with grief which might help, although not tailored to this really you can sort of adjust them but I think that depends if you feel like that fits your experiences. I know everyone is different thanks

Sisterjacqueline Mon 29-Jun-15 12:51:24

OP thanks for being so open and honest about this issue. I completely agree with Something and also with contacting a counsellor who specialises in step families.

Just to offer you a different perspective without invalidating your feelings (hopefully)

Firstly, your dsd sounds like any normal child. It must have been really frustrating for her to be present in your private suite, with no real activities to distract her. Given that a postnatal ward is no place for any young child to spend a full day, please try to cut her some slack.

When dd1 was a baby and small toddler I really could not relate to any other dc, I was only interested in babies iyswim. Now dd1 is 6 and I have learned the hard way how annoying and challenging toddlers, pre-schoolers and probably dc at any age can be and have changed my expectations.

Also, I was extremely 'pfb' with my dd1 and get where you are coming from wrt not having the birth experience you wanted (few people get their perfect birth) and also wanting to nest in with my newly formed family. But you mention in your op that you had a private room and you are pretty lucky to have had that. Most people end up several days and nights (especially after a difficult birth or c-section) sharing a large room with 4-8 other women and their extended families. Admittedly they don't hop on your bed but they talk and laugh loudly, you are being kept up at night not just due to your own baby crying but possibly 8 other newborns screaming their heads off.

I also agree with silly. You might be feeling (understandably) cross at a situation where you have to share your dp with another child (and his ex to an extend).

I hope you get this sorted out. I do feel very sorry for the little girl and hope that you can find it in you to love her and welcome her into your family. I am sorry to say that her life could be ruined by being rejected by you. But you are in a difficult position and I wish you lots of strength and love.

One final thought, I would not have been happy if my dh had failed to find alternative childcare for dsd. My own dh has messed up quite a few times in the early days of parenthood. I think sometimes guys just need to told very clearly what we expect to happen because they cannot always empathise with our emotional needs (i.e. to have privacy and space after the birth of your dc).

Again thanks.

popalot Mon 29-Jun-15 14:05:18

I'd be very angry with my dp's ex, and him, to have allowed this situation to happen. You should feel angry, but as you are aware you've directed it toward the child rather than the adults who were responsible for it.

Why on earth did he not just say 'no, my wife's just had a traumatic birth' and got his ex or his mum or someone else to have her?!!! Totally within your rights to feel angry and you need to work this through. I would start with your dp and ask him what he was thinking and see if he can help you resolve it. He may not have realised you were so distressed, especially if you were coping with lots of bloodloss and baby and not able to voice it to him at the time.

It might feel like your special time with your baby was robbed and I would say that was the case. I'm planning my birth and my 9 year old will only be coming in to visit once I am ready for her, as the midwives have already said children are welcome but only if they are supervised i.e. by someone other than mum and dad.

I feel angry on your behalf that no one in your family came and took the little girl away to give you some bedrest when you needed it and that your partner didn't have the gumption to realise this is what he needed to organise. Was your dp's ex trying to stitch you up?

skrumle Mon 29-Jun-15 14:17:01

i had a traumatic birth and it affected my bonding with my DD as the cause of all of it - she was six weeks before i felt any real affection for her and a lot longer before i was "over" what happened. i also felt irrationally angry with my mum for not just fixing things for me.

well done on recognising that you need to deal with this. as others have said you could contact the hospital and ask for help; there's also the birth trauma association although I don't really know anything about them.

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