Monday, 9 November 2009


The backstory

Firstly, I want to give a massive thank you to everybody who commented on my last post and sent messages and emails of support. I've been overwhelmed by your kindness and it's helped me more than you know. Although I'm embarrassed to show myself so raw and I'm conscious that this is partially a business blog *waves at customers who just want to see some fecking clothes* I'll give a little bit of a backstory about how we've gotten here.

I started going for therapy for PND a couple of months after Jamie was born. I didn't know this at the time (I found out recently when I was wrapping up my therapy) that the phrase 'failure to bond' was scattered across my file. Maybe it's true or maybe it was perceived because obviously when I was there it wasn't to discuss the joys of motherhood, I don't really know. I do know that if I did have a hard time bonding with him it's not anything I had control over, no one has ever wanted to bond with him more than me. You're right, I've never harmed him, he has always been cared for, I've never locked him in the the cupboard under the stairs because we don't have any stairs in our flat I wouldn't do that.

Just after he turned one he started the crazy behaviour. I was due to go back to work so he was put into a lovely nursery in the mornings and he was the picture of sweetness and light while there. The staff loved him, he was cheerful and engaging and delightful. But from the second we got home to the second Steven came home from work, he was an animal. He screamed and slithered around the floor for hours in a rage and nothing I could do would make him stop. He didn't want me to touch him, he didn't want me not to touch him, and he couldn't be distracted from it. Nothing would make him stop. No one else would ever see him this way. He never did it a nursery, he never did it in front of Steven (at least not until later), never did it in front of other family members or friends. Through the PND centre we managed to get referred to the play therapist but he never did it there so she could only take my word of how bad it was. It was truly our Dirty Secret, it was our time together that was tortured and fraught. For years. The most random things would set off hours and hours of screaming and writhing on the floor; I took Maia's jacket off before his, he wanted me to walk back to the childminder's so he could say goodbye one more time. It was really, really hard for me to empathise with psychosis brought on by not having any apples.

We went to the play therapist together on and off for two years, firstly for the hysteria and then later for the obsessive behaviour, the inability to cope with change or disappointment, the food issues, the sleep issues, the constant running commentary of everything he's doing, the incessant questions. All of these behaviours are born of anxiety. And that anxiety is born of separation / bonding issues. And that's why I feel responsible. It's a lot better now, his episodes are now only once or twice a month and can often be reduced in length merely by me saying, 'I know how disappointed / angry / sad you are about fill in the blank with something nonsensical and that's okay'. But I worry about the fact he spent a considerable part of his first three years consumed with anxiety and how it has affected him.


  1. going to email you.. *hugs*

  2. Well done for posting this.
    I hope you get just as many emails reassuring you that you DID NOTHING WRONG.
    Crikey ... if mother's could have that much influence over a child's behaviour, their character, their very "who they are"-edness, we'd all be turing out sweet, polite, cherubic angels all the time.
    You know I've emailed you separately to this, and I still maintain you did the best you could at that moment in your life. Like we all do. This is where you are at the moment, and you're still doing the absolute best you can.

  3. Amanda, what a difficult time you have all had of it. Thank you for posting this. I really hope you are taking reassurance that you really did a great job with where you were at the time. The first three years are important sure, and through that time you were attentive to his needs and when you saw that things weren't right you sought help, no matter how difficult that must have been for you at the time. But whilst they are important, they aren't the bee all and end all, otherwise we'd just write kids off at 3 if things were 100%.

    My mum had unrecongised PND with my younger sister and she worried dreadfully about not bonding with her right away. She thinks that bonding didn't really kick in until my sister was 2/3 years old. But my sister is now a happy, healthy (physically and mentally) 32 year old and a kick ass mama. She remembers nothing of the difficult times that haunt my mum but remembers all the times when my mum, made the effort to connect with her, even if sometimes it was really tough.

    Well done on being so thoughtful and caring so much, but please take heart from all these comments and know that you have been a fine mama from day one and as you have healed you have been reflective enough to make sure that J is right there with you on your journey - no mean feat.

    Wishing you all the best and lots of hugs.

    ps i've gone anonymous today cause i've posted about my mum and sister and i don't really think it's my story to tell IYKWIM

  4. Thanks for sharing. We all feel we do things wrong and the truth is we do the very best we can and it is always enough. Jamie loves you and you love him (and thank god for no stairs in flat, although mine is so full of crap I can't get the children in).

  5. You should be congratulated for writing another really honest post about how difficult having children can be at times. We all struggle and make mistakes and it sounds to me like you did everything you could given really difficult circumstances to bond with Jamie. Some children just struggle with life more than others and he might still have suffered from anxiety even if you hadn't had PND. It sounds as though things have got much better over time and although the first 3 years are important they alone don't make us who we are - its an ongoing process as we grow up so there is much time yet for him to learn and develop and grow. I know its easy to blame yourself for things that haven't gone to plan but equally don't forget to congratulate yourself for the great aspects of his character and for your lovely daughter and the fact that you write an amazing blog, make fantastic clothes, design great patterns and keep 2 children and a husband happy. You sound pretty amazing to me!

  6. I am absolutely with every one else on this! Mothers respond to the situations that arise, and the emotions present! Each and every child is different! My second really showed me this. She was a completely different, strong willed, had frequent screaming tantrums, that could not be eased. But as you mentioned, no one saw this, sweetness and light in public, but drove my husband and I to the edge of feels worse, when somehow no one recognises what you mean, and give the raised eyebrow look!

    My heart really went out to you, completely recognising so many things you said! Keep yourself strong, find time out, keep those emotional reserves topped up, it is the best and only really way through.....the days are long but the years are short, they say.


  7. I congratulate you for writing this post. Its hard being a mum period. You have everyone else knowing what is best for you or your child expect you apparently. I suffered/suffering? (when does it end?) PND with my youngest. I still cry at baby pictures or get a lump in my throat, because I dont remeber her first much at all. Its hazy at best. When she was born at two weeks old she was rushed into hospital, with a her right leg, the dr didnt have a clue what was wrong with her. We were terrified. More so when one kind of suggested that if that had to operate then............. He left it hanging in the air. As a mum who had just had a baby I thought well thats that, I cant get close because she wont be here for long. I truly believe that is what started it all. I always rememeber her constantly looking at me as if expecting something more. It took a long time to recognise that crying daily and shouting and feeling in a pea soup for most of the time that things werent right. For herself she seemed to always prefer my husband and largely still is a bit of a daddy's girl. But now I get a look in too. And I feel that we have bonded since.But I always probably will feel sad and guilty that we had to have such a long journey to this point. I worry that she will have hang ups.

    But I know that its what happens now that counts and its the same for you I am sure. You have done everything in your power to help you and your little boy. And it seems to you me you will always will. You have a lovely little family and a great bussiness. At the end of the day you rock.

    Take care and thank you for sharing your story.


  8. A very candid and honest tale which many would find too hard to tell. Don't beat yourself up about it, you can't change the past and you have many (happy) years ahead with Jamie. You cannot blame yourself everytime he comes up against an obstacle which he finds hard to face. This may sound like a very personal question (and so feel free to ignore it) but do you have a good support network where you are (grandparents, aunts, friends etc)and if so did they help you through it?? I don't think that I would have been able to cope without my parents and sister who still help me so much with my 3 yr old...I also suffered from PND and we are now pondering whether we should have another child. I feel guilty and a bit afraid that the feelings will come back - did you feel instantly different when Maia was born? Sorry to turn your blog into my own personal therapy session!!!

  9. My son is 10 and I am still waiting to bond with him.

    get yourself a latte in a red cup today and reflect on all the good things you have done. Remember how great you are. Moms blame themselves for everything. And you didn't even lock him the cupboards...I mean, how awesome is that? We all have tempting....

    if I sat and made a list of all the potential damages I had caused my children, I would have no time to sit here and ignore them while I read blogs about other mothers who have potentially damaged their children.

    We need to start a campaign for positive thinking for moms..a sort of I DIDN'T LOCK MY KID IN THE CUPBOARD campaign, you know, like the DOVE campaigns for positivity for women. We need to remind ourselves not of what we didn't do, but of what we DO matter how big or small.

    Do that today. Because something tells me you are great.
    Maybe because you are so much like me.
    And I am freakin awesome.

    Make your positive list.
    Then hit the vodka. Vodka is easy to bond with. Kids, not so much.

  10. Motherhood is one of the most difficult jobs in the world and one that no one can really explain until it happens to them. We are all different and we all deal with things in different ways. I have spent 20 years wondering if I did it right and maybe you'e need to consult my children on that one, but suffice to say that when I look at my well adjusted, popular children I think I must have done something right. Don't fret - drink wine instead!

  11. I don't know you or your family but I've recently been reading your blog and dreaming about your clothes. I've emailed you as a potential customer and hope soon to be an actual customer.

    Anyway all that is just to say that I'm totally objective.

    You are a lovely woman, you have a beautiful family, you are obviously an excellent mum. Everything you put on here demonstrates your care, effort and love on behalf of your children. If anyone can protect them from the world and prepare them for it, you can. Nuff said.

  12. I've just read this and cried. Because do you know what? Kai went to Grandma's today and was as good as gold, as he always is with her. And I managed to accidentally see a message my dad sent to her asking if she thought I was completely over-reacting about all of Kai's supposed 'issues'.

    It's only with me, we get the screaming, the endless frustration. And I honestly don't think other people believe me.

    Thank you so much for your comment on my blog - means so much to hear from someone that really understands xx