Whilst I was visiting a dear friend in Brisbane many moons ago, we both went to see a clairvoyant. Among other things (which included being rich, obvs) he told me that I’d end up having three children. I seriously doubted everything he said, because I was adamant I would have either two or four kids. Back in those days I thought sprogs in odd numbers would be a big mistake – someone would always get left out right?
While I was pregnant third time around it became apparent our eldest (Polly who is now almost six) wasn’t your average four year old. If I’m being brutally honest, both my second and third pregnancies were dominated by her challenging behaviour, largely driven by her poor sleep. Being up ten times in the night has been the norm more than I care to remember over the years. Thank goodness our littlest lady has always slept well, and for the most part, been a fairly easy going kid.
Polly didn’t breeze through Reception like her peers. She didn’t wear herself out and sleep all night like everyone said she would. Since starting school almost two years ago we’ve been on constant cycle of counting down to the next holiday and getting her back on track, only for her sleep and behaviour to get steadily worse as the weeks go on. For our girl life is a series of irritations which often presents itself as spitefulness towards her poor siblings; stropping over the slightest thing; assuming the worst and having meltdowns that would put most toddlers to shame. She comes home from school with cuts and bruises every week where she is in a world of her own and gets knocked over too easily. Her opening words upon picking her up will usually be ‘I’ve got bad news’.
Things got really tough when our little man first came along in Feb last year, and the whole family went into survival mode. Thankfully Hubby had wangled an extra week off on top of his paternity leave, and we worked relentlessly during those three weeks to create better habits, a good routine and get her sleeping a bit better. We muddled through the year as best we could, but it all ended in tears during the Christmas holidays. P’s sleep and behaviour were at an all-time low, so once again we put tons of energy into turning it around as much as we could. Once again we were in a better place by the time she went back to school in January, and once again we found ourselves counting down the days until the February half term.
A few months back Hubby and I conceded that we were out of our depth and needed help. In fact we were so desperate for help that we almost signed up to a super nanny type TV show. Instead I went to see our GP, who was very sympathetic, and agreed that we would need to see a specialist to discuss the matter further. We’re lucky to have private healthcare through work, and were able to see a lovely doctor who specialises in sleep disorders and autism. While I sat with the doctor and went through what seemed like hundreds of questions, she got to see P’s full range of emotions. The angel child sitting quietly in her waiting room; the irritated child who started getting bored; and the child who gradually lost her temper and ended up having a full on meltdown. During which she broke her beloved Frozen pen, kicked her mummy and called me names. The doctor’s exact words were “without a doubt it’s high functioning, but there’s definitely something here that needs to be investigated”. She spoke about early intervention therapy, which we shall discuss at our follow up appointment this weekend.
I was quite down after seeing her, because I guess I was expecting to be laughed out of her office and told to stop being so ridiculous. I was hoping she’d be able to give us some advice on how to help our girl sleep better and control her anger, and that would be that. It wasn’t though, and we are now going through the process of obtaining a diagnosis. We are now firmly in the territory of the unknown, and with that comes the fear of it. I can’t speculate on what will come next, only brace myself for it, and prepare to embrace it.
Quite a few people have asked me in the last year whether we’ll be adding to our brood. In an ideal world we would have one more, but some things are written in the stars I guess, because we will definitely be stopping at three.
Let’s just hope that clairvoyant was right about me making a fortune too!