Little pitchers have big ears

Maybe we shouldn’t have told E.

He has been confused.

Puzzled.

Questioning.

He talks less about the baby now, but we have yet to have had a day where he doesn’t mention it, doesn’t ask me to “explain again why there isn’t going to be a baby in September anymore”.

But.

We have been going through a very very difficult time with E. over the last few months. I haven’t written much about it on here, because it has just been so hard.

E. completely rejected his father.

He would order his father to go back out of the house as soon as Q. got in from work.

He would shriek “No, no, no!” if Q. asked him a question, but answer it without any fuss if I asked.

He would Lose.His.Mind. if Q. tried to do anything for him if I was in the house.

If he woke up- from a nap, in the middle of the night, in the morning- and Q. went in instead of me, E. would immediately become hysterical, screaming for his father to get out of his room.

Some nights he wouldn’t even kiss him good night before I took him up to bed.

And don’t even talk to me about bedtime.

I posted about it on my birth club, and with my infertility friends, and the general consensus was that we just had to push on through and teach E. that he couldn’t always expect Mummy to do everything.

But then it got so bad that bedtimes, if Q. was doing them, were a fifty minute (or longer) ordeal with E. screaming his head off and fighting his father, every single step of the way, to the point that I would be sobbing downstairs listening to them.

We tried sharing the bedtime, where I did bath and pjs and then Q. did stories, songs and goodnight, but it wasn’t any better. E. would be fine with me, and then lose his shit as soon as Q. took over.

E. was so frantic, so miserable, so hysterical, that Q. and I talked about it and decided to just go with it. He obviously needed something, and he needed it from me. And it was breaking Q.’s heart every single time he tried to do something with E. and E. rejected him.

The fighting at bedtime was damaging their relationship.

So we stopped pushing E., and I took over and did almost everything E.-related from mid-December onwards.

It started in the fall, so we originally thought it was related to the disruptions from moving back. Then we thought it might be related to E. starting at nursery school- that he was clinging even harder to me on days when I was around because of the days where he was away from me.

We figured it was, like everything, a phase. A truly horrible phase, to be sure, but a phase nonetheless. One that would end eventually.

Here’s the thing: from the moment we told E. about the pregnancy, his attitude towards his father began to thaw. And this past weekend, it was like the last few months never happened.

Thursday night, after it happened, Q. put E. to bed while I lay on the couch downstairs.

E. didn’t fuss about this at all.

When he woke up (after a huge sleep) on Saturday, he called out, “Mummy, Daddy, Mummy, Daddy, Mummy, Daddy. I’m ready to get up  now.”

Q. went to get him.

E. gave him a big smile.

Yesterday, Q. and E. spent a happy hour and a half building paper airplanes and flying them around the kitchen and building paper boats and sailing them in the bathtub while I lay on the couch and read.

E. now interrupts our  nightly routine of two rounds of Sleeping Bunnies at least three times a night to run and kiss Q., who is in the kitchen doing the dishes.

This is a complete reversal of how he was behaving all through the fall, and especially in December, when things got so much worse.

It might be coincidence.

It could be that it was just something developmental and he’s worked his way through it, in the same way as he’s suddenly started using “I” and “me” to refer to himself rather than “you”.

But, in retrospect, it’s entirely possible that his rejection of his father stemmed from displacement anxiety about my frequent visits to the doctor. This especially makes sense with how much worse it got in December, when he wasn’t in nursery school most of the time, and when Q. was around more often too. It should have got better in December, not worse.

Except we did the IVF in December.

If, if I am right, and his rejection of his father was tied to his fears about why I was at the doctor so often, telling him about the pregnancy- giving him a reason, a good reason, for me being at the doctor- was the best thing we could have done.

And that makes it worth the untelling.

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1 Comment

Filed under (Pre)School Days, 2.0 Pregnancy, E.- the third year, Grief, Loss, What were we thinking? (aka travelling with small children)

One response to “Little pitchers have big ears

  1. As someone also grieving with a toddler at home, I think you were right to tell him. We have to retell the bean about my mother over and over, and it’s awful. But it’s also awful for him to see me crying, and even scarier if he doesn’t know why.

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