The tantrums have been a huge journey. The first step towards this phase happened a couple of days or so before Deborah's MMR. At the time I remember being so thankful as I knew that if that step had co-incided or come after the jab I would never have been able to be sure just what caused it. This is from someone that views vaccines as a social and moral duty too.
Anyway, we all carried on mainly just holding or using distraction when D had a tantrum. It was a difficult time as a lot of it was at the same time as I had hyperemisis with Michael, so spirals where we fed each other's behaviour were more common than I liked. The hyperemsis was so awful - poor D to have such a grotty mummy, 5 months is a long time when you are less than 2.
When I was in labour, I heard awful, awful stories from Ian about how difficult D was finding it without me, she wouldn't eat, was howling all morning and was told by his parents who very kindly came to look after her that " they would be there when she had finished". Needless to say this did not work, but fair enough they are of the generation that views that sort of behaviour as dangerously manipulative, and leaves babies in prams outside for hours until their next feed etc, etc. It was a difficult time for all of us and at least D was with people she loved even if none of them were getting on particularly well at that point.
When I came out of hospital D naturally was hugely jealous of M, hitting him a lot and finding me feeding him just dreadful. It was horrendous for all of us and is probably the reason why Ian now spends so much time at home - D's spark points used to be when I fed Michael and I needed extra hands to cope. Its safe to say we were not terribly consistent in how we dealt with D, I wanted her hugged but was/am shouty, Ian's tolerance was longer than mine so he would leave D for longer than I could, and that also led to tensions. Oh boy all that plus a very hungry new baby in the mix - it was a difficult time.
Although leaving D to work it out didn't work, the one benefit for me was that it gave me clues on how to find space within the high drama. It reminded me to breathe and be calm. So although it was temporarily worse for Deborah, it somehow released enough space in me to be able to cope better in the long term. Another big stepping stone was talking to a friend at a BfN support meeting about the tantrums. I finally admitted that my real sticking point was my complete and total fear that this seemingly bi-polar behaviour was just that - bi-polar in my beautiful daughter and she was going to end up committed in an asylum by her mid-twenties (why so specific? I suspect more than a hint of transference) and there was NOTHING I could do about it. Several swallows later and staring out the window (I really didn't want to start howling myself, the friend was doing far more than duty calls for already) the enormity of my fears hit me and I listened to them. At the same group, another mum shouted at me as Deborah hit her much smaller, younger daughter. It clicked then, that D is my one and only priority and she is just, just, "just" a child, behaving as children (and me on occasions) do. I am responsible to her and no one else in that situation. Naturally I apologised to the mum and removed D but it was a useful, if painful moment.
Somehow we muddled on and luckily just started to hold Deborah when she was howling. The space she needed was not physical space on the floor, but loving space in our arms whilst she sobbed and screamed and raged. Then I read the book I mentioned in the previous post and suddenly, thankfully it all made sense. Now I can see which bits of me are reacting also, as my own childhood has left me damage and really wanting to lash out so much. More importantly I hope that the loving space in our arms is helping D's brain to grow loving neurons so she can become more resilient. There's something to be said for supporting someone in pain that surely means long term mental illness is less, not more likely. And that's why I think our society is so sad. So pre-disposed to ignoring our own emotions having been taught they are wrong we continue to suppress our own and those of our children and so it continues. Heartbreaking.
This is not to suggest any of this is fait accomplis by any measure. Still a work in progress, but hopefully one we are creating together and not at odds over. Time will tell.