Real, gut wrenching fear is most often used as an excuse not to do something, not to take part in something, not to experience something. Fear stops us missing out on a lot, sometimes some of the most amazing experiences that you could ever have in life.
Fear is often irrational, sometimes not.
I’m not scared of many things in life, I never have been.
One thing that petrifies Dan and I though is another person looking after our children, leaving our children in someone else’s hands. It cripples us with fear.
Our fears are perfectly rational though, as our daughter died in a nursery when she was just 9 months old, she choked whilst eating her lunch. You would develop fears too if this has happened to you, there is no way that you wouldn’t have.
I have other fears including being anywhere near the food that she choked on, I cannot stand to see it – it makes me physically sick. I have fears of feeding my children, of feeding myself. I have fears that our other children will come to harm. These are all completely rational though, for us, considering what we have been through.
Dan and I have conquered an enormous fear of ours. Something that we thought that we never would.
Leo has started to attend nursery, yes, you read that correctly, Leo goes to nursery.
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I was adamant. I point blank refused to send Leo to nursery. I could not stand the thought of him being away from me, from us. I could not stand the thought of someone else looking after my child, the last time we put our child in nursery, she never came home. (Rational fear here, remember what I said).
I had it in my head that I would deal with school when it came to it, that I’d figure a way out that I could deal with Leo being at school every day, five days a week. I didn’t need to think about it until he was 4, at the time – that to me was a long time away.
Dan talked to me about it a few times but my answer was always no, or I don’t need to think about it yet.
Then we moved house.
After we had moved, Dan casually mentioned to me that there was a nursery on our estate, 5 minutes from our house – would I consider it? No But it’s got Millie’s Mark No We teach their staff now No
I made excuse after excuse. “He’s not old enough. We don’t need to put him in there, we can work our jobs around him. He can’t speak properly yet. He’s a fussy eater. He can’t tell us what is wrong with him yet when he is crying … the list went on and on..”
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I thought he was doing fine at home. We taught him lots, we’ve taught him to count, he can recognise any number up to 20 that you put in front of him, he can tell you the colour of everything, he can point all his body parts out, he can name you animals and tell you their sounds. He was doing well. So why did he need to go to nursery?
But I was noticing something. Leo was more comfortable talking to adults and he would shy away around young children.
Dan has a lot of friends who’s children are older because he is older than me and my younger friends have only just started to have children really. The two children he was/is most comfortable with are two young girls who are 6-8 years older than him that he’s spent a lot of time with, he loves them.
But I had noticed. If children came along, he would hide behind me or turn away. I ignored it, I had to because if I didn’t then I couldn’t see it as a problem. I know, bad parent, I shouldn’t have ignored it.
Then he attended the party of one of our Millie’s Trust trainer’s young sons and I couldn’t avoid it anymore. He was uncomfortable, he wasn’t like the other children, he was shy and hiding and wanted Dan or I with him. That was my breaking point. So I booked to speak to the nursery. You know, the one that Dan had been asking me to speak to for over 6 months.
The nursery is Elm Cottage Orrishmere Cheadle Hulme and they have been phenomenal….absolutely perfect with us … they’ve talked to us about our fears, our worries, they’ve ensured that we’ve been comfortable every step of they way. All the staff have been absolutely amazing with us and go out of their way to ensure that we are ok with everything that they do. In particular Steph (manager) and Donna (Deputy Manager and Leo’s key-worker), well – we just cannot praise them enough.
They had their hands full even just trying to convince me to take that first step and letting Leo go in for a play – but we did.
We didn’t tell anyone apart from an extremely close friend (you know who you are 😘) who was to become our emergency contact and Alison (hi Alison 😀) in New Zealand who lost her son in similar circumstances and I needed her advice and sanity – that we were even contemplating this. No family and no other friends were told. We needed to do this for us and we needed to do it our way. We didn’t need any one else’s opinions or thoughts because not one person (other than our New Zealand friends) knew what we were about to put ourselves through.
And so it begin. For over 2 months Leo attended ad-hoc sessions and for a little bit at a time. We built him up from half an hour to a full morning over a period of time and this involved Dan and I being in the setting, we then moved back out of the room where we could see through a glass screen, then into the car outside whilst Leo played inside… remember this photo below? And the blog to go with it? Click here to read
Well, that was the first day that I had physically driven off from the nursery and left Leo without me in a 10 metre vicinity (I was 7 and half months pregnant here). I had planned to drive the 5 minutes to the precinct and sit and have a brew, but I melted 30 seconds around the corner and had to pull over. I eventually made it to the precinct and sat in the car absolutely crying my eyes out in the car … I must have looked insane to anyone that saw me. I ended up having a phone conversation with my friend Sarah who actually managed to make me laugh and that was an actual feat for her to do at this point in time!
As soon as the hour was coming to an end, i drove straight back and ran in to pick him up.
The lovely staff have come to understand how we feel and have often helped us when we have been massively struggling; such as the time above with me and when Dan arrived one morning in tears as they opened the door because he had walked Leo to nursery for the first time and he was unaware that the memory of doing this with Millie on the day we lost her, would come back and haunt him.
The nursery talked us through products they use in the nursery, food that they serve there, activities that they do and much more before we committed to Leo going there and one of my conditions was that Leo does not attend on the day that the type of food that Millie was eating on the day that we lost her, I know that sound a little crazy, but I had to do that for my sanity. I didn’t want him around it, not even with other children eating it. I’ll let him try it one day, I’ll have to – but not yet, I’m not ready.
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So fast forward a very long story, more than 6 months down the line and Leo absolutely loves being there. He only attends two sessions a week which has been quite enough for us all for now but he is doubling his sessions from next monthl to build him up having more time away from us. One of the other big reasons that we needed to do this, is that I was convinced that if we didn’t do this now then when it was time to him to go to school, that I would have suffered a mental breakdown and would not have been able to cope.
I truly believe that a combination of help through our mental health problems, the development of Millie’s Mark which Elm Cottage now has and the support from all the truly remarkable staff there has made this journey just about bearable for us and we can’t thank everyone involved enough. There’s much more to this story but this blog is long enough now, so I’m going to hit publish for now, don’t worry, I’ll keep you updated…. but for now, here is a photo of an excitable Leo coming out of Nursery after enjoying his time there…
And that thing you fear … face it xxx
What is Millie’s Mark? Does your nursery have it? Read about it here
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