Ask any mother who has handed over their child to be brought up by complete strangers how it felt and without exception I would expect to hear everything from the worst day of their lives, to their biggest regret ever, for me it was a day when I turned the knife already in my heart for the first of millions of turns that have followed throughout my life. Our daughter Teressa was only a few months old when we decided to start trying to have a second child, with my history of 3 miscarriages and the birth and death of Jeffery, we concluded it could take a long time for us to be successful in a second healthy child. We kind of got that one wrong, Christopher was born just 15 months later by cesarean section. In a strange way it was a start to life that echoed onwards as he was actually one month early with his appearance in our family, my waters broke and then nothing, 18 hrs later he began to go into distress and out fates were set. I didn’t see him for nearly 24 hrs, everything went wrong after the delivery and they kept me heavily sedated, coming round to find another of my children in special care and one who even the nurses said looked, apart from his size to be the twin of his brother. I didn’t know how to even touch him at first and to be honest until the all clear to go home came, I had never even picked him up, I still remember catching from the corner of my eye a nod between the nursed as I throw him confidently over my shoulder as I set out his first real nappy. It was then guessed I had been watched closely to be sure I was OK with him, once seen they left us alone as I dressed him in the tiniest clothes I had ever seen.
Christopher wasn’t going to let his early start in life hold him back, walking an a stroller by the age of 6 months and on his own feet at 10mths may have looked cute, but there was one goal for him and that was to get into every bit of trouble he could find. He was a walking tornado and although hard work to keep up with, never failed to somehow put a smile on your face, one you tried to hide as you told him off for what ever it was he had done that time round. I still remember having to spend far more time with him than I had left for his sister, I tried to make time for just myself and her, but he would have none of it, doing anything he could to get between us. Unfortunately this all to often meant him hitting, destroying or doing something to make her cry. By the age of just 30mths he was totally exhausting me daily, his father was at home in the those first months as he was working on his degree, so you would think I had help, I didn’t. His Dad saw it as my job and to be fair he had loads of study to do, but I don’t remember him once spending the entire night just trying to settle him, I don’t remember a full night sleep actually happening until around his 2nd birthday, but he was mine and that was the way it was. I just held on to the fact he was growing and this like all childhood things would sort itself out eventually. I tried taking him to playgroups, to get him to share and to be able to play with others, I hoped if his circle of friends could grow he would learn what was needed to be part of this world, we were asked to leave after our third morning as he had hit another child so badly, there was blood.
Out of shear desperation as I just couldn’t keep up with him I found a nursery school happy to take both him and his sister 3 mornings a week, just so I could have a break. I had my fingers well crossed when I paid the fees and arranged the days as I already knew others kids hated him within seconds of meeting him. He was that horrid kid that didn’t share, who only wanted because he didn’t have, who’s answer or everything was to hit, never with his hand he would find a weapon first and return even minutes after the fighting stopped to land what ever it was as hard as he could on their heads. No discipline, no reward system, or any of the tricks I could find written by so called experts helped, he was already a violent and horrid little boy, the total opposite of his sister in every way. He managed to be expelled, yes I do mean expelled for the first time in under months. Qualified childcare experts didn’t know what to do with him and found Christopher needed at least two of them with him and him alone, not just because he was disruptive, but because he was so violent to those around him. They told me nothing I didn’t know. Next I tried a childminder, he lasted there even less time, I was at a lose and all before his third birthday.
It was around that time that I had a breakdown, all detailed before in my blog, I just couldn’t take it. I now know that my MS started before he was born and looking back I guess that my breakdown was probably triggered by a flare, but also due to total mental and physical exhaustion. I can now with ease pick out my flares and most match up with when Christopher was at his worst, almost as if he knew I couldn’t fight with him and he had the opportunity to do what he wanted. No help, no escape and no rest, when they said they wanted me in hospital I jumped at it, I needed the rest. For a month Teressa and Christopher stayed with my sister, her husband refused to ever have him back in his house, she too had been looking for help and found none, just a train ticket home. I may have had a rest but nothing had changed.
We moved from one end to the country to the other and the cycle just began again but with new victims. He was now big enough to know better and also big enough to get into loads more trouble. His Dad was now at sea and the little support I had was gone, Christopher just got worse and worse, as an example he bit a baby in the supermarket, by leaning out off our trolly to the one beside it, tantrums were hourly affairs regardless were we where and once when on his reins he attacked an OAP with a walking stick. I tried as a punishment sending him to his room, where there was nothing to do until he calmed down, hours of screaming with no sign of giving in, finally ended the day he did shut up only for me to find he had smeared excrement all over his bedroom walls. Teressa’s and my life were a living nightmare, but so was Christopher’s and it had to end, I called the social services in out of desperation, someone had to be able to help him, to show me how to be the mother he needed as I had totally failed. A year of hospital tests, placement in new nursery’s and more to be expelled from, came back with the wonderful news that there was nothing wrong with him, the results at best were an unneeded confirmation he was just a horrid little boy. When his father did come home he too now refused to have anything to do with him either in or out of the house when I was there. If shopping was required we couldn’t go as a family of four, that was the only time his dad would help, he would stay at home with him, unable to take the scenes outdoor. I was totally on my own and I was failing everyone,I decided that what ever it was he needed I just couldn’t supply, he needed someone else. Someone who could breakthrough to him to the good child inside I glimpsed very very occasionally. His father and I talked for many many hours and the only answer left was for Christopher to be adopted out of our family. It was a decision that along with a few other things that happened around the same time that destroyed our marriage for ever, we were separated months before the papers were signed, but neither of us went back on the original decision, Christopher was no longer ours.
All of the above hurt right now to write as it did when it happened, but the only thing I knew was that my decision over Christopher was the right one and I kept telling myself that every time I thought of him, I hoped he wasn’t in jail for killing someone as I actually feared was the route he was on and that he was happy. All I could do was wait and hope as I knew nothing. Nearly 25 yrs later, Christopher was once again in my home, no longer the skinniest kid ever, made of nothing but muscle as he burned everything off. He had learned to eat and made the best of it, over 6ft tall with a beard and that smile I still remembered, was here as a totally switched on polite and well educated young man, everything I had hoped he would be and more. Yes I have missed almost everything about his life but I did do the right thing, he has a family who love him and who dealt with all his problems, problems I now know didn’t end quickly but they ended and I am so proud of him and grateful to them.
If anyone doubts that doing something that painful is easy, well they have no heart. Love is sometimes the most painful of things to live with, but if you love enough, you have to put aside what you want and do what is right, the proof, well he was sat here talking to me this week and is going to bring his wife to meet me in the next few weeks.