This is a true story of a young child’s effort to survive in the first few months of her life and the resulting lifelong impact it has had on her struggle to not over- eat during the tough times in her life.
The Brain Wave Trust organization state that the first 3 years last a life time. Suzie Jane’s story clearly illustrates this fact. As parents, one of the greatest things we can do for our children is try and create a loving, calm and stress-free, as possible, environment throughout their childhood and even more especially so during their first few years.
So this is Suzie Jane’s story. All was not well in her parent’s marriage. Her daddy was an angry man who had survived two World Wars and now drunk copious amounts of alcohol to try and cope with his many horrendous memories of that time and to be able to get on with his life while doing so. He often took his frustration out on Suzie Jane’s oldest brother by beating him regularly for even the smallest misbehaviour, which further added to her mummy’s distress.
It was a miracle that Suzie Jane was even conceived at all because of her parent’s relationship being so dysfunctional. But she was, and so also began 10 months (yes, 10 months, one month longer than usual) of her mummy feeling sick and vomiting every single day. So it was that Suzie Jane begun her little life inside her uterus-home being constantly flooded by stress hormones her mother was making in abundance while trying to cope with an unsupportive husband and a difficult pregnancy.
Then after a long and difficult labour Suzie Jane finally made her way into the world at dinner time in a small country hospital 22 kilometres outside of the city of Christchurch. However it wasn’t long before her mother was in an even more ‘stressed’ state suffering from severe postnatal depression. So it was that Suzie Jane as a tiny baby, began making her own ‘stress’ hormones according to her mummy’s emotional state by ‘matching’ her heart- brain frequencies with her mother’s.
Scientifically how did this happen? Pennie Brownlee explains this process in her book Dance with me in the Heart. She states that in addition to being a pump and having its own brain, our heart generates the largest source of rhythmic electromagnetic energy in our body. It has an electromagnetic field that scientists are now able to measure. They have discovered that it is strongest up to one metre from our heart and they suspect it goes much further. It carries information about what we are feeling at any given moment. So this how at first Suzie Jane became immersed in her mummy’s extremely upset and sad emotions.
This wasn’t a good start for little Suzie Jane especially now that her mummy, now also in a psychotic state, decided life was just too hard and made a plan to kill herself and take with her Suzie Jane and her 10 year old brother. Fortunately this didn’t happen but the threat to Suzie Jane’s survival was not over as she was now dangerously failing to gain weight and thrive as her mother depression was impacting on her ability to successfully breast feed of her little daughter. At six weeks Suzie Jane was back to birth weight and each day losing even more. Both the Doctor and Plunket nurse believed she was definitely going to die, such was her pitiful state. (In those days, over 70 years ago, babies weren’t so quickly admitted to hospital which certainly would have happened now).
The good news is that didn’t die. But the bad news was that Suzie Jane had experienced a terrible time when she had desperately needed to get enough milk and nourishment into her little frail body to thrive.
It is highly possible that during this dreadful time that Suzie Jane’s little brain began to be wired up in such a way that in would impact on her for her whole life. So it was in the years to come while attempting to deal with stress in her life Susie Jane nearly always found she struggled with overwhelming thoughts of food, the more yummy the better. This eventuated into a life-long pattern of how Suzie Jane was to deal continuously with her stress. Thankfully she realizes this now and is exploring more helpful ways to manage stressful times. But she knows that the thoughts will always be there – food, food, I need my tummy to fill crammed full of food. Whether or not these thoughts are acted on is the question.
If you know a parent of a young child who is at the moment experiencing a time of stress, depression or anxiety, we strongly encourage you to help them to seek help from their GP or other trusted professional.
If you are such a parent my thoughts are with you as Suzie Jane’s mother was my mother– please seek professional help as soon as possible both for yourself but also for the sake of your young child as their first few years will last forever.