Advice I would have given my first time pregnant self.

I was so scared about the possibilities of bringing a child into this world and how I would cope as a parent. What kind mum did I want to be? How would I parent? Would I try and breastfeed? I found all the information from parenting books, NCT antenatal groups and other people’s advice overwhelming and confusing. I wanted to be the best mum I could be, but I was unsure what that actually was?

I wish I could have told myself to just follow my instincts and that if something didn’t feel right then to just try something else. Whichever way I turned I was made to feel like a failure as a mother especially by Health visitors. I was told I shouldn’t give my daughter a dummy as she would refuse my breast and when I gave in and gave a bottle of formula when I was still waiting for my milk to come in and my nipple were bleeding that I had failed and wouldn’t be able to get back to breastfeeding. I spent so much time crying and made to feel like I had given up already, but I was lucky enough to have a supportive mother who reassured me and gave me the support to keep going, if it wasn’t for her I would have given up a week in.

I started to go to baby groups as soon as my husband went back to work and felt so overwhelmed with the competition with who’s baby had smiled first or slept through the night. I was one of the youngest mums going to the groups and felt bit out of place whilst they talked about their new BMWs and recently renovated kitchens, whilst I was driving a 3 door Fiesta living in a rented two bedroom terraced. I felt our world’s were apart and was unsure how I could make friends with these women when all we had in common was a baby. The truth is I did make friends with some of these women and the support and help they have given me over the years have been invaluable.
Something that took me a long time to realise was that us first time mums are all as clueless as each other and just trying our bests to be good mums, just some are better at pretending they have their shit together than others. We’ve all been out with a baby who won’t stop screaming no matter what we have tried, we have all done stuff and felt judged for it whether that is breast feeding in public, formula feeding or giving a dummy, but at the end of the day we have done what is best for us and our babies and what we needed to do to get through the day.

I have been a loving mummy, a patient mummy, a happy mummy, a yummy mummy, a shoutty mummy, a grumpy mummy, a sick in my hair mummy, a crying mummy, a lost her shit mummy, but most of all I have been a muddled mummy and that is fine with me.

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The things I never appreciated before children.

The things I never appreciated before children.

Becoming a parent is a whole new world of emotions and it doesn’t matter how prepared you are you have no idea until you’re deep in nappys. Going back over my time hop app from six years ago I seemed to loved to update people on how tired, skint or ill I was. Obviously this was before children and I had no idea what those things actually meant. So many mum friends told me to enjoy the date nights and sleep, but I just shrugged it off and thought it wouldn’t be so bad.

The day to day tiredness of being a mum is relentless, but when you have a newborn who is up all night or a three year old who gets in your bed and fidgets all night it is beyond exhausting. The fact you can’t just call in sick and that you still no matter how tired you are have to get up and look after the needs of another human that relies on you is relentless. I now understand why sleep deprivation is a form of torture and that you can cry just because you are so tired. The days of a decent lay in and naturally waking up are long gone and something I miss terribly. I have been a mother for four years now and will never be or become a morning person. As much as I do love waking up to Miss J snuggling into me I do miss waking up, checking the time and just rolling back over to sleep. I just never appreciated how good it was whilst I still had it.

Being able to make spontaneous plans to go out for dinner, a weekend away or even a trip to tesco are long gone. The planning and packing to get out are enough to put you off even making the effort and don’t get me started on how to plan the logistics of a date night with work shifts, childcare etc. It’s true though as much as I made the most of this whilst pregnant I didn’t miss it until it was gone.

Hangover days are just not quite the same anymore. I have tried many a time to plan a night out where I get some hangover time on my own the next day without any luck. Gone are the days of Hollyoaks omnibus, eating junk food and staying in bed all day and now I spend the days watching Minions on repeat whilst letting my children eat anything they like so I can get five minutes peace. No hangover in my early twenties has been as bad as one since I’ve had kids.

I now look back at before I had children and wonder what I did with all that free time and I remember the moments of loneliness. I remember the emptiness of another night out going to the same places and seeing the same people. I remember how my life didn’t seem to have a purpose and that something was always missing. I used to look at families and get a pang of jealously and hoped and wished for the day that I could start my own family. I know not everyone needs or wants for children, but for me it’s all I’ve ever planned out for myself. Becoming a mother has been the hardest job in the world, but the reward from it has been tremendous. My children are my life and that’s how it will always stay.

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Family meal out, but not quite as enjoyable as it sounds. 

We decided we would go for a lovely family meal just a family of four to Frankie and Benny’s. I was extremely prepared and booked a table at a reasonable 6pm and made sure I had Mr T’s babygrow to change him into for when he would no doubt fall asleep on the way home. The idea of a meal out together sounded like a lovely treat but this was only because enough time had passed to forget since our last attempt.

I must admit this meal out was nowhere near as bad as one a few years previous when Miss J decided to projectile vomit as our meals were served at the table, but it was anything but stress free. We were sitted in a booth so I decided to trap Miss J in one end, but for her this just meant she could be more of a pain in the ass by dunking under the table every few minutes.

As us mums do I quickly scanned through the kids menu and ordered the kids meals to come at the same time as our main meal. I picked the first thing I saw after only picking up the menu for myself when the waitress was already there. Obviously we had to order the kids some liquid crack (robinsons fruit shoots) and I watched Mr T pratically hyperventilate at the sight of the bottle. Miss J announced that she needed a wee which was one of three trips to pee and poo we had to do through the meal.

Then we had the wait which in fairness wasn’t long, but obviously the adults meals came out first so the kids got in a ass and when the kids came out they were pretty much the same temperature as lava. Between me and hubby we spent the next five minutes cutting and desperately trying to cool food down whilst Mr T totally lost his shit. Lucky Miss J is pretty self sufficient besides her piping up every now and then asking for more ‘catshit’ (ketchup). Mr T was chucking half eaten bits of pizza on my own plate and shaking his liquid crack all over the place. Once he got bored of his own pizza he then decided to just steal bits of mine whilst rubbing it all over her hair. It’s amazing how quickly as a mother you can eat a whole pizza when under pressure.

As the kids did actually eat most their meal we decided to order desserts. We had a young loved up couple sitting next to us enjoying a meal when Miss J decided to shove a whole wooden menu display at them whilst giving them the dirtiest of looks, as by now she was getting tired and grumpy. We didn’t wait for desserts for long and got Miss J a build your own icecream and kept Mr T quiet with sweets. Unsurprisingly this part of the meal was over pretty quickly so I went off to get Mr T changed into his babygrow whilst hubby paid for the bill. If anyone knows my husband he isn’t the most outspoken so obviously he hadn’t succeeded in paying the bill yet in my absence and Mr T had, had a taste of freedom and was as high as a kite running around like a crazy person in the restaurant in his babygrow. We paid quickly and got out as soon as we could and Miss J managed to steal and handful of balloons on sticks.

On the way home we had a few tears at the start as Miss J wanted the light inside the car as she was scared, but not long into the drive we had two sleeping children and peace at last. I think I’ll give it a few months before we attempt an evening meal out again.

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The lonely mother and the working husband. 

I try and remind myself how lucky I am to not have a husband that works away for long periods of times, but I still feel so sad over the fact I don’t see my husband. He isn’t married to his job because of
the love of it or the social aspect of it; he is married to his job because of the financial side of it. My husband works any day extra possible so we can afford that I only work three days a week and can be with our children. I love the fact I can work part-time
and be there to watch my children grow up, but it is such a lonely place at times. My husband works twelve hour shifts and regularly extra 70 hours overtime in a month.

It can be hard as when he does have a rare day off I’m desperate to see him and spend time as a family, but I am also desperate to get out the house myself and have some time without kids. My poor husband
hardly gets any time to himself in the evening and rarely has the energy to go out in an evening. He is working so hard so we can have a lovely Christmas and hopefully a nice holiday, but the sad thing is that he isn’t even at home this Christmas as he has
to work.

Whilst on maternity last year and when my postnatal depression was really bad my husband had no option but to work overtime so I didn’t have to go back to work early. It was a difficult time made more difficult
by being alone when I couldn’t cope, but we had no other option. I know they say money doesn’t buy happiness but it sure could make life a bit easier. I really regret that I look back on maternity leave as one of my worst years of my life when it should have
been one of the best and my husband sacrificed so much so I could be at home. 

I know a lot of us mums are in similar circumstances and it must be even harder if you are a single parent. We must not forget that being a mum can be a very lonely place and that is nothing to be ashamed
of. We will carry on and plan our days around play dates and toddler groups and thank the lord for our mummy friends who are in the exact same position. I personally couldn’t be without my mummy friends, mum Facebook groups for a chat and a rant and my other mummy bloggers
who remind me that we are not alone in this world. This situation right now is only temporary and one day it will change and we will have our husbands back, the children will have grown up and we will be desperate to be back sitting in that nursing chair desperately trying to soothe our babies back to sleep. 

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Spiced carrot and parsnip soup

As many of us mums are trying to lose our baby weight I thought I would share the odd recipe I have made. Today I am sharing my favourite slimming world soup I have created.

Spicy carrot and parsnip soup (syn free)

Ingredients:

  • Buttery fry light
  • 1 onion
  • 400g maris piper potatoes
  • 2 large parsnips
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 liter vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to season

Method:

  • Cut onions into cubes and fry with frylight for 5 minutes in a large pan.
  • Peel and cut potatoes, parsnips and carrots and add to pan and cover for 10 minuets.
  • Stir in coriander and cumin and add stock.
  • Give it a big stir and season. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover for 20 minutes.
  • Once cooled use liquidiser and heat back up and serve.

Makes 3 large portions. Add low fat creme fraiche or low fat cream cheese if you want it creamier and remember to syn. Freezeable up to 3 months.

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Signs of postnatal depression 

I have had some lovely feedback from people since writing my blog, but one common reaction I get is that they never knew I had postnatal depression as I seemed fine? So many people said they could never have guessed as I was still up and dressed to take my daughter to preschool and I still smiled and said hello. That’s the thing with PND as it’s not something that necessarily shows on the outside, unless you take a closer look. My husband was even surprised when I told him that I needed to get help, but now looking back he says that he wishes he had known more and was able to pick up on it.

I know I am guilty of painting a picture that I am doing fine when inside I am completely consumed and at breaking point. I was even in denial with myself over my illness and refused to accept it until it was nearly too late. I think it is so important for partners, parents and friends to recognize the symptoms and step in when needed. I know my husband now feels guilty that he couldn’t have done something sooner to have helped me.

My Health visitor came to see me at around 6 weeks and did the Edinburgh Scale (EPDS) which is a great resource for getting an idea if you have PND, but for me I wasn’t truthful and lied as I didn’t want her to think badly of me. When I finally admitted I needed help it was EPDS that I found online that helped me realise how bad it was, this led me to finally calling the GP and seeing my Health visitor and asking for help. If I had only been honest at six weeks postpartum with myself my PND journey might not have been so difficult.

Some days I would feel like I was getting a handle on things and stuff wouldn’t be as bad, which dragged me into a false sense of security that I didn’t have PND and I was in fact fine.  PND hits 1 in 7 mothers and is far more common than I ever thought. I was also under the illusion as I hadn’t had it with my oldest then why should I get it this time around?

Some symptoms of PND are below, but you may not have them all:

  •  Feeling sad or low mood.
  • Little interest of doing things you once enjoyed.
  • Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time.
  • Trouble switching off and sleeping at night.
  • Feeling overwhelmed and unable to look after your baby.
  • Problems concentrating and making decisions.
  • Loss of appetite or comfort eating.
  • Feeling agitated and irritable.
  • Feelings of guilt and blaming yourself.
  • Feeling unable to bond with your baby.
  • Thoughts of self-harm or hurting your baby.

 The main signs you may notice in someone are:

  •  Crying for no obvious reason.
  • Withdrawing contact from people.
  • Only taking care of my baby’s basic needs.
  • Loss of sense of humor.
  • Speaking very negatively about themselves.
  • Loss of confidence.

If you are or you know someone struggling please urge them to see the GP or Heath visitor.

Below is the link to the Edinburgh Scale Questionnaire:

http://www.netmums.com/parenting-support/postnatal-depression/postnatal-depression-the-edinburgh-scale



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Embracing the rubbish parent inside us all.

Since having postnatal depression and thinking I was the worst mother in the world something amazing has happened. I’ve actually for the first time in my life stopped caring about what others think of me. I am so liberated that I am finally at a stage in my life where I am comfortable in my own decisions as a parent. I have stopped judging others by their parenting choices and am very much in the mind set that you do what ever you have to do to get through the day and be happy.

I felt so much pressure as a parent to be the perfect parent, but by trying that I was unhappy, alone and failing in every aspect. Having to revaluate my whole beliefs and ideas after making the change to be more consious of my mind, I know have this freedom that I once didn’t. When  I go to the school playground I know some people will not like me and I honestly no longer care. I do not live in a big house and have a fancy car and I’m no longer ashamed of that. I have so much more of value than material things and every day I feel blessed to be married to my soul mate and have two beautiful children with him, but believe me when I say that he and the kids can be right idiots at times.

I love facebook and Instagram but now I’ve realised how I too crop a picture so it looks it’s most perfect. Who’s bribed an older child with sweets to take the perfect picture with their sibling? Who has chucked a dirty nappy in the corner so it doesn’t ruin a perfect photo opportunity? No one’s life is perfect as soon as we remember that we realise how much better ours really is.

 

A great example of a picture where sweet bribes have been exchanged.

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Postnatal depression, the silent illness.

Since I’ve finally had the courage to come out about my postnatal depression hell, I’ve had so many people either tell me they have had it themselves or that they had no idea I was struggling. Unless you are close by it is really hard to see how much someone is struggling. For me I buried and hid it well and even didn’t admit it myself for five months, but on the inside I was at breaking point.

I feel so overwhelmed with how many people who have contacted me telling me they have also been through this terrible illness and from people who have said they have found comfort in what I have written. This blog was very much about me writing for me, but it has turned into so much more. This blog is now about offering support and letting other mums know they are not alone in this struggle. I don’t have the cure and I am very much still fighting, but I am working through the highs and the lows, which I share with you all.  I will do everything I can to try and lift the stigma associated with having postnatal depression and remind us all we are not alone and we should never feel ashamed of something we have no control over.

My biggest turning point was after reading into the chemical changes in our brains which can cause depression. For me to see it in black and white that it wasn’t my fault it was a relief. I had an a stressful pregnancy, low iron levels and a reflux baby, so for me to look back now I’m really not surprised I did struggle. It is tough to have a new baby and so easy to become isolated and I now look back and I accept that there was nothing I could have done differently.

Postnatal depression has put me in a consuming world of guilt and failure, but it has also taught me so much about myself. I am thankful that I’ve had to take the time to understand how I work and learnt how to be kinder on myself. Something else I’ve learnt is mindfulness which I do try and practise regularly and the improvements are amazing. It’s so important we look after ourselves within as we do on the outside.

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Becoming the role model my daughter deserves

Now Miss J is four I am very much aware that I need to be a good role model for her. She is my inspiration to get better and beat PND. I’ve heavily relied on my own mother to help me parent her whilst I have struggled to deal with my struggles.

I’m amazed at how resilient Miss J has been over the last year and how well rounded she has become. Miss J was robbed of the mother she had once had and I’ve felt terribly guilty about this and her having to grow up so quickly. I now know I did all I could to get better and she was the main reason why I did seek help.

Somehow, despite all that has gone on she has grown to be a beautiful, kind and sensitive girl and I  couldn’t be prouder of the little girl who I have help create. I am letting go of the guilt and accepting that I have done best for my daughter and I have been a fantastic mum. I know I’m not a perfect mother and I never will be, but that’s not a bad thing and it teaches my daughter that we all make mistakes and as long as we are aware of this and work to correct them, we are doing a good job. My daughter accepts me with all my flaws, which makes me love her even more.

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