A letter to my darling daughter

My letter to my darling daughter.

Miss J you are now 4 years old and have started school. You have grown up so much this past year and have made me so proud. You don’t want to hold my hand as much as you did and you are now eager to run off to be with your friends, but you are still my darling baby girl. You still get in my bed in the night when your daddy is on nights and in the dark when you’re cuddled close to me, I stroke your soft cheeks and you still feel like my sweet baby girl.

You taught me so many lessons and made me become selfless. You always see the good in everything and teach me everyday to be a better person. To see the world through your eyes is something beautiful and magical. Without you I wouldn’t have had the strength to get through things and when my anxiety was bad and making me want to stay at home it was your voice and your hand that gave me the courage I needed. I have given you everything I have but you have given me so much more in return.

I am sorry you had to grow up so quick this last year whilst mummy wasn’t well and you have seen me at my worse, but please remember your words of encouragement and telling me you loved me meant more than anything anyone else could have told me right at that time. Without you my darling I’m not sure how I would have got through and you were the one that made me admit defeat and get help. I am eternally grateful for what you unknowingly did for me.

Now you have left for school my heart aches for you as I wasn’t ready to let you go just yet, but I know you are ready to be independent away from me and that I need to be strong on my own. Me and your baby brother are doing ok but we miss you terribly when you are not with us everyday. I took it for granted how much I needed my little helper with me when your brother is having a grumpy day. The way you care for baby Goo Goos is way beyond your years, but I know that isn’t your job it’s just the caring girl you are.

When I pick you up from school later I hope you have had a fun, exciting day, but I also hope you are a little tired so I can steal a nice cuddle on the sofa with you. As always my darling girl I shall tuck you into bed, read you a story, kiss your forehead and tell you I love you and I shall do this as long as you want and need me to. I love you Miss J.

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Mums on Tour, a rare night out.

I was thinking back to a recent night out I had with some mum friends and realised how things have truly changed.

Pre kids: Picking the shortest dress and highest heels I could find in New Look. Also needing to make the most of my tiny chest by wearing a gel bra. Who said you couldn’t have legs and boobs out.

Post Kids: Picking a dress out from Next that is not only comfortable, but is also wearable for doing the shool run. Wearing a nursing bra out or just a comfortable non underwired one as you don’t risk getting a blocked milk duct. Wearing your trusted Spanx the whole night just so your jelly belly is a little bit more controlled unlike your bladder these days.

Pre kids: Spending three hours to get ready by having a lovely long bath, then relaxing doing your makeup whilst having a drink and listening to your favourite music.

Post kids: Frantically getting ready whilst getting the kids dinners and one boob hanging out with the baby attached. Changing your outfit about ten times until you end up sticking to your favourite dress that covers your mummy tummy the best. Putting on your extra comfortable shoes with a gel insole just in case.

Pre kids: Rolling into town at 11pm for a quick drink in a pub then straight to a nightclub. Being pretty much paralytic before even getting in the nightclub spending the whole time on the dance floor or outside a lot in the smoking area talking to lots of random people about some kind of crap and posing for a load of pictures taken by the toilet lady and deciding to buy ten lollies from her. Leaving at 2am and deciding its time to sober up with a sub way. The night is still young so you head off to a house party around a friend of friends and sleep on the sofa.

Post kids: Starting off somewhere classy at 8pm with cocktails whilst you spend the whole time talking about your kids. Forever looking for your changing bag and feeling odd not walking whilst pushing something. As the night progresses you then get tipsy and want to find a good pub that you can dance to cheesy music in. You end up attracting random young people, which you decide to give them the words of your wisdom and show them pictures of your babies. The merrier you get the old you comes out and you think its a good idea to have a shot. You do some amazing mum dancing to Lady Gaga Just Dance thinking your back in 2009. Eventually the lights turn on and you get told its time to go home by the bouncer which you obviously flirt with and you get a taxi home which you either fall asleep in or talk the whole way home about your kids to the poor driver. You get home and pass out probably still wearing your makeup.

Pre Kids: Get up, get a lift home, have a bacon sandwhich and go back to bed till 1pm. Wake up around 3pm and be ready for it all over again.

Post Kids: Wake up with your head spinning and slightly confused. Taking some paracetomol and having the strongest coffee you can stomach. Having to pump your rock solid engorged boobs and letting the kids watch whatever the hell they like on TV for the rest of the day. The hangover starts to lift around 2-4 days after the event.

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How PND damaged my relationship with my daughter

PND and how it damaged my relationship with my daughter and how we got it back.

My daughter Miss J has always been the sweetest little girl and when she was born eight days late, after a three day labour all was forgiven as soon as I held her. My bond with Miss J has always been so strong and she really has been my sidekick and when my anxiety has been bad just having her by my side gives me strength.

The first twenty weeks of pregnancy with Mr T were fairly easy besides a few hospital trips early on, but after twenty weeks things started to get very hard as I was diagnosed with SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) and later Polyhydramnios. Abruptly the walks to the park, chasing around and sitting on the floor playing stopped. I felt incredibly guilty that I was unable to play with my daughter or even push her in her pushchair, but the pain got too much.

I think this is where my depression started and then escalated. Towards the end of my pregnancy I was having to lean on my mum for help with my daughter as I just wasn’t able to give her the attention she craved. Miss J wasn’t wanting me anymore and was crying when I took her home from my mums house, which made me feel like a terrible mother. I kept telling myself that once the baby was here it would be so much better as I wouldn’t be in pain anymore but I was very much wrong.

When Mr T arrived 3 weeks early I felt a huge relief. I had been induced and been away from my daughter for two days so was extremely emotional and wanting to get out of hospital as soon as I could. I left hospital too early as I was still extremely anaemic after a iron transfusion and was having dizzy spells constantly, but I pushed to leave as soon as I could. With Mr T back home I was so excited to introduce him to his big sister, but the reality wasn’t as I had imagined. Miss J only being three wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about and kept asking me to put him back in my tummy. She didn’t bond with him and ignored his existence besides trying to cover his face with a muslin when he cried.

The rational side of me knew that this was normal behaviour but inside it was killing me. I was patient and didn’t force her to be with him but it was so frustrating and making me stressed. Miss J was getting jealous that I was breastfeeding him so I would encourage her to feed her doll but she was acting out trying to get my attention anyway possible.

Mr T was not a good sleeper and would be up most the night screaming. He had bad reflux so I was forever changing his clothes and feeding him. My husband was working 12 hour night shifts so I had no way of getting help. Miss J was fobbed off with TV as I was too exhausted to entertain her and between me breastfeeding and holding a reflux baby upright I was failing her and was feeling terrible mummy guilt. I was resenting her for not letting me bond with my newborn and I was resenting him for ruining our relationship. Something had to give before I broke which is when my mum stepped in.

My mum didn’t work Fridays so we would go out or I would go to hers and she would take care of Miss J, where I would leave her for the night and collect the next day. It meant that once a week I only had to put one child to bed and I could nap when Mr T napped. It worked so well that she still does it now. I felt at first I was letting her down and worried that she would love my mother more than me, but its been the best solution for us both.

Eventually once Mr T could interact with her at around four months she started to take an interest in him. It was extremely slow and frustrating, but she now adores her brother, will take care of him and is incredibly protective of him. Once she started to bond with him and I sought help for my PND our relationship slowly improved. She started preschool when Mr T was 4 months old, which meant she got a break from us both and I think that was the best thing possible at the time.

Sixteen months on from Mr T’s arrival and the mummy guilt seems to be lifting. Miss J and me are best buds and I focus on spending some time where it is just us two when I can. She’s an incredibly kind and happy child and even though she can be a madam she is mostly very well behaved.  I thought she would remember it all, resent me forever and that her and her brother would never be the best of friends. Its amazing how PND can make you think so irrational, but I can now see it from the other side and we are now one big loving family.

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Returning to work

Returning to work and why it was the best decision for me and my family. 

I had 13 months of maternity leave with Mr T including my holiday, which I was incredibly lucky to have. My husband worked extra to make sure I didn’t have to go back to work when my PND was at its worse, which I am eternally grateful for, but unfortunately I had to make the choice when my son was one to either return to work or get signed off work.

We had no option for me to be a stay at home mum and for the most part I do really enjoy my work, but the thought of going back whilst still suffering with PND scared me. It was still touch and go with my recovery with more good days than bad, but I was scared how it could rock the boat and if it would put me in a downward spiral.

In the end I decided to at least give it a go and if it got too much then I could always see my GP. I wasn’t convinced but I told myself it might actually be a good thing for my recovery.

I was honest with my employers about my PND and they were incredibly supportive. It was rocky at the start especially with a change in my medication and feeling close to a complete breakdown for a week but now I’m on the right medication and we’ve got into a routine, I’m enjoying it more than ever.

I love being able to drink a hot cup of tea, chat with adults about something besides kids and not having to be a mum for the day, which then makes me appreciate my two days off in the week with my children. Routine has been key to my recovery and now I’ve been back at work for four months I’m feeling the best I’ve felt for a long time.

I definitely lost my identity being at home on maternity leave and was convinced I would be rubbish at my work when I went back, but I was surprised how quickly I got back into it and what a confidence boost it has been. I no longer feel guilty as I know this makes me a better mother.

I know it’s not for everyone but for me it works. I’ve got so much respect for stay at home mums and I’m not sure how you do it. My lunchbreak is over so I better get back to it.

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Learning to be positive again 

Writing these blogs and getting them out to an audience has left me rather exposed which has made me feel nervous. What if someone doesn’t like my post? What if someone leaves a horrible comment? And you know what I do care but I also don’t care as I feel from the feedback I have had so far I’m doing ok. I am my own worst enemy with self critical thoughts but I’m being brave and putting it out there. I need to learn to be positive again and stop the critical thinking.

I’ve been having counselling for just over a month and we have determined that I hold onto guilt and I lack confidence in myself. I think I’ve always been like this and have never thought that I have the ability to do anything I wanted, which has stopped me from achieving so much. I’ve left three course in college early and come back from Australia 9 months early as when things get too tough I throw it all in and run.

Things have shifted though as even though I’m not fully recovered from PND, I have stuck it out and not run when its all I’ve wanted to do. Another thing I have stuck out with is breastfeeding and I am now at 16 months and enjoying every second of it. I am finally at a place in my life where I can see that I am able to achieve things and I just need to be kinder to myself.

I think living in this day and age with Facebook, Instagram etc its so easy to think that everyone else is doing well and its just you that struggles, when in truth its lots of people. When I finally opened up about my depression and anxiety I found lots of other people also have the same problems. I couldn’t believe some of the people I had envied for having their shit together were just as screwed up as me.

It’s ok not to be ok and we do need to talk about it and remove the stigma attached. When things were at my worse before going to the Dr’s I had completely reverted and isolated myself from everyone which was a very dangerous place to be. I was so ashamed of how I felt and was convinced it was all my fault. I was mentally not able to make decisions for my wellbeing and I wish I hadn’t shut down so much so I could of got help earlier, but I was in denial.

To be almost out the other side I feel liberated and free but I still do have dark days and have to work hard to keep the negative thoughts away. I wish I could of told myself a year ago were I would be today, or even two months ago as I don’t think I would have believed it. Things can change but you just have to want the change and have the power. I got my power through antidepressants, CBT, counselling and my support group of friends.

Finding happiness again

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Postnatal depression awareness week 

The exhaustion of PND, anxiety and antidepressants.IntroductionThe first steps of getting helpWith it being postnatal depression awareness week I think it’s fitting to write something.

It’s been almost a year since I admitted I had postnatal depression and I’m still dealing with it everyday. I never knew what it was before Mr T and even when the health visitor did her routine questions I just answered them in the way they wanted to hear. For me with PND I withdrew from contact, from talking to friends and isolated myself.

I couldn’t get out the bed in the morning and spent most of my time either crying or wishing I could escape. I felt so trapped and still sometimes do in my own mind. It was lonely, dark and hopeless existence in a time when I should be jumping for joy. The negative thoughts that plague my head and the critical thinking I was believing just made life impossible to live and enjoy.

I would stare at Mr T and think I love you but I really don’t like you and I did still smile and laugh but it was almost like I was an imposter pretending I was ok. I got pretty good at faking it especially with friends and on Facebook, that when I did ‘come out’ no one actually noticed something wasn’t right. Only now my husband has said it makes sense and he wish he had noticed earlier.

I know so much more now and I’m not surprised that I got it, as I  had a difficult pregnancy, was very anemic and had a very difficult baby with reflux. I wish I knew then that having PND didn’t make me a shit mum and it was something that was out of my control.

The PND still has a huge impact and the scars it has left are hard to heal. Mr T’s first five months of life I don’t really remember as I have blocked them out, I remember the emotions but not him as a baby which I find heartbreaking. Miss J also had to deal with the effects of having a depressed mum and our bond was damaged for a while. Both my children I disconnected with

but I believe we have mended those wounds and the bond I have with both of them is stronger than ever.

I’ve held onto lots of guilt but now I’m able to let go and accept I did all I could in the situation I was in at the time. I went out and asked for help and even though the road has been long and I’ve hit a few dead ends on the way, I have progressed and I have got through it. I am not finished yet, but in this year I am am a millions miles away from where I was and I’m thankful I found the strength in my weakest moment and managed to survive.

Text PANDAS £3, £5 or £10 to 70660 to make a donation. 

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11 Things I never imagined I would do as a mum.

11 Things I never imagined I would so as a mum

1. Shave my legs whilst sharing a bath with two other little people.

2. Milked myself whilst drunk on a night out to release the discomfort of engorged boobs.

3. Got a free drink by having giant engorged boobs on a night out.

4. Wiped shit off a toddlers bum whilst on the phone to the bank.

5. Put on a full face of make up in the dark so I didn’t wake the co-sleeping baby.

6. Used a breastpad as a bandage for child’s bloodied knee.

7. Used a breastpad as a sanitary pad before getting a chance to go to the shop.

8. Used lanolin cream as a lip balm.

9. Walked around shopping with one boob still out my top.

10. Wiped sick off a baby with my own clothes.

11. Had to dig cat shit out of my boys hand after he went for a rummage in the cat litter tray.

It’s all glamour in my house. Anyone else have any good ones?

Mums on tour a rare night out

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1st Day of school for Miss J

So Miss J started reception today. I was expecting to be in floods of tears but I did feel a bit emotionally dead if I’m honest. This is the part I hate about anti-depressants and why I struggle to feel emotions the good and the bad. Miss J was happy as anything to run off into her classroom with her new friends, without really giving me a second look. I think maybe if she would have been a bit clingy it might have been harder. I’m trying to remind myself that I’ve raised a confident, happy and emotionally balanced (as much as any of us humans can be) 4 year old that was happy enough in herself to start a new adventure. I just wish I could go about life in the eyes of a four year old and not have fears and negative thoughts about new challenges.

Everyday when I enter my workplace I have anxiety and am constantly battling this voice in my head saying I am stupid, worthless and I am bad at my job. I know in truth that I am actually pretty good at my job and that I should probably get paid more for what I do.

One thing I am not looking forward to when my daughter gets home is washing the skid marked knickers and no doubt ruined school uniform covered in sand, mud and grass stains. But that welcome back cuddle will all be worth it.

Below is mine and Miss J’s song from her favourite film Toy Story, which I think is appropriate for today.

When somebody loved me
Everything was beautiful
Every hour spent together
Lives within my heart

And when she was sad
I was there to dry her tears
And when was happy so was I
When she loved me

Through the summer and the fall
We had each other that was all
Just she and I together
Like it was meant to be

And when she was lonely
I was there to comfort her
And I knew that she loved me

So the years went by
I stayed the same
But she began to drift away
I was left alone
Still I waited for the day
When she’d say I will always love you

Lonely and forgotten
Never thought she’d look my way
And she smiled at me and held me
Just like she use to do
Like she loved me
When she loved me

When somebody loved me
Everything was beautiful
Every hour spent together
Lives within my heart
When she loved me

By Sarah McLachlan – When She Loved Me

 

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