Making Christmas special through postnatal depression

Something I can now find overwhelming, is when there is some big event coming up that I should be enjoying. I find there is so much pressure to enjoy Christmas day and after lasts year when I was deep in my postnatal depression I was a little worried how it would be. Last year Mr T was 7 months old and I had started antidepressants a couple of months earlier, I was extremely anxious and feeling pretty disconnected from the whole thing. I painted a smile on my face, some make-up and drank a fair amount of baileys in the hope it would improve my spirit. Looking back through pictures I just feel sadness that I wasn’t able to enjoy my baby sons first Christmas, so this year I felt I wanted to make up for it.

This year, even  though I was determined to make it a great Christmas, I wasn’t very organised and brought my last present on Christmas Eve. I would usually be frantically shopping around for Black Friday deals, but instead I was relaxing in the sun in Fuerteventura. I was kind to myself this Christmas, I wrapped a few presents each night, whilst watching Christmas films, didn’t spend a fortune on my children as I knew they would be spoilt by family, I made sure that I got a present I really wanted (Canon 1300D DSLR camera) and I made sure I took the time running up to Christmas enjoying my family and embrace Christmas. I even managed to get a night out with my girlfriends and have a great night in a new local prosecco bar. I think being back at work this year helped me get in the mood, as not only was it Christmas it was also a break away from work for just over a week. If I can I always try to be thoughtful of other, but after this last year I felt I had taken more from the world than given back so I decided to set myself a task of doing something thoughtful every for 11 days before Christmas, I am happy to say that I completed all these little tasks, which made me feel fulfilled before Christmas.

Christmas day this year really was lovely besides waking up to Mr T, covered in poo, half way up his back. The children woke at respectable 8am and Miss J patiently waited upstairs, whilst her brother was bathed. It really was magical watching the children open their presents and watch the excitement in their faces. After presents we went around to my parents house for the second round of presents with my sister and her husband. We had a lazy morning, opening and putting together multiple children’s toys and I even managed to have a play with my camera. My mum put on the most fantastic Christmas lunch and after collapsing into a meat coma for a couple of hours we headed to my mother in laws house for round three of presents.

My mother in law loves nothing more than Christmas and never fails to disappointment in making it a lovely day for the children. My two children got to spend the afternoon playing with their four other cousins, running around and playing games. My mother in law does a separate Christmas tree covered in prizes for the children, they pick a raffle ticket and get to find there present on the tree, which the children love.

All six cousins together

The whole day was beautiful, filled with laughter, love and far too much food. I’m so glad I was able to fully embrace Christmas day and appreciate the time spent with our family.

My parents cat really got into the Christmas spirit

 

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Why it sucks to be a poorly mother

Why it really sucks to be a poorly mother

Being poorly is always rubbish and is always an inconvenience, but when you’re a parent it’s so much worse. unfortunately when you are a mother and poorly you can’t just call in sick and you just have to suck it up and get on with it.  I’ve compiled a list of why being a sick mother is really rubbish.

  • You can’t just sleep it off and rest. You still have to get when the dictating sleep thief decides to wake. You still have to make the breakfast, still do the school run, still have to wash up and still have to do the bedtime bath routine.
  • If you can’t take any good drugs when breastfeeding. Which is the one thing I hate about breastfeeding is that when I’m full of snot and cold I can’t take any decongestants and I have to soldier on through with paracetamol and Vicks. Also you can’t take any thing that would make you more drowsy as you need all the strength you can get to ‘parent’.
  • You can’t just cough your guts up in the middle of the night and have to muffle the sound with your pillow for fear of waking the children. Thais just one less hassle you could do without right now.
  • You know that this nasty illness you have will be spread to your child if they didn’t give it to you or you got poorly whilst your little one is poorly, you’ve then got to deal with a very dramatic and upset child whilst poorly yourself.
  • Leading on from the last one, you have the fear that your poor darling husband could also get poorly and you’ll then have to look after a giant man-child too. Nothing is worse than a poorly child than a poorly husband desperate for sympathy.
  • You are reminded that you aren’t a superhero and sometimes you do just need to sit on your bum and watch films back to back whilst giving the kids whatever they want for some peace.

One good thing about being a poorly mummy is that your child will not care how rough you look and still want cuddles and snuggles from you.

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The first steps of getting help with postnatal depression and anxiety

The first steps of getting help with postnatal depression and anxiety (antidepressants)

After speaking with my Dr and getting a prescription of Sertraline things got much worse before they got better. I had been warned by the Dr that these antidepressants could make me feel suicidal which they did. I was feeling broken, hopeless and guilty, but I was still trying to keep up the impression to the people closest that I was fine.

Miss J had just started pre-school, which eased my guilt slightly knowing she could have fun at least two days a week away from me. The playground made me feel super anxious as everyone already seemed to know each other. I had Mr T strapped in the baby carrier against me almost like body armour, I would keep my eyes forward and march Miss J into her nursery room and get out as quickly as I could. I now know the other mums are actually nice ladies and some have even become friends, one in particular has become a very close friend and a huge help in my ongoing recovery, but at the time I was so scared to talk to them and so worried about what they thought of me. Any conversations I did have with Miss J’s teacher and other mums over the next few months I would replay in my head  constantly, so worried that I had said something stupid.

The days at home with Mr T were strained and not what I had planned in my maternity leave fairy tale. Washing was mounting with Mr T throwing up constantly from his reflux, the husband worked every hour he could so we could afford for me to be at home and I was alone and empty. Many a times I just wanted to run away and hide or even end it, but the fact this baby boy needed my milk to sustain him kept me going. I’m all for feeding your baby, which ever way suits you and your family, but for me breastfeeding made me feel like I had some use even in the dark days.

After being on the antidepressants for a couple of weeks I forced myself to go to my local children’s centre to get Mr T weighed and to speak with a health visitor. I told the health visitor everything and broke down in tears whilst she held me. It was such a relief to tell a stranger and not feel so alone and trapped. My HV was lovely and offered me lots of support and set me up by visiting me every week at my home whilst sorting out cognitive behaviour therapy. I was so thankful to have the HV for support, especially with the antidepressants still failing to kick in and a six week wait for CBT to start.

After this I started to feel ready to come clean about my mental illness and confided in my best friend who was also on maternity leave and able to offer me support and comfort without judgement. On a girls night out after a few too many glasses of wine I came clean to the rest of my group of girlfriends who were amazingly supportive and still make the time to check in on me from time to time to see how I’m doing. Realising that I had support and that I had amazing friends around me gave me a glimmer of hope that I could come out through the other side.

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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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