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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Activities my kids love and I hate

Activities my kids love and I hate:

  1. Play dough! I hate the stuff as either Mr T is eating it or Miss J is rubbing into my carpets and sofas. I’ve tried desperately to only use a couple of colours at a time but they all eventually become one khaki brown.  I’m not sure I’ve met an adult who actually likes the stuff.
  2. Painting. I always dreamed of the day I had kids and we could paint together but in reality it is messy and every bit of work turns khaki brown with all the mixed up colours.
  3. Stamps. I thought one day it would be a good idea to get ink stamps, envelopes and make a post box. It wasn’t a good idea as every surface in my house was stamped.
  4. Stickers. Again I thought stickers would be a good idea but I haven’t enjoyed scrapping off the stickers on our kitchen floor and I don’t think Miss J’s brother appreciated being covered in them.
  5. Mr Frosty! As a child I had a Mr Frosty which I loved so when I saw the original retro one was back on sale it got added straight into my amazon basket. In reality I forgot how hard it was to crush the ice as I had made my poor mother do it for me. Miss J on the other hand loves it.
  6. Wendy House. It takes me roughly 15-20 minuets to build the Wendy house and around 10 minuets for my kids to get bored of it again. After all the effort of putting it up I then feel I have to keep it up in my cramped living room and throw all the toys in there at the end of the day.
  7. Hungry hippos. Hands down the shittiest game of them all but my daughter insists on playing it over and over again and has a full on breakdown if I accidentally get the yellow ball. I also spend a lot of the time from stopping Mr T eating them.
  8. Barbies. This is one of those things having a girl made me really excited about. I love my Barbies growing up and had actually kept some of my old bits. Miss J on the other hand insists they are all naked and their hair is all matted after trips into the bath. The Barbie house is actually more of a shit tip than my actual house is which I guess is comforting.
  9. Lego. We have just entered the age of Lego in our house which means we have a fair amount of  parent swear woods (fudge sticks, mudder ducker etc) as we stand on them. Again I have spent many a hour constructing these for Miss J for her to destruct them immediately. Don’t get me started on Mr T eating them.
  10. Soft play centres. I really enjoyed going to the baby bits when they just rolled around and were confined enough for me to sit and have a cup of tea, then one day they learnt to climb, then get out, then crawl to the big bit and then crawl up the slide. Now Mr T is 16 months and just walking, I spend my whole time acting like I’m doing a course on Ninja Warrior whilst he runs about not giving a shit of what dangers crawling up a slide may encounter.

Last of all I just wanted to say that I never knew how much of a control freak I was until I became a parent. Those rare moments when they are entertained and independently playing I fill with pride at just how cute they really are.

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The power of positive affirmations. 

Over the last month I have been doing positive affirmations every morning and I’m shocked how much good it has done for my mental wellbeing. It wasn’t easy at first and I struggled to believe what I was saying, but now I really do believe and feel it and it gives me a huge boost. When anxiety gets the best of me I go through them in my head and my adrenaline seems to get rerouted to become confidence. It’s amazing how things we can do by ourselves can have such a positive on our mental wellbeing. Don’t feel like you are being stupid just know that you are becoming more mentally in tune with yourself and taking care of yourself inside.

Since my daughter Miss J came into our lives I’ve done everything to try and make her grow up feeling positive in herself so why couldn’t I do the same for me. Why did I tell my daughter she was beautiful, kind and could do anything whilst I told myself that I was ugly, fat and stupid. I would always give my friends good advice and pick them up when they were down but I seemed unable to do the same for myself.

I turned to selfhelp books and found lots of positive affirmations and decided I had nothing to lose. At first I tried to focus in to when I had moments of doubt and negative thought. I found becoming more aware of these thoughts helped so much as they didn’t just become fleeting thoughts that I never questioned. The more in tune I became the easier it got to challenge these thoughts and everytime I have a negative thought I now do an affirmation and it stops immediately. It takes practice but it works.

You can’t just say an affirmation you have to believe and feel it. Take a step back, focus on your breathing, get good posture and believe and feel it then repeat. The more times you do it the more it will become ingrained into you and the negative thoughts will slip away

“I am unconditionally loved in this very moment. I always have been, I always will be.”

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Steps to get help with postnatal depression

Steps to get help with postnatal depression

Below are some of the steps I took to get help with postnatal depression.

1. Admitting and talking about it is a massive step in itself. Talk to a friend, family member, GP, a helpline or a Health visitor and you’ll realise you aren’t alone. Postnatal depression affects more than 1 in 10 new mothers.

2. Asking for help from the GP. My GP was amazing and was quick to get me the help I needed and prescribed me antidepressants.

3. Get support from the children’s centre. My children’s centre were quick to get me extra help from a Health Visitor, who would visit me for a chat whilst my tablets started to work and I waited for CBT.

4. My Health Visitor got me in touch with IAPT service who sorted out my cognitive behaviour therapy. Anyone with a baby under 12 months gets priority and I was lucky that I only had to wait a few weeks to see someone.

5. Support groups on Facebook were my lifeline as I could write down how I felt.

6. Phone lines like PANDAS or Samaritans are amazing if you do need to speak to someone at anytime of day.

7. Counselling is amazing and I’m so glad after my CBT to have this once a week. I went through a counselling charity and it was affordable. Check private health care through work as some will cover it.

9. If you ever feel suicidal and need immediate help you can go straight into an A&E department and you will be seen by a member of the mental health team. Your GP can also refer you to the CRHT crisis team and you will be seen in the space of a few hours in your home until you are ready to be discharged.

Remember you are not alone and it is ok to not be ok. Postnatal depression is nothing to be ashamed of.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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The exhaustion of PND, anxiety and antidepressants.

The first steps of getting help

I feel exhausted and unmotivated every single day and have to force myself out of bed. Initially it was the PND and anxiety which were exhausting and not letting me sleep, now I think it’s the antidepressants and it really pisses me off. I hate waking every morning with a foggy, almost hungover state of mind and it doesn’t matter how much sleep I do get I still feel like this everyday. I’ve never been one of those types that springs out of bed at 6am and ready to go but I really wish I could wake up and at least get going in the morning without the battle. Most of my days off I struggle to get out my pj’s and out the house by 11am, but now with Miss J’s at school I’ll be forced to get up and I’m hoping this will change. I definitely one of these people (at least on the antidepressants) that need to be forced into doing things otherwise I’ll sit around all day doing nothing which does nothing for my low mood.

I’m hoping this blog will be a step in the right direction to give me confidence by being able to see that I can carry on with something I enjoy with out the self critical and negative thoughts keeping me locked away in my own form of hell.

This week so far has been more positive than negative which has really given my wellbeing a boost that it needed and it’s also taught me that I can actually do something for just me rather than just being a mummy, wife and housekeeper. I feel for the first time in a long time that I’ve got this!

 

 

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