Tossing and turning.

My period started. It was late and it was heavy. And suddenly my whole world was turned upside down. I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned then tossed some more. My mind a whirl of to do lists and what ifs and panic and constant noise and I couldn’t turn it off no matter how hard I tried. I stopped going to bed. If I didn’t go to bed then I didn’t toss and turn and think and worry and panic. So my husband kissed me goodnight and I stayed upstairs and instead of tossing and turning and thinking. I watched telly, but not really concentrating. Just thinking, and worrying, and panicking.

When I’m doing something that I truly believe is good, I’m flying! I’m happy and singing and loving and being. But I can’t always be doing. Yes, I’m happy but I’m also exhausted. Because I don’t seem to be able to do things by halves. It’s all or nothing. Go big or go home.

I decided to have a break. And it was the break that broke me.

Whenever I have my down days, I normally think about running away. I look at holidays online and wonder how much my husband would hate me if I just went to Spain for a few weeks. To live another life, just for a moment.

But this time, I started thinking about what would happen if I just went away all together. Maybe everyone elses lives would just be easier if I weren’t here at all? The kids wouldn’t remember me that’s for sure. I try to do all this good for others but maybe it’s just not worth it anymore?

I didn’t do anything. But I thought about it. And to me, that is scary enough.

I’ll be honest. The main reason wasn’t because of others, but my selfish self. I was scared of the pain. Not of the loss. Of the mistakes. The perfectionist in me screamed – What if it didn’t work? What if I became paralyzed or just sick, what if it just made my life even worse than it is already?

I shook myself out of it. I don’t really remember how. I went downstairs and checked on the children, I stroked their hair and kissed their soft little cheeks then went to bed and cuddled my husband. He asked me if I was okay.

“I’m fine” – I replied.

Morning came and I couldn’t get up. My husband agreed to take our daughter to nursery an hour earlier so I didn’t have to take her and I slept. My son didn’t stir, or if he did, I didn’t hear. And I dreamed.

It felt like hours had passed, I dreamed that I had slept all day and missed picking up my daughter. I could hear people coming into my house but no one was there. Thumping on the stairs and in the room above but whenever I tried to lift myself out of bed to check, I was stuck. A giant weight on top of me. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I managed to get to my phone and text my friend. She called and the weight started to lift. I called the Doctors office and they agreed to call back once my Doctor became available.

She picked up my daughter and brought her to me, she got my son out of bed and dressed and fed him. I finally felt ready to get out of bed too. We talked and we cried. When I saw my friend cry, crying because she was worried about me, I knew I truly needed help. She took over. I sat in an almost trance as she called the Health Visitors, my psychologist and the Doctors office again. She called a friend to look after my children whilst she took me to the Doctors surgery.

She sat with me whilst I told my Doctor the truth, she rubbed my arm and told me I was being so brave. We often joke about the fact I couldn’t live without her, but honestly, I don’t know what I would do without her.

The Doctor gave me some more meds, something to help me sleep and did some referrals. The Crisis Team for me and the ‘Safeguarding Hub’ to make sure they are doing everything they can to support me looking after my children. I agreed to these referrals. I will do anything to ensure the safety of my children, especially from myself.

I do sometimes take my emotions out on my children. I am easily frustrated, I am not patient. I shout easily but I try to stay stern. I always make sure I leave the room when it all gets too much. I try not to let them see me cry too often.

I’m lost. I have been deemed ‘in crisis’. I have lots of professionals working with me, however this ‘status’ unfortunately means that the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) we have been progressing so well with will have to be paused until I have been cleared.

I’ve crashed. The crash that I knew was coming. But this time I’ve crashed harder than I ever have before.

I expect it’ll take longer than before to climb again, and I’ll certainly need a lot more help…

I hope to one day find the balance between my soaring highs and these dreadful lows.

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Christmas Anxiety in July?

christmas anxiety in july

It doesn’t take a lot to panic me nowadays.

My husband was working, on a Saturday. It turns out I can just about keep sane 5 days in a row, but that 6th day and I go completely nuts.

It started out well, Issy played upstairs until 11am whilst Alfie and I slept. Then he woke and all went a bit kooky.

I was casually scrolling through Facebook when a post about Christmas presents budgets came up. I then started thinking … I don’t even know what we’re going to get the kids yet.

What is our budget? It certainly can’t be some of the high numbers being chucked around on this post!

We did £100 each last year but as they didn’t have a main present each it ended up being a lot of stuff they haven’t wanted to keep.

I started to feel overwhelmed. Where are we going to put more toys? We’re going to have to get rid of some.

Next thing I know I’ve got the kids filling up black bags and a few Asda crates from when the delivery guy just left our order outside our front door!

It was only the other day and I already can’t remember what we kept and what was given away.

I tried to make it fun, explain we were giving their toys to be sold to other little girls and boys, so the money can help poorly people.

But inside I was jumbled.

My heart thumbing in my chest. I wasn’t able to keep still for even a minute.

Once the playroom was pretty clear, we moved to the shed where I decided the huge box of clothes that don’t quite fit Issy anymore should go…along with the clothes we have in larger sizes for when Alfie is bigger.

I don’t know why but I needed to get rid now. I needed that space.

Once we’d heaved four black bags and a large storage container of clothes to the charity shop a few doors down I felt relief.

Then I started to think about Christmas presents again.

Before I knew it I had agreed to buy second hand bikes for each of them on a selling site, had downloaded my Christmas organiser app and decided what to buy everyone on my list and obviously budgeted accordingly.

My thoughts went into overdrive. I’ve looked back at my messages and I contacted over 30 different people, messaging about their bike sales post in just under 30 minutes. I knew I could type fast but jeez. I couldn’t stop myself. I was jittery.

I felt like I was moving, tapping, constantly. Nails bitten to the point that the skin around the sides bled. My hair greasy from rubbing my hands through it goodness knows how many times. Sweating. Hot flushes. I tried to focus my breathing and calm down.

I was so focused on my task that I left the kids to it. I heard shouts from Issy and discovered she had done a pee in the potty (brilliant) but Alfie was now splashing it about everywhere! I shouted no and stop but he wouldn’t listen. It was like I wasn’t even there. I flipped in an instant. I snapped and took him to his bedroom. It was 6.15 and he hadn’t napped so I decided he could just go to bed.

I crawled into bed and cried.

Oh hello crash, I thought you’d be showing your face soon.

At least I’m now sorted for Christmas…in July…

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A Cry For Help

a cry for help

I have had a very bad few weeks, and I am in a very bad place at the moment. Sometimes I find writing quite cathartic and helpful in trying to resolve my worries and concerns, but this week I haven’t had the energy, motivation, will power, mind set or anything else to get typing. This is just a mass of jumbled thoughts coming out as I write them, I might not even edit this – how daring of me!

I was in a good place. I had a good support team behind me and I felt like my new medication might actually be working. I was having weekly visits with my attachment psychologist, monthly visits with my Health Visitor and six weekly visits with my GP. Then everything seemed to go a bit pear shaped.

My attachment psychologist couldn’t see me for a few weeks due to holiday and training. During this time I had a visit from my Health Visitor, where she decided I was stable enough to go to bi-monthly meetings. I wasn’t entirely convinced but agreed we’d give it a try, knowing I could call her if things changed. And they did.

I was starting to drop, I could physically feel it.

I was exhausted. Drained. Getting constant head aches.

I didn’t really know what to do with myself. And I still don’t.

When my attachment psychologist told me she wouldn’t be able to see me for a few weeks. We booked in an appointment for as soon as she was able. I was waiting for that appointment. As cliche as it sounds, it was the light at the end of my tunnel. I was sure as soon as we had a chat again, I would understand what was going on and start to go forward again, instead of backwards.

I waited in all day, and she didn’t turn up.

I called the office and they didn’t know why, they eventually got hold of her and it turned out she had forgotten the appointment whilst on a different training program. Now I am one that truly believes in the NHS and am so grateful for all they have done for me, but I was devastated. She could tell, and agreed to call me in the morning to try and squeeze me in somewhere. But she forgot to call.

I went to my six weekly GP appointment and expressed my concerns about my health. She agreed to chase up with my attachment psychologist, see what was happening with my next phase of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which I am still on a 3-4 month waiting list for, and decided to double my dosage to see if that would help me in the meantime.

It didn’t help. I know it takes time to kick in, but in the meantime, it has made everything worse.

I don’t want to sound all doom and gloom, I have had a few good days, mainly on the weekends when my husband is home to support me. We even went to the Zoo and actually had an amazing day. The kids were good, there weren’t any arguments. It was a good day.

However the following day was back to normality – I wake already exhausted. My husband takes my daughter upstairs for breakfast and pops something on the telly whilst I get a lie in and the baby sleeps, then goes off to work. My daughter wakes me every now and then for snacks, which I oblige despite barely being able to move. My whole body aches. My son wakes, I give him a bottle and put him back down, I’m lucky that he goes back to sleep quite easily. Eventually my daughter will come back to bed with me, and we’ll snuggle, watch YouTube videos on my phone and wait for the baby to wake and start the day. This usually happens around midday.

I want to get out of bed, but have no motivation to do so.

The rest of the week continues in a similar pattern. I don’t get out of bed unless I have to. My body is starting to feel the effects of this in the form of bed sores. Everything aches. My shoulders, my joints, my head, my jaw from constant clenching and grinding.

Sometimes I sleep, sometimes I just hide under the covers, hold myself in a ball and wish it could all be over. I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m not in a good place and I don’t know how to fix anything. My medication doesn’t seem to be working, maybe medication just isn’t for me? It certainly doesn’t work on everyone. Maybe I just need a new one, or a combination of different ones, but the thought of weaning off to move onto another also terrifies me. But then can things get even worse? I’d hope not, but then I’m sure it can.

I called my Health Visitor and she made an emergency appointment with me. ‘We’ have decided that I need more than they can offer me anymore. I have been referred for Adult Mental Health Services. It has been confirmed that attachment psychology isn’t needed anymore, as I am on the way to building a meaningful, loving relationship with my son, which is one positive.

Turns out I’m just completely mental on my own now. Apparently it still is ‘post natal depression’ due to my sons age and the fact it has been ongoing throughout his life so far, but it’s also a bit more than PND, I am showing some manic tendencies, which is interesting I guess?

I’m seeing things, I’m not feeling like I want to kill myself. But I definitely would rather be anywhere but here, maybe a holiday, or some kinda funky rehab centre where I can learn yoga and find myself and inner peace? Ha.

I feel like I am not being the parent that I want to be, and that my children deserve. I am letting them down. And I am letting my husband down. And I am letting my Mom down. And I need help.

But for now I’m on a bunch of waiting lists.

I’m ready for help.

And I’ll just keep plodding along until the help is ready for me.

 

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Why I Let My Child ‘Cry It Out’

why i let my child 'cry it out'

Around the same time I had my mental health crisis (which you can read all about here), my son became difficult at  night. He had always been brilliant at dropping off to sleep shortly after a feed, with the help of a white noise machine. From my peer supporting training, I knew 4-6 months is a massive developmental milestone, and most babies can be fussy at night during this time. I knew I should just power through it. I knew I had done exactly this with my daughter. However, I wasn’t quite the same parent I once was.

His cries coursed through my body like an intensity I had never experienced before. My whole body would seize up, my fists would clench without me even realising. If he would not settle on the breast, I would wake up my husband, sometimes nearly throwing my son at him and storm out of the room. Or just hide under the covers in the hopes that my son not being able to see me would settle him. I was sure it was my fault he would not sleep. It was because he didn’t like me. It was because he knew I didn’t like him.

Sometimes he would fall asleep on my husband. I hated this. Why could he sleep on his daddy but not me? Other times, my son would cry himself to sleep with my husband patting his back. I would just wait downstairs for it all to be over. Eventually, it got too much for us all, and my son was starting to wake up my daughter.

It became too much. No matter what I did, he would not go to sleep. I wanted to throw him against the wall. I wanted to give him away. I just didn’t want him here anymore. I was worried for his safety.

In my frustration, I took my son in his moses basket and placed it in the spare room, with his white noise machine on as loud as it could go. Then I shut the door and went back to bed. With all of the doors shut, I could still hear him. I buried my head in my pillow and eventually fell asleep. We all woke in the morning, my son had slept through. I felt awful.

I immediately discussed what had happened with my Health Visitor and psychologist. Both didn’t really seem to be bothered. I explained about all of the research, showing how my son would probably grow up to be a murderer or be an anxious child or have mental health problems when he’s older. They explained the age old…so many did it ages ago and we’re all fine. Hmm…this is true. But maybe not. They all didn’t use car seats, that doesn’t make it okay to not use them now. And I continued this battle with myself. I knew what I was doing was wrong, according to my own values, and yet I still did it.

Within weeks, my son was sleeping through the night, on his own, with little crying. He still cried, but not the screams they once were. We had moved his crib into the living room, as the spare room was a bit too cold. He would go to bed with his white noise machine on, lie on his front and toss his head from side to side for a few minutes before settling down to sleep for the night. He would sometimes stir in the night, but we just left him to it. He continued to be his happy self, with many compliments on what a cheerful boy he is. He continued to be a laid back baby, nothing seemed to bother him.

Of course, I continued to worry. What if he became damaged? That by not going to him when he cried he would think no one would ever come to him? My therapist reassured me.

If he hurts himself, does he cry? – Yes

If he hurts himself, does he come looking for you? – Yes

Then he’s not damaged.

I’m sure I sound like I’m just making excuses for my laziness. That I seem selfish for putting the needs of myself before the needs of my son.

However, I am starting to come to terms with my decision.

My son is content, he is cared for. He has clothes on his back and food in his belly.

He is finally connecting with his Mummy, after nearly a year on this planet. We are finally getting somewhere.

And maybe it is the wrong decision. But right now it is the only decision for me and my family.

And I am okay with that.

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Guess that rash!

guess that rash

One complete week on my new medication and I’m feeling fantastic, I’m more active and energised. I’m buzzing off the success of this blog and my fandangly new website. However, all good things must come to an end…

The week started with my son coming up with a nasty nappy rash. After a few of our ‘go to’ nappy creams didn’t shift it, and it becoming dramatically worse, we decided a trip to the Drs the next day would be in order. We woke the next day to my son’s face covered in a similar, angry rash. With Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease going around the area at the moment, I thought nothing of it, dosed him up with some Calpol and got on with life. It’s a common illness in children which as viral, cannot be treated so just needs to run it’s course.

As the day progressed, the rash became more angry and started to look infected. As both children were extremely poorly whilst having Chicken Pox (ended up in hospital for 3/4 night stays, each) I became quite nervous for him. I showed a few friends the nappy rash and they agreed I should go to the Dr just to be on the safe side.

I got a quick appointment, so went straight to the surgery instead of picking up any extra bits at home first. On arrival, my daughter wet herself. Of course she bloody did. With no spare clothes on me other than some knickers I found right at the bottom of my purse, she paraded around the office bare legged, without a care in the world.

By the time we got to see a Doctor, I was already quite flustered. We saw a few different Dr’s who all seemed quite stumped as to what the rash was. They were pretty sure it wasn’t Hand, Foot and Mouth like I initially suspected. Whilst waiting for another Dr to come have a gander, they suggested I leave my sons nappy off to give it some air…

My son peed on the floor, and all over his clothes. Of course he bloody did.

Because of my sons previous history with infection, they decided to send him to the pediatric unit at the local hospital just to be on the safe side. This is a quick trip for a parent that drives, but for a parent that doesn’t drive. It’s a whole other battle in itself!

So I sat on the floor of the office, trying to stop two naked children from completely destroying everything whilst also trying to contact my husband. He was working in a little village, so of course he didn’t have any phone signal. I vented my frustrations on my Mum to Mum support group page and was so grateful to receive messages from friends asking if they could help in any way. One friend brought my bag and spare clothes for the kids from my house, whilst another brought clean nappies.

The fact that these mums, who I had known for only a month or so, had been so willing to drop everything and help me out in a time of need made me quite emotional. Both arrived and gave me a proper hug. One of those hugs where you lose all of your strength and they have to squeeze it back into you. I was so overwhelmed with their kindness, I nearly burst into tears right there.

I had managed to get hold of my mother in law to give us a lift and my sister in law offered to take my daughter off my hands. We arrived at the hospital and met my husband there. The Dr’s there were also stumped. As he was still eating and drinking, they gave him some generic antibiotics and booked us in for another appointment a few days later to see if there was any improvement.

We continued life as normal, going along to all of our groups and bike rides. Another lovely friend drove us to the hospital for the follow up appointment. We were seen by a few different doctors, all still confused by the rash and even more so as to why it was still spreading, which the antibiotics should have been stopping. We were seen by another doctor, by this time our ninth doctor to have had a look at his rash. She finally confirmed what I had thought all along…Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease! To say I was frustrated was an understatement.

After a dull weekend of mainly staying in, my daughter and I have both woken up covered in a similar rash. I was a bit confused as hadn’t even realised adults could get Hand, Foot and Mouth…turns out we can, and it’s worse in adults than children! Brilliant.

We are both covered in spots, and I’m in a lot of pain. Luckily it doesn’t cause any itchiness or pain in kids, nothing Calpol and lots of Peppa Pig won’t fix. We will be spending the next week hiding in doors. My very energetic children are not used to this. I’ve found all of our craft supplies and I’ve stocked up on bribery foods and two bottles of wine, however not sure if that will be enough. I’m absolutely crapping myself as I don’t do well being stuck indoors.

Wish me luck!

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Me, You and My Medication

Medication

I had never been keen to take antidepressants. I had always been of the opinion that they would only mask the problem, not fix it. I thought they would take away all emotions, or I would be so happy I wouldn’t be able to control them.

My step dad once told me about a time when he had just split from his first wife and a Dr (who since has become my favourite Dr!) called him and offered him some antidepressants. He said that antidepressants were for the weak, and they definitely wouldn’t work. I don’t even remember why he told me, however it has always stuck with me.
After having Alfred, within a few weeks I was being offered every medication going. I refused, sure that I would fix whatever was wrong myself, because antidepressants were for the weak. Months passed and nothing got better. I went to the Drs, where they handed me the Depression and Anxiety leaflet and a prescription for antidepressants. Both stayed in my purse, before eventually finding their way to the bin.

My anxiety levels increased as more and more health professionals tried to convince me to take medication. I was having panic and anxiety attacks over the thought of taking medication to stop my panic and anxiety attacks. I can’t remember how many times I went to the pharmacy, one of many prescriptions crumpled in my hand, heart racing, then rushing home to throw it in the bin.

At 8 months post partum, I finally admitted to my psychologist that maybe I wasn’t doing as well as I was making out. She had not been pressuring me to take medication like everyone else had and we had formed a trusting relationship. I spoke with a friend who had been taking medication for a while and she suggested I see her doctor. My psychologist contacted that doctor so she would know my full history, just in case I masked my worries, one of which were the side effects. I knew the medication could make me feel nauseous, which with my experience with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (read more here) I was terrified of.

The doctor was amazing. She prescribed a medication that the others hadn’t suggested, along with anti sickness medication to ease my nausea fears. I trusted both my new doctor and my psychologist, so finally I went along to the pharmacy and handed in the script. I took the first pill and obviously expected an immediate change, despite my doctor telling me they could take weeks to work.

A week passed and I went for drinks with friends. I knew the medication could make me more sad when mixed with alcohol, however no one ever told me it would also make me more drunk. Two glasses of wine into the night and I was absolutely trollied. The room was spinning and I admitted this to my friends, we all laughed and confided with each other. I was starting to feel confident that I had made the right decision.

As the weeks went on, I became increasingly exhausted. I was plagued with an intense insomnia, alongside an increased anxiety and paranoia. I would walk around the house, ensuring all windows and doors were locked. Looking inside wardrobes and behind doors to check for I don’t know what. Twitching curtains so they lay just right. I had to sleep in a particular position, with each pillow and the duvet laid in a certain way. Then after half an hour, would convince myself I needed to pee, which resulted in checking all the doors again, running back to bed and then faffing with all of the covers and pillows again.

By morning I would be exhausted, if I had any sleep it was broken and full of bizarre nightmares and constant night sweats. I dreaded the moment my daughter would run into our bedroom, ready to start the day. My husband started taking her upstairs with him, giving her breakfast and putting the telly on before leaving, with the assumption I would go upstairs and take over.

What he didn’t know is that I would then go back to sleep. Leaving my daughter to look after herself for a few more hours. She would come and check on me every now and then, asking for another snack or to change the channel. My son is a sleepaholic, so continues to sleep until woken, sometimes until 11am or noon! This became my routine, and still happens now on my bad days, however my husband is now aware that I do it.

My doctor increased my dosage on a few occasions, each time feeling it wasn’t quite right yet. Each time my insomnia increased, along with my nausea. My anti sickness tablets became habit, I would take them each day for fear that not taking them would cause me to vomit.

A few weeks ago my doctor finally decided that this medication wasn’t working, and it was time for a change. By now I had developed a trusting relationship with my doctor and agreed to the change. Although I hadn’t realised in order to change medication, you first had to wean yourself off the current one. I was nervous. Despite my paranoia and depression worsening, my sleep had improved and I had become reliant on my meds. The thought of taking less terrified me.

And it was a bloody rough few weeks. I’ve spent a lot of time in bed, with most days having to be coaxed out by a very dear friend, helping to make sure my children were fed and dressed. I’ve felt very low, all my hard work became unwound, I spent hours comparing my children to others. I started to doubt myself and my writing. I came very close to deleting this blog altogether. I drank. A lot. Luckily with friends who understand and were able to look after me. I’ve eaten way too much cake, and probably 4 or 5 tubs of Haagan Dazs.

For the first time since my depression arrived, I thought about what life would be like without me in it. I started to plan how I could run away. If I left enough bottles around the house, maybe a couple of packed lunches, my daughter would make sure the baby was fed, I was sure. I found myself cuddling my husband each night, asking him if I should be taken to a PND rehab unit. Paranoid that I was going insane, that I would be locked away, or that my children would be taken from me.

Then I was able to start taking the new medication and within days the fog lifted. I felt re energized. I slept! I laughed so much my face hurt. I’m not ‘better’ by any means, but I feel like I’m back on track again. It’s been terrifying. But, the only way is up, eh?

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So I plodded along…(where it all began…part 4!)

So I plodded along. I relished in the days both children would nap at the same time. I would scroll and scroll through various ‘2 under 2’ Facebook parenting groups in the hopes someone felt the same as me. I felt an intense love for my daughter, and continued to resent my son. I lightly brought up topics of having a ‘favourite’ child, to which I was always shut down with how absurd that was.

“We all love our children, equally” – friends and family would stutter.

“Well I don’t!” – my heart wailed.

I continued to breastfeed both him and my daughter, my daughter increasing her feeds out of jealousy. Whenever I fed my son I would get pins and needles in my hands and arms, my legs would become restless and my body tense. My phone became my crutch, I became obsessed with Candy Crush as it was the only thing that would take my mind away whilst feeding him. My son would feed, but at the same time push himself away from me. As if he wanted my breast, yet no other form of comfort or connection.

I looked forward to when my daughter fed, I would feel relief and a rush of oxytocin. It was the only time I felt truly myself again. I constantly battled with the possibility of not feeding him, but didn’t want to wean my daughter. I knew people would find it odd to continue feeding my toddler, whilst giving my baby formula. So I plodded along.

My husband had managed to take six weeks off work to be with us. I loved it and loathed it. Having him around made me dependent on him. It was too easy to hand him the baby and leave the room. To complain of back ache when carrying him on days out. My son slept for hours on end, still does now. It was too easy to lay him in his moses basket and pretend he didn’t exist. He barely made a sound.

He continued to refuse to sleep on me. I settled for him sleeping in the cot attached to our bed. Our toddler still sleeping in bed with us. I felt guilty that my son wasn’t experiencing the ‘attachment parenting’ ways I had become dependent on, despite the fact it was him choosing his path.

I had been honest with my midwife and health visitor from the start. Stating I didn’t feel anything, but their advice was pointless. Bathe together, do skin to skin, look into his eyes, breastfeed him. I was doing all of this, but I couldn’t force him to connect with me. He would wriggle and scream, the only time he seemed to be upset, other than when he was hungry, was when I tried to cuddle him. They were sure I would figure it out. So I plodded along.

I went to my usual baby groups, reconnected with old friends I had lost touch with due to my sickness. We seemed like the perfect, happy family on the outside. On the inside I was becoming increasingly low, depressed, frustrated and incredibly anxious and paranoid. I was determined everyone was looking at me. That they could see we didn’t bond. That everyone would talk about me. Thought that I wasn’t coping. That they felt sorry for my children.

I couldn’t cry. No matter how low, how frustrated I was feeling, I just couldn’t shed a tear. I was exhausted. I just wanted to feel, something, anything! I started watching sad films, anything to bring some emotion to me, read sad novels. I would sit in bed and think of all the horrible things that had ever happened to me, but nothing worked. I felt like I was going to explode. I was sure I would break at some point, I just didn’t know when. So I plodded along.

Four months post partum. The day everything changed.

My husband was back to work, my daughter woke as soon as he left. She clambered on top of me for a feed, as she did most mornings, but accidentally knocked her sleeping brother awake. I cracked. Both children started screaming. I didn’t know who to sort first. After a while, I decided to feed my daughter, she would be content watching telly whilst I sorted my son afterwards. He continued to scream. Once sorted, and happy with a DVD on, I calmed my son and gave him a feed but he wouldn’t settle. I just wanted him to sleep so I could go back to sleep.

I put him down on his tummy, as he always slept, and started to pat him on the back. He would normally settle in minutes with a rhythmic pat on the back. However that morning he just wouldn’t settle. He cried and wriggled. My daughters DVD had ended. She started crying. I just wanted to go back to sleep. My head was banging. My whole body tense. I continued patting my son, he just needed to go back to sleep. My daughter continued to scream. They just needed to be quiet so I could go back to sleep. I started to pat faster and harder without really realising.

Just. Go. Back. To. Sleep.

My son cried out. I gasped. My daughter was silent.

My bubble popped. I burst into hysterics. Tears streamed down my face.

My daughter started to cry again, my son’s cries became even more loud and intense. I struggled to breathe. White noise streamed my ears. I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t see anything. I hid under the duvet and waited for it all to end.

I don’t remember what happened after that. The next thing I knew, I was on the phone to my husband, begging him to come home. He came home to find us all fast asleep. I explained what had happened. I broke down. I admitted I wasn’t coping. That I didn’t want to do this anymore.

We called the peri natal mental health team in Exeter, a number I had been given previously and was put on a waiting list for. They spoke to my husband and decided to send the crisis team out the following day. I called my brother to come down from university, to look after me and the kids. My husband was told I shouldn’t be left alone.

The team came to my house to discuss my mental health. They gave me a new health visitor, put me on the waiting list for an attachment psychologist and sent a request to my doctor to discuss medication.

I had a plan of action.

They said I was going to get better.

So, I plodded along.

(Disclaimer – I have an array on health professionals working with me on a regular basis who are aware of my entire history of mental health issues and also read this blog.)

 

 

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Shit happens…

Can you believe I’ve nearly been blogging a whole month? No – me neither!

I know I keep saying it, but I’m so grateful for everyone who is supporting and following me so far. You’re all incredible!

So, you may have seen I posted my first feature on MeetOtherMums recently…you can check out the post here. But it basically contained a massive moan about Helicopter Parents and my bad experience at a soft play centre.

Typically, a week after this went live, my son had a nasty fall at the play centre. The exact one where a Mum previously told me to watch my kid…oops.

I was with the same friend and as always, I placed him in the baby section where I knew he would be safe. Once happily playing, I went back to my friend and we started discussing a new campaign for our post natal depression & anxiety support group. The next minute, a loud thump and my son was screaming. He had tried to climb out of the baby area, tripped over the entrance and face planted the hard floor. As I wasn’t nearby, another Mum (wearing a cream jumper) picked him up. In the two seconds it took for me to rush to him, they were both covered in blood.

I panicked. I had never seen a nose bleed in a baby before and his little nose had already started swelling and turning blue. I sat on the floor cuddling him as lots of parents rushed over to help. It was so kind of everyone to help, but at the same time was very overwhelming when I didn’t know what to do. The bleeding just wouldn’t stop, I was soon just as covered as him. I decided to give him a bottle and the pressure against his face eased the bleeding. A lovely Mum wiped the blood from my face and neck whilst I calmed down myself and my son.

The crowd of parents were all asking different questions, people were starting to discuss calling 999 or an ambulance being sent. I was concerned, but my instinct told me he wasn’t hurt enough to need medical treatment, however I didn’t want to seem like an awful parent for shrugging off their concerns. What if he was horribly injured and I didn’t do something about it? I already felt like the worst mum in the world for leaving him to hurt himself.

I probably seemed so clueless as I asked around me what I should do. It was eventually decided I would call 111 for further advice. After a few basic questions they decided an ambulance needed to be sent. Soon 2 paramedics arrived, one of which I actually recognised from when my daughter was younger and had a similar fall at home. They confirmed he should be fine, but suggested we should go into A&E to be on the safe side.

As we climbed into the ambulance, my son became very sleepy and limp. The paramedics told me I was white as a sheet. I actually felt incredibly concerned for my son. I had never felt this much worry for him before. Emotions flowed through me. Was he going to be okay? I started to contemplate my life without him, having previously done this with ease, for once I felt like I would do anything to make him be okay.

He snuggled into my chest and rubbed my back. He seemed to be comforting me more than anything. He fell asleep and we enjoyed a moment which I still can’t quite describe. I welled up and felt a burst of emotion. A lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach which stayed until we arrived and a doctor confirmed everything would be just fine.

We returned to the play centre the next day (we have membership!) and filled out a few accident forms. The manager discussed future risk assessments and has decided to install additional padding around the entrance to the baby area. Apparently the accident had happened before, but not to the same extent. This calmed me.

Maybe it would still have happened even if I had been hovering over him? Should I really give up my down time, my time to vent with friends, on the off chance my child could injure themselves?

I’ve decided I won’t. Call me selfish (well, don’t as I will probably cry…at least do it behind my back) but I am not going to let that one accident control how I parent. My children are happy to play independently or with friends and without my guidance. I deserve a break every once in a while. To sit on my ass and eat junk, gossip with friends or just scroll through my phone. And I still stand by my previous post. No one deserves to be judged for their parenting decisions. Even if they are sometimes wrong.

Accidents happen. Guilt happens. Shit happens.

 

 

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Open letter to that Helicopter Mum at the Soft Play Centre

This post first appeared on MeetOtherMums.com.

Dear Helicopter Mum at the Soft Play Centre,

I get you. We’ve all been first time mums. We all get protective. We’ve all had that feeling of just wanting your baby wrapped in cotton wool forever. Where you just want to shove them back up inside you where it’s nice and safe.

I remember crawling through the small tunnels, squishing your face into plastic that smelt like a mixture of puke and detergent. Squeezing my fat arse onto slides that were just not quite wide enough. Banging my head on every low bar whilst scrambling after my tiny child that was suddenly able to move at lightening speeds, despite taking THIRTY MINUTES to put on her darn coat that morning.

We have ALL been there.

You’re doing what makes you feel safe, by keeping a close eye on your baby. And that’s great.

But that doesn’t mean you should judge those that give their children a bit of leeway.

You saw the other child in the ‘baby area’. You could see he was perfectly safe. But you felt the need to search for his Mum.

His Mum, that was exhausted. His Mum, that was sitting down for the first time that day. His Mum, that had just started her antidepressants earlier that week and was on the verge of tears whilst seeking advice from her friend.

But you didn’t see that, did you?

 

You saw a Mum gossiping with her friend instead of keeping an eye on her child. You saw a Mum not caring for her child. So when that Mum came to check up on her child (who was still happily playing) you took judgement upon that Mum.

“Oh, there you are, we had been wondering who’s baby this was, shouldn’t be left on his own really” *insert snide look*

Really?

The baby, who was nearly 1. In an area solely for babies. In clear eyesight of his parent. Where the highest he could climb was no taller than himself, and should he fall, he would have a soft landing. You know…SOFT play?

Why did you take it upon yourself to put another Mum down, just because she didn’t parent the same way as you did? Why did you continue to glare at that Mum, making her so uncomfortable she collected her son from the soft play to sit on her knee? Why couldn’t you just let it slide?

I doubt you even remember making that comment. But I remember. I remember questioning myself. I remember feeling as if everyone looking at me. I remember that tightness building in my chest, feeling like I couldn’t breathe. Like I wasn’t good enough.

Next time you see a Mum taking a break. Please think about why she might need that break. Please think before you judge her.

Signed,

Mum who just needs a break.

 

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A rushed morning…

6.45am – Toddler wakes. I am not ready to be up yet.

6.50am – Taken Toddler upstairs, turned on cBeebies and made her a bowl of cereal then went back downstairs and back to bed. Luckily the baby is a sleep-aholic like me and doesn’t rise most mornings until we wake him.

7.30am – Toddler wants a snack. Go upstairs, give apple, go back to bed again.

8.40am – Toddler reminds me she’s going to nursery today. Drop off is 9.15am.

Oops.

8.50AM – Spent the past 10mins bribing with biscuits to get toddler to put on pants.

8.55AM – We have decided that the Peppa Pig nightie will work as a top on the condition the toddler wears socks.

9.00AM – I’m still in my pyjamas and the baby still in bed. Toddler decides she doesn’t want to go to nursery today and instead wants to stay in bed all day watching YouTube videos. Ooh, she knows how to tempt me!

9.02AM – Climbed back into bed for a lovely cuddle.

9.05AM – Toddler starts licking my face.

9.06AM – Change of plan, definitely need to get rid of toddler.

9.10AM – Whipped on hoody and trainers, baby still in pyjamas. Chucked in baby carrier to keep him warm and hide the fact I am not wearing a bra.

9.16AM – Dragged toddler to nursery, she sauntered in without even saying goodbye – feeling unappreciated.

9.20AM – Got home and looked at self in mirror. Realised hair was still in braids from night before and have last nights make up all over my face. No wonder the staff were staring at me!

9.30AM – Put baby back to bed, decided to give up on this morning and go back to bed.

 

I’ll try again tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

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