Tandem feeding – that means I get 1000 extra calories a day right?

tandem feeding - that means an extra 1000 calories a day right?

Did you know the UK has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world? Isn’t it mad that a first world country is getting it so wrong when it comes to our children’s health? I honestly think this has a lot to do with our education system. How breastfeeding isn’t a part of the curriculum is beyond me.

I never really had an opinion on breastfeeding. I knew that I wanted children and I knew I was supposed to feed them myself. However I had no idea how I was to go about this and for how long! So I asked my Mom, she told me that she fed both myself and my little brother to six months, before we then moved to solid foods. This made sense, as I assumed they had milk to six months then only solid food after.

So I got pregnant, and entered the world of online pregnancy support groups. It turned out the world of parenting was a whole like the world of high school. A little group where everyone shares similar opinions, there were groups on how to feed your baby, how to carry your baby, where they should sleep. It was overwhelming!

I gave birth to my daughter and even though we had a very difficult after birth (which you can read about here), our start to breastfeeding was relatively easy. I went along to a local breastfeeding support group, as I wanted to weigh my daughter, and ended up making some amazing friends. It became a weekly thing and after a few months, I was asked to become a breastfeeding peer supporter. It turned out they only asked me to fill the course up, but I’ve ended up becoming a regular volunteer so good thing they did! 😉

That course taught me so much, not only about breastfeeding, but how to correctly bottle feed too. By the end of the course, my daughter was six months and I had no intentions of weaning. My goal changed to 2 years old, following the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

My period returned at 8 months PP, and we decided to let nature take it’s course…at 9 months PP, I was pregnant! You can read more about that here. Straight away I got comments about weaning my daughter…”Well, I bet you’re regretting bed sharing now!”….”Oooh, you’ll have to stop coddling her”….”Time to get her off the boobie, eh?”

However I saw no reason why I had to stop. I knew it was safe to continue to feed throughout my pregnancy and beyond. I didn’t think it was fair to stop feeding my daughter, to take away her one source of comfort, just because I had become pregnant. The pregnancy had made me become very protective over our bonding time, I was worried that if she didn’t feed anymore, she might not need me anymore.

I started to research exactly how tandem feeding would work, seeking advice from every possible avenue. I read La Leche Leagues ‘Adventures in Tandem Nursing’ and ‘Mothering Your Nursing Toddler’, both great reads if you have ever thought about tandem feeding. I was nervous as to what my consultant would say however was surprised when they supported my decision to continue and confirmed that it would have no affect on the pregnancy or my sickness.

Baby came and feeding was the only thing that did come naturally. You can read my seconds birth story here. Once my daughter arrived to meet the baby, we were both eager to feed after a long break. She  watched me feed the baby, then immediately became upset, wanting to feed too. I latched her on and felt immediate relief. I had been so worried that she wouldn’t want me anymore, all of my anxiety released, at least for a few hours.

Once we got home, we started experimenting with different feeding positions. For some reason I was determined to feed them both at the same time, however, I found it very uncomfortable. It was a sensory overload. I could not focus on feeding both children at the same time. My head buzzed, my arms and legs got pins and needles, and I just wanted to push them away from me. I started to worry that this would be the end of our tandem feeding journey. I joined as many Facebook ‘Tandem Feeding’ support groups as possible. Scrolling through, desperate for someone who felt the same as I did.

Finally, I plucked up the courage to ask the question…was it just me? Was it possible to feed both of my children without physically feeding them at the same time? Turns out the answer was yes! Over 100 mums from all over the world commented to let me know they felt the same, some had been feeding two, even three children without actually feeding them at the same time. I was elated.

Having the toddler feed first, meant that she did not feel jealousy for her new sibling, I barely became engorged, the baby would get a comfortable feed and I wouldn’t be hassled by the toddler! We continued with few issues until my son was coming up to a year old. I seemed to be prone to mastitis, having had it a few times with my daughter, I was used to seeing the signs early, getting the medication and it not being a big deal.

However one morning my daughter woke me as usual for her morning feed. There was a bit of pain from a small lump, so I massaged it whilst feeding and it seemed to reduce. An hour later and the kids were up and watching telly, I went to the bathroom when suddenly I was overcome with uncontrollable shivering, I started vomiting and was unable to move. Luckily a dear friend came over to take over child watching, I called my GP and was asked to go in straight away. My husband picked me up and took me to the doctors office, where I collapsed in the waiting room.

After a quick visit in hospital with some IV antibiotics, I was on the bend again. Then it happened again, the following month. And again the following month. No one could figure out why it kept happening, but it was starting to make me hate breastfeeding. After the fourth month of recurrent mastitis, I decided enough was enough. My son was 13 months and my daughter was 2.5 years. My breastfeeding ‘journey’ was over. Crying in bed, in excruciating pain, I decided to go cold turkey. I didn’t document my son’s last feed. We had never bonded over feeding. It was a chore.

I avoided feeding my daughter and she seemed okay with this. Distraction was key. Two days into not feeding, I was severely engorged. I decided to give my daughter one last feed. We cuddled up into bed together and I explained that this would be the last time she would have booby. I told her I would still love her very much, and we could still cuddle every morning and evening, just like we do when feeding. We had our last feed. I took as many pictures as possible. Once done, I felt comfortable again. My daughter thanked me, as she always did, then told me that she loved me very much, even though she won’t have booby anymore. I teared up.

I returned to the breast clinic shortly after a stopped breastfeeding, to check on the lumps that had become infected. It turns out, they were connected to the hormone change during my menstrual cycle. The consultant explained that I would probably experience mastitis each time I had a period. This confirmed that I had made the right choice to stop when I did.

It’s been a good three months since I stopped feeding. I have found this time very difficult. I feel guilty that I only fed the baby to 13 months, when I fed the toddler to 2.5. I had always defined myself as a breastfeeding mother, so now that part of my life has come to an end, it has taken some time to come to terms with this. I have had to find new ways to comfort my children, new ways to distract, new ways to get them to sleep!

I continue to support other mothers at my local breastfeeding support group and antenatal classes. Just because I am no longer breastfeeding, certainly does not mean I cannot continue to support others!

But more on that another time…

tandem feeding - that means an extra 1000 calories a day right?
Oxytocin, sometimes known as ‘the love hormone’. Responsible for contractions during labour and milk flow during a breastfeed.
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How to support your loved one with PND

how to support your loved one with pnd

How to support your loved one with PND

Having PND can change a womans life, but we sometimes forget that it also changes the life of their partner, family and friends.

It can be extremely distressing for the loved ones in a mothers life to see them struggling. We all know most men like to ‘fix’ things, so when they are in a situation which cannot be fixed, this can be a very frustrating time for us all. When everyone just wants to be happy at the new arrival, a mothers sadness can be confusing and upsetting to see.

Here are my Top Ten tips on how to support your loved one with PND. . .

Do some research

In order to help and support your loved one through this difficult time, you have to understand exactly what she is going through. Know the facts, read about others experiences. I personally recommend PANDAS Foundation and MIND, you could also check out my experiences in my ‘Where it all began…’ series 😉

Put yourself in her shoes

To do this, I like to use thesaurus.comIf she says she is tired, search tired. What does it feel like to be tired? Exhausted, drained, frustrated. Read into what she is saying.

Encourage her to seek professional help

Let her know it is okay to seek help. Be there for her, drive her to the appointment. Look after the baby in the waiting room so she can truly express herself without the baby there to distract her. Help her seek talking therapies, and support her should she decide to start medication.

Understand that it will take time

There will be good days and bad days. Remember that a good day does not mean she is cured.

Help her find her tribe

It can be so difficult to get out of the house in those early days, but also so important. As tempting as it is to spend any paternity leave you have as your new little family, encourage her to get out. Take her to a baby and toddler group, even if you only drive her there and back. She will need the support of those Mums once you return to work.

Sit down and listen

It might be annoying to come home from a long day at work and yesterdays dishes are still piled by the sink. Try to ignore them. First, sit down and actually ask how her day was. Praise her on something she has done (even if that is just getting the kids dressed and out of the house!)

Build a team

Talk to her friends and both of your families. Help them understand too and ask for their help. Don’t take shame in having her Mum clean the kitchen or your Dad mow the lawn. Accept their assistance and focus on your loved one. An untidy home can lead to further anxiety, stress and paranoia.

Make time to attend therapy with her

If she wants you to, why not ask and find out? Attending a therapy session does not mean you are having issues with each other. Sometimes it is helpful to fully understand what she is actually going through. Listen, learn, and it will only make your relationship stronger.

Encourage self care

Look after the baby whilst she does something for her; whether she ventures out for a walk, goes to the gym or meets with friends. If she is not yet ready to leave the baby, suggest a girls night in or even a long, hot, bubble bath or an afternoon nap could help her mood.

But also…

Look after yourself

It can be exhausting to support a loved one with mental health issues. Take time out for you, whether that’s a trip to the gym, a round of golf or a beer with friends. In order to look after your loved one, you also need to look after yourself.

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From Baby to Toddler

not my baby anymore

My son finally started walking over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. I say finally as he is 16 months old, which in comparison to my daughter who walked at 10/11 months, is a considerable difference. I am overjoyed that he is finally able to toddle after his big sister and all of her friends.

For quite some time, I have felt an immense pressure for him to be walking. As much as we like to state we shouldn’t compare, we all do it. When people would coo and ask how old he was, I would reply with his age, then cringe as they would look curiously at him. Maybe they were wondering how he could still be so small?

At times I would feel like it was my fault. He wasn’t walking because I hardly ever gave him the opportunity to walk. He would always be sleeping, or in his pram, the carrier or being fed in a high chair. Maybe he was delayed because of his early birth or maybe he didn’t receive enough nutrients due to my HG pregnancy. He crawled perfectly fine, and although part of me knew he would do it when he was ready, I still felt like it was my fault.

However, now that he is walking, I feel sad.

I feel sad that my final baby is now a toddler.

I feel sad that I will never have a baby again.

My husband got the snip when our son was 8 weeks old. We came to this decision whilst I was still pregnant, however due to my superstitious mind, I didn’t want to jinx anything. Once we discovered how awful my pregnancy was in comparison to my first, we could only assume each further pregnancy would be worse. This was not something we were willing to risk. In addition, knowing how the pregnancy had by then affected my mental health, confirmed our decision.

However, I sometimes feel bitter that the decision was really taken out of our hands. It wasn’t because we didn’t want more children, but rather that we couldn’t have more children. The possible dangers to my health, physically as well as mentally, were just not worth the risk.

I think this put extra pressure on my perfectionism. I knew this baby was our last, meaning I wanted everything to be just right. I wanted to experience everything I had learnt from my daughter to bring up the perfect child. I can see myself now, I was determined we’d sleep in the ‘family bed’ and I would tandem baby wear, as well as tandem breastfeed. At least I got one out of three!

I don’t really remember the first six months of my son’s life. Only the bad times. I look back through Instagram and Facebook and just feel disconnection. Obviously I was physically there, but I don’t remember being there. The happy smiles, the captions full of happy emoticons, constantly trying to assure everyone in my social media world that I was coping just fine.

I became obsessive.

Paranoid that everyone would be checking my Instagram and Facebook, that if I didn’t post regular photos of my son, they would know the truth.

They would know we weren’t connecting.

But we’re getting closer every day.

He first walked for me. Just me.

My husband and daughter were downstairs, and he just did it. Once I calmed down and everyone came to have a look, he was soon walking around the room like he had been walking for months!

He has been so proud of himself, and I am so proud of him.

It’s as if he knows that him walking puts a smile on my face, he seems to always do it at the right time, rushing to give me the biggest squeeze possible.

He’s not my baby anymore, he’s my toddler.

And I think I love him.

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Toddler’s First Holiday – without us!

toddler's first holiday

We took Nana and Grandma for Mother’s Day lunch. Just as we were leaving, Nana asked if she could take the toddler to Oxford for three days to visit her family. I couldn’t say yes quick enough; immediately dreaming of lie ins, hot bubble baths and lots of blogging time! My husband on the other hand was unsure. Him being unsure made me unsure.

After a long chat we decided she would go, however when the time came I felt uneasy. My daughter had stayed with her grandparents on numerous occasions, it just seemed to feel different with it being quite a distance from us. In the days leading up to the trip, I was plagued with nightmares. From them being in car crashes, to my daughter being abducted and everything in between. When Nana arrived to start their trip, I hugged her tight and nearly didn’t let her go.

Although I had agreed to let my daughter go with the reasoning that it would mean my son and I would have some bonding time. When they finally left, I felt unsure. I wasn’t really sure what to do with my son when my daughter wasn’t around to dictate everything we do. Within minutes I was pacing the house, so I decided we’d go for a walk.

It was strange but he seemed to know right away that he now got a say. Silly things like when we came to the traffic lights, he reached up to touch the button for us to cross the road. Big sister always does this, and he has never once tried to do this before. But as soon as big sister is gone, he decides to give it a try! He seemed so determined that I lifted him out of his pram and let him press the button. He was so pleased with himself, and gave me a lovely long cuddle afterwards, as if thanking me for letting him do something his sister normally does.

The next day we went on the bus into town, he immediately wanted to sit next to me, instead of his usual place in his pram. We snuggled together and watched the world go by. Every now and then he would turn to me and smile. His smile filled by heart.

It also had some negatives. It seemed that without big sister to entertain him, my son became a lot more attached and clingy. I wasn’t able to get anything on my ‘to-do’ list completed which I found very frustrating. I seemed to have forgotten how awkward this age is, too old to just sit and catch up with friends, yet too old to do anything fun! He is normally so content to slot into the background and let his sister take centre stage, that I struggled to find a place for him when the main act was taking a break.

We’re now all back to reality. Struggling through the expected toddler tantrums from having lots of late nights and basically getting her own way in regards to everything. But we’ve also had a few enlightening moments…

We rode the bus into town again today, on my own with both children. I expected to go back to routine of baby in the pram and toddler on the seat, but my son was close to a temper tantrum, insistent that he should sit on the seat too. After the initial panic and arguments with the toddler over who gets to sit in the window seat, I calmed myself down and rationalised with the toddler. She agreed to sit on a special seat next to the pram, meaning the baby got to sit in the window seat and watch the cars drive by.

They were both happy.

I had put my sons wishes in front of my daughters.

It could have been disastrous.

I could have just left my son in the pram to cry whilst my daughter got her own way.

But instead I found a resolution that everyone was happy with.

And I feel really proud of myself for that.

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The Dreaded Chicken Pox. (Where it all began…part 5/5)

Chicken Pox

My daughter got chicken pox just a month before her 2nd birthday. All her friends had had it, I wasn’t concerned. I lathered her in calamine lotion, took silly selfies and she seemed fine. On day 3, she woke up with a chicken spot in her eye. It seemed quite red and irritated. I wasn’t really sure what to do, but not wanting to take an infectious child to the Doctors, I called our GP for some over the phone advice. The GP decided to see her on the safe side.

Quite concerned it could cause vision issues, she sent us to the Eye Specialists at our local hospital. They gave us some eye ointment and antibiotics to help with the infection and sent us on our way.

Once we got home, my daughter became quite distressed. Her temperature would not come down. We tried to put the ointment in her eye but she would not calm down. I handed her to my husband so I could get a better angle, and when I saw her face, I shouted to stop.

Her face had ballooned, and she could barely see out of one eye.

We immediately rushed back to A&E. Her chicken pox had become severely infected and needed treating immediately. They administered IV antibiotics and she had to stay in for a few days. They had to use the veins in her feet, as the veins in her hands were so small. Each dose of antibiotic caused a lot of pain. I had a lot of expressed milk, so my husband went home with the baby whilst I stayed in with my daughter.

My heart ached to see her in pain. I wanted to stop them, even though I knew they were doing their best for her. I was glad to be able to comfort her, just a bit, by breastfeeding her during each infusion and throughout the night.
By the third night, we had run out of expressed breast milk so I had to go home with the baby and leave my daughter with my husband.

I was so angry.

I didn’t want to leave my little girl, she needed me.

But so did my son.

I battled with myself over the possibility of using formula. I wanted to do it. But neither myself nor my husband knew what product to get or how it would affect our son who had not had anything but breast milk. I will be honest in saying, I didn’t really care about using the formula. I was more concerned what people would think of me, a breastfeeding peer supporter, giving my son anything other than breast milk.

My Mom took the baby and I to her house. She suggested we have a bath together, to try and bond whilst I was away from my daughter. I tried but he just annoyed me. He climbed all over me, hit me and bit me. I knew it was because he was frustrated from not feeding for so long, but I didn’t care.

We climbed into bed and I fed my son. Again, I was tense and painful pins and needles rushed through my arms and legs. I flicked through pictures of my daughter on my phone to calm myself, sobbing as he fell asleep. I had a restless night, just waiting until morning, when I could be reunited with my daughter.

Luckily she had improved massively overnight, and we were allowed to take her home that evening.

Two weeks past, just as we thought we were in the clear, my son became pickled in spots. I was anxious that he would suffer in the same way that my daughter did. And I was right to worry.

He constantly wanted to feed and I was drained. Just like my daughter, by Day 3, his temperature soared and we made a visit to the GP. My Mom came with me this time whilst a friend looked after our daughter. My son screamed in his Grandma’s arms, she had tears in her eyes as she explained to the doctor that he was never like this. I sat by the doctor whilst explaining his symptoms.

I was emotionless.

I could see my son in pain, and of course I felt bad for him. But I didn’t want to comfort him.

We were again rushed to hospital and placed in the same room as my daughter had been in just a few weeks before. As I sat on one side of the bed and my Mom on the other, she asked me how I was feeling. I explained that I was still struggling, that I still didn’t feel a connection to my son. She questioned this.

How could I not love my child, as he lay in bed with an IV in his hand, moaning in his sleep?

It wasn’t something I could control. I just didn’t.

He too recovered, but I struggled.

I started becoming a bit reclusive. I wouldn’t go out as often. I felt people were looking at me and judging me more than ever. For both of my children to get so sick from simple chicken pox. Maybe it was my fault? Maybe it was because I didn’t care for them properly? Maybe it was punishment for not being good enough?

I refused to attend the weekly breastfeeding support group, the antenatal classes. I made continuous excuses to not meet up with friends. I spent a lot of summer inside, sticking the children in front of the telly whilst I dozed on the sofa.

When my son was 8 months old. My therapist finally convinced me to start antidepressants (you can read more about that here). I attended a craft therapy group and met a friend that I used to see at the breastfeeding group. We connected and started to share lifts to the group and she convinced me to start going back to the breastfeeding group. It turned out we were taking the same medication, which helped make me feel more normal in a time that was very scary.

I look back on those times, on those first 8 months. And other than the parts I have described in this series, I don’t remember anything. I see the photos on my Instagram and Facebook, I see the smiling faces of my little family looking back at me. But I don’t remember being there. I obviously was there, I can see I was there. Either in the photo or encouraging those smiles from behind the camera.

But I wasn’t there.

My mind wasn’t focusing on the present. And I still struggle to focus, even now.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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The weekend away.

the weekend away

We went away for our wedding anniversary this weekend and had a fantastic time.

We ate lots of food, drank lots of wine and caught up.

It seems silly to say we caught up when we spend a good chunk of our lives together. But it seems to be a different type of ‘together’ when the children are around. Even when they are in bed we spend more time playing on our phones or sitting in silence whilst watching some crap on the telly.

We chat over dinner, ask each other how our days have been. We talk about the children, make plans for the week, organise our lives. We don’t actually have a good conversation that often.

And it was so great to actually have an adult conversation.

I think as parents, and more specifically mothers. We sometimes put all of our focus on our children and we forget that one day, those little people will become big people.

They won’t need us anymore.

Yes, they will still visit, but they will have their own lives, and maybe even their own little families.

And then what?

And then we will be left, just the two of us.

We need to focus on our relationship, and not completely focus on the children, to ensure it lasts past their childhood.

To love each other separately from the children.

So when they grow, our love can continue to grow too.

To remember why we do this all.

Why we got married and had children together in the first place.

We love each other, but we actually quite like each other too.

We laughed and joked. We had fun.

And I forgot.

I forgot about the sadness I feel when he is at work. When I’m alone with the children.

I forgot about the frustration, the anger…the depression.

And I didn’t miss them. I feel awful saying that. But I didn’t.

And it felt great.

I felt like someone other than a mother.

I felt weightless.

I came home and gave my babies cuddles.

Their laughter and joy at seeing me again lit my heart, and I was glad to be home.

I felt love and I felt loved.

And it’s given me hope, that one day…

Maybe not today, but one day…

I will get better.

 

 

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The ‘Rocking Motherhood’ Tag

the 'rocking motherhood' tag

The ‘Rocking Motherhood Tag’

So I was tagged by Sophie from Mama Mei to list a few things that make you a good mother – thank you Sophie!.

Most have been listing ten, because it’s a good round number. But really, I should have looked through the other posts before agreeing to be tagged, as I’m not particularly the most confident in my ‘mumming’ abilities right now!

However, I’m going to give it my best shot and start with the basics. #youareenough

  1. My children have a safe place to live and grow…we have worked really hard, and with the help of family, have bought our forever home. We hope our children will always have fantastic memories in their home 🙂
  2. They always have food in their bellies…I’d like to say I’m a good cook. The amount of times I’ve given my husband food poisoning can be counted on one hand, so that’s good? I’ve never poisoned the kids anyway! Sometimes they eat cereal for dinner, sometimes a full roast dinner. Food = happiness right?
  3. I give good cuddles…still feels a bit weird having a post just tooting my own horn, but hey, I give good cuddles! I find comfort in being tactile and like to give cuddles whenever possible, even when they aren’t particularly in the cuddly mood!
  4. I make sure we’re always out and about…I loathe to stay indoors so pride myself on always being somewhere exciting with the kids. Whether it’s a trip to the library, the soft play centreor the various baby and toddler groups in and around our local area. We keep busy!
  5. I’m making a change. Argh! So yeah. I cringe when people say it, but it is pretty good of me for being honest about all the crap going on in my life. I have been honest about my emotions from the beginning which has meant I’ve been able to receive the best care and support possible. I am going to get better, and my children will appreciate me all the more because of it.
  6. I’m also helping others. Along with my good friend, we’ve seen a need in our local area and filled it. I’ve met so many lovely people in the process of setting up our support group, and it truly fills my heart to know we’ve actually made a huge difference to other peoples lives. And we’ve done all this on top of looking after our own children, and continuing to work through our own struggles. Which is pretty awesome when you think about it.

Wow. Okay. So I’m going to stop at six before my head explodes. I’m actually blushing whilst writing this, it all feels a bit cringe but a bit lovely too! My therapist will certainly be pleased 😉

It seems everyone and their dog have already done this tag, so I’m not going to tag anyone. But if you haven’t been tagged yet…why not give it a shot?

 

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Wildflower Wedding Photography

wildflower wedding photography

I got a message from my husband’s friend asking for a ‘random favour’…a bit odd at first, but when I heard what it was, I was beyond excited!

When Jamie and his fiancé Anika started planning their dream wedding, they were astonished to find how expensive wedding photography can be. They started to explore other options and after seeing the quality of student photographers, who all just needed a bit of experience, Wildflower Wedding Photography was born!

Wildflower Wedding Photography is wedding photography agency for students studying photography and wanting to get more experience and build up their portfolio. It’s a win-win, as the student gets experience, and the happy couple get a cheaper than usual photography service!

A brilliant idea, but what did I have to do for it? Well, the website needed some example photos to get off the ground, so he asked if I could pretend to get married for the day! Could any girl say no?!

I was 29 weeks pregnant on our wedding day so I was…round. I had a custom fitted maternity gown and although I absolutely loved it, I look back on photos and feel a bit fat, which is silly in itself as I was pregnant, not fat! To get back in my dress and look skinny (well, at least skinny in comparison to 29 weeks pregnant) was like a dream come true!

We arrived at the location and were introduced to our photographer, Lydia. She was raring to go with lots of fantastic ideas up her sleeve. We felt relaxed and at ease as Lydia took the lead.

We’ve had a few sneak peaks so far and are so pleased with the results! Take a look below…

could any marriedwoman say nocould any married woman say nocould any married woman say no

If you’re looking for a fantastic, low cost photography service for your special day, give Jamie and Anika a call.

We all deserve to have the memories of our special day captured, whatever our budget!

could any married woman say no

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Mental Health Support Groups and Me.

mental health support groups and me

Shortly after my mental health explosion, a close friend told me about an old school friend of hers, and how she was in the process of starting a PANDAS Foundation support group starting up in a town a half hours drive from us. Although both of us cannot drive, we managed to coerce our husbands into sharing lifts to enable us to attend the first ever session.

I took my son, although he had taken bottles of expressed milk with no problem, I figured he was breastfed, and breastfed babies go everywhere with their mums…right? There were six mums in total and I was the only mum to bring along a baby.

The other mums all had toddlers, and were in the ‘I have PND but am surviving’ team. I immediately felt anxious. All of the stories of their bad times and the past, were my reality. My now.

My son, who normally sleeps like a rock, was unsettled no matter how many times I fed him. Whilst others told their stories and struggles, I flustered over feeding him. Fully aware of the stares each time I did so. The mums each explained that they couldn’t breastfeed due to their depression, or that their struggle with breastfeeding caused them to be depressed. Each time they mentioned it, they stared in my direction.

I felt self conscious for the first and only time in my 2.5 years of breastfeeding. I felt uncomfortable and didn’t really feel I could take part in the conversation. Towards the end, one mum decided to corner me and ask me to tell my ‘story’. I stuttered. I wasn’t really sure what to say. In comparison to their revelations over the evening, I felt my problems didn’t really matter. Despite a lot of their comments ringing true to me, I wasn’t quite sure I was ‘ill’ enough to take part. Which thinking back is quite silly.

I decided it was my son that put me off, and returned to the following meeting leaving him at home with my husband and plenty of expressed milk bottles. This time it was only my friend, myself and the two organisers. I immediately felt more relaxed. I had had a particularly rough week, and being able to talk openly with like minded mums brought a mass of weight from my shoulders. Without my son there, I felt relaxed and was able to truly release some emotions I had held in due to his presence.

Myself and my friend desperately wanted to continue to attend the fortnightly meetings, however over the next few weeks we found for one reason or another one of us were unable to make it. The travel arrangements made things particularly hard. As we are both members of our local Children’s Centre ‘Parent Partner’ Committee, we decided to ask about the possibility of setting up a similar group in our area. We knew there was a desperate need, with so many new mums and no mental health facilities less than a half hours drive away.

The Children’s Centre were unable to support us with funding due to money constraints and as our local centre does not currently have an actual building, were not able to help us find a location either. After a lot of thinking, we decided to try it on our own. We were in touch with a local cafe, who told us that they wanted to help the local community so were more than happy to provide their premises, fortnightly in return for a small donation towards drinks. We were overjoyed and started promoting, spending our own money on marketing materials.

We held one meeting, which was attended by the two of us and one other friend, although we hadn’t met any ‘new mums’, we all left feeling that we had accomplished something and looked forward to the next meeting. Unfortunately the owner messaged us shortly after, stating that she felt that she would not profit from such low numbers and therefore would not be able to continue hosting us. We were devastated. We had explained that it would take time to build numbers, it’s such a taboo for most and takes a lot of bravery to even admit your problems, let alone attend a peer support group!

We used the Christmas break to regroup, and after discussing our situation to a local bistro, he kindly agreed to let us use his restaurant free of charge, for as long as we wish to. Although disheartened, we were determined to make a name from ourselves from the start this time. We created a Facebook page, appeared in our local paper and promoted all over our town. This in itself was terrifying, as this meant our actual names appeared next to the words ‘post partum mental health issues’. If we were in denial that no one knew our issues, they certainly knew now!

Our first meeting came round and we sat nervously waiting…it got about half an hour past our official start time, and no one had turned up. As we started to pack away, feeling hopeless, a mum came in! I nearly squealed I was so excited! Shortly after, another mum came and tried to look in the window from the other side of the road. We clocked her and smiled. She told us after she was just about to walk away, but we caught her eye just in time! We all had a moan, laughed over silly things our children did, and joked over what we had considered normal before our therapists told us otherwise. It was amazing to feel such a connection with these women we had never met before.

Towards the end, one of the mums stopped the conversation…

“Can I just say…YES! THANK YOU!…It is so amazing just to know that I am not alone in feeling this way” she teared up.

We all started to tear up. We had done it. It didn’t matter to us if no one ever turned up to a meeting again. We had helped just one person not feel alone. And selfishly, we had enabled ourselves to feel supported too.

Our group, Mum to Mum, Crediton, has been running a couple of months now, and our numbers are slowly growing. We have also started a day time meet up, for mums that are unable to get to our evening groups.

It’s fantastic. I’ve made some brilliant new friends, ones who understand when you’re an hour late as you just didn’t want to get out of bed that morning, or that you’re still wearing clothes from the night before or even if you’ve not showered in the last week. 

If you’ve been thinking about going to a support group but are too nervous…DO IT! It may be completely overwhelming at first, but it will be worth it, promise! 

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What I’d like for Mother’s Day

what i'd like for mother's day

What I’d like for Mother’s Day…

I’d like to be given a precise schedule of all Mother’s Day activities in advance. No plans makes for a anxious night, which will mean a cranky morning.

I’d like a homemade card. Preferably made in advance, maybe found on Pinterest? Hand prints are always a win. Clean up should be included in the gift. It’s no fun getting a homemade card when you then have to clean up the paint.

I’d like a surprise present, picked from a list of pre agreed ‘surprises’, as actual surprises are kinda scary.

I’d like a Mother’s Day cake, like a birthday cake, but for being a Mum. With candles. And singing. And no one else is allowed a slice of cake. And ice cream?

I’d like to have just one nice photo of my little family, where we are all smiling and looking at the camera. And we’re all clean. Without snot running down any noses. Or even any snot on my sleeves from wiping said noses.

I’d like a nap. But not just any nap, a guilt free nap. Not one of those naps where Daddy is letting the children create havoc (that you inevitably have to clear up) whilst you rest. A proper nap where you wake up feeling refreshed AND the living room is still in one piece.

I’d like a roast dinner. Made exactly how I like to make it, but without me making it. But I can’t watch it being made either else I’ll just end up getting frustrated and do it myself anyway. Maybe whilst I’m having a nap? But the kids also have to be napping therefore not creating chaos whilst I nap/husband cooks to my very precise directions.

Not too much to ask for…eh?

What would you like for Mother’s Day this year? Let me know in the comments below!

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