Do you ever just feel like you need a break from being a parent? I am not just talking about enjoying some ‘me time’, I mean a proper break. Lately I have been feeling really bogged down and constantly struggling my way through the daily grind. For the past few weeks I have often caught myself fantasising about sending my boys off to their grandparents for a weekend, an hour or so to myself just isn’t cutting it anymore. I have daydreamed about packing up Leo’s little George Pig rucksack and cramming nappy after nappy into Alex’s change bag and waving them good bye as I leave them in the very capable hands of my parents or in laws. Is that really such a bad thing? Mum guilt has obviously tried to tell me I am a horrible mum for craving time away from parenting when I should be making exciting plans for family days out but I am telling mum guilt to do one. I need a break and I have decided that that is ok. Here is a look into my daily life as a stay at home mum of 2 boys, to help you understand why I am in desperate need of a break from being a parent.. View Post
I never thought I would suffer with post natal depression. Then again, I doubt many women think they will get it either. It is not what you think about when you are pregnant is it? You are too busy thinking about the little human growing inside you, planning for their arrival and imaging the life as a family that is waiting for you just around the corner. Thoughts of whether you will feel sad for months on end or if you will feel completely overwhelmed by it all aren’t really common place amongst the excitement over adorable baby clothes and decorating the nursery.
Well, I didn’t consider I would get PND anyway. But I did and it is not what I had expected it to be.
Post natal depression, it is not how I imagined
I always thought post natal depression meant you couldn’t love your baby, for me that is not the case. I thought sufferers of post natal depression were suicidal, that is not the case for me either. The media made me believe if you suffered from PND then you thought about hurting your baby, you thought about hurting yourself or you just sat in the dark and cried for months. I was misguided, misinformed, and I was naïve. Post natal depression is not black and white, it is not a one size fits all condition. For some women post natal depression shows itself in one way and in others it comes to the surface in a totally different manner.
Post natal depression caught me completely off guard. I didn’t see it coming, I never expected it to become a part of my life, I thought I was too happy to ever get depressed. I am happily married, have a lovely family and children who are my world, what have I got to be sad about? And that is my naivety to the complexity of mental health, displayed neatly in that last sentence. There doesn’t need to be a reason, depression can hit any of us at any time, sometimes circumstances and situations can cause it and other times it can just show up uninvited.
My second baby was about 2 months old when I realised something wasn’t quite right. Again, my misconception of post natal depression led me to ignore my symptoms for weeks, convinced I must just be feeling down, the baby blues maybe, as post natal depression crops up within the days after birth doesn’t it? You can’t be feeling happy for almost 2 months and then suddenly just get it can you? Post natal depression isn’t like the flu, you don’t just ‘catch it’. Often it can begin as a slow burn, something you can just push aside and try to ignore, but as time wears on the sadness and anxiety shout louder, refusing to let you carry on with life as normal.
Before I was one of them, I thought sufferers of post natal depression were sad all the time, crying all the time and they were easy to spot because they rarely smiled. This is not the case at all. Over Christmas I fake smiled my way through countless family gatherings, I pretended to be happy when I wasn’t. I lied to everyone around me every time they asked how I was and I said I was ok. No amount of forced smiles or ignoring the elephant in my brain could stop the sadness and anxiety that was constantly niggling in my chest, picking at me and dragging my mood down to depths I wasn’t willing to go. Just because someone is smiling doesn’t mean they are happy, don’t assume a new mum is coping just because she says she is ok – it is hard enough admitting to yourself that you are struggling, let alone telling friends and family that you are depressed.
The smiles though, they are not always fake. It is possible to be depressed but to also have times of happiness. I mean, I have post natal depression but I still have days that are full of fun, my kids and my family make me laugh for real and I do still use my genuine smile too. Having post natal depression just means for me there is always this unhappiness within me, sometimes it feels like it consumes me but there are other days where I can manage it. There are lots of days where I can tackle the sadness head on, lock it away and go about my day, genuinely enjoying my time with my family and not even giving it a second thought. Those are my favourite kind of day, some time really soon I hope to be able to keep that sadness locked away for good.
Having post natal depression for me doesn’t mean I am suicidal or that I can’t bond with my child. For me, this horrible mental health condition shows itself in the form of intrusive thoughts, anxiety and tears that just can not be explained. It is a constant weight on my shoulders (thankfully now not as heavy as it once was), it is the dull shadow that is cast over my days and is the reason I look at my baby and sometimes feel sad. The sadness is not because he makes me unhappy, he doesn’t, it is because for the 7 months he has been on this planet he hasn’t been able to see the real me. I am not a miserable and anxious person, in my heart I am happy and positive. I love to laugh and to smile and take pleasure in everything life has to offer, unfortunately there are days the person I really am and the person this depression want me to be start to blur together; a mess of heightened emotions and feelings. Mostly I am sad for my youngest child as he hasn’t had the same baby days as his big brother, a time when I was able to be the happy mum I always wanted to be, not this tearful imposter.
I have also learnt that there is no easy cure. Talking helps, it really does help if you can find the courage to get the words out. Anti depressants can work for some, I have turned these down for my own reasons but there is no shame in taking pills to feel better. You’d take paracetamol for a headache, wouldn’t you? Self care is important, time for yourself doing something you enjoy can work wonders. Unfortunately, I have also come to realise that you can start to feel better, almost like your old happy self, only for post natal depression to resurface again, once more unannounced and very much not invited. At this moment in time I am struggling again, I have that uneasy feeling and can’t budge that niggling in my chest. I am hoping this is just a small bump in the road back to happiness and I can work through these feelings again.
I guess all I am trying to say is this, our mental health is complex and it is hard to understand what someone else is going through. If I could show who I am now to the person I was a year ago, that past version of myself wouldn’t think they are looking at someone suffering with post natal depression. What we perceive something to be and what it actually is can be two completely different things. If you are a new mum and think you might have pnd but are reluctant to seek help because you don’t feel how the media has made you believe you should feel then please seek some support. Like lots of illnesses, post natal depression is not the same for everyone, you can love your baby and have never even contemplated hurting yourself or your children but that doesn’t mean you might not have this very common mental health condition. Post natal depression affects around 1 in 10 new mums, there is no way all those mums feel it in the same way.
If you think you have post natal depression, click this link for a list of charities and helpful resources and please speak to someone about it. Bottling up these feelings will only make you feel worse. If you want to read more about my struggles with post natal depression then you can find all my posts about it in the mental health section on my blog.
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When you are pregnant the amount of advice and stories that get thrown at you and your growing bump from every direction can be a tad overwhelming at times. The same goes for baby’s first year and toddlerhood too, people are not shy about coming forward with what it is like raising a small person and will gladly tell you aaall about it if you ask (sometimes you don’t even have to ask!). The advice, insights and anecdotes start to slow down when your child hits 3, I don’t know if it is because others think you should probably know what you’re doing by now or what but I have definitely noticed I am regularly finding myself staring at Leo in confusion and thinking ‘WTF?’. If you have a little one whose barrelling towards their third birthday and want to know, for research, what it is really like living with a 3 year old then here are 19 things I wish I had known before my Leo teetered over the edge of toddlerdom and became a fully fledged little boy. View Post
A couple of months ago I was noticing a lot of talk online and on TV about loneliness and motherhood. Channel Mum launched their #YANA (You Are Not Alone) campaign, Holly and Phil had a chat about it on This Morning and The Duchess of Cambridge has recently spoke about how isolating motherhood can be. I decided not to share my thoughts on this as, to be honest, I didn’t want to upset myself by digging up all those feelings I try to ignore and plastering them here on the internet for the world to see. However, the point of all of these campaigns was to help bring mums together, to show them that feeling lonely is something that happens to so many of us once children arrive and there are lots of us out there looking for a mummy friend to share this crazy ride with. I am one of those people. So, in the spirit of honesty and to hopefully bring comfort to other mums feeling like me, I am going to share my story of loneliness in motherhood, fingers crossed I can make it through typing this post without bursting in to tears. View Post
My boy Leo is obsessed with Batman. OB-SESSED! Whenever he plays little imaginary games I can always hear him chatting away about Batman and The Joker. He asks me to make up stories about Batman fighting all the bad guys and he loves playing with his Batman and other superhero Duplo figures. So, it is not hard to imagine how excited Leo was to go and watch The Lego Batman Movie earlier this year – he loved every second of that film and is already asking when we can buy it on disk (DVD to us grown ups). After our cinema trip to watch Lego Batman I decided to treat Leo to some homemade biscuits, another one of his favourite things, and together we baked these ridiculously easy batman biscuits. If you have a little Batman fan in your life too, I can guarantee these biscuits will go down a treat. View Post
Ever since my teens I have been obsessed with Converse All Star trainers. I am not sure where this love comes from but it probably has something to do with when I wanted to be a rock star and convinced my parents to buy me a guitar when I was about 12. Obviously dreams of rock star fame faded but my love of converse shoes has continued to grow and now, aged 25, I am a proud owner of three different pairs. My faithful converse have served me well since becoming a Mum and I am totally of the opinion that all busy mums need at least one pair of converse in their life. Here’s why.. View Post
“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.” – J.M.Barrie Peter Pan View Post
Today marks 12 whole months since Leo’s first day of play school. At 2 and half years old we decided Leo was ready to start mixing more with other kids, learning valuable skills for school and, well, I needed a bit of a break if I’m honest. The year has gone so quickly and I feel like Leo isn’t the only one who’s been learning new things, I’ve learnt a fair few lessons myself too and I thought I would share them with you all. View Post
I love being a mum, I really really do. I have brought two beautiful boys into this world and they have changed my life completely. Although it was only 3 years ago, memories of life before children are a blur and are somewhat overshadowed by all the amazing memories that have been made since. Yes, being a mum is the best thing ever.
Except when it’s not.
I struggle to get on board with the whole ‘cherish every moment’ approach to parenting. I love my boys and want to remember and treasure as much of their childhood as possible but I would be telling a massive lie if I said I want to remember all of it.
Motherhood is a journey of many ups and downs and twist and turns, obviously there are going to be
loads a few bumps along the road. I know I am incredibly lucky to have two children and I should be grateful for the tough times as atleast it means I have children to experience the good times with.
Every stage of parenting a small child comes with it’s own challenges doesn’t it? There’s the sleep deprivation and the general what the hell do I do moments during the newborn days, the mission to keep your baby safe from table corners and stairs as they become mobile and, of course, there are the terrible twos.
It is no secret to you if you’re a regular reader that Leo was not the best behaved 2 year old, terrible doesn’t even come close when describing some of his tantrums. There were times where his bad behaviour left me questioning my abilities as a mother and there were also the times where I just simply couldn’t cope. I was mostly prepared to spend those 12 months from age 2 to 3 navigating my way from one toddler breakdown to another, everyone loves to harp on about the terrible twos after all don’t they? What I wasn’t quite so prepared for was what was to come next, the threenager. View Post
In an age where there is such a thing as shared parental leave, a time where more and more Dads are becoming stay at home parents, how come finding a baby changing facility in a men’s toilet is still more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack? How is this OK? Research carried out by fabulous dad blogger Al from The Dad Network found that Dads have had to change their little one’s nappies in all manner of places as there were no changing facilities available to them.
The research discovered Dads across the UK were being forced to use the boot of their car to change their baby’s bum and some had even used the floor of a public toilet. Are you serious? It is 2o17 and babies are having to be laid down on a TOILET FLOOR to have their nappy changed when out and about with their Daddy. This is not OK, more needs to be done so babies can be changed as easily by their Dads as they can by their mums, nappy changing is not just something us Mums do. View Post
It has been just over two weeks since baby Alex arrived in the world and my days are now full of newborn cuddles, nappy changes, kissing tiny hands and regular declarations of ‘I’m so tired!’. The activity that is dominating most of my time though is feeding Alex. After having a successful breastfeeding experience with Leo I knew that was how I wanted to feed my baby this time around too. Although it may be as natural to a woman as giving birth, breastfeeding is not always easy – it can actually be really hard at the start. I have decided to document mine and Alex’s breastfeeding journey to try and show mums to be what breastfeeding is really like, a diary that is refreshingly honest compared to the information leaflets the midwives dish out before you leave the labour ward. In this first entry you can find out how Alex and I are getting on with breastfeeding just 2 weeks in and discover what feeding is really like at the very beginning, View Post
I have been thinking about writing this letter to you for a while now. Your baby brother is due to come into the world in just a week’s time, I am rapidly running out of time to tell you everything I want to say. So, here goes.. View Post