Becoming a single mum; the baby steps I’m taking

As I sit at home watching my little boy chasing the dog around the living room, I find myself reminiscing on all we have been through together. A traumatic pregnancy, a difficult labour and now I embark on the latest journey…becoming a single mum. Of course Oliver still sees his dad regularly and his Nonna and Grandad (his dad’s parents), however I wish I could be on better terms with them…for Oliver’s sake.

Some days I wake up feeling super empowered almost like a ‘super mum’ but then other days, I find myself clutching onto a can of red bull on my way to work with 2 hours sleep under my belt and realising it’s me, myself and I from now on. Of course, I know I’ll cope but I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m terrified. Though Oliver has coped incredibly well with this, and despite what some people say about it being easier for them to cope with when the child is younger, I still believe it has affected Oliver…after all his world has completely shifted so understandably he is a lot clingier and throwing some major tantrums.
In all of this, the biggest advice I could ever give anyone becoming a single mum is keep your friends close, I have been so fortunate to have an incredible support network through this whole thing. My work friends, the mummykind team and my best friends have been amazing at helping pick me up and getting me back on my feet and of course have a good listen to a break up anthem… Mine is “Already Gone” by Kelly Clarkson or “You Don’t Do It for Me Anymore” by Demi Lovato.

Though there are two rules we have laid out in all of this, the first is what I call “the new person” rule, the one thing that I am adamant about in me and my ex moving on is that neither of us will introduce Oliver to our new partner until it is serious and that the other parent consents to it. I don’t want Oliver to have people dragged in and out of his life, it isn’t fair on him. The second is the “no shouting rule” which I guess is one that means the most. I grew up with a very dysfunctional family, I witnessed lots of shouting and abuse, so I will move hell and earth to prevent my boy from going through the same.  I never want him to witness what I did so for that reason, I refuse to even discuss anything that could result in an argument in front of him.

So to all you mums out there wondering when/if it will get better…it will. Of course I would be lying if I said it’s an easy process, despite falling out of love with my little boy’s dad it still pained me to see him move on so quickly, showing no remorse for the situation, but ultimately those actions made me stronger and for that I thank him, for giving me a reason to love myself more and appreciate my true worth.…so in a weird kind of way becoming a single mum has given me the best opportunities I’ve had and the future couldn’t look brighter.

A Reflection: My first year as a mum

Share

Tweet to @mummykindoff

So as my little boy’s first birthday approaches (5 days to go to be precise ) I’ve found myself overwhelmed with different emotions…Where has the year gone? Am I a good mum? I’m asking myself so many questions and the truth is…I don’t know the answer to any of them. It seems like yesterday I was sat in the corner of the bathroom on the floor with a positive test in my hands shaking and freaking out (little did I know about all of the complications I was due to face with my pregnancy).

I blinked and my pregnancy was over, one minute I was being prepped for an emergency C section at 27 weeks…the next I was having a healthy 8lb 11 due date baby, and now he’s turning 1?! Where has the time gone? There is so much I’ve learned over the past year and I feel there is so much I’m yet to learn because nothing prepares you to be a parent, I read all the books, took all the advice I was given but yet I was still sat at the end of my hospital bed scared with not a single clue what I was doing, which leads me to what I’m about to say next…I’ve decided to share the best 5 things I’ve learnt over the past year.

1. There is NO such thing as “the perfect parent” – I can’t even begin to stress how important that one is. I was so determined to be this super Disney princess-like mother when I was pregnant, but the reality is that I’m sat here in my pyjamas after giving my little boy nuggets for lunch (and yes I did steal a few) and looking back, I’ve put so much pressure on myself to be like other mums. The truth is, I’m still learning…I still find myself messaging the other mummykind mums at 23:45 practically begging for advice to get Oliver to sleep (I have the youngest baby of the group so I always go to them for advice).

2. Things change physically, emotionally and mentally – this one is the biggest thing I’m still coming to terms with. My world has changed, and speaking as someone who hates change…it’s a big deal (even though Oliver is the best thing that has happened to me). I still find myself staring at my body wondering when my mummy tummy will go… I still think it’s pretty unfair that the only thing that has got smaller since having Oliver is my boobs, but there you go! Plus, nobody explains how tiring motherhood is, how you lay awake at night either worrying about your child/children or sit up trying to get them to sleep, making you emotional and mentally drained the next day…I’m admitting now, I’ve been that tired before that I’ve called a customer munchkin at work and found myself humming the peppa pig theme tune. Despite the exhaustion, with parenting comes the overwhelming sense of pride you get when you look at your child, and that moment when you just look at them and you can physically feel your heart bursting with love and pride.

3. Colic. Need I say anymore? The one word that will send shivers down any parent’s spine… I say colic, Oliver had reflux and colic so I’m not sure which one is the lesser of two evils. I remember being a new mum, scared senseless at 4 in the morning convinced something was wrong with my baby, why was he screaming? He was fed, changed, cuddled…the works. Frantically flicking through the pages of the parenting bible then a family member casually said one day “it’s probably just colic, it’s pretty normal”…I remember sat there thinking normal? NORMAL? Nothing about that is normal…but after taking him to doctors and an osteopath (who surprisingly actually helped with his colic) it was just colic and reflux, and it started to fade away once Oliver was about 4 months with the help of infant Gaviscon and ranitidine both prescribed by a GP. Just a tip for any parent with a colicy/reflux baby…Look up the tiger in the tree baby holding pose also carry lots of muslins. I remember having to apologise countless times to Sarah (one of the mummykind mums who is Oliver’s godmother) for the amount he would throw up on her, her sofa and her carpet. 

4. Tongue ties. Ah this takes me back, It all started one day when I was round for a play date with Sarah and Olivia (Sarah is my go to for 99.9% of my baby problems…well all of my problems actually). I remember getting a bit flustered as Oliver kept unlatching while I was trying to breast feed and Sarah mentioned tongue tie, I saw a breast feeding advisor who confirmed it was a tongue tie, but this was at nearly 4 months and I was starting to give up on breast feeding and was put in “boobie bootcamp” as it was called, to get my supply back up in hope to get his tie snipped, but I was so exhausted from post-partum psychosis and other stresses that I found myself giving up the fight and reluctantly accepting the fact it wouldn’t get snipped…so my tip here is never give up that fight.

5. It isn’t all doom, gloom and stress. The past year with Oliver has been packed full of smiles, hugs and laughter. Every day I look at him and feel so proud…especially when I think that at 27 weeks he was given a 50% survival rate with a weight of 2lb 2oz. I look at him and know I’m going to have so many happy memories with him…of course, there are more tears and tantrums to come but for now in light of how fast this year has gone, I’m going to cherish every second I have with him and I now know what they mean when they say a mother’s love is unconditional.

I get called many things but Mum is by far my favourite.

Putting yourself first

So one thing I’ve noticed recently is that, as mums, we rarely prioritise ourselves. We put everything before our wellbeing, seriously…even the washing comes before putting ourselves first and my question is why? Why is it “normal” to be over tired and under-appreciated…when did it become acceptable for mums to feel this way?Personally, I believe that society has set such an unrealistic goal of “the perfect mum” and with constant derogatory remarks as to whether you’re a “stay at home mum” or a “working mum”, it makes sense that us mums aren’t looking after ourselves as much as we could be.

We are care givers first and foremost to our little ones, but how can we care for them when nowadays most mums are neglecting their own needs? Think about it, how many times have you sat down and had a drink and 5 minutes to yourself today? We need to put ourselves first to help give our little ones what’s best. It’s like running a car on empty.
Recently, I decided to start putting myself first and trying to make myself happy. I’ve accepted a new job and am doing small things that will make myself happy, and now that I’m happier the time I spend with Oliver is more cherished, we’re laughing more together, playing more together instead of what used to be the norm (me sitting down and letting him run ragged because I had no energy for anything else). I have more energy and self-worth and I think, overall, I respect myself more as a mum.
One thing my mental health team suggested to me, and, of course, I never listened to it until recently, was the importance of having time to unwind. I used to think letting my mind wander was a dangerous thing to do, but now I love those thoughts that I’m able to have to myself, I love thinking towards the future and I know since putting myself first and foremost, I can make myself happy.
Of course, you must find yourself thinking “but where do the children come in to all of this?” Well that’s the part I found most difficult. You see, Oliver always has been and always will be my priority, he’ll always come first in my world…but I found that where I wasn’t looking after myself that perhaps I wasn’t being my best for him. I’m not saying I didn’t care for him because I did, however since I’ve started having a bit more self-worth, both me and Oliver seem happier. Let me make this abundantly clear, I’m not saying under any circumstances to put yourself before your children, what I’m saying is after your children you should put yourself before everything else.
I urge all mums to start putting themselves first, you’re doing an amazing job and don’t ever bring yourself down or beat yourself up.Do whatever you need to do to put yourself first: Have a night out with some friends, message the guy you’ve liked for a while, love yourself more. There is a saying my grandfather used to say, and although I never met him it’s a saying I find myself saying frequently; whatever you’re going through, no matter how tough it is, you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it…you must go through it and ultimately, you’ll be a stronger person once you’re through to the other side.

What baby loss means to us

So this week is baby loss awareness week, and here at Mummykind we wanted to make sure we marked this week properly and respectfully. Whether lost during pregnancy, during or after birth, the loss of a baby is one of the worst things anyone can go through with the most painful feelings anyone can experience. It’s a raw, scary and heart breaking time for anyone, yet sadly it’s something that affects thousands of families here in the UK.
I thought I would write this post due to experiencing both an early miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy.When I experienced the early miscarriage I remember feeling scared, worried and broken, I was 4-5 weeks gone and had found out in the same day that I was pregnant but was losing my baby, I felt that a life was being given to me in one hand yet snatched away from me with another.

4 years on and a successful pregnancy later, my little boy was 6 months old. The day before, I had found out I was pregnant and was so excited as any parent is when they find out they’re expecting again but the next day something wasn’t right, I was having severe cramping so went to my GP, she didn’t really need to say anything, her face said it all. My blood pressure was low, my heart rate was high and I could barely stand in pain “ I’m going to send you to hospital, I’ll ring for an emergency ambulance as I believe you could be having an ectopic pregnancy and if that is the case then we need to move fast” from that moment it was blurry, I remember crying to the paramedics saying I couldn’t go through this and that I was scared. The hospital moved fast and confirmed the ectopic by scan and from then I knew this would be another baby I would never get to meet.

It’s no secret that I’m part of many endometriosis and PCOS support groups, and a topic that comes up frequently is baby loss and my heart goes out to every woman I see in that group struggle with baby loss. No parent should ever experience baby loss, no parent should ever have to say goodbye to their baby.
I’m never a big fan of soaps when they brush upon baby loss, however both EastEnders and Coronation Street have done heart wrenching tributes. EastEnders and Bernadette’s baby girl and then the unforgettable Coronation Street with Michelle and Steve’s stillborn – made even more moving by the fact both actors have experienced baby loss.
I urge any parent who has experienced baby loss and is feeling scared or alone to know that there are some amazing charities available; Aching Arms, Sands, Life after loss and Heart in their hand (to name a few)
A lot of parents take comfort from marking the loss, some people plant a patch of flowers in the garden, or light a candle. Whatever helps you find comfort with your loss.
Here at Mummykind we want any parent experiencing baby loss to know you’re not alone, it’s not your fault and most importantly any emotions you feel when experiencing this are completely expected, it’s understandable to feel hurt, angry, scared.
We hope you’ll join us in partaking the global wave of light on October the 15th 2017 by lighting a candle at 7pm local time and leave burning for at least an hour in memory of all the babies that have passed away. This year wave of light are also offering a digital wave of light with the hashtag #WaveOfLight – as seen on https://babyloss-awareness.org/get-involved/#wave-light

Bleeding in pregnancy

I was 27 weeks pregnant when I was admitted to hospital with abdominal cramps and PV bleeds, my little boy’s chance of making it to his due date was cut short as the doctor told me the SCBU at our hospital was full and I was being prepped to be transferred to another hospital where I would face delivering my little boy early when he was weighing just 2lb 2oz.

 
Bleeding in pregnancy can sometimes be referred to as PV bleeds 

Around 20-25% of women will experience PV bleeds in their first trimester, whereas bleeding in the second and third trimester is less common.

Bleeding in early pregnancy can be a sign of either miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Whereas bleeding in later stages of pregnancy can have different meanings.

The most common bleed is known as an “implantation bleed” which is when the fertilised egg implants itself into the lining of a uterus. An implantation bleed is discharge or spotting and is usually pinkish or dark brown, implantation bleeding tends to only happen will the egg is attaching itself into the uterus, it may last anything from a few hours or 1-2 days.
I was 27 weeks pregnant when I was admitted to hospital with abdominal cramps and PV bleeds, my little boy’s chance of making it to his due date was cut short as the doctor told me the SCBU at our hospital was full and I was being prepped to be transferred to another hospital where I would face delivering my little boy early when he was weighing just 2lb 2oz.
It was a magical moment when the bleeding stopped.I had an urgent ultrasound which showed that there was no known cause for the bleed. I began to puzzle even my doctors… Here was this 27 week pregnant lady who was having PV bleeds but with no cause, my little boy’s growth took a dip and I was kept in hospital for nearly a month of monitoring. I was told every time I bled, I was to add 24 hours to the chances of me going home.

“well Miss Simkins, we don’t know why you’re bleeding, but we’ll monitor your little baby’s growth and keep an eye on you and look at your delivery options” 

Pregnancies with PV bleeds tend to result in small babies. So I was having scans every 2 weeks and gradually Oliver’s growth began to pick up, and as he grew more, my chance of having a natural birth was increasing too. At my last growth scan the sonographer chuckled and told me he weighed 8lb 5oz with still 3-4 weeks to go!

One thing my midwife told me was that I was no longer able to have a water birth and I would no longer be able to deliver on the low-risk unit. I would now have to deliver on the high risk labour ward as I was booked to be induced due to the PV bleeds.
There are many causes for PV bleeds during pregnancy but they can all mean different things and should be reported to a medical professional immediately. To determine what is causing the bleeding, your doctor may request an internal examination, ultrasound and blood tests.
I was incredibly fortunate and ended up having a perfectly healthy baby boy born on his due date weighing 8lb 11oz.

Coping With Postpartum Psychosis

I wouldn’t want to leave the house and I would completely isolate myself from the outside world. Postpartum psychosis led me to being sat on the edge of a bridge on the motorway at night, I was sectioned under the mental health act and taken to a place of safety… the NHS provides incredible support

I thought long and hard about what my first post should be, I wanted it to be something personal yet something people can relate to…. something informative. I decided to write about postpartum psychosis. Now, I know soap dramas have done previous stories but they’re not entirely accurate.

People always stress about post-natal depression but not so much postpartum psychosis, firstly let me give the NHS symptoms of postpartum psychosis;

    • a high mood (mania) – she may talk and think too much or too quickly, feel ‘on top of the world’, or be more sociable than normal
    • a loss of inhibitions
    • paranoia, feeling suspicious or fearful
    • restlessness or agitation
      • a low mood – she may show signs of depression and be withdrawn or tearful, with a lack of energy, loss of appetite, anxiety, irritability or trouble sleeping
    • severe confusion.
My official diagnosis was “post-natal depression with elements of postpartum psychosis”. The stresses of being a new mum had gotten to me, I felt I could hear people talking about me, judging me…I would lay in bed at night and was adamant I could physically hear people talking about me, I wouldn’t want to leave the house and I would completely isolate myself from the outside world. Postpartum psychosis led me to being sat on the edge of a bridge on the motorway at night, I was sectioned under the mental health act and taken to a place of safety… the NHS provides incredible support and I urge anyone with any of the above symptoms to seek medical advice. I was placed on the following medication which helped massively;
  • ·         sertraline 200mg – an anti-depressant that is commonly used for postnatal depression and is safe to breastfeed with
  • ·         risperidone 1mg – an anti-psychotic that unfortunately isn’t safe to breastfeed on
  • ·         zopiclone 3.75mg – a common sleeping tablet
  • ·         diazepam 2mg a tablet used for multiple conditions however used as a sedative in regard to mental health.

My battle is still ongoing, my battle with postpartum psychosis has come to an end, however my battle with postnatal depression is still ongoing, the stresses of being a mother (finances, family stresses and chronic health conditions) are difficult to overcome. I feel this country has a stigma on mental health especially postnatal depression, but this blog is very open and supportive to mental health.
Postpartum psychosis isn’t as commonly spoken about as postnatal depression, however is gradually becoming more common, more mums are speaking out about it and more awareness is being made. I hope this small introductory post from me has been helpful, and I look forward to writing more in the future 😊

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com