Mum Guilt – Going on holiday without your kids!

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In the first half of the Easter holidays I went on holiday to New York with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and Amy.

Noticed anything in that above sentence?

That’s right – no children!

My girls-only trip was a bit of a treat for me after having Olivia at home for 7 months, and dealing with all of the rubbish that comes with your spouse being deployed for so long.

At the end of that period of time last year, it’s obvious that I was GASPING for a break, and so our little break to the US was booked!

But, actually, I missed my little girl like CRAZY.

She’s been going through these super cute phases recently, and her personality is really shining through. She comes out with adorable little sayings, and she is changing by the day. She’s also been all over mummy recently (in a really sweet and loving way), which made leaving her so much harder! I almost wish she could have been really badly behaved at least for a day or two before I went so that I wouldn’t have felt so guilty about leaving… but, to be honest, we all know that the “mum guilt” would have hit me sooner or later anyway.

This was the first time I’d left Olivia and gone abroad without her, but she has spent plenty of time away from me before! She’s spent a week or more with her nanny down in Kent without me there, which is longer than the amount of time I was away for my New York trip! For some reason, this got to me more than those times. Honestly, I think it’s because I was doing something for me…

It’s kind of inevitable isn’t it? The mummy guilt eats away at you WHENEVER you treat yourself to anything. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. We live in a world of amazing technology, and your child isn’t going to remember that for a period of 5 days when they were 2 you were on holiday and only speaking to them on FaceTime.

It doesn’t make it any easier, and it is rough leaving them. You worry about EVERY SINGLE THING that they are doing without you. I know my husband is perfectly capable, but with Olivia’s time being split between daddy and granddad while I was away, it made me feel better to set out a week’s worth of outfits for her so that I at least knew she’d be dressed every day! She probably subsisted on pasta and cheese for the entire time, breakfast, lunch and dinner alike, but she was eating – I knew there was food in the cupboard! I planned a little day out for her and granddad when he took over babysitting duties, again making me feel better that she had something to do while I was away.

And when I got back? I had such big cuddles from her and was given so much love! She had clearly missed me (I was worried both that she wouldn’t miss me at all and that she would miss me too much and wouldn’t handle it well, both of which did not happen), and the cuddles were the best thing to come home to. I felt refreshed, I felt more like ME, and Olivia had a break from me too. After all, she must get tired of the same old routine as well.

Although she hadn’t gone away anywhere, it was as much an exciting break for her as it was for me (or so I keep telling myself!)

No major disaster happened while I was away, and, yes, things may go wrong, but probably very rarely! If you know they’re well looked after, there’s really nothing to worry about.

I hope this post is reassuring someone who was feeling as awful as I was the couple of days before I flew out!

Have you been abroad on your own (no kids in tow)? What did you find helpful to push that mum guilt to the side?

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Mental Health Monday: Anxiety about having more children after PND

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When I was a 14 year old, my dream for my family life was to have twin girls (Lily and Olivia) and then a boy (Henry). I don’t think i need to go into the whys and wherefores about how that changed, but it certainly did.

Following the birth of Olivia, I suffered with Postnatal Depression for the majority of her first year. Having also had antenatal depression and just not being in the best mental state generally, I sort of knew that I would suffer with PND, though I didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was or to last as long as it did. Whenever I think back to her being a baby, it makes me sad. I didn’t enjoy her being a little baby because I was under so much mental stress at the time. Of course, I can think back to happy times as well as times when I was in the middle of a breakdown, but on the whole, reflecting on her baby stage just makes me feel angry at myself, and terrified it will happen again.

Like I said, I no longer want twin girls and a boy (and my plan for having the twins first has gone to pot anyway), but I have written previously on the blog about why I don’t want any more children now and why I never want to be pregnant again. The PND plays a huge part in that.

I carry so much anxiety with me from my experience of having Olivia that things would be the same again. I honestly could not face that same depression again. It was quite crippling in many ways, and 2 years after Olivia was born I am still dealing with the aftermath and the guilt.


There’s a great twitter chat hosted by Rosey at PND & Me which has covered this topic before, and I liked reading the comments of people joining in and their very mixed experiences…

Some had PND only with the 1st child, some with both, some only with the 2nd or subsequent. I suppose, the point is, that everyone will have different experiences and every pregnancy will be different.

But we knew that already! So…

What are the actual statistics?

  • PND affects more than 10-15% of women within a year of giving birth (that’s about 35,000 women!)
  • Up to 1 in 10 fathers also suffer from postnatal depression following the birth of a baby
  • 33% of mothers who experienced depression in pregnancy then suffered with PND
  • A history of depression makes it more likely that you will suffer postpartum depression
  • Mums who have had postnatal depression with one child are more likely to suffer again with subsequent children

I’d like to think that I’m not the only mum who worries that this would happen again, after all, there are so many of us who have suffered with it once, twice or however many times.

My husband and I often look at each other when Olivia does something unbelievably cute, suggesting another one, but he knows that I don’t want anymore and I feel guilty for that too. But at those times when we think “aww, look how cute our baby girl is,” I do wish I could bring myself to have another child. I wish I could do it knowing that I would be able to enjoy the baby stage like I couldn’t with Olivia, but there are no guarantees, and really, I don’t think I’m cut out for doing it all again.

In my moments of weakness (as I call them) when I think I want another baby, I feel so conflicted because as much as I would love to have another child, I can’t face feeling like I did during my pregnancy and feeling all of the guilt afterwards of not being able to bond with the baby and feeling like I’m simply inadequate!

I know that things are really quite different now – I have none of the external drama going on that I did during my pregnancy with Olivia, so maybe because my life is more stable now, my mind would be too. If I do end up having another one I’ll be sure to let you know 😉 but, for now, Olivia is more than enough, and I am enjoying being her mummy. I can’t go back to what I was when she first arrived, so I’ll carry on being the best mummy I can be to her and we’ll just see what fate has in store for us.

Have you survived PND and gone on to have more children? How were things a second time around?

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Mum guilt: I can’t live with or without you

Definitely not a tribute to U2’s famous classic, but definitely how I feel about this whole parenting thing sometimes… okay, more often than not.

I recently started university again full-time, and it’s incredibly full on. I barely have time to think about anything that’s not law-related. Except, when I’m there, everything I think about is baby-related.

Our recent settling in sessions with the childminder have been great, Olivia has enjoyed them and is always happy as anything when we pick her up, but it doesn’t make the guilt of leaving her any easier.

The guilt eats at you all day.  Some days since re-starting my education I have only seen her for 20 minutes in the morning, and it’s been Daddy picking her up from the childminder because I have so much work to do and can’t afford the distraction of coming home to try and study. As disciplined as I am and as good at time-management as I am, my baby is a distraction. Normally in a good way, in that I just want to spend as much time cuddling her as possible to make up for the time I’ve missed with her.

BUT

The screaming fits are a worse distraction. Far worse.

Does anyone else have a 16 month old who already is the worst behaved little screaming diva? Come on, she’s not 2 yet, those terrible twos should be at least 8 months away!

For the most part, her screaming is a normal part of our daily life now, and it’s something you become somewhat immune/deaf to. Or maybe she’s just reached a pitch that only dogs can hear (if so, I apologise to my neighbours and half of my street).

But it’s one of those awful situations where you’ve missed them so much, you come home and no angelic little sweetheart is waiting for you. Oh no, it’s your darling devil child coming to play, kicking and screeching and really making you wish you’d stayed at work/uni longer, whatever the case may be.

Then you see them snoring away peacefully, and back comes the guilt. Why didn’t I just hug her when she was crying and what am I doing wrong for her to scream like this? The truth is you didn’t hug her because she’d been screaming at you and started kicking/scratching/smacking you and that’s not okay, you had a short fuse because your brain is fried and what your child is doing should be classed as some sort of inhumane treatment, right? And secondly, you’re not doing anything wrong. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a game she plays to make me feel guilty as hell. They know what they’re doing, don’t be fooled!

So, I’m no longer a stay at home mum – to be honest, I was never home all of the time anyway. She would always have the odd day here or there without me, but never as often as this right now. It’s a huge adjustment for the both of us. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the guilt may always be there in the back of my mind even when it no longer bothers me.

For now though, every day is a struggle to be away from her and keep my sanity or to be with her and keep my sanity. And so, babies, this is our dilemma. Please understand and spare us mummies and daddies one night of respite, let us sleep it off and start afresh tomorrow.

Perhaps all parents are destined to be insane, just a little bit…

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