Thinking about you…

Harriet’s thoughts on motherhood…

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THINKING ABOUT YOU

The following words are a cliché, but I promise they’re all true…

I never really knew who I was, or what I wanted to be until the day I held you.

At first, just your existence made me feel complete as you thrived from within my tummy.

But since you’ve been born, I love you more every day. Nothing beats being your Mummy.

I don’t think that I’d ever be able to fully describe the adoration that I have for you.

But my sweet girl, I hope I’ll be able to prove it, in all of the things I do.

Knowing that I managed to make something, so unbelievably perfect fills me with pride.

I know that being a mummy can be daunting, almost scary at times- but I’m loving my little tour guide.

Showing you off to the world makes me so proud, you’re so beautiful, so intricate, so clever and so chatty.
I don’t know what I did to deserve such an incredible princess, but I’ve never been so happy.
Your toothy grin and your little laugh- everything you do, I completely adore, no matter how strange.

Everything I do, I do for you. Baby girl, that’ll never change.

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What is this thing you call ‘sleep’?

Sleeping through the night… It is that one thing us parents all desire. Yet we still don’t feel refreshed when we finally get it.

It quite simply seemed to me that my baby was the one and only child that wasn’t sleeping through the night. Every parent I spoke to was telling me that their little angel was sleeping through.

I kept thinking come on! We can’t be the only ones, surely? There must be someone out there who feels my pain!!

I know for certain that I didn’t sleep through as a baby.
I know this because my mum likes to remind me of this constantly.
“You only stopped waking us in the night when you knew how to open the fridge…” So this is my come uppance for not letting her sleep for 3 years… Sorry mum!

We tried what felt like everything!
Playing soothing music, singing lullabies, reading at bed time, low lighting, rocking, figure of 8 rocking, extra naps in the day, dream feeding. We were encorporating each new idea into a routine which we meticulously stuck to each evening.

This is the one! This is gonna work…

Nope.

…just as you are in a nice deep slumber the bear stirs and wakes from her den. The crying feels like pure torture as you wake. Your eyes can hardly open. You feel startled and confused trying to maneouvre yourself safely through the dark, headed straight towards the commotion. Not knowing if you will be in the den for 5 minutes or an hour. What fate awaits you?

Will this bottle of milk be enough for you? Where’s your dummy? Has it fallen behind the cot? Is it colic? Are you teething? Where’s the calpol?! We need calpol up in here, stat!

Back to square one.
What is going on?!

One evening we thought we would try the old ‘cry it out’ method in desperation and it was quite possibly the worst night ever. Our daughter screamed and screamded while I sat and cried in the next room. I felt absolutely rotten. It just wasn’t for us.

That’s it. We’ll just have to try letting her sleep in our bed, but only on this one occasion we thought.
But it never is ‘just the one time’ though is it? And then she’s loving the bed.
She’s loving the entirety of the bed…
…and we’re falling off the edges of the bed.
Right, that’s it, change of plan.

But then, one night completely out of the blue she started sleeping through! I don’t know what happened.
It’s amazing!
Eureka!
It’s a trap. It’s got to be. It’s too good to be true!
You feel elated. You quite honestly feel as though you’ve never had it so good. This sleep is pure gold. Your birthday and Christmas have come at once.
Rock and roll, people.

You’ve built this moment up. There’s so much expectation.
You wake up.
You feel the same.
Why don’t I feel refreshed?
Why? Why!???

You know what though? I will wake up as many times as I need to, to make sure my daughter is ok and comfortable. This is a sacrifice I am willing to make and if I don’t sleep a full night for the next few years then that’s just the way it is. This is the life of a parent and it’s the best job in the world.
Besides a full night of sleep is overrated anyway because I don’t ever wake up feeling refreshed at all! And there’s always eyedrops and coffee…

My daughter like any other baby has her relapses too when she’s teething, she’s too hot, too cold, or poorly, but it becomes so much easier to understand as your little one gets older. I feel I’ve become so much better at working it out too.

Just know that you’re not alone. When you’re up at the crack of dawn and tearing your hair out, there is another parent maybe only a few roads away doing the same thing.
It might seem that other parents have got it all figured out, and maybe they have, or maybe they’re stretching the truth a little bit. It’s all okay! The main thing is your baby is safe and well and you are looking after yourself, the best you can.

This time goes so quickly. You blink your eyes and before you know it a year has flown by and you’re celebrating your little bear’s first birthday. It is all worth it, every second.

 

Baby Bonding Guilt

When you’re pregnant, people try to prepare you for the birth. They tell you about their birth stories, some of which may be more like horror stories to a first time pregnant mum! They ask you your birthing plan. They even tell you that you won’t sleep properly again, or at least for 18 years…

But no one prepares you for what I found a real struggle
…the bonding.

You spend your 9 months of pregnancy preparing. You buy all the bits you’re going to need, you stock up on what feels like, (but never is), more than enough nappies and baby wipes. You plan and sort out a welcoming nursery. You prepare the hospital bag and write your plan with the midwife. You get excited! This little baby is going to complete you!

But what if no matter how much you want this baby, no matter how much you have planned and no matter how much you want to love this baby.

What if when they’re born you don’t feel anything?

I hope that by talking about  it I can encourage mothers and fathers to be more open about their feelings and to not feel ashamed if they found the bonding process hard and not immediate. I truly believe that this affects more people than they’re willing to admit. After all, who wants to admit that they don’t love their baby? No one!  I want to show others that they shouldn’t feel guilt and shame, it will come in time even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

Giving birth to a baby, as everyone says, very rarely goes to plan. But even if you are fairly relaxed on what you want during your birth, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be left thinking about it afterwards. Births can be traumatic and they can leave mums feeling as though they didn’t do things properly. Perhaps they had a C-section, rather than the vaginal birth they had hoped for. Perhaps they needed plenty of rest following the birth so weren’t able to be as active and do as much of the feeding in the early days. Perhaps they had trouble breast feeding their baby. Perhaps the baby had colic and wasn’t able to sleep comfortably very easily. These can really affect a mum’s and dad’s ability to bond, even though these are things completely out of their control!

What you’re not told is that the bonding process can take a few days, a few weeks or even months and if you’re one of those people who it takes time for, it can fill you with feelings of guilt; this is what I felt, I felt like an awful parent. It may seem that every other parent has this instant bond with their child but in all honesty I don’t think that is the case for a lot of people and I think that parents feel uncomfortable to admit to it because they worry that others will think they don’t care about their baby. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

The health visitors will suggest ways of helping… skin to skin, which is lovely, but if you’re unable to pick up your baby because you’re in pain or if you are having trouble because the desire to do so isn’t there, then that can be hard.

They will most likely suggest breastfeeding which is viewed by many as a good bonding method. However, I feel that if you’ve been unable to breastfeed for a number of reasons, (you can read our breastfeeding stories), then it can be unhelpful for the health visitors to push this suggestion because it may increase the mother’s feelings of guilt.

I think that in those early days that it’s made harder because of the broken sleep. The fact you are doing all these things for your baby and not getting much in return can make it difficult. It may sound daft but once you are recognised by your baby and you get reactions from them, which could be something as little as a smile, it makes the bonding so much easier. Even without these reactions, your baby knows you from your smell, your heartbeat and your voice, they’re just working out ways they can communicate with you.

These are some things I tried that you might like to try too:

  • Singing to your baby.
  • Talking to your baby.
  • Reading to your baby so they get to recognise your voice.
  • Lying next to your baby.
  • Wearing your baby in a sling.
  • Baby massage.
  • If possible, holding your baby against your chest.

Please remember that you are doing your best. It may seem like every other parent is finding parenting a walk in the park but I can assure you they’re most probably not! If you’re finding the bonding process hard it is not a reflection on you as a parent. Your body and mind have been through a huge change! The birth and early days may not have gone exactly as you’d planned as well and this is not your fault!

It is so important to forgive yourself for these feelings and to seek help if you feel you need it, there really is no shame in talking about this. You are an amazing parent and you will get through this difficult time, it might take a few months, but that’s not something you should feel ashamed about. Other parents you know got there earlier, that is their parenting journey. You will get the close bond with your baby that you have looked forward to throughout your pregnancy and it will be worth the wait. Some things you can plan for during the pregnancy, unfortunately this is one of those things you can’t and you don’t expect it to happen to you. I hope that by talking about this that other parents won’t feel alone like I did in those early months. When I look back on those times I don’t associate it with those bad feelings anymore, I only remember the good.

Writing this has made me feel quite emotional because I now have such an inseparable bond with my daughter and we are so happy. I hope my daughter knows how much she means to me everyday and I ho
pe she never doubts my love for her. I never saw myself getting here but once I did it made me feel like the richest woman alive. I have no doubt that you will get there too. 


Lucy At Home

Postnatal Depression: An open letter to every mum…

It’s not an easy road, this parenting thing, and it’s okay if you’re struggling, just take steps to get better! It feels like a huge weight being lifted once you’ve made that first contact to someone. Be strong my lovelies, it will get better. It always does.



If you haven’t seen my personal blog, it’s full of letters to Olivia, so you could say that these are what I do best.
 
This one, however, has a twist. Not to Olivia, but to you, the one reading this. 

 

 
Mums, mamas, mummies, I beg you all to be your best. Not the best mother, the best cook, the best anything, but just the best version of yourself. 
 
What do I mean? I mean, get that help, use that support, it’s okay not to be okay all of the time. In fact, it’s normal. But sometimes it might be slightly worse than normal, all that means is that you are vulnerable and you need a little bit extra. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s DEPRESSION. And that is NOT a dirty word. It’s a feeling, a battle, a setback, but with the right help, you will come through the other side a stronger person, and you will be a better version of yourself having done so.
 
Sometimes you may feel like you’re sinking, and when you do it’s so hard to come up for air. But you will. And here is my little checklist of things to remember when I do feel like I’m slipping back underneath the surface.
 
    1. Help is not far away…

      Whether it’s my GP, my health visitor (before I moved away, I still haven’t managed to find the children’s health services in my new town yet), or my family, help is always close by and easy to access. My experience with the doctors surgeries is that even if their appointments are full up, they will always try to book you in asap if you tell them it’s for mental health. They will also be able to provide you with crisis numbers, and although I’ve never had to use them, I have friends who have and they have been dependable in their time of need.

    1. Don’t cut off your lifelines…It’s so easy to feel isolated, to send that text saying “no, sorry but I’m busy”, or to reject that phone call because you can’t face other people seeing you when you’re not feeling 100%. The best thing to remember is that true friends will be there for you through thick and thin, and just like having a sickness bug, it’s okay to want to hole up under your duvet and binge watch a tv series until you feel better. When you do feel better, seize those opportunities and see your friends and family.  Even if it’s momentarily, you will feel better for seeing other people and having adult conversation, trust me.
    1. Your baby thinks you’re perfectThis took me a long time to realise, but your little bundle that you carried for 9 months and went through all of that hell to bring into the world thinks YOU are the most amazing woman on earth. Yes, granted, a newborn baby doesn’t understand who you are yet, but you already provided them with a safe place to grow until they were ready to come out to meet everyone, and now you are their one and only source of comfort (especially if you’re breastfeeding). Sorry, dads, but you just can’t beat the power of the nipple. Hungry? Slip the nip. Tired? Slip the nip. Ratty? Slip the nip… You get the idea. You are providing them with everything they could want. They’ve already memorised your voice, and soon enough will learn your face too. That baby will love you unconditionally, no matter how imperfect you feel, you are perfect to someone.
    1. Baby’s daddy owes you big time…Seriously, nearly 15 months later I still play this card. “Honeyyyyy, make me tea please”, “No”, “But I made your baby”! It doesn’t really work anymore, I won’t lie, but in those first few weeks when he has paternity leave, soak up all of the help you can! Usually I am a staunch believer in independent womanhood but for the love of god you just delivered a 7/8lb something gorgeous lump, so don’t lift a finger. If you’re doing this alone, the same applies, take the help and the rest from people you love, you’re taking on double the work for th
      e foreseeable future! You totally deserve to chill out and not have to worry about anything. If, like me, you have terrible anxiety, you are definitely going to spend enough time worrying later on, so just sit back, and look at what you made! Look at that beautiful baby and your family and just cherish those memories. It’s so hard to forget all of your worries, but I promise you will have those moments where everything else slips away and you can only see the beauty in front of you.
  1. Forget your looks, they’re different but no less beautiful…This is a big one for me. I had enough trouble with my body confidence before having Olivia, but the one thing I actually liked was my nice flat tummy. Aaaaaaand POOF! It’s gone. It’s now covered in stretch marks and I can’t wear a belly bar anymore as the hole closed up. Plus there’s still a bit of extra fleshiness from the mumtum. But do you know what? What you see in the mirror isn’t what everyone else sees. My other half genuinely made me cry recently after I asked him what he would change about me. I expected it to be something superficial, because that is what I would change, magic me up some visible abs or something. No, instead he said he would change the way I see myself so that I can see what he sees. So to you all, YOU are still attractive, your body is still phenomenal, and there will always be someone who sees you differently to how you see yourself. Next time you look in the mirror, try to love yourself, see what your significant other sees. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so BEHOLD IT!
 
 
I think 5 is enough and I feel like I’ve rambled on a lot, but if you’re struggling you know you have people to turn to. If you truly do feel alone and you want someone to talk to who can’t and won’t judge you then you can contact any of the mummykind gang via Facebook, twitter or email – go to our contact us page to get the links!
 
Harriet and I also started a Facebook group for mummies suffering with PND, a safe place where you can share experiences and ask for advice without having to worry what people think of you.
 
I hope that this helps someone. It’s not an easy road, this parenting thing, and it’s okay if you’re struggling, just take steps to get better! It feels like a huge weight being lifted once you’ve made that first contact to someone.
 
Be strong my lovelies, it will get better. It always does.

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Please tell me they grow out of the screaming phase?

Seriously, kid. Did I not do enough to bring you into this world? I think the screaming and crying I did then was enough for the both of us for the rest of our lives!

Picture this:
A lovely family day out to London. A short train ride, followed by a short walk around from Waterloo station to the London Aquarium and the London Eye. Plenty of snacks to entertain the little madam.

Oh yes, and the god awful screeching of a nightmare 14 month old. FOR NEARLY THE ENTIRE DAY. Minus 30 minutes of peace while she slept.
Seriously, kid. Did I not do enough to bring you into this world? I think the screaming and crying I did then was enough for the both of us for the rest of our lives!
The options seemed simple; ignore her, or pull my own hair out, strand by strand. Have you ever noticed how insanely difficult it is to ignore that sound that grates on you like no other? Today has been so emotionally draining. Every day like this I question if it’s my fault, if there is some reason why she behaves like that for me, as usually it is just me she plays up for. At least today her dad was there too… it made me feel like slightly less of a failure knowing that both he and I were trying to tell her off (to no avail).
It’s pretty hard to keep your cool and act like an adult on these days though, when all you want to do is cry and scream back at them. I always envisage the advert where mum and toddler both have hysterical paddies in the middle of a supermarket, thinking one day soon that will be me.
They push and push and push you until you break, don’t they? Please someone tell me that the end is in sight. These tantrums are getting the better of me and in all honesty I’m almost at that stage of being the mum in the supermarket kicking and screaming back.
Am I going senile already? Or is this normal? Any words of advice for this tired mum?
Rant done. Over and out.

Single parents, I respect you

I don’t think people say it enough. I think there’s still a stigma around being a single parent, and that’s why I wanted to do this blog post, to tell you that for me, you guys are absolutely bossing it.

My god, do I respect you.
You see, I was primarily brought up in a single parent family, but it was incredibly dysfunctional and damaging and had a lot to do with my diagnosis of pre and postnatal depression with my own pregnancy. You’d think that would make me stereotypically biased against single parents and that I think all families end up that way. But no, I don’t tar everyone with the same brush, and maybe mine was so terrible because of how hard it was? Who knows. What I do know is that the majority of the time, single parents are heroes.

Aimee’s blog post on the new baby bubble rang true for me, yet I couldn’t help but think what I would have done if I hadn’t had the support of my partner in those crucial first two weeks. Jamie even said to me in hindsight he shouldn’t have taken the second week of paternity leave, but even with that second week I wasn’t ready to be a parent on my own. I had a vaginal birth and needed stitches but it was otherwise uncomplicated, imagine if that had been a C-section… how would I have coped? The answer is, I wouldn’t have.

For a bit of context, Jamie used to do shift work, which meant for 7, 5 and 4 days at a time he would be away, and I wouldn’t see him until the end of that shift pattern. It also meant that the days in between he was there constantly to help, but the days without him put a huge strain on me and with PND skulking over me like an angry raincloud it was terrifying being alone with a baby some days. He no longer works there, and at the moment his job means he’s home fairly often, but next year he could be away for 6 whole months.
6 months alone. Just a nearly 2 year old for company. Will it be easy? Will me and my daughter have an unbreakable bond because I was the only parent around for 6 months when she was a toddler? Will she resent her dad? All of these questions are spinning around in my head and I know I have nothing to worry about. Some mothers and fathers have to cope every day like this, not just 6 months. What am I complaining about? But it scares me. I’m in awe of how people must manage every day like this and go on to raise loving, clever and wonderful children. You don’t need two parents to bring an amazing boy or girl up to be an equally amazing man or woman, but it makes it a hell of a lot easier having that other person around to help.
I don’t think people say it enough. I think there’s still a stigma around being a single parent, and that’s why I wanted to do this blog post, to tell you that for me, you guys are absolutely bossing it.
So do me a favour… tonight, get the kids to bed, pour yourself a large glass of wine or crack open a can of lager, kick back, put your feet up and know that you are incredible. Even if you feel like you’re failing, we all have those moments, and you are most definitely not.

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