Monday, 14 November 2016

Its all me, me, me! Looking after yourself is IMPORTANT!


If you told me this a couple of months ago, I'd have issued you with a sarcastic snort! I was one of those who thought that being a mother meant devoting every second of your breathing life to being a mother. I had the “where would I get time/energy/money/a babysitter?” attitude. I am still fairly new to the taking care of myself concept, I am only two months into recovery but it is definitely true that you have to feel your best before you can try and give your best to someone else.

  1. Have a home “spa” at night when kids are in bed (or early in mornings depending on your household)
    I have one of those homes where my one child sits on my knee as I use the toilet while the other one stares at me with anticipation. I have had many a quick shower with the knocking on the door and “are you nearly ready mam?” calls and I was no stranger to the shower in front of your baby in a bouncer when they were smaller. Its probably because of my struggles but my children are VERY attached. So now, I am designating time to my self at night where I can use my bathroom in peace and pamper myself to my hearts content. You don't need to go overboard on the products, stores like Lidl stock an amazing selection of creams and potions that wont break your weekly budget and when I was asked this year by anyone what I would like for Christmas I didn't hesitate to say bath sets!
  2. Eat well, but don't limit yourself.
    I am a fan of meal planning and prepping as when I was in the depths of depression I found I had no energy or interest in cooking. I forced myself to spend one day cooking all and freezing so that my children didn't go without proper meals during the week. Eating well will boost your energy, make you feel good about yourself and good nutrition will help recovery and keep you strong and well. On the flipside, I love baking and a bit of cake in moderation never hurt anyone :)
  3. Date night/night with friends.
    Date night is not a night my husband and I have a luxury to much. My parents are still young and work during the week, my siblings work, his siblings are older and his parents are gone and because our babies are younger and we are living in the countryside we have little knowledge of babysitters, now the girls are getting older we have arranged to interview some girls in the village. However, we set times to devote to each other that we don't speak about the kids or the house so that we don't lose touch. I don't have many close friends, I am friendly with many but like to keep to myself. I have one best friend that I would trust with my life and I am lucky enough that her child is the same age as mine. Once every couple of weeks, I get the kids to sleep and we go out. I don't drink alcohol so we look for deals at cinema/ eating out etc. and go and we laugh until we turn blue in the face! (she literally had to use her inhaler)
  4. Buy yourself good clothes!                                                                                                             I get “mom guilt” if I buy anything expensive. I always get a fear we will need something during the week and I've spent it! However, everyone needs clothes that fit well, flatter them and are comfortable so you need to spend on the good items. If you are low on cash there are good catalogues that take monthly payments such as Littlewoods or Oxendales where you can get quality clothes and spread the cost. Also end of season sales are good.
  1. Get a hobby!
    I have many hobbies that I gave up on for a while, but by getting organised (that's for another post) I spend a couple of hours here and there during my day on my own hobbies. For example cooking and baking can be great relaxing activities, while getting work done and you can involve the family. I also like knitting but there are many free online courses/local groups/ how to websites to introduce you to and give you tips on your preferred hobby!
  2. Love yourself..
    This is hard to some people, believe me I know. In therapy, my counsellor thought me the “superhero pose” and it works. If you are feeling anxious or like you cant cope just standing like a superhero for two minutes really does work. Also, when you look in the mirror in the mornings, ignore your insults and pick one thing you really like. Compliment yourself regularly. “wow, I am organised, I got this/ I am good at cooking/ I am a good friend” and if somebody compliments you, take it and think about it. This is how people see you, because a lot of the time we are picking “flaws” that nobody else sees. Try not to think of what people think of you negatively. You are only a thought in someone's mind briefly and then they are thinking about themselves!
  3. Don't try to be an actual superhero!                                                                                       Everyone's circumstances are different. Those fantastic moms on social media may have a totally different lifestyle to yours, more help or just better skills in some areas. Comparing yourself to people you assume are better at coping with things is a dangerous and unhelpful area.

At the end of the day, you want to give the little ones a good example. You can try hard to make them happy and give them everything but if you are not looking after yourself you can not give to your full potential. You are a mother, but you are still a person.. a human being that deserves respect, love and care..especially from yourself.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Post-partum depression..here's hoping my lost year can save yours.

As a sufferer of gestational diabetes, my second pregnancy brought on sickness and insulin dependency from the second month. I was in and out of hospital for weeks at a time leaving behind my 2.5 year old despite our closeness and her clinginess to me. This, looking back was probably the beginning of my downward spiral as the due date neared I began to feel really guilty and wondered if perhaps I had made a mistake. The labour of princess no.2 was induced and immediately she unleashed a world of un-medicated and unexpected hurt. Several hours and a couple of gazillion stitches later I held her beautiful little body in my arms and felt huge guilt, tiredness and pain. That night, I stayed up all night, staring with a strange fear in my heart that something may happen to take this bundle away from me. I tried to breastfeed her and struggled for hours. I sat in bed sobbing, desperately praying for her to get something and for the pain to stop until a blood sugar test showed that she was now dangerously low and required formula feeding. Tears streamed down my face as I felt a total failure for not being able to feed my own baby.
When we brought her home, no.1 was instantly put out, she was hurt and afraid and so was I. I was now enormously guilty. When no.2 started crying, she did not stop for 3 solid weeks, a doctor visit told me she had acid reflux, further desperate attempts lead me to a chiropractor and at last a little peace.
I stepped out of bed one morning three weeks post-partum and a searing pain ripped through my toes and through my body. An intense, gripping pain out of nowhere. It daily travelled further until I woke with it and lived with it from the roots of my hair to my toenails every single day. I was sure I had a terminal illness. Dr google became my best friend and my enemy. Blood test after blood test didn't help. My anxiety grew larger and larger until I was afraid to enter a supermarket alone in case I dropped dead. I was afraid to be alone with my children and I cried at night afraid I may not wake.
At that point, I realised I had a problem and consulted my GP and then attended counselling. What I kept to myself was to me, the most terrifying. It had started immediately after birth, I was buttering my toast in the hospital and had the most horrific fear.. what if I went mad and hurt the baby. From day one day in day out I was sick as horrific thoughts and fears whirl pooled around in my head. I did not want to hurt my children..the horror was I thought of horrific ways I might go mad and hurt them. I was guilty and horrified and terrified. I kept it to myself afraid they might take me or my children away.
Daily my physical and mental pain grew, I let myself go, what was the point. I stopped doing everything I loved, I pushed people away and argued ferociously at home. I was mad at my husband that he was coping so gloriously and getting away with it..I did the hard work and I was suffering for it. I started to convince myself I was horrible, a no good, crazy mother, a no good wife and worthless to anybody. This became my mantra. I felt like giving in. One dark night as I sat in my living room, sobbing and urging myself to just survive another day, while sinking in my thoughts, I decided enough was enough. The next day I went to the doctor under the guise of my chronic pain and I burst. I told her everything. She was sympathetic but unfazed, she did not press an emergency button or call the social workers or think I was crazy. Instead, she informed me that all of these were very common symptoms of postnatal depression and along with some information and a small dosage of antidepressants sent me on my way. I was relieved but sad that for now 18months I had been cut off, I had tortured myself endlessly and I hid from my husband and babies, the people I love most in the world. In my head I thought they didn't need me, when in reality they really needed me to get better.

Please, if you have post-partum depression or think you may, speak to someone. You may be missing out on precious time. I am finally getting my life back one piece at a time and I am going to make sure my girls and husband know just how important and amazing they really are.