My Mental Health…..

So this week is Maternal Mental Health awareness week. So I think it’s about time I opened up again about how I’m feeling.

My mental health has been something I’ve struggled with since my teenage years. Back then (I say that as thought I was hundreds of years ago) there was a massive stigma around having mental health issues and often people could be very ignorant of it. I definitely suffered in silence and allowed my parents to think I was being a handful rather than admit how I really felt underneath.

I had watched my mum struggle a lot with her mental health and really didn’t want to follow in her footsteps. I had no idea back then that it wasn’t something I could control not something I definitely couldn’t suppress forever.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that the wheels fell off. It hit me like a tonne of bricks and I remember when the doctor signed me off work I felt like a failure. Failing had been my biggest enemy for a very long time and to this day it still is. Fear of failure has stopped me from doing so much. In many ways it probably controls my life.

I’ve written about how I don’t choose to feel mum guilt especially about time for me. It’s mainly because I know in order to stay as healthy mentally I need to give myself time to breath. I am a control freak by nature but by choosing to let go and not give myself a hard time about parenting, I’m actually choosing to not add to my already full plate of mental health concerns.

So my maternal mental health has been a battle. It always will be. I classically like to put myself down at every opportunity. I come across to those who know me as confident and occasionally a little bit extra but this is all one big cover up. Inside I’m a bloody mess.

The best me is the healthy eating, gym going, on the go all the time me. When she hits a road block she inverts. She sits in the house dwelling on the could be’s. She struggles to participate. She chooses not to be active. She stuffs her face with convenience food. She actively puts herself down and tells herself she isn’t good enough. She’s a right laugh a minute – not.

What motherhood has added to this is a drive to be stronger. A drive to want to be a better me for my daughter. But with wanting to be the best version of myself has become a barrage of self doubt. Motherhood (parenthood) can be a very lonely place and with time to consider yourself too closely it’s easy to pick yourself apart. Not only has there been massive changes that you may not have been totally prepared for, you also have a new dynamic in your relationships.

It’s easy to suddenly wake up one day and realise that your not ok. I did. I have. And I’m sure I will continue to have days where the whole world feels like a battlefield. It’s ok not to be ok. Don’t feel ashamed. Don’t feel guilty. And do talk about it. After all we are all human.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

Almost tears…..

I love my daughter. She literally brings unlimited joy into my life. However she can press my buttons like no one else and she’s only 7months old.

So here begins my woeful tale (do not judge me – we’ve all been there)…..

Teething (I feel like it requires no explanation) is possibly the most gruelling, stressful and soul destroying thing as a parent, with no end in site even when those tiny little pearlers break through. We don’t have any teeth yet but my god have we been through the mill. In the past few weeks alone I’m sure I’ve gained at least a hundres grey hairs (don’t fret for me, I’m trying out a new hairdresser on Tuesday and i confident she can do the cover up). We are on out second bought of severe nappy rash. This is not just a pink bit that looks a wee bitty sore. This is full on red as a lobster, crying, hot to touch, FML nappy rash. It’s becomes this way due to the sheer volume of number 2s being caused by the aforementioned teethy pegs. Yes too much detail I know, however, we get to this point in less than 24hours and the whole world feels like it’s ending. Cue an emergency doctor’s appointment and some rather helpful cream (we attempted nappy free time but anyone who has a child that is moving on any way shape or form will agree that it’s never going to end well – in short I’m sure I need a new living room carpet).

So the cream helped (hooray) but my little cherub was still not entirely settled. That’s to the life explainer that is the wonder weeks app I soon realized that we were about to hit a rocky patch and had resigned myself to the fact it may have just come a little early. Several of the signs of the next leap were starting to become apart on my grumpy little madam.

Sleep has gone out the window, naps are a fight, bottles are half drank then wished for 5 minutes later. It’s safe to say that things have all gone a bit off. Generally she’s the happiest little lady and the most easy going.

So the day that really pushed me to the edge started incredibly early (coffee by IV anyone?). It was clear from this that we were on for a tough day. Boy was I right. Naps – what are those? Cuddles me, don’t cuddle me, don’t put me down, don’t put me near toys, nope I don’t want a nappy, I rolled over and didn’t like it, don’t want a bottle, want a bottle. By the time her dad got home not only was I bloody knackered,I was mentally drained. So naturally he walked on the door and she was a sheer delight, all smiles ( it was on no way his fault, she just was quite obviously sick of me). She crawled over to her daddy all happy. I thought if be all like yay so sst on the floor and beckoned her over ” come to mummy” “mummy cuddles”. Her dad tried “go and get mummy”. She turned looked me straight in the eyes, turned away and cuddled her dad’s leg.

My heart sank faster that the Titanic. I swallowed back the tears. I know she doesn’t understand and she won’t have know what she did but it stung. I started putting on my gym gear as I needed some space not only because I’d been on those four walls all day but I needed to not cry. Instead I went to rugby training. I reclaimed a bit of the old me.

Still now I could cry thinking of it. Nobody is to blame and it’s not really a big deal but it still hurt. Clearly I have some insecurities about my parenting, who doesn’t. I have insecurities about my life in general. I’m looking at the bigger picture and that stops me from dwelling. She is far too little to have any idea of what she is doing, far less what affect that has on other people. The following day she couldn’t get enough of me and it was her dad on the recieving end of the cold shoulder. What got to me the most, I think, was how emotionally raw I felt. Motherhood has a lot to answer for but I still wouldn’t change it for the world.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

Easter Weekend…..

So it’s only gone and been the loveliest weekend of the year so far. We were lucky that it happened to fall on my other halves scheduled weekend off.

For me Easter had normally been about rugby sevens, eating chocolate for the sake of it and a bank holiday Monday meaning the first Sunday sesh of the year. Safe to the last few haven’t looked anything like that and I’m glad (although a cheeky wee g+t in the sun is lovely).

For the first time in ages I was looking forward to the prospect of good quality family time. We seem to have had bucket loads in the last month or so with Charlotte’s christening and various other days out. I hadn’t quite realised how down I had been feeling before until now I feel pretty damn good. I’m not gonna pretend the sun doesn’t help but the prospect of two weeks without baby classes (adult mummy contact) and other life stresses had put me in a right old fog. Some lovely evening walks and laughing with my little bestie and her daddy has got me safely back to a sunnier disposition.

So our Easter plans weren’t too out there. Daddy had decided to buy a new driver for the upcoming golf competition season so we did a trip to American golf for him to be fitted (I popped to Tesco to buy an essential sun hat and cream for peanut). An hour or so later daddy was happy and peanut was asleep so we had a nice sit down coffee in Costa and a chat about stuff – not poo, or sick, or toys, or whether she needed a bottle – an actual conversation about life (well golf) but life non the less. Cue another wonder round F+F at Tesco then we were off on our day out.

So our new favourite place is the Zoo. Yes it’s a big bloody hill and the pram is not that easy to push all the way to the top, however, her little face is so worth it (plus I love penguins and will be damned of we don’t see the parade everytime we go). We have our trusty membership which helps us beat the massive queue and use the members entrance (best thing ever!!!). Honestly, I can’t wait for the summer now – if you need me I will be at the zoo staring at penguins with my baby. Of course it was busy and there was also a wedding taking place (safely planted the seed that when we eventually decide to get married – well he pops the question – that the zoo would be a fab venue) but with the weather most of the animals were sun bathing so Peanut saw loads. She is a big fan of the ooh oohs (the monkeys).

Post penguin parade we headed home and everyone conked out. Peanut went for a nap and we just lay ok the couch eating our Easter eggs.

Sunday we got up headed off to church for the family friendly service. We don’t go every Sunday – maybe not even every month but when we can we do. After church we headed to Sunday lunch at the golf club with Grandma, Grandad and Great Grandma. Peanut had her first taste of non mashed up meat (I just shredded a bit with my fork) and potato croquet. She was a very happy girl. She then showed off her new crawling skills to her grandma and great grandma.

All in all, a fab weekend. The sun is still shining and im hoping it’s going to last (well I think everyone is). There’s nothing better than fun in the sun.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

My Cesarean Journey…..

So April is Cesarean awareness month and lots of posts and affirmations have been batted about on Instagram, Facebook and the likes.

So here’s my tuppence worth. As with many of my social media counterparts who have given birth via C-section whether through personal choice or in an emergency I very much agree that there is still a stigma surrounding it.

Through most of my pregnancy I was very aware of not wanting a c-section. So much so when a midwife suggest to me and my partner we discus what we would want to do in that situation, I was astounded. In my head I point blank refused to accept or admit that it may be a scenario. I strongly believe this is a lack of education.

I’ve spoken before about the fact that we did classes with NCT antenatally. I honestly don’t remember C-sections being discussed in any depth. I didn’t go to my local NHS antenatal classes so I can’t say that it came up there. One midwife broached the subject with me and she wasn’t even my usual person. Frankly in hindsight I’m glad she did.

When filling out a birth plan, nobody goes beyond their ideal. I certainly didn’t have more than get the baby out safely, try not to use all the drugs and the less intervention the better. I really think that it’s not just Cesarean that gets a bad rep either. I think intervention in general. Some women feel ashamed that they needed to get pain relief. Some feel that any assistance makes them a failure.

For me there wasn’t really a comprehensive plan when there probably should have been. Due to a strange medical sensitivity with an anaesthetic drug I was advised to have an epidural to reduce the chance of needing GA if there were post birth compilations. Wouldn’t have been my first choice but i accepted it and moved on.

My labour was by no means straight forward and frankly when your in the moment you just want the safe delivery of your baby by what ever means gets your both through it. I had an emergency cesarean. I can’t tell you what happened and due to many different things I had to have a general anaesthetic.

My acceptance of having a C-section wasn’t an easy mental road for me. I had never had any form of surgery up until this point and definitely was not prepared to take it slow and recover. I wanted to bounce back. There was no bounce I can assure you. I didn’t struggle to accept I had given birth that way. It wasn’t my first choice by a long shot but my baby girl being safe will always be a bigger priority.

The actual recovery itself I didn’t find all that bad. I was lucky that I responded well to the pain killers and with some well timed warnings from family and friends to slow down and take it easy, on the whole I was back to myself quicker than most.

I still don’t have feeling in a lower part of my stomach. Yes I have an overhang. My scare is what it is. But my baby is thriving. She’s the best thing I’ve ever done. She fills me with more joy than I ever thought imaginable.

I didn’t fail. I grew her for 9 months. She was born safely and soundly by professionals. If this was 100 or more years ago I maybe wouldnt be here to tell this story. But I am. And I am grateful for every person who made her arrival into this world safe for not only her but me.

It would be easy to beat myself up and trust me I have. There have been days when ive felt lost or overwhelmed. For a long time I was worried that not having had skin to skin ment I had no bond with my baby.

I know if we went on to have another child we would most likely be advised to have an elective section. What would have previously worried me no longer does. If that’s what needs to be done then so be it. Having a healthy baby is the main priority, not whether or not narrow-minded people think I failed.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

Mothering Sunday……

Here’s to a day of celebrating the mums. Every single one. To the first time mum’s, the multiple mum’s, the twin mum’s, step mum’s, grandma’s who are out mum’s, foster mum’s, adoptive mum’s, dad’s who are mum’s, mum’s who are no longer with us, auntie’s who are our mum’s, godmothers,great grandmother’s. The lot. Those who parent from every angle. Those who encompass mum, dad and confidant.

Being a mum is more than having a child. It’s choosing to give your everything to a child.

Now that I’m a mum, I can truly understand everything that my mum did for me. I finally appreciate the sacrifices she made to give me better. I can see the times that my dad had to be mum as well as dad because he was a stay at home parent. I understand that it’s more than a title.

Mothering Sunday is not always the joy filled day that retail portrays. There are those are mum’s to angels and those who’s mum’s are angels. For them a day of reminders. A pain I can neither understand nor begin to imagine. To those I send my love. My best wishes.

For myself, this year is my first as a mum. I will spend it with my daughter. It will be like any other day for us. I look forward to years to come when she will undoubtedly come home from nursery with a glitter embellished card but for today snuggles will suffice.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

Our Holidays……

Well it will come as no surprise that 90% of the ‘stuff’ that was crammed into the back of our car was neither mine nor my partner’s, but for the smallest member of our family. Thankfully my dad was carting the travel cot for us,as we genuinely wouldn’t have had room for it. 4 nights away and if I could have packed the kitchen sink then I may well have done.

In a blur of removing every baby item from our flat, packing it in a bag and ramming it in the car – I forgot to pack for myself. Cue a mad dash to grab as many things that kind of go together, seem clean and might be comfy. This resulted in another luggage bag bursting at the seems with a lot of ‘just in case’s clothes.

Before we had even left I was wondering why. How could this be enjoyable? We were only going 3-4hrs down the country, we would have the car, there are shops (again just in case), but I’d never felt so stressed. You’d think I was going to the moon for a month and found out that they didn’t have tea or wine or worse gin.

Finally we set off and Peanut fell asleep. The journey went pretty smoothly. A few we times stops meant that we managed to stick to routine and when travelling Peanut just napped.

I arrived feeling more happy about the prospect of having a break. The holiday home was lovely. Then we realised we only had half of the monitor so the travel cot would be in us. Not a big problem you say – well you’ve not met our delightful snoring, rustling, leg thumping child. In all honesty though she was actually really good although restless at night which is to be expected in a new place.

Our first full day we made us wife the facilities – going swimming and my dad playing some golf with my other half. We then went and explored the area and stopped for some lunch and shopping.

Day two we decided to venture further afield and took Peanut to sealife. It was amazing. She absolutely loved all the fish tanks and would have happily sat and stared at them a day. Again Mummy did some wondering round the shops although nothing was bought. It was nice to just have some time out as a family though as it doesn’t happen as often as we’d like.

On our last full day we again went swimming, some golf was played and I treated myself to Neon Organics treatment at the spa. We went for a walk round the holiday park and I made dinner for everyone at night. It was really chilled out day but exactly what we all needed.

So the car was jammed full again, the holiday cottage was swept for any stray bit and bobs. Off we toddled home. We stopped a few times just to make sure Peanut was ok and so we could stretch out legs. The journey wasn’t too bad although I think I’m always desperate to get home not matter how long I’ve been away.

I think for our first break 4 nights was long enough. Peanut was fab through the day but unsettled at night which made both me and her dad pretty tired. Short of packing the kitchen sink we had everything with us. In hindsight I should have booked a cottage with a washing machine so we didn’t need quite so many just in case clothes or bibs.

We had a fab time as a family and it was lovely to spend time with my parents too. I only managed one run while I was away but I’m not gonna get hung up on that.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

Finger food – the reality

Well weaning is an interesting journey of discovery not only for Peanut but for me too. We started with what may be seen at the more traditional way to weaning by spoon feeding purees – trying one vegetable at a time. Now we have passed the 6 months mark our weaning world has opened up to a whole new array of things it is deemed safe for her to try.

In a bid to follow the baby led weaning example I thought that now would be a good time to try finger foods and allow Peanut to try and feed herself. Well… was an experienced of nothing else. Trial and error play a big part in this. My advice be prepared.

We are not lucky enough to have a dining kitchen with lots of space for a high chair and wipeable surroundings (frankly we don’t even have a dining space – good old plates on knees in our flat). This resulted in my already questionable disgusting living room rug now being splattered with whatever attempts at culinary delights I thought peanut would like (safe to say the rug should probably come with a warning, it now has a lot of interesting stains and I ruined it with shake and vac).

In my wisdom (well what I thought might be a slight moment of wisdom – was wrong), I though broccoli was a great place to start. Peanut has no invented a new game. Squish broccoli into high chair table, sook broccoli til all the tiny florets come loose, smash broccoli off of high chair and drop off the side of high chair table. This ensures she is covered, her high chair is covered and aforementioned rug is covered. Short of throwing it at me up until this point I have got away with not being covered.

My next plan was to buy one of those lovely bamboo sectioned plates in the shape of an animal that suctions onto the high chair. Surely this would reduce the instances of food being unceremoniously dropped over board as it were. Nope. Instead we now have multiple different veg in the go, being smooshed, battered and the disguarded.

We continue to do a mixture of weaning dependant entirely on time,what’s in the house and whether or not I can take the clean up. You may question my motivation – trust me I do on a daily basis. It works for us. She loves food and I’m glad that she does, but I’m never going to be the homemade granola bars mum.

So with hindsight here are my top tips for getting started with baby led or finger food weaning:

1- Put the high chair on a wipeable surface – be it on a kitchen floor or buy a wipeable table cloth and put it under. Nobody wants to pick mashed food out their carpet.

2- Use the bibs with the plastic backing. They are going to get stained with whatever foods your little one attempts to put in their mouth, rather them than their clothes.

3- Be prepared to also get covered in food. It’s inevitable that you will be hit with a piece of rogue, wet, mashed something.

4- Marks And Spencers Antibac spray – it’s non toxic and can be used to clean food prep areas. Ideal for cleaning the high chair, it smells nice and is considerable cheaper that Method.

5- Try and enjoy the experience. I got stressed and ended up spending a lot of the time Peanut was smooshing worrying about my poor flooring. Mess is gonna happen, just give in to it.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

Being a mum – 6months in…..

Well if you were hoping for some light hearted chat then unfortunately this is not the post for you. This is almost an extension of my last post. Most of the time I’m pretty easy going and will make a joke about something to see me through but the truth is that being a mum is bloody hard. 6months feels like not only a massive milestone for her but me as a parent.

I don’t think I misconceived the job, I just don’t think I had seriously thought about it. Never did I ever consider that I wouldn’t one day be a mum – my whole life has probably been built up to this. If people asked me what I wanted to be most in this life my answer (apart from obviously a millionaire) was always a mum. I don’t come across as the most maternal person (well I don’t think I do) although I do like to know everyone around me is ok. I don’t think I’ve ever excelled at childcare (having only babysat a handful of times). I was a rainbow leader for a short period in my teens. None of this prepared me (or made me think twice) about becoming a mum. I think in my head it was forgone conclusion.

I understand now that actually, nothing in life is a forgone conclusion (I have my divorce to thank for that). I was lucky, we didn’t struggle to have our daughter. We so easily could have. So many do and go through what I can only imagine is gut wrenching misery to seek the joy that is parenthood.

So let’s be honest about the first 6 months of motherhood (parenthood if you will). It’s a bit repetitive, you don’t really know what day it is unless your going to work (those who are lucky enough to escape for a few hours), you drink a lot of coffee (if you didn’t drink coffee before this will definitely make you learn quickly how to) and you spend a lot of time jingling maracas (not a euphemism) at a baby whose not even looking at you.

Obviously there are the cute highs – the first smile (that you know isn’t wind), when they giggle (like a proper belly giggle) and then the love (they love you even when you put their nappy on wrong, dress them in a questionable outfit and haven’t washes your hair for what seems like weeks).

The first six months is hard. It will out pressure on your relationship. You will wonder what you did this for. Then one day the will roll over and your heart will feel like it’s gonna burst with pride. Every day is a new adventure and frankly the next six months will no doubt be doubly as hard (she will started moving and we are not even close to baby proofed) but hey nobody ever called parenthood boring, it is

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags

Half a year …

Peanut is 6 months, 26 weeks, 1/2 a year, how? I mean 5 minutes ago she was born. Tiny little helpless bubba just needing love (and all the food). Now we have a little independent lady. She can sit, she eats real food (albeit mashed),she reacts to her name, she sleeps through (most of the time). I love that she is growing and finding her own way but where is my baby. Now I know that it’s not like she doesn’t need me but I’ve become very aware that at some point she won’t want to hold my hand anymore or have a snuggle.

Yes I am overreacting but it’s true. My other half often asks why people have more than one child when we’ve been woken at an unreasonable hour to change a very stinky nappy and often I agree with him. I think I get it know though, who doesn’t love the baby bit. Ye it’s hard but soooo worth it.

It would seem my growing baby has made me broody and I hadn’t realised. Although I’m in no rush I actually am now begining to think maybe I do want more than one. This is a complete contradiction to all my previous thoughts and let’s be honest of she is up tonight I will probably be back at – nope, never again.

Ok so I had a crap pregnancy, the birth was definitely not average but that’s all forgotten in the cuddles of a baby. My little pride and joy. The apple of my eye. Dare I say it – my little princess.

The last 6 months have been a whirlwind. There have been highs, lows and everything in between. She has tested me, I have tested me and we have still made it this far. Here’s to the next 6 but please don’t grow up too quick baby girl.

From the exhausted mummy and her eye bags