Monday, 29 December 2014

Self Care - a new year's resolution

On Christmas Eve I started a new self-care scheme.

I have 3 self help books, I take a selection of coloured pens and a nice notebook with smooth paper (from paper chase, of course).

I take this bag of tricks to Starbucks and sit and read a bit of each in sequence. Then I set myself a bit of 'homework'.

My books are a DBT workbook , which will hopefully help me to learn how to calm down my distressing emotional reactions to simple situations.
A book on self compassion, to help me to learn how to build myself confidence and to not be too harsh on myself all.of.the.time. reading several pages is enough to remind me that I'm learning a skill, and helps to lift my mood.
A book on the emotionally absent mother - this book is quite heavy duty, no it's REALLY heavy duty (see excerpt below). Reading it has shown me that in was emotionally neglected as a child. Which is really hard to compute and understand as an adult, where i thought I was, ahem, normal.

My first homework was to be more cuddly with the boys; N always chooses a busy time to stand at my feet saying, 'cuddle, cuddle, cuddle'. It winds me up, I always need to have the last word and I let it drive me bonkers.
I am responding to these requests with cuddles. And trying to relax about it. I deserve cuddles. The boys deserve cuddles. More cuddles!!

This isn't going to be weekly, but I hope it will be about once a fortnight. The same frequency that 'therapy' would be.

     

Just have a read of this bad boy!

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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

It's Christmas Eve and it's STILL OK to Not be OK

Feeling droopy like my Christmas tree?

If your ho ho ho is no where to be found, it's OK.

If you're dreading spending more time in a small space with family, it's OK.

If you haven't wrapped the presents, aren't cooking a turkey that's double the size you need or have to travel for more than an hour and you're worried about a when the children will sleep, it's OK.

Its also OK if you are totally excited. Happiness during tikes of stress and mental illness is wonderful - grab onto it and ride the wave if it comes your way.

My tips to reduce the stress -

a bit late for this one but there are lots of ways to make life a bit easier.

∆ let the children eat as little or as much as they fancy - make special food just for them and there is nothing wrong with a bit of toast to fill them up before bedtime if they refuse the turkey!

∆get some time for yourself - lie in bed. Go for a drive to a shop that is open, go for a walk. Anything that gets you away from the surreal out of the ordinary Christmas time.

∆ try mindfulness - there is an app called Headspace that teaches you to meditate in a simple way, clear out the busy thoughts and concentrate on you, now  https://www.headspace.com 

∆ try to confide in someone that you're spending Christmas with - if it's too big to do, that's OK. But from personal experience, knowing that one person knows that you're not OK behind the smile can lift you just enough to get through the smiling-merry-happy-chrimbo.

∆ know that you are not alone. It can feel that way, stuck in your own head, not knowing if you can relate to anyone. Talk to your other half, talk to twitter, call the Samaritans if you need to. (I've used other helplines, when I was desperate).

We'll get through this together, although we're miles apart.

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Sunday, 21 December 2014

one lovely blog (award?)


I have been nominated by Blueberry Mum at  Melted Blueberries,

OK, so it seems like a fancy chain letter - take the compliments, click around the above websites and be happy to live in a society where we can gaze into the lives of others and find friends, familiarity and comfort. Xx

7 facts about me:
1. I love food, I especially love eating out at restaurants and fast food outlets.

2. I'm a good cook - my parents taught me to cook and when I have time and the energy I try to.

3. I enjoy watching road cycling, it's the only sport that I'll tolerate watching.

4. I wear glasses for distance vision - seeing things is good!

5. I love travelling to cities for holidays and before children had to visit a new country every year (all after a terrible heatwave in Santorini in 2008).

6. I sneeze when the sun gets in my eyes.

7. I don't have a middle name. I was christened Caroline Heppleston which my parents  deemed long enough.

The rules for the One Lovely Blog Award are;

Thank the person who nominated you for the award and link back to them in your post.
Share 7 facts about yourself.
Nominate 15 other bloggers that you admire to do the same and let them know.

My One Lovely Blog Award nominations are as follows:

PND and parenting blogs have helped me through the last 12 months of my life - here are some of my favourites (in no particular order)

BeauTwins - how does anyone cope with twins? Throw in pnd and I have even more respect! Music lover and lovely lady.

PND Nerves - blogging about life with 2 boys, suffered from PND with the first and hopefully out of the woods after baby number 2.

Kate doesn't blog  much, but when she does, it is always worth a read. An inspiring blogger, mum, PND survivor and music lover.

http://pndandme.co.uk - Rosey founded #pndhour and her blog and words of hope and sadness are getting more coverage as months go by - and deservedly so. #pndhour and #pndchat have saved me and changed me forever.

Leigh and her blog at http://headspace-perspective.com never fail to change my perspective and educate me on matters of neonatal death and people. Her candour and the beautiful way that she has with words make her posts heartbreakingly good.

Kiran Chug - mummy says Kiran has won awards for her writing but she is still no less like you or me. A true example of how being a mum blogger is a real leveller.

2 boys 1 mum (and Bambi and duck) - witty mum of two boys with a similar age gap to me. Also a health professional and did I mention that I love Amy's sense of humour?

Lizzi Wallace - super friendly and honest mum who also blogs about stuff that isn't child related (imagine that!)

Helen Calvert - information on breastfeeding this website is a goldmine of information, have a look around. OK so it isn't strictly a blog, but it has been a labour of love for Helen so click and share!

Rainbow Mam with rainbowmam blog a blog about life with a rainbow baby, specifically following neonatal loss. Honest, sad, happy and eye opening.

Tricia at nurture me Edinburgh - another inspirational lady I have met through twitter

I am also interested in blogs that aren't just about sproglets!

Kate and her lifestyle blog  - inspired me over the summer with a particularly thought provoking article about society' s ideal bikini body. Fabulous!

 Rachel at The Ordinary Lovely - a fab lifestyle blogger who has an amazing sense of home style. Her parenting blog was also fab, and was one of the first I started to read three years, one stone and then home 

This is a big thank you to you all for sharing your lives, insights and feelings with the world - putting yourself out there on t'internet sometimes results in trolls - if you can't say something nice don't bother taking the time to write a reply.


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One Lovely Blog


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Sunday, 14 December 2014

My bad head

This weekend has not been good at all:
Friday started well, I shaved my legs (nudge nudge), called work to say I was feeling better, made cottage pie. Drank prosecco, booked train tickets to Edinburgh had an empty washing basket and then WHAM...
I lost my temper in a way that would make a supermodel diva cower in fear *TRIGGER WARNING*
I shouted, screamed and escalated the situation beyond any normal levels.
I hit my head repeatedly against the wall, then I took to throwing my back against the door in frustration and anger.
MrB quite rightly got very fed up and left me on my own in the lounge.
I cried, I had some dark thoughts about things that I can't say here but will say to my GP.


Saturday and Sunday I have felt quite detached from the boys, like concentrating on their needs wasn't possible - but messing around on the internet was *shakes head* 

I have scared myself in a few ways this weekend, but I'm scared that I'll become my nasty, detached, unloving mother not just now but in the years to come.

My dad says that she changed as me and my eldest-younger-brother needed her less (starting school). 

I'm terrified that I'm simply not strong enough to do this for the rest of my life, that I'm not strong enough to keep fighting this battle and that I'm going to ruin MrB and the boys and have no one left. 

I'm heartbroken and I really hope that the medication swap works because in the short term it sucks, big time. And I'm not drinking for the foreseeable as my outburst was probably because of that. 

However, lovely twitter helped me with a Mr Garrison impression, hmmm-kay? Totally showing how when I think I'm down and my brain is on the shit heap, the #pndchat network helps me so so so much. 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Teach someone to fish...

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for life.

This was emblazoned upon a lovely canvas tote bag by The Body Shop in the mid 1990s. I didn't own one, I wasn't that cool. However, the take home message can be applied to much more than eating, yes sirree.

Mental health treatment within the NHS isn't very consistent, it isn't patient centred, it doesn't seem to be very evidence based and it doesn't even seem to conform to the 18 week wait targets that physical health referrals need to.

It is also massively underfunded and this probably causes these issues and huge, gapibg chasms in the care of down, desperate, lonely and vulnerable people.

I basically begged a psychologist on Friday to refer me for DBT - because I want to and need to learn how to manage my overwhelming emotions for the next 30-50 years of my life.

Instead, she either offered me:
counselling (which I begrudgingly accepted... )
Starting a mood stabiliser (required discussion with her colleagues and an ECG!)
Changing from 150mg of sertraline to a mid dose of mitirzapine. 

I chose the meds change because I know that sertraline does exacerbate my aggression and angry mood swings.

It's going to be a rough month - but j was relatively settled on Sertraline. It has aided mg recovery so much, I'm scared that I'll get depressed again. This wasn't addressed.

A single appointment with a psychiatrist and I'm on own to manage the mood swings.

I JUST WANT TO LEARN HOW TO FIX MYSELF.

MEDS ARE GREAT FOR ME RIGHT NOW.

Give a girl some antidepressants, she might get better, sometime. Give a girl the right therapy and she will get better.

Anyone know any DBT therapists in Preston? Anyone know if any resources that I could use?

Any similar experiences?

Friday, 21 November 2014

Sometimes You Have to be a Little Bit Naughty

I have always loved Matilda by Ronald Dahl, I identified with her character, her dysfunctional parents and feeling a bit trapped. I also REALLY wished that I could 'do' telekinesis.

The stage show is amazing, it brings the story to life in a much less sacrilegious manner than the awful move did (I haven't seen the movie, I saw the trailer, it looked awful).

One song really resonated with me a few weeks ago, 'naughty' sung by the lead character. It is basically about how when life is treating you badly, finding a way to help yourself out or at least having a bit of fun.

My depression was deep, it was dark and I was stuck at the bottom of a pit that I couldn't climb out of without help. This song is the soundtrack to my recovery from PND and my attempts to keep it at bay for the future.

'You mustn't let a little thing like little stop you' - depression makes you feel small, it wants you  to feel insignificant.

'Just because you think that life's not fair, it doesn't mean that you just have to grin and bear it.' - life sometimes sucks and life with little children in it can sometimes feel downright miserable, try to choose to be happy. You can't always, hell I definitely can't always.

'Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty!' - TV, McDonald's, not vacuuming today, taking the easy way out and not going to play group that day. Sometimes, being a little bit 'naughty' is a worthwhile protective behaviour.

NOTE: There is enough stuff around in the media and on the internet about the risks of too much TV, screentime and junk food. This post is a safe place, written to help parents get over the hurdles that post natal depression can put into every day life. Common sense and love x

Do you have a song that inspires you to feel optimistic about something bad or negative in your life?


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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Blogging and Me

This blog was a long time coming, I fancied the idea but didn't have the time to blog about 2 under 2.

It has been wonderful to be able to write down my darkest thoughts and theories here, and also I've learned about myself through my own writing, comments and interactions and the #strikingmums Linky.

This little place will be my sounding board about depression, the recovery rollercoaster, mental health and parenting. Sometimes I need help, sometimes writing is that help.

I may write about CBT and do a post or two on my 'self care writing'.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Water Painting!

Water painting books are often found in pound shops, party bags or can be bought in bulk online (got my current stash from ebay).

It creates very little mess and needs very little prep/ equipment.


E always enjoys it, N isn't mad on any sort of painting but I did find it useful when E went through his 'don't like paint' phase. 

Surprisingly, E used a roller to great effect - I'm quite impressed and he got to use the roller he has been playing with for a few days!

It is also an easy activity to do while N is having a portly cuddle on my knee because of the chicken pox.



 

The Google Chromecast

Screenshot of navigation in YouTube

Fed up of handing your phone to a toddler?

Fed up of 2 toddlers squabbling over a phone or a tablet?


The Google Chromecast plugs into the back of your TV and means that you can magically* send content from selected smartphone apps straight to your TV.


*via WiFi


Until we got a Chromecast (which I believe cost MrB about £30) we would use a Western Digital media player, which was fairly cumbersome and involved typing using a remote control. 


With the ChromeCast, you use the phone apps to select content - we mostly use YouTube because N loves to watch Twenty Trucks: Truck Tunes and E loves to watch Nursery Rhymes. 


If you select a playlist, it will play all of the videos in the sequence or you can just keep adding individual videos - so easy and can help to buy me enough time to have a shower (or to console poorly boys!).

So watching TV isn't the most wholesome activity - but we learn about the trucks and sing the songs, so it can't be all bad!


We purchased the Chromecast ourselves.


 

 


Friday, 24 October 2014

don't label me!

This week's striking mums is about the labels that we give to ourselves, others and that society and the media may contribute to. 

If I was given a sticky label, and could only use 3 words to write on it, I would write, Caroline,  Hard Worker. (I was tempted to write mum, but I'm definitely a person who likes to work hard in every area of my life so hard worker is the most fitting).

I was labelled as clever and 'boffy' up until the age of 16 - I went to normal schools in a not very posh town. I probably was one of the most intelligent people in my year - so their perceptions were right although, this label then dissolved when I went to a different 6th form and University and I realised that I would have to work to be 'clever'.  

16 years after I had that thought, I am sometimes labelled as 'clever' by colleagues and 'intelligent' by doctors. I just realise that my late teens and early twenties were a particularly hard time for me with my family and psychological problems. 

I have always tried to not let my working class, very poor background hold me back - it was a big effort in my teens, but it did help a bit at sixth form and university to not discuss how hard life was for my family, financially. I was desperate to not appear 'poor'. Perhaps, this is why I like to choose branded goods over own brands - nothing too flashy, mind! I'm not rich!

I hate the 'class' labelling system in our society, #middleclassproblems is a Twitter bug bear of mine. Maybe I am middle class (Young me would think that I am posh). The thought that money and the jobs that your parents did affects your status in society really bothers me. Self improvement and striving to be better than my parents has been a huge part of my life, I hope my boys also feel it to some extent. I want them inappreciate what I can provide for them, but I want them to have a drive to succeed and to be happy. 

Being the eldest of 6 children who I helped to bring up marked me out, I took games of 'mummies and babies' seriously at primary school. 'Babies don't say goo-gee-gah-gah' I would insist to my friends. This then went deeper as my self-created 'mini mum' label made me more serious as a child and teen, with more responsibility than I should have had and then I just couldn't relate to my peers. I didn't see it then, but once it was pointed out by a counsellor a few months ago, it changed the way I think of my social skills. 

 I'm proud to be a therapy Radiographer, I'm proud that I have a job that helps people, within the structure of the NHS. I always had a flair for biological based sciences but my Dad has a degree in Physics (and my first degree was in Chemistry). So I don't feel intimidated by the physics aspect of my job. I'm proud because I can use my brain and my caring nature to be able to help lots of people and do my job to the best of my ability. 

What would I like other people to label me if they only had 3 words ? Kind, articulate, good would suit me. (Though Nobel Prize Winner would be nice!)

Kate on thin Ice Striking Mums

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

review: Cheeky Chompers Dribble Bib

I bought a Cheeky Chompers dribble bib about 10 months ago after discovering the company on Twitter - I was fed up of seeing N chew on his Funky Giraffe bibs to not much avail so I was quite excited to try!



 
The bibs are 100% cotton and fully reversible. The cotton is thick, good quality Jersey, so it is nice and absorbent for the super-dribbly times (when you're drying the bibs on the radiators after only 30mins wear). I liked the fact that there is a choice of plain and patterned bibs - to allow maximum flexibility with outfits. 

The bibs fasten with a single, plastic popper, which means that they can hang quite low around the neck, but I think that this allows for good manoeuvrability of the 'chomper'. The key part of the bib is a rubbery, soft, plastic chomper. It is textured and really easy for little hands to hold and chew on - it is particularly good for those first front 8 teeth. 



 

I would highly recommend buying one, they are a little expensive at about £9-£12 for one, however I bought one (the cheapest price was eBay) and hand washed it in hot water each night so that it was ready for the days when N really needed it. 

I bought the cheeky chomper bib myself, I have written this review as a genuine recommendation and I wasn't approached to write it by any company. 



 




 


Saturday, 11 October 2014

PND: it's ok to not be ok. Come along and see

When I was deep in the depths of the PND fog, I discovered a support network on Twitter, just by chance, reading blog posts and getting lucky. 

As I discovered a group of people who openly discussed Post Natal Depression, I began to read their tweets and blog posts both about their illness and recovery.

The words and experiences of other women really helped me to see how ill I actually was, and through self discovery, I chose to seek extra help through private therapy and a session with an NHS psychiatrist to find out about medications. 

If you are on Twitter, just follow #pndchat hash tag or just read the posts from other mums who are going through the deep abyss of mental illness or those who are recovering or well and happy to lend a supportive ear (tweet) when you most need it.

Instinctive Mum  on her Recovery from PND  @Instinctivemum

Eve's blog about her post partum psychosis @littlemissevec
 
Kate's PND story @edwardskatie

PND Nerves and her blog about PND, recovery and life beyond ... Including baby #2. @pndnerves

Mummy and monkeys - coping strategies for pnd @_EilidhG_

Rosey at PND and Me founder of #pndhour on twitter @pndandme

cupcake mumma - acceptance and medication - medication is often a source of worry for mums with PND. @CupcakeMumma11

i can't be mum today - I have often related with his post by the lovely Kiran, you don't have to be deep in post natal depression to feel this way. Being mum is hard and it's totally ok. @kiranchug

 an a-z of PND by Instinctive mum

 PND and recovery have been summarised in the beautiful post  What does PND feel like  by Misplaced Brit
  @Misplaced_Brit

 Emma's first post on her own PND  it's a brave step to start discussing your own mental health on your blog @LittleStarBlog1

Sophie on working as a nurse with PND @sophienurse

And my blog, here, where you are, I am as honest as I can be about my experiences

I'm  @poptartsandpnd on Twitter

This post will change and I'll add more of the lovely bloggers I come across and read regularly.

Friday, 10 October 2014

I think I'm better, sort of!

Black and white thinking is a hallmark of my depression - 'I'm depressed', when will I be 'better?', 'I'm rubbish'. 

I make it to playgroup most weeks nowadays! 

 
Contemplating slow, gradual recovery, I thought of a CBT technique...  a scale 0-100.

0 - is ill, depressed, sad, unable to work, unable to care for boys, crying, a very dark place. 

100 - is happy, like Pharrell and able to be normal with no mental health issues. 

Where am I on this scale? Some days I'm 50, other days I'm 80 (and some moments, I'm at 90 or even 10). I'm getting a little bit better every few weeks. 

How do i know that I'm getting better?

I don't dread being on my own with the boys quite as much - trips out with them are enjoyable, rather than being a source of stress, arguments and misery. 

How does every other mum seem to get nice pictures?

I can manage the day to day logistics of the two boys without much upset - and I can stay in the house with them and not feel like a failure!

We get the paints out, we bake (never playdoh, I'm not super-mum!) and although the boys have increased their knowledge of the CBeebies/ Disney offering, I don't feel guilty. 

We read more books, I don't feel like I have to put the TV on as soon as I get up every morning - I still do most mornings, but it's a choice. 

I don't eat chocolate for breakfast *round of applause*. This is huge, for well over 18 months, I have eaten a small chocolate bar as soon as I arrived downstairs - I eat a proper breakfast, every day!! 

I still have moments, hours, afternoons where I don't feel ok, or I create a huge argument over nothing but I'm now sure that these lows don't happen as often and aren't as deep when I fall into them. 

Getting better has been a hard journey, and the first little while, I didn't notice much improvement. I'm not sure if MrB has noticed that i'm improving... But then he still gets it in the neck when I've been nice to everyone all day, and when I am just so so angry at myself, for keeping all of my stuff inside, it all spills out with the slightest provocation. 

Onward and upward - my CBT has finished with the plan for me to:

Practise unconditional self compassion.
Accept my emotions (rather than analyse and feel guilty).
Restart my self-care writing - with a focus on treating myself like I would others on Twitter. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

is my rollercoaster actually a mental illness?

For many years, I have suspected that my mental health difficulties were more than *just* depression and anxiety. The only illnesses I knew about were bipolar and schizophrenia - I knew I didn't have those.

Over the last few months, I've connected a number of my behaviours and realised that I may have a form of Borderline Personality Disorder (using Dr Google, naturally*). 

*Dr Google is not a substitute for a real doctor, I have also used lashings of common sense and my experience as a health care worker to know which websites to trust and so on. 

The following behaviours are what I have always assumed were 'just the way I am' and MrB has accepted and learned to live with them too:

Compulsive spending - I fixed this in around 2008. I could happily spend £50 a weekend, that I didn't have, on clothes that I didn't need and, subsequently couldn't wear because I'd pretend that I hadn't bought them. 

Persistent fear of being abandoned - this is a strange one, as I didn't think I had this 'symptom'... Until I realised that every time MrB goes to work, I go into my sad 'abandonment' mode. This also goes for him going out without me - I knew it wasn't right and that I was unreasonable but it is something that I'm working on. 

Lying - my mum basically trained me to lie (but then told me off for lying when it wasn't for her gain). MrB has helped me to overcome this terribly destructive habit.

Social anxiety, shyness, not being able to relate to others, not knowing what to say. I have tried self help books, but with my next point, still resident, I can't help it much. 

Sincere belief that I am unlovable and no one wants to spend time with me. Conversely, I'm incredibly vain, shop windows, car windows, spoons (ok that one is a joke) are all an excuse for me to see how I look - I'm vain. 

Intense, unreasonable and sudden anger and mood swings!

Not enjoying motherhood like I 'feel I should'.

Finding it difficult (nigh on impossible) to maintain friendships and relationships. 

Often feel empty, misunderstood and like some people dislike me for no apparent reason. 

When I'm down I just want to eat out at restaurants and fast food outlets. I don't binge eat, per se, I just eat unhealthy food much more than I ought to and is healthy. I'm lucky that this far my good metabolism and active job have mitigated this awful self-indulgence. Perhaps Secret Eaters could help me with this??

*ping* she's going to McDonald's
*ping* she is ordering a Domino's
*ping* she is craving Nandos/ subway/ carvery/ Pizza Hut/ KFC/ Starbucks 

I'm selfish, spiteful, argumentative, prone to depression and anxiety

My saving graces are MrB (who, for no apparent reason has been with me for 16 years (with an 18 month gap when we were 17). And my job, which I truly enjoy and find satisfying. 

I'm frustrated that I have to wait months and months just to get an initial appointment with an NHS psychiatrist. 

There is hope in that I have recognised that I probably have BPD (or something similar), that I respond well to talking therapies, that I have discovered that my dad has been on a mood stabiliser for 15 years (and occasional zopiclone), that he also revealed that my grandma may have had issues. There is hope that I won't need to feel as if my husband is my mood stabiliser. 

It is going to be ok, so the next step, I suppose should be to visit my GP, to explain my history and family links and to try a drug to stabilise the roller coaster of life... My dad says it worked for him... 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

female, mum of two, likes fun and food - also an individual

People who know me, tell me that I'm quirky and a 'bit different'. This isn't something I have done consciously, my childhood and teenage years were pretty individual thanks to my dysfunctional parents and this meant that I didn't relate to others very well by my late teens - this really crystallised when I landed in halls of residence at The University of Leeds. I was there with middle class girls, who had lots of clothes, money to spend and nothing in common with me that I could use to relate to them. 

By this stage I had lived through Britpop and loved guitar music most of all. However, me and my friends went to the normal clubs both at uni and at home. Then, I met some lovely boys/lads/men (what label is the best?!??) and we went to my first ever gig, JJ72 at the Cockpit in Leeds. That night I also discovered indie disco... The freedom of dancing to the guitar fuelled music I loved was wonderful. I think that this lead to me becoming a bit more 'different', because I wasn't well off (only my student loan and wages from my job - when I bothered to turn up). About £4k a year. I didn't want to go dancing to garage and pop music anymore... It was a waste of my time and money because  indie disco stole my heart. 

I still love dancing, it's lovely, wonderful and my favourite form of exercising. 

I used to judge most mums, if they dressed their children too fancily, if they were 'posh' if they seemed to be coping, basically, I found excuses to mentally tear apart other mums, and I presume it was because I was so miserable in my deep depression that I thought it was normal. It wasn't ok. 

I have forgiven myself for lots of 'parental indiscretions': tv, occasional sugar, salt, lack of calcium, not slavishly counting fruit and veg portions. I don't label myself as a 'bad mummy' and I don't label anyone else as a bad mummy - except, perhaps for mums who are deliberately mean to their child in shops/ public. It's not nice & reminds me of the damage that did to me.

I'm not sure that I have been bullied for being different, but  I do find that my large usable vocabulary  can mean that I'm labelled as 'clever' and people make me feel singled out because I use words that they don't. I have always used complicated language, and even as a young child I was called 'clever' by friends and other children said I was acting clever on purpose. I read books and I'm just good at remembering words!

If I was to write an advert about myself, I think I would play down my 'differences and quirks' simply to make me seem more 'normal'. Perhaps that's my insecurity and willingness to please - hello negative automatic thought, 'I'm unlikeable'. 


This is me, just before I married MrB, in my lovely cotton, Paul Smith dress. I was different, but simply because I organised our wedding in a fairly man-style *minimal fuss*


 This is for the striking mums linky

Kate on thin Ice Striking Mums


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Mummy Skills for Your CV

Until yesterday, I believed that motherhood hadn't really enhanced my skill-set, that everything I did for my children didn't add much (except for the, ahem, wonderful sense of happiness that their smiling faces gives me ... Hahahaha!)

Dealing with spills of bodily fluids isn't a nice part of life, whether it be at home, work or out in public. As a mother, it's basically a thing that happens multiple times a day from the moment of birth, you learn to just manage the fall-out and move on (usually with baby puke on yor shoulder and toddler lunch wiped on your jeans). 

... Really hope it's not just me....

Anyway, vomit and wee happened, and I reacted instinctively, suddenly, I started delegating, and I just knew the way to help the person with minimal fuss and disruption. This is definitely because I'm a mum, I could have handled it 4 years ago but this felt natural. I'm very proud of myself!

Have you noticed any new skills through being a parent? 

Please note: I still can't multitask, I don't like cooking with a child hugging my legs and I most certainly never learned to eat whilst holding a baby - MrB did that, he is amazing (but not available for hire). 


Friday, 19 September 2014

Losing your voice and finding it again - Striking Mums

1. Have you lost your voice? When and how did that happen? 

I lost my voice when my mental health took a turn for the worse, I stopped contacting friends, withdrew into myself and avoided contact with strangers. I was on social media, surrounded by the happiness of others and I had nothing to add to the mix. 

2. How do you use your voice? Are you using it for yourself, your family and/or a good cause?

I use my voice now to be open and honest about my depression, I announced my post natal depression to a selection of my Facebook friends  - which was really a selfish thing to do, simply so that I could share with any people who might ask and avoid any awkwardness on my part. 


A voice doesn't have to be heard for the message to be sent, the online environment is amazing - the #pndfamily on twitter as well as the hashtags enable me to send kind words to other people with similar feelings and in similar situations. Even though we live hundreds of miles apart and all we have physically in common is Twitter, we use our voices and our unique insights.

3. Is there anyone in your life who would prefer you to stay quiet? Why would they want that to happen?

My husband would prefer for me to talk less, I'm sure. For a bit of peace and quiet - I'm quite the chatterbox... Genuinely. 

Perhaps, sometimes, we don't need words to express how we feel - and I'm learning the art of hugs. 

4. Whose voice do you miss most and why?

I'm not sure how to answer this question, I miss happy Me, the internal monologue who was positive, didn't make me feel bad when I'm in the staff room at lunchtime... Narcissistic? Perhaps a little, but mental illness teaches you about yourself and if you know yourself, you can be more comfortable with who you are and spending time on your own. 


5. What do you need to speak up about? Who to? What support do you need to help you do that?

I have started back at work this week - I enjoy my job because I get to use my voice to help people to understand their illness, the treatment and its side effects. But also talking to them in a holistic way - seeing the person, not just their diagnosis. 

I have started back on a phased return as arranged my my GP, Occupational Health Dr and my Managers. This phased return should help support me through getting back up to speed at work, and help me to learn when to stand back. As part of this, I need to accept and embrace the fact that my job requires some level of delegation - using my voice to say, 'no, I can't do that right now', and 'please could you do this for me?'  

CBT will help me too,  teaching me to spot unhelpful thinking styles and how to rationalise when those nasty thoughts of  depression creep into my head. 

6. Is your inner voice helping or hindering you?

My inner voice has grown up over the last 3 months - it has moved from being desperately sad, empty and self-loathing to only being sad, optimistic and occasional self loathing. This is a HUGE ACHIEVEMENT - and one which I will continue to work on in my therapy sessions. 

Kate on thin Ice Striking Mums


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

recovery isn't all happiness - a sad post

This afternoon has been a flipping shambles. We went to ikea, E was being a bit giddy and we went along with it. That's fine. I noticed that he was giving MrB a run around the lighting department so I walked over to their direction, didn't say anything and thought I looked positive. I also had the buggy, and thought he could put E into it if he was fed up. 

Apparently, I ran across the lighting department (with a buggy? If you have been into an ikea light section, you will know that the clutter completely prevents running with a pram).

Apparently I had a face on me.

Apparently, I behaved in a way which looked like I was being judgmental. 

I was just standing there, offering a silent, non-judgmental pair of hands and a restraining mechanism for the troublesome tot. 

I know I'm a control freak, and my tone of voice can be really out of order when I don't mean it to be. So I stayed quiet. 

I know that when I'm struggling, an extra pair of hands would be greatly appreciated. 

I wasn't even thinking about how none of that shizzle goes down when it's just me and the little boys in there. Now, I'm not suggesting for one second that I'm better off alone, but I was being kind, and it was basically ignored. 

I hate this, I hate depression, I hate the way it makes me feel, I hate the way it makes be behave, I hate the way it makes me feel about the people I love and distorts my perceptions. I hate it all. I hate that nothing seems to make me happy anymore. 

I hate that I can't feel love for anyone unless I'm having a cuddle. That is shit. I'm sorry to swear, but it's the worst F-ing thing about Sertraline. 

I can take heavy sleep, I can take feeling mentally slow and stupid, I can take the sexual dysfunction and headaches, but being unable to 'feel love' is crippling.

I'm sorry that I can't be strong enough all of the time, I'm sorry that I can't be kind to myself this afternoon, I'm sorry that I am so sad that I can't even face doing a CBT exercise to make me feel better. 

Happy bloody Wednesday, all. 



(See you for pndhour though)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

PND Letter - Back to Work

Dear Caroline,

It's September, the month of new beginnings for many parents - school years still seem more important than the actual year, don't they, even 11 years after leaving the education system. 

You start back at work tomorrow, for what will hopefully be the rest of your career, without any more long-term sickness absence. Let's be realistic, things will happen, children get ill and those little germ factories bring those bugs home with them. 

Roughly 12 weeks of being signed off sick with Post Natal Depression (GP has actually written Recurrent Depressive Disorder, but the day to day reality is the same).  Started with nagging guilt, that you should have been at work, didn't need time to get better, that being at work would help. In your case, at that time, you needed a break from everything but the one thing that you could pause was work. People said, 'get yourself better' but it was just words until a chance Mental Health Monday twitter chat revealed that the guilt needed to be forgotten, and the need for a break put into perspective. 

You have got better, you are getting better. It's slow, sometimes there isn't much change but there is something: my mood tracking app shows that bad days aren't 'terrible', merely 'bad'.  The PMDD seems to have settled, night settling when flying solo isn't the huge angry-catastrophe it used to feel like. 

You're scared: scared of interacting with colleagues, scared what people think, scared about the social anxiety and the feelings of self-loathing that bubble under the surface when you sit in the staff room for lunch. 

Stop. Don't be scared, it's normal to worry about a return to work. Even after a week's holiday it's normal to feel that 'back to work' dread. It's ok to be scared if all of those things. You're catastrophising, mind reading and making predictions. 

You're starting really slowly, 2 hours. Those 2 hours will hold very little pressure, very little responsibility and hopefully entail some of the lovely things I value so much in my line of work. Patient contact, thinking, and basically doing things that don't involve the boys, feeling sorry for myself or housework (or my guilt for being too lazy to do said housework). 

Yes, I'll be anxious, people are entitled to think what they wish and what people think (or don't think) is none of my business. 

I love my job, and I have beaten one episode of depression while I stayed in work. I had about 3 years when I was finishing my recovery process and fully better where I called in sick, perhaps twice. This is hope. This is a fact. Work has helped you to beat depression before and it will help now, starting now. 

Remember the grinding and stifling sense of anxiety? That's not anywhere near as awful as it was, you can handle anxiety thanks to sertraline. 

You are going to be great, work is going to be great, and if it isn't...? If all your worst fears come true and it's the worst day at work you have ever had... Well, it's only 2 hours. Easy peasy. 

The one thing you need to do is, look out for yourself. Plan some self-care techniques. Come up with a new plan, as CBT isn't going to last forever so you need a robust plan for helping to weed out those negative automatic thoughts and those unhelpful thinking styles

So practise what you preach, all the kind words you give out on Twitter and to friends... Extend them to yourself. That's what this letter is for.

Everything is going to be ok. 

Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but little by little, week by week. 

Caroline: mum, wife, friend, therapy radiographer. 


 
This is inspired and written for the #pndletters series - if you haven't seen the blog of the Nervous PND Sufferer, please check it out. 



Cuddly Crochet: A Striking Mums Post

Earlier in the year, I taught myself to crochet. I've knitted for several years, and I'm not especially good at it but I can make scarves and the odd toy. This post is about my crocheting journey and I don't usually give tips, but crochet seems to be increasing in popularity, so I have added some advice and links to help any aspiring hookers.

Anyway, my PND was worsening so I learned to crochet - I decided to learn amigurumi first (it's basically a 1 stitch technique, where you crochet in a constant spiral). Pinterest was always full of this thing called amigurumi and I enjoy new challenges, I'm not especially artistic but I make up for that with my enthusiasm. I used YouTube and Pinterest to watch tutorials and read information - I'll pop some links at the bottom if you want to learn but have bit a wall or just don't know where to start. 

My first project looked TERRIBLE 


This is a small white Totoro, made using the pattern by Lucy Ravenscar and it looks nothing like it!! But E was happy, so I persevered and have now made a LOT of toys (blankets, gifts...)

I get my patterns from Pinterest and Ravelry (I never buy patterns, there is usually no need) and I frequent my local wool shop and Hobbycraft!

I've even made a few toys of my own design, this is Little Owl from A Bit Lost by Chris Haughton 

If you are just starting out, I'd say to get a cheap set of aluminium hooks off ebay, you can get about 8 for the price of 1 in a shop (and slippery hooks are easier for crochet ... Unlike in knitting where a slippery needle means dropped stitches).

This beginners guide ebook at fresh stitches was an amazing help in the basics of understanding an amigurumi pattern (it may as well have been Japanese until inread this).

This is just a page which converts English to US crochet terminology - I have no idea why there are different names for the same stitch!!
 
This is a handy YouTube video http://youtu.be/eqca00LdmAc

If it takes a while to pick it up, do persevere. It took me ages to figure out my own way - I crochet the wrong way round... With my hook in my left hand. If it feels comfortable, you'll be fine!

I love crocheting, I love that there is so much still to learn and that it's just a few clicks away on the internet. I also love making things for my family (though my husband is probably a bit fed up of all the crocheted tat filling up the boys' bedrooms).  The happiness that I feel and observe when I hand them a new toy, or they cuddle something I've made all day, is just lovely. I'm so glad that I invested my 'baby free' time into this lovely and hopefully lifelong hobby!

Kate on thin Ice Striking Mums

 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

peri-natal depression - how hormones screwed me over

I've never been the type of gal who felt broody, I don't know if it was having 5 younger brothers and sisters or if it's just my personality, but I just never felt the need that some women seem to have. This aside, me and MrB always planned to have a couple of kids, we had been together for a long time and it felt like the obvious thing to do - clearly we took our freedom, incomes and careers for granted!!

I got pregnant after 6 months, not bad really. Took me ages to notice, I was texting MrB about how weird it was that I felt sick a lot and then it dawned on me, a couple of weeks later. Oops!

It hit me like an ACME anvil does Wyle E. Coyote. I stopped functioning, I was pleased that our respective zygotes worked, but a new feeling emerged over the next 3 weeks, fear of impending doom.

Fear of childbirth, loss of freedom, loss of my figure, the awful morning sickness (borderline hyperemesis gravidarum), isolation/ terrible relations with my mum, worries about the huge impending responsibilities. 

I woke up one morning and had a panic attack - my first in at least 2 years, and I had been 'non-depressed' and pretty resilient in my life for at least 2 years as well. I was about 7/8 weeks pregnant. I went to my GP and he asked me to wee in a pot. Whaaaaaaat?!? 

Well actually, I did have a UTI which could have exacerbated my anxiety symptoms. But my anxiety wasn't helped by the antibiotics. 

I didn't enjoy being pregnant but on the flip side, i felt immense guilt at not enjoying pregnancy. I was jealous of other women who looked so happy, who weren't the skinniest they had been in 13 years at 16 weeks pregnant, who could eat actual food, enjoy walking without PGP (which started at 8 weeks too!!). 

I was entitled to hate the way that pregnancy made me feel, I was depressed. Incapable of being nice, tactful or truly happy, I was miserable. 

It may not be normal, or socially acceptable, but hating pregnancy is ok, don't apologise for your feelings (but do try to be nice to those around you, especially those you love. Those who often bear the brunt of a crummy day.

Morning Snuggles - The Ordinary Moments

As a mum of two, one thing I really love is the opportunity to snuggle with just one of the boys - E has quiet time while N naps in the afternoon so I end up feeling like N and me need time together. Then, it dawned on me... 

 

N wakes up (usually) about half an hour before E, so in that time we might play, read books, or watch TV together if I am groggy (thanks Sertraline). However we spend the time, it's lovely. He has that gorgeous joie de vivre that toddlers have first thing in the morning - it's probably the closest I'll ever get to feeling like a member of One Direction. The sheer happiness when I walk into his room is magical. 

I used to dread the sounds of N waking up, when I was deep in the darkness of PND, my heart would sink. I was gutted to have to muster up energy for another day. Now I'm recovering, I'm not exactly raring to go at 6am, but I can appreciate this ordinary, lovely, gorgeous, daily moment with my youngest mini human. 




mummy daddy me


 
 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Striking Mums – stand out as the individual you are

This is my first ever linky and it's for Striking Mums (via Kate on Thin Ice - I've only just noticed the pun!). Sadly, it isn't about starting a picket line on the pavement outside your house, 'no more washing', 'get your own crackers'. More of a help yourself and others towards self help and a bit of blowing your own trumpet. 

 The title of this post really hit me and stuck out in the Striking Mums explanation, mind you, I have pink hair and a penchant for slightly offbeat stuff, so go figure!


I am a mum (all of the time!), but I am also a lot of other things and I have a lot of skills that I really don't give myself credit for. This post is about me, not my mental health or the three fellas in my life. 

I'm a great cook, my baking is reasonable enough and I love cooking. As a mum of two, I do not find time to cook proper meals enough (ever). I'm sure that this will improve as time goes on and we share mealtimes (rather than the boys eating at 5 and us eating at 7). 

I have a number of childrens' picture books memorised. It's brilliant, I used to recite 'Peepo' by Alan Ahlberg to N when he was tiny, and it used to calm him down when he had worked himself into a lather. 

I'm a staunch feminist: women deserve equal footing in the world, I am grateful for what I have, as a woman in the UK. I am grateful to have a career, to have an amazing husband and to have my children. However, I believe that the battle isn't own until girls can safely get home after a night out without fear of predatory men and that countries where women are oppressed have a great deal of work to do - women are about half of the population, and we do 99% of the work towards procreation. 
Feminism : Credit where credit is due. 

This week, I have been proactive and texted 2 friends who I have put off seeing while I have been ill. This will be brilliant for my self confidence and for rebuilding my social circle and support network. 

Kate on thin Ice Striking Mums











Thursday, 4 September 2014

Learning to Let Go

In the last couple of weeks, I've realised that I am a control freak when it comes to the boys. Everything has to be done my way, clothes, meals, everything. No one does things the way that I like them. Fact. My husband can never win:

'Weigh the pasta out'
'Put it in that pan'
'I want them to have more fruit and vegetables, you don't give them fruit and vegetables'
'I can't trust you to follow my very specific routine for everything'

Do you get the picture? It must be awful to live with. 

What's even worse, is that I assumed that this level of needing-to-be-in-control was normal. Then a comment on my Facebook PND-coming-out status hit a little bit too close to home. 



So, I'm not quite like this friend, but no matter how tired I am, how much I'm struggling I cannot let go of the motherly obsessions. Calcium, veg, fruit, TV, exercise, routines, sleep... Exact method for applying sudocrem (MrB still calls it sudo-cream, it drives me nuts!). 

Anyway, so the biggest step is realising that you actually have a problem, yeah? Well this is a big problem, I think it must drive MrB mad, it makes me snippy, it makes me nit pick and I need to stop for the sake of actually being kind to MrB. 

Do you have any hints for stopping being such a control freak?

I'm probably just going to have to learn to stop myself in my tracks - when MrB wants to give PomBear and crackers for a snack, I should just walk away and let him do as he wishes. I will be trying to do this in the next few days and let's see how we go!



 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Chinks of Daylight

Today, I have realised that I'm seeing the chinks of daylight, coming through the gaps in the PND. Silly things, like saying hi to the chap from down the street with a new baby (pushing a pram one handed WHILE walking a large, active dog), nodding sympathetically and saying, 'yep, it's really hard!'.

Right now, I'm folding clean washing while the boys are downstairs because I was bored of their company and realised that I could do something productive that wasn't actually connected with their immediate needs and escape from their toddler-presence. 

Now, these things might not seem like they are anything... But I have lived on my street for 3 and a half years and never spoken to anyone who doesn't live adjacent to me and I'm not very good at getting jobs done when MrB is off work. 

One day, I looked around and thought I was under a bridge, then I realised that it was a tunnel, and in the last couple of months, CBT and self care have given me the map to that tunnel, so that I can help myself to get out of it. 

Those little bits of 'normal' caroline, of 'happy' caroline are a pleasure to recognise - recovery is a tricky business, you don't realise how far you have come until you look backwards and realise that you haven't got worse, then one day you see that actually, there is some progress. 



 Basically, this chattery post is saying that I'm getting a tiny bit better, every once in a while. A year ago, I was getting worse, each week.

Recognising strengths is even more necessary if you suffer from depression and anxiety - my self esteem really needs work, and I'm always my worst critic. Giving myself a pat on the back isn't much, but eventually, I am starting to believe that I'm doing ok, I'm working hard. 


Saturday, 23 August 2014

Why Toddlers Are Like Duplo

I bought our first Duplo set a few weeks back, it all started beautifully. 


Look at that smile, E loves construction sites, so I built the items from the front of the box (I LOVE Duplo and Lego) and sat back and enjoyed the rest (I'd just had a naughty wisdom tooth extracted). 

Within 5 minutes, the smile disintegrated into shrieks, frustration and anger. Then N woke up from his nap and all hell broke loose. My one-car-each plan didn't work. 

In the following weeks I have had to implement rules about when we can get the bloody stuff out, not after nursery, not after 3pm, not when we are about to go out.... Basically, not if I have to deal with the fallout. 

Anyway, E loves Duplo but it also makes him pretty frustrated because it falls apart. I love my toddlers, but they sometimes fall apart and make me flap my hands and make frustrated noises. 

I am currently fighting the urge to buy another, identical set as it is as likely to end in E wanting it all and N *still* not getting to play with a toy that he enjoys.

There you are, that is my theory. 

 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Can we all stop saying 'bad mum'?

I love Mean Girls, if you haven't seen it, there's a little bit  (at 2 minutes 20 seconds) which resonates with the 'bad mummy' label that we attach to our actions, whether it be on social media or in conversation... Well, it does with me, and any excuse to watch a bit of Mean Girls!


Basically, 'you have got to stop calling yourself a bad mum, because that makes it ok for you and others to think that you're a bad mum'.


Are societies' expectations of us so high that we think letting our toddler watch Frozen makes us bad? Or letting them eat a chocolate biscuit? Or letting them sleep overnight in their Fisher Price swing because their reflux keeps them awake after the nightfeed (guilty). 


No, being kind, helping yourself a little and allowing treats doesn't make you a bad mum. 


I've spent a CBT session last week picking apart my 100% belief that I was a bad mum. I have all the reasons I had for believing this (there were loads) and then I justified and gave evidence as to why each wasn't true.  At the end if the session, I believed that 'I am doing all that I can for them' at 90% and still had a little belief that I was a bad mum. 


10 days later, I realised that my homework had eradicated that last 10%. When N and E both threw a strop in the doctors car park the other day, I said, 'I love you, I'm a good mum'. They didn't care, but it helped me to keep my head. 


Remember, you almost certainly amre a good mum. I speak as the daughter of a terrible mum (hint: truly bad mums don't realise that they're bad).


X


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Having Fun??

I don't know if it's the PND talking, but it often feels like anything that is 'fun' or 'different' for children usually involves logistics and stress that suck all my enjoyment away. 

Yesterday, I had a fun time out with my two... We go to the Sea Life Centre in Manchester, each month. Usually when MrB is asleep after nights. 

Yesterday, I changed it a bit, I decided to relax. I didn't fill every second with activity between 8am and 2pm, I didn't stress myself by thinking about too many logistics. I just buttered some bread, packed lidded cups and set off with the intention of getting ham from M&S. We had a relaxed time, I didn't act like a mad woman/ screaming banshee mum ... (Except when E ran out of the cafe, into the Trafford Centre throng).

Are 'real' fun and doing things with small children mutually exclusive? Yesterday has showed me that my mindset and my NATs (negative automatic thoughts) don't have to ruin our fun. 

I'll keep teaching myself to be happy - it's really hard work to learn to relax and have fun. 

Though, for the record, I would like more nights out drinking and dancing in indie clubs, more meals with MrB at restaurants and to see more bands.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Cutting Mum Out?

I hate my mother. This isn't a new thing, she has screwed me up royally. 

Since having the boys, I see her once a month-ish. Thus far, there has been no issue as I usually invite her round when MrB is at work & it fills an hour of the post nap/ pre tea lull. Last time I saw her, I realised that I really can't be bothered with her, she really bugs me. 

Maybe I just avoid her for a while, always claim to be busy?That's easy enough. 

Maybe I tell her that I have a problem spending time with her, after all, my depression is her fault

Maybe I try again next month?

Maybe I find a way to forgive her, within myself, for me. I need to let go of all of it, but I simply don't know how. I really need to learn how, I can't carry this hatred, bitterness and other negativity around for another 15 years. 

Do you have anyone who is a bit damaging to you in your life and find it hard to commit to never speaking again? 


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Peppa Pig Rations

Is it wrong that I like that Nick Jr. show Peppa Pig in sets of 2 or 3 because it helps me to ration it for myself, stop temptation just a little bit? 

Sure, I think there are loads of episodes I could stream from YouTube onto the TV without any hassle and barely any ad breaks. 'Mummy, fass-forward the adverts' serves as a reminder that the darling little piggy is babysitting on my behalf for a short while (perhaps while I cook tea, pack the bags for a trip out, weigh out baking ingredients, peg the washing out or have a bathroom break without an audience). 

Though, I wish that the ones I had recorded didn't have CenterParcs trailers. I want a holiday!! 

Does Peppa the know it all Pig help you out? She spell binds my two on the sofa - hello, shower time!! 



 


My Birth Trauma (trigger warning!) and Cure!

So, I'm about ready to tell you about how I had a traumatic time with baby number 1. The birth itself wasn't traumatic, even the first 6-ish hours weren't that bad... But it soon turned out that it would be the scariest night of my life. 

I had E at 1818, on a Saturday evening, by semi-elective-semi-emergency Caesarean section.  He was 42 weeks cooked, and after 2 sweeps and a failed double induction (pessary and then 2 gels), I was more than happy to be free of pregnancy and meet Nugget.

Birth, recovery, attempts at breast feeding , back to the ward, mad eating of all of my 'labour' snack bag, I think there was toast and a glass of cordial... The midwives and other staff checked my obs and blood loss each hour, without much comment. Then, Mr B was turfed out at 9.30pm. I was, of course, devastated at being left alone, compete with spinal anaesthesia still working it's magic.

Very soon, I realised that when E cried, I couldn't help him. I hated that. I'd handled babies lots, changed nappies, dressed them. I wanted to care for him, but instead I had to buzz, listening to him crying and wait for a midwife/ student/ HCA to pass him to me. Cruel is a word that springs to mind - when I remember this first period - there was no way I could lift him out of the little fish tank cot.

Look at his puffy little overdue face. 
 

Anyhow, my PGP was bothering me because I was on my back, it was awful. I cried, was exhausted, tried to sleep, heard mutters about checking my loss more, had to take oramorph for my severe pain (while the anaesthesia was still wearing off). 

Anyhow, the hours passed and it turned out that I was bleeding more than they liked, i'd noticed it, but it was my first time... How much is too much?? A registrar reviewed me, there was muttering and I was taken up to the delivery suite. 

I think this was about 1 or 2 am, but it's a blur of movement, voices, faces, beeps and not really knowing what was going on. 

'Oh I think my catheter has come out'
'That's not your catheter, love'

So, once the placenta is removed from your uterus, the uterus is supposed to contract, to stem the bleeding and close the placental blood flow. My uterus had failed to contract after the operation, the placenta site had continued to, erm, supply my uterus, which had filled up like a balloon inside me. 

They gave me a drug to make my lazy uterus contract and then a doctor had to, MANUALLY contract my uterus. From the inside. Now, I was warned and asked for more pain relief (my pain threshold is very low!) and I was given entonox (gas and air). The pain was terrible, I didn't have long enough to know how to use the gas, I shouted, 'no!' And then I hallucinated. 

Weird, weird, neon, flashing lights hallucination and I dreamed that MrB was there, holding my hand. I came around from it laughing hysterically. 

It wasn't funny. 

At some point, I was asked if I wanted them to call my husband. 
'Yes!'. 
'There's no reply, do you have a home phone?'
'Yes, but I don't know the number, my mobile is downstairs'

I assumed that they would call again... Try again... Leave a voicemail. They didn't. 

Lots of stuff happened - uterine atony is an emergency situation, I had about 12 people in the room with me, including 3 doctors. They clearly knew exactly what they had to do. However, no one told me what was happening. Oh, and the midwife who stroked my hair called me the wrong name, it was quite funny really, but what is even better is that that memory has faded, and I can't remember what name she called me, repeatedly, which shows that it matters less.

I lost 2 litres of blood in that room, i received 2 units very quickly (which I tell Jehovah's Witnesses when then come a-knocking). 

Obs every 15 minutes, blood pressure cuff every 5 minutes, beeps, lights, the most fragmented sleep ever. 

So, 7am came and E was wheeled into the room. That little chap, doing the newborn robot dance with his arms. Thankfully he had been fed at 6am, and was content. I couldn't cuddle him because I was hooked up to so many machines, but I remember the overwhelming feeling of, 'what am I going to do now?'.

Each time the phone rang in the corridor, I hoped it was MrB, calling about the [non existent] message left for him. 

At about 8, the midwife who had [hilariously] called me by the wrong name said, 'shall I have another try at calling your husband?'

Then it dawned on me, that someone hadn't tried very hard on my behalf. 
MrB arrived within 30 minutes, he was so sad that he hadn't been there, told me that he'd only had one missed call and no messages and that he'd woken up as the last ring went off on his phone ... But because there was no message and it was caller withheld, he had no way of knowing that it was about me. Over 2.5 years of hindsight tells me that he rightly assumed that if it was serious, that someone would leave a message.

A new midwife came on shift, actually, the one that had delivered E, she helped me to have a bath and then delivered us down to the ward. 

I started to have flashbacks within days, I was severely anaemic (2.5L lost) for weeks, I was exhausted, along with all of the usual new-mum hormones. 

I read and re-read my maternity notes to try to understand. I could read what had happened to me, but I couldn't reconcile the feelings, images and memories that I had. Within 2 weeks, I knew this wasn't ok, so I desperately called around and managed to persuade the specialist mental health midwife to get out to me before Christmas, she came and explained about uterine atony. This helped, it was basically a birth de-brief but I didn't realise it. I left message after message for the debrief team, but they ignored them for weeks. When I did eventually get through, they told me that they couldn't really help me. I told them that they had to. 

I had a birth debrief, I hope that this led to women being informed about how much danger they're in and no more doctors making half-arsed attempts at calling relatives. 

I saw my GP within about 6 weeks of the birth and asked for a therapy referral for my PTSD (diagnosed using Dr. Google) - I was sad, angry, having flashbacks, scared and I knew that it wasn't 'normal'. 

I then underwent a treatment called EMDR (eye movement disassociation and reprocessing), I was lucky because I was able to choose between EMDR and CBT. I Don't feel that rehashing and learning how to deal with the feelings would have helped me. 

The crucial car seat moment! Remember the sense of freedom?
 

Basically I had to think about a flashback, the therapist moved her hand, then asked what I had thought. I honestly have no idea how it really worked but it was emotional at times. Anyway, I went on to have N less than 16 months after E's birth, and I had no flash backs, wasn't afraid and really made the most of my time in hospital!

Writing this has been a little emotional, but in the way that something scary should provoke a mild response, rather than the all out fear and clear memory flashes that made my brain seem more like a JJ. Abrams TV show than a happy place. (I love JJ. Abrams FYI)

If you have made bit all the way through, thank you for reading some of my story, this part was pretty gruesome.