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).


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. 
'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. 

Walking Changes Everything

In the last 4 week, N has gone from dedicated crawler to proficient walker. He can stand up without holding on to things too, which is something it took E ages to master. N is 16 months, and I love that he has been a late walker, lots of extra cuddles in soft play, but his independence has bloomed now he can walk. 

Even better, the interplay between the boys has improved from just squabbling to full on silliness. They wrestle, push one another in the car and the old favourite, grab n' run. 

My youngest learning to walk has actually made my life easier, 2 mobile little boys who can run on the wet grass and tire themselves out is wonderful. Well, it's better than judging myself for letting my baby crawl on the Tarmac/ grass/ sand/ wood chip. 

Hurrah for walking!!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

My Breast Feeding Journey

Every baby is different. Every mum is different, every time she has a child. Sometimes the body and the baby work together with not much effort, sometimes hard work helps to get it to work, sometimes, it just doesn't work. That is no one's fault. 

In my opinion, breast feeding is a skill. It's a skill for baby (one that we are told that they're all born with) and it's a skill that mothers can learn and develop into a fine art. However, if we think of another skill that humans have: running. Some of us are amazing at it (not me) and some of us really aren't built for it (me) and some of us just don't fancy it. Different strokes for different folks and there is no right and no wrong. I don't feel like a failure because I don't enjoy running and I don't judge anyone else for their running decisions. 

Ok, I'll quit it with the metaphor now. 

E was delivered by section at bob-on 42 weeks at 6pm. In recovery, the midwife tried - at length - to latch him on. He wouldn't. He wasn't bothered. It was hard, I was laid down after 'major surgery'. We went up to the ward, each time E cried, a midwife would declare that he was 'hungry' and put him on me, then walked away. Then he came off and did newborn stuff (you know, precious cuddles that I wasn't taking notice of, I was making him work, instead if just holding him close). My breasts have never been so man-handled in all my life. Anyway, I was taken away from him at 2am due to a bad thing happening (another story for another day). 

When he was brought up to the delivery room where I had been cared for in the wee hours, I was informed that he had been given formula at 6am. I was happy with that. My son was hungry and was fed. 

So, the rest of E's first full day in the world was spent trying to latch E on, him rooting like he was starving but then coming off. He was hungry and there was not enough colostrum for him. Poor chap. I cried, and cried. After all, the Breastfeeding Specialist Midwife had said (at an antenatal class) that there is, 'no such thing as a baby who cannot breast feed'. I felt like a failure. 

A midwife gave me a pot and showed me how to hand express. Now, no offence but that was ridiculous... Seriously... Less than 12 hours after a major trauma and surgery, I squeezed my breasts for a couple of drops. I cried again. The lady next to me had been loaned a pump, so I asked for one. Then I pumped regularly in hospital. Giving E a mix of colostrum and formula. Job done!

We went home, I desperately called around for help breast feeding, there was no one who could help. I was desperate, and I started to use the electric breast pump I'd bought prior to the birth. My breasts were amazing at making milk, they filled up on time (4days?) and I could pump enough milk to keep E going all day and night. HURRAH! 

I pumped 6 times a day for 6 weeks and then began to tail off because I was tired, it was a lot of work once MrB returned to work fully at 6 weeks (pumping with a crying baby was not going to happen). I loved pumping, I loved having my milk in rotation in the fridge, it felt so special. But E was a HARD baby, so it was right. 

Once I stopped I felt guilty, but 6 weeks of my milk was amazing work. 

N was born by section also, similar procedure to with E and that was as I wanted. However, he kind of knew how to root, latch on and suck. Clever little sausage. The day after he was born, a charity volunteer from the Little Angels showed me how to get him to latch on properly and away we went. It was amazing. I could see why women do it. Amazing. 

I asked for a pump this time as well, he wasn't very alert and I was keen to get my supply started like last time. So, although they didn't want to, they loaned me a pump whilst on the ward. 

Anyway, after 4 nights of him feeding constantly for 2+ hours, I asked MrB to get a bottle of formula. I couldn't do it. Perhaps that's selfish, but we all need to be selfish sometimes. I nourished N for 9 months, and I knew that I couldn't function on the scant sleep that I was getting. Also, I had a sneaky suspicion that N was allergic to milk because I had developed a mystery dairy allergy in pregnancy. So I figured, exclusive FF would help show that early - it did. He started Neocate LCP at 6 weeks old. 

With N, I felt guilty bringing out a bottle to feed him in public. Each time I poured the powder into the water, my heart sank, I felt judged, I hated my perception of what other people were 'thinking'. I was my own worst enemy, I felt like I had deprived N of something that he was clearly built to do. 

I don't mean this in a mean or controversial way, but I secretly resented successful breast feeding. I didn't resent the mums or the babies, I just resented the fact that I couldn't perform the process. Please take this in context, I know the satisfaction of nourishing your own child, the way that nature intended and I am now at peace with the world on the matter. (Please don't tell me off, I have tried to be balanced on a very emotive topic).

The lack of support and empathy for first time mums in my local hospital was awful. I actually wrote in my birth plan second time around that I wanted to put my breast in N's mouth. That I was only to be assisted if I asked for it. I did ask... I'm just a control freak. 

As for bonding, and breast is best: yes, scientifically, on paper it is best for everyone. In the real world, there are variables that may be physical or psychological, medical or irrational. A happy mum makes for a happy baby. I have 2 sons who are so cuddly and affectionate - this means the world to me and I attribute some of it to our lovely bottle-cuddles where we could chatter and play with one another's faces (remembering that almost makes me want another... Nah).

We have to be sisterly, we can feed our babies as we choose (within reason) breast or formula, who cares. No woman should be judged based upon her feeding choices. 

Women deserve to choose, women deserve support, women deserve not to be bullied and guilt tripped and made to feel inferior. Women deserve the right to feed however they wish to in public (this right is protected by law, and rightly so). 

We're all in this together, don't judge others and please, don't judge yourself (or assume that others are judging you). 

Monday, 4 August 2014

PND hour Wednesday 6 August

I'm excited and daunted to be helping out and hosting #pndhour on Twitter on Wednesday the 6th of August.  

The topic this week will be about depression during pregnancy and difficult pregnancies. 'Difficult' is different for everyone - my pregnancies weren't classically difficult but I had pre-natal depression, pelvic girdle pain (some call it SPD), early borderline hyperemesis gravidarum oh and N was a small for dates bump from 28 weeks. These things made my experience pretty difficult and almost certainly made any depression that I already had worse.

Pregnancy is magical, like popcorn (yeah, I think that making popcorn is magical).

Being pregnant is the start of a massive physical and emotional roller coaster, as well as marking a significant life change. You can follow all of the advice, provide your body with all of the nutrients it needs to cook a baby, but, at the end of the day, this tiny embryo/ foetus/ baby inside you grows, completely away from your influence. I think that my liking for control, really didn't fit well with this pregnancy truth. 

Some women make pregnancy look so easy, and I'm sure I did too (when I wasn't puking or limping). Perhaps I just didn't realise how hard it actually is. 

I'm looking forward to the conversation tomorrow night, 8-9pm (UK time). Come along to twitter, if you loved pregnancy, if you hated it, if more pregnancies changed your mind... Whatever your opinions and experiences it doesn't matter, chat, share and hashtag.

Caroline (@methreeandpnd)

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Self Care Plan

Rosey over at PND and Me shared her self care plan the other day 

This has inspired me to share my self-care plan. I've had PND for around a year now, and I have developed a few ways that help me to not feel quite as sad over the last few weeks. 

I do my homework most nights. While I was waiting for CBT I realised that meds and some counselling had given me enough mental space to write about my day. I have a huge notepad, and I try to write in it every night around tea time (they say that routine is the key to success). 


I write:

3 actions that help me to see my positive qualities. 

3 activities that have taken effort for me to do. 

I record negative thoughts - this has been my actual CBT homework for a few weeks so I've added it as a permanent fixture. 

Baby free time 

I need time away from the boys, they drive me potty. I love them, and perhaps I  shouldn't love my free time as much as I do, but it all helps.  


I have stopped drinking full sugar Coke and having chocolate for breakfast. when I'm feeling low. Ok, sometimes I still have a mini kit kat and I still drink about 5 cans of diet coke a day, but at least I'm not worsening the sugar roller coaster even more. 

Aside from these, ahem, minor things I do eat reasonably healthily (aside from a penchant for eating out). 


I have forgiven myself and let myself off the hook for letting the boys watch TV. I have accepted that I do my best and that if 3 hours helps to smooth out our days alone, then that is nothing (25% of their waking hours). Frozen and Peppa Pig often help me to get a shower. 

Letting go 

I love my job, but the point came where I realised that my depression had reached a stage where I needed to stop everything and remember how to enjoy being a mum. I'm off for around 10 weeks total right now, and I'm going back soon. I have had to forgive myself for being signed off sick, because I felt huge guilt for just stepping out of the house - and my depression makes me get out and about. 

I do lots of bits, like trying to stay tidy (I'm a natural slob) and doing a little exercise, which does make me feel a little better - a therapist told me that gentle exercise is better than intense exercise if you're doing it just for endorphins. 

All of these things help me, in their own way. I don't do all of them every day, and I have bad times (minutes, hours, days). 

I'm lucky that I have enough energy and the support of MrB to help me to make time to help myself. 

Have a nice day x

Friday, 1 August 2014

Ode to the Baby Jogger City Select

*Sob* I'm selling my beloved Baby Jogger City Select buggy on ebay. I didn't realise how sad a time this actually is until I came to box it up (in the original boxes). As soon as I knew I was pregnant with N, we were set on this wonderful buggy (a close second was the Mountain Buggy Duet). The key feature was that the seats could face one another, or in multiple other combinations. It meant that one child didn't end up in a seat beneath the other one. E would not have appreciated it at all and aren't we all just after an easy life, whenever possible?

This buggy has got me out of the house when I have been sad, desperate for a diet coke or on a leisurely walk to a local playground. It's been on 3 holidays, facilitated the eating of lots of bananas and it's kept 2 little monkeys under control in IKEA.  With the boys stapled into this buggy, I was in control of everything. 

Who doesn't want a foot massage from their little brother?

For our two, it has simply been the best available (oh, and Roger Federer had one for his first set of twins). I could push it around Topshop on a solo trip out, without getting stuck down the aisles. 

Dear City Select, I'll miss you. Thank you for your help over the last 17 months. 
It's time for you to go and help another family get out and about. 

Lots of love, Caroline x

Our first trip out after N was born, March 2013.