Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Sorting out tea time (or dinner time)!

A few days ago, I decided that I was no longer going to cook and eat tea separately from the boys.

We used to cook for the boys who ate at 4.45 and then cook for us after the boys went to bed.

So we were cooking twice, making twice the mess, cleaning twice, snacking while they ate their tea, putting them to bed on empty-ish somachs ourselves and then finally eating our tea at about 7.15. Leaving tome fo approximately one 45 minute TV programme (or two if we are really living dangerously).

This worked when both boys were asleep by 6.30 (a loooong time ago), when onenor both needed more help with eating (and when N used to scream in response to his plate being full of unfamiliar food...what horror!). And also, when my working days were marred by very, very, necessary, long term sickness.

I just don't have the energy. I can list loads of good reasons to eat together:

Eating together as a family at the table is something I enjoy. It's a little bit of Hollywood glamour without bleaching or waxing.

Makes eating at home a lot more like eating out... I love eating out (and takeaways). So if we have tea with the boys perhaps fewer pizza delivery men will call.

I only have to cook one meal, once. I usually cooked the boys the same-ish as us but E always missed out on curry. He adores curry, so moving teatime will be better for the variety in both their diets.
I add lots of fruit and veg t meals, both obvious and hidden. Eating with the boys will help me and MrB to model good eating habits.

Note: I will make adjustments to N and E's meals to make them more palatable...I just want an easy life.

I don't have to freeze lots of toddler portions of leftovers and batch cooks. Always a good thing, as my freezer is rammed!

I will have more energy overall in the evenings, or just be less knackered.

Me and MrB get more time to catch up on telly in the evening, before the mandatory 'rock n' roll lights out by 10' kicks in.

Teaching table manners (hopefully by osmosis at their ages...)

Sitting down with them at the table stops me running around, faffing with the washer, or the tidying. Helping us all to focus on food.

Ok, so you can probably tell that I'm quote enamoured by this way of eating. It's revolutionary.

Please note that our younger selves, couldn't manage to eat tea at 5. We would be hungry too early. However, with two toddlers we go to sleep earlier. Voilà!

Also note that this plan is different on my work days as I often work until 4.30 and get home at about 5.15. They don't need a proper tea those nights, so I do simple stuff that can be eaten fast.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

My Weaning Hell

Weaning, the process of introducing solid food to a baby. Baby-led, puree, a little or a lot, all babies are different. I have learned that the hard way!

Ewan was a dream to wean, he was longingly reaching for our food at about 4 months old (we have photographic proof!) And we weaned him at 5.5 months, simply because he wanted food. We did all the types of weaning all at once... Being first time parents and seeing the benefits of both ways, we went straight in with Annabel Karmel and the BLW cookbook.

Ewan was a dream eating wise, he would scoff most things i gave him. He was multiple protein intolerant so it took him a while to get used to meat and pulses, protein rich foods made him cry (more). He was already dairy free, I called the HV team more than I should have in desperate need of reassurance. Anyway, he is a hungry boy and likes 3 good meals and 2 snacks (more if he can persuade me). He is like many other toddlers, yeah he will eat leas and sweetcorn but pass him fruit and he'll refuse it. You win some you lose some.

Noah, on the other hand was smaller from the get go, so at 6 months when I tried him with some finger food, he wasn't interested. I was discouraged but I waited a week and tried again (with more pressure on mine and his shoulders). This continued until he was 8 months old, my PND was worsening and mealtimes with Noah were making me ill, and him cry. It was awful. Just awful.

He simply wasn't hungry, I couldn't get it into my head that he wasn't interested in food! I was deeply depressed at the time so I couldn't see the bigger picture, 'food is an extra, milk comes first at all times up until a year of age'.

I turned to baby food jars. 3 months of pureeing and making lovely fresh veg and snacks had broken my will to be all natural. For context, with Ewan, I thought I was better than using jars. I looked down upon them, having believed the blurb about causing obesity and picky eating. Anyway, the few jars that he could have (dairy free) I ordered regularly from that exclusively online grocers (The 'posh one').

I felt like garbage feeding him these jars. Until I read a post at http://threeyearsandonestonethenhome.com (I have spent an hour searching for it...I'm blind!) Basically, along the lines of Lazy Mama Weaning, and it helped me to accept my choices and not to judge myself. And most importantly that all babies are different with their food likes and dislikes. Reading this blog post really helped me to reconcile and get over my nasty-self-judgmental inner monologue.

A PND support group led by health visitors threw up a book recommendation, 'my child won't eat' by Carlos Gonzalez really really helped to turn around nu stress and worry. It made me believe that Noah wasn't manipulating me, that children know what food their bodies need and may refuse fruit and veg because they are simply not calorific enough for their needs. If you are upset about weaning or your child's eating, I urge you to read this book to help to loft the weight!

It has taken until Noah's 23 month birthday for me to wrote this post and for the pain of the 'weaning failure' to ebb. Noah eats ok, he likes fruit more than veg but he will now eat most meals (he is very fussy, definitely needs to try things about 20 times) he won't eat curry or rice, or sweetcorn. But he will eat any kind of meat or fish, he likes pasta and bolognese and we can eat out with him withoit him causing a fuss. His appetite us loads smaller than Ewan's, but ewan is 75th height centile whereas Noah is 9th. *light bulb*

This little lovely post points out why pure BLW isn't perfect  (and Hurrah for Gin is a genius)

How was weaning for you?

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

A Wellbeing Plan for pregnant and new mums

A preview of the plan form - access via links below

 NICE have endorsed a wellbeing plan  for pregnant and new mothers (click the link and then click the text links on the NICE Web page to download the PDF).

It is two sides of A4 and you can download it, print it off and fill it in with your own information.

It is the result of a collaboration between The Boots Family Trust, Tommy’s, Netmums, the Royal College of Midwives and the Institute of Health Visiting. It has been endorsed by the NICE (which is a huge stamp of approval and a recognition of the value of this wellbeing plan as part of the holistic care of women and their families during and after pregnancy and birth).

I suffered from  perinatal depression  
(including antenatal depression, which I wasn't even sure was a 'thing' until recently) and the post natal depression  which I currently am recovering from with a lot of hard work.

This wellbeing form would have been amazing for me to be in touch with my emotional state in a tangible way, not just being 'self aware' or listening to a midwife discussing PND at antenatal classes.

The wellbeing plan asks the mum to wrote how she is feeling now, and further sections include a good list of signs and symptoms. There is no mention of the 'baby blues' which is very helpful and gives new mums credit and respect that they deserve.

The form isn't a formal part of care, but perhaps it should be. Perhaps any woman who has a history of mental health issues should be given one with a kind explanation by a midwife in late pregnancy. Late enough for it to be remembered in the months post-birth but early enough so that the mum to be can find time to complete it.

Send it to your friends and loved ones - anyone who you think may benefit. Let's spread the word about this useful tool and let's start opening up about perinatal health.

Monday, 2 February 2015

My mother was there, but she wasn't.

I'm the eldest of 6 children now aged 32, 30, 25, 23, 22 and 18.

The lovely Kate said, you say you brought up your siblings...where was your mum?


She was vacuuming and cleaning the house, top to bottom EVERY SINGLE DAY.

She left me in charge of the children in the house, alone from the age of 11 (children aged 9, 4 and 2). Sometimes for 10 minutes while she went to the corner shop, sometimes (in school hols) it could be a trip to the supermarket in town for an hour. I remember one day, standing at my bedroom windows while all hell was breaking loose behind me. Crying, asking 'mum, where are you?'.

she didn't drive, so she walked everywhere.

Sometimes she would come home and say she had been to the shops, insulting my intelligence when she had obviously had a sunbed or eyelash tint.

This wasn't every day, I won't exaggerate. But nonetheless it shouldn't have happened.

I taught my brothers and sisters to say please, because I was basically their toddler-slave. God I loved them so much. I still do. My hatred for our mother has meant that them living with her for so long into their adult lives has got in the way of us being friends (that and my stupid phone-issues-phobia).

My mum didn't have a job, she pretended to have a job once and had a couple of Saturday jobs. Yes, you read that right, she PRETENDED TO HAVE A JOB.

She also faked burglaries.

When she was around, in the house, she had a way of putting her anxieties onto me, 'where are the children? That's dangerous'.

This is pretty painful to write. I cannot hope to tell you all of the ways that she was emotionally absent from my life - emotional absence is very hard to accept as a child.

When I was 8, my parents had been divorced for over 2 years. My dad dropped me and my brother off at home after a lunch at Harry Ramsdens (the original one in West Yorks) and I got a lovely jewellery set from Father Christmas. My dad left, I got upset. I missed him so much. I said that was why I was sad. I was sent to my room, branded as naughty and shamed for feeling how any child should about a fun dad.

From that day, I suppose I stopped trusting her, I learned how to keep emotions secret, inside me because she didn't deserve to see them anymore. many other little things happened, but that was a turning point.

I told her about what my shool friends did, sleepovers in tents, pornos shown to them by odd parents of children they babysat, the boys they kissed. All of my stuff I saved inside, and I either prayed and told 'god' or talked to my teddy.

I decided to turn away from faith in my late 20s due to other things but praying was all I had. After all, lovely as my siblings were, you can't share your deepest secrets with them... toddlers don't care and teenage brothers...well, they just want ammunition(and rightly so!).

So those are a small sample of the most upsetting things I can remember. She failed me in so many ways. I have no idea how to reconcile them for myself, let alone learn to forgive it all.

Have you forgiven a parent for such misdeeds? Any help in forgiving would be appreciated.

Complaint Letter

Hello, please find attached a copy of my complaint form that I have completed. I am sending via email as I am a busy working mum of two very small boys.

I am writing to complain about a situation that the care of the psychiatry team (and the CMHT) at West Strand House left me in over the past two months.

On 29th of November I saw Dr Kongara to discuss concerns about my mental health. One outcome of this appointment was a change in my medication from sertraline 150mg to mirtazapine 30mg. I understood the tapering off and the starting process and I was happy to undertake the change in order to attempt to improve my angry mood swings which were exacerbated by my medication.

My GP was able to reassure me during the reduction of my sertraline. This was adequate and although I had to take time off work, I felt able to function as a mother.

I started to take mirtazapine and within 4 days I started to have trouble looking after my children, I was dissociating and unable to play with them. I couldn't see this at the time but over the next 5 weeks I became more detached and unloving towards them. I had to stop the medication afer 5 weeks and 4 days because I simply couldn't stand the way it took my love away from me.

I also experienced thoughts of self harm, began to empathise with people who commit suicide, I made myself sick every other day in the second half of December.

I saw my GP, who didn't advise me clearly on how to get back up to my original dose of sertraline. So I decided to cross taper to minimise upset. I called the CMHT and sought advice from Dr Kongara (13/01) but due to the strict one appointment policy, she made it clear that she would not advise on my terrible situation. She told me to call my GP (who had not made me feel confident in his opinion in this circumstance) and suggested the Crisis Team. I was crying on the phone, desperately asking for help and I was told to call the crisis team...After 7pm... It was about lunch time. That was simply embarrassing.

The process where I was seen once and then immediately discharged without follow up was negligent and disgracefully inadequate for the distressing symptoms that I experienced alone, with only the reassurance of my GP.

I waited for that one psychiatrist appointment from the end of august: 3 months.
I was discharged the moment I left the appointment.
In order to receive the expert care I desperately needed, I had to go to my GP and request a new referral.
I needed a new referral, to be added to the bottom of the waiting list, just to receive adequate follow up care from a specialist in mental health medications.

This system of caring for patients is woefully inadequate, I have suffered in isolation and my husband and sons have had to make do what what I could manage. This is seemingly because I am a piece of paper and a number in the system and my wellbeing was clearly not a concern.

The government is making perinatal mental health a priority in the coming year, I am still suffering from post natal depression almost 2 years since the birth of my second son. The contact in November needed to be handled correctly and it was not.

Your assistance in this matter wold be greatly appreciated.

Looking back at my medication swap - MISERY

Look how lovely they are!

In November I saw a psychiatrist, who suggested I swap from 150mg sertraline to 30mg of mirtazapine to try to help my troublesome angry mood swings. I have had anger issues for a very long time, I can fly into an all out rage over not very much or I can escalate a minor disagreement or discussion with MrB into an all out 'I hate you' argument.

I stopped the sertraline, 1 week at 100mg, one week at 50mg (this period of time was miserable but because of discontinuation). Then I stopped the sertraline and started on 15mg mirtazapine, increasing to 30mg after 2 weeks.

Looking back, I was in trouble from a few days in. Once the sertraline discontinuation symptoms had gone, I felt like my head was faster, but I started to bury myself in my phone when the boys were around and we were alone. We didn't do much, I couldn't face the idea of being alone with them and if you saw me on Twitter in December & January, you may remember the mess that I was in.

I was dissociating in a fairly mild way, but mostly I couldn't interact with the boys and be happy. My depression was apparently worse, but I couldn't see that.

One day, I said to N, 'I wish I could go back 4 years and tell myself not to get pregnant'. 'Why did I choose to do this to myself?' And other, assorted awful thoughts that I hadn't experienced so brutally before.

I started to make myself sick every other day, I don't know why...control? Fear? It was a very very low period for me.

After the comments to N, I had a think and the next day I recognised the problem, MIRTAZAPINE NUMBED MY FEELINGS FOR MY CHILDREN. It had to stop. I'd given the tablets almost 6 weeks and things were getting worse, not better.

That day, I changed back to sertraline.

Within days I was lighter, brighter and voilà! I could spend time with my two beautiful boys without dread and misery.

Always follow the advice of your doctor, if you don't like their advice, see another doc or ask for a referral to see a psychiatrist.

Always trust your instincts.