So here we are looking back.

So here we are, reflecting on everything that happened, is it strange to say I had some good times on two mother and baby units? With my family and with my friends. And with the other families, as we all went through similar experiences. Of course, I sadly remember the darkest times like nightmares, their embedded in my brain. But there were good times too, there were positives.

Times when I could laugh and smile, I could almost forget for a moment what was happening and where I was. We all got takeaway one night, we sat round the table and laughed and joked. For an outside looking in, we could have been a group of friends having dinner together at someone’s house.

When one of us was particularly unwell we were there for each other, we left each other notes outside doors, cards and chocolate. Little things, but they make a big impact. We could all understand, to an extent, how a bad day could feel like you’d been hit by a bus. We supported each other, we were there for each other.

My family came to see me, they too were always there. We went for walks and laughed and talked. It felt strange because I never wanted them to feel down, I never wanted them to feel sad. With every day and every goodbye, I always felt guilty. It was a feeling that was always there. They were going through it just like I was and I felt like it was all my fault. Of course, now I know it wasn’t my fault. But I will always feel sad about what I put them through.

But we would talk about how I was feeling, how things were going. They were always at the end of the phone and there was always moments of happiness. My friends too came to see me and I realised how truly wonderful they really are. How they accepted me and what I was going through.

I was terrified they would see me differently, terrified they would think bad of me. Of course they didn’t. It felt like everything was the same. We laughed and we took pictures. We smiled and they made me feel like me again. And all these moments were there. Lots of moments and memories I look back and smile, they were on those Mother and Baby units.

We moan about the NHS and shout about the lack of mental health services. How cuts are being made left right and centre. But don’t forget to shout about the good too. Because they will have to listen. Right to your MP, your local hospital, your local newspaper. If you have had a good experience celebrate it.

I know mental health services are struggling right now. I know I may not be here right now if I didn’t have the help from two mother and baby units. Which is why we need to talk about how they incredible they are. There needs to be more available. The NHS is wonderful, but of course it’s not perfect (nothing ever is). But I always remember the good, I will always share it, I always talk about how I think we can improve.

The staff on both Mother and Baby units were second to none. They held my hand, (literally and metaphorically) their words still echo in my brain when I’m having a bad day. Their teaching and techniques are what got me through and are still getting me through.

Stay tuned for another one. Sorry they are few and far between, life with an almost 2 year old is pretty busy.

Love, Kate. X

So here we are.

So here we are. I read something the other day that spoke about how having a mental health illness had become the “in thing”. How it had become fashionable to be mentally unwell and talk about “making it through the battle”. Actually I really couldn’t disagree more. I think it is that now people actually talk about being mentally unwell more. We actually don’t talk about it in hushed tones so much. We don’t say “they were a bit depressed you know”, whilst looking around to see who might of heard. We say “they have depression”.

We know more now about the many mental health illnesses that are out there. To talk about people actually having a negative impact for speaking about their mental health experiences just seems barbaric to me. Yes, feeling down is not the same as being depressed. Being a worrier is not the same as having anxiety. Having mood swings doesn’t mean your bipolar. But as someone who has postnatal depression and anxiety, I cannot even begin to imagine why someone would suggest that people want to have a mental health illness. Why someone would feel people find it cool and trendy? And how anything negative can come from people sharing their stories.

I still have intrusive thoughts sometimes. 18 months on. Can you imagine having thoughts of harming your own child? Your child who you loved more than anything. Your child that you would do anything to protect. Can you imagine having images of them being hurt just pop into your head? Can you imagine making a cup of tea and being terrified they would get burnt, even when they were in the next room? Intrusive thoughts are normal for parents. They are normal for everyone. But what’s not “normal” is having them in your head every single day, all day. You’re not ok if you plan how to kill yourself on a daily basis. You’re not ok if you refuse to put your child down, forever, because you think if you do they will die. I would not wish a mental health illness on anyone.

People talk about it being a journey because it is. Least for me it is. Setbacks and good and bad days. Triggers and overwhelming moments, when you think; “can I really do this?” To be in a constant battle (yes I said battle too) with yourself, with your mind and how your feeling is exhausting in every way. When you find some positive, when you feel just that little bit better, when you find yourself in recovery, why not share your story? Shout it from the bloody rooftops. After I shared my story for the first time on social media, so many people messaged me. People I’d never met, old friends, school friends from years ago. They spoke to me about their experiences and suddenly that very lonely, isolating time becomes just that little bit less lonely. That little bit less frightening.

How can that not be good? How can talking about what we are or have been through not be good?

Yes I know, talking about something isn’t going to change everything. We still do not have enough inpatient beds. Mental health nurses are overworked, understaffed and at times unappreciated. Sometimes you might be on a waiting list for 2 years to get help. GPs still don’t know what to do sometimes when you go to them for help. I know this. I am not completely naive. All this, yeah, it’s crap. But that doesn’t mean we shut up about mental health. It doesn’t mean that talking isn’t beneficial. It doesn’t mean posting a cheesy “uplifting” quote on instagram is stupid. Because actually I believe talking about is helping the change. Because more people are signing up to donate to organisations like Mind and Rethink. More people are becoming volunteers in hospitals. The government are starting to take notice. Because we’re loud. We’re talking. We’re making noise and we’re making a fuss. The NHS needs more money to create more beds. More mother and baby units. To employ more mental health specialists. To allow more employers and employees to go on courses regarding mental health. We need it for more nurses. We need it for more facilities in rural areas. We need it for transport for those who can’t get places. We need more housing, because 75% of those who are homeless will suffer with an mental health illness at some point. In fact, 1 in 4 of us will have a mental health illness at some point in our lives. We have so much more to do, so many ways we need to improve.

So write to your local MP. Donate to organisations when you can. Volunteer in your spare time. But don’t stop talking. Don’t stop sharing your experiences. I won’t. And I don’t think anyone else should either.

Stay tuned for another one.

Love, Kate. X

So can we do better?

So when I tell people what I do, I feel so proud, I smile and feel like the NHS is my baby that has just said their first word (weird analogy but you get the gist). That doesn’t mean I think the NHS always gets it right, because I don’t think they do. After all, no one or nothing is perfect, it’s impossible. But I do think the NHS is a wonderful organisation. It’s stretched, we who work for it are often stressed and personally, being a nurse is hard work physically and mentally.

But looking back on my own patient experience. I received incredible care. That’s not to boast, that’s to hope one day everyone will. It’s to talk about the good and celebrate it but more importantly learn from it. I went into A&E at around 8pm on Sunday evening. I had a midwife appointment on the Monday where me and Jordan had agreed I needed to tell her how I was feeling. But by Sunday evening I had decided I couldn’t manage any longer and if I didn’t receive help I was going to kill myself. I stayed in A&E till Wednesday evening. Usually you stay in A&E for a max of 4 hours until you are either sent home or sent to another department or ward of the hospital or another organisation. Within those 4 hours treatment needs to be decided.

Within 4 hours treatment was decided for me, but there were no beds available in the country on a mother and baby unit. Winchester had some but they had a policy that babies had to be over a month old and Arth was around 3 weeks. I stayed in a room for those 3 days with Jord, Arthur and my sisters came in and out too. We all cried, a lot. I slept a little bit on a mattress on the floor. We even smiled a little bit. We talked and cried some more. I begged those who looked after me to help me, I begged them not to give up trying to find me somewhere, and they didn’t.

I didn’t go onto the follow on ward from A&E because I worked there. Just two months before, I had been there working, heavily pregnant excited for my new adventure. Fast forward two months and I was a shell of who I was once. The thought of my colleagues seeing me like this mortified me. I wasn’t ashamed of the situation but I didn’t want to be unprofessional, I didn’t want them to see me any differently. I didn’t want to lose my “credibility” as a nurse. It wasn’t about having a mental illness, it was just about having an illness. So they let me stay in that room for 3 days. I went to the matron who I had worked with before, I broke down and sobbed as I asked her to help. My manager of my ward came in and told me she wouldn’t let me go home, she promised me she would make sure they find me a bed somewhere.

When I look back at that incredibly difficult time, I will never forget those who worked tirelessly to help me. But I know this is not always the case. I have had people message me saying they’ve been to their GP and they’ve sent them home saying “there’s not much they can do, see how you feel in a few weeks”. I’ve seen people bounce in and out of hospital overdosing again and again. I know young people who were put on waiting lists even thought they harm themselves every day. We say depression and people roll their eyes. They say “oh she just gets a bit anxious”, like it’s nothing.

But it’s not. There isn’t enough mother and baby units in the country. Some people don’t have one anywhere near where they live. There isn’t enough inpatient beds. There isn’t enough permanent staff because nurses are too stretched. We have waiting lists even though some people don’t have time. We have people who work in healthcare who disapprove of mental illnesses. But we can do better. And from a few years ago I think we already are.

Finally it is becoming more recognised that men suffer depression too. Addiction is treated as a mental illness. There are more volunteers on the streets because 80% of those who are homeless in the UK report their mental health suffers. Charities like Samaritans have call lines open 24/7. We have World mental health day, International day of happiness. Of course there is still a long way to go. More money is needed. More education in schools, healthcare and workplaces. More staff and more organisations to make more beds. But, like I said before, nothing is perfect. But, to me the NHS gets it right a lot more than they get it wrong.

Stay tuned guys. Sorry it’s been a bit quiet here.

Love, Kate. X

So parenthood can be very lonely.

So here we are. It can be hard to be a parent and at times I’ve found myself feeling very alone. I think it’s for a few reasons. Every baby/ child is different and at times I’ve found myself feeling like nobody is feeling the same way I do. Or sometimes you feel like everybody else has it together. Like you see pictures of children eating amazing meals, home cooked, 3 meals a day with snacks in between. Sometimes I can’t even get Arth to sniff food, i mean a sniff wouldn’t really be much use but you see what I mean. You think, what are they doing differently?! Then you get mountains of different of advice and feel more lost than ever.

Sometimes at 3am in the morning when your bouncing up and down with your one year old and then the next day you have someone say to you; “oh my baby is only 10 weeks and she sleeps through every night”… Suddenly you feel like you will never have a full nights sleep again (you will) and your the only one in the world. Sleep is a big one because at 3am in the morning it can feel like the world is dark and your the only one awake.

I think we compare ourselves against each other and if we cant “keep up” with others or if something is different for us we feel very lonely. We can feel like we’re doing something wrong. But just because we do something different to others doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

It can make you feel like your alone, that you can’t talk to anyone about it for fear of being judged.

There’s also the loneliness that as amazing as our children are, their not the most amazing conversationalists. In my experience anyway. Sure as they get older I feel like this feeling gets a little bit easier. In the early days when your talking to your baby and their just looking at you blankly like “can you just feed me and shut up please? Oh,and I just did a big one in my pants.” And that’s about all you get. That for me, felt very lonely. It’s hard because you want to feel like your doing it right, you’d like some reassurance. Maybe they could fill in a questionnaire, maybe rate you out of 10, anything would be good.

The point is, it is lonely. I don’t think this is just a “I’ve had PND and been lonely” kind of thing. It feels like everybody feels this way sometimes. From what I gather. It is hard and it does still feel lonely sometimes for me. The first of my childhood friends to have a baby, sometimes I feel alone just because I don’t feel like they want to talk about big poops, teeth and weaning. Their life has taken a different direction to mine at the moment so sometimes you feel like your on your own.

But I know I’m not. It is lonely sometimes. And it’s ok to admit. I think it’s to admit even if you have family and friends all around you. Even if you’ve been trying for your baby for years and years. Even if you’ve lost a child. It’s still ok to admit you struggle with feeling alone sometimes even when you have your baby there, even when your surrounded by your children. Sometimes I think we all need adult interaction. We need to talk about something other than our babies, something other than what we do and what they do, we need to stop comparing. You need to take a breather.

I think we need to say to each other “I feel the same” and “you do what works for you”, “mine still don’t sleep”, and “go out and do something for you”. Having a baby made me feel like I wanted my Mum around me more. My family. It made me feel like a child myself again a little bit. I wanted to have those I loved around me just to give me a nod when I would say something like “but that amount of poo is ok right? Should it be that colour?”. I still call my mum when I have a moment of parent terror, like when Arth feel into a big muddy puddle of horse poo…face first, mouth open…yep that happened. Que call to my Mum; “is he going to be ok? Should I call the doctor?!” He was fine and laughed and felt quite happy about the situation actually.

My point is, feeling alone sucks. But we are never truly alone. There is always someone who knows the exact right thing to say. There is always someone who will just nod and hug you. There is always someone who helps that loneliness. And I totally believe it’s ok to admit.

Thanks for sticking with my very infrequent posts peeps. Stay tuned for the next one, I’ll try not to leave it so long.

Love, Kate. X

So almost ten months in, it might be time to start looking after myself a bit more.

So here I am. My back hurts from carrying my Little A everywhere. Maybe I need to start doing more exercise, more stretching, yoga, to help my body. My bloated belly, maybe I need to lay off the white bread now. Start to eat better, like I used too. Start to put more time into my meals, snacks, not just food for my little man. It’s time, I’m going to do it, I’ve already started and I’m sticking to it.

I think my skin will benefit. My tummy will hopefully benefit. I might be able to get back some of my stomach muscles. It might help my mood (always a massive plus for me). My time has come to start thinking about me a little bit. In order to look after my mini dude, in order to have the most energy. Exercise is good. I like exercise. I like good, nice food.

I’ve sort of forgotten that. I’ve sort of forgotten me. Who I was before. The healthy (ish) me. I’m still healthy (ish) but I could be healthier. I could put more effort in. For myself. And for Arthur. It’s weird isn’t it? When you have a baby you think, what did I do before? What did I have for lunch before? Did I really look like that pre baby? How didn’t I see I was healthy? I thought my belly was big! Well, it is now…

It’s weird. They become your whole life and then you forget what your life was before. I’m staying away from the scales and instead going to focus on what I see in front of me. And how I feel. I’m hoping I’ll feel less tired, that my skin will improve, I’ll bloat less and just feel generally better. Of course it’s a process, of course sometimes I know me, and I know sometimes I’m going to just say “sod that, where’s the chocolate?”. But it’s gotten to the point now where I’m ready for change, I’m ready to feel better.

Something I know that’s important too is maintaining good mental health. Soon I’m going back to work, and I’ll soon be reducing my antidepressants. I’m scared. I’m scared about the change, I’m scared about how anxious I already feel. But no matter how many times I think “eurgh I really don’t want to go outside today, I don’t want to do any exercise” as soon as I do, my mood feels better. Just taking a walk and taking deep breaths; it really helps me.

My favourite place is walking along the beach or in the countryside. Plus it’s free, so that’s always a bonus. I’ve said this before but I don’t want to go back. I don’t think I’m ever going to be 8 and half stone, flat stomach pre pregnancy me. But I don’t want to go back. I just want to be me now. But a healthier version of me. I want to live a long live so I can be like Beverley Goldberg and try and get hugies from Arthur for a very very long time.

So here I am, here I go. Stay tuned for another one guys.

Love, Kate. X

P.s here’s me after just completing my first “run” from couch to 5k…

So when are you having another one?

So here we are. The question we get asked that is always annoying. When are we having a another baby? I’m thinking of getting a tshirt that says “none of your bloody business” and then just pointing to it when anyone asks or starts to talk about it.

I’ve been that annoying person too. The nosey, annoying person “aww so they’ll need a brother or sister soon! So when you thinking about having a another one? It will be time for another one soon!” I want to go back in time and punch myself. Shut up me. It’s none of your bloody business when someone else has another baby. IF they have a another baby. Just please, shut up me.

Now I know what’s it like. Stop asking people! I’ve been told it’s good to have two close together, I’ve been told it’s good to have a bit of an age gap. But it’s our choice. If we are lucky to be able to have more babies, yes we do want them, we will have them when we want too. We will have them when we think it’s best. It’s our decision.

Pregnancy is hard. Babies are hard. They are expensive. Your whole life changes. Your body, your time, your work, money, energy. It all changes. Your life gets turned upside down. And last time my world got turned upside down on a whole other level. Last time I had a baby I wanted to end my life. I didn’t think I deserved to live, i thought everyone would be better off without me. Convinced something terrible was going to happen to my baby, convinced I was a terrible human being. I do not want to ever feel like that again.

That feeling of complete hopelessness, it’s not something anyone should have to feel. It’s not something I ever want to go through again. Waking up every day trying to find the will to stay alive? It’s exhausting. Being on a mother and baby unit helped save my life. But I do not want to ever go back to one. I might. But I don’t want too. I’ve seen the darkness of PND and I don’t ever want to see it again. So more babies? No, not yet.

For a million and one reasons, no not yet. For the biggest reason? Mentally, I’m not ready. Will I ever be “ready”? I don’t know. But I do think time will help. I do think time will be my friend in this situation. I’m still recovering, I’m still figuring life out. Life with PND, after it, life with anxiety and everything in between. I’m more likely to develop PND again then others who haven’t had it. But I’m hoping, if I do, it will not hit me as hard. I will, as much as I can be, be prepared for it. In a way, in a sad way, I’ll be expecting it. But that’s life. That’s my life, and it’s ok.

But more babies now? Soon? No not yet. That’s also ok. We could wait 10 years if we wanted too. We don’t HAVE to have more babies. We might not be able to have more babies. You don’t know what is going to happen. But, it’s our choice, it’s our life, just let it be. We don’t have to always know what’s happening in other people’s life. But I know. Trust me I know, the questions, they just pop out. Like word vomit (good old mean girls reference there). Like those pop up toys. Those cards that explode when you open them. Pop, explode, we all do it. We all ask the annoying questions.

But next time maybe when I can feel it coming I’m coming to say in my head “oh shut up me”. If it comes out I’m going to then something like “sorry, that’s none of my business, I’ll stop being a nosey bugger”. Because I know what it’s like. And it is bloody annoying. Like slow walkers when your trying to get somewhere quick. Like really loud people when you’ve just got your baby to sleep. Like realising you haven’t got any milk left after making yourself a cup of tea. That kind of annoying. So yeah. Shut up me.

So as much as I love tiny, squidgy newborns (especially newborn Arth, just loooook), it’s not right for us yet. It’s not our time again yet.

I guess this one is sort of a reminder to myself. A reminder that we can’t have another babe now. A reminder to myself that sometimes it’s annoying to be bloody annoying. Also it’s bit annoying how much I’ve said annoying in this post right? (Shut up, just shut up Katie)

Stay tuned for another one guys. I promise I won’t always try and be funny and fail miserably…

Love, Kate. (Or Katie) x

So something I can’t shake but I’m learning to come to peace with…

So here we are. A big anxiety for me that I don’t think will ever leave me, Arthur’s eating. When we were breastfeeding it was scary not being able to see how much he was having. Then we had issue after issue with breastfeeding. Then he started to have more bottles and my anxiety changed to being scared about his health. Then we stopped boobing altogether at 6 months, I sort of came to terms with that.

It still saddens me now but the anxiety calmed down. Then came weaning, oh weaning. Some days I can get Arth to eat 3 meals and sometimes even snacks in between. Other days I’m lucky if I can get him to have a few spoonfuls of anything. With that comes the anxiety, is he having enough? Am I trying him with enough foods? Spoon feeding, brings anxiety, is he going to become to dependent on being fed? So we also do baby led, more food on the floor, meaning he’s not actually eating much…equals anxiety.

I find he coughs and splutters a bit more with baby led too. I have images in my head of having to practice my paediatric basic life support, i don’t ever want to have to practice it. But every time we sit down to eat, I’m ready. I stay calm because being panicked whilst Arthur is eating will not help me. Maybe it’s the emergency nurse in me, the one calm but ready. Jord however is more panicked which in turn makes me feel very anxious. The slightest cough and he springs up. But he will cough, he’s learning to chew, learning about different consistency’s.

But when he jumps up I then feel guilty, I feel bad because I think; “am I too relaxed about this?” People put doubts in my mind with the comments, “are you sure he can have that?

⁃ I think what you gave him earlier is still stuck in his throat.

⁃ After you’ve given him that he might need some liquid to wash it down.

⁃ He still won’t take water? Oh dear, he really should.” All the questioning, it makes me doubt myself. It makes me doubt my parenting ability.

But i feel like I am at peace a little bit with my anxiety. I know it’s there. It is not my friend and I will not let it control me. I won’t let it rule me. It’s there but it is not me. Weaning, it’s hard, it’s scary but it’s something that needs to happen. I think we should learn to trust ourselves more in what we do for our own babies. We should learn to be more confident in what we do. My health visitor told me, babies can have everything we have after around 6 months. Except honey, until their 1. I go by this. Obviously I don’t feed Arth spicy, salty, sugary goodness all day every day. But yeah, I’m learning on the job. I’m winging it, parenting, weaning and everything. But I know my boy.

A lot of anxiety comes from other people. Other people’s comments, opinions, I know they are not meant to cause anxiety. But for me I remember them all. I don’t really know the answer. I don’t really have a solution. Just maybe, as I’ve said before, we should try not to be very concerned with what other people are doing. Sometimes I ask for help, I ask for advise, for other people’s stories. But sometimes I don’t and I still get it. Then something is said and I feel this pang in my stomach and suddenly I’m doubting everything I know.

Anxiety is horrible. If you know someone with it, I’m not saying treat them differently, I’m not saying they need to be shielded. I’m just saying, if your talking to them and then you see them suddenly quiet, they look worried, scared, like their thinking. Maybe just ask them; are you ok? Did I say something that worried you? Did you need a minute by yourself or would you like to talk about it? Shall we talk about something else completely? How can I help?

Yesterday evening, as the sun was setting, me and Arth sat in a field together. No phone, no noise, nothing. Just me and my boy sat down together playing with the grass. It was wonderful. Moments like that take you away from your racing mind for a little while. They let you have some peace, some true calm. If you feel like anxiety is getting the better of you, fresh air, for me, it’s wonderful (and it’s free haha!).

Stay tuned for another one peeps.

Love, Kate. X