So please, remember you don’t know what I do.

So here we are. As I prepare to go back to work I’m feeling very emotional because I’m leaving my boy for 13 hours of the day. Whilst I’ve been on maternity leave I’ve often been made to feel a bit lazy for not working. For wanting to spend time with my son and build a bond, I’ve been looked at like it’s not normal, not ok.

But nobody knows what we do and nobody knows how much I love him and how much I want to spend time with him. And that’s ok. We all parent differently and you can’t know or judge what I do because your not me. If you are a parent you did what you did. I am not the same. I am me.

Here’s a few of the comments/ questions I’ve had;

1. Well you don’t do anything all day

2. See how you can feel when you actually achieve something?

3. You feel very tired when you don’t do anything

4. When are you going back to work then?

5. Don’t you get bored?

6. You’re lazy!

7. I didn’t have that luxury of not working

8. Have you moved from that spot?

9. Your so lucky he’s always asleep

10. Well, I know what it’s like to have worked hard my whole life

Let me tell you something – being a parent is hard. I don’t just sit in front of the tv whilst Arthur entertains himself, feeds himself and looks after himself. I feed him, I clean him, we play together, we eat together, I cook and make him food, we do activities, we go out together, walking, swimming, painting. Nappy changes, baths, sterilising, paddling pools, beach, ice cream, dog walking, teething, cuddles, crawling, exploring, washing, shopping.

It’s non stop. When he’s asleep, I’m usually tidying or cleaning. I quickly shower and get to go to the toilet. I cook and eat something for myself. I have a drink because I haven’t had anything in hours. Sometimes I nap. 9 months in and yeah, sometimes I still nap when my Little A naps. It helps a lot. In that short window of time I have for myself there’s often lots to do but sometimes I say – sod it, I’m too tired, nap it is. Sometimes I just lie down, sometimes I blog or reply to my messages. Does that make me lazy? I don’t think so. Within an later we’re back in the midst of it. I’ve been climbed on, sicked on and my ears hurt from baby screeching, my short nap a distant memory.

I can’t just leave Arthur whilst I go off and do some housework. I don’t get to sit back and watch a film whilst Arthur sits still for 2 hours. He doesn’t wipe his own bum, that’s on us! Words, comments, opinions, they hurt. No matter what I achieve in life, work, whatever, Arthur, looking after him, being his mother; will ALWAYS be my greatest achievement.

To have people undermine me and make me feel inadequate because I don’t want to rush back to work (and yes I know I am lucky I don’t have to go back so quickly for financial reasons) well it’s just not nice. I don’t ever feel like I haven’t done anything all day being with Arthur. I’ve kept a mini human alive all day. I’ve managed to feed him, entertain him and stay alive myself too (always a bonus). The point is, I’m so proud of being a parent to Arthur.

I know it’s too early to be thinking; “he’s kind because of how we’ve brought him up” I know that. But his personality is developing, he’s being taught language, manners, how to feed himself, how to stand, he’s learning everything. And I’m proud that I’m a part of that. I’m proud to watch him develop, to watch him grow.

Why are we so concerned with what other people are doing? If I had gone back to work with 3, 4, 6 months whatever, I’m sure I would of felt judgement for going back too soon. You can’t win. But I know something for sure; I do not want to become unwell again. I do not want to feel pure exhaustion from anxiety all day. I don’t want to feel so much pressure, so much worry that I feel like I don’t deserve to live. I do not want to see everything as a risk, everything as a possibility of causing my baby harm.

Being at work is going to be so challenging for me. I have already told Jord that if I can’t do it, if I can’t be away from Arthur for 13 hours of the day then I will have to look for something else. But that is a big maybe. I am hoping that the two days I am at work I focus on work and I enjoy it. Because I do love my job. I do miss it. I want to overcome my anxiety of leaving Arthur because I won’t be able to be by his side all day every day of his life.

But nobody gets to tell me how I parent. Because you don’t know. We shush in our sleep, I read and sing books and nursery rhymes even when he’s asleep. We tidy and clean, cook and shop with our Little A always first and foremost in our mind.

He will always come first. I know I am doing something right because we’ve made it this far. I’m trying not to let other people’s words and opinions get me down. And I know that these words do not mean to hurt but that doesn’t mean they don’t.

Stay tuned for another one peeps.

Love, Kate. X

So those thoughts.

So there we were. This post might be a bit hard to read for some. It might be triggering so please don’t read if your feeling in a bad place. Instead talk to someone, anyone.

So I won’t ever forget those very dark days. Those days when the intrusive thoughts were so frequent. I could handle them about me, yes they were scary, but those thoughts about Arthur, they broke me. They happened a lot at the beginning and they plagued me, they made me doubt myself, they made me believe I would never get better.

Often those thoughts would come from a risk, like if there was a car going fast, I’d think about Arthur’s pram going out into the road. They were devastating. I was fighting with my own mind and every time I thought about something like that I would then feel hopeless. Sometimes they would come from nowhere, those are the ones that hurt the most.

I think for a lot of people, there is a certain time of day that is harder than the rest. For me it was usually in the evening. I would become very tired, I would often be on my own and it would come to the time where all I wanted to do was sleep but I probably wouldn’t. Least not at the beginning. I would be physically and mentally worn out. My depression meant I was desperate for sleep but my anxiety wouldn’t let me rest. Plus I was a new Mum and that’s pretty tiring in itself! This is when the thoughts would haunt me.

I remember speaking to a Doctor in Winchester and she told me how intrusive thoughts about your baby were really common. She said how they were normal and a lot more people had them then I might think. But I sobbed to her, I broke down and swore that if they continued I would not carry on living. I couldn’t deal with them being in my mind all the time. I couldn’t imagine living with them forever.

She told they would stop and she told me something that I didn’t understand and still don’t now really; these thoughts come from a place of love. She tried to explain the best she could but I still don’t really understand but she assured me they would stop. I still have one every now and again but I think everyone does. Ever thought about smothering your partner whilst they snore away keeping you awake? I know I have! (Sorry Jord).

But the thing is; thoughts are just thoughts. They are just that. They are not actions, they are not real, not really. They are there in your mind but they go away as quickly as they come. I wouldn’t ever hurt anyone. But to have those in your mind all day every day, it’s exhausting. The images, the feelings that go along with them, they break you down.

Every time I would feel a bit of hope they would come and I would be knocked back down again. It was the times when it there was silence. And this scared me very much. I thought to myself; “will I ever be able to be still again? To be at peace where I can sit in silence without fighting my own mind? Will I ever be able to just drift off to sleep and have a restful night?” Thankfully I am a world away from where I once was. It feels like I’m so much lighter. It’s only in the last couple of months I’ve actually felt like I’m not tired anymore. I’m no longer exhausted, mentally and physically, I am no longer fighting so hard to stay alive.

If your having these thoughts, if you feel like the world is becoming dark and your losing hope, PLEASE talk to someone. Anyone. You can talk to me, you can find me on Instagram at katehereiam

If your worried about someone else, reach out to them, or reach out to somebody who could help. Don’t let them fight alone.

Don’t be ashamed and scared of what people will think because people will help you. And you WILL get better.

Stay tuned. Until next time guys.

Love, Kate. X

So it’s taken us a long time to get to this point.

So here we are. Everybody does things in different ways. Parenting is no different. For me at the beginning, especially, I felt like I HAD to try and follow every bit of professional advice to the T. I am not advocating that you don’t do that but I think there’s a way you do things, as long as they are safe it’s about doing what’s right for you and your family. To a certain extent that might be doing things down to that T.

Looking back I was so anxious and I’ve really come a long way. One of my biggest things was Arthur sleeping. I’ve spoken before about my absolute pure fear of SIDs. Official advice advises that babies should sleep in the same room as you until their six months. Even during naps. I was really strict about this and found it very difficult to leave Arthur when he was asleep at the beginning. I would only leave him with Jord or sometimes his Mum or my family to sleep myself. Even then I found it very hard to get to sleep.

I became so sleep deprived. It’s only recently that feel like I’m actually not tired from having a baby…I know that sounds very strange but having a baby is like a whole new level of being tired! It’s impossible to describe. So when I first became unwell sleep deprivation made everything so much worse. I had gotten to the point where I couldn’t sleep with Arthur in the same room. Every movement he made, every time he made a noise, I had to check on him. And when he was quiet, still, I had to check on him even more.

I would repeatedly check if he was too hot or too cold. If I did manage to get to sleep it would for moments at a time and he’d then be ready for a feed. It was exhausting. In Nottingham they advised that Arthur not sleep in the same room as me at night. I was terrified. Again, I couldn’t sleep. Not with or without him. All I could think about what I had read about them staying with you. To reduce the risk of SIDS, he had to be with me.

But I was exhausted. They had to give me some anti- anxiety medication which basically made me so drowsy I would fall asleep. Then I started to sleep for a couple of hours a night. Then slowly it increased. But my heart was broken. I felt so guilty he wasn’t with me and every night I was terrified of what might happen. It also made the feeling of being away from Jord even more devastating. He couldn’t even watch him. I had to leave him with basically strangers to me and I was so scared. If it wasn’t for the medication I don’t know if I would have slept, I really don’t.

But thankfully I did. Arthur still sleeps in our room now. We live with Jords parents at the moment so we don’t really have a choice about that but even if we did, I still wouldn’t want him to go into his own room yet. Now at nearly 7 months, I have just started to let him sleep, on his own during the day with a monitor. I often feel my anxiety begin to bubble away but I know it is good for the both of us. When I stayed in the room whilst he napped I had to be so quiet that if I made a noise it would disturb him and he wasn’t getting enough sleep.

So we’ve come a long way. Anxiety is horrendous. I know feel much more calm, at peace about a lot of things and it makes parenting so much more enjoyable. Of course I will also have anxiety, maybe more than what a parent should have. But being a parent is scary, you will always have it. It will always find you because they change every day and new scary things happen! (Yay!)

But I really do feel like I have come a long way. I remember on Winchester MBU we had a stress and anxiety management group and we were going round the room with each of us talking about what our biggest anxieties were. When it came to my turn, I began to quietly sob and simply said; “Everything, I am anxious about everything.” I was so terrified of so many things. It was almost as if I was terrified of living because every single thing felt like a risk to Arthur. And I felt so much pressure and responsibility to keep him safe but some things were out of my control to a certain extent and I would crumble at the thought of not knowing what to do.

The thing about my anxiety is that it also fuelled my depression. It made me feel weak and pathetic, scared and exhausted. I felt like I couldn’t face life. I felt like I was too scared to carry on. It made me feel like dying would be better. Dying would be easier. It really is a terrible thing. But if your reading this and you struggling with anxiety, know this – if I got through this so can you. You can learn how to manage it. You can learn how to cope with it.

It might not ever completely leave you. But it doesn’t have to affect you so much it stops you from living. You don’t have to always be scared. When I find myself feeling anxious I try and just stop in that moment, take a deep breath and try to slow everything down. Mindfulness; I learnt about it briefly as a nursing student and to be completely truthful I thought it was a load of mumbo jumbo. I would be the one who would peek with one eye whilst everyone else had their eyes closed to check the clock because I was hungry and wondering when lunch was (always about the foooood). But I did come around to it. I still read about it now sometimes and try an exercise and feel no better for it and think – “that was really silly”.

But the thing is with mindfulness you don’t have to imagine your a ship and you crash through the rocky seas across the ocean to get this beautiful island whilst the sun sets…blah blah blah! You can just take a deep breath. You can just close your eyes and count to ten. You can imagine yourself at your favourite place. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, it can be as simple as you like. It can be anything that helps you feel calm, that helps you feel a bit of peace.

So if you are struggling with anxiety please remember you can find peace.

Stay tuned for another one guys. Love, Kate. X

So we’ve had a few tough days.

So here we are. We’ve had a bit of a difficult week really. Arthur hasn’t been very well. It’s been hard. Sickness bug, cold, injections and teething. This has resulted in little sleep for everyone and lots and lots of crying. (From Arthur) It’s brought a new cry which is like he’s in pain which breaks my heart every time.

He’s still smiling, as always. He’s once again astounds me with how brave he is. Of course with little sleep comes increased anxiety from me and little energy. Which in turn means I don’t want to go out, I don’t want or have the time to eat well. But as soon as I do go out I feel better, and when I eat some goodness I feel better. It’s like I just need the initial push. You know what you need to do something but you just can’t find the motivation to do it.

Well this morning I’ve drank more water, had a healthy breakfast and done some writing. Despite a lack of sleep I already feel a little bit better. If you too are having are hard day/ or week I hope you find something or someone to help you feel just that little bit better.

I’m going outside even though it’s miserable and I’m going to eat and drink well today. I’m hoping for a cheeky nap or an early night. I think sometimes we just have to take each day at a time and find a way to get through it. We need people around us and need to do things that make us happy even if we’re a sleepy zombie whilst doing it.

Arthur’s health has always been very anxiety provoking for me. I get very scared and always think of the worst case scenario. He had a tough start to life with quite a few illnesses but he’s a badass and got through each one and I know he’ll get through this too. For such a little dude he has so much strength. He’s my biggest inspiration.

Anxiety is always hard because it makes you question what’s a real worry and what’s not but I always try and trust my instincts. I would rather worry a little bit more about Arthur’s health then miss something. I’ve learnt quickly that babies can become very unwell very quickly. So here’s hoping things pick up this coming week. Despite it being a hard week, I know things will get better eventually.

If you’ve had a hard time recently, take one day at a time. Hey take each day an hour at a time if you have too. Things will get better.

Stay tuned peeps. The only way is up.

Love, Kate x

So there is no right or wrong way.

So here we are. I don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to parent. I do believe that people judge, we question others and make people feel bad for their decisions. Decisions that are right for them and their family. In turn, this has an affect on our mental health. Being a parent is really hard. It’s tiring, emotional, stressful. It’s wonderful and the good will always outweigh the bad but it is hard. I don’t think we should feel judged or guilty for our decisions. Those decisions are not always easy to make and we might even doubt them ourselves but I don’t think we should push our own opinions onto others.

Arthur is now completely bottle fed, do I still feel judged at times because of this? Unfortunately yes. Plagued by comments, pictures, old sayings we are pushed to believe “breast is best” but it might not work for you and that’s okay. Dummies, not for everyone but a lifesaver for others. I remember when I first gave Arth a dummy and I said “only when he’s going to sleep” did that work for us? No. Unfortunately sometimes he’s just very unsettled, he’s not hungry, he might be a little bit tired but not ready for sleep, he might want to play but he also wants his dummy. It works for us so that’s what we go with.

I’m not encouraging or trying to discourage. I’m just explaining that sometimes you have to find what works for you. As long as you do it safely, you have to do what’s right for you and your mini human. They aren’t all the same. They have their own mini personalities. I had to carry Arthur around a lot of the time in a sling when he was younger. He wouldn’t let me put him down, I needed to eat too, even if it was just chocolate!

Playpens? Some people think they trap our mini humans, (yes I have actually heard someone say “trap”) others think they are a safe place to play. For me, having somewhere to put Arthur where I know he’s safe whilst I pee is kind of a godsend! I don’t think he’s trapped because if he wanted to come out I would bring him out.

I feel like we are too dependent on labelling who we are as parents and what we are doing. We try and justify our decisions and explain what kind of parent we are. But I have seen first hand how this can affect our mental health. How by being pushed into what we think we have to be, how we have to feel, how we have to parent, at times it can be too much.

Don’t get me wrong I do believe we are empowering each other too. I believe we are banding together at times and showing support for one another. But I don’t know if we realise how an odd comment or old saying, picture or story can make others feel. I have seen firsthand how the pressures of parenthood can affect your mental health. Those pressures haven’t come from nowhere, we created them. We create arguments and debates, judgements and feelings of doubt in one another. But for some this is harder than others.

I felt the pressure of breastfeeding, the stab of the sayings; “breast milk is liquid gold”. I’ve seen the hard work of handling two children close together. I’ve felt the judgement of having a dummy. Heard the comments of “well you need to be able to manage on your own”. When we say these things, post them, write them, whatever (I say we because I know I have been guilty of it too) I think we just stop for a second and think about how other people might take it.

Think about the parent who has been up all night because they can’t sleep with their baby in their room. Think about the Mum whose despite everything her milk just cannot keep up with her babe. Think about the parent who stays at home and feels guilty for missing work. Think about the parents who look and feel like zombies after another sleepless night. What you say could mean more to them than others. It might have a lasting effect. It might hit them hard.

I still remember many of the things that have been said to me since becoming a mother that have stayed with me but not in a good way. Other people’s opinions or views, stories and beliefs, ones that may be different than mine. Different is not wrong. Different is different. I hope one day we can go about our ways without feeling that judgement, without accidentally putting it across, without doubts. I hope one day we just parent our own way, parent the way that works for us and own it and boss it.

Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x

, P.S Thank you to family, friends, peppa pig, teddies, dummies, playpens, and wipes (apparently a pack of wipes are just so fun) for saving our bums with a moany baby many a times. We parenting the way it works for us!

So sometimes you need people.

So there I was. I remember when I first became unwell I was scared to tell my friends, my family. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know how to say it. I asked Jord if he could call my sister, who could tell me Mum. I asked him to phone his Mum too, and to tell our friends over the phone. I couldn’t face saying the words. I couldn’t face them.

I’ll never forget being in A&E explaining how I felt to professionals and my loved ones crying. I felt devastated that they were going through this too. That they had to see this. It sounds strange but I don’t like to need people. I want to be able to do things myself, to be strong and to be independent. I love my family and friends and want to be around them but I want to be able to be alone too.

The thing is sometimes in life you need people around you to help you. Even if your stubborn as hell like me, you can always get through what life throws you on your own. When I was first admitted to Nottingham Mother and baby unit (MBU), I didn’t want to come out of my room. I was afraid. I didn’t know how to talk to people, I didn’t know what to say. Depression does that. It makes you feel like you need and want, to hide away. That’s what it did for me anyway.

But the thing is, despite being terrified, as soon as I started coming out of my room, talking to others, just sitting with other people, I felt a little bit better. I realised being on my own, with just my thoughts, it was lonely. Exhausting. I needed people around me to say “keep going, you’re doing great” I needed that reassurance. And sometimes you need to just walk away from a situation that is distressing you. But you can’t do that if you don’t have anyone around you to watch your baby for you, or to try feeding them or burping them.

Anxiety made me doubt myself and I asked a lot of questions when I first became a Mum. Google is great but there’s nothing like somebody standing beside you saying, “yeah, this what I did, have a go. You’re doing a wonderful job”. No man or woman is an island (About a boy reference there – great film!), we need people sometimes, and that’s okay. It was terrifying talking to my family, my friends but as soon as I did, I felt a little better.

Some people do still find it uncomfortable to talk about Mental Health. Some might talk a bit more quietly or they might avoid eye contact. But that doesn’t mean we should stop. We shouldn’t. If anything it means we should talk about it more. To get past that. To get to a place where it’s considered “normal”. To walk past someone and say – “oh I heard you’ve not been very well, how are you now?” As simple as that! It shouldn’t be something we are afraid of.

I remember my community nurse said something to me that has really stuck with me. She said about how you don’t have to tell people you were ever unwell. It’s true, if you’re ever unwell, you don’t have to tell everyone. It’s not something you need to talk about with everyone if you don’t want too. I chose to write about my experiences to help raise awareness and because it’s helped me so much. But you can still raise awareness and talk about these things without making it personal. Without sharing your own story. It’s a part of your life but it’s not a part of you. It’s not who you are. People can’t just tell by looking at you that you’ve had a very hard period in life and you don’t have to share it with those who you don’t want too.

The good thing is, I think we’re getting to the stage now where everything is easier to talk about. And know this – needing people, it doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t mean you are not brave. Mental illness is not about being brave, you cannot just wish yourself better. You can’t say to yourself – “right I’m going to stop feeling like this and start being brave”. I, personally do not think it works like that.

So there we are. Stay tuned for another one guys. Sorry it’s been a little while. There’s some more stuff coming soon.

Love, Kate. X

So when you become unwell and you don’t really recognise yourself…

So there I was. I didn’t really realise but when I was unwell I don’t think I looked very well physically. I didn’t want to eat or drink. I was very emotional, crying a lot of the time. I didn’t want to shower (nice haha) and if I did it was for about a minute.

I lost myself physically too. What I looked like, my smiley self. But you can’t always tell always tell when someone is mentally unwell by looking at them. Remember you don’t know what battles somebody else is fighting. Some illnesses are invisible.

Now I feel back to my smiley self (most of the time). It feels really good. Even when you feel low, deep down your still happy, the smile is real. You can still find it. If you feel a little bit lost, like you don’t recognise yourself, you will find your way again. Keep going. I thought I’d show my journey in pictures a little bit…

There were many ups and downs. But we made it through. The last photos is a few days before I was discharged from the mother and baby unit. I knew it was coming and I was terrified but for the first time in a long time, I had hope and excitement for the future. I could feel happiness finding it’s way back to me.

Stay tuned for another one guys.

Love, Kate x