So solo parenting, it’s hard!

So here I am. I don’t do it a lot. The most I’ve done is 4 days on my own. And when I say on my own, I have my family around me. Single parents? Hats off to you. There’s no partner/ husband/ wife/ to say; “I need to pee, hold the baby” or “please can you try settling them?” Or “I’m popping out can you watch the babe?” There’s no options. I mean there’s usually a friend, a grandma or grandpa, an auntie or uncle on hand to help. But there’s no other parent. It’s just you. Flying solo. Your usually on your own for the tough bits. For the nitty gritty bits.

I’m still totally winging it and to not have someone else there to reassure me or to check I’ve not forgotten something, it’s hard. Life is hard on your own if you ask me. Sometimes it’s nice to be on your own. Sometimes, for me, I need people. You need back up. A back up parent is good. So you can pee, you can drink a warm cup of tea, maybe even take a cheeky nap if you like. Carrying round a heavy baby is hard on your body and your mind.

Being a parent is wonderful but it’s nice to tag someone else in when you need a helping hand. I mean it’s not wrestling, but sometimes you do feel like your wrestling when your 9 month old doesn’t want their nappy changed. An extra set of hands with that giant explosive, looks like vindaloo poop, definitely doesn’t go amiss. When you’ve sat down on the sofa for the first time all day you forget your drink, the babe sleeps and your left wondering if your going to turn into dust your so dehydrated. Hands, they help. People, extra parents, their good.

So those doing it alone all the time? You’re doing an amazing job. You’re are doing the hardest job known to man, on your own. You’re a friggin superhero! I always feel a pang of “Mum guilt” when I put on those annoying pigs. A pang when I nap instead of doing stuff. A pang when we spend the day inside again. A pang when I get frustrated because, if your tired go to sleep?! (Babies are weird) A pang when I’ve got out the pouch instead of cooking myself. Sometimes the pants come all day. Sometimes they don’t come at all. But on your own everything is that little bit harder. So we all feel like a rubbish parent every now and again, but it your doing it flying solo, I think your awesome every damn day.

We are trying our best, what more can you do? We are all winging it and giving it out best shot. Whether you have an army or a imaginary friend, we are all doing our best. But when your solo, it really makes your appreciate those who are going it alone day in and day out. Definite hats off to you guys.

So when I’m trying to boss parenthood on my own, yeah sometimes, peppa comes on. Sometimes I nap. Sometimes we stay inside. Sometimes the most activity we do is singing, and playing. Sometimes the dummy has to come out even when it’s not time to sleep (woah, ca-Ray-zeee) but oh well. Arthur will survive. I don’t think peppa has subliminal messaging in it. I don’t think napping will do us any harm. I don’t think inside is always that bad; “inside good, outside badddd”. Singing and playing; it’s fun! Dummies are a wonderful invention. I can think of a few adults who could use a dummy from time to time…

So if you need a helping hand with parenting, if you need to wing it and do what you got to do to get by, oh well. I am totally somebody who is pro asking for help, pro doing what you got to do. Pro winging life, motherhood, asking to advice, taking naps, eating chocolate. Pro. All the pros.

Stay tuned for another on peeps.

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

So here we are, sleep, it is important.

So here we are. Sleep and mental health. – Man it is important. 9 months in and I’m still napping when I need to. Most of the time (fingers crossed it stays like this) Arthur sleeps pretty well, naps and at night. But not all the time. And I’m prepared for when and if it all goes tits up. Sleep is so important to me, for my mental well being. To feel ok, emotionally, physically.

We do obsess over it as parents but for some it means more to others. For me, it really impacted my mental health. It made everything so much harder. Being alone in the middle of the night with just my thoughts, whilst feeding, it was hard. Not being able to pass Arth over and say; “can you feed him?” Nope, he needed me because Jord doesn’t have the right nipples (men eh?).

I remember a professional saying to me about how it was ok if you didn’t sleep, you just had to get used to it. But what if you can’t? What if you simply can’t manage it? That’s ok. Arthur would feed sometimes for an hour or more at a time. He usually when for around 2 hours between feeds, I was lucky if he went near 3 hours. Some babies sleep for 4 hours between feeds straight away. Some wake up every hour, even at night. If your struggling it is ok to say, I need help.

I know it is national breastfeeding week and please know I am not trying to deter people from breastfeeding. It is wonderful. But remaining well is important, for you and your babe. If sleep does mean a lot to you, if you really struggle without it, ask for help. Suggest one expressed feed at night for you partner to do so you can sleep. Spend some time at your sisters, your Mums, your parents in laws. Ask them if they can help out a little, if they can have the babe whilst you go for nap.

Obsessing over sleep, when you get it, when your babe is going to sleep through the night, it’s not healthy. But it’s ok to admit you need it. It’s ok to admit you miss it. It’s ok to ask for help. We don’t just need to accept it and put up with it, they are things you can do to help. But, I also remember a professional saying to me; “even when your tired if you can’t sleep but you desperately want to, don’t just lay there obsessing about it. Don’t just lay there wishing you were asleep.” They told me, listen to some calming music, read you favourite book, have a relaxing bath. Wishing yourself to sleep will not help. If your content lying down, then do it, relax. But I think if your lying down just wishing you could sleep but can’t, it doesn’t help. It just makes things worse.

Some people drink caffeine by the gallon, some people just magically survive on minimal sleep and still seem to boss life. Me, not so much. I didn’t do much expect feed Arth, eat and sleep for those first couple of weeks. The washing came second, washing up cane second, takeaways, ready meals, batch cooking, became our best friend. Make up? Pffft! The world was lucky if I managed a shower lasting more than 30 seconds. When I become unwell, it was so hard to not have Arthur with me at night. I couldn’t sleep with him there, I couldn’t sleep without him. The anxiety was too much either way. I began to learn how to function with very minimal sleep.

Medication helped. Eventually sleep came back to me. I am not ashamed of needing it to help me sleep. I am not ashamed my boy had to have expressed milk and formula overnight when things got real tough. I needed help. I couldn’t do it on my own. I totally believe it is ok to admit you need sleep. But just try and remember, it does get a bit easier. Don’t let routine, bedtimes, napping, rule your life. That’s my advice anyway, I hope it helps, even if it’s just one person, if it’s just a little bit.

Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate. X

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 here we are.

So my cousin asked me to have a look into trans mental health. This is something I’ve really struggled with. Because I’ve been trying to find out stuff and find the right words but to be honest there really isn’t much out there.

Mind are brilliant and they have a whole section on LGBT mental health. They have information on support, personal stories and what to do if you need help. There is also specific LGBT 🏳️‍🌈 organisations and charities. But I couldn’t find much positive news/ things we are doing for specifically trans mental health.

One thing I did find that the World Health organisation up until recently classed transgenderism as a mental illness/mental “disorder”. They have now changed this (hallelujah)! For one I think it’s scary to think we still use the words “mental disorder”. I think it has such a bad feel to it, it sounds so negative. We have even started to move away from using “disorder” in the physical medical world, as a nurse I really don’t hear it very often anymore.

It’s outfashioned and outdated in my opinion. But secondly and my most important point; being transgender is NOT an illness. It is not a mental health illness. Those who are transgender are unfortunately more likely to suffer with mental health illnesses but it is not one in itself. I think to suggest it is, is wrong. It’s scary to think that one of our biggest health organisations described it as this.

So what did I discover on my quest to find out about trans mental health? Well, we have a lot of work to do. I found out that those who are LGBT are at higher risk of developing a mental health illness due to bullying, lack of acceptance and discrimination. This is so sad and just shows we need to change.

But yesterday I watched Bristol pride and felt so much love. It was wonderful to see so much support just for people being themselves. I saw so many organisations coming out and supporting pride; football clubs, health services, shops, political parties, it was wonderful.

However I hope one day the feel of protest is not a part of pride. I hope in the future it is not something we need to protest about. That one day it is accepted and there is no negativity, just love, just celebration.

So here’s to a future of improving mental health services for everyone. To recognising those who are at more risk and improving the support that is out there.

Love, Kate. X