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 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 we’re moving forward…

So here we are. I Won’t ever forget it or be ashamed of what I went through. Nor will I pretend that I am not afraid it will happen again in the future. But for now it seems we are moving on. Life is moving forward and the dark days have gone for now and been replaced with mainly sunshine. It feels so good.

I will always try and blog. But they might be a few and further in between now. I will always talk about mental health and I will always be here for anyone who needs to talk. I’m moving forward with my life now but what happened to me has helped to shape who I am.

I know if I got through it once I can get through it again. For the future I am hoping to come off my antidepressants completely. I’m hoping to life a healthy life, mentally and physically. I’m prepared for when I decide to have another baby what might happen. I’m going to be open and tell everyone what happened and welcome every bit of support I can get.

So here’s to the future. It’s going to be scary, up and down and who knows what’s going to happen. But I’m excited. It’s hopefully going to bring happiness, progression, love, laughter, opportunities and possibilities. Out of the showers and into the sunshine. 🌧☀️

Love, Kate. X

So don’t be afraid of needing medication.

So here I am. I’m currently on the maximum dose of antidepressants. Am I ashamed of that? No. I think they are part of what saved my life. I started of on a small dose. It was increased and increased again.

We had quite a few setbacks along our journey and each time would hit me hard. A very low point on the unit was when I was in isolation on my own. I didn’t want Arthur to become unwell again and on the unit I felt like people were avoiding me because they were afraid of catching it. I felt very alone. I confided in a member of staff and explained I wanted to kill myself and how I was going to do it. My antidepressants were increased once again and I became more high risk so I was observed more closely.

It was part of a very up and down journey. I do not know if I would have overcome those very low moments without medication. I am someone who doesn’t even like taking paracetamol. Yes I am a nurse. Yes I know the benefits of medication. But it’s just me. If I can find a way without medication I will do it. But when I became unwell I tried to do it by other means. I went outside, I kept busy, I exercised, saw my friends, my family but I needed more help. I needed professional help.

When I was admitted to Nottingham I couldn’t wait to begin antidepressants. They were my first sign of hope. My first glimmer of a future. I remember the consultant explaining to me they can sometimes at the beginning contribute to you feeling worse before you feel better. My heart dropped at the moment. I was panicked at the thought; how could things get worse than this? Thankfully I didn’t experience that. They did take a few weeks to take affect but then they began to help.

They were then increased again because I was on a very low dose. They wanted to increase then slightly because they start at a small dose to see how your body reacts and if their successful and how the side effects affect you. I’ve think I’ve been quite lucky in I haven’t had many side effects (I don’t think). I’m also lucky that it can also be treated for anxiety.

At a very low point in my time at Winchester they were increased again to the maximum dose. I was wanted to end my life and could not see a way out. I was seen by the doctor and my observations were increased. We decided the antidepressants needed to be increased again. I wanted help. I couldn’t see any hope. I would of tried anything. Anything in the world. Thankfully, I got through that low point. The medication definitely helped.

Unlike for my depression, I tried many different medication for my anxiety. The first one just basically, some of the time, knocked me out for an hour or two, which was good in a way because I was having trouble sleeping when I first became unwell. But if I couldn’t sleep, or if Arthur needed me and there wasn’t chance to sleep then I would feel so tired. I would feel just drained of any energy I did have. It took me a while to realise this but when I did I stopped taking it.

Then I tried something for anxiety which affected my milk supply. This is when the issues escalated with breastfeeding and my anxiety along with it. Soon I stopped that one too. And then their was the final anxiety medication that caused me to sleep through Arthur waking up in the morning. I’ll never forget waking up and him not being there. I had seen him just a little while before in the night and I was on the unit so I was sure he was safe but, I was so confused; why did they take him? Was he alright? When I find him the staff member explained he had started to wake up and cry. My heart broke. I had slept through him crying. I will never forget that feeling of guilt. Never. I had taken that last medication for a day or two, it was then stopped too.

So my experience with anti anxiety medication has not been positive. Eventually I decided I wasn’t going to take any specifically for my anxiety. I was going to try and manage it on my own, without medication. Months later, I’m still managing. The anxiety slowly (very slowly) decreased. I didn’t really realise how much it truly affected me until I now long back. I was a mess! It ruled me. I was afraid of everything. Everything was a risk. Everything was a danger to Arthur. And I had to protect him from everything. It was exhausting. I still have my odd moments but it is a world away from what it once was.

I am not ashamed I am still on antidepressants. I am not ashamed I need medication to help me. I hope it’s not forever, just because one day I would like to be completely free of this. But for the moment, those little tablets are what I need. If you’re are struggling please don’t be ashamed in getting help. Don’t be closed off from the idea of medication. And don’t think you will HAVE to have it. You might not. Help comes in many different ways. Don’t be ashamed of needing it. We all do sometimes.

Love, Kate. X