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, breastfeeding, what a journey…

So here we are, Arthur is coming up to 6 months old and it seems now we may be coming to the end of our breastfeeding journey.

It certainly has been a journey. I remember when I was pregnant I said to myself, and everyone else; “I’m going to try breastfeeding but if I can’t do it then it doesn’t matter because I least tried”. Me and Jordan went to a breast feeding class when pregnant and it did feel very much “pro breast” I felt the pressure even before Arthur was here.

But when he came into the world I had this overwhelming instinct that I wanted to feed him with my body. I wanted to breastfeed and I felt incredibly proud to do it. But even from the word go we had problems. Arthur has a tongue tie. This affects feeding sometimes but most of the time they don’t like to cut the tongue tie if they don’t have too. You have to work through it. That’s what we did, we stayed in hospital for a few nights because we were trying to get feeding. We went to the breastfeeding workshop, we got the hang of it. Arthur was a feeder right from the word go. He would feed every 1-2 hours, max 3 and sometimes would be on the breast for 1 hour, 1 hour and half. It was exhausting, but I really enjoyed it.

By the time I became ill I was so sleep deprived. I didn’t really feel human anymore. In A&E, I breastfed but I asked Jord to get a bottle and some formula. I needed a break. Arthur took to it straight away. I was heartbroken but I knew I had to admit I needed help. After exclusively breastfeeding for 3 weeks we introduced two bottles in the nighttime. I started to express and usually he would have one expressed bottle and one formula.

Of course at the beginning I couldn’t sleep anyway but gradually I did start to sleep. I was still completely and utterly exhausted but it was a little bit better. Arthur gained weight like a trooper. But in the evenings we started to have issues, he would scream and scream when I put him to my breast. It started around 9 and gradually got earlier and earlier until it was around 6. We realised we had to give him a bottle. He was hungry but he didn’t want to breastfeed.

My goal was to go back to exclusively breastfeeding but as time went on it slipped further and further away from me. I saw professional after professional. All explaining what I needed to do, many with different ideas and advice, I felt bombarded a lot of the time. Of course they were all trying to help but it was very overwhelming. I tried everything that was asked of me and still, it wasn’t getting better. Arthur would feed wonderfully throughout the day but I felt like I couldn’t really enjoy it because I was already thinking; “right soon it will be around 8/7 and he won’t want to breastfeed, I need to express, massage, this, that”. It was always on my mind. It consumed me.

At this point I had also had mastitis very badly. I woke up one morning and was covered in sweat. This happened quite often and I was told it was quite normal when breastfeeding because when your sleeping at night your body is still working hard to produce milk. So I got up and I didn’t feel well at all. I started to shiver uncontrollably, they took my temperature, it was 38.4. My pulse was around 110, my blood pressure had dropped to the 90s and I felt very sick. I decided to have a quick shower in the hope it would help and it was then I noticed underneath my breast it was red, hot and swollen. I needed antibiotics, it was mastitis and it knocked me for six.

The thing with mastitis is it’s a blocked milk duct so to get through it you need to keep feeding. But I couldn’t face it. I felt so ill. I needed to rest. Devastated and feeling like it was all my fault, Arthur had to have my expressed milk and some formula in the day. It was a very low point for me. After resting, pain relief and antibiotics I managed to express and feed later on that day. Bloody hell did it hurt. Since then I have had mastitis twice more. I caught it earlier both these times because I had it so bad the first time. I knew what I was looking for.

As time went on and we had hurdle after hurdle, Arthur having rotavirus, me having rotavirus and both having norovirus, Arthur twice. The days turned into expressing after expressing, taking a bottle out with us, expressing in the middle of the night, my mind was in overdrive. I was constantly thinking about feeding, when would he feed next, would he breastfeed, when was I going to express??? I didn’t think about much else.

I saw a breastfeeding counsellor. She was wonderful. She made it clear her goal wasn’t to promote breastfeeding, it was to figure out if it was right for us. She asked me – “why do you want to breastfeed? What is it about breastfeeding?” I explained for me, it was that I felt me and Arthur had developed such a bond whilst breastfeeding, I was terrified of losing that. She gave me the idea of just putting him to the breast when he was sleepy, when he had almost finished his bottle, when it was the nighttime and he needed comfort. I didn’t have to stop, but it would mainly be for a different purpose. For comfort, for bonding.

It’s very hard to feel okay with bottle feeding when you feel like most professionals around you are telling you, you need to breastfeed even when your finding it so hard. They would say to me “keep going, keep doing it, it’s all about perseverance, it will get easier”. But it didn’t, it got harder. The hardest part of it all? Having people around me when my son was crying because he was hungry, trying to breastfeed when he clearly didn’t want to, telling me to keep going. I felt like a failure. I couldn’t even feed my son. My heart would break every time I would give him a bottle but he was happy. That’s what was important. He was being fed. He was happy. I lost sight of that.

I remember a lady telling me, she became so focused on breastfeeding and she became depressed and then had to be admitted to the mother and baby unit. Because of breastfeeding. It’s heartbreaking that it can do that. We’re told it’s this wonderful, natural, easy, beautiful thing but that’s not the case for everyone. I think we should be told more; it’s okay if you can’t do it, if you find it too much, it’s hard and it’s exhausting. You have not failed as a mother.

Me and Jord had many disagreements about breastfeeding, it was frustrating, particularly at the beginning because Arthur would just feed and feed. Jord couldn’t do much. I felt like I needed encouragement from him to keep going but he felt like I was becoming obsessed with it. He was right. As time has gone on and Arthur now is mainly bottle fed, a little bit expressed milk but mostly formula, with having a sleepy boob feed once every couple of days, I realise now I let it affect me too much. I lost myself in wanting to breastfeed so badly.

It wasn’t for us and that’s okay. Maybe next time I’ll be able to boob feed for longer. Maybe I’ll decide to introduce a bottle sooner. Who knows? The most important thing is that your baby is happy and healthy. Arthur weighs around 20 pounds, he’s 5 months and 1 week. He’s a trooper. He’s rolling, holding his head, starting to have few tasters of solid food. He’s doing brilliant. I feel immensely proud we made it this far with breastfeeding. I thought we were at the end of the road a lot earlier. But will I let it affect me so much next time? Gosh I hope not.

Somebody said to me once – “A well Mum is best”. You cannot look after your baby if you are not well enough yourself. Whatever you decide to do for whatever reason, it’s your choice, it’s your baby, I hope you can feel proud and at peace. One day I hope the fed argument doesn’t exist and we don’t even think about it. A world where we feed our babies, we’re happy and healthy and so are they. End of.

Breastfeeding – we’ve had our ups and downs and I will miss you. But you ain’t everything, your just something.

Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate. X

So I am the heaviest I have ever been.

So there i was. So I got on the scales last night (silly mistake) and realised my weight is continuing to go up. Years ago this would have really got to me. It would have affected me more than I would like to admit. As a young girl I had some issues with food and my appearance. But I was so young I didn’t really know what was going on in my own head. It took me years to get past it and even now I still think about food and what I’m eating quite a bit. More than I want to think about it.

However there is a big difference from then and now. Before it dominated me, it was too big a part of my life when I was very young and took away some of my childhood at times. But now when a thought pops into my head I can challenge it back and I think – it doesn’t really matter. It means so much less than it did before. And last night when I walked away from the scales I thought – so what? Least I’m happy!

I did grow a mini human for 9 months. Birth him and now feed him with my body. It’s only be 4 and a half months. It’s okay. I know that now. If your reading this I hope you know that too. Our bodies may never be the same, they might go back to how they were in a flash, or you might change your body to be even stronger than before! But whatever happens, it’s okay.

For me I am going to get back into eating more healthily, I am going to go back to horse riding. But my son will always come first. I’m still learning how to do things one handed and sometimes it’s easier to have a takeaway. I walk every single day but sometimes I’m knackered and haven’t had much sleep so I’ll only walk for 15 minutes. Some of my clothes don’t fit me anymore but I’ve gotten a few new ones and I feel like I’m really finding my sense of style now. It’s okay. It’s all okay.

I think we need to be kinder to ourselves. Everybody does these things at their own pace. Whatever, however, if, you choose to get back into shape as long as it’s safe for you and your baby then do it how you want too. I do believe in being healthy, exercise and treating our bodies well to be strong but I also think we should definitely cut ourselves and each other a bit of slack. Growing a baby and being a parent is incredibly hard. Find your feet and give yourself time.

This is the advice I keep telling myself.

Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x

So yeah, then I pooed myself, twice.

So there I was. Yes, yes you did read the title correctly. This post is also very honest, but it’s about something different. So after having Arthur it seemed all my bodily functions were a bit all over the place.

I had to have a catheter when I was in hospital because I had a spinal injection (such a lovely thing). I was completely numb from the waist down so I wasn’t going to feel when I needed to wee. I’m not going to lie…That first night, not having to get up to pee, it was amazing haha. I was so exhausted and I could just lie there in bed, feed and cuddle Arth and that was it. I could reciprocate a little.

After having Arthur I felt like my dignity wasn’t really there any more. When you have a baby they really don’t tell you how many people will see your body parts! Not just your foo-foo (yeah that’s right I said foo-foo) but also your bum, your boobs, your jelly tummy, everything! When my catheter was taken out I thought how I really didn’t mind people seeing down there any more. I also thought i would be okay going for a wee. So I didn’t go for one for ages. I needed to go but I was feeding Arthur on and off and I thought – oh I’ll be fine to hold it for a while. Wow how wrong was I! Yep you guessed it, I peed myself too. And I’m not just talking about a little, I mean the whole sha-bang haha.

Peeing myself was a low point for me and I cried and cried. Your probably wondering why I am telling you all this? I guess I just want to get the message out there that it’s okay to cry if you pee yourself after having a baby! I’m not saying you definitely will but you might and if you want to cry about it you bloody well can! If you want to laugh you can do that too! It’s your body and in that moment, for me, I felt like I had no control over it any more. I was scared this would be a permanent problem. But thankfully it isn’t. But if it happens to you, it happens. I felt like I had absolutely no dignity left but the midwives were so lovely. They understand, they’ve seen it all before.

Then, I pooed myself. Yep. Twice. At this point I cried again a little and then I just laughed. Everybody does it once or twice in their lifetime right haha?! I realised then my body needed a bit of adjusting after having a baby. I also realised I needed to cut myself some slack. And when I felt like I needed the toilet I should go right away haha. I had a third degree tear, I needed to let my body recover, and in time, it did.

The thing is, childbirth is an incredible thing, but your body usually does need time to recover. Some people will not poo themselves a couple days after having their babe, some people will. Some will poo themselves in labour, some won’t. You might have to wear adult nappy pants, or be on bed rest. You might snap right back to your original weight. You might have a tummy like jelly. You might love your new boobs, you might not. Could have wonky boobs. The point is – it’s all okay. Be kind to yourself. Housing a human for 9 months is hard, then you have to get them out one way or another. But trust me, they are so worth it, poo an all.

Also if you want to stay in bed for a week that’s cool too. You want to get out there and see family and friends, do it. You have to figure what’s right for you. Everybody is different. But it’s okay to live in joggers for a while, to have family cook for you, and help you clean. It’s all okay.

So I thought I would do a slightly lighter story. But still a very true one. Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x

So here’s my first post.

So as I sit here and type this I have no idea if anyone will read this. I don’t know much about creating a website or making a blog successful. I don’t pretend to be a good writer or super funny. But I will be honest. I will tell you the realities of motherhood, of mental health, of my life. The cliche line of “I want to help people” fits here. Whether I will or not is a different story. But I can try. So I’m still figuring this out so bare with me. My spelling and punctuation has never been great, I was classed as “borderline dyslexic” whatever that means haha. So if anyone does ever read this, please be kind. And remember I am sleep deprived Mama of a 4 month old so don’t be expecting anything to make much sense…

So I guess I should start at the beginning. The very beginning was finding out I was pregnant after not being very responsible. The classic thinking “it won’t happen to us”. (Told you I would be honest) However we now have a beautiful baby boy, so I would not go back and change a thing. I’ve always wanted children, I thought about travelling, getting a car, what career I would like, where I wanted to live, all of it was ifs and buts and changing my mind. But one thing never changed, I wanted to be a mother. It’s not for everyone and I’m not saying if your a woman that it’s a given right of passage that you want a family but for me I’ve always knew. I’ve come from a big family and family means so much to me. So when I find out I was pregnant at 23 there was a huge mix of emotions and feelings. But one was more overwhelming that the others – happy.

My pregnancy was filled with anxiety. I managed it myself and I guess I didn’t really realise this was the start of something. I would take pregnancy tests all the time, convinced something bad was going to happen, I found it hard to relax, particularly in those first 12 weeks. Although I knew taking a pregnancy test did not mean I was still pregnant with a healthy baby, I would find some comfort in seeing a positive test. I was very anxious about what I ate, eating out was very scary for me at the beginning. However as my body changed and I could see there really was a little human in there I did relax a little. The anxiety was still there but it did get better for a while. Then came the little baby movements and with that came more anxiety. I have a very active job as a nurse and it was really hard for me to keep track of our little one moving around when I was on my feet all day. Pregnancy for me was an experience. I did struggle with anxiety, but physically I was really quite well.

I sometimes stop and remember my body did an amazing thing. I grew a human for 9 months! Throughout all the anxiety, worry and the hormones I still look back over pregnancy and smile. It was up and down but it brought me the greatest gift I have ever received; our gorgeous little boy Arthur Thomas. The love I have for our tiny human is indescribable. At the happiest time of our lives also came the very saddest. I unfortunately developed post-natal depression and anxiety shortly after having our baby boy. Oh how our world changed in so many different ways. But that’s a different part of our story.

Pregnancy is an incredibly hard, amazing thing. And I am so grateful I was able to do it. If you reading this and your growing a mini human, here’s some things I want to say to you…

  • Try to enjoy it as much as you can
  • You can read as many baby books as humanly possible but no baby is textbook
  • Enjoy eating and watching your body change, it’s doing something incredible!
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Take time for yourself, do what you want to do before babe comes
  • Try to remember – you are an individual, every pregnancy is different, don’t be worried if you don’t look like your pregnant friend does, you are YOU. And don’t worry about what other people say about your body.
  • Take what everyone else says with a pinch of salt. Everybody will give you advice, their birth stories, jokes and “you don’t know what’s going to hit you!” This your journey, no two people do things the same, advice is just that, advice. You don’t have to do it (including my advice haha) you can simply smile and say “thank you”or you can do whatever the hell you what haha.

I was I could of told myself these things. So there I was. At the beginning of our journey. Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x