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 feel like I am finding myself again.

So here I am. I feel like I lost myself a little when I became a Mum. Part of that was PND and I think part of it is just becoming a parent. You forget who you are a little. Your life is all about this tiny little human. I lived in leggings and joggers. Found it hard to shower and eat. I was with my little dude, either feeding him or trying to sleep all the time.

Now we seem to be into everything a bit more. I’ve remembered what I enjoy. I feel like I can take a little bit more time to eat and to sit down every now and again. I still haven’t left Arthur for more than 1 and a half max but for me it’s still early days. He will always been my main priority forever now. He’ll always be my little boy. But I feel like I’m figuring who I am again.

I’ve found my own style. I’m getting back into exercise. Enjoying eating and cooking again. I have a horse and have done for 7 years, now I feel like I can give him some time again. Things are settling down. I’m a mum and always will be, but I’m also Kate, my own person.

It took me a long time to realise that you need to be well in yourself to look after your little one. It sounds so silly but when I first became ill I didn’t care about anything to do with myself. I’ll never forget, when I was having one of my many difficult times with feeding I was talking to someone about “fed is best”. I was trying to figure out how long I was going to be able to breastfeed for. I felt like it was slipping away from me and I just wanted what was best for Arthur. A health professional turned round a said to me – “Actually, a well Mum is best.” I’ll never forget it.

How can we look after someone else if we can’t even look after ourselves? Whatever your parenting choices are, you have to feel at ease with them in order to look after a mini human. You have to feel well in yourself. Part of that, I think, is doing things for yourself. Taking care of yourself. Mentally, physically, emotionally. I think to myself – I want to eat well and exercise because I want to be around for a long time for my son. I want to be a grandparent maybe. I want to see him graduate or travel or get married.

I think we all lose ourselves a little bit every now and again. But it feels really fun and exciting to find yourself again. I’m going to take up dancing again. Something I haven’t done in years. I haven’t gotten on my horse since finding out I was pregnant. I’m terrified. But I’m also excited. Everything feels like new again. I’m enjoying fashion and totally excited to match with Arth (yeah I’m that embarrassing parent). I’ve had my haircut and maybe, maybe not, I might put on some makeup again some day haha.

I’m totally winging everything- life, parenthood but it’s all part of the excitement!

Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x

So what helps?

So here we are. I though I’d make a list about some positive things in my life that really helped me through my PND and anxiety.

I don’t think the same things always work for the same people but if I can help anyone or just give somebody something to think about, I think that is positive.

1. Eat and drink well. – so I know how easy it is when your down to not eat, to eat badly or to binge. Trust me I’ve done all three. When I was very unwell I did not want to eat or drink anything. I couldn’t face it. I had no desire to eat, no feelings of hunger. But as I started to get better I did eat. I noticed that it helped. It gave me a little bit of energy. I started to enjoy food again. I started to drink more water. I only drink one or max, two cups of tea a day. I don’t drink alcohol. This isn’t for everyone. I’ve just found when I do eat and drink well I feel better in myself. It helps my body and my mind. But believe me when I say this; I totally believe in treating yourself too! Chocolate comes from a plant so…it’s basically like eating your greens.

2. Go outside. – I didn’t want to go outside when I was very ill but every time I did I would feel better. The fresh air. The bright sky. It helps. It’s refreshing. Even if you just go to the shops for 10 minutes.

3. Exercise. – Go for a walk. Go swimming. Go dancing! Have fun. Exercise realises endorphins and helps lift your mood. Find something you like. That sport you did as a kid? Get back into it! I’m going to start dancing again, I used to when I was younger and just the thought of this gets me excited. I can’t wait.

5. Spend time with your loved ones. – If you can’t face going out to them or even them coming to you then just call them. Or text. Send pictures. Anything. Communicate. I didn’t want to speak to any of my friends or most of my family when I first became unwell. But as soon as I did I would feel a bit better. Even if it was just for a short while. Your loved ones will still make you laugh and think about every day things. They’ll take your mind off those dark thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. But they will also be there if you want to talk, if you want share how your feeling. That’s why they are amazing. That’s why you shouldn’t shut yourself off from them.

6. Go to Mother and baby groups. – (if your a new Mum) – It’s great way to get outside. To watch your little one play and interact with others. You will feel so much pride. I was terrified of this but now I really enjoy it.

7. Do something for you. – Even if it’s just watching your favourite film. Making yourself a hot chocolate with all the trimmings. Buying yourself something. Having a hot bath. Anything. Just do something for yourself. You need to take care of yourself.

8. Go to your favourite place. – Whether it’s the beach, the countryside, surrounded by animals, the city at night, your childhood home, wherever. Go there and stop and just take it in. Whenever I go to the beach I feel so calm. So peaceful. It helps everything else go away.

9. Mindfulness. – Take a little bit of time to stop and think. Bring yourself back to the moment. Try not to worry about the future. Be in the now. Take things slow and one step at a time.

10. And finally something so simple it’s silly, but it’s helped me so much; taking a deep breath. – Stopping, maybe stepping away from a difficult thought or situation and just focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths. Just breathe. I can’t tell you how many times this has helped me.

I could probably go on forever. Some more that I won’t go into too much;

Walking away

Distracting yourself

Resting

Doing what scares you

Different breathing techniques

Relaxation

Art

Listening to music

So much more! There is so much you can do for yourself. Try something, try anything. Talk to someone.

I hope this helps even if it’s just one person in the world.

Look after yourself, stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x

EDIT- I totally forgot something that is very important to me at the moment…

Medication. – I am currently on antidepressants and I am not ashamed to admit this. If you need medication to help you get through a tough time in your life that is okay. It doesn’t have to be forever.

So maybe don’t say these things to a pregnant lady…

So there I was. Super huge during pregnancy, first time going through it and super anxious about, well, everything! I thought I would talk about some things that were said to me during pregnancy. So I made 2 lists. The first one is to 10 things you probably shouldn’t say to a pregnant lady. (please note these things were said to me in a totally harmless way and were never meant to offend and they didn’t. This post is meant in a humorous way. :))

1. Are you sure your not having twins?!

– Life isn’t really like FRIENDS. You know when Erica is having twins and she thinks their taking about her heartbeat and the babies? Yeah no that doesn’t happen very often haha. I think most people know how many babies their having. Although I was so big that sometimes I did doubt myself once or twice!

2. You’re huge!

– Yes thank you, because I cannot see myself how large I am, thank you for reminding me haha.

3. You look like your going to pop!

– Pop is kinda of a scary word to say to a pregnant lady…you don’t want to pop when your pregnant!

4. Are you sure they haven’t got your due date wrong?!

– Again this doesn’t happen very often I don’t think?! I think going to labour needs to be the least surprising experience so they try to be pretty accurate here haha.

5. Think of the stretch marks your going to have!

– Thanks a bunch! (Have the bio oil ready though haha.)

6. Good luck with the birth! Mine was awful…

– Maybe try not to scare people…

7. You don’t know what your letting yourself in for!

– Whoever says this is definitely babysitting!

8. Say goodbye to sleep!

– Okay this is very true, but it does come back…eventually haha.

9. You’ll never stop worrying for the next 18 years

– Alright let’s try and not start the worrying earlier than necessary!

10. Your body will never be the same!

– Yeah but it did house a tiny human for 9 months and then got them evicted so it’s pretty understandable haha.

Instead totally feed them, tell them how pretty they are and help them paint their toes if they want to. 🙂

Tried to do a lighthearted post and hopefully brought a smile to someone. Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x

So at the beginning.

So everybody’s story is different. For me mine started of happy. When my beautiful baby boy came into the world, it was love at first sight. However he came into the world in quite a traumatic way. I’ve shared my birth story before on instagram but I thought I would share it here too….

So there we were. I thought I would share my birth story, for those who are pregnant just know that even when things don’t go to plan you still take one look at your baby and realise it was worth every single second. In pregnancy I read about making birth positive. We see in movies and on the telly, women screaming and wanting to kill their partner lol (That was me haha). But then the books about positive birthing explain how it doesn’t need to be like that, how it can be enjoyable. That’s what I wanted. I wanted a happy birth with minimal pain relief. Unfortunately that’s not what happened. For me Arthur’s birth was quite traumatic, and I think it was a trigger for me becoming unwell.It started with my waters breaking at around 7 in the evening, by 8 I was having contractions and was told to go in to get checked. At around 9 I was seen and I was only 2cm dilated, yep bloody 2cm lol. We were given the choice, stay at the hospital and see if things moved further along or go home and wait there. We decided to stay at the hospital for a little while to see if anything happened. So I began walking and walking. Me and Jord would literally dance together through my contractions. I had a bath which was instantly soothing. Then at around 2 we decided it was time to go home and wait it out there. We told the midwife we were going home, and she said she’d like to do one final check. I was 5cm dilated, I wasn’t going anywhere. So I got into the pool, which was amazing! By 4 I decided I needed some gas and air. Then came the screaming and the swearing lol. Those who know me will know I don’t really swear much but that night was a different story. By 6 I was 7cm dilated and in so much pain. I decided it was time to get out the pool and try a different tactic, and some more pain relief. I had to have Pethidine. I don’t really remember much but I do remember I was in a lot of pain. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt. I remember saying to Jord to kill me, he started to cry because it was really distressing for him and then I remember saying please don’t cry, I’m sorry. It was really hard. But the pethidine did help and I even dozed a little bit in between contractions.

Then at around 8, I was 10cm dilated and I felt the need to push. It was time. So I pushed and I pushed but literally nothing was happening. Arthur had his back to us and was facing the other way. This went on till around 11 when they said they would have to intervene. I was absolutely exhausted and getting nowhere. So they mentioned it would either be forceps or c-section. When they mentioned forceps I remember begging them to do anything but forceps. For me, it was my worst nightmare. Forceps are completely safe. I just couldn’t get over my fear of them. All throughout my pregnancy they were what I was afraid of. Jord tried to reassure me and calm me down. So it was off to labour ward. Me and Arthur were hooked up to monitors and I met all different professionals who decided they were going to take me to theatre and try forceps and if that didn’t work I would have to have a c-section. I was terrified. I just wanted our baby to be with us and to be safe. I remember being in the operating room and looking around seeing so many different people. It only made me more scared, I wondered, why does there need to be so many people? Jord reassured me that it was just in case, they were prepared. So they had to turn Arthur and then bring his head out with forceps. I had a spinal injection which made me completely numb from the waist down but I had to push the rest of the way. It was very strange pushing when I couldn’t feel anything. But a minute or two later and suddenly everyone cheered, he was here! And he was a he! We didn’t know what we were having so It was such a lovely surprise. I remember being so happy when they placed Arthur on my chest. He was here. He was healthy. The relief was incredible. I lost 700mls of blood and I had a third degree tear. I was mentally and physically exhausted but we were so happy. As soon as I saw Arthur it was love at first sight. The pain was very strong when the spinal injection wore off and I was absolutely exhausted. My plan had gone out the window and I felt really disappointed that it had not gone well. I felt like I had let myself down and had not been “brave enough”. Looking back now I wish I could of said to myself, Some things are out of your control! I did everything i could possibly do and I did not fail because things did not go to plan. So if your pregnant and reading this, please, remember sometimes things do not go the way you want them too. But know this, despite going through what I went through I would still do it all again. Because our Arthur is worth the world.

Some people have wonderful birth experiences, some people don’t. But needing an assisted delivery, or a c-section or having an epidural is okay. Your story will be different from everyone else’s. Your story is your story. But you might not be able to decide everything about it. Some things are out of our hands. So however your story goes, the love you feel for your little one will mean more than anything else.

So this was the beginning of Arthur’s life, and the beginning of my illness. I just didn’t know it yet. Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x