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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we’re back!

So here we are. Thanks for sticking with us guys. We’re back. It’s been a funny time recently. General feeling of feeling a bit lost, unmotivated… not really down just sort of struggling to feel like myself. Me and Jord have both been feeling it I think, both sort of wondering when and if we are going to be able to buy our own home and where it will be.

Thinking about money, jobs, house, hobbies and Little A. It’s all in our minds, all at the same time! Trying to have a social life, spend time with each other and our families, whilst trying to save money. It’s pretty difficult. I’ve found I can sometimes try and be “supermum/ superkate” but I definitely need to remember life is about quality not quantity. I’d rather have more days chilling at home in the garden to save for a few amazing days out.

I also need to remember that things take time. I can be very patient in some ways and very inpatient in others. Saving for a house, it takes time. Getting back into doing what I love after just having a baby, it takes time. Things that are worthwhile never come easy.

So to everyone who has stuck with us whilst we took a little break; thank you for sticking around. I hope too if your struggling to belong, or feeling a bit lost you will find your way. Anyway this was just a little post to say we’re back.

Stay tuned for some more stuff soon.

Love Kate. X

So we’ve had a few tough days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned peeps. The only way is up.

Love, Kate x

So parenting and social media.

So here we are. When Arthur was first born me and Jord agreed we weren’t going to post pictures of his face on Facebook or Instagram. We wanted to respect his privacy and thought how when he’s older he might say he didn’t want his pictures online. We told our family and friends that we didn’t want lots of pictures of him online and we didn’t want pictures of his face online at all.

Then I became unwell. After a little while I decided to share my story. It became a release, some where to express and a comfort. Arthur came along for the journey too. Slowly I found myself taking pictures that I wanted to share. Share with people who had sent me support and words of kindness.

I then started to have others message me speaking about their experiences. Often speaking about how they struggled on their own. How they didn’t want to ask for help. Something inside of me felt like I wanted to do this more and more. I wanted to share my story and my experiences. Arthur will always be a part of my story. He comes with me on our journey.

Sometimes I think; when he’s older is he going to like having his picture on social media? But then I think, I don’t think he’s even going to look at it when he gets older! I also think it’s a place to safe memories. I have photo books, photos, pictures in frames but this is another way to keep those memories. A place where I can keep them digitally. Where there will be safe and I often just scroll through my own Instagram and smile at my gorgeous boy and all the ups and downs of motherhood.

There is always a question – am I sharing too much? But there are moments where I think; “No I want these memories to myself” so I don’t share them. I don’t share everything but those moments I do I hope to help someone smile or laugh. I hope to help and receive help and advice from others.

Social media is wonderful in many ways, a place where we can support each other, we can talk and laugh. Where we can read each other’s stories and look at each other’s pictures and feel love. Somewhere where we can lift each other up and empower each other.

Here’s the thing, of course there is always down side as there is too everything. Parenting is scary and sometimes you get judged or questioned. Sometimes things are said where people disagree and debates are created. Sometimes someone may say something that could trigger something in you. But the good outweighs the bad.

There are times when I find myself looking at my phone too much. Too much posting or scrolling. Trying to get that “insta pic” but I can recognise when it’s time to come away from the screen. Sometimes I just leave my phone in a different room and come away from it and just want to be away from it.

I know when enough is enough.

The truth is social media helped me get through a very difficult time. It’s helped me when I’ve had questions as a parent. When I’ve needed time out and needed a laugh. So parenting and social media, it has its pros and cons but for me I’ve decided I enjoy it but I know it’s all about balance.

Stay tuned for another round guys.

Love, Kate x

So there is no right or wrong way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x

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

So sometimes you need people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Kate. X

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for another one guys.

Love, Kate x