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, living with anxiety.

So here we are. My anxiety is so much better than of course it once was. I was anxious about a lot of things to do with Arthur. My biggest fear, now and then, is Sudden infant death (SIDS or Cot death) as it’s also known. It haunts me. When I first became ill I use to watch Arthur sleep. I would continuously check if he was still breathing, if he felt too hot or too cold.

I remember one time, we were doing skin to skin whilst feeding and he just kept moaning, coming on and off the boob and I didn’t know what was wrong, I was sure he was hungry. I didn’t realise he was too hot. I took him away from my body and realised he was all sweaty and clammy. The guilt I felt. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt. I become so scared of doing skin to skin after that, convinced he was too at risk of becoming too hot from my own body heat.

Another big fear of mine is Arthur being around smoke. However some of my closest family members smoke, when I’m around them, I am very anxious still, it’s constantly on my mind but I’ve learnt to control it, to live with it, to almost be at peace with it.

I remember when I was pregnant we were at a breastfeeding class and we were saying the pros and cons for breastfeeding (although it didn’t really matter because the midwives were all pro breastfeeding and it almost felt like there were convincing/ pressuring us, but that’s a whole another story). Anyway I said about how breastfeeding was a positive to help prevent SIDS, the midwife said, “Yes but something that we’ve learnt from research is the biggest risk is smoking. They need to be kept away from smoke.” I’ll never forget it. (Mum if your reading this I know why you do it, and I know you’ve tired to stop, I understand, this isn’t to make you feel guilty).

The point is, that’s what my anxiety is about. I remember little things that have been said to me and I become, almost obsessed with them. They go round and round my mind and I never forget them. SIDS is such an evil thing. I still stay up some nights and just keep checking Arthur is okay. It’s one of those things where we know how to minimise the risk, but we can never eliminate it completely. Sometimes it just happens. It makes me so angry that we live in world where this can just happen for no reason at all.

I don’t let Arthur stay in the car seat for longer than two hours. Sometimes he unfortunately has been in there a little bit longer, when it has been inevitable, if it’s very late at night for example and there’s nowhere really safe to stop. But I do become very anxious. I sit in the back with him and keep my eye on him. Because I know the guidelines say they shouldn’t stay in the car seat for longer than 2 hours. It’s bad for their back, more importantly it restricts their airway because of the position their in. I think about this all the time when in the car. But now, I know if it’s getting too much, I need to take a deep breath and look out the window. I can hold Arthur’s hand whilst he sleeps. I can listen to the radio and chat to Jord. I know how to distract myself.

I don’t think I will ever overcome my anxiety around SIDS. I have read the guidelines more than I can remember. I know them off by heart. Sometimes I feel like too much information can do more harm than good. But I know they have to provide us with this information. I used to be so scared about leaving Arthur even to go to the toilet. I would ask somebody to watch him whilst I peed…it would take around a minute for me to do this…a minute?! I just couldn’t let my guard down even for a second. I used to sit somewhere where I could constantly see him. He had to be in my view or I would panic.

Now I am certainly more comfortable and relaxed about Arthur sleeping (most of the time). Often I can hear him. I know when he’s too hot or too cold. He shows me, he tells me. I let him sleep next to me sometimes but I know myself and I trust myself that I wouldn’t fall asleep. Everything is a bit more calmer. A bit more, okay I know my son, I know he will tell me if something is wrong, and I know when something is wrong. Time to relax a little.

I’ve come a long way from where I was. Which shows anyone else can too. It’s still with me and I think it always will be. Even when Arthur isn’t an infant anymore I think I will find something else to feel anxious about. But there’s a big difference from then and now. I don’t stop it from letting me live. I don’t let it beat me. I don’t let anxiety overcome my happiness, my enjoyment of motherhood. I don’t let it win.

Stay tuned for the next one peeps.

Love, Kate. X