So here we are looking back.

So here we are, reflecting on everything that happened, is it strange to say I had some good times on two mother and baby units? With my family and with my friends. And with the other families, as we all went through similar experiences. Of course, I sadly remember the darkest times like nightmares, their embedded in my brain. But there were good times too, there were positives.

Times when I could laugh and smile, I could almost forget for a moment what was happening and where I was. We all got takeaway one night, we sat round the table and laughed and joked. For an outside looking in, we could have been a group of friends having dinner together at someone’s house.

When one of us was particularly unwell we were there for each other, we left each other notes outside doors, cards and chocolate. Little things, but they make a big impact. We could all understand, to an extent, how a bad day could feel like you’d been hit by a bus. We supported each other, we were there for each other.

My family came to see me, they too were always there. We went for walks and laughed and talked. It felt strange because I never wanted them to feel down, I never wanted them to feel sad. With every day and every goodbye, I always felt guilty. It was a feeling that was always there. They were going through it just like I was and I felt like it was all my fault. Of course, now I know it wasn’t my fault. But I will always feel sad about what I put them through.

But we would talk about how I was feeling, how things were going. They were always at the end of the phone and there was always moments of happiness. My friends too came to see me and I realised how truly wonderful they really are. How they accepted me and what I was going through.

I was terrified they would see me differently, terrified they would think bad of me. Of course they didn’t. It felt like everything was the same. We laughed and we took pictures. We smiled and they made me feel like me again. And all these moments were there. Lots of moments and memories I look back and smile, they were on those Mother and Baby units.

We moan about the NHS and shout about the lack of mental health services. How cuts are being made left right and centre. But don’t forget to shout about the good too. Because they will have to listen. Right to your MP, your local hospital, your local newspaper. If you have had a good experience celebrate it.

I know mental health services are struggling right now. I know I may not be here right now if I didn’t have the help from two mother and baby units. Which is why we need to talk about how they incredible they are. There needs to be more available. The NHS is wonderful, but of course it’s not perfect (nothing ever is). But I always remember the good, I will always share it, I always talk about how I think we can improve.

The staff on both Mother and Baby units were second to none. They held my hand, (literally and metaphorically) their words still echo in my brain when I’m having a bad day. Their teaching and techniques are what got me through and are still getting me through.

Stay tuned for another one. Sorry they are few and far between, life with an almost 2 year old is pretty busy.

Love, Kate. X

So can we do better?

So when I tell people what I do, I feel so proud, I smile and feel like the NHS is my baby that has just said their first word (weird analogy but you get the gist). That doesn’t mean I think the NHS always gets it right, because I don’t think they do. After all, no one or nothing is perfect, it’s impossible. But I do think the NHS is a wonderful organisation. It’s stretched, we who work for it are often stressed and personally, being a nurse is hard work physically and mentally.

But looking back on my own patient experience. I received incredible care. That’s not to boast, that’s to hope one day everyone will. It’s to talk about the good and celebrate it but more importantly learn from it. I went into A&E at around 8pm on Sunday evening. I had a midwife appointment on the Monday where me and Jordan had agreed I needed to tell her how I was feeling. But by Sunday evening I had decided I couldn’t manage any longer and if I didn’t receive help I was going to kill myself. I stayed in A&E till Wednesday evening. Usually you stay in A&E for a max of 4 hours until you are either sent home or sent to another department or ward of the hospital or another organisation. Within those 4 hours treatment needs to be decided.

Within 4 hours treatment was decided for me, but there were no beds available in the country on a mother and baby unit. Winchester had some but they had a policy that babies had to be over a month old and Arth was around 3 weeks. I stayed in a room for those 3 days with Jord, Arthur and my sisters came in and out too. We all cried, a lot. I slept a little bit on a mattress on the floor. We even smiled a little bit. We talked and cried some more. I begged those who looked after me to help me, I begged them not to give up trying to find me somewhere, and they didn’t.

I didn’t go onto the follow on ward from A&E because I worked there. Just two months before, I had been there working, heavily pregnant excited for my new adventure. Fast forward two months and I was a shell of who I was once. The thought of my colleagues seeing me like this mortified me. I wasn’t ashamed of the situation but I didn’t want to be unprofessional, I didn’t want them to see me any differently. I didn’t want to lose my “credibility” as a nurse. It wasn’t about having a mental illness, it was just about having an illness. So they let me stay in that room for 3 days. I went to the matron who I had worked with before, I broke down and sobbed as I asked her to help. My manager of my ward came in and told me she wouldn’t let me go home, she promised me she would make sure they find me a bed somewhere.

When I look back at that incredibly difficult time, I will never forget those who worked tirelessly to help me. But I know this is not always the case. I have had people message me saying they’ve been to their GP and they’ve sent them home saying “there’s not much they can do, see how you feel in a few weeks”. I’ve seen people bounce in and out of hospital overdosing again and again. I know young people who were put on waiting lists even thought they harm themselves every day. We say depression and people roll their eyes. They say “oh she just gets a bit anxious”, like it’s nothing.

But it’s not. There isn’t enough mother and baby units in the country. Some people don’t have one anywhere near where they live. There isn’t enough inpatient beds. There isn’t enough permanent staff because nurses are too stretched. We have waiting lists even though some people don’t have time. We have people who work in healthcare who disapprove of mental illnesses. But we can do better. And from a few years ago I think we already are.

Finally it is becoming more recognised that men suffer depression too. Addiction is treated as a mental illness. There are more volunteers on the streets because 80% of those who are homeless in the UK report their mental health suffers. Charities like Samaritans have call lines open 24/7. We have World mental health day, International day of happiness. Of course there is still a long way to go. More money is needed. More education in schools, healthcare and workplaces. More staff and more organisations to make more beds. But, like I said before, nothing is perfect. But, to me the NHS gets it right a lot more than they get it wrong.

Stay tuned guys. Sorry it’s been a bit quiet here.

Love, Kate. X

So parenthood can be very lonely.

So here we are. It can be hard to be a parent and at times I’ve found myself feeling very alone. I think it’s for a few reasons. Every baby/ child is different and at times I’ve found myself feeling like nobody is feeling the same way I do. Or sometimes you feel like everybody else has it together. Like you see pictures of children eating amazing meals, home cooked, 3 meals a day with snacks in between. Sometimes I can’t even get Arth to sniff food, i mean a sniff wouldn’t really be much use but you see what I mean. You think, what are they doing differently?! Then you get mountains of different of advice and feel more lost than ever.

Sometimes at 3am in the morning when your bouncing up and down with your one year old and then the next day you have someone say to you; “oh my baby is only 10 weeks and she sleeps through every night”… Suddenly you feel like you will never have a full nights sleep again (you will) and your the only one in the world. Sleep is a big one because at 3am in the morning it can feel like the world is dark and your the only one awake.

I think we compare ourselves against each other and if we cant “keep up” with others or if something is different for us we feel very lonely. We can feel like we’re doing something wrong. But just because we do something different to others doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

It can make you feel like your alone, that you can’t talk to anyone about it for fear of being judged.

There’s also the loneliness that as amazing as our children are, their not the most amazing conversationalists. In my experience anyway. Sure as they get older I feel like this feeling gets a little bit easier. In the early days when your talking to your baby and their just looking at you blankly like “can you just feed me and shut up please? Oh,and I just did a big one in my pants.” And that’s about all you get. That for me, felt very lonely. It’s hard because you want to feel like your doing it right, you’d like some reassurance. Maybe they could fill in a questionnaire, maybe rate you out of 10, anything would be good.

The point is, it is lonely. I don’t think this is just a “I’ve had PND and been lonely” kind of thing. It feels like everybody feels this way sometimes. From what I gather. It is hard and it does still feel lonely sometimes for me. The first of my childhood friends to have a baby, sometimes I feel alone just because I don’t feel like they want to talk about big poops, teeth and weaning. Their life has taken a different direction to mine at the moment so sometimes you feel like your on your own.

But I know I’m not. It is lonely sometimes. And it’s ok to admit. I think it’s to admit even if you have family and friends all around you. Even if you’ve been trying for your baby for years and years. Even if you’ve lost a child. It’s still ok to admit you struggle with feeling alone sometimes even when you have your baby there, even when your surrounded by your children. Sometimes I think we all need adult interaction. We need to talk about something other than our babies, something other than what we do and what they do, we need to stop comparing. You need to take a breather.

I think we need to say to each other “I feel the same” and “you do what works for you”, “mine still don’t sleep”, and “go out and do something for you”. Having a baby made me feel like I wanted my Mum around me more. My family. It made me feel like a child myself again a little bit. I wanted to have those I loved around me just to give me a nod when I would say something like “but that amount of poo is ok right? Should it be that colour?”. I still call my mum when I have a moment of parent terror, like when Arth feel into a big muddy puddle of horse poo…face first, mouth open…yep that happened. Que call to my Mum; “is he going to be ok? Should I call the doctor?!” He was fine and laughed and felt quite happy about the situation actually.

My point is, feeling alone sucks. But we are never truly alone. There is always someone who knows the exact right thing to say. There is always someone who will just nod and hug you. There is always someone who helps that loneliness. And I totally believe it’s ok to admit.

Thanks for sticking with my very infrequent posts peeps. Stay tuned for the next one, I’ll try not to leave it so long.

Love, Kate. X

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 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 it’s the little things.

So here we are. Being a mother is the hardest thing I have ever done. I have found a whole new level of respect for my mum who had 7 (yes, 7) kids. She not only had 7, but she also totally bossed it on her own. She’s a superwoman and my biggest inspiration.

It may be the hardest thing but it’s also the greatest. I decided to make a list of some of the little things I love about being a Mum…

⁃ The firsts…first smile, first time Arthur grabbed a toy

⁃ The poo face gets me every time

⁃ The smile he gives me when he first wakes up in the morning

⁃ When he’s sucking his dummy and he just stares at me

⁃ How he loves singing

⁃ His smile in general

⁃ The noises he makes when he eats

⁃ How he loves bath time

⁃ Taking pictures together

⁃ Cuddles

⁃ When he’s feeding and he keeps holding on to me

⁃ Seeing him smile at his family

⁃ When he goes all shy, smiles then puts his head down

⁃ Reading stories together

⁃ How he loves mouths (not just his own, everyone’s, he’s fascinated!)

⁃ How clapping makes him blink

⁃ Dancing together

⁃ How he’s like a little hot water bottle

⁃ That crossed eyed surprise look

⁃ All the noises

⁃ Travelling, going places together, anywhere!

⁃ All the tickling!

⁃ When he farts really loudly (mature I know hehe)

⁃ On the subject of farting, when he lifts his legs really high and farts hehe

⁃ His chubby cheeks

⁃ Those tiny fingers and toes ❤️

I could go on forever. Joy will come to different people in different ways, whether your a parent or not. For me, Arthur, you are my joy. You have brought me so much love, laughter and I could not be more proud of you. Thank you for teaching me to enjoy the little things. You are my greatest achievement, now and forever.

Stay tuned for another one peeps.

Love, Kate x