Sunshine after the storm

I’m not ok and I haven’t been for a long time. It has taken me years to realise it. I haven’t told anyone this, in fact the first time that I honestly admitted it to myself was only a week before writing it all down!

I have been living in a fog. Playing with my children but not truly engaging. Talking with friends but not truly participating. Spending time with family but not truly being there. Life has been going on around me but I’ve not truly been a part of it. I’ve not been unhappy per se, it’s more that I haven’t really had emotions. Everything has been dulled as if hidden behind a veil. There is a constant headache and life can seem as if it is happening in slow motion. Some days it is all I can do to get myself and the children ready and fed whilst other days are fairly normal but there is always this fog. That is the only way I can describe it really. A fog. Sometimes thick and sometimes misty but always there, surrounding me.

The fact that it has taken me years to realise all of this is perhaps unbelievable for some. I suppose that I knew something wasn’t right at first (or maybe I didn’t, I can’t remember) but it just became normal. It was how things were and I just got on with it. I learnt to cope and put on a smile and act how I should act in social situations. It is my life and I just carried on.

Realising that how I am feeling isn’t normal has come about slowly. To be honest I’m not sure when I first started to realise or why but it has slowly become clearer. Things are improving now that I know. I can stop blaming myself on the bad days and really make the most of the good days. I can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel, some sunshine after the storm.

I’m not ok but I will be!

 

 

 

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Hiding behind the smile


She laughs and smiles, playing with the children, happily chatting away. Nothing much to say about what’s going on with her but the children are doing great. The eldest won a dance award and the youngest is cutting a new tooth. Full of questions about your life, she listens intently, nodding, smiling and offering words of encouragement if needed. She’s happy, right. Life is great – she said so herself. She smiles all of the time and always knows what to say to cheer other people up. Of course she’s happy!

You go home and she is alone with the children. She loves the children but she hasn’t got the energy to play with them. She flicks listlessly through the TV channels. Nothing captures her attention and it wouldn’t matter anyway because not much really interests her at the moment. The house is a mess and although she knows that she needs to clean it, she just can’t face that chore. The youngest child comes over for a cuddle. It brings tears to her eyes. She knows that the children love her unconditionally yet she can’t bring herself to be the full of energy Mother that she once was. Where has that person gone? Where has the love for life gone? It was there not so long ago, she’s sure that it was. The eldest child wants to go to the park. Getting out of the house might do everyone some good she thinks so coats and shoes go on, changing bag is packed and half an hour later everybody is ready to depart. The park is bright and sunny with children running around and parents happily chasing them. She looks enviously at the happy families. They look care free.

A friend spots her and approaches to say hello. She laughs and smiles, playing with the children, happily chatting away. Nothing much to say about what’s going on with her but the children are doing great. The eldest won a dance award and the youngest is cutting a new tooth. Full of questions about her friend’s life, she listens intently, nodding, smiling and offering words of encouragement if needed. She’s happy, right. Life is great – she said so herself. She smiles all of the time and always knows what to say to cheer other people up. Of course she’s happy!

Do we really know how people are feeling inside? According to the World Health Organisation more than 350 million people worldwide will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. This doesn’t mean that all of these people will receive help and support however. Mental Health issues such as depression still have a social stigma surrounding them even in this day and age. Many people hide how they feel for fear of not being taken seriously. Depression is an illness and if we can raise awareness of this, then maybe more people will seek the help and support that they so desperately need.

Mental Health Awareness Week

16th – 22nd May

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

Image Credit – http://quotesgram.com/quotes-about-hiding-sadness/

My breastfeeding disappointment

 

Attempting to breastfeed baby boy was one of the worst experiences of my life. I wrote a post about it early on in my blogging journey so I won’t go into detail but let’s just say that after my boobs being manhandled by more strangers than could ever be deemed necessary and still not getting the hang of it I threw in the towel. I felt like an absolute failure! It wasn’t until he was 12 months old that a health visitor asked me about his tongue tie. What tongue tie?! Apparently he has a fairly severe tongue tie and according to the specialist it’s no wonder we found breastfeeding so difficult.

With that in mind I was determined to get it right with baby girl. I read all of the information again and watched the videos. Having a csection with an epidural this time instead of under general anesthetic meant that we could have skin to skin straight away and I was sure that it was going to work this time. However, over the few days that we were in hospital it was clear that we were having difficulty. I had exactly the same problems as with baby boy. She just wouldn’t latch and when she eventually did she either fell asleep straight away or came off after a few minutes and I had to start the whole process again. Knowing then about baby boy’s tongue tie, I asked for her to be checked. 3 different people checked her and they all said that she was fine. I was told by a midwife that I just had to learn how to latch her on myself. It wasn’t how it was supposed to go! I carried on trying once we got home but nothing worked. Baby girl was losing weight and I could feel myself going back to the dark place that trying to breastfeed baby boy took me to. There was no way I was going back there again so I stopped trying. I stopped trying to breastfeed and I gave my child formula. And guess what… I didn’t feel guilty!

However, formula feeding didn’t end the problems. Baby girl still had difficulty with a bottle. Milk would pour out of her moth when feeding. I knew that there was something wrong. It was when she was about 5 weeks old that I started to notice that her tongue looked like baby boy’s did at the same age. If I hadn’t found out about his tongue tie I wouldn’t have thought anything of it but it got me wondering. I mentioned it to my midwife who agreed that it didn’t look quite right. She referred us to a tongue tie clinic and I’m so glad that she did. At the appointment the specialist said that she never seen a tongue tie as thick as baby girl’s and it was the most difficult one that she had ever had to snip. It was horrible watching my little girl go through such a traumatic experience but once it was done she calmed down quickly. She even took a bottle without milk pouring of her mouth. I am quite angry that despite 3 professionals checking my daughter for tongue tie it was me who found it. However, I’m glad that it has been sorted at an early age (if baby boy ever needs to have his snipped it will have to be done under general).

My breastfeeding journey was quite frankly rubbish! I regret not being stronger and maybe trying harder but ultimately I don’t regret the decisions that I made. My decisions took me out of a dark place and enabled me to focus on my family. They were the best decisions for us all. Some people look down on me for formula feeding. Some people think that I didn’t try hard enough. Some people think that I have let my children down by not breastfeeding. Well those people are one’s whose opinion I do not need! I did my best and I am doing my best and that’s all that matters.

Double Trouble

2 children! I now have 2 children! It is a wonderful thing and yet a huge shock to the system. I feel blessed and yet strangely it still doesn’t feel real sometimes.

So what is it like?

Well at times I could probably say it’s bliss. Like when they are both calm and content and I get to play trains with Baby Boy or have cuddles with Baby Girl. When I get time in the day to tidy up and prepare tea and feel like a real suburban housewife. When I get to the end of the day and feel that I actually spent quality time with my family. I love those days! I really love those days!

Now at other times I could tear my hair out! Like when both children are crying and I have no idea who to sooth first. When all Baby Boy wants to do is try to hit his sister over the head. When I struggle to even get dressed let alone be a domestic goddess. When at the end of the day I am proud that the only thing I managed to do was keep everyone alive.

It might seem that I am ungrateful for what I have. I can assure you that I’m not. Going from being a family of 3 to a family of 4 is a big change. There are ups and downs of course but I just have to look at the two perfect beings that I created to know that despite the bad days, I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Image credit – http://www.amotherfarfromhome.com

Babywearing – how I came to love it!

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It seems as though babywearing is the new parenting trend. Gwen Stefani is rarely spotted without her Ergo baby carrier and even Peter Andre was spotted with a baby bjorn (albeit with bad positioning).

“Babywearing” simply means holding or carrying a baby or young child using a cloth baby carrier. Holding babies is natural and universal; baby carriers make it easier and more comfortable, allowing parents and caregivers to hold or carry their children while attending to the daily tasks of living.          http://www.babywearinginternational.org

Whilst pregnant I joined an online forum to discuss all things pregnancy. A number of experienced Mums extolled the benefits of babywearing. Not only did it leave Mums with free hands to get things done but apparently it resulted in calm, happy children, they explained. I was intrigued and so decided to find out more. I discovered that babywearing has been practised for centuries all around the world. Reading that carried babies often cry less, develop better and learn to be more confident in social situations was an interesting concept. I thought that I would give it a go, at least some of the time anyway.

During my research I came across what seemed like thousands of different slings each claiming to be the most supportive and comfortable and ranging from cheaply priced to ‘oh my goodness, I need a loan to buy that’! I eventually decided on a Moby wrap which is in essence a long piece of stretchy, jersey fabric. It came with good reviews online and despite looking extremely difficult to tie I was excited to use it. To learn how to put it on I watched many YouTube videos, one of the best being a tutorial by NaturallyThriftyMom How To: Moby Wrap Newborn Hug Hold, who gives step by step instructions using her own child in the demo. Obviously I practised using a cabbage patch doll and although I felt reasonably confident that I could tie it safely, I was a little hesitant to think that soon I would be using it with a real live baby!

That first month after baby boy was born I didn’t even consider babywearing. The pain from the caesarean was still there and I didn’t want to risk anything pressing against my scar. One night though baby boy just wouldn’t settle. He just didn’t seem to know what to do with himself and Mr K and I were quickly running out of ideas. I decided to try the Moby. It took me while to get it on and tied correctly but within seconds of baby boy being put in, held close to my chest, he stopped crying. It was a miracle. Within minutes he was asleep! Over the next few months the Moby became my go to accessory. I used it around the house, for walks to the shop and even used it to carry baby boy around The Baby and Toddler Show. We received mixed comments. A lot of people had never seen a stretchy wrap before and were intrigued, asking how it worked and was it complicated. Other people dismissed it straight away saying that they wouldn’t have the time or patience to put it on. A small number of people told me that I would spoil baby boy by carrying him too much! What nonsense!

I recently acquired 2 more carriers, a woven wrap and an Ergo (which I believe to be fake but that’s another story). The woven wrap is pretty much the same as the Moby except that it is made from a stronger, non stretchy material to enable me to carry baby boy as he gets heavier. The Ergo is what is called a soft structured carrier. It is done up using buckles and so is quicker and easier to put on. The Ergo is Mr K’s favourite whilst I love the brightly coloured woven wrap.

As baby boy grows I will need to learn how to do back carries to ensure comfort for both of us and despite YouTube having a number of videos for this, I think that I will need to visit my local babywearing group for guidance. For anyone considering babywearing I would seriously suggest looking online to see if you have a sling library/babywearing group in your local area as they can offer advice and support as well as allowing you to try different slings and carriers to determine which ones suit you and your child.

Mr K and I only tend to babywear now when out and about but the benefits are still numerous and I look forward to carrying for a good while yet.

Do you babywear? Which carrier do you use?

 

image credit- http://aajdaafrin.blogspot.com/