Sunday, 24 February 2013

I love you to the moon and back...

It's been three months since I last wrote. Three months that have seen joy, happiness, sadness and illness. Lots of illness; noro virus, ear infections, conjunctivitis, chest infections and me laid up in bed for a whole week with the flu.


But mostly the last three months have been me, struggling again to get a grip on my post natal depression. It has amped itself up again, and I am now in the same state I was before I started my medication. I went to the dr a month ago and explained, she thought it was exhaustion due to me recovering from the flu. It's not. I know it's not. My dosage of medication is no longer effectively managing my mood. I'm shouting again, I'm losing my patience more quickly than I was, I've lost interest in doing things I previously found fun; blogging, going out, playing with the boys. I know the symptoms. It's been the same my whole life when my depression has acted up, not just through this post natal bout.


The last few weeks or so I've been struggling again with sleeping. I'm still bed sharing with Benjamin and at 21 months we are still happily enjoying our breastfeeding relationship. Some don't understand this. And I will be totally honest, this last week I have been desperate for space. Benjamin is very clingy, he is going through quite an intense period of separation anxiety. As soon as I sit down he's on my lap, hands in my bra. Or he's straddling me as soon as I try to read a book or watch tv. If I leave the room he screams hysterically.


I actually wondered if it was time to night wean him and move him in to his own room so that I have more than one hour to myself a day. (Although last week has been school holidays so my time spent with them has been increased somewhat) I asked my pink ladies what they suggested. The over whelming suggestion was do what is right for Benjamin, me and our family. Family are suggesting I stop breastfeeding and stop bed sharing with him, I considered this.


Then I opened blogger.


I scanned through the blogs I follow.


Two caught my eye immediately.


I do not know the women who wrote the blog posts personally. But they both write blogs I have read over the last few months. The thing about the parenting blogging community is you feel as though you know each other through reading about the women and their families. You interact with members of the community, you comment on each others posts that strike a chord with you, you follow on twitter. It's a hard connection to explain to non bloggers/tweeters.


Both women lost their babies to SIDS/ SUDC (sudden unexpected death in childhood) within a week of each other. Matilda Mae was 9 months old the day she died, and had learned to crawl the day she died. Patrick was 14 months old. Both babies happy and healthy. No reason to suspect that they would go to sleep and never wake up.


My heart broke. I had naively thought my children were safe now. They are both well past the ages drs say that children are most at risk from dying of SIDS. For the last three weeks, I've been reading both Mummies tweets and feeling horrendously guilty. They have lost their babies. They are grieving for their lost children and trying very hard to be good parents to their elder children. And what am I doing? I'm shouting at mine because I've lost patience, I'm considering ending my night feeds with Benjamin because I lose 20 minutes sleep each night. They are living with a Mummy who is battling depression and spends most of her time miserable. I am selfish. These women were both breastfeeding mummies. Both have had to go through the process of their bodies returning to a pre pregnancy state, losing their babies milk. Their last physical tie to their babies.


Of course, how a mother chooses to feed her baby doesn't detract from her grief, I mention it only because I too am a breastfeeding mummy, and my struggle this week has been more heightened because of what these women are going through. To suddenly stop nursing like that would add physical pain or discomfort to the horrendous emotional pain. The end of a breastfeeding relationship should be mutually agreeable, both parties should want to stop. These women have had no say.


I read about how Jennie is wishing she could go back to her last breastfeed with baby Tilda, and how she would have cherished it so much more if she knew it would be her last feed. I then think of the times I've read through that bedtime feed, or through the night feeds when I've sent emails etc..I can't believe I've taken these times for granted. Like it's guaranteed I'll get to feed him again shortly.


I get up and I complain about how messy the house is, how the boys refuse to eat what I've cooked or how tired I am. Then I read Julie's blog today and she is desperate to have that life, these "problems", because if she did it would mean Patrick is still here.


I live in fear. Fear that my boys will be taken. I've put Benjamin's breathing monitor under my mattress. After he stopped using his cot and started bed sharing with me, I stopped using it. But now I have the familiar beep, beep following me around when I go downstairs. I wake numerous times in the night to check he is still breathing. I've started going up to check on them more regularly before I go to bed.


I know living in fear is no way to live, but I fear if I become complacent, and I start thinking that they will both wake up everyday guaranteed, that one day it won't happen because I have taken that for granted. I have said the same three sentences to each boy in the same order each night since birth. I never forget to say it, it's almost like a superstition, that if I don't say it, something will happen. I don't know how much of this fear and anxiety is part of my depression and how much is normal parenting worries. I know every parent worries, and every parents biggest fear is to lose their child. Somehow though, others seem to live their life without the constant fear and anxiety.


This week, a very good friend of mine put a picture on her facebook of her poorly baby snuggling with her. Her comment said that when she is old and grey she'll never look back and regret being there for him. That sums up everything I feel.


So I'm going to continue to breastfeed Benjamin until he decides he no longer wants to, I'll continue to bed share, sit with my boys as they need me to to fall asleep. I refuse to put them in their rooms and let them cry it out because they want me up there and I am too selfish to give up more of my time, or that "they should understand they have to be quiet and stay in bed". I refuse to not be there for my boys when they need me. When I'm 70 I'll never regret showing them that I would do anything for them. However, if something were to happen, I would regret everything I didn't do, everything I didn't say,


Because nothing in life is guaranteed. There is no guarantee that I'll get them out of bed in the morning. So I'm going to cherish every moment, every night feed, every chance I get to hug them, and I'm going to do my best to show them that I'm there for them. Always.


In memory of Matilda Mae, Patrick James, Belle and Noel. Sleep peacefully beautiful angels x


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Post-natal depression awareness

I'm supporting Post-natal depression awareness week. As a sufferer of ante-natal depression and currently fighting PND I am a firm believer that this debilitating illness needs more awareness and more support. I'm sharing a black and white image of baby Benjamin and myself at 10 weeks post birth, as post natal depression isn't always black and white.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

What's your Christmas fantasy?

I have this incredibly romanticised, idealised picture in my head of what Christmas should be like. It's a picture based on watching too many rom-coms and Christmases spent both in Europe and America.

Pre-kids my Christmases spent abroad have been some of the best. We have done skiing in Europe at Christmas a few times. Christmas day in the mountains, skiing, that was perfect. No huge roast dinner, but snow and Gluhwein a plenty. Somehow European Alpine Christmases are hard to beat. Walking around beautiful mountain villages, the smell of log fires burning in the air, snow under foot, beautiful white fairy lights in the trees, the air bitterly cold against your face. Perfection. Christmas in Europe makes me feel glad to live on such a beautiful continent.

I have also spent two Christmases in America. Again, both as magical, although for different reasons. I have tried to achieve a mixture of experiences taken from my holidays spent abroad, trying to recreate the magical feelings of the past. I haven't been able to do it successfully though. Somehow, something was missing, but I can't put my finger on what it is. In my head Christmas has log fires, deep snow, sledging, hot chocolate & champagne. I wanted to capture an alpine feeling. Unfortunately we rarely get snow at Christmas and not enough to sledge or make snowmen, so that is the first fail.

Now we have the boys, the magic is returning. Especially now Noah understands and is so excited he starts talking about it in August. Going on the Severn Valley Railway to Santa's grotto, putting the tree up and letting Noah decorate it, advent calendars, sneaking in to his room when he is sleeping to leave his stocking on his bed, seeing his face as he unwraps his presents. This year we have my sister and her family next door, so the boys will get to see their cousins, so we are hoping that there will be lots of time spent with them too. Also thanks to Pinterest, I am pulling together a few ideas that I want to try out, to start our family traditions.

Since having the boys, I've discovered that THEY are the magic in Christmas. Their innocence, their belief in all things magical. I'm already SO excited about it, even though its still 6 weeks away.

What traditions do you have at Christmas? What makes your Christmas magical?


Monday, 12 November 2012

Yes, I have depression. No, that doesn't mean I'm never happy.

In May I went back to see my Dr. My mood was becoming rather erratic again. I could feel my anger building up, my patience with Noah was at another low and things were becoming fraught. We had just moved in to a new house which was chaotic and wasn't really helping my patience at all.

I knew what was wrong before I got there. My depression had reared its ugly head once again. Had it ever really lifted after Benjamin's birth? Or was it masked by the natural high of new Mummyhood? My community nurse seemed to think it had lifted, and she signed me off her books, and my medication was stopped.

Before I got through my first sentence the tears arrived. The Dr seemed to think it was exhaustion making me feel this way. He told me to go and relax on my holiday, drink champagne and come back in 6-8 weeks. I knew it wasn't just exhaustion, but off we went to France. We holidayed, although with two kids in tow, one can hardly say it was relaxing. The two weeks of practically solid rain did not deliver the much needed vitamin D to my brain.

I returned to the Dr at the start of August, and once again I came away with a diagnosis of depression and a prescription for anti-depressants. It would seem that I had not managed to shake the ante natal depression demon off my back.

The tablets, on the whole, have totally changed how I am. Since the start of August, I am totally different. I'm happy, I'm more relaxed and patient. My relationship with Noah has changed for the better. However, not everyday is sunshine and roses.

Today is one of those days. It started out ok, but my lunch I had slumped in to a dark place. I don't even know what the trigger was? But after putting Ben upstairs for a nap I just became lethargic, miserable, sad and apathetic. Being stuck indoors doesn't help. It's rained pretty much all day. Everyone tells me excercise helps depression, and I know getting the kids out for a run is good for them too. But when days like today hit, going out is the last thing I want to do. Ironic really, being that it is probably the thing that will help the most.

These little relapses happen every so often. Thankfully they are getting further apart. This is a good thing as I think it means slowly I am getting the better of the depression. I can only hope that tomorrow brings an improvement in mood.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

"Don't you want a girl?"

Short answer: No.

Long answer: I used to.

It's funny how the questions people ask Mums change as the baby gets bigger. When the baby is new all people want to know about is how they sleep. Once your baby gets to be about 1.5-2 people think you start getting broody again and are thinking about having another. I suppose with your first a lot of people do feel the need to try again as your baby approaches its second birthday. This is obviously based on our experience, as Noah was a month shy of 2 when we conceived Benjamin.

I honestly thought Noah was a girl. We had decided she would be called Isabelle. Or Bella. {Before the days of Twilight, I hasten to add} At 20 weeks we found out Isabelle was actually a boy. The shock took about 24 hours to wear off. My initial "a BOY? Really?" turned in to genuine excitement. When I was pregnant with Benjamin I really wanted a girl. Obviously I wanted the baby to be healthy, but I wanted a girl. I convinced myself because my pregnancy was so different to Noah's I was having a girl.

20 week scan and we asked if we could find out the flavour. "I think I can see boy bits" said the lady doing the scan. My heart sank. A week before this I had been diagnosed with severe Ante-natal depression. This news did not help at all. In fact I remember texting my mother-in-law with these exact words "it's another bloody boy". I felt cheated. I was grieving for the baby I had imagined him to be, I was grieving for the mother-daughter relationship I would never know. I would never buy dresses or play dolls. My mother-in-law couldn't understand what I was feeling, she had one of each. Honestly it took me weeks to adjust to the news that I was having another boy. I knew we would probably only do this twice, so one of each would have been the icing on the cake. I found myself thinking, "well X had one of each, how come it didn't happen for me?" Although I knew the biology behind how these things work, I felt it unfair.

Benjamin has been with us 18 months now, and for all the money in the world, I would not wish him to be a girl. Ever. Having two boys is so much fun. It's totally exhausting, but it's wonderful. I love the mother-son relationship. I love that my boys are so loving towards me. I'm not saying if I had had a girl it wouldn't have been the same, it may have been, but seeing my niece she seems much less cuddly than Ben is, and my sister has said often how much harder it has been to parent the boo compared to Alfie.

Yesterday after food shopping we had to stop at a crossing to let a mother and her (terribly dressed & heavily made up) teenage daughter cross. Tim and I both said simultaneously, " I'm glad we won't have to deal with teenage girls". We both agreed that we didn't think we could deal with a teenage daughter and all that would entail; the clothes/make up/boys etc..the hormones, oh my goodness teenage girl hormones. I grew up with a sister and we lived with our Mum. Our cycles seemed to synchronise, 3 women with PMT at the same time? Hideous, I don't think Tim would cope if he had to deal with another set of female hormones added to mine;)

I'm sure it's just as wonderful to parent a little girl as it is a little boy. And if I had had two girls I'm sure people would be asking if I would try for a boy, and I would feel exactly the same about my girls as I do my boys. But for anyone else who feels that they need to ask if we are going to try again for a girl; the answer is no.

Why would we want to? I'm too scared to roll the dice again. Who says we would get a girl even if we did? Where do you stop? We have 2 perfect, healthy, happy little boys. We are beyond thankful for them, as hard as it is on a day to day basis, we couldn't imagine our life without this blue chaos;)


Saturday, 27 October 2012

It's been a bit crazy...

So it's been two months since I last updated. Partly because I needed a break. But mainly because {and I am aware of the irony} that the very reason I set up the blog in the first place, to chronicle my return to work, is the main reason I haven't been updating.

In September I took on an 8 week supply teaching job. For the first week of the new term I was full time. Since then I have gradually reduced my hours to two afternoons a week. I loved being back in a school where the staff were lovely, where the children behaved and actual learning was able to happen. But I did find it hard to balance being a Mummy, housekeeper and working. Really hard. The broken sleep was possibly the worst aspect, oh and the fact that my house looks like a rubbish dump.

It hasn't been all work though. In the last two months:

  • We have been for a long weekend to Bluestone in Wales
  • Benjamin has started walking
  • I lost my Grandad who died 3 weeks ago, aged 91
  • Had friends down with their 3 children for the weekend
  • Watched seasons 2-4 of Breaking Bad
  • Noah turned 4
  • I have discovered that Coca-Cola and medicine containing caffeine does not agree with me, causing tachycardia
I'm also trying to get a handle on the return of my migraines. Over the last 3 weeks I have had at least 4. Pain relief is limited due to still breastfeeding Benjamin, and I have been prescribed the progesterone only pill in the hope that it will stop my periods and therefore eliminate the migraines, as the up and down yo-yo of hormones throughout the month is the main trigger for the migraines.

Anyway, I hope that now work is finished for the half term break, and my assignment at the school has ended, I will be able to dedicate some time to writing again.



Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Who am I?

Mummy, wife, sister, friend, daughter, Aly.

Funny how Aly comes at the end of that list. I remember when I was pregnant with Noah, at one of my yoga classes the teacher asked us what scared us the most about becoming parents. Lots of ladies said "lack of sleep" {ha!}, not knowing how to take care of a newborn etc. When it was my turn I answered that I didn't want to be "just somebody's mummy, I still want to be me". I was told that being somebody's mummy was a wonderful thing.

She was right. It is amazing. Even on the hardest days when I think to myself "why did I choose this?", even on the days where the 3 year old reduces me to tears, it is a wonderful thing, to be someone's Mummy.

But, somewhere along the way, I have lost sight of who "Aly" is. I have a vague recollection of a girl who had energy and enjoyed lots of different things; swimming, going out, skiing, snowboarding, reading. There was once a girl who enjoyed her teaching job {despite the moans about how hard it was and the hours}. Now there is a girl who is seriously exhausted beyond anything I could have imagined, a girl who during the day runs around getting drinks, food, doing nappy changes, playing, trying to tidy house, night means broken sleep and providing milk when the 1 year old demands it. A girl struggling to enjoy being a stay at home Mummy.

I know that this is a precious time, and I won't ever get these young days back. I know a lot of people would love to be able to be at home all the time but can't. {For the record I'm at home whilst looking for a teaching job, we are not a family who can afford to live on only one wage on a permanent basis}. But that doesn't make being at home any easier.

I used to have dreams of what my life would be like. My life is nothing like those dreams. Sometimes I feel as if I'm looking in at someone else who looks like me, because this isn't how my life was meant to be was it? Im told that this is just how life is. People don't have dreams that come true. I refuse to believe this. I see lots of happy people, people enjoying life. People achieving what they want. What kind of life would it be without dreams? Without hope that one day things can and will be different? I don't even know what I want for our future now. Once there were dreams of emigrating, mountains, an outdoors lifestyle. Now where those dreams were is confusion, doubt and lack of direction.

Being at home for so long with the kids has certainly helped in the loss of my identity. There is no time during the day for me to do what I enjoy. I barely get the chance to eat without a boy climbing on me trying to wrestle the very food from my mouth. I hear of friends with children who go out, where do they get the energy? How do they still enjoy this?

I feel so lost. I really hope I can find myself again soon.