Mental Health · parenting

Pregnancy and my battle with PTSD and depression. 

img_0449Trigger warning: Sexual abuse, trauma, suicidal thoughts and mental health are all referenced within.

I should probably start this by saying that I really don’t consider myself to be a special case in any way, shape or form. I am just another person bumbling her way through life, hoping to reach that metaphorical high point and then hold on for dear life through all the other storms that will inevitably come my way. So far so good, I am in a fantastic relationship with two beautiful daughters and I have never been happier. Yay!

I have come a long way from the timid little girl that I was, so I am not going to be in need of any pity, thank you all kindly. I aim to be as positive as possible through everything in life (easier said than done, I know) and in order to do that I need to lose that lingering shame that still glares at me from the mirror and whispers from most far-reaching corners of my mind. I should possibly bite the bullet and tell you guys what caused the PTSD, shouldn’t I?

Well long story short, it was a truly twisted variant on the game ‘hide and seek,’ played by a lodger in our home. In both the literal meaning of the game and also the metaphorical way that even a child of just five years old understood was wrong. That was perhaps the roughest 6 months (or so) of my life up to date and I’m not ashamed to admit that even the thought still knocks me sick, 22 years later.

I know what you are all thinking, why didn’t I just tell someone. The truth is, I was afraid that he would either hurt me more than what was already being done or that he would follow through on his threats against my family’s lives. It still haunts me that he was hurting another little girl at the same time as myself and if I would have gotten over my terror I could have saved her some of that hurt that I had experienced. Cowardice is a truly terrible thing, though I hope it can be forgiven as I was so young and hurt myself.

I have always tried to help others and if anything positive came out of the experience it is that I am a lot more compassionate and understanding of other people’s problems than I perhaps would have been otherwise. Sounds silly to try to find the silver lining in something like this but at the end of the day, it’s what keeps you going, through the tough times. Even a tiny glimmer of hope can keep you aiming higher, rather than wishing you were six-foot underground and away from life’s little problems.

Sorry guys, I really don’t have the heart to go into all of the gory details of what happened all those years ago, I’m not nearly brave enough for that, some things can’t be relived for anything.

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I have lost most of the shame about my past. Shit happens and as much as those arsey little voices in my head like to persuade me otherwise, I know that it wasn’t in any way my fault and it certainly doesn’t tarnish my worth as a human being. I am worthy of all the love that my wonderful little family showers on me each and every day, Lucky thing that I am. I am saying this just as a gentle reminder to any person that has had a similar experience to myself or who has low self-worth. You matter. You are loved. You deserve people’s love and you are not broken or tarnished by any of the events of your life. You are perfect and people are lucky to have you in their lives.

Back to the original point of this post…
My past has made my transition into motherhood that much harder than it needed to be. I have become a person who finds people standing too close to me to be a little worrying and a major source of fuel for my anxiety. This created some problems with some of the more routine parts of pregnancy such as vaginal examinations and the Cesarean Section that I required to birth my daughter. She was footling breech and I couldn’t stomach the thought of a stranger touching me for long enough to attempt to turn her to the correct presentation.

To give a little context, it’s probably best if I back up quite a few years to my first true experience of being intimate with a guy. Poor b******d, he knew about my past but I don’t think he realised how much it still affected me.
Long story short?
I had a meltdown. My internal defense mechanism decided that this was the perfect time to fail. Thanks, brain… I had spent eleven years telling myself that the abuse was just a story that had happened to another little girl called Alex and suddenly I couldn’t hide behind that anymore. I remember sobbing “it’s just a story, it’s just a story” over and over again until I fell asleep exhausted and woke up covered in sweat from terrible nightmares. Needless to say, reality hurts.

22131629-1.jpgI got a lot better with some therapy but some things never truly heal, regardless of how hard we push ourselves towards that goal. Pregnancy and depression were to become my greatest challenge and also a cause of severe depression. Kinda wish that somebody had given me the heads up on what the psychological impact could be BEFORE I had children but sadly rape and mental health are very taboo, even now. So this is me, getting the message out to all the other ladies, pregnancy and breastfeeding may be harder if you have been assaulted. I would not be without my daughters but I wish I had been better prepared for what the reality would be in my circumstances, then maybe I wouldn’t have felt like such a failure as a mother and a woman.

I had been feeling crampy, moody and had other general PMS symptoms but my period hadn’t arrived so I figured that if I do a pregnancy test then my body would clue in and start it back up again. At the time, we had recently moved house so I had been feeling really stressed and figured that that was what had probably delayed my cycle by a week. My partner and I were being extremely careful but as I was to find out; careful isn’t always a guarantee of success. As I looked down at the two little lines I felt a rush of several different emotions. Panic, shock, worry at telling my partner but also a heady mix of happiness and excitement as well. I couldn’t believe my eyes so bought another test and redid it. Positive again, oh crap!

After the inevitable crying on my partner’s shoulders and wondering how the Hell I was going to cope, I booked myself in for a check-up with my GP and then arranged to see the midwife. I learnt I was just five weeks pregnant and then I finally let it sink in. I was going to be a mummy, as someone who for various reasons that included; my past and various disabilities was planning on adopting when the time was right this was a very daunting thought.
In order to have a safe pregnancy, I had to submit myself to a barrage of tests and explain at every appointment why I might be a bit jumpy and overly nervous. I apologized when I flinched and made the midwives lives harder and felt the burn of embarrassment each and every time it happened. I felt abnormal for reacting like that. I ended up dreading each appointment but ultimately I knew that it was worth it to have my tiny, baby girl born safe and sound. I can honestly say that both of my girls are worth every bit of discomfort and distress that I experienced throughout my pregnancies.

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Every vaginal examination was followed by flashbacks and nightmares. The ultrasound scan kicked off my anxiety and blood tests made me feel sick with worry. My past and the resulting PTSD was written clearly in my notes but people still treated it like it was a non-issue. I remember speaking to the doctor about it halfway through my pregnancy and asking for a cesarean section due to the phobia of unknown people going near intimate areas and also a deep-seated fear of having an epileptic seizure whilst in labour. For me, pain, stress and hormone changes are major triggers for my seizures and obviously while giving birth they would all be present. I was told “no” due to the risks of physical harm to my child being at only a 2% increase over the risks for the general population.
This did little to put my mind at rest because one of my close female relatives also has epilepsy and due to her having several seizures at the end of her pregnancy her little girl was born with brain damage and will never be able to be truly independent or live her own life. She is a beautiful and loving little girl, with a gorgeous cheeky smile that lights up any room she is in but clearly, this wasn’t the life that I wanted for my baby.

I had to have a 36-week scan due to it being a high-risk pregnancy and discovered that my beautiful daughter was in fact breach. This was a blessing in disguise as it meant that I could have the cesarean section that I had originally wanted and this probably lessened the negative impacts on my mental health at a later date than if I’d had a natural labour.
During the birth itself, I had an epidural for pain relief and didn’t anticipate that having my lower body frozen would make me feel panicky, powerless and weak but at least I couldn’t feel or see what they were doing down there. All I could feel was a truly strange sensation; like someone was washing dishes in my belly. The medical team who were performing the surgery were kind and understanding and treated me with a great amount of patience and compassion, which I am still very grateful for.
I heard a cry and Evie was brought up to my eye level. She was perfect and worth all the stress, aches and pains. She was then passed to my partner, who held her for the remainder of the procedure as I still couldn’t feel my hands due to the epidural going slightly too high up due to my nervous wiggling, while it was being put in.
About twenty minutes later they wheeled me into recovery, passed her to me to hold and instructed me to place her on my chest and have skin to skin. This was pure bliss and for a while, all of my worries faded away, I felt an instant love for her and thankfully bonded quickly.

bfNext, I was encouraged to try to get her to latch on and start breastfeeding for the first time. It was uncomfortable but at that point, I was still in a drug-fuelled haze from the painkillers and ignoring everything but the tiny miracle in front of me. I stayed in the hospital for two days and then went home to start our parenting adventure unsupervised. This was both an exciting and nerve-wracking prospect, especially considering I still needed help in perfecting my nursing technique.

Sleep deprivation is one of  the less enjoyable parts of being a new mother but I had the added problem in which whenever I did fall asleep, I woke up in a cold shiver from all the nightmares that plagued me. The breastfeeding didn’t help matters either, on one side I felt happy and proud that my body was providing everything my baby needed. On the other hand, it caused flashbacks to the abuse, made me feel physically sick and unwilling to have anybody come near me – all on top of the more common problems most ladies get such as an incorrect latch, Evie being tongue-tied and all the pain that both of those issues bring.
I carried on and persevered because I felt that considering I was a crappy mother in almost every other way then at least I could do this small thing for my child. This would make up for the shame of having such a pathetic mess as a mother. I felt like I was losing my mind and failing as both a mother and as a normal, sane human being.
Something from so long ago surely couldn’t still be bothering me. I hated looking in a mirror because all I saw was a self-indulgent weakling who really needed to get her act together. Obviously, I now know that it was just the depression talking but at the time it felt like I’d never get better and that the world and my family would be better off without me.
At this point, I wouldn’t admit to the PTSD being the problem because I felt ashamed. I felt I was failing at one of the most natural things in the world, (despite Evie being as healthy and happy as can be) and I was worried that people would realize that I was struggling and I ended up paranoid that they would find some reason to take her away from me. Sounds crazy now that I am better but for a while, it was a very real fear that kept me awake at night. Not being worthy of looking after such a wonderful blessing and people seeing me for the fraud I was, pretending to be a good mum when I could barely manage myself, let alone her.

My wonderful partner, myself and our beautiful firstborn daughter Evelynn.

In the end, I broke down in tears in front of the health visitor and admitted I was having problems and he got me a double appointment with my GP, who in turn got me counselling. It’s taken a long time but I have finally beaten the depression (mostly) and finally feel worthy of my children’s love.
I only wish that someone had warned me about the effects that childhood abuse can have on pregnancy and breastfeeding then maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone and pathetic. From what I’ve been told since it is a common issue amongst survivors but as with many uncomfortable subjects it just isn’t spoken about.
Please share and get the word out there. You are not alone. You are not pathetic. You are not defined by your past. You are a wonderful person who deserves every nice and good thing in your life and you are deserving of all the love imaginable.
I apologise if this all seems slightly rambling, but it’s not easy for me to talk about, even now, but I feel that putting things in writing (even on my silly little blog) has given me something of a release from it all.

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Health and Beauty · lifestyle · Mental Health · parenting · Uncategorized

Why I’m proud of my mummy tummy.


Back when I was a child I really couldn’t have given two hoots about how I looked. I was well aware that I was (and still am) disabled and unable to do the most basic of tasks such as apply make-up or style my hair (unless I fancied a shaky two-hour attempt at uselessness.) I knew that even my ability to walk was at best rubbish and even earned me the nobel name of ‘twinkle toes.’ As much as I knew why people didn’t like me, I didn’t understand fully how much of their dislike was based upon my lack of visual and physical appeal.

In some ways being both clueless and unpopular was a real bonus, as it prevented me from experiencing the overwhelming need to fit in. I know that it would have been much easier if I had been able to simply blend in but sadly with my difficulties that just wasn’t an option. I was also well aware that I wasn’t what people would refer to as a ‘looker.’ The bullies at school made that crystal clear to me, on almost a daily basis. I was just a freak who looked different and acted oddly due to multiple mental health issues and disabilities. A weirdo that had to wear splints on her legs and someone who would on occasion; randomly drop to the floor at a moments notice. (Yay epilepsy, providing me with my very own super cool dance moves!)

It was tough being a teenage Alex. However I figured that I had at least one thing going for me… I wasn’t fat. I was relatively slender with a few curves thrown in for good measure, which I personally quite liked. I was a uk size 8-10 depending on style and developed breasts at quite a young age, relative to my peers. I thought that overall I looked ‘okay.’ I wouldn’t be winning any beauty pageants anytime soon but at the very least people would run me out-of-town, pick forks in hand.

On a side note: please don’t misunderstand me! I have no issue with the guys and gals who are a little bigger than average. Their body is their business, not mine. I was just well aware that it isn’t the ideal look in our society, so I was thankful that with everything else that made me stick out like a sore thumb, my weight wasn’t the icing on the top of the really shitty, crap cake that is my body.

As I got older I started reading magazines and soon came to the realisation that my curves were nothing to be proud of. I learnt new and saddening phrases such as: ‘bingo wings,’ ‘double chins’ and ‘muffin tops’ and these words created a new sense of discomfort around who I was. I went from knowing that I was broken and not caring about my looks, to being someone who hated what she looked like based on someone else’s opinion (who I didn’t even know) of how I should present myself to the world.

After making the massive mistake of reading too many of these little booklets I soon learnt the ‘truth.’ Unless you were either lucky enough to be naturally slender or put yourself on a strict diet and exercise regime (a laughable concept with my leg problems) to become a teeny, tiny size 6 or 8 you were deemed as essentially worthless in the eyes of the fashion Gods.

If I didn’t become the ‘correct’ shape then I would no longer have had the right to wear tight-fitting clothes or even swimming costumes. Best not gross out the locals with the ‘muffin top monstrosity’ that I had suddenly become, simply by reading a few magazines. This spiralled as I started to take note of other people’s ‘well meaning’ comments and advice, which up to that point I had simple ignored or laughed off.

I often got a stern talking too for wearing leggings because I (a UK size 10) was deemed too fat and wobbly to look nice in them. I also got disapproving looks (and comments) when I would eat cake or go for a second portion of food, even when it was salad or vegetables. I remember feeling pissed off because the guys who were of a similar age to me were actively being encouraged to eat more and I thought that it was really unfair that I couldn’t. Thinking back it was just plain ridiculous,.

I was nowhere near what could be classified as ‘fat’ but I was too nice to snap and tell them exactly where they could stick their opinions. I thought that if people told me something that was truly unkind as often as they did, then surely it must have been for my own good. People couldn’t possibly like putting others down, just for the Hell of it.

Surely to God?

The sad fact is: yes they do because they love the quick boost that it gives their own ego after they have squashed yours down. People can be complete and utter dicks. I have always been a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to social conundrums. I always thought that just because I would never do something that mean or underhanded, others wouldn’t either. Naivety at it’s finest, I’m afraid it’s been a steep learning curve over the years.

At the age of 24, I fell pregnant with my eldest daughter and what should have been a happy and joyous occasion turned sour very quickly. Not because I was unhappy with my pending bundle of joy but because the disillusionment with my body worsened rapidly. I steadily got bigger and wobblier and everyone decided that they suddenly had even more of a right to comment on how ‘huge’ I was becoming.

The comments ranged from ‘you sure your not having twins?’ to ‘don’t gain too much otherwise you’ll be fat forever.’ This coupled with all the unwanted bump grabbing that occurred, (I have serious problems with people I don’t know touching me) turned what was supposed to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life into something that was both stressful and embarrassing in equal measure. Thanks guys….

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The pregnancy rolled by in what seemed like the blink of an eye and soon I was holding my tiny, baby girl. What’s amazing is how quickly my entire mindset changed after Evie was born. I held her close and counted her tiny fingers and toes. Marvelled at her tiny face and kissed her little hands. I knew that my body had accomplished something amazing and I suddenly felt a strong sense of pride. Then 17 months later came shock number two; Lily. This only confirmed my new opinions. My body grew them both and birthed them (albeit by cesarean section) and is still nourishing the youngest one now.

If I’m entirely honest, I still feel quite self-conscious of my new-found flab and mummy tummy. My boobs are saggier than I ever thought was possible and will no doubt get worse when my breasts deflate down from their current breastfeeding glory, back to their original size. I am proud of what my body has accomplished even if I’m not too keen on what it currently looks like.

Everywhere you look you see celebrity mums snapped back into shape within two weeks at most. If they haven’t they get labelled as fat, lazy and slobbish. How dare they spend time looking after their baby and trying to be kind to themselves after doing something as ‘simple’ as giving birth? They should already be starving themselves and spending hours at the gym regardless of whether they want to or not.

This is what the magazines and tabloids would have you believe is the normal way to live. Never mind the other pressures that having a small child brings like: sleep deprivation, pain from the birth, worrying about what’s normal, feeding the child along with about twenty-thousand other things that constantly take up space in your already stretched out mind. It’s already almost too much to handle for those first few months without the added pressure of other people’s opinions about how we should look and act.

The problem seems to be the tabloids and their expectations for all the celebrity mamas. If their bump is too big during pregnancy then they are obviously eating way too much and have simply ‘let themselves go.’ On the other side of the fence, God forbid their bumps be too small and compact. If they are then that woman is ‘staving’ her baby. Shame, horror, shock! How dare these woman deviate from what complete strangers define as ‘the norm.’

It doesn’t matter that bump size is controlled by many factors such as: the mother’s body type, how the baby is lying and whether or not this is a first pregnancy. The only thing that matters is ridiculing woman so that other woman will buy magazines that will essentially make them feel terrible about themselves. The body shaming starts before you even have chance to enjoy being a mother because we are being constantly encouraged to shame each other. Just so that publishers of magazines can make some easy money from other people’s suffering.

Lovely cycle of events, isn’t it?

Unfortunately we end up being held up to the very same standards as our celebrity sisters. We are told time and time again that if celebrities can snap back into shape then surely to Hell everyone can. What if you don’t have our very own: personal trainer, dietitian, time to yourself and some oh so, glorious photo shop magic? That’s no excuse in the race to be perfect and aesthetically pleasing to others. Shame on you for daring to have a muffin top or thunder thighs. Shame on you for taking your time to recover and feel human, before taking the time and effort to make yourself ‘presentable’ to the rest of the world. Shame on you for knowing that your main priorities are both; yourself and your children when you should be worrying about what everyone else thinks.

Frankly I say F*** them and the horse they rode in on. If they want perfection let them deal with their own imperfections and leave the rest of the world’s well alone. I dare say they have just as many as the rest of us do, they just have better tools with which to hide them with…

The picture to the right is of my post baby belly. I know it’s not pretty and there are many, many stretch marks but a big part of me feels like they are badges of honor for giving my children life. I quite often feel sad when I look in the mirror and from what I have been told, so do many other mums. This seems to be a normal reaction to our bodies changes. Nine months are so short a time to get used to a life time of differences.

Every time my mind goes to it’s, ‘your now really unattractive and fat’ place I go and look at my children. They are worth all the changes to my body. Both the good (hello temporary, free boob job) and the bad (boo… Thunder thighs and wobbles) and if I had to decide between a fantastic body and my girls? My children would win out every single time, without fail.

How can we possibly be ashamed of our bodies when they are capable of doing something as powerful and amazing as bringing forth life and then nourishing said lives for a further year or more. We are all super hero’s and it’s about time that we noticed that. We are worth so much more than other people’s opinions and prejudice. We are the reason that the people we love the most exist, if that isn’t a reason to celebrate our bodies then I don’t know what is.

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Health and Beauty · Mental Health · parenting

Why we shouldn’t judge mother’s who formula feed their babies.

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I am not going to start a debate on the fact that breastfeeding is the healthiest method of feeding for both mother and child because honestly, it is. That isn’t the point of this post.

For the record, I breastfed my eldest daughter until she was over 10 months old and I am currently nursing my 6-month-old so I am very much pro-breastfeeding. I just feel that the expectation to breastfeed is way too strong and many mothers feel judged or are all too willing to judge others about something as simple as how a baby is fed. Shouldn’t we focus on the main things, such as: that the child is well fed, is well-loved and is well taken care of? Everything else should be neither here nor there. We should be supporting each other and building each other up, there is enough to worry about without the harsh, busybodying from other ‘well-meaning’ woman.

A big issue that I’ve noticed is the anxiety that formula woman seem to feel. I have started up many a conversation with bottle feeding mums and whenever they hear or see that I breastfeed they instantly get defensive, almost as if they have been given a lecture on their quote, unquote ‘failings’ before and want to avoid a similar situation from occurring again.

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A typical conversation might go like this:

Me: “I’ll tell you what; breast pumps are a Godsend especially on a freezing day like today. Brrrr!”

Them: (Instant coldness) “I didn’t breastfeed my son and he is, in fact, a bright, happy, healthy six-year-old.”

Me: (Confused at the change in conversation tone) “I’m certain he is, you’re obviously a wonderful mother. Why would I think otherwise?”

Them: (Relaxes) “Because you breastfeed…..”

I have had many versions of this exact conversation, time and time again and find it very wearing.

I know that ladies that nurse their babies get judged too. For different reasons admittedly; such as daring to show three seconds of boob to feed a hungry infant. (Sorry scowling middle-aged lady but my baby’s needs come way, way, way in front of your discomfort especially when you can just turn your head ninety degrees and look away.) But at least breastfeeder’s are generally viewed as doing the best they can for their baby rather than being viewed as lazy and unwilling to do what nature intended.

crescent moon and cloud wind chimes

You can’t win, either way, you’re always going to annoy/ embarrass/ outrage someone so why even care what people think. Smile when they comment and simply nod or say “Gosh, really? Thanks for taking the time to comment on something that literally has no impact on your life what so ever…”

You are doing great and as long as you know that, why let random people’s opinions get you down?

Here are just some of the reasons why we shouldn’t judge our fellow mummies for doing what they feel is best for them and their children:

1) There are already way too many pressures to be a ‘perfect mother’. Sure, in theory, we could all aspire to be that super mum we see on TV. Snapped back into shape two weeks after having a non medicated, ‘natural’ birth, perfectly tidy home and constantly smiling and overjoyed at the very thought of existing before four cups of coffee. Honestly though; who the Hell can seriously manage all of that?!

It’s just not realistic. Nearly two years in I still have a bit of a jelly belly, my house is only just starting to look tidy again and I still occasionally feel down and unable to fully function. Also, let’s not get started on how many times I’ve realised I’m covered in puke or pooh AFTER leaving the house on an important errand. Isn’t motherhood a glamorous day job?

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2) We should be judging mother’s based on how happy, well looked after and loved their children are. If they are treasured then does it matter if they have been fed formula? Of cause it doesn’t!

3) The mother in question might not even be able to breastfeed for reasons such as:

Her milk didn’t come in at all or quickly enough.
She has had/ has a serious illness that could be passed onto the baby.
She is too ill to nurse.
She takes medication that isn’t compatible with breastfeeding.
The baby has a cleft palate, is tongue-tied or is/was too premature to suckle effectively.

Imagine if she had desperately wanted to nurse her baby and then someone criticises her for not doing it. She would be completely crushed and would feel like a failure for not managing something that is viewed as incredibly important. If you don’t know someone’s story then don’t comment. Hell even if you do know her story, it’s still not anyone’s place to comment. Full stop!

4) Previous experiences of rape and sexual abuse. This one is a biggie! It is estimated that one in five women will have received some form of abuse and obviously it is both humiliating for the lady in question and sadly also a very taboo topic in our society and is almost never discussed openly. Unless you know the lady very well it is highly unlikely that you would know what is in her past.

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Breastfeeding can be a big trigger for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Speaking from experience this can make feeding quite traumatic due to repeated nightmares and flashbacks to the abuse. It took me months and several sessions of counselling to be able to do it without feeling sick to my stomach.

Even now I still find it difficult at times. I felt terrible because I thought that something so natural couldn’t possibly be so difficult and that I was somehow failing as a mother because of the challenges it bought me. Turns out it’s a common problem in cases of sexual abuse and I should have been forewarned about it. If I would have been told what the impacts might have been I might have elected against breastfeeding to protect my mental health against the terrible Post-Natal Depression the PTSD triggered.

5) Not getting enough support from medical professionals and loved ones. Many ladies struggle with getting the baby to latch, Mastitis, baby not gaining weight quickly enough and their family being uncomfortable with them breastfeeding either in front of them or at all. Obviously, in the latter case, it can become very isolating and inconvenient. Who wants to be told that if they want to feed their child they must do it on their own and miss out on socializing and feeling included. Very few people can cope well with being excluded and would rather bend to other people’s will than be pushed out.

6) Here’s a challenge: go into a classroom of six or seven-year-olds and point out which ones were breastfed and which were given formula. Can’t do it?

That’s fine, neither can I.

7) Some mothers need to go back to work earlier due to financial pressures. I can almost hear the ‘breastapo’ shouting at the mother to pump. Here is the problem with that: in an ideal world yes all women could pump but breasts are designed to respond to a cute, adorable infant suckling, nuzzling, and cooing. Breasts aren’t designed to respond well to a cold, unloving machine.

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This means that some ladies won’t be able to express any milk and those that can may potentially express less than what their baby usually eats. Babies are a lot more efficient at suckling than a pump is so they can get a lot more milk out and stimulate the breasts to produce the correct amount that they need.

8) Sometimes a lady might need to supplement with formula due to hormonal changes. When she is on her period her supply might drop temporarily. Obviously, if she isn’t producing enough milk then giving the baby a bit of formula is better than the baby being hungry. I should mention that in most cases it is just better to nurse more often because breastfeeding works on a ‘supply and demand’ basis. This basically means that the more you nurse and pump, the more you produce. However, it’s not always practical to do that, especially for working mothers or those with older children to take care of. Pumping is very time-consuming.

Pregnancy has a similar effect to periods but it lasts much longer (usually from the second trimester onwards) and making sure baby has enough milk is more important than bowing down to someone else’s disapproval.

This leads me to the bad advice given to ladies by well-meaning people and ill-informed friends such as: not feeding on demand and topping up with formula unnecessarily. Both of these make the milk supply drop considerably and this makes breastfeeding much more difficult in the long run. It’s quite difficult to increase a milk supply before it’s fully established, usually at around the six weeks mark.

9) In some cases, a baby might refuse the breast due to having had a bottle first or just being unable to latch. This is known as ‘nipple confusion’ and thought to be caused by the baby preferring the relative ease of getting the milk from a teat, rather than a nipple.

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10) Not being told about what those first few weeks of breastfeeding are like in reality. News flash… They hurt. Even if you have a perfect latch and you’ve done it all before it takes time for your nipples to toughen up and if you are unlucky enough to get a blocked duct… Owch doesn’t cover it.

Thankfully after about a month, it gets easier but all the doctors informed me that if done right it shouldn’t hurt at all. However, almost all the breastfeeding mothers I have spoken too had also experienced pain, to begin with. This comes as a shock and many mothers give up as a result of being unprepared for how challenging it can really be.

11) The final reason is simple; because she doesn’t want to. It is her decision at the end of the day and as long as her child is well taken care of I don’t think it is for anyone to comment on or judge her for her method of feeding.

I think that all mothers who spend their days delighting, despairing of and loving their little ones deserve a medal. It’s not an easy job being a mother and regardless of if you breastfeed or not, I think you are doing a truly fantastic job and should be very proud of yourselves.

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Mental Health

Today I feel discouraged.

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Today I feel discouraged.

Doesn’t sound like a sentence with much weight to it until you consider the whole picture.

The one where after years of suffering from both depression and anxiety you dust your self off and start a project for fun. You know it isn’t going to go very far but hey; a confidence boost is a confidence boost, right?


You type about your hopes and dreams but then your fingers falter when you stop and take stock of all the things you’ve hidden from over the years. The anxiety driven excuses to avoid life, avoid pleasure and avoid the inevitable moment where you are judged as a failure by either; those tiny, wicked voices inside of your head or the voices of others. You get told you’re being stupid and you agree because what could possibly be so wrong with you that you can’t even handle a conversation with a stranger or walking to the corner shop for a bottle of milk.

You stop typing and then consider what would happen if you could shut off those voices for just one day. Who would you become? What would you achieve when not trapped within a prison of your own making? What a wonder that would be!

You sigh and start typing again.

You look at all that you have accomplished and smile perhaps a little smugly until your brain adds in the word “but” after each statement.

  • I am raising two beautiful daughters successfully. “But are you just telling yourself that, to feel better about failing?”
  • I have held down a job since the age of 18. “But so do most other people, try again sunshine….”
  • I have started a blog and it’s fun.”But you will never succeed. Might as well jack it in now….”
  • I got out of bed this morning…..? “Oh honey, REALLY grasping at straws now, aren’t we?”
woman wearing pink top
Photo by Moose Photos on

On it goes, everyday. Other people’s encouragement gets the same treatment from your brain as well.

Negativity breeds negativity and eventually morphs into a depression that you can’t shake or outrun. You give up on everything until; if your really lucky something happens that makes you carry on and forces you to start dreaming again.

For me that was the shock known as ‘Evie’; my eldest daughter. I Found out about her existence on a cold November morning after a meltdown about the absence of banana milk in the local shop. I’m not usually that much of a drama queen and frankly I had been feeling really under the weather so did a test….. Voila I was set to be a mummy.

This forced me to ask the very serious question of, ‘don’t you think its time to get better now?’ From that moment on I’ve tried constantly to improve. I still have panic attacks in crowded or new places. I still feel anxious and like I will fail at everything and I still feel like I have no worth.

What’s different you ask?

I now force myself to do better. For example something as simple as writing this blog or as complicated as learning a new skill. I know that in order to give the girls the mummy they deserve I have to work on being able to do everything that most ‘normal’ mums can. I have to move well outside of my comfort zone (which to be frank is sat with a good book and a mega bar of chocolate) and prove everything I know about myself wrong.

The only person that can do that is me, so here I am ready to start changing my story. I hope you all can join me.

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lifestyle · Mental Health · parenting

Welcome to Parentville.

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Photo by Negative Space on

Hello and welcome to this little Island called ‘Parentville.’ I would invite you in but at times it can be such a lonely place; filled with misgivings and uncertainty. surrounded on all sides by oceans of well-meaning advice and snide comments that make you seriously contemplate whether or not you are doing okay as a parent. You think you probably are and you are at least 20% 90% sure that your decisions are correct but how can so many different people be wrong…?

Parentville is a place filled with tired growls and coffee breath being unleashed from two parental dragons. It’s a paradise hidden in layers of fog created from stress, self-doubt and loneliness. Relax, have yet another coffee and read about my little journey. It’s just a few steps out of the door, a few leaps onto the unknown and yet it’s terrifying to the extreme. Welcome to the world of being responsible for one or more tiny humans. I hope you’re ready… Good luck!

There’s tantrums and cursing under your breath until you feel like you are slowly losing your identity. Don’t worry you’re still there but you’ve become a slightly different you. More resilient, more protective and mostly ready for it all. You are becoming a pro at dodging whatever is thrown at you and you have somehow learnt how to survive off of just two measly hours of sleep a night. You have also become a tiny persons superhero, the person they can rely on to help them in every way. It doesn’t always feel like that when they are acting up but believe me when I say that YOU are the most important person to them. Let that wonderful thought fill you up and get you through the worst.

It’s also a place of never-ending love, creativity and gleeful giggles. Sloppy kisses and dance parties become the norm in your life, as do “I love you’s” and reading the same book six times while a tiny head rests on your lap. A sweet  little voice pleading for ‘just one more story’ while their hand touches your face. You will yawn and then relent and read four more before tucking them into bed and collapsing out yourself. Exhausted but content that maybe, just maybe you might get twenty (well-earned) minutes to yourself before starting again.

person covering woman with blanket
Photo by Min An on

Even with all the wonderful things that parenting brings, it can still get pretty lonely over there on your little island. Youre childless friends really don’t want to listen to the endless poop and puke parade stories and how little Jimmy is so cute now that he can….   Meanwhile your friends who already have kids are so caught up with trying to find time to shower and improve on three hours sleep that you almost never see them. When you do, it’s a quick nod from one soldier to another until it’s time to start the battle again.

Neither you, nor your friends talk much because of the delusion that you’re the only ones having problems or difficulties. Embarrassing lies escape your lips in order to save face. You feel the need to prove to the world that you do in fact have your shit together. The secret is that non of us do but we all find ourselves playing into that never-ending illusion. Welcome to being an adult, it’s essentially repeating “I’m doing fine” until by some miracle you believe it yourself.


Choo Choo into depression city we travel, first stop Doubt Town. Population: you. That’s how it start, all you want is reassurance but the world and his wife have differing ideas and opinions. Even when given gently they burn you right in your sleep deprived heart. You know it shouldn’t but damn it, can’t they see that you are trying your hardest!? Even if the other parents seem to be doing so much better, you can’t be doing that badly. Right….? RIGHT?

Wrong, but it’s too difficult to see right now. You are overwhelmed by the love and responsibility you feel and the dreadful phobia of failure. Breathe! You will overcome this. Don’t worry dear reader, keep sipping that already cold coffee (yes, I know you have been up and down to the kids six times already) and read on. It gets easier. I promise.

We move on into the shadowy area known as ‘Lost Avenue. ‘ You look in the mirror and lo and behold you still have the wobbles from pregnancy and you pout and mentally push away the choccies and biscuits. You reprimand yourself because it’s been three months and Jesus Chris you still look like a damned marshmallow. The Celebs at this point look like sexy perfection molded out of God-given wax. Or if they don’t the tabloids end up gasping in absolute horror at the pigginess of it all. What gives?

Nothing dear reader, you don’t have liposuction and some nip, nip tuck to hide it all away. You don’t have Photoshop and a personal trainer. You have a screaming baby and very little time. Every time you look at that belly do yourself a favour and tell yourself these things:

  1. Your body has just given you a baby, let it recover and be proud of the amazing job you and it have accomplished. You have earned those chocolates, enjoy them for now. Work when you feel up to it. You are your own boss, social expectations don’t own you!
  2. It took nine months to gain all the weight and wobbles, it will take at least nine months to normalise again. You grew and entire human for Christ’s sake! 90% of mums have the dreaded mummy tummy so you’re not alone. You should see mine… In fact please do:
  3. wp-1484569651615.jpgSee! You are perfectly normalb, just like this wobbly mama!
  4. Screw what other people think. It’s your body not their’s!
  5. Quick side note for the Daddies. Please don’t get offended if your partner wants 30 minutes without being touched after the kids are settled. She loves you but it reaches a point where she gets ‘touched out’ from the kids climbing on her all day (especially if she’s breastfeeding). Please be patient and allow her to feel like she owns herself for a while. She will be very thankful for it and will most likely encourage your advances when she feels less smothered.

In the lost category there is a tiny loss called ‘creativity.’ You won’t even notice it sneaking away initially until you look in your craft cupboard and feel a twang of sadness for all the unfinished/ unstarted projects. It will come back, with gusto! After all you will be surrounded by children who are filled with wonder and imagination. You will play along and feel very silly doing so, but don’t. Look at it as a opportunity to see things with new eyes and with excitement and also as the perfect excuse to act like a two-year old and allow yourself some well needed crazy. It’s exhilarating!

I keep searching for some kind of map to lead me on this long journey, so that I can honestly claim to know what the Hell I’m doing. So far no luck but at least I’m getting better. More sure of myself and less prone to doubt. You’ll get there too but it takes time and a lot of self-love and respect. The truth is that you will be constantly winging it, but you will be too afraid to admit that small fact because of the ever-present ‘mummy police’ and their siren of “Oh dear God, did you hear? Suzie gave her five-year old a chocolate bar. Tut, tut, snarl…”

What I am trying to say in this long and rambling post is: don’t worry, you’re doing great. We all cock-up from time to time and non of us have even the slightest clue of what we are doing  half the time. You may need a little pat on the back and here it is (I want you tell yourself this daily): You are doing amazingly and your kids will be proud to call you their parent. It’s okay to make mistakes and all in all you’ve got this.”

If you enjoyed this post then please follow both my Twitter and Facebook pages, both of which are linked below. Thank you so much for reading.

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