22 March 2017

Postnatal Depression...My Story Part Two: The Fear

I felt it.
I felt that overwhelming rush of love.
Not straight away, but I remember exactly when I felt it.

Our new little pink pickle and I had both been cleaned up, wrapped up and left alone in our dimly lit delivery slash recovery suite to sleep off what had been a very long day and a very quick birth. I remember waking up and my right hand was really stiff. Looking over at it I realised that for a solid five and a half hours my hand hadn't stopped clutching the side of Elsie's cot beside my hospital bed from the moment Daddy had been sent home for a shower and some rest. That's when I felt it. Like a wave or a magic spell, it hit me hard, boom, and I felt it.

With my aching hand still not wanting to leave her cot and the tears flowing, I just knew in that moment that life had changed forever. I had changed forever. That I had been given a job, a gift, and I would do my hardest to fulfil that role with absolutely everything I had until forever.

That love for her grew and continues to grow each and every day. Just when you think you can't love any more than you do, and that your heart surely can't get any bigger, it does.

Everything was perfect. Or so I thought. 

As time went on we tried to adjust to our new life and even though our hearts were full, there was a dark cloud looming over us, mostly me, that would have a huge impact on our experience as new parents. This dark cloud is what I refer to as The Fog. This heavy, miserable puff of negativity that oozes it's way in and out of your mind, pulling you downwards and clouding every possible positive angle it can worm it's ugly form into. Postnatal Depression is one heck of an ugly sod.

It took me a long time to realise that it was PND and that I wasn't entirely losing my marbles of my own accord.  Over the past six months, since a bit of light broke through the fog, I've wondered why on earth it took me so long to acknowledge that something wasn't quite right.

You see I've always had a clean record. All through school, not a scratch on my name, (aside from being a notorious chatterbox which landed me the odd detention here and there!) Then all through adulthood I'd continued to be the good girl. Always wanting praise and always wanting to please. I realised that there was this fear that comes with knowing something isn't quite right in your mind.  The fear of being 'branded'. The fear of having a 'mark' against your name. The fear that you will be noted down as 'not coping' and having this fear meant that I didn't want 'Post-Natal Depression' on my record.

I feared that saying it aloud would mean that all of a sudden I wasn't this perfect person anymore. But most importantly, more than anything else, I feared that by admitting there was something wrong with me it could result in Elsie being taken away from me.

That we would be 'put on a list'. That people would think that I couldn't look after my own baby. That we'd have to tick a 'special' box from now on and that there would forever be a mark by my name that said something was wrong with me. That I wasn't fit to be a mother. 

When I told my midwife therapist about these fears, they all came flooding out. All of my fears and the horrid reasons as to why I had waited so long before seeking help. She looked me in the eyes and said "none of that is true, none of that would happen and none of this is your fault". She reassured me that everything I was feeling was normal and in no way anything to be ashamed of. That it was all fixable and she was right. Talking to someone about my fears helped to lift my fog and once the fog had cleared a little I could see things properly again.

PND is common. It's not a bad thing. It's not permanent. You're not a bad mum. Your child won't be taken away. You are not broken. You are a person who just needs a little help finding the light switch again. PND is fixable.

Sadly fear will always be a permanent fixture in everyone's life. Even more so when you become a parent and as we get even closer to welcoming our second baby into the world I fear that fog could rear it's ugly head again. But at least now I know the signs to watch out for and I won't be afraid to ask for help again. Asking for help was never a sign of weakness, it was a sign of strength. Strength to make a change and to help me find the happy me again.
read more " Postnatal Depression...My Story Part Two: The Fear "

27 February 2017

Co-Sleeping...The Chaos & The Calm

I always swore we'd never do it.
I'd always look at others and think that they were absolutely bonkers for doing it.
I'd wonder where on earth they had gone wrong, shake my head and think that we would be different. 
I said we'd be different.

Who was I kidding?

We are all exactly the same.

Parenting is not only about keeping your little human alive, it's about survival as a unit. Who needs some random expedition to the outback beyond no-frigging-where with Bear Grills? Climbing pointless death traps, eating poisonous bugs and drinking filtered wee for fun hey? when the real knack to survival is tested right in your very own home. You do what you need to do to keep everyone alive on a daily basis and a lot of this involves doing everything you swore you would never do.

In our household, since day one of Elsie's arrival, sleep has been our demon and our endless expedition towards survival.

I've been harping on about Elsie's sleep issues for what feels like a lifetime. I'll tell anyone with ears that my daughter is a terrible sleeper. People ask me how I am and within seconds I've got on to a one woman (shoot me now) monologue on the woes and dramas about the fact that my daughter is a terrible sleeper. I bore myself stupid with the same old tripe and I can hear the old me whispering somewhere in the long lost background saying, 'oh please shut up you boring old cow.' It's surprising I've got any friends left to be honest. 

Her issues with sleep have consumed me in ways that will take me and my husband years to recover from. The stress and strain of having a frigging nightmare sleeper is soul destroying.

I blame it on my inability to see the good in everything and everyday because I am just so bloody exhausted.

So having tried everything except shipping her off to sleep camp, (if this exists please send details asap) we've become fully fledged co-sleepers without ever meaning to. By co-sleeping it means that I don't have to get out of bed countless times to soothe her back to sleep. It means that with a sleepy hand she taps my arm to check I'm still there and this reassures her enough to send herself back to sleep. It means that for now I get endless cuddles from my girl, who will one day be too busy to give her mum a proper hug as she flies out the front door. It means that as she wakes in the morning, the first thing she does is put her arms around my neck and nuzzles her face into mine so soft and full of love. It means we get to see her first smile of the day as she opens her eyes, so happy that we're there, her Mummy and Daddy - her bookends. It means that I get to treasure all her lovely baby-ness for so much longer. The soft fluffy head all nestled under my chin. Her chubby limbs that reach out to check that we're there. Those quiet, still, precious moments that won't last forever just knowing that we are everything she needs in the world.

But what if you're tired of co-sleeping?

It's not all lovely. She still wakes at least five times a night on average. Fifteen times on a really bad night. She is super tall for her age and so most mornings you wake up feeling as if you've just done ten rounds with a really cheesed off octopus. Sometimes she uses your head as a pillow and you only wake up just as your air circulation is about to be cut off. She calls out for 'Mumma' in her sleep, just to keep you on your toes and usually just as you're drifting off to sleep for the umpteenth time. She can be awake for a solid two hours usually around 3am asking for 'Peppa' on the television or she simply lays there practicing all the words she knows on repeat. Co-sleeping for us is exhausting and it's something the old me swore I'd never ever do. 

But the old me wasn't a parent yet and it was all so very easy to observe from my well rested inexperienced soap box having had thirty-odd years of uninterrupted sleep behind me. The old me was a deluded knob. As a family, being co-sleepers is something we are still struggling to accept and I've been pondering the reasons as to why this might be, and why there is such a bad vibe around the idea of co-sleeping. 

As bedtime rolls around I torture myself every night thinking that we've failed miserably in some crucial area of parenting, and that by co-sleeping we are destined to bring up a recluse of an adult who will be socially inept. But is this really the case? Perhaps only time will tell. 

I've spoken to many friends about their children's sleep habits, (of course, as it's the only thing I bloody talk about) and I've been surprised to find out that we're not alone in our bedtime dilemmas, co-sleeping concerns and the way we feel forced to justify our reason as to why we've ended up co-sleeping. It's as if co-sleeping can't be a choice and something that we feel ashamed to admit. So why do some of us feel as if co-sleeping is a sign of failure?  

It's as if society has made us feel that by co-sleeping you're too soft a parent. An idea which isn't helped by the 'Nanny SOS' craze and text book parenting know-it-alls - mostly written and preached by non-parents I might add. Hold on a moment whilst I go and tell a rocket scientist how to do his job when I failed my science and maths GCSE. It's not going to happen is it? Let alone land me a book deal harping on about that trip to space that I've never actually been on! 

It's not about being the hardest or the toughest parent. We all make our choices depending on our situation and more importantly the baby itself. They are all individual, bizarre little creatures who are  also finding their way in the world, just like their parents.  I'll still worry how the next few months, years even, will pan out and how on earth we will ever get her to sleep in her own bed, especially with a newborn on the way. But whether we've done the right thing or not, we've tried to survive as new parents and co-sleeping has become our raft.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with co-sleeping, so let me know in the comments below! 
read more " Co-Sleeping...The Chaos & The Calm "

20 February 2017

Preparing for Baby Number Two with The Baby Box Company Giveaway...

I imagined that things would be different the second time around, but not quite as different perhaps as  this. By the time I reached the third trimester in my first pregnancy, baby already had it's own bedroom fully kitted out with a wardrobe filled with every single item of new baby paraphernalia that one might need. I'd spend any spare moment I had just mooching through the immaculately organised drawers and the shelves, lightly touching and admiring my Mummy-to-be handiwork, full of anticipation for our new arrival. I'd rearrange each little soft toy and re-fold all the blankets so they were just right and I would meticulously go through endless to-do and to-buy lists to ensure that we were ready.

Little did I know then that no amount of folding or organising would make us any more ready or prepared for how life would be once our little thunder bolt of joy entered our lives. So you'd think I'd be taking comfort in this knowledge and not give two hoots as to how prepared we are this time around. Na-ah. My pregnancy hormones are telling me what I should be doing by now, but the reality is that living with my parents whilst our house is still being renovated, things will have to be very different this time around whether my hormones like it or not.

Whilst I'm currently torn between my urge to nest and the panic that I'm no where near as prepared as I was last time around, I need to face facts that as long as baby has clean clothes, milk and an abundance of love- he or she will be more than OK. Mummy needs to suck it up and stop torturing herself with perfect nursery interiors on Instagram pronto.

So when the lovely people over at the The Baby Box Company got in touch and asked if I'd like to review one of their beautiful baby hampers I was so chuffed to finally stop moping and take a moment to focus on something lovely for our poor neglected baby number two. 

The Baby Box Company 

If there's one gift people love buying, it's bits for a new baby. Even if your sprogs have flown the nest or you're still waiting for your turn with the stork, there's nothing quite like that warm fuzzy feeling you get when mooching through those teeny weeny cotton baby grows and incy wincy accessories. But what goes with what? What do new parents actually need? The whole expedition can become a bit of a minefield.

Well the Baby Box Company aims to take away all that stress with it's beautiful range of high quality baby gifts, ready-made hampers and gifts for Mums, (yes, don't forget us!) Everything one might need to celebrate a new arrival can be found all in one handy category- for boys, girls or neutral. If time is of the essence there are an array of gorgeous pre-made thoughtful hampers are available to suit just about any gift requirements or budget. 

I received one of their 'really useful' hampers filled with a selection of newborn essentials including an Aden and Anais muslin, (which are my favourite brand of muslins- they wash beautifully!) a pair of Sock Ons which I've always wanted to try out, a super soft cotton bodysuit and matching hatch in my fave neutral pattern- grey stars and of course a very handy dribble bib. All items from my previous experience will most definitely come in useful. 

The quality of the products are fabulous and it was super exciting opening up the box, mooching and cooing at all the items. It was a real treat and has kickstarted my flutterbies of excitement to start sorting things out for baby number two. 

You can check out the full range of beautiful new baby gifts that The Baby Box Company has to offer over on their website, but in the mean time why not enter our giveaway to win yourself or a friend one of their medium sized gift hampers? It couldn't be simpler, just enter using the Rafflecopter application below...

UK entries only. Giveaway closes Monday 27th February at midnight. Full terms and conditions can be found within the Rafflecopter. Good Luck peeps!

Collaborative Post- Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! 
read more " Preparing for Baby Number Two with The Baby Box Company Giveaway... "

11 January 2017

Choosing Childcare...What Should We Do?

"I think nursery would be good for her...and you" 

It's something that's been said to me on more than one occasion over the past few months and it's something that's been on mind ever since I was pregnant with Elsie. But how do you decide what childcare is the best thing for your child and for you? 

We've been very fortunate in that we haven't had any pressure to send Elsie to nursery or to a childminder as my mum takes care of Elsie when I'm at work, but I've long pondered what the affects might be on being a stay-at-home-baby as opposed to being a nursery-baby? She's totally nurtured for in every kind of way being at home with us, with regular trips to various places from the park to the garden centre and our home is supplied with enough toys to keep a small toy shop afloat. But with a new baby on the way and it becoming harder to keep her overactive mind stimulated each and every day, I'm beginning to seriously worry that she might be missing out on something from being at home full-time? 

Do stay-at-home-babies miss out? 

There are the obvious aspects that I'm concerned she might be lacking, such as socialising with other children her age, having access to a range of simulating activities, being in a learning environment from an early age, being taught and disciplined from other adults outside of the family unit and most importantly, realising that she's not the only tiny human in the universe. But making the decision to send your child to nursery- where you don't know the childcare assistants or how well your child will be cared for in your absence is a really hard thing to shake off.

How would she cope without me there?

Now I know that kids are robust and adapt quickly, but what if Jacob the hard nut kid who has been ruling the nursery rooms from 6 months old keeps pushing her over and making her cry? What if Stacey the nursery key worker doesn't clock onto this fact because she's busy dealing with Sophie the winging kid who won't join in and just sits in the corner crying for her mummy? What if my child is the one who struggles to play with other kids or is the one sitting in the corner crying? What if she hurts herself and no one sees her? What if she chokes on something and no one is watching her? What if she thinks I've abandoned her? What if she hates it? What if she hates me for sending her there? My reservations are endless and these are just a snippet of the scenarios and excuses that run through my head as to why I shouldn't send her to nursery. 

I won't be there to protect her.
You can't protect them forever.
But that's my job. 

I'm fully aware that at some point she'll have to go to school. Crikey, I still can't manage to carry out simple household tasks without her toddling behind me causing enough havoc to make it look as if we're trying to stage a burglary in our home. I keep telling myself that 'creating mess' is just one of her many talents rather than her being on a mission to send me over the edge. Failing that thought, I think she might just be a little bored. But by the time she goes to school she'll be able to tell me if she's not happy, or if Jacob's being an annoying twit, or if the teacher is ignoring her or if she fell over and hurt herself? Am I just being a little too overprotective perhaps?

You might be holding her back.

Every parent worries about their child's development. We get huge kicks out of little milestones like following instructions, learning words, remembering simple tasks and showing signs that they are blossoming into little independent people that we created. These are the things that reward us and make us feel as if we're doing something right in the midst of all the shite and pure knackeredness. So I can't help but on occasion compare her to other friend's children who have been attending nursery for some time already. They generally do seem more confident in play, communication and independence and none of those parents regret sending them off to nursery, they all in fact rave about it. Not the fees of course, but that's another debate altogether. 

It will do you both good.
But it's not just about me is it? 

On my quest to gaining back just a little control over my life, nursery would be the perfect solution for me too. There's no denying that when I do have a little free time to crack on with housework or take some time for myself I'm then more relaxed and excited to give her my full attention, we both win. But there's still that looming sense of guilt that comes with 'palming' your child off, especially when you're not at work. 

You won't know unless you try. 

That 'overwhelming sense of love' that everyone talks about when you become a parent also comes hand in hand with an 'overwhelming sense of guilt'. We feel guilt and doubt in practically every decision we make where our babies are concerned and I'm pretty sure that guilt is the overall factor in my reservations about sending her to nursery. Guilt if I send her and guilt if I don't. But I can only keep her wrapped up in cotton wool for so long. There's a big wide world out there and like all parents I want her to get the most from it but in a safe and nurtured environment.

The only way I'll find out if nursery is right for us is to give it a try. 

Were you torn between keeping your baby at home or sending them to nursery? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below... 

read more " Choosing Childcare...What Should We Do? "

5 January 2017

Embracing A New Year...Looking Forward & Finding The Positives

Well 2016 you've been my toughest year yet and whilst I appreciate that you could have been a whole lot worse, you sure did test me. But with my mind on the mend and so much to look forward to this new year, it's time to reflect, learn and most importantly look forward.

This past year has been full of changes. I spent the first part of the year wrapped up in our bubble before I went back to work in May which stressfully coincided with us selling our first home and moving in with my parents whilst we renovate a house. A project that we hadn't quite anticipated would be so involved, so expensive and so blooming stressful. These are the bits that are somewhat overlooked when you're sitting comfortably on your sofa watching re-runs of Grand Designs. The bits where your head hits the ceiling when you realise how much a toilet costs and that every single part of it is sold separately. The bit where you actually weigh up what you could realistically live without for about a year- a bathroom or a kitchen. The bit where you're up until 11pm debating and discussing pipes. Who knew pipes could be talked about so much? And yep you're right, they were the most boring conversations I've had to date.

But things are progressing and whatever our builder says, I'm moving in before the new baby arrives. Bathroom or no bathroom. See I'm already being positive.

So whilst we practically took over my parents house, living more comfortably than any little family could ever hope to, we plodded on making the most of our limbo life. In the midst of juggling a new home life, work and house renovations, we focused one very exciting milestone- celebrating our little girl's first birthday. This will always be a time that I'll look back on with such pride and love, but also sadness. On the surface I was consumed with pretty pink themes and commemorating the day with as much attention and precision that goes into planning a Royal event. Behind the scenes I was struggling to breathe. 

My sadness was explained when I became the main focus of Elsie's twelve month check up when the health visitor picked up on something, opening up the flood gates and diagnosing me with post-natal depression. I felt as if someone had removed a heavy rock from my chest and I could finally breathe more steadily than I had done in almost a year.

My fog hasn't completely gone. I still feel it sometimes. It comes back in little washes, rather than huge waves, but I see things clearer now and I feel as if this new vision has a lot to do with a little surprise we received. All the while my fog was being acknowledged, I was cooking our happy accident. A little light that helped me to find my way out of the dark tunnel and yet another curve ball which has well and truly made us realise that whatever your plans, science and nature both have their very own plans in mind.

Looking Forward

For the first time in a few years I won't be setting myself any specific New Years resolutions. My usual ones ('lose weight' and 'save money') will be even less achievable now that I'm up the duff and have a house to finish building before baby arrives. So instead, this year I've made a different kind of promise to myself...

To take each day as it comes. To think of the positives before I let the negatives take over. To remind myself of all the great things I've achieved so far and what I'm yet to do. To notice the little things and appreciate them as big things. To remember to do things that used to make me happy and feel inspired.

To laugh everyday. To smile everyday. To say I Love You everyday. To be grateful and thankful. To say Thank You everyday. To ask for help when I need it. To ask for a hug when I've had one of those days. To tell someone when I'm finding it hard to breathe. To remember to breathe. To take some time for myself and with the man I love. To remember how we got here and where we're going to go.

To embrace the mess and chaos as it surely won't last forever. To enjoy the good moments and brush off the bad. To appreciate our time together and remember that it will be gone before too long.

To thank my lucky stars that I became a mother. To remember that I'm doing a good job even on the shite balls days. To realise that none of this was meant to be easy. To realise that everything can make you stronger, not weaker. To continue being honest and to help other parents out there who are struggling to find their voices.

And lastly, to remember who I was and introduce her to the new me. I hope that some day they will be good friends.

Happy New Year to you all. May it be filled with adventures, love and lots of positive stuff.
read more " Embracing A New Year...Looking Forward & Finding The Positives "

22 December 2016

Christmas Eve Box for Babies...For Last Minute Mummies

If there was one thing I couldn't wait to do when starting a family, it was starting our own family traditions particularly at Christmas. Although it's only now that I've become a parent and realise the full extent that goes into keeping everyone alive throughout the entire year, one has to choose very wisely as to what kinds of traditions you want to invest your valuable time in.

Take this right old faff of a craze, 'Elf on the shelf' for example. I absolutely take my hat off to any parent who has the energy and oomph to pull this one off for an entire month. Your kids are very lucky. I for one will be taking an oath that I won't ever be conned/tricked/guilt tripped into inviting any sodding elf to stay at our house for four weeks just to have to purposely create a mess (that said "elf" made whilst we were sleeping) and then have to clean it up the following day and again every day for a whole month! No thank you, I've got enough crap to clean up without creating it myself.

But there is one new fad or tradition that I would like to start and that is the Christmas Eve Box and so I thought I'd share the first box that I've put together for Elsie this year. I had been planning to write this post for the beginning of December, but, like everything in my life these days, plans mean diddly squat. Plus our Christmas Eve Box didn't actually arrive until two days ago, so instead I thought I'd do this post with a twist and include some DIYs and ideas for any last minute parents who still plan to put together a box for their little ones. Most of the contents can be picked up at your nearest supermarket- if you're brave enough to face the last minute Christmas rush! 

The Box

I ordered Elsie's personalised box around the beginning of November from the Festive Studio. It was a little splurge, but it's a one off and I hope to use it for many years to come. Baring in mind that most fifteen month olds will be totally unaware of all the effort we're going to, a simple shoe box covered in wrapping will absolutely suffice- they'll be more interested in the contents, or tissue paper anyway. 

Festive PJ's 

The Rudolph bedtime onesie came as a two pack from Tescos which I purchased a few weeks ago and now every blooming supermarket I've been to this week (and I've been in quite a few!) have already put their festive clothes on sale, so if you're quick you can pick up something suitable and half price just in time. 

Sweet Treat 

I'm really trying to limit the amount of sugar Elsie has which is turning into a bit of a challenge now that she is aware of everything. I've even had to hide her advent calendar because she's become a little obsessed with it. Whoever invented chocolate advent calendars has a lot to answer for. So instead of filling her box with treats that will keep our already overactive non-sleeper awake until New Year, I'll be putting in one of her usual Naked fruit snack bars. Well I might as well whilst she's none the wiser. 

A Little Bit Of Magic

Another completely unnecessary item this year, but a cute touch none the less is some reindeer food. You can relatively quickly make you're own using this recipe and can package it up using any one of these ideas on Pinterest and add a quirky poem which I found here

Oh and the magic snow, I have no idea what it's for, but apparently it's a thing. So if you've got the time (or can be bothered) and want to inject a little extra magic this year, then similar ideas and DIY's can be found over here.


I picked up this fluffy reindeer from Waitrose and again I've seen similar toys all in the sale already at various supermarkets so hopefully something fun can be purchased reasonably easily and more importantly, cheaply. 


My friend made this very cute personalised milk bottle for Elsie which she said was super easy to make, so I've found a selection of easy(ish) DIY's such a this snowman bottlereindeer bottle, and sparkly snowflake bottle.


There wasn't much point in including a DVD or activity set for Elsie. She's got the attention span of a gnat, but she does love a book. These touchy-feely board books are her particular faves, so I picked up 'That's Not My...Snowman" in my local supermarket, which will keep her entertained for all of two minutes on Christmas Eve. 

Wishing all my lovely readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you so much for your continued support this year. I appreciate that I'm not the most consistent of bloggers, but it means so much to know that you're still there when I do find a moment to blog. Next year I really hope to make more time for the blog as it makes me really happy and finding my happy place has never been more important to me than after this year.

read more " Christmas Eve Box for Babies...For Last Minute Mummies "

19 December 2016

Our Happy Accident...Baby Number Two

If you've been following me over on Instagram you'll know that Elsie made a little announcement over the Halloween weekend. She is indeed going to become a big sister, a bit a lot earlier than expected as we are expecting baby number two, due in May next year...BIGGEST EEK EVER!

It's taken me such a long time to finally finish this post. Partly because most of my time is swallowed up being a working parent trying to keep everyone alive and afloat and partly because I've felt like absolute shite balls. Similarly with my first pregnancy, the early stages of the cooking process do not agree with my sitting down at a computer to write. If I'm given any time to actually sit, my body would much rather stare at a blank wall, with as less movement as possible, trying not to throw up for the umpteenth time. But I'm slowly emerging from the nauseating-leave-me-alone-while-dry-heave- first trimester phase so have been able to keep my eyes open long enough to bring my blog readers up to speed with the announcement of our happy accident.

Needless to say this pregnancy was a little massive surprise, but after our first experience trying for a baby, we are really excited to get all the messy crap and sleepless nights out the way extend our little  family and are so thankful that this baby is already taking us on a very different journey towards completing our family.

One of the many things that have already been different this time around was actually breaking the news to our family. I don't think I've been this nervous about telling my parents anything before. Considering that we are currently residing under their roof whilst we renovate our house, I really did feel like an underage teenager having to fess up to the 'rents that they were up the duff. But surprisingly they took it a lot better than everyone else, including the Hubster. His reaction was just as unpredictable as last time when he thought I was about to tell him that there was a ghost in the flat as opposed to hearing that he was about to become a father. This time around the conversation went a little like this...

Me: Erm...I've got something to tell you...
Hubster: What....?
Me: I'm pregnant.

Cue husband looking as if I've just slapped him around the face with a large wet fish. 
Sometime passes and I wonder for a moment if he's had a heart attack. 

Hubster: You're joking?
Me: Nope.

Cue husband busting into fits of nervous laughing. Repeatedly saying 'Oh my god...' 
I still think a heart attack is quite possibly on the cards. 

Hubster: Oh my god, I thought you were going to say that you'd blown the entire house budget on something...
Me: As if...
Husbter: I wish you had...

Cue shocked pregnant wife face about to cry before Hubster quickly retracts last sentence. 

Hubster: Only joking, this is great news.

Cue another bout of nervous laughter from both of us, more 'oh my gods' and a few 'shit's' thrown in for good measure. 

We hug it out, remind ourselves of all the pros that come with this being a surprise pregnancy as opposed to last time around and we continue watching The Walking Dead.

There is no doubt that our life is bit crazy right now and logistically I don't know how I'm going to cope, (two under two...ahhh!) But my heart is extremely happy and grateful that we've been given another gift which ironically couldn't have come at a more perfect time.  If there is one thing I've learnt when wanting to start a family of your own- you can't plan your perfect timing, you can only wait for it and appreciate every minute of it when it does happen. 

Thank you so much to everyone who has sent such kind messages and well wishes since our little announcement...I'm excited to share this next chapter of our lives with you xxx
read more " Our Happy Accident...Baby Number Two "

7 November 2016

Postnatal Depression...My Story Part One: Acknowledging The Fog

It's a funny old business this parenting lark.

No matter how much you search for it, there isn't a book, website or any advice given from another parent that can in any way shape or form prepare you for your own experience when becoming a parent.

As far as I'm aware, I've never made it a secret that I've struggled. I've never said any part of this was easy and I've never been found to preach about how wonderful motherhood is, because quite frankly no one wants to hear that when you're up to your eye balls in yellow (sometimes, brown, sometimes green) crap and you're not entirely sure if that's snot, dribble or porridge in your hair.

I've always found ways to mask my struggles in a light hearted manner, coating my dark days with humour and sarcasm to take the edge off what I was really thinking about my new life and it really wasn't all that funny at all.

There is a whole other side to my experience of becoming a parent which I've barely spoken aloud about up until now. Even my nearest and dearest have no idea about things I'm about to share. I still struggle to find the words to say out loud what it is that's been tormenting me. I feel embarrassed to admit that it's something 'I've got,' and I still feel ashamed that 'it got me'. It's something I might never really understand or want to discuss in person, but writing about it helps me and I just wonder if there might be anyone else out there who, like me, is too frightened to utter the words or admit that there might be something not quite right.

Acknowledging The Fog

I sensed that something was a little off balance quite early on. That there was this fog constantly loitering around me, waiting for the slightest moment of weakness to arise, just waiting for me to crack so it could swallow me bit by bit. The fog would feed itself hungrily on dark long days and dark long nights and the more of those it gobbled up, the bigger and stronger it became.

I knew becoming a parent wouldn't be easy, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I'd find it this hard. When everyone kept saying that 'things would get easier', they only seemed to get harder for me. The months rolled on and I waited. I waited so patiently for life to get easier but it never did.
I waited for things to click, for life to become in some little way easier but it just never happened.

The fog never left.

It grew stronger, thicker and darker and as Elsie's First Birthday approached it really hit me that something definitely wasn't right. How can I still be finding life this hard after a year?

So much so, that I didn't recognise myself anymore.

Who Is This Girl?

It was only then that I realised, or admitted, how very sad inside I really was. I missed the happy person I used to be. Where had she gone? She was always so full of optimism, she was happy and positive and most of the time fun. I was none of the these things anymore. I was so angry. Angry at the world, at myself and mostly at my husband. We were in this together, we wanted this together and yet why did I feel so alone and so defensive in my foggy world?

I'd find myself saying things, horrible things, that I'd sometimes shock myself. I had zero patience for absolutely anything that didn't involve Elsie. I was always on the edge ready to flip, armed and well equipped with some negative and miserable responses that were on the most part unnecessary and sometimes hurtful. Who was this person? This miserable person, who wanted the days to end so badly and who hoped more than anything that things would be better tomorrow, that tomorrow would be better? I didn't know this girl at all.

Maybe I wasn't Meant to be a Mother?

With the fog brought a constant guilt. We had wanted to become parents so badly, so why wasn't I happy? I wished so hard that I could be happy. To have the perfect life again, for things to be easy, for me to be that positive person I so badly missed. I tried, I really tried to see the good in everything and to see everything I had to be grateful for. I willed it. I used to squeeze my eyes shut and hope that when I'd open them again the fog would have lifted and I'd be in my happy world again. But it didn't happen.

I felt like a failure in all aspects of my life. I was drowning every which way I turned and didn't feel like anything I did was right. I couldn't keep up with anything I wanted to do. Our home was a mess, I was a mess, everything always felt like such a mess. Why was I getting everything so wrong?

To top it all off I was permanently knackered. When you have a baby who doesn't sleep, it's not just hard to get through the day, it's near on impossible to get through life. There's no let up. There's no re-charging time. There's no me-even-just-for-an-hour-time. It's endless, it's relentless, it's beyond exhausting. This, I will always swear, will be one of the main reason to my having postnatal depression.

But here I was walking around a shadow of my former self.

I kept plodding along, telling myself that it was meant to be this hard. That none of this was meant to be easy and that I just somehow needed to suck it up and get on with it. But this of course only made me feel more negatively towards myself and my capability as a mother. Maybe I wasn't meant to be a mother? Maybe this wasn't for me and I was destined to be just Katie forever. We tried for so long to conceive naturally, but then we medalled with nature and now this was my karma.

The mind can be such a lonely, mean place.

Bad vs. Good

Subconsciously I was constantly counting the good days verses the bad days. This is the bit that makes me the saddest of all. That even after a year of having the most amazing little person in my life and feeling my heart grow bigger and so full with love and pride, each day was marked with a 'good' or 'bad' stamp.

The bad always outweighed the good, no matter how much I tried to pretend they didn't.

The good days weren't even based on anything particularly good. They were judged on things like having not cried that day, or not wanting to run away, or just generally feeling OK. Those were the good days and it makes me sad to wonder how differently the last year would have been if the fog wasn't around. I always wonder what life would have been like if the old me had been around. The happy me. The one who saw the good in life. Would she have found becoming a parent so much easier? Would life have been lovelier had she stuck around? I suppose I'll never know.

As a family we are still trying to figure out how to move forward. Life is particularly stressful right now, but with so much to look forward to and so much to appreciate, I'm determined to figure this out.

I'm not in a position to offer any advice to others as it's still quite early days for me, but what I can say is that just acknowledging the fog really helped clear the air around me. It's made me seek help and start the process of finding my old self again. I really need her right now. One thing I know for certain is that even in the midst of the bad days, it's my girl who keeps me going. She needs me, she needs all of me and I owe it to her and my husband to piece myself back together.
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19 October 2016

First Birthday Gift Ideas...

She doesn't need anything.
She won't have a clue what all the fuss is about.
You mustn't spend a fortune.
Don't go mad.

These were just some of the bits of advice I was given in the lead up to planning Elsie's first birthday. But of course, as new parents, we usually prefer to figure out these things for ourselves don't we? The first birthday is a huge deal after all. Ok so perhaps there was some element of truth to the advice, but I'd been planning and saving for this momentous occasion for some time so there wasn't much that was going to stop this very excited Mummy. 

So what do you buy for a one year old who would much rather eat car keys and empty the entire contents of anyone's handbag? Yes, we struggled too, so in the name of being helpful, or perhaps not so helpful when it comes to splurging the pennies on a tiny human who will undoubtedly prefer to rip apart the box anything of any value arrived in, here's a little collection of First Birthday Gift Ideas...

Something Personal...Or For Mummy

It's no secret that one of my great pride and joys is our Joolz pram. Even a year on I haven't gone down the lighter stroller route like most of my friends as I still absolutely love using it. Just when I think I couldn't love it anymore, Joolz very kindly sent us an amazing personalised bumper bar just in time for Elsie's birthday. 

So technically this was more a gift for mummy rather than baby, who really doesn't understand why I don't want her to wipe her mucky paws all over her beautiful new personalised bumper bar. But seeing as Mummy still looks like she's been dug up and always regrets whatever mismatched and screwed up ensemble she's wearing most days, she might as well be pushing a gorgeous pram to take the focus off hey?

Something For The Home 

We are currently renovating our house from top to bottom and while the Hubster is consumed with the important things like electricity and central heating, I'm getting a little ahead of myself and focusing on all the really important things, like cushions and curtains. Obviously. So when I stumbled on this personalised rocking chair from My 1st Years I couldn't resist getting Elsie one for her birthday. Ok so a chair isn't the most practical gift for a child who, unless she's harnessed in from all angles, won't sit still for more than 12 seconds, (I counted) but it will look very cute in her bedroom one day and I'm sure (I'm praying) she'll learn the art of sitting still long enough to make use of it. 

I also picked up a little personalised rucksack from My 1st Years too, which has been perfect for putting Elsie's packed lunches in when we go out for the day.

Something Fun

I'd been looking for an activity table for some time with the hope that it would encourage Elsie to stand and play, so when I finally found this one from the Early Learning Centre I was really pleased. It's really simple and oh so cute in design. With some encouragement Elsie is starting to play well and show interest in how all the little activities work. If you're looking for a toy that isn't a complete eye sore then this activity table is perfect. 

Something Musical

Elsie loves music. It's hilarious watching her hear the beat of any song and start bopping her head to the beat. The girl's got rhythm, (I think she got it from me...well she sure as heck didn't get it from her chicken leg grooving Daddy!) and dancing is definitley something I want to encourage her in as she gets a little older. Fisher-Price have recently released BeatBelle, the adorable sister of BeatBo, a musical alien that lights up and grooves to encourage baby to get up and move to the beat. With a bright multi-coloured light up tummy BeatBelle dances and moves along to her music. She comes with three modes of play to grow with baby and she even has a record button to personalise your own musical tune! 

BeatBelle has gone down a storm in the Albury household. At first Elsie was a little scared of her, well who wouldn't be if a funny looking alien started moving and singing at you. But she soon warmed up to her and enjoyed tapping away at her feet and bopping to the tunes. It's not just Elsie who has enjoyed getting down to BeatBelle's boogie, the rest of the family have had a hoot recording our own voices saying various, all baby appropriate of course, things...'have you pooed?' is a personal favourite of mine. Don't judge, we don't get out much these days and BeatBelle's alien voice is very funny.

I definitely think that as she get's a little more confident with walking and then dancing she'll make more use of this musical activity toy and we'll have lots of fun doing the BeatBelle Boogie! So if your little one is loving their music right now then this would be the perfect gift if you want to hold off on the drum kit for the time being. 

Thank you to Joolz and Fisher-Price for working with The Enchanting Blog.
read more " First Birthday Gift Ideas... "