I knew the care pathways, I knew what people would ask me, what they would be looking out for, what I would have to say to get this treatment or that treatment, I knew what the treatment entailed, how it would be delivered, probably word for word what the therapist would say to me. It all felt pointless. I know it like the back of my hand, I can just sort this out for myself I thought. So I just muddled along, tying to ignore it, trying to pretend it wasn't happening to me. But I couldn't, it was eating me alive from the inside, there was a cloud over eveything, nothing felt authentic or real, the flashbacks were constant, the sudden panic and feeling that I was back in that delivery room was on going. I'd weep and weep in the shower, thinking no one could hear me. Everything I looked at or touched didn't feel familiar, it was all alien and cold, I wanted the old me back, the old world I inhabited. I loved my beautiful new baby, but I felt a nagging feeling that I didn't love her enough. I felt I had failed her already. I wondered if she'd be better off with someone else, someone who could cope, who wasn't crying every hour, and then I'd cry again that I had wondered such horrible things.
I declined all help, I was embarrassed. What if I ended up being seen by an old colleague? Surely i could just talk myself out of it on my own, it's what I am trained to do. I thought I could get through it without help, so I avoided all offers.
But I was so wrong. I lived through a nightmare for months, and it was only when I started to let people in, and give people an insight in to what was happening in my head, did I finally start to see that it was nothing to be ashamed of. Being a mental health worker doesn't make you immune to mental health problems, and knowing the treatments inside out doesn't mean they won't work on you - sometimes just having someone to share the experience with and hold your hand through doing the things you know you need to do can be the difference between suffering indefinitely and making a breakthrough.
Whoever that person is for you, your partner, family member, friend or professional, the most important part of recovering is opening up to someone. I had so many reasons to feel ashamed, but I feel that my own journey has proven that it really can happen to anyone, regardless of how equipped they may seem to be. I sometimes wonder what my past patients would say if they knew I had gone through something similar to them and had not followed my own advice, but has tried to go it alone. I guess it just proves we are all human, and patient or therapist we are all trying to navigate what life throws at us in the best way we can. And sometimes that means asking for help, even if you think you shouldn't need it.
Ever After With Kids
This week we meet Fariah of Me, Myself & Ernest, wife, mum of two and super talented illustrator. We're currently featuring one of her designs in the February mamaME Box (check it out HERE). As well as creating cards, Fariah mainly writes and draws about parenting and family life, selling her illustrations and customised prints.
How do you find juggling mama hood and running your own business?
At first it was difficult. Trying to find time to fit both my children and starting a new business was stressful and I was going to bed at silly o’clock for a few months! But it did get a lot easier especially meeting other mums (online and in person) all trying to achieve a similar goal helped me immensely.
Tell us about your business 'Me, Myself and Ernest'?
I’m a freelance writer and illustrator and love finding new ways to be creative. Me, Myself and Ernest started off being a simple drawing of my comical parenting life but quickly grew working with magazines, photographers and a Disney confectionery company. I still feel a little awkward calling it a business, mainly because I really do enjoy what I do!
What inspired you to set up ‘Me, Myself and Ernest'?
To be honest, I suffer from anxiety and I found being a stay at home mum really hard especially when I had little time to read and be creative. I really needed an outlet but with my husband working in London and commutes being long I frequently felt very isolated and had little time for myself. My husband wanted more time with the family and luckily now works closer. Once I started to gain more ‘me time’ I used these breaks to write and draw what I loved most about being a parent. Some days were tough and I expressed those too. So, in a way, my blog and work instigated as a form of therapy.
Do you have any other exciting news or upcoming events?
I’m working on some freelance projects and custom prints (check out my Instagram or Facebook page for more details) which I'm really excited about. I’m also writing a book, but that may take a few months (decades) to complete!
So great to hear from you Fariah! What an inspiring story and so wonderful that you've turned something that you love into a successful business. Wishing you all the luck for the future. We adore your illustrations and can't wait to follow your journey.
Let's talk about SEX. It's that thing we all do, but only go in to detail about when we’ve had one too many proseccos with our girlfriends. I’m sure as we get older it gets spoken about less? Or maybe my circle of friends are just a tad prude? (Soz mates!) Either way, I don’t talk about it much but it’s been on my mind lately... a LOT!
With my first pregnancy our sex life took a massive nose dive... it was as dry as a bone - if you can excuse that awful pun! However sex after birth was fine, normal service resumed quite quickly and because I had a c-section my downstairs was as it was - everything still in its place, just like it should be. So sex wasn’t an issue that time around. At the beginning of my second pregnancy all was good in the bedroom, but shortly after my 12 week scan Greg had to go away with work for four whole, slow months. And when he got back I suddenly had a humongous twin bump and sex just wasn’t on the cards. Well actually, it was...once. After that awful experience (that I’d like to wipe from my memory) it became apparent that it was the last shag for a while. I felt terrible, I felt bad for Greg and also sorry for myself. I physically couldn’t walk up the stairs without being in pain, and thanks to SPD there was zero chance of me opening my legs for a few seconds let alone long enough for a quick romp!
Greg seemed focused on the end game. He knew that it would still be a few weeks after the birth til he got his end away, regardless of the delivery method. Secretly I was petrified that a natural birth would RUIN my precious lady garden. And I’m not gonna lie, if you have read my previous blog posts, it bloody did! Not being able to sit or wee properly for weeks instilled the fear in to me that my vagina would be a punched lasagne forever and these pelvic floor exercises were doing NOTHING! Genuinely it took me over six weeks to even peek at my nether regions. And when I did, I panicked. I remember telling my friend that I thought the doctor had stitched my clitoris to my labia because I couldn’t bloody find it! Anywhere! I daren't look again for a while and unfortunately for Greg, this delayed our post baby sex even longer.
At my nine week check which was supposed to be at six weeks post partum, I avoided any suggestions of taking a look down there. I was totally ok with believing my clitoris had gone missing and no one was going to poke about down there to try and find it until I was ready. Fast forward another few weeks and even my friends had started to feel sorry for Greg. He started to Greep on me (Greg + Creep = Greep) and became a bit of a pest. I knew I had to do it one day... our marriage needed it. I needed it!
Now, as well as believing the downstairs had been rearranged following the exit of Roux’s gigantic head, (I mean, I’m pretty sure at one point I was peeing out of my bum hole) the fear of it being different for both Greg and I is what was holding me back the most. A little bit of pain I can deal with, but knowing that it wasn’t like it was before was really, really getting to me. So, after a few glasses of wine and a little bit of flirting, we finally completed the deed. We got it on, rolled in the hay, he dipped his wick. We bonked. Whatever you call it, we did it. I’m not gonna lie, it was different. And if I’m absolutely honest with you, I was a total loser. Because I frigging CRIED! I cried because I was terrified that it felt different for him, because he hadn’t yet mentioned that my pelvic floor exercises had really worked wonders. I cried because I felt guilty I made him wait so long and I cried because it was such a huge build up and actually I shouldn’t have been scared in the slightest.
There was no reason for me to be scared because I should have known that my husband would love me no matter what. He would have waited another 9 months if he had to (although I could NOT put up with his Greeping for that long). He would even have sex with me if my vagina was completely obliterated after birth. He would find a way...even if it was with the back of my knee, he would be happy.
Now I’ve faced the post baby sex, I feel qualified to give some advice for those feeling worried:
1. Have a groom - there’s no better feeling than shaving your legs/having a wax to make yourself feel a little sexier in preparation for the occasion.
2. Have a couple of glasses of wine - obviously drink responsibly, but for me a couple of glasses just helped me a relax a little! I didn’t drink enough to become a porn star though, much to Greg's disappointment!
3. Slow and steady wins the race? You’re reconnecting after a big change in your life, and possibly a bit of a dry spell. Don't rush things, relax and enjoy it!
4. Accept the change. Your body has done an amazing thing. We need to appreciate that it will take a while to get back to “normal” again.
And just a little disclaimer.. please make sure whether you are having sex with your long term partner or someone new, make sure you are protected from STI’s and pregnancy (if you don’t want another baby soon) because you are super fertile after giving birth. Blimey, two sets of twins are hard enough... sod having some Irish twins thrown in the mix too!
Other than that, enjoy. I hope I’ve inspired some of you to go get your freak on. Let us know if you have worried about doing the deed post baby too and tell me I’m not the only one that cried after sex.
Sweet Tooth Super Mum
Supermodel Helena Christensen "I've been a long-time believer in the concept that outer beauty reflects inner health," said Christensen. "When you take care of yourself and feel good, you radiate it on the outside. Lumity supports the body and counterbalances damage through protection, repair and cellular efficiency and has become an integral step in my beauty and wellness routine. I'm excited to introduce Lumity to women looking for a natural, all-in-one supplement to improve their skin, sleep and overall health.”
Lumity is a clinically proven, comprehensive and natural anti-ageing supplement. Created by Dr. Sara Palmer Hussey, Lumity works from within to restore your youthful efficiency at the cellular level.
And, this month, every mamaME Box will include an exclusive discount code for 30% off any Lumity order. The discount is available for a limited time only, so make use of it while you can and let us know how you get on!
Did you know that there are 1440 minutes in a day? I’d never really thought of it much before, until I realised I needed to start spending some time on myself. Just 10 of those 1440 minutes a day was all I really needed to take care of myself, but I used to feel guilty about taking that time out of ‘being a mum’. I’m not going to lie to you all; I seriously put self-care at the bottom of the priority list once Harris was born. Pre-baby I would eat fairly well, fake tan frequently, paint my nails every couple of days and de-fuzz all over every week. However, I became a very different person post-baby – a person with a lot less time who spent every waking moment attached to her baby, and when he slept I slept too (most people do tell you this is the best way to beat sleep deprivation though, don’t they?).
I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wasn’t feeding Harris – whole packets of biscuits became the norm at breakfast time; I stopped fake tanning pretty much altogether; my nails were always bare and I had legs like a gorilla. Not to mention the fact I would go days on end without washing my hair and, dare I mention, forgetting to brush my teeth on the odd occasion! For some reason I felt like since I was a mum I wasn’t allowed to take the time to be the way I was before.
When Harris was eight months old we moved back to be with our family who would be able to help us with childcare once I returned to work, and I was SO excited at the prospect of having time to be the old me again. I felt like I wasn’t Stacey anymore. I was just Harris’ mum, and I wanted to change that. We’ve been back home for over 6 months now, and I can honestly say I feel like myself again. Now I know that ten minutes doesn’t sound like much, but I also know some of you will be thinking how you don’t have ten seconds to spare never mind ten whole minutes, but self-care is so important for your mental wellbeing.
Here are just some of the things I spend MY ten minutes on:
utilise the jumperoo (aka “The Circle of Neglect”) for ten minutes to make and drink a nice hot cuppa, then do it! Don’t feel guilty about using the TV babysitter so you can pluck your eyebrows in peace; and definitely don’t feel bad about letting your little roam around the bathroom floor while you have a quick shower (providing you’ve moved all hazards out of reach, of course – Harris has been known to keep himself occupied with some sanitary towels and a hairbrush while I wash my hair). I don’t think the phrase “happy mum, happy baby” has ever rang more true. Look after yourself mama, and take ten, because you deserve it.
Stacey and Harris
Pick up a copy of the January/February copy of the Baby London Magazine and you'll spot the November mamaME Box!
Baby London is the must-have companion for every stage of your parenting journey. Whether you’re expecting a new baby or navigating life with little ones, they have a range of topical features, expert advice, and beautiful fashion for you and your family. With a team of experts on hand, they’re ready to answer all your questions – from health, sleep and fitness to education choices and travel options, as well as all the latest products and trends.
As I type this, the house is quiet. The dishwasher is churning away on its daily grind and the toddler is peacefully asleep. For now, peace remains. I know, however, that this peace is soon to be upended and replaced by the madness that comes with a new born, as I am due to have baby number two in the New Year.
I’ve been really trying to spend these last few weeks of pregnancy enjoying the little things; the things that I know will be put on hold for that first year, at least. These things are nothing huge – no holidays to Barbados or expensive shopping trips – just the small things, like spending an evening with my hubby in front of the fire, watching cruddy TV and then getting a (fairly) decent night’s sleep. I’ve enjoyed (probably far too many) trips to coffee shops when I’ve dropped my toddler at nursery and I’ve really been enjoying having the odd afternoon nap. All of these things will be put on hold soon, so I’m trying to be mindful and find the joy in the little things.
We’ve been practising changing dolly’s nappy – I’m going to need all the help I can get, right?! – and she’s even pulled some wallpaper off the walls, when we decorated the nursery. When I have a little wobble and worry that I’m going to lose my time with her and upset her by bringing a new baby into the house, my husband reminds me that we are enriching her life by adding a sibling, and this seems to stem my emotional wobbles. There is only 20 months between my sister and I, who I adore, and this also keeps me thinking of the positives of baby number two.
Of course, there are things that I will be doing differently this time, however. The main one of these is breastfeeding. Oh my word, what a struggle we had with it first time round! Not the struggle that you might be expecting as you read this – we were lucky in that she took to it like a duck to water – but it was the struggle of getting her off the boob that nearly sent us over the edge! Nobody told me how important it is to introduce a bottle early on so that they get used to feeding from both bottle and boob. I think that there is SO much pressure on new mums to breastfeed and SO much guilt-inducing garbage written about bottle feeding, that new mums find the whole feeding issue a total minefield. It was certainly one of the most discussed topics amongst my new mum friends. I wish it wasn’t an issue laced with so much guilt and expectation; clearly breastfeeding has huge benefits for both mum and baby, but it is not an issue that should be thrown at new parents to make them feel inadequate or, somehow, better or worse than each other. That is how it made me feel by the end and it was definitely the hardest part of being a new mum, for me.
Now I’m more experienced, I feel far more confident about feeding. Surely as long as we are feeding baby somehow then that is enough? It galls me how so many people have an opinion on how you, as parents, are feeding your own child. I’ve written about this on my blog before (having a toddler with allergies and struggling with others’ opinions of that) but, when it comes down to it, anyone who has an opinion on how you choose to feed your child probably doesn’t have very much excitement going on in their own lives, let’s be frank! My one message to expectant new mums would be to block out the ‘opinion noise’. It’s incredible how many people have an opinion on feeding; I believe as long as you’re feeding your child somehow and you are meeting their needs then you’re all good. This time, we intend to combination feed from the get go and let Daddy be far more involved, because let’s not forget that it’s difficult on the men, too. My husband found it really hard not being able to comfort our daughter in the way that I could and, naturally, I was very envious of the amount of sleep he was getting, whilst I was up every two hours for well over a year! After 15 months of exclusively breastfeeding through the night I have vowed to never let do so again.
I appreciate that this is a bit of a maverick thing to say and that I will be considered by some as being extremely selfish (all part of the ‘people having a strong opinion about you feeding your child’ brigade) but, for us, it’s the right decision and I now feel confident and brave enough, as a mother and a blogger, to be 100% honest about our choices. If it helps one other mother and father feel more confident in their choice – whichever choice they make – then I’ll be happy. I know that every baby’s different but, for us, once we stopped breastfeeding she started sleeping through the night and everything fell into place. I know that friends of ours have had a similar outcome, so we are taking this experience and instilling a different routine for number two. Fingers crossed! (Watch us have a fussy baby who won’t feed or sleep well, now! Ha ha!)
So, in general, my final post for 2017 for this blog is a bit of a reflective one, I suppose to match the mood that I’m in at the moment. Life is going to change again next year and I am super excited about it, whilst still being grateful for what we have right now. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a healthy 2018.