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Rambling about overwhelming days

Some days are just write off days, those days where you drag open your eye lids in disbelief that it is morning already and tell yourself you just need to survive until you can have that caffienated elixir of life that transforms you into yourself again.

Some days that caffeinated elixer doesn’t touch the sides of your inner dishevelment and you trudge the day with the wit and speed of a sloth and the knowledge that it will be bedtime again soon.

It sounds so sad to think of the coming bedtime in the morning you’ve just woken, but some days are overwhelming for whatever reason be it sleep, hormones, realisations, ruminations or just super intense feelings about life, and a day filled with sleep times and nappies and bottles and the jobs of the day mean you know the next real rest time is bedtime.

You tackle the day with as much enthusiasm as you can muster and you make it through the day like the legend that you are and you find yourself in bed again anticipating what the next day will bring because although there are rubbish days filled with anticipating slumber, there are also those amazing moment by moment days where everything falls into place and it feels like the world smiles as you take the day filled with warmth and appreciation and the tasks of the day get done without feeling like jobs and the caffiene works it’s magic and the sparkle in your eyes shines. 

I wonder what tommorrow holds? 

Postnatal anxiety and Keeping the Faith when things are Crap

I haven’t really talked about my faith on this blog yet. Not because I don’t want to but because I’ve found it hard to articulate where I’m at at the moment and so I’ve kept putting this post off even though it’s been on my mind.
For 5 years we prayed for a baby, I wept and asked God repeatedly why I had to wait when so many around me had their arms filled with babies, and my arms ached with emptiness. I fought for my faith, faith that the God who loves will provide for me, that he has instilled me with a maternal heart and so he will meet my heart ache with his perfect answer. That the promises within the bible are to be relied on. I had my good times and my bad times as I travelled that path.

Once I got pregnant I was so thankful to God for this miracle and felt such a weight lifted off me whilst pregnant, as my prayers and pleas had been answered.

Once baby was here and the mastitis kicked in and the post natal anxiety started it was survival minute by minute for a few months, and the times when I did have the clarity of mind to think about God it was moments of anger directed towards him – 
‘why did I wait so long to have such a hard time now’
‘How could you let this happen’
‘Why me’
But upon reflecting and looking back those weary angry cries were cries of unmet expectation – had I somehow thought that a baby would be the answer to all my problems? 

Because I certainly was acting that as I wept bitterly and shouted at God.

I could have cried out for help to a God that heard and is faithful. Albeit in the midst of panic attacks and each time I thought Archie was dying instantly out of my lips came “God I need your help now.” And he did help, he sent peace and comfort and safety each and every time I cried out that I needed him.

But I still angrily raged at him in other moments that he somehow made it so hard for me. I wasn’t struggling with believing in Him I was just angry that he let these things be in my life, so I guess I was struggling with understanding how he can be a good God if I was experiencing a bunch of balls at the time.

I look back now, still in the midst of some difficulty but with more clarity I can recognise these things:

– he is waiting for me whenever I am willing to cry out to him, to share my life with him, he will walk with me

– he doesn’t punish me with difficulties, he provides me companionship and support whilst I walk through the tough times

– he doesn’t shield me from the hard times, he helps me through them – just as I won’t be able to protect Archie from the hardships of life but will walk with him and help him through the tough stuff and love him unconditionally 

– he allowed me to wait for a baby, he didn’t cause my infertility, he did allow it, but that’s because he allows me freedom in my life to make choices – if I want freedom then I must be willing to accept that freedom comes with the possibility of good and bad

– I wouldn’t have the perfect scrumptious Mr Baby that I have now had we fallen pregnant straight away & I can’t imagine my life with any other baby than the one I have 

– God is a God of love which means he gives me freedom to live as I choose, he waits like a gentlemen to be invited into my life and once he is invited into the moment he fills it with clarity and peace.

I dont fully understand why big picture of why things have been so tough, but I accept it as it is what it is.

I don’t pretend to be a really good Christian, just a normal every day person who struggles with the tough stuff and struggles with God and tries to have a life that is built on the foundation of faith that I have. 

Ultimately I can’t shake the feeling that God is the answer to any question, for me pregnancy wansnt the answer, a baby wasn’t the answer, but God will always be the answer. I’m not really sure how that looks or what that means and I can understand how someone who doesn’t have a faith may read this and think I’m a real weirdo and that’s ok, I am a real weirdo who is just trying to figure out the day to day life stuff and the meaning of the world stuff and everything in between.

Weird rambling post. 

Xxx

Mumma Mich

“Having a baby won’t change me”…

I’ve heard others say ‘everyone stops doing x y z when they have kids, I’ll never do that’. Here are my points about how annoying that is to hear, written on a particularly cynical day:
A) Great, your life is yours to live so make choices and do what you need to do …but why the judgment on others for making their own choices too? Your being smug and judgey like you think you will be better at something you haven’t even tried yet.

B) Why the arrogance with the judgement? We each get to live our lives, but ewww arrogance is a bit over the top… you haven’t even had the baby yet, just cool your farm with the whole thing and just chill for a bit and enjoy that beautiful sleep you still get atm.

C) I hope it’s as easy and straightforward and drama free as you assume it’s gonna be, I really do. But please take a second to think about how things might be if the birth plan, breastfeeding, postpartum period are less than straight forward, you may not be able to manage it all the way you expect, and the hormones oh the hormones make everything so intense. So maybe just give yourself wiggle room so that if you are just not up to that ‘x y z’ stuff then you can change things up as you need to without feeling like you’ve failed, there’s no failure whichever way forward, there is just a new life season to blossom. 

D) I ask well why wouldn’t we want a baby to change things up? It changes everything, the sheer makeup of my family unit is changed, the stuff I take out places is different, the things I prioritise are different, my thought processes are different, the things I value are different. Everything IS different, it’s awesomely blessed with a bundle of energy and slobber type different. I don’t want to stop talking about my baby, I don’t want to stop looking at my baby or hanging out with my baby, he is THE best most funniest part of my life and he is my priority. For me everything has changed and will forever be changed, and in years to come I may return to more of what I used to do but for now I’m loving this new life because it’s the best (if not the hardest) thing I’ll ever get to do. I’m immensely proud of myself for somehow growing this life and I don’t want to minimise him in my everyday, I miss him when he sleeps, I want to play, I don’t want to miss a thing. So for me this new life which has been crazy and hard (see lots of other posts about my crazy anxiety) and you will understand that I don’t get the smug arrogance of people saying a baby won’t change what they do for x y z, because I can’t imagine doing anything without him right now, I wholly and fully accept this season in all of its amazing glory. I know we are all different and for me I never had an amazing career or what not that might drive me and so for some mums they need to get back to that and that’s the best for them which is great because they know what they need. For me I just am enjoying the little man because he won’t be little for long. 

E) I feel like this post sounds a bit judgey on the judgey people… maybe I’m judging you for being so judgey? Soz about that, truly let’s all just live and let live, none of us are better or worse, we are all just doing our thing. So maybe I’ll try to reframe the way I see you as driven, passionate idealists. We need idealists in this world to raise the hope of reality above what the rest of us can’t imagine to muster. So go you! Reach for the stars and prove me wrong on my cynical soap box

Xx

Mumma Mich

Introverted New Mother – 6 things I needed in the first 6 weeks

In the first six weeks of motherhood I underwent major surgery (planned c-section), experienced breastfeeding issues and began exclusively pumping, had mastitis 3 times, was hospitalised for a number of nights for mastitis infection and suppressed my lactation. 
This was all aside from learning how to be a new mother and how the heck to care for a newborn. 

This time was rough for all three of us, it was a rollercoaster and was the combination of events that brought me to postnatal anxiety.

I was lost in overwhelming feelings during this time, and I know there were family and friends who wanted desperately to help but didn’t know what to do, they did the best they could (which is all I can ask for and will ever be grateful for). 

Looking back I’ve managed to identify the top 6 things I needed in this time – what helped and encouraged me the most & the moments that brought me back from the dark places in my mind. 

This list differs from many around because I have fully and truly come to understand that I am a huge introvert and my needs differ from those out there that are more extroverted. 

Let me explain what I mean before I get to my list. You see it’s not that I don’t enjoy socialising, but it’s that being social is taxing on my energy & so in order for me to recharge I need alone time. Alone time for me means me, my husband and my son (it doesn’t mean just me in a room by myself although sometimes it does, and for some introverts that is what it is).

It’s not that I’m an extremely private person who doesnt want to share my life  (I’m very very open with those in my inner circle) it’s that if we each have a full bucket of energy at the start of each day my bucket leaks when I’m around people, it is also filled up being around people – but the leak flows faster than the water being poured in through time with friends and family if that makes sense?

I write this out of thanks to the people in my village who nurtured and loved me and met me where I was at (and still do), and in hope that maybe someone will read this and may glean some ideas on how to encourage or support their other new mum friends who may be introverted & who have been slammed into motherhood face first.
#1. I needed food

We all gotta eat and it was a true blessing to have meals brought to us over a number of weeks by a number of loving ladies who took the time to transfer their love for us into a home cooked meal. 

It was such a practical help that means we ate better than we would have and we felt cared for (let’s face it those first few weeks we would have been getting a lot of take away otherwise).

#2. I needed time.

Whilst the meals were an amazing blessing, in those first few weeks of recovery in hindsight I probably would have asked to have drop & runs. 

As it went, each lovely lady that delivered a meal came in to meet the little man in the first week home, which was wonderful as I got to show off my new little treasure, but I look back now and it was too much too soon (oh hindsight you handsome devil). 

The visits left me exhausted, sore and anxious. I wasn’t sure why at the time because I felt I was resting all day so why wouldn’t a half hour visit be ok? But actually I wasn’t resting all day, I was post-op, pumping breastmilk, trying to get breastfeeding happening, learning how to be a mum, trying to nap and remember to shower and eat amongst a flood of hormones. All this plus my introverted ways meant my energy bucket was leaking way faster than usual and I ignored that because I felt like I ‘should’ have been able to manage short visits.
#3. I needed no pressure

From the moment Archie was born I had all this internal pressure around being good enough as a mother – that I must be a a gentle parent with attachment parenting philosophies, I must answer each cry quickly to meet his emotional needs and assure him he was loved, I must figure breastfeeding out because we all know ‘breast is best’, I must be able to do all the baby stuff and do it well asap. There was no balance in my mind around being gentle with myself and allow myself grace and time to learn to be a mother alongside giving myself time to rest and heal. 

There was already too much pressure in my own head around managing, I didn’t need outside pressure from others.

I had a lot of messages, texts, phone calls ect and was trying to keep communicating with everyone but it was difficult. I felt a huge guilt and burden around being unable to manage having everyone who wanted to visit actually visit in those first few weeks. (What a hardship to be loved by so many 😕 – it sounds so stupid to write it out but it is what it is).

The helpful texts were from close friends who just wanted to check in, they weren’t thinly veiled texts fishing for visit invitations, they weren’t repeated texts asking ‘how can I help? What can I do?’ Because honestly at the time I didn’t know. They were just ‘im here to listen’ texts of love and patience. 
#3. I needed space from everyone and everything

So finding myself recouperating from surgery and incredibly challenged by the new life adjustment I needed a lot of space to manage all this and get my head around things.

A number of people thought this was a huge red flag, and honestly so did I. Why couldn’t I manage having people come and hold The baby so I could get things done, why did the thought of having a cup of tea and a chat with a friend make me want to tear my hair out one strand at a time?

The reality was that my mind was so so full I could barely hear the Tv when I watched it, or my husband when he talked, and the idea of having visitors was that it would be an incredible effort to make, even to have my best friends who I am at ease with, and this is the crux of it – it would have been unhelpful at the time to have visitors.
I think this highlights how everyone is different as I know I have a number of friends who would take as many visitors as they could which helped them manage their adjustment to motherhood. I feel like that is the expected way, and if I was extroverted the idea of having visitors all the time would have been hugely beneficial and mind boosting.  

For me it took about 8 weeks before I wanted to see anyone, before that it was something I did out of feeling I should. Once I got to the place where it was something I wanted to do out of my own initiative each time I saw someone it was much much more enjoyable and I would leave feeling uplifted rather than distressed and drained. That shows me that I just wasn’t ready before that.

In the end I had to advocate for myself, knowing those close and caring loved ones would understand that I wasn’t ready, and I had to accept that for myself too. 
4# I needed understanding from people who had experienced the depths of PPD

I was so blessed to have 3 or 4 friends whom have been open with me about their difficulties in adjusting to motherhood and their experiences with postnatal depression. This afforded me the opportunity to vent and share with them where I was at and how I was not coping and each of these women imparted such valuable encouragement and understanding of where I was at.

I felt so alone and lost in a situation that was out of my comfort zone each and every minute I was awake so to have found a few members of my village who could relate in different ways was incredibly valuable to me and I will ever be grateful to those individuals who answered many texts without trying to call me to chat it out, who accepted that I was struggling and dropped things off at more door understanding my need to be alone, who continued to check in when I hadn’t returned previous texts, who loved me and touched base with me and let me know they were there when I was ready or needed them without expectation. 

I believe this was valuable to me because the conversations began before my baby was here, it opened up conversation with these friends and so when my time came to need someone to share that I wasn’t ok it felt natural to turn to these friends. 
#6 I needed baby-free nurturing

At around 5 weeks postpartum I had my bonus stay at hospital for mastitis. I remember the first night I had this high fever, I felt sicker than I ever had in my life and I was given painkillers and sleeping tablets and my nurse brought me in a heated blanket and tucked me in to go to sleep and told me I would start to feel so much better soon, she held my hand as I let out some tears and then I drifted into sleep.

For weeks after returning home I often had this thought ‘I wish I could go back to hospital’ again and again and as I thought about it I realised I just felt so nurtured and cared for in those moments when I was so ill and in need of nurturing at hospital. For those 5 weeks I felt so out of control and now someone was taking control and nurturing and loving me back to health.

This helped me to see what I needed – I needed to prioritise me time, I needed to nurture myself but also I needed friendship time that was away from the baby so I could feel like someone was meeting me and being with me.

A couple of beautiful and understanding friends were able to help me with this and I felt so loved by them at these times when everyone wanted to spend time with my baby and these friends hearts were to do that but they loved me enough to recognise my need for me time. So I went to the movies with a friend, and on a few baby free coffee dates with another. These times were exactly what I needed. 
All in all whilst my first 6 weeks of motherhood was entirely different that what I had anticipated or wished, I was truly blessed with an abundance of love and patience of loved ones around me. I’ve learnt so much about myself in this time, my own resilience and also my own way of dealing with trying times.  I’m sad that many did not get to spend much time with our little man when he was so young, but it can’t be changed, it was a crazy intense terrible time and we have the rest of our lives to make good memories all together.

Xxx

Mumma Mich 

My mind is a trash heap today 

My mind is a steaming trash heap at the moment, at least that’s what it feels like. 
I’m having a bad day which has prompted that thought and my bad day is because I have reached the limit with my stress.
To use the analogy of a bucket that we all carry around with our lives filling up the bucket my bucket has been filled to the Brim with the lead up and challenge of a baby. For awhile it was overflowing with anxiety and panic attacks that couldn’t be contained. Through meds and therapy and self care I managed to find a way to contain my bucket so it no longer overflowed and I found my footing a little bit.

But over the last week the bucket has started overflowing again as some medical tests are being undertaken on my beautiful baby.

My intrusive thoughts are back and I’m on the verge of panic, last night I broke down and then couldn’t sleep hours after lying down and today I am on the verge of sadness and fear and panic.

What this tells me is that it’s just like that straw that broke the camels back – just one extra thing that is too much for me right now, I am learning to handle this new life, but as it was – without question marks around My sons health and what ifs flooding my mind. 

I’m realising that extra stress that I can’t control leads to a few backward steps in my mind and so I will have to take more time to have slower days and rest rather than trying to keep ‘doing so well’.

I’ve possibly gotten into the flow of things in a way that hasn’t allowed enough time for self care because I feel like I’m doing better, so why not go out and see that person and walk around the shops now that I’m confident to do so with my little man?

Because I must accept that I am an introvert and I have to find the balance between filling my bucket with social interaction and introverted recouperation, and it’s a hard balance to find!
Xx

Mumma Mich 

Tomorrow may be just as tough 

All I could think about for five years was the day I got a positive pregnancy test. 
The day I got the positive I convinced myself that it was wrong. 

Then when I finally believed it I became consumed by fear about losing this precious baby that was so hard to get.

I didn’t really get to a point where I believed I would have a baby until the 20 week mark which is when we started to work on the nursery and get prepared.

At this point I was consumed by fear of death of my baby that I had had time to bond with, to feel, to dream about specifically.

Once baby was here I was overwhelmed by everything, the first 6 weeks were consumed by breastfeeding issues and after that the next 6 weeks were consumed by an all encompassing postnatal anxiety that could not be squashed.

What I’m learning is that I need to learn to cherish today rather than live for a better tomorrow because tomorrow may be different but just as tough.

So the big question is how the heck do I do this? 

Xx

Mumma Mich 

Grieving the birth experience I didn’t get to have

I thought I’d come to terms with the birth and subsequent breastfeeding woes that I experienced. I thought although I needed to grieve the disappointments that I was ok.

That was until I found myself sitting with 4 wonderful friends the other day, one friend with her beautiful 5 day old baby (yes five day old and she was happily sitting out of the house, in real clothes, and a smile on her face 😵), and we were hearing a bit about her labour experience, which is a favourite past time of mine. I absolutely love hearing how beautiful babes enter this world and all the juicy details, whatever anyone is willing to share I will soak up like a sponge.

However this day I found myself looking down and playing with my son, kissing him and generally distracting myself whilst some emotions bubbled in my belly – sadness, jealousy maybe? Hot tears threatening my eyes and an ache in my being so deep; an uncomfortableness that I find hard to put my finger on related to the discussion of labour, contractions, needing to do a poo but it really being the time to push and having your body take over, an amazing climactic end to a time of pushing, the birth of the placenta and on and on it goes.

It’s amazing, it’s always amazing, all these women’s stories whom I was sitting with had amazing stories.

The birth of my son is inexplicably amazing in how it has changed me, opened me up to love I never knew could be so deep, the joy, the extremity of experience. But my birth experience was sterile and controlled, I never even had a braxton hicks to experience during pregnancy.

The pain began rather than ended with the arrival of my bundle, the searing all engrossing ‘I don’t ever want to move but I have to heal’ pain of having a baby cut out of me. 5 days after the birth we went home from hospital and the walk from the bed to the car and home was enough to send me to bed for the rest of the day. I could never have sat smiling and shared my experience with friends. 

I grieve that I missed these things:

– the excitement of not knowing when it will happen

– feeling baby be engaged

– waters breaking

– contractions

– labour of any sort

– having my body know what to do

– the memories of the first two weeks as I was in such heavy pain medicines I look at photos and don’t remember 

On this day with friends I just feel sad. I feel out of place, I don’t feel like I can sit and chat about my birth experience in the way that other mums can sit and divulge their experiences. 

I know my experience was amazing for me, I know that it was certainly not the easy way out when you consider the recovery, I say that but yet I still feel like I’ve missed out, that I don’t measure up and that somehow my experience of birth is less valid.

No one has said this to me but I feel it. Coupled with the sadness I feel that breastfeeding didn’t work (& the guilt that I didn’t keep trying even though I know it’s ludicrous to think I would leave the hospital after my mastitis stay still breastfeeding after such ongoing issues- yet as I type that I think to myself that I’m sure others have pushed through and sucked it up), means that I just feel bad, inadequate, like I’m unwilling to go to extraordinary lengths for my baby – why didn’t I try for a breech birth? Why didn’t I keep feeding and just keep taking antibiotics for repetitive mastitis?

Let’s also add on a huge guilt about throwing out around 500ml of colostrum over the first few days whilst I was pumping – no we didn’t store it, we put it in the bin… we did not know you could store it, we were overwhelmed by those days that we didn’t think about that liquid gold going to waste and now sometimes that’s all I can think about during the day. Intrusive thoughts of colostrum regret.

I ask those questions all the time of myself. I can provide answers to those questions in that I chose to trust our doctor, we didn’t want to assume extra risk in the birth of our baby, I had already taken a number of courses on antibiotics over the course of the first 6 weeks and that’s no way to live, I put my body on the line and literally had a baby cut out of me in a calculated choice to assume the risk associated with surgery to reduce risk to my baby.

 I know the huge toll on my body associated with c-section recovery. Yet I still sit with a bunch of loving caring women who in no way say anything to diminish my experience and I become quiet and feel sad and full of grief inside.

This mum gig is tough because for me it hasn’t been ‘just’ learning to be a mum, it’s been many feelings of failure and sadness, coupled with anxiety and leading to feeling like I’m not good at this. If I can’t birth or feed in my preferred ways maybe I just don’t have what it takes, that is the root feeling at the depths of these thoughts.

I don’t really know how to manage these feelings, or what I need to do to work through them so that I can move on, so sharing my experience is another step in trying to figure it out.

Xx

Mumma Mich