Monthly Archives: December 2013
2014 will be my year of healing. I need to get better. Only I can help myself get better. I need to reach out for support, embrace suggestions and offers of help.
In an ideal world, I’d live drug free. The Domperidone is here as long as I need to make milk for Moo. But I’d love to live without antidepressants. Or rather, I’d love to live without a need for them.
A huge part of my depression is my grief for the breastfeeding relationship that I don’t have with Moo. I’ve blogged about it several times so I won’t go into it all again here (I even bore myself with it). I need to let it go and move on.
I’m also going to look into having a birth debrief. A chance to look through my notes, ask some questions and perhaps quiet my haunted mind. The process won’t be easy, I’m already having to fight for it, and I’m sure reading my birth notes will be painful. But sometimes things have got to get worse before they can get better.
The two things that haunt me most are the traumatic birth experience and the breastfeeding difficulties. I’m doing what I can with the breastfeeding thing. I’m pumping, I’m supporting others. It still hurts, but I feel I’ve taken active steps to get better. It’s time to do the same with Moos birth. I need questions answered and I need clarity.
I’d love to hear from mothers who have made it out the other side of post natal depression. What was it that worked for you? What message would you send to mamas struggling today?
I don’t really know where I’m going with the pumping thing now. I’m just floating aimlessly. I’ve always had goals until now. At first it was to pump until I dried up (which I was told was inevitable after a few weeks – whatever!), then six months, then a year, and then the WHO recommendation of two years. I hit two years and just carried on. Why stop then? Moo still drank milk and I was still making it. It just made sense.
Moo is fast approaching two and a half. But that doesn’t seem a significant enough milestone to stop at. Perhaps three? I’ve always felt empowered with pumping, I’ve liked the targets, the challenge of beating my personal best. But three seems a long way off, and for the first time, I don’t know if I can be bothered to continue for that long.
I almost forgot I needed to pump this morning. I no longer get the feeling of full breasts, so it wasn’t there as a reminder. It wasn’t until I started preparing to run a bath that I remembered. And for a split second, I considered not doing it. I wondered how long it’d be before I felt engorged. Maybe I never would and that’d be it, over. Would that make me sad? Or would it be freeing?
I don’t know how an exclusive pumper makes the decision to stop, or a breastfeeding mother for that matter. Do you just ‘know’ when the time is right? How did you decide it was the right time to stop? Did you ever regret the decision? How did you wean yourself off the pump? I feel like maybe that time is getting close, but I don’t think my stubbornness will let me give in.
You have to catch the self pity early if you want to salvage anything of the day.
What begins as a small niggling negative thought soon consumes everything. Instead of being brushed aside, it becomes the focus of your mind. Nothing else matters except the darkness you’re feeling. Fuck everyone, you feel bad. Time to climb into bed and let it fester. Let’s think about all the other shit you’ve been through as well, just for good measure.
Children dying of starvation? Global warming? Those less fortunate? I couldn’t give a shit. *I* feel awful. Why can’t *I* catch a break? I’ll feel guilty about this later. Another negative feeling to contend with. Cheers.
You’ve got to stop yourself somehow, go out, do something, make yourself busy. But fighting against the urge to wallow is tough going, it’s all your mind wants to do. You need to distract yourself *immediately*. No one else here? No errands to run? No excuse to go out? It’s too late. The day is done for. Wallowing it is.
Quite often, usually during moments of upset or rage, I find myself thinking ‘I wish I was normal, why can’t I just be a normal person?’. I feel I don’t react how I should, or cope as well as others. Like my mind doesn’t function well, that I’m laden with issues that others seem to avoid.
But then I got thinking (as I do) that maybe there’s no such thing as normal. That I’m constantly striving to be something that doesn’t even exist. Maybe we’re all freaks, wandering this earth, towing our baggage. Maybe we take all the things that society deems as acceptable, whether it’s beauty, sound mental health, career, aspirations, wealth, and create this super human super normal figure in our minds and constantly compete against ourselves to be that person. Its unobtainable. It’s not healthy.
I’m not sure how to get away from that, it seems a mammoth task. I think a good starting point could be to embrace the freakiness. Yes, we’re all a bit mental. Maybe some are just better at hiding it than others? Unless we talk about our quirks, the things we see as ‘flaws’, our mental health, we don’t see the real picture. We just see other people around us being ‘normal’. It’s time we stopped suppressing our true characters and lived authentically.
I’m a freak. I get anxious about talking on the phone. I wallow in self pity and quite often cry about things in my life that I can’t change. I’m not very confident so my hair and piercings and clothes are my mask. All things that aren’t generally accepted as ‘normal’, but I bet a million other people do the same things, and that makes me part of a pretty big club. A wonderful club, full of freaks, with no membership fee.
I hope that talking about my mental health issues will go some way towards breaking down this idea of ‘normal’. There is no such thing. We’re all just freaks, and it’s about time that was ok.
As I sit here, looking at the gifts ‘Father Christmas’ has placed around the tree, while my daughter sleeps soundly upstairs, my thoughts drift to those that aren’t as blessed this Christmas.
Mothers that can’t hold their babies this Christmas, because they’re ill or no longer on this Earth, women that long to be mothers at all, mothers that wish they could love the babies they’ve been blessed with. Mothers that struggle every day, to provide love or food or shelter, who wish they could make this the Christmas their children deserve. Mothers that feel lost, unloved, frightened and alone. Mothers that are dreading their children waking up in the morning.
I’ll be checking in on Christmas Day. I’ll be responding to messages, emails and tweets. Please get in touch if you need anything, a listening ear, a virtual hug. I know how it feels to feel so alone and to be suffocated by others constant bloody Christmas cheer.
I’m praying that this Christmas brings each one of you some joy, that 2014 brings you hope for a better future. Please don’t feel alone, know that you’re in my heart.
Christmas – a time filled with wonder and joy. Chocolates and wine. Gifts and family. Christmas – also a time filled with depression and anxiety. Loneliness and heartache. Bitterness and suicide.
I’ve had good Christmases, and some not so good ones. Christmas 2011 was particularly crap. Many mothers would be filled with extreme excitement at the thought of their child’s first Christmas. Planning the gifts, dressing them up in some kind of Santa themed ensemble. All I could muster was a few wrapped bits and bobs and an elf suit. I can’t even remember what Moos first Christmas gifts were. I didn’t keep the gift tags and I certainly didn’t cherish every moment.
It was all part of the blur that was the first year of her life. Admittedly, 2012 was to be a better year. But at the time I was frantic with fear that my life was completely and irreparably ruined by this baby girl that had been sucked into my life via ventouse. Christmas festivities were the last thing on my mind.
This Christmas feels different. I’m in a much better place. I can cope with day to day life (mostly, there are some not so great moments) and can even manage the extras, such as planning gifts and food and events. I made Moo a nativity costume (granted, I cut up a table cloth, no sewing involved) and I even remembered to buy different wrapping paper for the gifts from Father Christmas. I’m now looking forward to the years of Christmas tradition to come, rather than viewing them as a lifetime prison sentence.
My thoughts are with those that don’t want to be alive this Christmas. I’ve been there, it’s fucking awful. The whole world is celebrating around you while you peer up at it from your ever deepening dark hole. Please know that it won’t always be this way. When you’re that low, the only way is up, right? Hang in there, it’ll be over soon. 2014 is right around the corner, and with it comes the possibility of a better future.
Christmas is most certainly a two sided coin. Which side are you on this year?
One of the often talked about positives of breastfeeding is that its free. Fresh from the tap, naturally made, an endless resource that costs nothing. It’s often compared to the cost of formula feeding, with its tins of powder, plastic bottles and the extra water and electricity required to provide each feed.
My breastfeeding experience hasn’t saved me a penny.
My two breast pumps have cost me a total of around £350, and there’s been the extra Medela bottles to pump into and flanges that fit better. None of it cheap, but worth every penny. My Freestyle alone has lasted 25 months so far.
Storing the milk costs a pretty penny too. Breast milk storage bags for the freezer are around £8 a box. I’ve used hundreds. It’s a lot of money for a use once item. Then there are the bottles. I got my Nuby ones on a special deal, and my microwave steriliser was a freebie in a giveaway. But you don’t need either when your baby feeds at the breast.
I’ve paid for Domperidone once a month since Moo turned a year and my maternity exemption certificate no longer covered free prescriptions. In total my magic milk making drug has cost me approximately £140. A necessary but unwanted cost.
There are bits and bobs to pay for too, many of them things that ‘regular’ breastfeeding mums pay for too. Nipple creams, breast pads, nursing bras, coconut oil for pump lubrication, occasional prescriptions for antibiotics when I’ve had mastitis.
I have no idea what the extra electricity and gas costs must be. Boiling kettles to heat milk, heating water for washing up bottles, using the microwave to sterilise (although I realise now this was unnecessary), running an extra freezer for milk storage, the extra washing up liquid. I’ve not been able to lessen my impact on the environment by breastfeeding over formula feeding.
I love saving money, my friends comment on my thriftiness. It pisses me off that I’ve saved nothing. But what I might have saved Moo and myself from, is a lifetime of illness. I’ve reduced my risk of breast cancer, Moos risks of diabetes, cancers, obesity. I’ve saved myself from a lifetime of guilt, I know that breast milk is the best option for Moo. And those are things money simply can’t buy.
I’m peeing my pants with excitement, Moo just breastfed. The last time she did this, she was just a few months old, sleepy, half awake, just a few short sucks and then cried for a bottle.
I’ve often asked Moo if she’d like to try, we’ve played with a supplemental nursing system. She’d put my nipple in her mouth, perhaps suck once, but it never came to anything more. I was sad, but my hopes were never built.
This afternoon we were cuddling, I offered and she accepted. She took my nipple in her mouth and sucked. And then continued to suck. I think I even heard her swallow. The latch was all kinds of wrong, no where near deep enough. But we did it. She tried the other boob, then announced it was ‘all gone’.
For that minute, I could look down at my beautiful girl, all snuggled in. No plastic bottle, just her face, her rosy cheeks, her soft smooth skin, and my breast. Heaven. It’s all I’ve ever wanted.
It’s hard not to cry, to sit and sob from the bottom of my heart for hours and hours. All those moments we’ve missed out on. The newborn snuggles, breastfeeding while baby wearing, toes up my nostrils.
But at least now I have this memory instead. Even if it never happens again (which I don’t expect it to) I will always remember her skin on my skin. It’s all I have, it’ll never be enough, but it’s better than nothing at all. All I want is for my daughter to be happy, and in that moment, we both were.
I love mothers. I love reaching out to other women, women that have grown and nurtured another human being. It creates this magical bond, somehow. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I feel connected to every other mother in the world.
We’ve all been through the most awesome, overwhelming thing of wonder. We all carry the weight of motherhood. Some more easily than others, and we all parent differently, but we’re all the same. Bound together by the gift of a child
Our stories and journeys will be miles apart. Some of us are mothers to multiples, preemies, angel babies. Some of us struggle daily to provide for our children. Some of us try really hard to love them, some of us worry we never will. But we’re all united by motherhood. In this together.
I love that parenting forums and Facebook and Twitter and my blog have meant that I can connect with so many people. Whether we’ve got exclusively pumping in common, or post natal depression in common, or whether it’s just that you’re also a mother, it’s amazing. I genuinely feel tied to each and every one of you. It’s a kind of love, we’re sisters. Soppy hippyness, but it’s true.
Thank you for all the support, for every ‘like’, comment, email and tweet. Thank you for all the cups of coffee and advice and late night texts. Motherhood is that much easier when you don’t go it alone.