Tuesday 11 May 2021

hello old friend - the fog reappears.

 This recent lockdown hadn't impacted me so hard to start with, i think with it starting deep in winter, i nested down and took advantage of fires, knitting and the calm after the Christmas chaos. Around March time i found that slowly changing and could feel a decline in my mental well being and general readiness, the cold still felt long and winter was staying put. It felt good to be around others at work but the work didn't feel quite the same with face masks and having to stay 2m apart, which in periods of distress feels inhumane to not reach out and touch the arm of a client, a lot of changes were occurring and slowly i started to feel more disconnected then i have for a while, recognising my old friend was starting to appear and i was struggling to keep him at bay. I started to realise i wanted to sleep and stay asleep for some time which for me is my first trigger, i knew that wasn't possible with a toddler but i could feel the urge, things started to feel very overwhelming and i was finding myself repeating situations that had upset me over and over, my next trigger, not being able to process. I feel very lucky Sam and my Mum recognise these triggers quickly and start making me talk and share asking me what i need and how they can help. I started to realise my postnatal depression hadn't gone and now this attached to my low mood periods, intensifying life and motherhood and how i coped with days where loneliness/disconnectedness sunk in strong. I started to recognise where i was unhappy and what changes i needed to make to stay focused on myself and what my needs were as a women, mother, wife, friend and counsellor, if i am struggling all these areas struggle too and suddenly i can't be who i need in each situation. I sometimes feel a sad shadow and hear negativity creep in which isn't where i feel comfortable. 

I began to listen to what i share with young people and attempted to take action, look at what was happening and make a plan for what i needed to do, recognise what changes felt possible right now and were in reach to manage. I took my journal out and started to process and began to move my body which felt good, i threw myself into the activities i enjoy, growing, making and being outdoors and recognised sometimes i needed to put me first as without putting me first i couldn't be present for those around me. 

We also managed a holiday, an actual away space and its been 3 days but being out in the dales already has grounded me, slowed me down and let me hear what feels right. I have took holidays over lockdown but for some reason or other work has creeped in, not by choice and the holiday hasn't felt the space i needed to fill myself back up, for me a holiday is a time away, exploring and being in open spaces it isn't being back in the four walls of my home, feeling trapped, i have felt trapped for a year now with limitations being put on us of how we should behave and act. I have never realised the importance for physical contact this year, the sense of being close to others, the embrace of a friend without asking 'are we hugging' and constantly feeling an upset or anxiety that your too close to someone. This year has brought such change, such judgement and great sadness and i am ready for it to be over and a new time to come. 

The year ahead i have made plans, plans keep me focused and allow me to look forward to good times, it helps my mental health stay put and allows me to be at my best on most days. I have considered going to the doctors to talk about medication but have made the decision to wait, i have a few things occurring and if those things go the way i hope then that may help and change how my brain reacts. A friend asked me the other day if i would rather stay in one stable place rather than feel the big loves which then come with the depressive lows, it was such a great question and i realised i wouldn't change it, it's what makes me who i am and because i feel lucky enough to recognise my triggers then i feel more able to keep going as i am. As always with mental health this may change, it reappears in the strangest of ways and at times of real stress i will always move, talk write and be outdoors. 

Saturday 30 January 2021

2020 Reflections

 July last year was the last time I wrote and I have had many blog ideas but just haven't felt motivated to spend the time writing or have feelt slightly self conscious of what was important. I didnt know where I wanted my words to go and what I wanted you to read. This blog has had many variations but I guess that's life, hey? We take varying paths through life and my main reflection is that my blog shows that. Who knows where it will go next, but I hope whatever rambles I take you keep enjoying.

Lockdown 3 hasn't felt so overwhelming for me, I think this time of year would be took up with winter rambles, cosy afternoons in the pub and roaring fires with hours of netflix, ultimately all that is more of a challenge due to our wild toddler who doesn't stay still for too long and thinks he can walk for miles, which takes hours, he gets too cold then he loses it as he gets tingly fingers (he hasn't learnt the art of gloves, much to our persuasion). Therefore with pubs being closed, walks being too far a drive and netflix has turned into Disney movies were not feeling were missing out too much. These restrictions have in some way made life easier for us. Were obviously missing our London family, Sam's Muma was getting here as much as possible and were gutted that's now limited to whatsapp videos, we just keep thinking soon there will be change and the first thing will be seeing those people we haven't seen in so long. 

It has been a year of mad change though and what challenge for the mind and body, I had my vaccination a few days ago and it was such a strange experience queuing for a vaccine that may allow me some freedom at some point.. 

I have been adamant to still see others when I can, exercise with one other person has been with friends with littles so park play, bridal path walks, local nature reserves and jaunts to tasty coffee vans. I have wanted Albie to still see other littles and nursery has been another plus of this, he has developed so much the 2 days he goes and watching him know nursery rhymes, new words and imaginary play is just wonderful to observe. 

I went back to work at the start of lockdown 1, that was some experience, luckily I managed to move back into the office soon after due to the level of risk of young people I work with. I work 3 days a week at 2 different charities and also carry out private supervision work supporting other therapeutic workers. I love my job and it has been great for me going back, I miss Albie but I also have gained part of me back and feel I am a better Mum for working. I have also started some further therapeutic training through lockdown which work have supported me with, and it has made me very excited to have another trauma based therapy to my bag of counselling ways.

We got a holiday in during the 'free' spell, something I am going to blog more about as we have explored using the van and tent with Albie and both definitely have pluses and minuses of outdoor adventures with a baby/toddler. Albie first went away in the van at around 6wks old which now feels crazy to think about, however it was much easier to vanlife when he was less mobile! The Summer holiday was amazing though and we had a week that made the year for us, rambles along the Pembrokeshire coastal path, campfires at night, sea swimming and seal spotting as we rambled, it was just lush and a perfect week to show Albie our favourite camping ground. We have even booked this year and treated ourselves to a bell tent. 

We had a few festivals booked, which obviously were cancelled, fingers crossed they can go ahead this year, were dying to see Albie amaze in festival delight, he has a festival cape ready and some great sparkly clothes. Albie loves music and moves his little body when he hears a tune he likes, to think of him doing this with live music literally fills my heart and I can't wait to embrace it all with him. 

Albie's love for the outdoors has grown from Spring to Summer lockdowns into Autumn/Winter he loves helping to feed the birds, get in the chicken coop, walk the dogs and head down the allotment, his love to toddle around is heart warming and has kept us exploring through the long dreary days. 

Weve been binge watching when we can and some of our favourites from lockdown have been Normal People, Ozarks, Treme, The Fall, recent season of The Crown and Sex Education plus the Toy Story trilogy and all the Julia Donaldson stories by Magic Light on iplayer. 

I have been reading lots which has been great for myself, lots of early bedtimes with a cuppa and my book, I haven't set myself an aim for this year but have picked the books I would like to get through. A friend and I have also started a mini book club where every few months we read a book together then reflect on it. However we have both agreed time to read our own books as for me I love picking a book and getting lost in something of my own choice. I love the #20secondbookreview on instagram, it has provided me with many reading ideas over the last year. 

My allotment has gone to bed for the winter, I have taken on a few beds in a new patch that ultimately my Mum and Stepdad have took on, I still have my old little plot though and have been planning what I want to grow. I also have a greenhouse now which I can't wait to grow chillis, peppers and aubergines in. 

I have crafted, slowly but have made a few bits for Albie, a hat for Sam and I am making some socks for myself now. I am hoping to start a jumper also this year, eep but I am a bit scared of its detail and commitment, at least I have a year to do it! 

I finished my own counselling and tried out some EMDR therapy (reprocessesing traumatic memories), I really needed to carry out some work around my own labour and fertility journey, the EMDR work was amazing, since it I have felt such a shift and feel lighter and more focused on what my needs are but also the journey that brought Albie to us. I made the decision to stop posting on my fertility instagram, I have left it open but have chose posting images of my baby when it ultimately was about the challenges of fertility didn't feel right. I think I will close it at some point but for now I have left it for information sharing and answering any messages that come my way around infertility and the struggles it brings. 

Writing this I see the year has actually offered a lot, reflections can be so good to see what we have achieved, even in lockdown it's been eventful and rather enriching. 2021 hopefully will bring more connection, more outdoor adventures, less time indoors and a focus on how important life is to live and cuddles, loads of cuddles.

Tuesday 28 July 2020

labouring through

It's took a year to write this, i am still not 100% sure i am ready but, with Albie turning 1 this week it felt the process of attempting to make sense of what happened would be good and allow me some reflection on that time one year ago. 

If your pregnant i would say this may not be the best thing for you to read, if you like all the details then go ahead but remember this was my journey and all journeys are not the same. If you had your own traumatic experience of labour then be aware this could bring triggers, just make sure your looking after yourself as this is my honest and detailed account of what happened to me. I also want to share that although there were things that went wrong our midwife care was beyond exceptional and we felt cared for by those looking after us, things happen, decisions are made we understand that but the 5 midwifes who cared for us looked after us with unbelievable care, understanding and honesty and without them we couldn't have done it.

After taking so long to fall pregnant my two wishes were that we would make it to full term and that our labour would happen 'naturally' and induction wouldn't be the route we had to go down. I spoke openly about how this wasn't the type of labour i agreed with and how i knew the outcome would lead to assistance due to the fast pace of contractions, and my body not being totally ready for what would be occurring. However, it's what happened and after two weeks of waiting i knew my baby wasn't coming naturally, i spoke to my midwife and induction was booked, on the 28th July 2019 we walked into that induction suite with little idea what was to happen next but filled with excitement the time had come to meet our baby.

For those who don't know about induction it happens in many ways, mostly in the form of a pessarie or gel that's inserted into your vulva then if that starts to work and your cervix dilates into 'active labour' (which i think is around 6cms) your good to go. If you don't get to this stage you get put on a drip, which is like a pace maker for the womb, the drip is filled with a drug that forces contractions and throughout your labour your given larger doses, making the contractions bigger and hopefully your cervix begins to open more and your baby starts to move, active labour begins. 

I went into the induction suite for 5pm on Sunday 28th, they settled me into a room with 4 other 'inductees' and throughout the evening everyone was given the gels to start labour moving, one by one women moved out as they progressed. At around 1am the midwifes shared i was contracting well and showing good signs, however when they did their internal check i sadly wasn't dilating and sadly was still only 1cm, not even enough to break my waters, this carried on for a few hours, we walked around and around the RVI and bounced and bounced but sadly things weren't moving as fast as they would like. They finally managed to break my waters on Monday morning, around 7am, 11hrs into the beginning stages of labour, the period style pain contractions. Things started to feel slightly out of my control of my own body at this stage, i was in discomfort and pain and felt powerless as to what was being prodded in me. Now, i am aware this happens to A LOT of women, however for me, this area of my body had experienced this prodding for 4yrs now, many investigations into my fertility, with ivf you always have some 'wand' being inserted to check for follicles, embryos, eggs etc etc so for this now to be happening throughout birth also was just adding to the trauma of feeling it was someone else's to do as they wanted. 

At this point we spoke with the midwife and informed them i didn't want any sweeps, i didn't want to be prodded unless needed, and requested any checks that could be delayed until actual labour fully started would be. They were so understanding, asked what would help and offered me a bath, i remember so clearly getting in the bath with some clary sage and listening to the archers, it felt warm and comforting on my body and i lay there in this tiny bath, waters broken but feeling more at ease. 
The next few hours turned into a blur as sadly i moved into a more pressing labour but there wasn't room for me in the delivery suite until 3pm Monday, 21hrs into first stage labour. I tried not to feel frustrated and knew i needed all my good hormones to flow but sadly this insane procedure they had in place for induction women meant my labour soon came to a stop as there was nowhere for me to move to and the 'holding rooms' were not the most relaxing. 

When we finally moved into an available room the drip was waiting and any form of moving, swaying labour was heading out the door. After flapping and huffing for a bit, Sam calmed me down, he made the room lovely, diffuser, affirmation cards, music and massaged my back helping me guide back into the space, it felt good and i was happy to just be present with him. 

Labour started to take hold around 8pm, around 26hrs in, i was starting to understand contractions and breathing through them with my yoga breathing, i felt in control of my body and was sniffing my lavender hanky like there was no tomorrow. I got to 12pm, 30hrs into labour and realised i needed something more, the gas and air was making me sick and my breath wasn't cutting it, after another hour of discussing and looking at the pluses and negatives we decided to opt for an epidural, the antitheist came, placed the site and administered the drug, i waited and expected that calm to come where i would get some sleep and contractions could move through me more freely. I waited and waited and as the drip was pushed higher i realised nothing was happening, it wasn't working, something was wrong, the epidural had failed me, i was now contracting big, but my cervix was only at 2.5cms (not classed as active labour) however my contractions were that of active labour, my midwife was confused and the look on Sam's face was of worry, and this is where it all just started to go wrong. 

So i am aware that women have traumatic births every day, i am not saying mine is the worst ever but for me my birth was traumatic, it was everything i didn't want it to be and everything they didn't want it to be, it was raw and brutal and the journey it took was everything i did not want it to be, it lives with me still and i remember it daily, the trauma is held in my body, in my c section scar and although i have processed a lot of it its hard to forget something so monumental, the day my son came into the world, the most wonderful day ever is also the day my body and mind was slightly broken. 

For the next 6hrs a number of things went wrong, they couldn't place any epidural so i was contracting strong every 2mins, not even in active labour with no pain relief, i was screaming for a c section at one point as i felt my body was about to explode, we were left alone for an hour when the 2nd epidural was placed, which again we were assured would work and it didn't, Sam actually walked out into the labour ward asking anyone for help, to be told we had to wait for our midwife to come back from lunch, which she deserved and needed but at that point we also needed someone to help. After 6hrs of no clue how i was going to do it they called the big leads in and the consultant visited me at 7am, horrified at what she found. The hierarchy of midwifes and antitheist played it's part and the consultant shared she should have been rung earlier, i was given pethidine and finally an epidural that worked, i finally found some calm and my drug fuelled haze set in to allow me some sleep, 49hrs after arriving at hospital. 

52hrs after we first arrived they made the decision we needed to move to a c-section, i wasn't in immediate danger and Albie was fine but they knew he wasn't coming out, i didn't know at the time but he was back to back which basically means he was snug as a bug and not in the right position to push on the cervix properly to dilate it. As we entered theatre i remember i just needed Sam to hold my face, the drugs were hard at that point and my jaw wouldn't stay still, i remember thinking i can't bring my baby into the world like this and imagined how my Mum would have to look after him until i was well enough. I realise now i needed physical contact, everything felt so out of control i needed that touch from my husband to hold me and tell me it was all going to be okay.

 Albie was born at 10.54am, 52hrs and 54mins later, he came out fully 'cooked' with not an ounce of amniotic fluid on him and was a strapping 9lb 30z and a face that made our world shine. 

Those after hours feel a blur of drug tripping hazy waves, at times i didn't feel able to hold Albie as i was scared of dropping him, i was hearing voices of friends that weren't there and both Sam and I were falling asleep as hadn't slept properly since Sunday and it was now Tuesday afternoon. It was the most intense but powerful few hours having this new life in our arms, Sam did most of the skin to skin due to me not being well enough too. Our midwifes came and helped us soothe him to sleep, giving us a few hours to close our eyes before my Mum and Ron came to meet him. 

When everyone left that evening and it was just me and him, i lay next to him watching him, not believing he was mine and we were one, he scared me but made me whole and this new chapter was about to begin. 

Labour, she's a beast in many forms and i still don't know the exact words i use to describe her, i struggled to just forget what happened like others say you do, i couldn't forget the face of my husband as he watched me agonising in pain totally helpless and i couldn't forget the face of my midwife as she questioned what was going on, however i do remember the squidginess of my boy as he entered this world and for that it was worth it but i knew i wouldn't be putting myself through it again, he was here and now we were done. 

Saturday 2 May 2020

9 months of reflections!

Going back to work after 9 months off is a strange thing in itself, without the added depths of leaving your baby, overcoming mental health needs, a worldwide pandemic and feeling trapped in your home. When the lock down began we all felt certain elements of worry and stress but what struck me was my sense of loss, my loss of the end of my maternity leave. I sat crying as guidelines were imposed about the ending of groups, the ending of support and the ending of a time i had started to enjoy.

As i have documented in other blogs sadly maternity leave didn't start as planned, Albie didn't show up for some time and when he did i spent my first 3 months in a postnatal haze feeling low, tearful and really confused at how i should care for my baby and if i had the ability to. I couldn't feed him, the midwife made me feel i wasn't caring for his needs and my own mental health went into nose dive at the expectations i felt i wasn't meeting. It changed at 6 months, properly anyway, i suddenly got it, i knew him, he knew me and i had friends, networks, groups, family and knew what i needed to do at certain times of the day to make the day easier. We got into a flow and it suddenly felt natural, i still missed work, i missed that part of me, but life didn't feel as lost as it once had. We had around 2 months of this, then it changed and my process of moving into lock down was definitely of grief, that the end of maternity was starting to look like the start, a hazy mess feeling slightly lost. I felt bad for feeling this, i felt guilt at my selfishness but i felt it important to recognise and understand why lock down was feeling more of a struggle and why i couldn't accept what was happening.

I also was coming to the end of my counselling and this stopped (my choice) due to it moving to online, again something i was working on that i felt was taken away. Then i was going back to work at my old job and i was starting a new job one day a week for another charity, something i was looking forward to for so long, being with my work peeps and engaging with incredible young people, again this all changed when i was told i would be working from my spare room. I have adjusted, i have had to, i have processed, i have had to, i am not the only one feeling so many losses right now, my losses feel insignificant to the reality of what is happening, but there mine and they feel important to voice as it also feels were not allowed to talk about the smaller things anymore, small things that can feel big things in a already complex world.

Maternity leave hasn't been the sabbatical i thought it would be, it wasn't the dreamy days of lying feeding my baby with the sun shining in and a relaxed playlist in the background. It was hard, so fricken hard, it was exhausting and more confusing then i ever imagined. It was beautiful in a whole host of ways and it was confusing, all the things i expected didn't happen, all the things i hoped for didn't happen, i had to adjust and change and keep alive a new small being, whilst being so mixed up about what my feelings were for this new life. I had to be open and raw and admit i sometimes wanted him back inside as he was safe there, my body knew how to care for him, i had to be open i wasn't in my own mind at times and i had to cry, i cried a river there were so many tears but i had to trust in love, that it would grow, that it would allow my heart to open and be vulnerable and i had to understand there was no running, i was staying put however hard that felt at times and still does, my home was my boy, my beautiful boy.

The naivety i felt pre pregnancy sits with me and i love it, i love the beauty of believing so much can happen, i love the realism i held vanished due to this life growing in me and this exciting new adventure to come. What i learnt was you have no control at times and that's okay, the minute i accepted he was in control of what happened next i started to understand and the adventure changed but not always in a bad way. That acceptance sits with me and the learning's i have had over the last 9 months are some of my strongest lessons. I have realised that i can be so insecure at my own abilities as a women, wife and mother, i am not forgiven on myself and have unearthed a part of me i don't like, it's negative and struggles to see optimism, but i am working on it and i am aware of it and that is the only way change can be made. I have learnt i am selfish, which i don't feel is a bad thing, i miss my old life, it will never be how it was but i hope it can have resemblances, i wanted to be a mother for so long and when the time came i questioned if it was something i had always wanted, which also made me feel such guilt that i was questioning something i had worked so hard to get. I also realised how strong i am, that i spent 3 days in labour and 8hrs in pain without help, they didn't know how to help when nothing else was working, the midwife shared after she had never experienced what happened to me, at the time i didn't know how to react but when i look back now i am so thankful i survived as at one point i wasn't sure i would. I understand my job more, i understand flashbacks and trauma more, so although i wished i had never gone through what i had in labour it has led me to be able to understand when someone talks of the impact of flashback's as 9 months on i still experience them now, i manage them but a song, a smell, a programme with labour in it brings it all back. I learnt that fertility treatment is traumatic and will never leave me, that process of 3.5yrs of appointments, prodding, poking and loss has burnt a place in my heart and when it was all over i was so happy but i was also lost, the feelings fertility treatment leaves you with is so complex and the only people who understand are those also going through it, were sisters and warriors, we survive the battle and keep throwing ourselves in to get what comes so easily to others.

I have also learnt new ways to love in my relationship, it's true if you survive the first year of having a baby you can survive anything, the amount you have to give up is commitment beyond belief. Sam has literally saved me on so many occasions, he has been 100% and has had his own challenges but has always been present and available and when it comes to parenting, he is by us every step. A new love developed when i watched him feed our new born baby with teeny cups in the midst of the night, when he encouraged me to feed in other ways and never told me not to cry when i needed too, i saw he was willing to do anything to help us survive in those first few weeks even at times when he himself was breaking.

The main thing i have learnt though is a love so strong it makes me gush with emotion, at times Sam even laughs at me as every day this small human makes my heart explode, explode with pride, happiness and pure greatness at my achievement as he is my greatest achievement.

Wednesday 4 March 2020

When does the whirlwind end.

Motherhood, it's ups and downs forever knocking me of my feet and making it a struggle to get back up. 7 months have passed by and over those 7 months I don't think I have ever felt so overwhelmed, shocked, alone or bewildered in my whole life. The unknown of this new path I have taken and what the right way to turn is forever mind boggling and I know they say the first is the hardest but I still have no idea what makes people go on to have more. My babe is a beauty, he's calm, chilled, sleeps but the amount of mental exhaustion and ups and downs I go through on a daily basis are not good for my mental health and in return are not good for Albie or my little family.I have never felt so disconnected from the life I was living only recently realising I have been in survival mode for so long, survival from the experience of infertility, IVF, pregnancy and labour then the newborn days. This journey I had  to get my baby developed a fight in me, one I thought would end when he arrived., but I am soon learning hasn't fully. My Counsellor commented yesterday on my 'warrior' mentality and I shared how in the IVF community we call ourselves IVF warriors, madness to think this is the mentality we have to take on, of a solider surviving battle. I don't think at the time we realise the trauma of infertility and IVF, I don't think anyone does or can until the process comes to an end and sometimes that's with more trauma of not having the outcome we wished for or we get what we want but then can't understand why we still feel so lost. That was my outcome, I got my babe, my beautiful boy, my beautiful son but I was so lost and suddenly felt so lost in motherhood, as mentioned before something I never expected. I have come to understand recently what this loss is about and recognise it's around identity, an identity I have lost over the years and am slowly finding but it's taking time. It feels as women trying to conceive or new mothers we all go through this in some way, how can we not a little person has entered or is trying to enter our lives and this changes the dynamic of it all, the dynamic for me, with my husband, dogs, friends and work and it won't be the same as before as it can't be, but it can be different and different doesn't need to be a bad thing.
One thing I am exploring at the moment is my role in my life, the identity that has been given to me by others and the one I have taken on myself. I am looking at what feels right and what doesn't and how this has impacted on me over the years. Its helping me look at the two identities I have developed at this time and how I bring them together or will they always feel quite separate, as Mums do we always have two sides of us we perform/work with. The old you and the new you.

Mum guilt, the continuous feeling of feeling guilty I shouldn't want elements of my old life back. I am human though and all the things and freedom I once had are gone and its okay to miss them, it doesn't mean I don't want my babe, it just means I want elements of what I had as I liked that, I loved my life pre motherhood and post motherhood can be a bit shit at times.

This blog was called 'just a mum' but I changed the title as that's what I am learning, I am more than just a mum and I think the last 16 months through pregnancy and Albie I felt I became 'just a mum' maybe people made me feel that, maybe I made myself feel that but what I am understanding is I can change that as I am so much more than that, I am Albie's Mum and I love being that, but I also love who I was before and underneath these layers of first baby shock I am slowly unearthing myself and finding this new (and possibly improved) me.

Monday 10 February 2020

Where's the balance?

Today is one of those days where I woke this morning, smiling at life, I fed my babe, I prepped tonight's tea, I made the babes lunch, I packed the change bag and tidied the house, I was winning. When I went out at 12pm to my music class I was mum bossing it, I was on that high of this mum stuff is well easy, if this is how it is, keep it coming. Then the day ends with a huge glass of wine, my diary and a text to Sam with a blow your head emoji. I suddenly remember how quickly it all can change. So where is the balance, how can a day go so awol so quickly, I constantly go back to 'it's just a phase' but sometimes 'just a phase' is bloody hard!  I then remember the Monday's were I wasn't working out the needs of a 6 month old and my biggest challenge at home was what time to walk the dogs or what was the okay time to open the wine (with a baby it seems anytime after 4pm is okay).

The highs are so high, when those highs hit I am skipping with joy at my life, my love, my babe and my hounds. I look at that little brood and my heart melts, I look at that wee baby and remember how much we yearned, cried, pained and challenged ourselves for him. His beauty and innocence and forever smiling face of how pleased he is to be here.  I then feel that pang of guilt in that I miss my old ways and 'easy' life.  I feel bad that I sometimes wish he was older to communicate and allow me a sense of freedom, a sense of who I am. I then get an ounce of freedom and all I want is to be with my babe, the balance is so screwed in my own mind, how do I get it right or make sense of what it is I actually want.

The days feel easier the older he gets, as my hormones in some way calm down and a light shines as in 9wks I go back to work and work is part of my identity, however I then feel sad to be leaving this little beam of smiles and knowing I won't get this time again. However I can't deny I am looking forward to be part of a team again, a team that uses my brain, my knowledge and my expertise, bigger than the team I live in daily at the moment, just me and my babe where my brain is used minimally and it feels very repetitive.

 It's a crazy balance, maybe its winter that shifts these rhythms, maybe it's the newness of life with a small human, maybe it's the wild change I am going through and wanting to make sense of but really can't, maybe it's the change in my relationship I didn't expect or want but trying to reset and make sense of as these two different people, who whatever, are different to who they were 6 months ago.
One thing I do know is that it is a phase, it will change, I will look back and ask where has the time gone, I hold on to the magic of each day, like when Albie laughs at me for making a silly face, or he does something for the first time. I remember the want for this tiny human and although time has changed and I have changed, I am growing and that's not a bad thing, we are always developing and changing and although change can feel so unknown it can be good.

This whole process is unknown but I am trying to make sense of it and as each day passes I hope I am doing the best I can and hold on to myself in the best way possible.

I don't think finding the balance will every come easily but trying to adjust will and one thing I have learnt about myself in the last 6 months if you can raise a baby, you can do anything!

Monday 13 January 2020

and then we hit 6 months.

Not yet, but nearly, its like another point in the many milestones of motherhood, my niece was born this weekend and it left me with all the feels, thinking about Albie's arrival into this world and those special moments straight after. Sam and I have spent a lot of this weekend talking about those first few hours and the difference in what we remember and chose to remember, there's a lot both of us have put in that box of 'things we don't like to think about' but there's real special moments of just us and Albie that warm my heart and make me feel such great love.

I thought Sam going back to work after Christmas was going to be hell,  i believed my anxiety monster would be back in full force and everything would feel so overwhelming, but surprisingly i have shocked myself (and Sam, i think) as it's not been too bad. I have a little pattern now of classes we go to, friends we see, popping into my Mum and Ron's, walking the dogs and suddenly being at home (alone) isn't such a challenge. I don't know what's changed, if it's me, Albie or both of us, but i suddenly feel like i know my little guy and i know what he enjoys and what noises means he wants change. He kind of naps, but those 20-30mins give me time to eat, drink tea, sometimes catch an episode of something and maintain my me time, which felt so lost at the start of this journey.

These first 6 months have been a rollercoaster, one i haven't always enjoyed, one i wouldn't change but one i wouldn't chose to repeat either. Having a baby is an amazing new chapter but it also closes an old one that when i reflect i wasn't fully ready to close. Maybe if the start of our journey with Albie had been smoother it may have been different but it wasn't and that i am coming to terms with slowly. I am recognising that the first part of our journey still impacts me, brand new babies are now not all squishy to me, there new, fragile and something im okay with not fully interacting with. I still feel tearful when i listen to my favourite playlist which was also our labour playlist, when i hear the song Skinny Love, by Bon Iver i could be back in that labour room, wishing something they did would help stop the pain, sadly i still remember nothing did until 5am that morning, 5hrs after they first administered the first epidural, it took for the 3rd one to make any impact. I have my birth reflection on Thursday which is where you go through your birth with a midwife, it helps process but also make sense of what happened and how traumatic it all was. I have chose to access counselling privately as i feel guilt at not enjoying my so longed for baby. I feel guilt that for 4/5 months i sometimes wondered what had i done and if i could survive the rest of my maternity leave. I feel guilty at one point i wanted to go back to work, i wanted to be away from this world i had just created and spent 6yrs trying to create.

What's changed i do recognise is i am ready to talk about this and i recognise those feelings i felt weren't only mine but so many others too, we just don't like talking about it.

Maybe this is why this 6 month mark feels easier now as i recognise i don't want to go back to work right now, yes in time when my maternity ends but right now i want to squeeze and giggle with Albie, i want to be present here with him. Sometimes days are boring, dull, repetitive but i am now starting to recognise i will never have this time again and i want to appreciate every minute as come April i am back at work and not with my babe every day.

I have realised i need to talk about what happened and i am ready to, it's painful and hard but it can't be locked in as it's not healthy for me, Sam and even more Albie. I want to grow him into a child who knows truth, speaks about his feelings, open's up and isn't misguided from the truth. How can i grow a child into all this things if i don't look after myself and support myself with what i have been through and what my mental health has.

We have so many words for those feelings after birth... baby blues, post natal depression, post traumatic stress... who knows what name i  have experienced, does it need a name? i just know making a baby, pregnancy, labour, birth then having a baby is a a massive assault of shock on the body, mind and life, everything has changed and people who say it's all okay i sadly just don't believe as how can anyone be that ready for such an attack of hormones and just take it in their stride. I read somewhere it takes eighteen months for those pesky hormones to calm down, well only another year left.

Whether my playlist always makes me cry, whether Albie's birth always brings back sadness, maybe i will always feel the guilt around how i felt when he first arrived, maybe the truth of Albie never having a sibling is because of how crazy this journey has been to bring him, whatever i know i am doing my best to adjust, make sense and enjoy the final stages of maternity leave. It's nice to know another rainbow appears and the journey feels somewhat brighter after such a storm.