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CBT Session Six – What The Future Holds #PND

And so I came to the end of my therapy sessions. I already miss it. It’s helped me so much. It’s changed me so much. I feel happier again. I like my daughter. I enjoy time with her. I enjoy things in general. And I don’t get half as anxious as I ever did. I still do, it isn’t completely gone, but I am better prepared to deal with the anxiety. I guess the question is, what happens if the anxiety or low mood start to affect me too much again?

That’s where the sixth session came in to play.

First of all there was a section on problem solving. I’ve never really considered trying to solve problems an issue. I guess though, sometimes I do get anxious over something and sit there trying to figure out a solution. Perhaps the steps involved with problem solving might be quite useful. The thing that I took from the problem solving was the final step – reviewing what happened. Did it work? And I was reminded about how I was stuck in a problem at a soft play a few weeks ago. Husband had left Elvis and I there alone as Robin got grumpy. So he drove home and left me with just the change bag. I asked him to take my phone and purse so that if anyone stole the bag all they got were toys and clean nappies. All was fine until Elvis bumped his head and was really badly crying. It might have been soft play, but he hit his head outside of the soft play on the hard floor. Well, he wanted to go in Daddy’s car. He didn’t want to walk home. My mind started whirring. Could I carry him home? Could I get him to my mum’s who lives very slightly closer? Would my mum be in? Should I ring Hubby? What if Robin was asleep, should I get to wake her? Wait, I don’t have my phone. I could ask another mum, a stranger. I don’t know Hubby’s number. I could ring my own phone? It’s on silent, he wouldn’t notice.

This was all going on in my head whilst I was getting his coat on and zipping it up. As it happens, once we walked outside I distracted him with a tree and he found Stickman and we talked about that the whole way home.

What I took from the problem solving was Review. If it had been a proper emergency, what would I have done? Sure, someone would have leant me their phone, but I don’t know hubby’s or the house number. I could ring my mum, I know her number, but she might not have been in. So, how to solve a problem before it could happen – write the emergency phone numbers and put it in the changing bag. Maybe even include a few coins of loose change to give to another mum as a gesture when they let me use their phone. It’s probably a really good idea even if the phone and wallet are in the bag, probably a bit more useful in an emergency should something happen to me when I’m alone with the children.

The rest of the session involved reviewing the previous 5 sessions, but in our handouts there were forms on how to cope with setbacks. I scanned all of the forms first! Haha, then I can change things later and adapt things should I need to without wasting my time making my own version. The first few were about identifying if we were green, amber or red with regards to our moods. What the signs are for each, where support is in any of the colours, how to work on getting back or staying in the green.

Then there was the review day sheet with a suggested review date of three months. These I definitely plan to use and have even written in my diary when the 3 month review is due, except I have a provisional earlier one for once I’m back at work as that could drastically alter things. The first page details what has happened since the last review, what’s gone well or not, what I’ve learnt and putting tools into practice. The second side is the 12 week goals, leading up to the next review. My goals have included:

  • Remain calm regarding returning to work, don’t ruminate on it
  • Build exercise into the new routine once back at work, use SMART goals to achieve a new routine
  • Continue the bath time and relaxing reading even when there is no exercise right before it – SMART goals to make sure I keep these elements
  • Make time for my personal social life and for increasing the social life of my children with SMART goals and prioritising. But realise that if Robin’s nap schedule means that afternoons are tricky that I have to think about how to do it to limit any anxiety about having an over tired baby
  • Spend quality time with the children, Husband as a family and as a couple by being assertive and using SMART goals
  • Accept any social aspect through work. I haven’t been to any since Robin was born as I did not feel comfortable leaving Robin before Christmas. I do know and I won’t let fear stop me.

I think, in a nutshell, it’s primarily about having a balance between work, life, mum, wife. It’s not all one and little of the others. I have to be mum. I have to work. That doesn’t mean that I can forget to be me, to be a partner and wife. They all need to co-exist. Sure there will be times when the balance is a bit skewed because it has to be. Robin’s naps might mean I need to limit social activities for Elvis. One of them being ill might mean that I need to alter work requirements or having my normal me time.

Some of it will be trying to pre-empt things that I know are going to make me anxious. Like the family holiday that we have planned in August and one set of the family that I really, truly would rather not see. It’s just going to be one day though and I’ll have had months to prepare, to use the tools. Or being trapped in the house with both kids when one or both are ill. Yes, I might feel trapped and bored, stuck and so, so tired, but it will pass. That one definitely needs the 5 area treatment! Maybe the in laws one, does too! I might need to interrogate the hot thought on both of those.

Here’s to the first review date!

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Operation…Yucky!

The lurgy has hit the household and I, once again, feel like I’m dying. It’s just a cold, maybe a mild flu (achey, hot sweats, cough, dizzy/feint spells), but I am always over the top dramatic. Lucky the lurgy hit after my day away at a convention in London. Technically it hit whilst I was away. Yep, the first time that Daddy had both children on his own all day long and they both slept, taking it in turns so he only ever really had one to deal with. Typical! It did result in me getting a message once I was on my way home –

Can you get a taxi from the station rather than walk? We have vomit.

Oh, dear. Elvis then slept all day Monday, too. Ahh, Monday, the day that was supposed to be our last day together for Robin and I. Elvis hijacked it. Tuesday, which was supposed to be the first of 9 super productive spring cleaning days ended up being me watching TV with Elvis (who was hyper and no longer sick, but we didn’t know that at half 7) whilst Robin had her first morning at nursery. Wednesday, which was supposed to be second super decluttering day became a 90% on it day as I started to feel the affects of the bug, but both kids were at the nursery and I got most of my to do list done.

So, today, Thursday, supposed to be day 3 of 9 of cleaning, decluttering, jogging, shopping, being me and being amazing… I slept in until 9am (Daddy did the whole breakfast and get to nursery on his own. He’s amazing), had a bath, ate cereal, watched The 100, bought cookies and cereal. Moved a box. Ate cookies. Tried to nap. Had lunch and lemsip. That was at 12 just before I headed off to pick up both kids. I started to feel better with that lemsip. I think I just needed that amazing rest. This illness has given me such a short fuse. Robin seems to have skipped it. Although this evening she kept crying for incredibly random reasons. She hit me in the face and I jokingly said “Ouch, be careful, no, that hurt.” No sternness in my voice at all, and with a smile. She burst into tears! Elvis has spent the week having what I guess people might call normal toddler temper tantrums, but they’ve been whiny.

“I don’t want to get up!” Whiny meltdown. “I want cinnamon squares.” Whiny meltdown. “I’m tired.” Whiny meltdown. “I don’t want to go bed.” Whiny meltdown. “I don’t want to watch TV.” Whiny meltdown. “I’m tired.”

Seriously, go the fuck to bed because I have an awful headache and want you to just stop fucking whining!

This week I have been far worse than shouty parent. I have been screaming parent. I have wanted to swear at my son. Because swearing tells the other person you mean business, right? I have come so close to wanting to hit him. Just. To. Shut. Him. Up. All because I was tired, drained and exhausted and my head hurt so much. But I went to bed for over 12 hours and spent Thursday morning doing absolutely nothing and I feel better. I feel no guilt because I wasn’t being lazy, I was being protective.

Yeah, I still haven’t done my first jog of 2016 (I had planned to jog on days 1 and 3), I still have a lot of things to do on my to do list, but my junk room is already looking more spacious, I still have clothes shopping to do for work (supposed to do on day 2), but I still have 6 days left.

Unless Robin gets ill. Let’s not go there.

Robin, who has taken to nursery like a pro. She’s even happy wearing her shoes now! Everyone keeps commenting on how good of a baby she is (yes, I kind of hate how a baby is judged by how well they sleep and what their temperament is like, but it is partly true, Robin goes to sleep easily, she is so laid back and easy going, she literally leans back on you and giggles looking up, if you aren’t there she simply bangs her head on the floor and laughs!) I guess in a nursery situation “good” babies are simply because they make the workers’ life a bit easier. Robin started crying in the garden, so she was taken up for a nap and was asleep in a minute. Because she rarely cries. She’s also not overly fussed to see me when I turn up. She’s incredibly content.

Oh, and despite his mood, Elvis came home from nursery this week with two sunflowers that he’d planted and a lovely Mother’s Day card with a tree handprint and pink finger print leaves (it’s Stickman’s family tree, apparently).

Before the lurgy hit, I had an amazing weekend. I did my weekly weigh in (forgot to post, but reached my first target! Whoop!), then I spent the day at the arcades and climbing castles with the family. Went on a date night with hubby and after a lovely meal, snuck in a cinema trip and watched Deadpool (weird, not quite my taste, but hilarious). Sunday I spent in London and met 5 actors from TV and film. I finally met Greg Grunberg and Miltos Yerelomou! I’ve waited years! I’m not sure I’ll do a weigh in this week as I still feel a bit rough and, quite frankly, I have a good reason for slacking. It’s not being lazy or indulgent, it’s trying to recover and resting. I guess I’ll count myself lucky that this thing hit once both were in nursery even if it only gave me a few hours a day rest!

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It Gets Better – A 20 Month Age Gap, A Year On

One of my greatest anxieties, other than getting children to nap, has been being alone with both of mine. Where other people can never get out of the door on time with their children, I have always been able to get one and then both of them, including me and Hubby up, dressed, washed, fed and out, by whatever time I need to. I guess that I kind of don’t understand those that can’t, those that have anxiety or panic over trying to get somewhere on time, but then I freak out at the prospect of being alone with mine. Or at least I did.

Even just a month or so before Christmas, the thought of Hubby going to spend all day long at the football filled me with dread. Or Elvis being ill and needing to stay home from nursery. God, no. I just couldn’t bear the thought. I’m not even sure fully what it was about being alone with them. Maybe how to keep them both entertained. How to feed him and myself solids with a baby who didn’t eat. Who do I leave screaming to deal with the other?

It got easier as Robin got better and more independent with napping. I started using the TV less to babysit Elvis when Robin needed things. Then when she finally started eating and crawling it got even easier. She developed a routine that fit with him and his nursery run. The only times that I’m really alone with them is a Friday after swimming and then weekdays for a short while before and after his nap. He started dropping his afternoon nap as early as October and I don’t remember freaking out about it.

He did have two days off sick in November and then Hubby was planning on going to the football, I would have been alone with them both for 4 whole days. I was scared of that.

Today, Elvis awoke at 1am with an awful cough. Then he woke again at 5. It sounded really wheezy. At 6 I brought him in to bed with me and told Hubby that we weren’t getting up. He wasn’t going to nursery. I didn’t even need to think it over or try and get over any anxiety, I knew I could do it and didn’t feel any anxiety. Because, yep, whatever you want to think of me at other times during this past year I have gladly sent him in when he was a bit ill, because I couldn’t deal with him and her. I was so anxious, so scared, that I sent him off a bit ill. Others might frown upon that, but I just couldn’t do it. I was too scared. I won’t say that the therapy has helped with that particular issue (Robin growing up has), but it would have helped amazingly.

I can cope with a 20 month age gap. I am coping with that age gap. At the moment. I’m pretty sure I’m over the hardest, the highest hurdle and I have all of the tools from therapy to help me should any future hurdles involve anxiety.

On that note, I have been blogging about my 6 therapy sessions (first, second and third) and I do think that maybe my PND is more PNA and it is far more manageable. I got a letter on the weekend discharging me from their services and it said that at the start I had a level of 13 on the depression scale, 11 on the anxiety and I ended with a 3 on depression, 4 on anxiety. I think the anxiety should have maybe started higher as there are a lot of instances that I didn’t realise I had anxiety. But then I realised a lot doing the course. Such a lot.

I guess, what I’m saying for anyone with a 20 month age gap, whatever might worry you, whether it’s minor or life controlling, it gets better. You might need help from friends, family or professional people, but I’ve made it to over a year in and today I am happily sitting at home as Storm Imogen blows down my fences with a bit of an ill boy on the sofa and a potential teething girl attempting to nap and I’m not stressing, I’m not worrying, I’m not panicking. I’m not reaching for the junk food to eat my feelings.

I’m living.

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Robin Upset Me

My son is 32 months old and is just beginning to understand his emotions. I blame nursery. Haha. He now often uses being tired as an excuse for not doing things, but he is going through something at the moment. Like I said, he’s 32 months old. He’s just dropped his afternoon nap and he’s really exploded in his abilities. He’s more outgoing. He has a memory. He referred to someone as his friend. We keep talking to him about how things are about to change with Robin starting nursery and that our swimming lessons might be changing. I think he might be going through more upheaval than he did twelve months ago when he suddenly received a newborn baby sister!

Robin has started walking (yay!) and the day that she was doing lots of walking with her pram walker (which she now ignores just days later as she can toddle as far and fast alone), Elvis went and hid between two toy shelving units. I asked him why. “Because I’m sad.”

“Why are you sad?”

“Robin upset me.”

And my heart broke.

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CBT: Session Three – Oh, There I am! #PND

As I walked into the third session, I was still feeling so so down from the session before and then my failed attempt to socialise, that I wondered what the point was. But I wasn’t about to lose my place on the course and I really loved the creche aspect! Honestly, possibly not the best reason, but I’m not going to lie – it was not hope and optimism that made me go on the third week. Haha! The third session was all about rumination (I tick all the boxes, so, yep, I ruminate. A lot) and introduced SMART Goals.

Well, somewhere in the week afterwards, I began to see some light.

I think it happened when I set my SMART Goal in front of everyone in the therapy session. Because that meant I had to stick to it. Right?

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M I C K E Y M O U S E

Elvis loves the Disney Channel (Junior) and really likes Mick (Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse). I don’t mind. I love Disney and quite enjoy Sofia the First, too. Not sure about Doc McStuffins or Curious George yet.

But I have some questions!

Why does Donald talk more like a duck than Daisy?

Why are Goofy and Minnie the only ones fully dressed?

Are Mickey/Minnie and Donald/Daisy dating/married?

Why doesn’t Donald wear shoes? The others do.

Is Goofy a dog? If he is, why isn’t he a pet like Pluto?

Finally, is letting my toddler watch this much TV a sign of lazy parenting and going to do some form of long lasting horrendous damage?

~ P

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Coming Clean – Mummy Struggles

This blog is not what it was. When Elvis was newborn, when I was struggling so hard in the early months, I blogged and tweeted all of the time to try and cope with it. I don’t know what this blog is anymore, but it isn’t that.

I’m struggling.

The past 4 nights, Baby Robin has cried, screamed from 7-9. She cried everytime she’s tired and needs to go to sleep. She won’t take a dummy. She won’t nurse to sleep. She screams when I rock her. She screams when I put her in the pushchair for sleep. This screaming for sleep is all the time. All. The. Time. But after 7pm it’s Hell.

The past 4 nights, from 7-9 I’ve pretty much cried constantly.

I can’t handle it anymore.

She only sleeps on me during the day. She wakes as soon as she’s put down. She has no routine. She needs to nap at tea time when I’m trying to feed Elvis and SHE ONLY NAPS ON A PARENT!

I spend my day trying to get her to sleep and SHE SCREAMS.

It’s too draining now.

It all feels so hard when I know things are better, easier than they were. It feels so hard to me.

How do I get her to sleep that final nap when I have Elvis?

How do I get her to sleep for long enough independently?

How do I get her into a routine when Elvis already has one and she wants something different?

How can I do what she needs when it contradicts what Elvis needs?

Every time she’s screaming I feel like everyone nearby is wondering what I’m doing wrong. If I’m home alone, I think my neighbours are thinking I’m rubbish. That I’m a bad mother.

Why can’t I stop her screaming? I’m her mother and I should be able to.

How the fuck do I stop crying?

~ P

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Routine: 3 Months

Okay 3 months in and we’re definitely getting there. Nights are kind of all over the place. Some nights there’s one feed, other’s there are 2. Sometimes she can only go 4 hours overnight, others between 5 and 8. Evenings are picky, too. 7pm is apparently naptime for 20-40 minutes and by half 8 she wants to feed and goes to sleep for the night.

Daytimes, well mornings, are my favourite time of day. I go out by half 9, by ten she’s asleep. I often have to wake her at 12. At 1 she falls asleep on the nursery run. Sometimes she wakes as soon as we’re in, other times she can take an hour or two.

Afternoons are the worst time for keeping her asleep. Both because I have Elvis to deal with and she just can’t keep herself asleep. Even on me. That makes her overtired by 4. So all she does is scream. Daddy comes home to a Toddler zombified by the TV, a Baby who is too tired to sleep and a Mummy who really can’t cope anymore.

So I think I need to structure her. If she’s asleep at 10 and then 1, that’s 3 hours apart. So I have to get her to sleep at 4 then 7. Not just after. When she wakes at half 1 after the nursery run, after only 30 minutes, I have to get her to sleep more, not play.

At least it’s worth a try. Isn’t it?

Maybe with more structure, with more guarenteed sleep, she’ll be calmer on an evening and perhaps we’ll get closer to a bedtime. Maybe. I hope.

Wish me luck.

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6 Months of Sleeping With Your Baby?

I had trouble sleeping last night after reading an article that popped up on my news feed. In fact when I got up this morning, leaving my 13 week old baby alone in our bedroom, I got really panicky. It isn’t the article itself (which tells the sad story of a 7 week old who died in their co-sleeping crib when left alone) it was more a comment someone put on facebook when the article was shared.

Why was  a 7 week old left alone to nap? When guidance is all naps and sleeping to be in the same room as a parent?

The comment was probably same room as mum because I feel there’s a huge bias on the parenting pages that it’s all about the mum. Anyway, is it really practical and possible to always have your sleeping baby with you for 6 months?

With Elvis, he was younger than six months when he moved into his own room, younger than 6 months when we started to emphasise that the cot was for sleeping and not playing. But we lived in a small house. Could it have been possible? 6 months of all sleeping in the same room?

How about when it’s your second child?

Every morning I leave Robin alone in her Moses basket as I get up and see to Elvis. If she cries, someone goes to check on her except on a Friday when I’m alone with him and he’s having breakfast.

Please do not get me wrong here, I completely understand why babies should sleep near their parents for as long as possible, but can it be done? 100% of the time?

Robin sleeps in her Moses in her cot right next to me overnight. On nights where I can’t sleep, I go in another room but Daddy stays near her – I could not leave her alone at night. Not yet. Her naps are in the pushchair or, if rocked, put down in the Moses in the lounge. Her pushchair is kept in the hall or kitchen, all doors open if she’s asleep. Am I going to wheel the pushchair into the lounge making the carpet dirty? Should I sit on the stairs next to her pram? Should I keep her near Elvis who’ll wake her? Take her out to the garden in the heat whilst I play with Elvis?

Do parents for at least 6 months keep their sleeping babies nearby in the same room?

Naps and night times?

Have you?

~ P

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Biological Nurturing

Something I never actually tried first time around when it came to breastfeeding was biological nursing. Someone did advise me to, but I didn’t. I don’t think I trusted my body. Second time around and this breastfeeding position was the only thing that got me through the first week or so.

And after bad nights.

It’s essentially lying back and feeding. Not on your side (which I have never gotten to grips with), but reclined although not flat on your back. You let baby find their own way to the milk, too maybe with a bit of guidance and then, suitably comfortable and supported you can chill out.

Initially I found it tricky in bed overnight to try and lie back and feed. My wound and poor abdominals made getting up and down very tricky, especially with a sleeping newborn on my chest. But daytimes on the sofa surrounded by cushions?

Oh my goodness, super comfy!

I know mums that continue using this position for months. And I can see why because it so relaxing and super easy to nap through! How better to recover from a c-section than lying on a sofa feeding baby and being waited on hand and foot!

~ P

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