Postnatal Depression and Me: Guest Post by Emma Koster

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

Today’s guest post in support of Postnatal Depression Awareness Week is written by Emma Poster.

Post-natal depression and me

I can still remember the day clearly. Evie was coming up to six weeks old, and my Health Visitor had just arrived for our six-week post-natal check. We went through the usual “how is your caesarean section scar healing?”, “any problems with feeding?”, “have you thought about contraception?”, and so on.
Then, though, we went on to talk about how I was feeling.

It was part of the NHS’ screening for post-natal depression programme, and it was filling me with dread.

Postnatal Depression Awareness week

The Health Visitor explained that she was going to ask me a series of questions, and she would then score my answers to determine whether I may be suffering from post-natal depression.

I already knew what the score would say.

I’d found those first six weeks incredibly hard.

If I’m being completely honest, I’d found the late half of my pregnancy a struggle emotionally, too.

I lost count of the number of times I cried each day. I really felt like I wasn’t coping, and I was having more and more thoughts about harming myself.

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

I loved my beautiful baby, Evie, of course I did.

But, I wasn’t enjoying being a mummy back then.

Please select the answer that comes closest to how you feel

Although, deep down, I already knew that I as suffering with post-natal depression, I had no idea how to talk to anybody about it.

Was I just supposed to blurt it out?

What would people think?!

It was only when the Health Visitor started asking me direct questions that I felt I could start to admit how I was feeling. She asked me how often things had been getting on top of me.

Most of the time.

In fact, I felt like I wasn’t coping at all.

How often had I felt scared or panicky for no good reason?

Often.

Very often.

Having somebody ask me these questions, and asking me to pick the most suitable response, it was exactly what I needed.

The Survey Says …

It came as no huge surprise that my answers suggested I was suffering from post-natal depression.

My Health Visitor phoned my doctors surgery on my behalf, and booked me an appointment for later that day.

The diagnosis was confirmed then, and I was put on some medication to help alleviate some of the symptoms.

It took a while for the tablets to start working, but I instantly felt a little better after admitting to somebody how I had been feeling.

It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

The months that followed were hard, but I gradually started to feel like things were getting easier.

Alongside the medication, I made other changes.

This included making time for ‘me’.
Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

Not easy when you have a new-born, I know, but so vitally important.

I also started being more honest with other mummies. Up until that point, I’d found that all the mummies I met at baby groups would tell me how much they were enjoying parenthood, and how wonderful everything was.

I, of course, smiled and nodded along.

Once I admitted, though, that I was struggling, and didn’t have a bloody clue what I was doing, everybody else started opening up more too.

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week PANDAS

It was so refreshing to learn that I wasn’t the only one who had no idea how to get their little darling to sleep in their cot.

I wasn’t the only one who sometimes struggled to get dressed until gone midday, if at all.

I wasn’t the only one who struggling to enjoy the first few weeks of parenthood. Phew!

Fast forward a year

Evie is now thirteen months. I’m not quite sure how that has happened, but the big black circles under my eyes seem to confirm it.

I’ve seen my GP regularly about my post-natal depression over the last year, and together we have agreed to start reducing the dosage of my medication.

In hindsight, I was probably a bit too eager to do this, and ended up taking things too quickly.

I started to feel like I was struggling again, so I increased the dosage slightly, again with the advice from my GP.

I wouldn’t say I feel more like ‘the old me’ as I am pretty sure the old me wouldn’t be routinely sniffing another human being’s bottom to see if they had ‘gone’, and wouldn’t – usually – be singing silly songs and blowing raspberries as they graced the aisles of the supermarket.

I do, though, feel much better.

Yes, I still doubt my parenting skills regularly.

After all, little humans don’t come with a manual, and I becoming quite a pro at ‘winging it’.

I am, though, enjoying being a mummy much more than I was.

I feel I am coping much better.

I finally feel that I am beating post-natal depression.

Em x

Thank you to Emma for sharing her story.

If you’ve read this post today and feel that it relates to what you’re currently experiencing – please- don’t suffer in silence.

There is help and support out there.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from PANDAS and UnSplash

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week: Guest Post on PTSD

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

This week I’m proudly supporting PND Awareness Week with PANDAS

Today’s guest post is written by Claire North and her experience of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The 2nd August 2014 was the start of a very exciting new venture for me and my husband as I was taken into hospital to be induced with our first baby. We had waited patiently for 38 weeks and the time had finally come.

PANDAS Pregnancy image

My labour induction started like most, pessaries and a hormone drip to get baby on the move, eventually after 6 hours my waters were broken and from then on things started to progress pretty quickly, after getting to around 5cm dilated I could see the midwife rush around, she quickly dropped the bed and asked me to lay on my side!

She pushed the emergency button and a load of midwives started running in, I could see the colour drain from my husband and mam’s face and I knew something was wrong immediately.

I was told that my babies heart rate had dropped and so I was being taken to emergency theatre to be monitored.

On arrival to theatre it was all systems go, the midwives and doctors were rushing around and prepping tools ready to deliver my baby by Caesarean section.

I lay there wondering if my baby would be alive when he was born and my eyes were pouring with tears. Some tests to check the epidural was working took place and things went from bad to worse when I was told I would have to go under general anaesthetic in order for my baby to be born!

Because of this my husband wasn’t allowed to be present for the birth, I sobbed!

I was so worried and scared, would I wake up from surgery? Would I wake up to my baby having died?………..

I came round a few hours later, I remember I was in so much pain but it soon disappeared when I was handed a beautiful healthy baby boy!

He was perfect!

Postnatal Hands PANDAS

Life was great, sure I had the regular baby blues but nothing out of the ordinary or so I thought. I would wake in the night from terrible nightmares and repetitions of my birth, I’d have dreams that my baby boy had died.

I told myself that I didn’t deserve this baby and that he would die.

I became over protective of him, I wouldn’t let anyone else take care of him because to me I couldn’t trust them to take care of him properly.

On odd occasions when I did have to leave him with my husband I would be stressed, constantly texting and I would rush home to see that he was safe.

I would get anxious when meeting with friends and would decide on if I was going depending on how safe it was, example. Was it near a lake where my baby’s pushchair could roll in, was it raining making the roads bad and higher risk of a car crash…basically extreme thoughts! I struggled on by myself and hid it from my family and friends for almost 1 year.

The turning point for me came after a huge breakdown.

Post Natal Depression - Image from Unsplash

My little boy had been sleeping through the night for some time and yet I found myself waking more and more to check my baby was still breathing….except he was no longer a baby!

He was a toddler!

My husband began questioning why I was waking to check him and I broke down, I knew it was because I was due to return to work!

I was going to have to leave my boy with someone else whilst I was working and I couldn’t bare the thought.

My husband rang the doctors and took me down to the surgery straight away, I was scared, I thought I would be judged, the doctor would think I wasn’t capable of looking after a child and my husband would think I was a failure…. I was so wrong!

The doctor was very supportive, they called Talking Matters and made an appointment for someone to call me.

The next day I received a call from them and talked about all my feelings and thoughts and the lady listened, she didn’t judge, she assured me and more importantly told me that someone could help me!

Help me stop these terrible nightmares/flashbacks/extreme thoughts, it was the first time in almost a year where I felt a little relief and that I wasn’t alone.

Two weeks after my telephone appointment I met with my counsellor, she was amazing! She taught me coping mechanisms, calming strategies and more importantly how to take time for myself and listen to my own needs!

Postnatal Depression Awareness week

For so long I had tunnel vision and it was baby baby baby!! Over time I began to start doing things for myself, I started going out more and enjoyed it, knowing that my little boy was safe and sound at home.

I guess the reason it took me so long to admit I had a problem was because there wasn’t a lot of awareness at the time and I was scared.

I can’t say that it’s an overnight fix and that after one chat with a counsellor everything will be better but I can tell you that you aren’t alone.

And you ARE DOING AN AMAZING JOB!

Thanks to Claire North for sharing her story.

If you’ve read this and feel that you’re experiencing what Claire went through – please – speak up. 

You are not alone.

There is help and support out there.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from PANDAS and UnSplash 

PND Awareness Week 2017

PANDAS PND Awareness Week 2017

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week runs from 4th- 10th September this year.

I’m a firm believer people come into your life for a reason.

Rachael Logue, a lovely lady I met at Pregnancy yoga, was pivotal in my postnatal journey.

At the time, she was setting up Tots and Tums. 

These sessions alone got me out of the house with my tiny new bundle.

To have a coffee.

To chat to other new mums.

To escape my own four walls for someone else’s.

Motherhood is a crazy ride that you’re thrust into.

And once upon a time, it was a community – a village even- that helped raise a baby.

Now, despite social media providing a means of online community, we are actually more isolated in ‘real life’ than we once were.

Which can enhance those already overwhelming feelings a new parent (or even a second or third time parent) is experiencing.

Rachael was diagnosed with Postnatal depression last year.

A year later and Rachael’s doing much better and Tots and Tums has gone from strength to strength.

It’s now rebranded as Relax … Holistic Baby Fitness.

Relax Holistic Baby Fitness

There’s so much happening it makes me want to be on maternity leave again!

Joking aside, this is a great support network offering baby classes, fitness clubs and relaxation sessions.

Rachael has pooled her energy into helping other parents by providing that community of support.

That community that helps you raise a baby.

Read Rachael’s story again below …

I didn’t recognise that I was suffering from Postnatal Depression straight away, despite being trained in PND and Mental Health and previously suffering depression.

You see, my own business collapsed three years ago when the funding ceased. I had to let go of twelve members of staff; twelve local people all with families to look after and roofs over their heads – twelve people who had bills to pay.

Just like me.

I suffered from anxiety which turned into depression.

Post Natal Depression - Image from Unsplash

Through suffering depression three years ago, I recognise that I have manias: On a high I can take loads of work on and I feel like I could conquer the world. Last week , I had three really good days where I was involved in Jolly Babies, Lush Tums Postnatal Yoga and then a day trip to Whitby with my family. On a low, I want to shut myself back in my bubble, away from the world.

I’ve learnt that it’s all about understanding me as a person.

Which I thought I did when it came to having my second child, Evie, back in February.

I had Evie at 09.50 in the morning and I was out of hospital and home by 5pm – make-up on the lot – getting on with motherhood. 

My feet hadn’t touched the ground.

I went back to work after six weeks on the Postnatal Depression project that I had created while I was pregnant.

I was busy;  I’d get up and take Cameron to school and then I was off working at the groups that I’d set up.

I was focusing so much on my family and supporting other families in my work that I completely forgot about myself.

My breakdown point was when I’d left the house really early one morning. I was just walking around Blyth in the rain in what I can only describe as a confused mist. I felt lost and numb.

Postnatal depression talking PANDAS







I remember the day. It was a Tuesday.

I couldn’t think straight.

I found myself walking towards and going intoTalking Matters on the main street in Blyth. They couldn’t see me straightaway but they did give me a leaflet with a contact number on. I rang the number and talked, which helped a lot. 

I knew what I needed to do but I just hadn’t been thinking straight. I made a doctors appointment that day. 

I gained support from the doctor who didn’t dismiss it as just the ‘baby blues’.  They prescribed me some medication – sertraline. I’m now into week eight of taking this. 

Sertraline tabletsWhen I was suffering Postnatal Depression, I wasn’t one for not getting up and ready in a morning; I had to do this to take my oldest to school. It was the little things – like the thought of folding clothes. Simple chores became too much to deal with. I also went into a zone where I didn’t want to see or contact anybody. I wanted to stay at home, just me and Evie.

I retreated into my own little bubble.

You hear of mother’s not bonding with their babies, but my motherly instinct and love for Evie was over-the-top love. I’d do things like take Evie off my partner when he held her.

I’ve found that you do forget about yourself and therefore you do need to take time out. I did postnatal Yoga in Ridley Park on Friday and, although I had both kids with me, it was still time doing something for myself. Cameron even enjoyed it, it was accessible to things he never thought he would be interested in. It showed him that it’s not all about xbox and school, that it’s natural to go into the park and get involved in other activities with other people.

Postnatal Yoga in Ridley Park Blyth

I’m slowly getting back on track now and I’m taking things one step at a time. I’m in a good place now and getting out and just talking with other parent’s has made a huge impact already. I’ve found that it’s good to talk and not suffer in silence.

PANDAS PND Awareness Week 2017

PND Awareness Week is all about that – raising awareness of those feelings of postnatal depression.

If you’ve read this today and it resonates with how you’re feeling- please – speak up.

There is support out there.

To find out more on where to get help or how to get involved check out the PANDAS website.

You are not alone in this.

This is the motherhood.

We are the sisterhood.

Love Missuswolf xxx

T’was The Night Before … Returning to Work after Maternity

Missuswolf mother and daughter in rocking chair

So here it is.

The night before I start my first day back at work since 11th March 2016 (I’m discounting the odd KIT day).

Since I joined The Motherhood.

Wow. It feels weird (but good!) to be getting into a routine of packing our bags and setting our clothes for the next day.

Something I’ll probably grow to hate. Or will I? I like being organised. Hopefully it will become autopilot and my future self (the tired head-less-chicken one in the morning) will thank me for it.

A nice bath. Early to bed to read a book and set an alarm.

Argh I haven’t set an alarm (bar the KIT days) since March 2016.

I’ll probably not sleep tonight for fear of sleeping in.

I know, I know. I’ve shouted from the rooftops how I’ve looked forward to this day. How I’ve longed to get back to work for some ‘me time’.

Ha.

It’s comical isn’t it? Who would’ve thought I classed work as  my time. 

But I do.

And I am looking forward to it.

However, do you know what I’m looking forward to the most?

Coming home to this gorgeous, happy little thing I’m proud to call my daughter.

I’ll look forward to having tea with her. To enjoy preparing it and then watching her eat it.

And bathing her. Watching her play with bubbles and the purple and yellow ducks. And the little spikey orange ball that lights up.

Splashing her little hands on the water and giggling every time she does it. Looking at me with those big blue eyes. Eyes that ask me to giggle back with her too.

Then wrapping her in her hooded towel where she resembles a baby Yoda.

Patting dry her utterly delightful skin.

Dressing her for bed.

Giving her a bottle of warm milk.

Reading her a story. Or two.

And then lying her in her cot. Her big girl cot which has been completely lowered now (when did that happen?)

Then tucking her in.

Actually, this is a daddy job as I don’t tuck her in tight enough. She’s like that magician that can escape being chained, bolted and dropped in water. Wriggles in all the right places and breaks free.

And do you know why I will look forward to all of this?

Because for nearly ten whole months, the monotony of everyday motherhood – looking after a small human by myself – takes it’s toll in the evening.

I’ve been too tired or sick of her by this time of day to actually embrace and enjoy these moments.

Gasp. What an awful thing to say.

But it’s true.

These moments tend to be flung at the other half. For him to try and embrace after his day at work.

So no doubt I’ll still be tired from my day at work.

But that’s just it.

I’ve been at work. I’ve had time away from her. She’s had time away from me.

So those moments that we are together.

Will be unbelievably special.

I can’t wait to see how excited she gets when I come home from work.

This festive period I’ve had the hubby on hand so I’ve had little breaks.

Little breaks like having a lie in.

Where I’ve surfaced and she’s already had her breakfast and her dad has dressed her. Dressed her like only a dad can dress his daughter – in obscure outfits that should never leave the house.

I inch my way through the living room door. As sometimes she’s crawling around right behind it (again – when did this happen?)

Then, she sees me.

With those innocent blue eyes.

Taking me in.

All dishevelled in my dressing gown and untamed hair. My make-up free face still puffy from sleep.

And she looks at me like  

I’m the most beautiful person

in the world.

Her  long little legs kick wildly.  Her smile lights up her cheeky little face and the excited giggles that escape from that tiny little mouth are breathtaking.

I do have a heart underneath all of this Warrior Mode.

And my god it explodes.

My little buddy for life.

I’ve come a long way in nearly ten months.

It’s been the toughest, hardest most emotional time of my life.

I’d go so far as to say it’s been the craziest.

I’m still me. Just a different version.

One that has been on a huge learning curve.

But I look back upon my time with fondness. There have been plenty of highs and there have been plenty of lows.

There’s also been some questionable parenting moments.

Like the time I couldn’t remember leaving chocolate in her cot, only to discover it wasn’t actually chocolate on her hand – that mammy had left the dirty nappy bag in the cot …

And as much as I’ve wanted this absolutely crazy time off to hurry up, I’ll reflect on 2016 in years to come as the year that not only broke me – but it also made me.

I’ve poured my feelings and frustrations into what can be looked upon as an online maternity diary. Like diaries, there will be some entries I look back upon and downright cringe, even regret. But for most of it, I’ll look back with pride.

That maternity leave not only gave me a chance to spend (albeit some frustrating and exhausting) time with this little human of mine.

It gave me the chance to take a step back from life.

To focus on something I’ve absolutely loved doing since I was a little girl myself.

Writing.

Last week, I watched the BBC film on the Bronte sisters To Walk Invisible.

And that was empowering in itself. Three women masquerading as men to get their novels published. What a significant piece of history.

A piece I want to share with my daughter. I’d like to think that by writing this blog I’m writing some history for her too. That mammy loved writing and her dream came true to share it with the world.

Missuswolf mother and daughter reading

Image credit to Pixabay

On the subject of the Bronte’s, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read Jane Eyre. Ouch.

I’ve downloaded it to my Kindle. I want to get into the routine of reading before bed again.

I digress.

This whole pregnancy and maternity experience has brought me new friends. Friends which some of whom I’ve not even known a year. But it’s felt like I have known them a life time. Who’ve been there on the toughest journey of my life. And that’s a strong bond.

Missuswolf Maternity Friends for life

Image credit: Pixabay

Then there are friends I’ve always had who’ve been on this journey with me too. Through the raw parts. Who have seen me at my worst and I have seen them at their best as they support and pick me up.

Friends who bring you pizza when you’ve got a teething baby and all you have eaten is a bowl of trifle for tea.

Those people are priceless.

And I thank them.

For sharing this crazy ass journey with me.

That’s Sisterhood for you.

That’s Motherhood.

Here’s to my next chapter. I’m off to make it a good one.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

 

 

Merry ♡ Christmas 

Wow. What a year it’s been.

I just want to say a very quick Merry Christmas.

I’m signing off for the festive period now.

When I return it will be in the New Year.

And 2017 is looking crazy already. Crazy in a good way.

New job. New house (fingers crossed).

And the blog?

Well, we’ll just have to wait and see 😉

Enjoy this time to relax and unwind with your loved ones.

Missuswolf Merry Christmas Rocking Horse Tree decoration Unsplash
I’m going to deviate from character here and coo ‘oh wow it’s Baby’s First Christmas for us’.

Haha. It certainly is Baby’s First Christmas and I’ve been the most unprepared I’ve ever been for Christmas in my life. Ooooops.

Obvs I am excited but it’s taken me twice aslong to do anything. Thank god for online shopping as I get pram rage.

Thank god for the nursery trials this week too (which were successful yeay). It meant I could run around the shops shackle-free and buy cards and presents.

And Thank You for sticking with my ramblings these past few months. Possibly the hardest months I’ve experienced. Ever.

So I’m off to pump Prosecco through my veins for the next week.

Cheers – here’s to 2017.

Bring it on.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from Unsplash and Pexel 

Not Losing Yourself To Motherhood

Image from Unsplash

I’ve been married nearly ten years and part of the reason I didn’t have a baby straight away is that I was scared to lose myself to Motherhood.

I didn’t want to become a ‘modern mum’ who had ‘lost the plot’.

I’ve written this post on the back of reading Why Mum Must Come First (Sometimes) – a very interesting and honest post by Gemma Capocci.

I found myself reading about a person that – if I’d have had a baby at aged twenty-three – I know I would’ve become.

I’m not saying anyone has to be an older parent to be a better parent. That’s not my point at all.

But I just did.  I needed a few years under my belt to let off steam. To go on holidays and grow in my career.

I feel stronger and more secure in myself than I did ten years ago.

All that combined gave me the strength to recognise my faults and weaknesses as a person and gauge how I’d react to Motherhood.

I knew breastfeeding wasn’t for me. And I felt strong enough to vocalise this.

Thankfully, the battle I envisaged with a matron health visitor turned out quite the opposite. The most unmatronly HV simply said that as long as the child was fed, she would be happy.

How I chose to do it was up to me.

How liberating!

I feel like there’s a shift coming up in Motherhood. Thanks to the internet and blogging world, information and experience is readily available.

Yet so are opinions.

I don’t give advice. I just say what has worked for me.

You can listen to advice and scaremongering until the cows come home. But one thing I will say is that old cliché of trusting your instincts. Be strong in your mind, your thoughts and intuition.

What I’ve learnt about myself over all these years is that I knew if I didn’t keep busy and look after me too, I would get depressed. There’s been days where I’ve felt down and pissed off that this had become my life.

Frustrating seems to be the word that’s summed my maternity leave up.

And I’m glad it’s nearly over.

There. I said it.

But I don’t care. Because I’ve fought for nine months to make sure that I’ve made time for me.

The Perfect Parent brigade can throw stones at me all they want.

Even they’ll break eventually.

No one can keep up that perfect act.

So I’ve gone to the gym. I went on my first night out six weeks postnatal. I’ve sat and wrote blog posts. I’ve had my hair and nails done.

And do you know what?

I’ve got a very healthy happy nine month old whose got a very happy, healthy mamma bear.

She’s going for her first hour at nursery tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited.

One whole hour to myself. One whole hour for her to explore and play.

Balance.

I can’t wait.

To restore that balance.

And don’t feel guilty that you’re sending them to nursery. That post above discusses the need to feel we have to stay at home to give them the best in life.

It had the opposite effect for that person. They experienced anxiety and depression. Which didn’t benefit mother or baby.

Childcare is costly but it’s only temporary. And they develop unbelievable amounts mentally and socially.

And so will you. As you have a break. A chance to go to work and get your identity. Feel like you have a purpose in life other than being a parent.

I knew before I had a baby that I wasn’t going to be forced into anything I didn’t want to do. My main priority was that she took her milk, we all got some sleep and that we both got fresh air once a day.

And gasp – I wasn’t always thinking what was in her best interest. Some days I was like ‘What can I do today to stop me losing the plot in this mundane cycle of Motherhood?’

I’ve written about it before and I’ll bleat on about it again: Looking after yourself benefits both of you.

We’re not going to be joined at the hip forever and one day she’ll have a mind and voice of her own. She will want to do what she wants and thinks is best.

Then what’s left of me if I’ve neglected myself?

So please please please look after yourselves!

Get involved in buggy bootcamps/swimming/pregnancy and postnatal yoga. Treat yourself! Buy that damn top for you instead of another baby outfit. Don’t forget yourself!

Join a gym and get your mam/dad/gran to push the buggy round the local shops while you do a class. I did bodypump at exercse4less while my Mam pushed E round the Range.

It was good all round. I got to a class, my Mam got to see Ella and she did a bit of shopping too.

Of course you want what’s best for your baby.

But you also want what’s best for yourself.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

Lean In: A Must-Read Book For Working Mums (Career Loving Parents)

Friday 25th November 2016


The time is vast approaching when I will be returning to work full time following nearly ten months maternity leave.

I’m not going to lie. I’ve really struggled being away from work for this amount of time.

Since I was sixteen, I’ve worked full time.

Half my life in fact.

So to go from that to being at home with a baby all day has been somewhat of a culture shock for me.

I’m used to being busy. I like being busy. I’m typing this as I try and cram some ‘me time’ in as Ella naps. I’ve blogged to keep me sane.

I’ve got a brain.

I want to use it not lose it.

And it’s helped massively.

But what has spurred me on even more to make the decision (to be a full time working mum) is Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’.

Missuswolf Lean In Sheryl Sandberg Kindle cover with baby shoes and wand

I’m choosing to go back full time. I want to stay in this rat race.

I know Ella will be fine at nursery – heck nursery will prep her for school, which in turn preps her for the world.

At her visit last week she was craning her neck to see what was going on. She was desperately trying to wriggle out of my arms to join in.

I’m not worried about her going to nursery in the slightest. It will be good for her development – better than what I could ever provide her.

I don’t want her to have flown the nest and I’ve sacrificed my ambitions when I had the opportunity to chase them.

Missuswolf Mother and daughter walking on a country lane

Ella’s not mine to keep.

She’s mine to teach.

One day she will have a life of her own.

And I’ve thought this practically from the day she was born.

I’ll do my job with her and always love her beyond belief.

But we are both human beings and want the best for ourselves out of life.

In the book, Sheryl mentions Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller foundation, and the subject of how women choose to leave the workforce.

It would make sense for me to cut my hours. In essence I’m working to pay for my child to go to nursery and the household bills with very little play money at the end.

Missuswolf piggybank

But I’ve chosen to do this.

I don’t want to give up my career now when I was at the peak of it prior to maternity leave.

I’ve worked too hard. I’ve put in too many hours to just hold my hands up and step down.

Because in a couple of years, Ella will be at pre-school. Then actual school.

What do I do then? If I’d chose to leave the workforce, I’d be back in a position where I could go full time and not have to pay the nursery fees.

After discussing this with my OH, we are both acutely aware that the next couple of years are going to be hard financially.

But it won’t last.

Plus, we’ve struggled and survived on my maternity pay this year. We can make it through the next couple of years.

If I look back to November last year when I was twenty weeks pregnant, the time has flown over. I now have an eight month old.

Next November, I’ll have a twenty month old. Nearing that gap to fifteen hours free nursery care. Which will certainly ease the burden.

So I know I can do this.

I think maternity leave is the hardest part. You’re left alone to deal with this baby day in, day out, with little help and lack of money.

But come weekends and trips away, with the OH, family and friends – I don’t feel the stress and burden anymore. And bizarrely, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my KIT days. They’ve been welcome breaks.

I’m not saying this is what everyone should do – far from it. Every family set-up and circumstance is different. This isn’t a bash at parents who stay at home or work part time. It’s simply what I’ve chosen to do and I’ve found a book that’s supported my thought process.

This post is in case there are any like minded people out there struggling to come to a decision. I want them to read this and know it’s OK.

Sheryl broaches the subject that us women are often the breadwinners in our generation. So we do have to go back full time. Which is good. However, we’re penalised with nursery fees.

This was my case but I’m actually taking a cut when I go back to my new role. However, it’s still a promotion – and a development opportunity. I’m still in the game.

Sheryl’s point though is that if there was more help with childcare, more women would go back full time. For some families, it’s just not cost efficient to do so.

And I get that.

But what if those women really wanted to go back to work? That they were clever, hard-working and had ambition and drive?

Missuswolf woman at laptop working

Not only is it them missing out on bettering themselves and in turn bettering their families, but businesses are missing a trick. They are effectively losing out. Losing a strong member of staff simply because they can’t afford the childcare.

This is something that the government needs to look into and help with funding nurseries. But that’s a different topic for a different day.

However, Sheryl’s stance on this is that women mistakenly drop out of the workforce as their salary barely covers childcare. She promotes a different way of thinking. That we should measure the cost against our future salary rather than our current.

And with that in mind, I’m more than happy to go full steam ahead of working full time.

Sheryl discusses childhood bossiness and the neighbourhood. Looking back, I had similar drive. As an eight year old, I used to dance on our driveway with my sister and our friends.

 

img_1480We would put on shows.

Our favourite song to dance to was Two Unlimited’s ‘Get Ready For This’. I know. How cool were we?

I went so far as to type up tickets (on a typewriter too – no computers in those days) on yellow or green paper. Then we would march around the neighbourhood and sell them to people. To come and watch six girls in crop tops and cycling shorts dance.

And people actually bought them.

Could you imagine if we did that in this day and age??

Suffice to say our parents marched us straight back to return the money.

But looking back, you could say it was the start of business thinking.

When I was ten years old, I bought jewellery making kits and pulled together some earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

I packaged them and marketed them as ‘GG’s Gems’ and sold them at fayre’s at the local community centre.

Why I’ve never pursued this little trait I’ll never know but my god I wish I’d gone to University and done English/Journalism or Business and Marketing.

Never mind. I suppose it’s never too late.

My point being is that Sheryl Sandberg had a similar streak and ‘bossiness’ about her. Now I am no way comparing myself to her at all (I wish!) but her point is that it’s not bossiness as a little girl. It’s leadership qualities coming through.

And I’ve never seen myself as a leader. But maybes at this point in my life, it’s time to become one. Especially through the eyes of my little girl.

Missuswolf little girls taking photo

I want her to look up to me. To see her mammy working hard but playing equally as hard. Show her independence and drive. That mammy enjoys using her brain and contributing financially. See her mammy happy as she has a healthy balance in life.

And lead her to strive for that same well-being.

Leadership is also a quality to look for and nurture in little girls of our own. Which I’m going to do with Little Miss E.

Missuswolf little girl in princess outfit

#GirlBoss

Sheryl points out that thriving marriages appear to be ones where both parents work full time and have careers as well as children. There’s less guilt and good mental health. Some data also suggests that two working parents outside the home are advantageous to a child’s development – especially girls.

Missuswolf little girl reading

I agree with this statement for my set up. I’m used to being extremely independent – working full time, having my own money and coming and going as I please.

 

To say this has been turned upside down this year is an understatement. I’ve had to be dependant on someone else, had very little money and my schedule is dictated by a small human.

Who wouldn’t look back on their former selves with envy? Of course parenthood and maternity has probably been the hardest year of our marriage. So I’ll be welcome of a level playing field come January.

Missuswolf couple on top of mountain

Like I said before, there’s no question about my love for my child. I just know exactly what I want out of life and Sheryl Sandberg has shown me I can get it. Being a mother does not prevent me.

In fact, it fuels me. I’ve discovered a drive I’ve never had before.

I’m more determined than ever.

Caroline O’Connor refers to herself as a career loving parent instead of a working mum.

And I love this title.

From now on, I will refer to myself as a career loving parent. A woman who loves business and works to better herself as well as her family.

Like Beyonce says:

Missuswolf woman with child on her back in working fields

 

Who Run The World.

Girls.

Where you can grab a copy of Lean In:

Love Missuswolf xxx

Please note this post contains affiliate links

Images from Unsplash

The Importance Of A Healthy Mind On Maternity Leave

Monday 10th October 2016

Today is World Mental Health Day.

 

Missuswolf World Mental Health Day

Mental Health On Maternity Leave

I write this post as I’ve managed to escape for a bit.

I’ve retreated to my office at home. I have my earphones rammed in; partly as I find listening to music stimulates my creative side. Partly to drown out my hubby and daughter from the other room.

I mean this in the nicest possible way.

You see, this is an example of escapism – a bit of head space.

Which we all need. To recharge, rethink and as in my case at this time of my life, keep my sanity before I well and truly go insane.

I find it easier to write what I’m thinking and feeling rather than to say it aloud. This may get misconstrued in social situations in that I’m ignorant or not paying attention. Not true. I listen to everything, absorb it. It may take me longer to formulate a reply or what does come out may not make sense. As much as it does in my head, sometimes the words don’t come out right.

Being on maternity leave has really brought mental health to the forefront of my mind.

I’ve learnt just how important it is to look after your mental health.

I worked in a very demanding job right up to literally the last minute. I had Ella on my last day at work (not in work though!)

So I’ve been thrown in at the deep end, no time to think, worry or panic – just hit the ground running. Like I seem to do with most aspects of my life. Yet I cope better this way. Or so I think.

If I keep my mind occupied I don’t have time to worry about it as I’m too busy doing it. If that makes any sense at all.

I do often wonder how this drastic change in my life could have impacted on my mental health.

I’m logical and practical. People who know me may laugh at this as I often come across as having no common sense.

But I put things in perspective.

It’s not like I didn’t know I was going to have a baby – I had nine months to psych myself up to that.

I knew I was going to have a section (baba was breech and in no way turning) – which took me a couple of weeks to get my head around.

Sure, I had a date planned in for the section – the following Friday a week after I finished work. Obviously babies have minds of their owns and mine started as she meant to go on – headstrong and determined.

She came when she wanted. She wasn’t going to turn for no-one and she wasn’t going to wait for when was ready.

I had what was classed as an emergency section. Although the whole process was quite calm.

Looking back, this actually was the best way for me to have a baby. No time to worry, panic or run (I’m joking. I was too fat to run).

I love my birth story.

But for some people that’s not the case. I was very lucky and I’m extremely grateful for this. I know people who have suffered traumatic births and have suffered with Postnatal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Postpartum Psychosis.

Missuswolf Mental Health Awareness Week poster

And that’s why I want to help raise awareness.

This year’s Mental Health theme is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress.

One of the areas

I want to focus on in particular is

Mental Health First Aid, Trauma and the

Perinatal Period

Sally Hogg is the Strategic Lead of the Mums and Babies in Mind project

There are two aspects to psychological first aid during the perinatal period  (which we define as pregnancy and the year after birth). One element of first aid is to provide a woman who experiences traumatic events with warm help and support to promote and protect her emotional well being. The second is to respond quickly when a woman experiences a mental health crisis to ensure that she gets the care she needs. 

Read more about the awareness and the work ongoing to try to reduce the impact of trauma for new mums on the Mental Health website.

Missuswolf World Mental Health Day poster

Do Something You Love

I went from working full time on a high-profile project to being at home all the time. I could see how easily it would be for me to slip into depression (read more about this in my post on Postnatal Depression Awareness Week).

I finished work in March 2016 and I’ll return properly in January 2017. Nearly ten months off work and ‘out of the game’.

That’s a long time for me.

I’ve worked full time since I was sixteen. I’m not going to lie – I was frightened that I would go insane being at home with a baby all day. And although I’m lucky to be able to have this amount of time off work (I have fellow friends in America who have experienced the shockingly awful mat leave system there) it is still a long time mentally.

So I look after my mental health by writing.

I love writing.

This blog is my form of mental health. It keeps me focused. I work on it daily; writing content, researching, taking photos, editing photos and general housekeeping of web links and old content. I’ve joined supportive networks and I’m learning new things every day.

On maternity leave, I’ve done a diploma in social media and digital marketing. I’m now signed up for one in photography. I take and edit photo’s during the day, jot ideas down for content and do snippets of research. By night I write – I bring that research and those photo’s alive and make them into blog content.

Some people will think I’m mad and that I should be enjoying my time off with my baby.

I am enjoying my time off with my baby.

I take her to playgroups during the day (see Tots and Tums post – funded by Blyth Star Enterprises).

But it’s not a Mon-Fri 9-5 job that I can switch off from. There’s weekends too. And although I’m lucky that I have my OH to do bedtime and help at weekends, it’s still constant.

This way I’m doing something that I love.

And it’s not selfish. It’s important as part of our mental well being. Yeah I’m a mother – but I’m still a person. And I want to go back to work mentally prepared and stronger than ever, not weaker.

But that’s just me as a person.

However, the purpose of this is to motivate people, particularly new mother’s, into being aware and looking after their mental health.

You are still a person.

You are important.

There’s a great app out at the moment and it’s free. It’s called Headspace: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness. You can begin by taking ten minutes out each day. You listen to guided meditation to help improve your mindful awareness and relieve anxiety.

I started it a couple of days ago and it really does work. After taking ten minutes out to listen to the meditation, I instantly feel at ease, calm and motivated. It brings everything into focus and calms my chaotic mind.

Missuswolf World Mental Health Day

So dance around the kitchen like a dick (one of my faves and Ella loves it), listen to Headspace, do yoga, take a walk (or run!), read a book – heck even write one.

And remember; a healthy and happy mama equals a healthy and happy baba.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Text THRIVE to 70030 to give £3

Images from Unsplash and the The Mental Health Foundation website

Research from the The Mental Health Foundation website

I listened to Acoustic Cafe while writing this post – we listened to this in Pregnancy Yoga. It was going to be my music to listen to while in labour. But it didn’t work out that way. Life never does.

Tots & Tums Fitness & Play

Friday 23rd September 2016

Tots & Tums

I feel so lucky that my pregnancy journey has taken me to places where I have met some truly wonderful people.

Tots & Tums Missuswolf

I met Rachael Logue back in January at a Lush Tums Pregnancy Yoga class in Blyth. She was about five weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy, therefore I feel like she’s the ‘mam’ of the yoga mammy tribe.

The first one in our class to disembark the pregnancy ride – and board the mother ship.

I discovered that Rachael ran Tots & Tums classes in Blyth. I remember being excited that there was something I could get involved in when Baba W arrived.

I’d put a plan in place (obvs – I’m such a dork). As soon as the hubster went back to work (and I had established some form of routine) I was forcing myself to get out there.

Out of the house.

Over the threshold of the front door – buggy and entire house in tow.

image

Oh my god how tiny!

Out there into the big wide world. A world on the outside that had carried on as normal – while my whole world on the inside had changed.

I remember that Tuesday morning; a grey one back in April (19th to be precise). Hubby had been back to work a couple of weeks and the visitors had started dying down. After being housebound the majority of the time following my c-section (aside from the odd small walk) I knew I needed to get back out there. For my sanity and for Ella’s.

I power walked (as I was late – which I discovered becomes the norm once you have a small human) down to St Cuthbert’s Hall in Blyth.  I had my headphones rammed in my ears, drowning out baby whinges and basically the rest of the world in general.

I was in a bubble.

On a mission.

To make sure we definitely made it to this group. No matter how unbelievably daunting  the whole experience felt.

Tots n Tums - Blyth Star Enterprises

And do you know what?

It’s the best thing I ever did.

Just sitting chatting to other mammies who had the exact same experience that morning; that they or their partner had told them to do it – to get out of the house and go to a group.

Tots & Tums Missuswolf

It was good to talk to adults; even if it was about who’d had the least sleep, what feeding methods we were using and whose baby weighed what.

It was company – general chit-chat. And I must admit the pre-baby me would’ve hated doing this – going to a group and just talking about baby crap (literally).

 

But it was so good for me. I walked back feeling an utter sense of achievement. I’d managed to get myself and a tiny human out of the house! For a few hours aswell and, more importantly, we’d both survived.

I felt empowered.

I can do this.

I’m a warrior.

Missuswolf Tots & Tums

Over the past few months I’ve seen Tots & Tums grow and flourish into a wonderful support network for parents.

Exciting times ahead! With movement to the Little Stars at the Albion Centre in Blyth as of the 4th October, implementation of a Sensory Chill Room, Tots Playgroup, Mental Health Support Group and a Halloween Baby Rave to name but a few.

Check out Tots ‘n’ Tums Facebook Page aswell as Twitter to see what you can take part in.

Super proud of Rachael and all that she has achieved.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

Twenty Facts About Me

Wednesday 21st September 2016

I was nominated by the lovely Naomi of Not a Perfect Parent Blog to write twenty facts about me.

Well, here goes …

1). My first (and probably most fun) job was working as a chambermaid at the Holiday Inn when I was sixteen. I worked weekends while at school and during the week in the school holidays. Many a time I turned up hung over (uh-hum again sorry mam). Not an ideal state for clearing the remnants of a stag do in a hotel room. Bah. I worked there with a couple of friends which certainly made it entertaining.

2). I’m terrified of wasps. ’nuff said.

Missuswolf Wasps

3). I have two tattoos – a faded Tinkerbell on my right (I couldn’t even remember which side so I’ve just had to look) shoulder, which I had done when I was nineteen. Obvs I regret it now and I’m looking to get it inked over (any recommendations of what to get/where to go are welcome). I also have the word’s ‘A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes’ on the left-hand side of my ribs.

4). I got to the final of the Newround’s Press Packers Journalism competitions – twice. (Cheeky blog post plug – read all about it and look at embarrassing photos here). I sadly didn’t win but got a trip to London and the Blue Peter Gardens (which were soooo much smaller in real life) out of it. Score!

5). I was the Princess of the Keel Row Shopping Centre in Blyth when I was about ten years old. Crrrriiiiinge!! I had to open shops and walk down the shopping mall with Santa Claus. I was a moody ten-year old and ungrateful for the opportunity.  I had a face like a smacked arse when I had the privilege of walking next to Santa. Ooooof!

6). I was part of a girl group at the age of eight called ‘The Disco Dancers’. We used to dance to 2 Unlimited’s ‘Get Ready For This’ on our front driveways. We used to wear (inappropriately) our crop tops and cycling shorts. We even sold tickets to people in the nearby streets to come and see us. Tickets which I typed up on my Typewriter (I was super excited by this). Strangely enough people actually bought them. But once the ‘rents found out we had to return all the money and cancel the show. hmmmph!

7). Although I’m on Maternity Leave and my love for my child is unquestionable – it’s the hardest and most mind-fucking job I’ve ever had to do. I’m an impatient workaholic and this mixed with child-rearing does not bode well. I clash with babies (you’d never guess it from previous blog posts?)

8). I love to swim. My dad taught me and my sister’s from a young age and we all love the water. I remember pulling that trump card out when I went swimming with my hubby for the first time. It was many years ago. He didn’t know and thought I would be shit like I am at most sports. But I beat him. Winning!

9). I have odd-shaped ears. One is shaped like an elf ear – my pixie ear. I could have easily been cast in Lord of The Rings and there wouldn’t have been any need for prosthetics.

Missuswolf Cadbury's Easter Eggs10). When I was pregnant, my biggest and most unforgiving craving was Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. My third trimester clashed with the Easter build-up. You know – that build up where the supermarkets have a seemingly endless supply of those little eggs (pictured). The ones that are about a quid, with a Freddo or a creme egg to accompany them. Those one’s that are cleverly displayed at the front of the shop for greedy cows like me. I used to nip in for milk or a loaf and come away with two easter eggs and a cake. All for me. Fatty Boom Boom!

11). I’ve been to Vegas three times and it’s def an Adult’s Playground. I want to go next year for our ten-year anniversary. Hubby doesn’t  and wants a family holiday. Suppose I should stop being selfish and succumb to the family holiday.

12). I’ve been to Mexico where I was a Bridesmaid for my best friends wedding. It was an unbelievable holiday and again somewhere I’d love to go back to. Eventually (prob when I’m fifty now – groan).

Missuswolf Mexico

Aaaah Mexico

13). I’ve been with my hubby sixteen years and we’ll have been married ten next year.

14). We were one of the latter couples in our friendship group to have kids. We kept putting it off in favour of holidays and getting everything out of our system (pissed). I’m so pleased we did. It’s bloody hard work parenting and anyone who has a baby to save a relationship is mad. It’s the one thing that tests your relationship – even a one that’s sixteen years old.

15). I love Jazz music. Strangely I went to a psychic about six years ago who not only told me to write but that there was a black jazz musician spirit following me around. Spooky.

Missuswolf Radler's

16). I have seasonal alcoholic drinks. I drink white wine and Radler’s (Foster’s and cloudy lemonade) in the summer and red wine and Bailey’s in the winter. Obvs not mixed together though. Yak.

Missuwolf red wine R

17). I love cigars. I’m like a bloke from the fifties – cigars and bourbon. I went to Cuba three years ago where this was very acceptable. I love a good ‘ladygar’ and often buy one when I’m going to a wedding. Yup – I’m that classy. I smoke one at the night-time do. Last time I did it was just before I fell pregnant. I stood outside with some of the girls at a wedding; rather like a scene from high school – puff puff give.

Missuswolf Cuba Cigar

Gotta love a ladygar (sorry mam). Oh to be that thin and carefree again!

18). I love Girls Aloud. They were the soundtrack to my twenties. My friends and I would pester the DJ (sorry Liam) in the Travs at Crammie (RIP Travs) to play them. So we could dance and twirl around like twats  amongst the punches and chair throwing. Good times.

19). I also love Beyonce. Pure girl-crush for this lady. She’s so empowering – works hard and a very good example to her little woman.

20). I’m obsessed with the word Empowered. Since bearing a child I’ve gone all #whoruntheworld and in constant #warrior mode. I don’t know whether this work ethic is to set a good example for Ella or a subconscious effort to escape the daily parenting job …

So now you’ve realised I’m a crazy cigar-smoking-easter-egg-eating elf, I now nominate:

The Sparkle Spy

Elementary V Watson

Hartlepool Family

Book And Brew

The Sweet Guide

 

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images – a mixture of my own and from Pexel