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

How Healthy Eating In Pregnancy Changed My Eating Habits

Missuswolf How Healthy Eating In Pregnancy Changed My Eating Habits

Who would have though that experiencing pregnancy would alter my eating habits – for the better?

Certainly not me.

I was a firm believer that once I was pregnant, my life was over.

My body would not be my own and I would be destined for a life of sugar, caffeine and cake.

Granted those treats still feature in my life but on a balanced scale now.

This time last year I was scoffing two easter eggs (I kid you not) – and tonight I’ve been scoffing hard boiled eggs.

Missuswolf How Pregnancy Changed My Eating Habits

Ahh the days of consuming two Easter Eggs

Yeah – I know. So rock and roll now.

But the hard-boiled-egg habit started when I was pregnant.

The healthy lifestyle all started with the obvious

– not drinking alcohol.

I was miserable and panicked at how I would cope. My weekends revolved around food and drink. Not only could I not drink, that first trimester I lost my appetite and dropped eight pounds.

The second trimester I craved chicken, rice, fruit and veg.

It’s like my body only wanted to eat what was good for it.

Someone at work brought in a hard boiled egg one day and that was it. I batch-boiled on a Sunday, stored in the fridge and ate them during the week.

I was eating poached eggs on toast or overnight oats for breakfast. In the third trimester, I started with good intentions. The extra 200 calories were coming from a slice of toast with butter at breakfast. I admit that those calories increased as this last milestone went on (Easter Eggs).

Frozen green beans became a regular addition to meal time dishes. One of my favourite meals is the Slimming World Carribean Pepperpot Stew.

The third trimester, however, was a different story.

I maintained the boiled eggs and healthy eating.

But my pregnancy vice was puddings. Puddings and Easter Eggs.

I reasoned that because I couldn’t drink, I’d treat myself to a pudding instead.

But the arrival of Easter Eggs in the shops tipped me over the edge.

I was on my feet a lot in my job and the Little Lady’s last growth spurt seemed to depend on sugar.

And so did my body two weeks post natal. Hospital meals (FYI Crammie hospital meals – unreal. I didn’t want to leave that place), visitors with food parcels, endless cups of tea and treats. I told myself they were all part of the ‘healing’ process from my section.

That was the last of my unhealthy run (bar a little slippage on summer holidays and over Christmas, which is inevitable).

Once I was left to my own devices and routine with little E, I reverted back to those healthy habits I’d picked up during pregnancy.

I also started healthy eating in the form of (my own version of) slimming world, baby-friendly workouts and walking introduced me to a healthier lifestyle.

And by own version of slimming world I mean I followed it to a degree.

To the degree that included the healthy food. I, however, lost count of the synnage a fair few times with coffee and cake clubs.

Hey ho Mat Leave Life and all that.

But you need a balance in life to be happy.

I’m nearly a year post partum (bliddy hell when did that happen?) and my eating habits are the best they’ve ever been.

I’ve always drank loads of water and I continue to do so. I drink hot water and lemon and limit myself to one cup of coffee a day (a new motherhood habit I’m finding hard to kick).

I don’t drink anywhere near as much alcohol, despite missing it when pregnant.

But I think that was more because I couldn’t have it than actually wanting it. As time went by, I wasn’t as bothered.

I’m a planner by nature and as I have to be super organised now to get myself and a child out the door (very early doors) I now find I meal prep too.

Like a boss.

Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoy pizza Friday’s.

B A L A N C E

Inspired by Instagram fit mammies, I factor in thirty minutes every other night fitness routine at home.

If I’m honest, I couldn’t face Instagram when I was in hospital.

I felt like a fat blob and I refused to lower my confidence with images of incredibly toned mammies.

But that was my own fault for following them when I was pregnant.

Which is a sad factor of society now.

But it spurred me on – in a good way. Some accounts that I follow motivate you to incorporate home workout routines around your baby.

They motivate and inspire. Not brag and dictate.

Which is the difference.

I try and run (I’ve found I can run much further since having a baby?! Bizarre. And with a buggy too) as well as attend exercise classes. I tried a new one this week called Pound.

A workout with drumsticks.

Great for letting out your aggression and toning, especially your arms.

The results? I’m actually nine pound lighter than I was pre-pregnancy.

It makes me look back and think that my lifestyle did need a shake-up. I drank far too much and ate unhealthily.

And it’s sad the mindset my pre-pregnancy self was in. That I believed I would evolve into a fat mess who loathed myself.

But joining the motherhood morphs you into superwoman in so many ways. You balance your life, your work, your home and your child – giving you the ultimate sense of empowerment.

You feel like you can conquer the world.

This drive made me determined to be strong, fit and healthy.

If not to survive my new chaotic lifestyle, to set a good example to the small person that I’m raising.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Image credits – Easter Eggs (myself obvs!) and the pretty boiled eggs – Pixabay

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

 

Nine Months In. Nine Months Out.

Sunday 4th December 2016

img_1545

As we approach your ninth month, I’m having a weird sort of reflection.

On the 11th of December, you will be nine months old.

We’ve passed the six month stage and it’s not as if it’s even your first birthday. Those are much more mega milestones.

Nope.

For some reason I’m very nostalgic that you’ve been alive nine whole months.

Because that’s the amount of time you were inside my body.

Nine whole months – from egg to cell to foetus.

That’s the amount of time

your body

developed in

my body.

And in that same amount of time out of my body, you’ve learnt how to feed.

How to differentiate night from day.

You’ve established a sleeping pattern.

You rolled over.

You’ve learnt to feed yourself finger food.

You’ve turned that roll into a crawl.

You sit up unaided.

You can even pull yourself up into a seating position.

You’ve even made attempts at scaling the furniture in prep to pull yourself up.

Missuswolf vintage baby touching wall

 

And just about the cutest – you chatter away in your little voice when you wake in a morning.

I love how you now play and interact with other children.

I love how you sit and entertain yourself with toys – and even watch TV. (Thanks – these latter skills are extremely helpful to your old mam – so she can fanny about on Facebook or you know – write posts like this.)

As we both laze about in our dressing gowns on this Sunday morning, you look so cute that I could die.

I’ve never considered myself maternal. I’ve admired babies from afar. The old give them a little cuddle. And then hand them back.

Like I’ve said previously, I’d been in no hurry to have a baby of my own.

Even despite a good pregnancy and birth, I’m in no hurry to have any more.

I openly admit I dislike the newborn stage. I selfishly hate the fact I put in so much (sleep-deprived) time and didn’t even get a smile in return.

I know.

Selfish.

It’s only human nature to want interaction – a smile, a cuddle.

Plus everyone tells you as a new mother to slow down. Enjoy it. Make the most of it. As time really does fly.

That’s not what my sleep-deprived self wanted to hear. In the fog of surviving on bouts of two-hour – sometimes even ninety-minutes – naps (as that can not logically be counted as sleep bah!)  I thought this was my life.

Forever.

No sleep and a tiny (and I mean tiny – the whole of five pounds) living, breathing, heart-beating human that relied so heavily on me.

Looking back, of course it went quick, and in nine whole months, it’s ridiculous how far we’ve all come.

And how much you’ve changed.

Missuswolf Rocking horse christmas decoration

I type this while shouting ‘no’ for the umpteenth time as you crawl under the Christmas tree to pull the baubles off. Or crawl towards the TV cabinet. Or the stairs.

But most of all, you’ve become your own little person.

So content and happy.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I was constantly moaning at being the designated driver during the festive season.

If truth be told, I thought you’d ruin my life (sorry) and my body.

You haven’t.

For fear of sounding corny or cliché, my life has more fulfilment. My former self would have slapped this self at writing such drivel. I’d read it all before and just thought blah another boring mam post.

Haha! I’ve become that boring mam!

A boring mam who now bleats on about her new-found sense of purpose. I love that I can be your role model. That you (annoyingly) touch (pull) my hair and my necklace. But I can’t wait til those are the things you want to talk about and play with.

And you’ve awoken a drive and determination in me that I never knew I had.

I’m actually healthier now than I was before I had you. Pregnancy taught me to eat well (aside from the slippery slope of Cadbury’s Easter Eggs towards the end). I ate a lot of green beans and boiled eggs – so much so that the midwives were in disbelief of my iron levels after I gave birth.

I don’t drink as much as I did beforehand. Obviously I still reward myself for keeping you alive with a glass of wine or two here and there. And on the rough days it’s a given.

But I don’t go out on benders every weekend

If I’m honest, I actually feel fitter and stronger since having you. And that’s something I never thought I would hear myself say.

I’ve not hidden the fact I’ve struggled being off work and looking after you constantly. But each passing week you’re getting more independent. Obviously we’re a long way off from the mainstream stuff like driving and moving out, but we’ve conquered a fair few stages already.

In just nine months.

But I’m finally taking the slow down advice this month. December is the perfect, snuggly time of year to wind-down anyway for Christmas. So we’re winding down together. Enjoying each other’s company in our dressing gowns a few days more than we really should.

In the beginning, I was forcing myself to be showered, dressed and made-up. Pressure I know. But I was worried that if I didn’t, I’d fall into a trap of never getting changed or leaving the house. I had to do that to save myself.

And because I did that, I’m happy in the fact that in less than a month now, I return to work. Where we’ll be up super early for nursery and family drop-offs. Life will be back to a million miles an hour that I’m used to.

We’ve gotten out of the last nine months exactly what we wanted from each other; you learning how to feed and entertain yourself, me learning more about myself than I have in my whole lifetime.

Now we’re both ready to face the big wide world. You have the excitement of nursery; learning more new things and making new friends. I get to go back to work to a new role where I too will have to learn new things and make new friends.

But we’re both well equipped. We’re happy, strong, determined ladies.

So we’ll spend a little longer lazing around this Sunday. As that’s what our Sunday’s will become. Our day of rest after our chaotic week back in the real world.

Your small life in this big wide world.

But that’s just it.

You are my big wide world.

In this small life.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from Unsplash and Pexel

My LushTums with Laura Journey: Yoga – Bump, Baby and Beyond

Wednesday 2nd November 2016

Pregnancy Yoga

A cold Saturday morning in January 2016; that’s when my LushTums yoga journey started.

Missuswolf blankets set up in circle in room for pregnancy yoga

A sneak peek at Postnatal Yoga for mamas and babas

Seven months pregnant and ploughing through a busy work schedule (my own doing – I felt like I had the energy to cope) this was my chance at ‘time out’.

To bond with the bump.

You see, for someone who likes to be organised and plan things,

I was pretty nonchalant about the whole baby thing.

Due in March, I flippantly put off doing anything remotely baby related until after Christmas. I think I was clinging on to whatever I had left of my old life.

Making the most of it.

I’d never considered going to any ante-natal classes (gasp) and pregnancy yoga hadn’t crossed my mind.

I went to they gym right up until I was twenty weeks pregnant. It’s here that I experienced round ligament pain in my lower abdomen and back as well as mild SPD.

So the gym stopped and that was the start of all the belts and bands.

Then I learnt a fellow friend was pregnant.

This fellow friend suggested that we go to pregnancy yoga together and she’d found one that had just started up. Unfortunately she wasn’t far enough on to join the group yet and I would only be able to get to a few before they broke up for Christmas.

A New Years Resolution was made there and then for us to both join Lush Tums with Laura Pregnancy Yoga in the January.

We rocked up that Saturday to a local gym in Blyth where we were met by the lovely Laura. This session was actually free as it was a taster session.

The room was set out with yoga mats, a block, a pillow and blanket each which were laid out in a semi-circle. Laura had her own set up in front of this, alongside a heater (the room was cold and it was mid-winter) relaxing music and a burning incense stick.

As soon as you walked in, there was on overall sense of calm – and camaraderie.

I didn’t really talk much about my pregnancy at work as I was always out of the office on a project. Plus it was a male dominated office. There was only so much (and so far!) I could talk about.

So this hour and a half on a Saturday morning was like the mother-ship; somewhere to retreat and immerse myself entirely in being pregnant. With no distractions.

The first part of the session started with Laura introducing herself, the housekeeping and what we should expect from the class.

To begin with, she went round in turn and asked:

  • How far along you were
  • What kind of week you’d had
  • Any specific aches or pains
  • Anything else you’d like to share

I honestly felt like I was at pregnancy therapy.

I’m not one to normally open up in group environments but I couldn’t help myself here.

Especially as the weeks went by and I had to come to terms with a breach baby and an inevitable section.

This was then followed by yoga stretches. These were catered towards specific areas of the body that people were having problems with. It was great for loosening up, my neck especially. It creaked really bad when we did the head rolling but my god it felt good.

It also helped ease my lower back pain.

The session involved meditation. We put one hand on our heart and the other on our bumps.

I enjoyed this as I probably went through most of my pregnancy in denial. Not in a bad way. I’ve always liked to be busy and on my feet and the bigger I got, the more I had to come to terms with my lack of movement.

I couldn’t race around anymore. I would get frustrated that I couldn’t do things . The meditation helped me connect with my bump and try to shift my focus.

The session then ended with a fifteen minute relaxation period. We all lay on our left hand sides, our heads on the pillows and I’d use the block to support my bump, with the blanket covering us.

Laura then played Steven Halpern Comfort Zone as she turned down the lights and guided us through meditation into relaxation.

This was delightful. And I nearly always fell asleep.

It was the perfect way to start the weekend.

As the weeks went by, you’d watch as the girls whose bumps you’d come to know, gradually disappeared.

The first one to go for me was Rachael.

Life has a funny way of making your paths cross and a whole new part of your life exploding.

I remember Rachael running late for one particular session as she had been taking a Tots and Tums class beforehand (see Tots and Tums).

My ears pricked up.

Life after birth.

I needed to find something to be part of to keep me sane.

Laura encouraged us to keep in touch by creating a Facebook page for the Lush Tums Bumps and Birth side and one for the Bumps, Births and Babies side.

I watched as Rachael left to have Evie. I heard about her groups and what she did through Laura.

So when I had Ella, there was an overwhelming sense of belonging when Laura invited me to the Bumps, Births and Babies. She announced Ella’s birth to everyone and welcomed us both to the group.

It’s here that I found my mammy tribe. It was slow in forming as we were all at different stages of pregnancy, but over the summer, there was a few births and out of that was born Cake Club.

We’d become Warriors.

And the lovely thing about it is that the mammies in the tribe, we weren’t all at pregnancy yoga at the same time. I’d left when some of the other girls joined. They’ve since had their babies and we’ve all met up at the Tots and Tums classes.

A nice little support network.

We swapped stories on how we had used pregnancy yoga in labour.

Missuswolf woman in mothering lotus

Nadia using pregnancy yoga during labour

 

Nadia’s waters had broken. She invited me over for a 1-2-1 and we had such a beautiful session. We did yoga as well as mothering lotus meditation mudrah.

My Birth Story

Again, I think I was in denial that I was in the very early stages of labour. I remember experiencing strong period-pain type cramps on the Wednesday night.

As a first time mother I didn’t know what to expect.

I stupidly carried on painting the hallway as I was in a ridiculous stage of nesting.

The cramps would come and go and did ease off so I just put them down to Braxton Hicks.

They woke me at four in the morning. So I went downstairs, had some peanut butter on toast and put on Grey’s Anatomy. I then got on all fours and did the figures of eight and breathing techniques. I figured if I could eat then I wasn’t that bad.

So off I went to work. In complete denial.

As the same happened that night. Up at four, eating toast, Grey’s Anatomy doing yoga stretches in between.

I timed the pain and there was about four minutes in between.

I’d even phoned the hospital who told me not to come in.

I went back to bed.

And woke at six to get ready for work.

Still experiencing the pain,I then had a bleed. Something that had never happened in the entire pregnancy.

I knew then that shit was about to get real.

Back on the phone to the hospital while standing circling my hips and doing the ‘grounded’ movements, they advised me to come in for a check-up.

Even they were quite laid back by it all. When I asked if I should bring my bags in they said only if I wanted too.

So I took them. Just in case.

With the hubby. Who was in his uniform ready to go to work after the ‘check up.’ Hell even I was intent on going to work afterwards to.

But the ride to the hospital had me concentrating solely on my breathing. Although i do remember us driving up the Laverock Hall Road in Blyth. The sun was out – the first time it really felt like Spring.

And I remember thinking

‘today would be a good day to have a baby.’

Once in the hospital room, I was on my feet the whole time, circling my hips, transferring my weight from one foot to another, practising keeping grounded. All the while concentrating on my breathing.

It was confirmed I was three cm dilated and baba was still breach so off for a section I went.

I just went into a zone.

And I believe that pregnancy yoga helped me get into that zone, that calm frame of mind.

Postnatal Yoga With Babies

Over the summer, Laura trained to do the postnatal side of the yoga.

Missuswolf Postnatal Yoga blankets on floor in circle in room

This was a little different in the fact that the bumps that were once in the way were now little humans who craved attention.

Laura held sessions at people’s houses and her own.

The class was exactly the same set-up with the same equipment.

But now instead of how many weeks pregnant, it’s how many weeks/months old is the baby. Yet it’s still a chance to talk about how you’re feeling as well.

This is where it came to light that some of the girls had been struggling with various forms of depression over the summer but no-one really knew.

It re-enforced the importance of talking to each other and supporting each other.

Postnatal yoga once again brought us all together and opened us up. People ask for help if they need it. They talk about things more openly.

And there was the relaxation part too. Ten minutes instead of fifteen as there were little distractions. But Laura took the babies off us and soothed them to allow us to get that time. Which is needed now more than ever.

Missuswolf woman holding two babies at postnatal yoga while sat on the floor

We even did one session in Ridley Park! That really helped us feel grounded; being out in the August sunshine, on the grass under the trees.

Missuswolf Mother and children lying in park doing yoga

Family affair! Rachael’s family loved it.

The relaxation part of that was probably the best I’ve experienced. There’s something about being outdoors in the sun relaxing on the grass.

The sounds, the smells, all very comforting.

Missuswolf woman lying doing yoga in the park holding baby

Laura took Ella while I did my relaxation – aaaah

 

I look back on that day with fondness.

Missuswolf woman doing yoga feeding baby in the park

Multi-tasking Mama

It was a good day.

Postnatal Yoga – For The Mams

And finally – postnatal yoga just for mamas.

I went to one at the Albion Centre in Blyth, which is where all the new classes are now being held.

It was a Friday night and we joked that it’s rare to be out the house past 7.30 on a Friday night anymore. I know. How my life has changed! Unheard of until July last year when that blue cross appeared!

This was weird. Good weird. No bump, no baby. Just full dedication to ourselves.

Again, there’s the chat at the start. This is now how far postpartum you are, as well as how you and baby are doing.

Then we get to experience full yoga.

And the fifteen minute relaxation period was back hurrah!

There was a strange feeling about the class. Three of us had done the pregnancy yoga together. I don’t think we realised but when we went to this postnatal class, we sat in the same places that we used to at pregnancy yoga. Creatures of habit.

The strange feeling though.

I can’t really describe it.

Like we had been on some incredible mission together. We’d been through each other’s ups and downs from pregnancy, birth and postnatal. And here we were.

We’d made it. We’d survived.

And we are stronger than ever.

We are Warriors.

Missuswolf Postnatal Yoga teacher in warrior pose in Ridley park

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

 

Pregnancy: Fetal Movements Matter

Wednesday 26th October 2016

The charity Tommy’s has this month launched it’s Movements Matter campaign.

The campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of monitoring baby’s movements during pregnancy.

Getting to know your baby

and your body

Each baby has their own individual pattern and this is what you need to monitor.

I say this because when I was pregnant with Ella, she moved mostly at night time.

I’d be sliding into bed about 9pm and just getting settled, when the movements came.

And boy did they come.

But I became accustomed to it. She’d kick in the morning when I started eating my breakfast.  I’d then get a few kicks throughout the day. However, the bulk of her movement was always at night. Typical party animal. Like her parents.

This was my pattern.

I knew it inside out; my body was in tune with her movements.

This is what you need to look out for.

Your baby’s pattern.

And take note of when the movements slow down.

Reduced baby movements can be the first sign that a baby is in distress. Recent research has shown that around half of women who had a stillbirth said that they had noticed that their baby’s movements had slowed down beforehand

And ALWAYS go with your instinct.

Missuswolf Tommy's Movements Matter Campaign pregnant woman holding belly

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt since becoming a mammy,

it’s to trust those instincts.

They are with you from the moment you are pregnant and they are there for a reason.

Our recent survey showed that 52% of women would be worried about looking for help when they notice reduced fetal movements due to a fear of ‘wasting midwife’s  time’.

What’s that old saying? ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’.

It’s always better to be over-cautious.

It is heartbreaking to think that babies’ lives may be lost because women are not aware of the importance of monitoring fetal movements. Or because women are afraid of ‘wasting midwives’ time’. Raising awareness and empowering women to seek help promptly could save lives.

That’s what the midwives are there for.

Use them.

Contact them.

There is always someone at the end of the phone. Please, use it and put your mind at rest if you notice any changes or you just feel that something is not quite right.

Stillbirth rates are shockingly high in the UK – in 2015 we ranked 24th out of 49 high-income countries. For every 220 babies born in the UK, one is stillborn.

So please, spread the word. A similar campaign was launched in Norway and bought stillbirth rates down by a third.

If you’re pregnant, become in tune with your body and your baby.

Get to know those movements.

And the moment something doesn’t feel right, pick up that phone.

Kick Me Baby One More Time – as Movements really do Matter.

Love Missuswolf xxx

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