mental health blocks

Maternal Mental Health After Pregnancy

Once you have given birth, you learn that there a quite a few appointments in the weeks afterwards, including midwife visits and a 6 week check up with your GP. I didn’t have the typical visit on day 5 then day 10. Instead, a midwife visited me for 10 days to monitor my blood pressure. It wasn’t pregnancy induced as I’ve had hypertension for around 4-5 years now. Because of this, I was under a clinic called MAViS who were absolutely lovely and also checked in on me while I was in the postnatal ward.

How do you feel?

During the appointments, you’re asked quite often how you feel. The truth is, I was a bag of emotions. I felt like a yo-yo constantly going up and down, happy then sad. Of course, fluctuating hormones play a part, and you feel like you can’t escape them. Looking back, I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself and maybe I wouldn’t be containing with similar emotions now. How was I supposed to really know how I really felt at 6 weeks? Motherhood was still very new. My body was and still is recovering – mentally and physically. I’ll be honest, I didn’t speak up earlier on, it took me until I was 3-4 months to have a couple of phone calls with a doctors which led to a referral and then another referral again. I’m not in a place to talk about it in great depth but I can tell you, it’s all very raw, and most of my feelings towards every day things in life seems to stem back to my younger days, perhaps high school.

I’m 9 months postpartum and I see a lot of posts on social media that still pressure me – it’s just how my mind can be. I used to read posts like, you’ve got this or it gets easier. And they are absolutely right even if I lose perspective a little on the tougher days. I have created an Instagram account focus on the truth and positivity that surrounds me on my motherhood journey. You can follow me @_hellomorningtea. I don’t have any weaning or sleep tips but my aim is to focus on topics that you, my fellow mamas can relate to.

It’s okay to say no

One thing I am telling myself more often is, it’s okay to say no. This has made a difference. I used to find it hard to come away from being the new mum who says yes to everything. I like to think I have find my place in motherhood and I see myself a lot stronger even though there are anxieties underneath it all. Visits from family and friends can be overwhelming as much as you love those people in your life. It’s okay to be honest and say you’re not feeling up to it. If I’ve had a day where I haven’t felt comfortable in my own skin or I am anticipating seeing someone and wondering how they are going to comment on me, baby, life in general, I will get sad. It’s not always easy to explain but the littlest of things can make me this way.

Your life has changed in the most incredible way. There are challenges, tears, frustration but above all, there’s wholeheartedness. A love like no other – with your child/ren. Having a baby isn’t for some people but I am so lucky to have my baby boy as what we have as our little family, is something more than I’ve ever dreamed of. I hope that one day in the future, I can take everything I’ve learned from my first pregnancy and having our first child into a new strength when we have a baby brother or sister for our son. Every single day is an experience for something new and another day we love and know our baby boy.

I know that each and every one us are different, including the wonderful daddies out there too. And for the support side of life, I am lucky to have my partner by my side – the one person I can rely on 100%. He always tries his best to be patient with me and understands that sometimes I just need him to listen, as much as he wants to find a way to take everything away from me.

Useful links

Image credit: Vie Studio on Pexels.

woman writing in a notepad

Working on me, for me.

I have been trying to write a new blog post for a while but I haven’t gotten further than a few words, hardly a sentence. Every time I attempted to type, I ended up deleting it not long later. Nothing seemed to fit or make sense. I wondered if people would even read it. I have lost count of the amount of drafts I have had blog post titles named ‘???’

The truth is, those question marks ask a lot. I have been fighting some personal battles both mentally and physically. I have been feeling lost and out of touch with the things that I used to enjoy or use as a method of distraction from negative thoughts, including my blog. In a way it has always been my ‘therapy’ but now I need the real thing and I am finally able to write about that. I’ll be honest though, to talk about it in person is still incredibly hard and I am still pushing myself to continue moving forward.

For many years, I have been a worrier. Thoughts rush through my mind about what ifs, how I could’ve done something differently, or what someone or a number of people think of me.

It’s been hard to explain how I feel. I haven’t spoke to anyone in great detail about It other than my partner, Danny. There’s no one else on the planet who listens to me and responds honestly the way he does. I am lucky to have his hand to hold. He knows he doesn’t need to understand it all 100% and that he is the one person I need by my side. My mum has been there too, as always. Most days I wonder how much I might be putting on them but then I think, I would always want my son to turn to me, his mummy, and one day to that person of his own who will love him as much as his daddy loves me.

A fair few months ago, things began to take their toll. I became so lost that I couldn’t put most things into perspective anymore. There was a particular day, or more days to be honest when I became the most upset I have ever been. Sometimes, all I want is to get out of my head. I felt (still feel) like I am falling into a hole where I am slipping away from how I feel about every day things, how I look or how people perceive me. It doesn’t help that I’ve had symptoms of hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid) for as long as I can remember but time finally did its thing and a couple of months ago, I was sent to A&E urgently as my thyroid levels had changed dramatically. I was told I do indeed have hypothyroidism. It’s a good thing in a way, that I have an answer to parts but there’s still a lot going on that I’m trying to keep up with.

I have started to question things an awful lot – inside my head and out loud. I have a habit of dazing out which I feel can’t be helped most times. It’s funny because since I became a mum, I have gained new strengths but in other ways, I’ve lost so much confidence. I tend to shy away from going straight in to try something. I wonder 10 times or more if I can do it or what other people see as I try. I have been so happy yet cried more than ever before. Of course, fluctuating hormones play a part in any new mum’s journey but for me it’s been such a longstanding situation. Over the years, I have spent far too much time in my worrying bubble. It has affected how I look at things before they happen, how I feel or think.

Picking out things to criticise myself on has become an even easier thing to do. Danny constantly tells me that I am such a strong person but most days I wonder if I’m failing and I feel drained from taking everything in. I don’t need to be reminded of all of the good people and amazing things in my life. I am very much aware of those including all of the exciting things that I have to look forward to.

I don’t want any sorry I didn’t know or you’ll get through it comments. I am sharing this post in the hope that it reaches people who are feeling something similar. You aren’t alone no matter how alone you can feel in your own head. Life gets tough on us all. Though, at times, you feel and see things you wish you hadn’t. People have their own ways of ‘coping’ but one thing I was reminded of recently is that, you can’t just cover the cracks. There’s a bigger picture and there’s nothing more important than your health. I have said more referrals for all sorts of things during maternity leave than ever before. It’s given me the time to focus on emotions and keeping on track of what my body is going through.

I can’t explain the bigger picture right now but I am feeling sure that it will get better. It doesn’t mean that everything will go away completely. I accept that it’s happening and has been for a very long time. Since having our baby boy, I’ve realised the need to work on me, not just for my family but for me. Some of my thoughts and feelings might stem from past or current events but improving myself starts with me. I guess it’s took the strength of being a new mum to help me see the bigger picture. There’s nothing more precious than my little family and having them has opened up a whole new world I needed to be in.

pink umbrella on a rainy day outside

Feeling Low Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Love my Partner or Baby

This is probably one of the posts I have contemplated whether to post or not, back and forth, the most. Have you ever been asked if you’re okay, how you’re doing, or how you’re feeling? And you simply answer using the words, ‘all good’, ‘okay’ or ‘fine’ thank you. You may genuinely be feeling any three of those at the time but sometimes it’s not the case and you don’t want to say. You don’t even wish you could, you just don’t feel the need to share.

I am a private person to a certain extent. I have social media accounts and I share photos of my son, my partner, family etc. but I also keep a lot to myself. Some people like a bit of ‘retail therapy’ to focus, I like to write on my blog.

You can’t always control your emotions. It isn’t as easy as making yourself feel happy after feeling sad. Your mind is a powerful part of you – so much so, it can take a toll. Your mind can work overdrive. You can go round in circles trying to understand your own thoughts but you can’t. Telling yourself, tomorrow is a new day, or it could be worse, seems okay at the time but ‘the day’ arrives again. Sometimes, it’s soon after or a few days or a week will pass.

I haven’t wrote this to hear “sorry you’re feeling this way” or “sorry you’re going through this”. The truth is, I think it’s always been inside me but a big life-changing moment happened that meant my body and hormones couldn’t play nice together. I ignored the feelings for a while. Plus I’ve had a baby so you know, it’s all like, oh you’re just tired, sleep deprived, or you need some alone time. Time spent with me, myself and I has been a battle between something that’s good and bad for me.

With the time I have to myself, I always end up doing washing, cleaning, tidying etc. then when I finally sit down, I find myself constantly checking the time until my partner and baby are home because I know I have to pick myself up. And before I know it, hours have passed and I haven’t napped or been for a walk.

I’ve cried most days – something I thought was just a thing in those first 6 weeks after giving birth so I didn’t think the doctor would think anything when she spoke to me 15 weeks postnatal. “Do you think you might be depressed?” Depressed? A term that is used so loosely and a word that I didn’t want to associate with myself. This isn’t because there’s anything to be ashamed of but I was telling myself every day that it would pass. I’ve tried to make efforts to occupy myself and find things to love and enjoy again. I will keep trying.

Pre-pregnancy, for many years, I struggled to think about some upcoming events. No one would get it. People visiting – including friends and family – I can find quite overwhelming on my most struggling days. Recently, my partner has seen me curled up in a ball either staring into space or crying myself to sleep. Some nights, I can’t sleep. And on others, I don’t want to wake up because I want to sleep so much.

Please, the next time you hear someone say they are depressed or feeling low, don’t quickly look in from the outside. Even if you think you have the happiest of friends, check in on them. Forgive snappy or off moments. The only way I can describe the way I feel a lot of the time, is lost. This is not my baby’s fault or mine. It’s just that emotions have took charge. Some people can be more sensitive than you think. Regardless, you should always think before you speak. Or apologise if you speak out of turn. I must admit, I’m much stronger that I used to be when it comes to ignoring some comments and people but there will be a wave that comes over me. When this happens, they are all I think about then it spirals into thoughts about myself.

Three months ago, I birthed our son and a surge of new life took over. I count myself lucky that these feelings I have, haven’t affected the bond I have with my beautiful baby boy. Whenever I feel myself about to have a cry, I put him down. Though, most of the time, it’s when I am by myself or when he is asleep. This doesn’t always happen on the non-stop days. I’m talking about the days when I have some ‘me time’. I should be relaxing, sleeping or doing something I find fun. At times, this happens but it drifts into a motion of sadness. I feel restless, hopeless and I suddenly cry. There are days where I feel absolutely agitated that I respond in ways where I don’t even know what I’ve just been told. It’s like being in a daydream and hearing things but the next day you’re not 100% on what happened.

I am forgetting a lot of things and I was putting it down to ‘baby brain’ even though people have said, that’s just in pregnancy isn’t it? And they are probably right but it’s what’s happening.

Another thing that’s changed is my appetite. I go through ups and downs. I overeat snacks and rubbish food in the day or I skip tea/hardly eat in the evening because I say on many occasions, “Oh I don’t feel hungry. I’m okay.” My partner knows it’s not the case and I’m far from it.

I’ll probably get a few, “Oh I didn’t know…” or “Why didn’t you say?” Think about it. I share my feelings with my partner as I feel like I am losing myself at times but smiling on the outside. He’s the one I will always feel comfortable with no matter how agitated or irritable I am. Oh, and he senses whenever I feel stressed. He doesn’t half put up with a lot! I constantly think about something that needs to be done or could be done better. 

I also want to say something else because as sad as it is, there might be people who have something negative to say. I am fully aware of what I have – a warm home, a loving partner, and a beautiful child. I also have a loving family and friends but I will only truly open up about my feelings with my partner and my doctor. This doesn’t mean to say I’m not grateful for any support around me.

There are two people in my life who will always give me a boost when I need it the most – my fiancé and my precious blue eyed baby boy. All it takes is a a big hug and a little smile. I can withdraw myself from situations, visits and plans but I’ll never take myself away from these two.

If you’re feeling low, postnatal or not, perhaps you would like to reach out to someone. It wasn’t until everything was building up that I found the courage to speak to my partner and then my GP who has been lovely. There’s also information and advice on the NHS website. Remember, bottling thoughts and feelings up does not make you a hero. It’s okay to let it all out. 

dark cup with hot drink inside

Sharing Those Postpartum Feelings

The postpartum life brings a new love and happiness but let’s not forget about the exhaustion and everything else. Some people might question why someone like me opted to be a mum when there’s a lot of new challenges and a drop in energy levels some days. I’ll tell you why, it’s something I’ve always wanted. I’m not saying that to sound like anyone else because it’s true. I’ve always dreamed of bringing a new little life into the world and I count my lucky stars that it all came true.

It goes without saying that parenting is hard. And that’s probably putting it lightly. Though, the moments of joy and pure heartfelt memories stay with you forever. They overpower those ‘days’ where you don’t don’t feel like yourself and wonder if there’s anything you could do better. Even when the sleep deprivation hits, all it takes in one smile for it all to melt into the air and you smile as your heart gets fuller.

The last couple of weeks, I’ll be honest, I haven’t felt right. I don’t mean I haven’t been feeling well with this super cold that going around or a bug – I just haven’t been the usual ‘me’. What is the usual ‘me’? Well, in a nutshell, I’m usually smiley, random, and like to see the positive in everything.

In those last weeks, it all changed. Now, I wouldn’t say it was sudden but there was a big difference. Here’s why…

A sense of hopelessness

I felt like I had lost myself. I never forget I’m a mum and a human being like everyone else but I felt disinterested in so many things. There were days I spent in a daze – nothing going on around me other than staring into space while Freddy napped. I would try putting upbeat music on or a good film but it didn’t have the usual effect. I was so quiet but so busy and loud with thoughts in my mind. I wondered how I would get out of this pit. As always, a good chat with Danny channeled me back through after a couple of days. It doesn’t mean to say those days won’t come back. I just need to remember that I can get through them.

Being self critical

Sometimes I think I’m harsh on myself and other days I don’t. I’ve found myself looking in the mirror most days and not liking what I see. There are things I can do – eat well, exercise etc. But I think, I’ll always find something regardless. My legs are covered in stretch marks that weren’t there before. I’m reminded that they are ‘love marks’ that carried the weight of our beautiful boy. I think the body changes that are still happening combined with what I see physically really play on my mind, a little too much. I might not ever love my body but I will find a way to like it again.

Is it the hormones or just me?

Ever cry and wonder why you cried? Sometimes you have good reason, don’t you? Other times you think, why am I so damn emotional right now? The thing is, I need to remind myself that there’s no rush for my body to reach a new kind of normal. I used to hate when someone would look at a woman and say “Ooo she’s a bit hormonal isn’t she” or whatever. But wow, I’ve never truly felt more hormonal days than postpartum ones. Maybe I’m pressuring myself as each week goes by as I think it’s another week I could feel ‘better’. None of these thoughts take away how much love I have for my baby. He (and his dad) are my everything. And the three of us have so much to look forward to – they are what I need to hold onto when my mind does play a battle with me.

Speak to someone

To finish this post, I just want to say, up and down days are completely normal. Sometimes we need to pick ourselves back up but remember you don’t have to do it on your own. It doesn’t take for a number of people to understand how you feel. It takes a good person or two to listen, maybe empathise too. Postpartum life especially, can drag you down in ways you can’t even understand yourself.

Someone can look in from the outside and see nothing but happiness. However, they haven’t got a mirror to see what’s going on in your mind. You can be your own demon sometimes. Remember though, you can’t control everything. So, when things get tough, try to find a couple of things that bring you back to a level of the real you.

Links for support

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