Louisa Claire

Posts Tagged ‘Baby Blues’

Hey parents, how are you going today?

In recognition of Postnatal Depression Awareness week I am reposting something I wrote earlier this year…..

Last week I wrote about spending a night away from the older two kids as part of a competition we ran here on the blog – It was such a treat! As I read the comments coming through I saw a common theme…

Mums tired
Mums messy
Mums thinking about their family, not themselves
And it took me right back…

When Bliss was born I was given a PANDA magnet as I left the hospital. I brought it home and dutifully stuck it on the fridge.  I would occasionally look at it and whenever I found myself at my wits end I would think about that magnet and PANDA. No matter how overwrought I was, I never thought PANDA was for me – surely what I was going through was normal? Surely…

PANDA #bepndaware
The few times I seriously considered calling were outside of their operating hours – I don’t know if I had postnatal depression with Bliss but I do know that I isolated myself to the point where I lost a friendship. I am truly amazed that I didn’t lose more because I simply withdrew; I didn’t return phone calls let alone initiate them and I felt like the biggest failure on earth.

How could it be that I didn’t take to motherhood like a duck to water? This was my lifelong dream! I found all the tasks easy, and we were pretty relaxed on the things that made other new parents anxious, but the emotional transition completely took me by surprise. I had always wanted to be a Mum, a full time stay at home Mum at that. I loved my daughter but I was scared and tired, so very tired. Well meaning comments meant to make me feel less alone like “that happened to me too” only left me feeling more isolated, more lost… perhaps somehow more generic? More than anything, I felt embarrassed.

A large reason I don’t feel embarrassed today is because I know that this is a really common experience and I know that because other people, including a lot of bloggers, have told me through their own stories. If in sharing my own journey just one person feels less alone then it is all worthwhile.

5 years and 2 more children on and I am incredibly clucky. Incredibly! With each child it’s been easier and with Bluey, I have finally taken to it like a duck to water. I love having a baby in the house and easily want another (our bank account currently does not agree with this sentiment). Yes having 3 children has been a total gamechanger and I have never felt busier, but I have also never felt clearer – like I have finally figured this thing out. I think that’s why I have the idea of another baby in my mind…I have finally gotten the hang of things, I’m not ready to stop! {update: Bluey is now 1, I am ready to stop!!!}

Bluey5mos
My story, so far, has had a happy ending. But I know this isn’t always how it goes…and I know that it could only take a few weeks, that turn into months, of sleepless nights to send me backwards.

Last year I started working with PANDA as a charity partner through Brand Meets Blog. I identified with their mission and shared their desire to make support services more available to the public.

Around 48,000 women will be diagnosed with post natal depression this year and PANDA (the Post and Antenatal Depression Association) is the only national helpline that offers counselling for struggling families.

Through my work with PANDA I have learnt that the PANDA helpline offers more than just phone counselling to people who call. PANDA actually take responsibility for making contact with the callers as often as required, for as long as required to ensure that the caller is able to access local support services. PANDA also offer in home visits for people in situations that require it – I find that completely amazing!

If you are struggling or wondering if what you are feeling is normal, please know you are not alone. You can call PANDA anytime, judgement free or visit their website www.panda.org.au If you’re bloke, or living with one and you think he might be struggling then check out www.howisdadgoing.org.au – it’s the new website PANDA have launched to provide support to men who are struggling themselves with postnatal depression or have a partner who is struggling.

 

 If you’re a blogger with a story to tell please join up with Emma from Five Degrees of Chaos – together, we can help break down the stigma.

 
 
 


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Out of the woods

When I started writing these posts, (and the last four were all written in August-September last year), I was experiencing something I hadn’t ever experienced before and it was scary.

I’m not sure when it happened or how but at one point or another the fog lifted and  I stopped feeling totally overwhelmed at the smallest of things and started to breathe again. Life was a blissful place to be again. I gradually relaxed a little about the things I felt I ought to be doing, and doing easily, as a new Mum.

Since having Bliss, I have felt more than a little embarrassed and sad at the ways I have failed to support friends with new babies in the past so I though I’d write down some of the practical ways you might like to support friends and family member with kids. Some of these things I did before I had Bliss and others I only ‘got’ after her arrival. I hope you find it helpful, if you want to add anything to the list let me know in the comments…

* Be specific with your offers of help. Rather than saying “Let me know if there’s anything I can do/that you need?” say “I thought I could come over on X morning/afternoon and help out. If there’s nothing you need done why don’t I take Y and you can catch up on some sleep or just have some time to yourself?” OR if you are visiting and have a close relationship a quick “Can I just put on a load of washing for you/hang some out/take the baby for a walk etc…” never goes astray especially in those very early days.

* It’s always easier for me to accept help with Bliss when I feel like the person helping actually wants to spend time with her. You may not always feel like this but if you do, let the Mum know. I know it’s easier when someone says to me “I’d love to play with her, why don’t you leave her with me while you go and do whatever?” rather than “I suppose I could look after her for you”. Miss Awesome was particularly good at this! She was also good at…

* Doing things (like the dishes!) without being asked. We noticed & appreciated…thanks Miss Awesome!

* If at all possible never go to a new Mum’s house without food, even frozen meals from the supermarket. These are a complete lifesaver!!

* Try not to overstay your welcome when visiting a new family

* Text don’t call when a Mum is in hospital

* Don’t ring doorbells, knock loudly or ring repeatedly when visiting a family with a new baby. If in doubt ring once or text.

* If you find that your friend has fallen off the face of the earth and you can’t get hold of them, chances are they are just immersed in this new world they’ve found themselves in and are a possibly also more than a little tired and overwhelmed! Try not to push them and certainly don’t get offended – they haven’t fogotten you, life is just…well, full on! Think of a way to let them know you are thinking of them and that you are care…it’s like to be the best way to get a response.

* If a new Mum and her family seem to be going well then AWESOME! Just remember that just because a baby is an ‘easy’ one they are still a baby, and that means huge transitions and adjustments. A family with an ‘easy’ baby will still appreciate all the love and support you can offer, and if the baby is not quite so textbook then please…help a that Mama out!!

* Encourage your Mum friend to trust her instincts, encourage her with the fact that she knows her baby better than anyone else. There are so many insidious ways for guilt and doubt to plague a Mum, every bit of encouragement and reassurance really helps!!

* A recent study I read said that the quality of a couple’s marriage falls precipitously low after the birth of their first child. The HH and I feel very thankful that we have managed so well together since LP has arrived but it’s true that many couples struggle…and we’ve certainly had to keep working at our communication to make sure we stay on track, something that’s hard to do when you are both tired and stressed. Ask your friend how things are going with her partner. Offering to babysit and then making it happen, giving your friend and partner some quality ‘couple time’ could be a priceless gift you give. In fact, some friends of the HH just gave us two movie tickets and offered to babysit for us…to say we were touched by their thoughtfulness is an understatement!

All this sounds very selfish and demanding. It’s not meant to be and maybe my fellow Mum’s will disagree with me…at the end of the day just being a friend and being interested is fantastic and a wonderful thing. Also, by no means would one person also do all of these things! We have one friend who was great on the food front, every time she came over she would basically restock our freezer and not just ours! We were so grateful! Other friends have been great at giving me a couple of hours to myself by looking after the little one…I know that there are some things on this list that I do better than others and I think that’s OK. You do what you can when you can and try to do what’s most needed as far as you are able to discern that.

There have been times when I have wanted to help a new mum but didn’t know what I could do…so these are some of my thoughts, take them or leave them.


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Sorry, I think I should have been clearer…

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to say thanks so much for you support and concern…you guys are awesome! I think I need to say these recent posts were actually written a few months ago and I haven’t been ready to post them until now. There’s one more post to come today which hopefully will clear all that up but I just wanted to put it out there because I’ve been getting some concerned emails/phone calls and texts not to mention all your lovely comments and I am very sorry for worrying you!

It has been very reassuring to hear that I am not a crazy freak and that there actually was something wrong, I wasn’t just being a slacker but more on that later…

thanks everyone, this is why I love bloggy land!


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they say there is no stigma

but there is.

That’s how I feel anyway though I know I would never, have never, stigmatised someone for depression.

I have completely shut down. I can’t bring myself to actually have a conversation with this to anyone though part of me longs for someone to force me to. Part of me would love someone to say “Louisa, you are not OK and you need to speak to someone” rather than having them just think that I am some slacker who should get her shit together!

Maybe it’s all in my mind?

I have always prided myself on being self aware…but…the thing about how I feel at the moment is that I can’t even rationalise this place I am in and acknowledge what is true and real about this situation allowing myself to be emotionally absent from it.

I don’t like this place, does anybody have a ticket out of here?


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That’s what friends are for…

Friday 12th September 2008

I had the chance to share at Biblestudy yesterday, to be honest about how I was feeling. I almost did. Part of me wanted to but I didn’t. When it was my turn to share prayer points I shared honest but largely inane things.

To share would have left me feeling even more isolated than I already feel. To share and have no one care or follow up. I couldn’t cope with that at the moment. I feel awful writing that because the women in Biblestudy are beautiful, kind women. They just have their own lives to live and their own kids and families to be concerned about and quite frankly they’ve just all got enough going on with their own lives than to hear about me…when there’s nothing actually wrong.

I did give a bit away to a close friend in the study who relentlessly pursued the issue with me privately.

It’s so strange for me to be in a position where something that feels so dominant in my life is going on and I don’t want to talk about, that I don’t feel compelled to be honest. I am normally such an open book. Not about this. Not now.

There’s my good old pride getting in the way again. I don’t want to seem weak but mostly I don’t want anyone to doubt for a second that I don’t adore my beautiful daughter. I don’t want her to be ‘blamed’ for her tears or for it to seem like I’m having a hard time. Not only is LP an absolute delight but she’s also a textbook baby!

I know I should share but part of me also doesn’t want to. We’re Ok, we’re happy. My lovely friend did reassure me that these contradictory feelings I have…in her words,”to simultaneously love and hate motherhood”, are completely normal. That did make me feel better. It’s good to not be alone. It’s good to know that women I respect as people and as mum’s have felt what I sometimes feel.

I wouldn’t trade LP for anything, not even emotional stability that lasts more than 24hours!


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My dirty little secret…

Hi all,

LP is 20 weeks old today. It’s hard to believe how quickly these weeks have passed.

Though she is 20 weeks today, you won’t be reading this today. Perhaps I will feel ready to post it in another 20 weeks…we shall see. I will post it one day because part of the purpose of this blog is to share my experience as a new mum with others in the hope that my journey will help others feel ‘normal’ about their experiences. Not sure how I’m going with this but that’s the goal.

You see today I had a friend tell me that she reads my blog (I wasn’t aware of that but yay!) and so feels like she’s up to speed on our life. She said it was great to see that we are going so well! I get this a lot and the thing is, I don’t feel like we are going so well. I feel like I’ve got a newborn and am going through all the things I heard people talk about going through when their baby was first born. Thing is, my baby arrived 20 weeks ago.

When she was first here things were great. Easy even. Taking care of her was pretty straightforward and once she and I got into our own routine I just loved it. I have fallen head over heels in love with my baby girl and the thought of life without her is too painful to contemplate.

She is a gorgeous baby, with a beautiful personality and an easy, fun temperament.

I love her to bits.

So why do I feel like this? I could cry as I sit here writing this. I feel so tired even though she is a great sleeper. I feel like I am not being a good enough house wife, even though the HH is fantastic and very affirming. I feel lonely, even though I am surrounded by friends and so-called ‘support networks’.

I wish I was nearer to those people who would be there to help us out. To take care of me! The people who will come over and bath LP, the people who will be invited to dinner only to cook it for us! (both the beautiful acts of Miss Awesome…no surprises there!) I wish I was near my mum so she could just come by and play with LP while I had a sleep, maybe even do a load or two of laundry. I can’t say this to her though because I know how hard it is for her that we aren’t nearby during this time in our lives and that was our choice, not hers so she shouldn’t have to feel the weight of it any more than she already does. She’s been there, in a much harder situation than I am in. She only got to see her mum once every year or two. I get to see mine once every 6weeks or so and for a week at a time. So why am I complaining?

I don’t mean to complain. How can I? I have an amazing husband, a gorgeous daughter. We have great friends in Melbourne. There may not be many of them but it’s quality not quantity. Besides, my friends from home are fantastic. I see them every time I am back there and some of them come and visit every year. How lucky am I?

I still miss them and sometimes (ok, often) wish I was there to hang out with them. To go to the monthly dessert nights, to the dinners, lunches and balls! (ok, ball – still, how good would that be?!) I left school 10 years ago and still my group of friends from school are a tight knit group of great girls.

I digress. This isn’t about missing home. I do, but I also love our life here and we are really very happy here and one day we will get to live back ‘home’ again and that will be another story.

I guess this is just about the hugely conflicting emotions of motherhood! I adore my daughter, can’t imagine doing anything else but being her mother and yet there are times when I just need a break from her. I need someone else to look after her, play with her and yes, care for her when she’s upset. It’s hard to live with this sort of internal conflict.

4 months along and I feel like we’ve sort of been ‘forgotten’ with the idea that ‘they’re doing so well!’ that they don’t need any help.

We need help! or rather, we would so appreciate some help.

As I write this, I realise that everyone else has a life. They have their own things to deal with, work, kids, family etc. I get that. I don’t actually expect anyone to do anything. Nor is this post meant in any way as a criticism. It’s honestly not. It’s just how I am feeling at the moment and I need to get it out. Need to be honest.

I think a big part of my problem is my pride. I don’t want to talk about this because it would make me seem weak. People may judge me, people may pity me or worse, they may consider me petty. I also feel that because I wanted a baby, and can I say, I wanted one badly, that I can’t ask for help, after all I got what I wanted (which I am so thankful for) but now have to deal with it (which can be challenging and certainly exhausting).

Well LP is up now and sitting contentedly on me knee as I write this. I feel better for getting it out and I really hope that by posting it (eventually) someone else may read it and feel like they aren’t quite so alone in the world.

Thanks for listening.


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