Monday, 30 May 2016

Life Update

I cannot quite believe that I have been a Mother for over one month now, where has that time gone and how do I slow it all down?! I wanted to write a bit of a rambly post, kind of to get things off of my chest and kind of to update you all on where I'm at and how I'm feeling. It may go some way to explain why my blog posts and videos are so sporadic or it may just become a waffling mess that I'll delete before I hit publish. 
Being a Mother is infinitely hard in an infinite number of ways. The pressures of social media only add to wanting to create that "perfect lifestyle" for both my Baby and my Man, all whilst still finding time to show the Dog that he's loved and not neglect the rest of my family and friends. It's almost as if overnight every part of selfishness within me evaporated and I'm now in a spiral of comparing myself to everyone else and trying to make sure that every Tom, Dick and Harry is happy before me. That even includes you, yes you, reading this at home, I feel an immense pressure to keep up this blog after three long years and make it the best documentation of my life and loves for you to read and for Sophie to perhaps one day look back on. 
When I first found out that I was pregnant, alongside the worries of the pregnancy being viable and the baby being healthy, my biggest fear was that I would suffer from post natal depression. I'll lay my cards on the table here and say that my mental health has never been great. I'm what's known as a reactive depressant which essentially means that I cannot cope with things in the way that most people do, small things that most would brush off can pull me under for days and traumatic events haunt me for years. It's nothing that I can control and there's nothing that can really be done about it other than the correct therapy as and when something substantial does happen and I really begin to struggle with everyday life. It doesn't mean that I'm depressed constantly or even consistently and I know that James had his own battle with getting his head around my mental state and struggles to this day to rationalise it in his head. Him changing our plans last minute can ruin my entire day and will often feel like the end of the world at the time, liken me to our child, the smallest thing can have the biggest impact and I can literally feel helpless purely because we didn't set off for a shopping trip early enough. What's possibly worse for James is that when it's happening, I can be fine, but once we get out on the road and I've had time to whirl around my head the repercussions of us being an hour behind schedule I can easily slip into a foul mood and feel as though my entire day or week is a complete disaster. I don't wear my mental health like a badge of honour and I keep quiet during the many twitter debates about varying mental health issues because that's just not my style personally, I can be a fairly private person and to be it's not a label, it's something I've genuinely had since the age of 8 and will probably have all of my life, but it does not define me. 
I never told anyone this and I'm not certain that I even told James but my Midwife said that I experienced pre-natal depression. Much like it's post-natal sister but quite obviously it happens before the baby is born. It's hard to distinguish between raging hormones and deeper routed demons but I suppose the crux of it came to the fact that simple niggles lead me to genuinely believe that Sophie and James would be better off without me and that once she was born I should leave him with her and disappear. A feeling that I still get now she's here although I couldn't bear to be parted with her. If she ever does read this know that I have always loved you more than anything but I genuinely had times during my pregnancy of feeling like I'd make the worst decision of my life and that I should never have been allowed to conceive a baby, that I wasn't mentally mature enough to deal with all that came with being pregnant and a Mother. That I wasn't ready to give everything up, that I should have got married first as now it meant I couldn't have the wedding I wanted, that we should have bought our first home beforehand so that we didn't have to worry about saving for a deposit and paying for a baby. The list of "should haves' were endless and I often felt like I was drowning in a whirlpool of things I should have done before conceiving a child. It was never that I wanted rid of Sophie, I just sometimes wished I could pause my pregnancy and have her, exactly her, a little bit later. 
This all obviously made me even more convinced that she'd be born and I'd struggle to bond with her and suffer from post-natal depression. The first time I saw her I felt absolute love but also worried in the back of my mind "Am I sure I really love her?", "Is this love that I'm feeling?" "Do I love her enough to not have PND?". Luckily I managed to brush those queries aside and trusted myself that yes I did love her, really, truly and unconditionally and from that moment on I've never questioned my absolute adoration for my baby daughter. Without a shadow of a doubt she has completed me and enriched my life in a way I never thought possible. Even now as I'm writing this she's gazing up at me with her Daddy's eyes (whilst pooping) and my gosh, she's perfection personified. She is love. Because of my feelings towards her I felt as though I'd "escaped" PND, my daughter is my world therefore I'm safe of Post-Natal Depression, right? Wrong. 
James and I had quite a frank few days recently, he basically gets three days off in a row and they started with me admitting to him that I felt as though we were on the verge of splitting up because I just didn't feel as though I was making him happy any more. He did the obvious of telling me I was being silly, that he loved me more than anything and that he'd never leave me but come the end of the three days we were sat on the sofa and I admitted that my feelings hadn't changed. That isn't to say I wanted us to split up, I don't, I love him so much. I struggled to comprehend how I would love anyone more than I love him once Sophie was born because my heart felt so full already, and it still does. It baffles me that I have room for the both of them as I love them both so much individually. But I just feel so, different. I feel quashed and somehow like less of myself. I feel like a mother, a milk-pumping, bum-wiping, baby-cuddling Mother. I used to earn my own money and spend my own money, I used to put my foot down and demand I got my own way on big decisions. I was assertive, bordering on spoilt and made sure that my opinion was always listened to and considered. Despite my demons inside, I've always been my own person however now it's like I'm an extension of my daughter and nothing else. I feel as though James see's me at the Mother of his child, not his Fiancee, that everyone see's me as Sophie's Mum, not their friend, daughter, sister or colleague. In some ways that's also how I now see myself. 
Obviously we are yet to get married, the other day I was sat in the car thinking how I'd really like us to set a date over this summer and get at least the venue and church confirmed. But I didn't feel confident enough to say that to James because I knew he'd be adverse to do so and wants to completely put the wedding planning off until next year at the earliest. Before Sophie was born I was dragging him around Open Days and Wedding Fairs, now I daren't even buy a Bridal magazine in case he thinks I'm pressuring him. I find being selfish impossible now, I can't justify paying to get my hair cut even though it desperately needs a trim, and I have the money spare. My Grandma's given me a few pennies here and there to spend on myself but I've put it straight into Sophie's bank account without giving it a second thought. I will kit Sophie out head-to-toe in Next and John Lewis but begrudge buying myself new clothes from Primark or eBay even though my existing wardrobe is no longer fit for purpose. I don't feel as though I deserve anything anymore. I don't deserve to say I really don't like the house James wants us to buy, I don't have a right to spend money on treating myself and getting my hair done. 
Take today as an example (I'm writing this in advance FYI). The house is clean and tidy, a load of washing has been done, Sophie has been fed, winded and changed all day and is perfectly happy, the dog has been entertained and I've sorted out my blogging game. I've even managed to freeze some surplus breast milk. I really want to go to the gym once James gets home, but for all that I have achieved today, I haven't sorted anything for dinner and so in my mind right now, how dare I ask him to solely take care of Sophie whilst I swan off to the gym for two hours when I haven't even sorted him dinner? I won't ask him if I can go, I've got my outfit ready on the bed but unless he questions why I won't even bring it up. It may sound like I'm making him out to be an unapproachable monster but he really isn't, he would probably let me go without batting an eyelid and have a yummy dinner prepared for the both of us upon my return and be happy to do so. But I don't feel as though I have any right to ask that of him when he's been at work all day and I've not even produced a decent tea for him. 
My Mum wanted to come over today, and it took everything in me to say no. It's the first time I've said no to anyone since Sophie was born over 5 weeks ago. I think she's probably furious with me and I feel awful, especially as I'm going to see my Grandma tomorrow. But I don't want company today and I desperately needed a day to get sh*t done so I plucked up the courage to say No, she couldn't come over. If I'm being truthful I didn't even say no, I said I wasn't sure and I'd text her to let her know today but have just failed to grow a pair and say it wouldn't be happening. 
I've made no secret of the fact that I don't want to go back to work part-time, but historically my work don't let you go back on anything less than the full time hours I was employed on and working from home isn't an option either. They haven't actually said this to me, it's just what I've been told and I daren't query it myself for fear of being told no and p*ssing them off for even asking in the first place.  I desperately don't want to leave Sophie five full days a week, it genuinely breaks my heart thinking that I know I'll have to come next March, I've had actual panic attacks when forced to admit it to myself because I so badly want to be her primary carer whilst she's so small and achieving so many milestones. But will I have the guts to actually put my foot down with either work or James and demand that I only work a few days a week? You and I both know the answer to that without me having to type it. 
The crux of this post is to kind of highlight that no matter how much you adore your new baby, you can still be suffering from post-natal depression. It doesn't have to be angled towards your newborn, in this instance it's far more internal and if aimed at anyone, it's poor James. I simply feel as though I am just a Mum now, one with no grounds to want/wish/demand anything and not even a very good one at that...

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