Imposter Syndrome

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People talk about having imposter syndrome in their businesses but sometimes, I feel I have this in my personal home life.

I adore being a mother of two healthy happy children, a wife to a kind man, living in a wonderful village and town in Norfolk with beautiful friends.  

However, I am not just a wife, mother, nurse maid, cleaner, cook, organiser of children’s activities, diplomat etc.  I used to be just me.  Not someone who has to justify everything I do.

I used to be an adventurous, thrill seeking, lone traveller, social butterfly who had a great job in Financial PR, who went on the most amazing holidays and world travels, volunteered with aids orphans in Africa and Elephants in Sri Lanka.  I went around Cuba on my own, at times wondering what the hell I had done!  I travelled through the Amazon, swimming with Pink Dolphins and Caiman, eating roasted Piranha for supper after catching them, whilst they tried to bite my shins in a boat.  I camped out in a cow shed in -2 degrees in the Pantanal, for fun!

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Recently my partner asked me to text him to let him know I was ok.  I thought, well, you know, I’ve walked through the streets of Havana alone at 3am so I think I should be safe in Norfolk. 

We are expected to take on a role in life when children come along, but I find myself battling to be me, just once in a while.  Every now and again.  Don’t hold me down or try to control.  Let me out of here… 

International Babywearing Week 2018

October is when we wonder at leaves turning yellow and red,

Picking the rose hips for syrup and putting ladybirds to bed.

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But it’s also a time for International Babywearing Week,

When Consultants and Educators come out to speak,

Of what Babywearing has done for them and their loved ones,

And so I shall add my thoughts without hopeful comeuppance!

Babywearing helped me to walk my daughter in the snow,

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It got me out to the park to socialise, recover and grow,

Babywearing also helped our bonding after a difficult birth time,

Then was absolutely crucial when my son refused to be put down!

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Babywearing helped with postpartum depression,

Helping my son to communicate with me when I didn’t necessarily want some.

It helped to settle and sooth him, to continue with 4th trimester ‘clinging’,

And also with reflux and colick when nothing else was working!

Babywearing helped my son’s head in fixing the flatness

From only lying on one side and one side breastfeeding madness.

It helped my husband Neil bond with our fractious new boy,

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It has been great for visiting vast castles and walking through sand dunes,

For Halloween treks with other nosey babies and joining in with tunes.

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Babywearing has brought me a business, a reason to help others,

Its helped bring gorgeous new friends and a wider community,

Full of love and of kindness and of wanting to raise awareness and unity.

Babywearing plays an important role in attachment in my family and in a society

Where we must try and turnaround the levels of depression, self harm and anxiety.

But hopefully it has introduced those who may be reading

To try for yourself the evolutionary normal behaviour that is babywearing.

Coming out the other side of PND

I’m writing from a plane on the way to our first child free short break in the sun since Genevieve came along six years ago.

We’re on our anniversary trip, a secret treat that I’ve managed to keep from my husband Neil.  

To be frank, we post so many lovely posts of sunshine and beach days, crabbing and den building with the children.  Water fights and holiday bliss but, we really need this break!  The past year has been completely and utterly rubbish for us as a couple.  And it’s so important that we spend some quality time together, although my hubby may disagree.

Life with children is so very hard.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to the moon and back many times over.  But summer holidays after the year we’ve had, are absolutely shattering!  There is just no let up.  I do not know how single parents do it!  Work and childcare?  

Why is it hard?  Well, I came out of a pretty serious depressive stage in about April, sorry, was coming out.  Then we suddenly decided to have major building work, which has taken over four months of living out of our garden room. And this after a number of relatives were seriously ill too and the impact that had on my husband as well a looming redundancy. 

I am feeling like a totally different person to the one that blogged in October/November of 2017 and I have lots of people to thank for that.  Not least of all Neil, who put up with a lot.

Depression has lifted and we have got through an extremely difficult time, but we have to be honest with ourselves.  Be thankful for every moment we have with our loved ones, children and close friends.  

Life is really not all a bed of roses but with help and good support, it gets better.  Talk to people around you when you are suffering.  People do want to help.  Talk to doctors and community connectors.  Talk to anyone who will listen and be kind to yourself.  Give yourself a break every day.  Go out for a walk.  Treat yourself to a spa.  Write down your daily achievements, no matter how small.  Just getting out of bed some days may be hard.  You are doing a bloody great job!  5AE2F555-43BE-400C-AF7E-0E4E19EF37C9.jpeg

Help! My baby has Reflux and Colic!

Before Albert was born I kind of thought that second time around breastfeeding a baby would be easy, or at least easier than the first!  This time around there was no need for nipple shields to coax him on, no need for all day and all night pumping for topping up and I didn’t have to heat up bottles of formula last thing at night to get him to sleep either.man-person-cute-young.jpg

However, Albert just cried and cried, poor little mite.  He just seemed in pain all he time.  I couldn’t work out what was going on.  He fed continually night and day, hourly until about the age of 6 months.  He refused to feed from my right boob as well, meaning that it became so painful and I had to self pump the milk continually.   So, I managed to becoming a pro at the Rugby hold under my right armpit, just to tempt him.

I remember we went away on holiday and stayed in a lovely place near Cromer.  But Albert just cried and cried and cried and I carried on trying to feed and feed and feed, particularly in the evening. Evening after evening.  We got no rest that holiday, it was absolutely exhausting.  Everyone kept on saying that it was a phase, but this phase just never stopped.  I really really empathise with anyone going through this with their baby. It is the most difficult thing to cope with because whatever you do, your baby just cries and cries and is sick and cries and cries some more.   As a mother, you just want to make your baby happy and you just don’t seem able to. You feel completely useless and helpless.

We tried everything, Gaviscon, Colif, Infracol, Prune Juice, Gripe Water. Gaviscon in particular was useless and made him totally constipated, which in turn led to other problems and more crying.

We also were advised to raise the head end of his cot up by about 30 or 40 degrees and to hold him upright after feeds as much as possible.  Albert didn’t like lying down in a buggy or pram one little bit, bless him.  He just wanted to be on me and carried all the time.   This is when I started to use an old Kari-Me sling and really couldn’t do without it from a reflux point of view.  I had to learn how to use it just to keep my sanity.  It was a godsend.

Then someone I dance with told me that her sister’s child had really bad reflux and colic and she said that although it sounded a bit hippyish, I should try giving Slippery Elm Bark Powder a go.   It was to be made in a hot drink form with a little sugar, which apparently was used with infirm people or people who had very poorly tummies.   I believe that it was used centuries ago in America.  Anyway, after much laughter from friends and family, I tried it and suddenly, our house was calm again.  I drank a lot of it!  It was kind of like a thick Horlicks drink, which I really got a taste for!  I drank it night and day.  I don’t know if it was this or his age, but we never looked back!    It was supposed to chunk all your food together enabling it to pass through the gut more easily as well as a lining the tummy.

A doctor friend at the time told me to go to my doctor and to ask for Losec, which they didn’t really like giving out because of cost.  I was about to try this and then I found Slipper Elm Bark.

It is really so hard having a baby with reflux or colic but please do not give up.  It will get better but if you don’t want to try my remedy, then pester your doctor for the proper remedy to make your baby better and don’t give up.

Perinatal Depression and Self Harm: A Carrying Consultant’s Story

This is the post excerpt.

Most days I just feel like curling up and going back to bed for two weeks or admitting myself into a mental hospital for some rest bite.  I am so so tired all the time.  I have so little patience at the moment, unlike my normal patience of a saint.

My partner tells me to share more with him, but I explain that I am so used to putting a massive smile on my face and carrying on, just as our Great British resolve has taught me to do.  So, it comes out when I’m least expecting it and normally during an exchange with my little toddlers or husband…tears, tantrums and throwing toys and and that’s just me and my partner!

I have suffered from severe depression on and off since 2005 but probably actually since I was 15 when I began pulling my hair out (trichotilamania) during my GCSEs. I had a massive breakdown in 2005 whilst teaching mostly year 7s and 8s Science at Middle school and was deemed unfit to teach for seven months following this.  I have never managed to go back into the classroom, even after years of CBT and psychotherapy.  Then having antenatal depression with my first child five years ago, It came again before and fairly severely post, having my second little one, my little boy.  He could really have suffered.

I have started this blog so many times. Not knowing where to start and then thinking it all sounds rubbish and self indulgent. But I think it may help others if I share these thoughts, albeit painful.

Most days, I struggle to turn over when my babies wake me in the morning, somewhere between 5 and 7am every morning. I love them so much that my heart aches just thinking of them. Everything in my life pails into insignificance when I think of my children. But, I am on the cusp of something. I may turn myself over to the mental health team, after 5 years of struggling with perinatal depression. I find myself now at the point when I am self harming so badly and although I adore my babies, the most precious thing in my life, last night I lost it. I started throwing implements around the dining room like a crazed person, shouting at my babies and telling them I had had enough. This has never happened before. My little son who is three in three months and my daughter who is five at Christmas, in just a months time. They were sobbing their hearts out as mama was giving up last night. Everything I do I do it for my babies…

I fell into running a sling library About as I was helping a friend to set up a community group interested in slings. There were about 8 of us interested in helping this cause.  Then one by one, everyone else fell by the wayside and I was the only person left. I was only supposed to be stepping in when my friend was taken unwell with PND. I had already warned that my own PND was affecting my usefulness.

When I found out that we had been given a grant in October 2015, we were waiting to hear if my father in law was going to be kept in hospital (with dementia and liver cancer) after attacking my elderly manic depressive mother in law.  I had a decision as to whether to start it up on my own, or to refuse the funding that we had worked so hard to get! I decided to give it a go alone.

Two years on, and I’m a trained Child Carrying Consultant Contact and a member of the gorgeously inclusive International Babywearing community.

So this morning I have had a visit from two very nice male psychiatric nurses who were going to assess my state of mind and whether I am ok to be at home I think! I was terrified before they arrived for fear of what they were going to say. The plan is for me to change medication and to get some more counselling and marital help with Relate, through their website as they’re supposed to be brilliant! They weren’t so very scary but we’re here to help make a decent plan!

Now, Its a week on and my husband has given me a whole week’s rest from my normal duties, so I’m definitely feeling more rested and less likely to break something or myself.  I also am really thankful that he has let me catch up on sleep.  But as my medication is in the process of being changed, it feels a bit scary and I feel a bit manic, to be honest.  Neil certainly would say that I’m behaving somewhat manic.  If I forget to take my anti anxiety pills, he really can’t copy with my mania, or ‘doing twenty things at once’ and ‘flitting’ from idea to idea.   He just can’t cope with me at the moment.  I am just hoping that when the meds sort themselves out, my normal behaviour is resumed, for everyone’s sake.  Even my faithful friends think I am completely loopy!  Is it manic or is it really who I am?

On the up side, my four year old daughter has got Star of the Week, presumably because she has been throwing herself into her school studies during this period of stormy waters.

I pull my eyelashes and eyebrows out, how strange is that?   It is a form of self-harm and I covered the topic as part of my thesis at uni.  I am so ashamed of this behaviour but, because it has been going on for 30 years, it really is pretty ingrained now and so, very difficult to stop.  It is far more common than you realise though and having come across the occasional semi-permanent makeup artist over the years, something that the majority of people try to hide, so we really don’t know how widespread the behaviour actually is.

I also have thought about ending my life, albeit briefly.   During my most darkest moments, I may contemplate driving the car into the middle of the road or into a wall.  I have also thought about jumping into the sea more recently on holiday.  And then I see all those who have so little or who have no family and no home or who are suffering from a disease and think, how can I think like this? What is the matter with  me.  But, my husband knows, “It’s the disease” he whispers perpetually patiently.

So, I tried babywearing with my daughter almost five years ago.  It was snowing very heavily in the winter of 2012 and we lived right next to a lovely park so I found an old sling that a friend had leant me and although it was a bit broken, I tried it on and we went off for our first walk babywearing style!

When my son came along a couple of years after that after a complicated recovery from my first, I looked out a Kari Me stretchy wrap that I have purchased for carrying my daughter, but that had just been put away in the cupboard under the stairs as I didn’t know how to use it.  So I went along to our local sling library and that is where my baby wearing journey began really and then I bought a Hana wrap when it started warming up and my confidence started growing.  stretchy wrap 

Now carrying my son was the single best thing I ever did!  Even when my post natal depression with him was fairly severe, I wore him everywhere so that I was able to listen  and look out for his cues.  Our communication was and continues to be excellent and Albert is now a very social and thriving two and a half year who still loves to be carried.