20 Months On …

It’s been a while since I did any I update on how Motherhood is treating me. I started this whole Instagram account and blog initially as a way to track my pregnancy and journey into motherhood however I’ve branched off into other areas since then. I figured that it would be nice to go back to the roots and give an update on ‘mama life’ and how I’m finding things now as Ellie approaches the big 2! (gulp, how the hell has this happened?!!)

I was looking back on a journal that I had from this time last year (I’ve always kept a journal of some sort, even if it’s just a little organizer that I have places to write notes when I feel I need to get things off my chest) . I find writing therapeutic and I always use it as an outlet when I’m not feeling quite ‘right’.

So back to the journal I was reading, it brought me right back to the depths of postnatal depression which didn’t actually set in until Ellie was about 4-5 months. In the journal I was writing about how helpless I felt and how out of control of everything seemed, and that trying to juggle going back to work with what I had going on personally was giving me excessive anxiety. I didn’t think that I would ever be right again.

To be honest it was hard reading the entries. I was very open last year about my struggles with postnatal depression and I think everything came to a head when I returned to work. I was in a really bad place and going back so soon (Ellie had just gone 6 months – which I know many women don’t even get the luxury to take that long, but it was too soon for me and for what I had going on personally ) . It was the straw that broke the camels back.

I plastered a smile on my face for weeks upon weeks until I found myself sat in my GP’s office bawling and unable to get the words out about how depressed I was . I remember being handed The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to fill out again (I had filled it out on discharge from the hospital ,as do many women, which I personally feel gives inaccuracies as you are often on a high leaving hospital with your new baby). I could see the doctor tally up the score and when she replied with the result I wanted the ground to swallow me. I felt embarrassed and that I wasn’t a good mother and that there was something hugely wrong with me.

Why couldn’t I cop on?! I had a healthy baby, a roof over my head, a job to provide for Ellie and an amazing family and partner . I had spent weeks and weeks pushing all my struggles aside when I went back to work. The ward I was placed on dealt with the worst of the worst outcomes and I had to cop on! I brought work home with me every evening, I couldn’t speak when I got in the door and I would run upstairs for a shower first thing so I could cry in peace. It came between me and my sleep. I was plagued with guilt. I felt like a the worst mother ever; my gorgeous healthy baby was asleep and safe in her cot when I knew I had just left a women I cared for that day who had lost her baby. Although the nature of the work always reminded me how lucky and blessed I was- it was a constant battle in my head and mental torture . I was depressed but couldn’t allow myself to acknowledge those feelings as there was always someone worse off . I was so incapable and ridiculous (yes, I wrote reams and reams of self hate that I just needed to cop the F&@k on!) . It wasn’t until a Chaplin in work had to take me into an empty room one day to calm me down in the midst of a waterfall of tears coming out of my eyes to tell me “it’s not your loss” and I couldn’t keep shrugging off my own struggles and be in constant comparison with other peoples strife. I needed to acknowledge my own and not keep sweeping it under the carpet.

Everything was a struggle, getting myself up, washed and dressed was a struggle. Hearing Ellie wake up and coo in her cot was the only thing that got me out of that bed. I never ever felt anything negative towards Ellie at all throughout this, she was the only thing that I felt gave me a purpose to fight what was going on in my head.

Thankfully I have moved on from that dark time and I and am far happier in myself. A big factor to this was moving ward in work and I feel like I’m getting back into the swing of midwifery and enjoying it again.

To move forward from the journal I read it’s nice to see how far I’ve come since last year and that things I had found difficult are now second nature to me now.

So I thought I’d do a quick little round up of ‘Mammy victories’ that I felt would be impossible last time last year. If there’s anyone reading this in the mind frame that I was in, I hope this gives you light that things do get better and this too shall pass. So to round up, here’s all the positive changes:

  • I have found a work life balance that suits me. I have loads of time with Ellie and I’m far happier now with where I am working. I can park work there and leave it there before I come home.
  • I have a natural flow to the day. Last year I used to get so stressed about having a routine and I used to get so caught up and anxious if things weren’t done by a certain time. Now I just go with the flow as does Ellie and it works for us both.
  • I enjoy meeting friends and getting out to socialize. Last year I dreaded making plans . Having a child gives you guilt you never knew existed and I used to feel awful if I left her. I also didn’t want to be in company due to how I was feeling (although ironically I used to write about lonely I felt – it’s an odd one alright but motherhood brings an unusual loneliness that you can’t really describe). Meeting up with friends who didn’t have kids made me feel like “what’s the point?” . They wouldn’t ‘get’ me and I wouldn’t ‘get’ them anymore . This was all totally untrue of course, but in my head I just felt I was best off to stay alone with Ellie and not make plans as no one would want to hear me.
  • I enjoy the gym again. Although I trained throughout my whole pregnancy and really enjoyed it, I hated the gym after I had Ellie. I made myself go purely as I knew it was something I could do to try and lift my mood, but I felt I had lost my love for the gym and keeping active. It was more of a chore than anything else, but I am happily back to myself and really enjoy my workouts.
  • I have a fire in my belly again to achieve personal goals. I felt like I had lost my identity to an extent when I became a mother. I lost all drive to set and achieve goals that I would have bulldozed my way to achieve pre- baby. I am back to creating vision boards and making to do lists and actually ticking things off and not just talking about them
  • My relationship with Ben is getting stronger . I don’t care what anyone says, having a baby puts a strain on a relationship and I think anyone who disagrees is either lying or is just in denial. It is such an adjustment for both sides and you have a new responsibility as both a partner and a parent. I found myself and Ben got caught up in the parent aspect of things and forgot we were partners. Ellie was always put first (as she rightly was and still is!) but we both had forgot to check in with one another. I obviously had my own postnatal depression going on and I couldn’t understand why Ben didn’t ‘get it’ somedays. Although he would try to be sympathetic and talk I now realize he actually went through his own sort of depression for a few months as well that I was blind to see (I don’t know if he fully realized this himself) . Parenthood is a huge adjustment and you put a tiny humans needs before your own every single day without question. Although we absolutely adore her,and each-other, we had forgotten to take the time and actually sit down to ask one another “are you ok?” and “do you need to talk”. Nowadays we try and air out any issues or concerns daily. It’s no magic trick of course, we are still like any other couple and have our disagreements, but we are back to seeing each other and both parents and partners , not just parents – don’t ever forgot why you fell in love with each other in the first place! (Love ya Ben!3
  • Finally, I’m at a place where I know I’m a good mother. I know Ellie loves me, and I know I’m doing a good job and I’m confident in my abilities as her Mammy. Yes I have my bad days (we all do!) but last year all I wrote about how much of a bad job I felt I was doing and that I was failing Ellie in some ways. I’m no Supermam but I’m her Mam and I know I’m doing my best (even when she’s having her toddler tantrums – Oh. Good. Jesus!)

It’s mad to think of the difference a year makes, and although I’ve cherished each and every month of motherhood, I am at a point now where I feel things are clicking. The constant doubting and questioning has stopped and I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring for us. So here’s to the next 20 months and I’ll try not leave it as long for the next Motherhood update!

Jess x .

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