Saturday, 23 November 2013

Black Dog On My Shoulder

I've been feeling this way for quite some time: lacking energy and drive; regretting not putting more effort into friendships, new and old, but not able to do anything about it; crying; non-existent libido (why does that feel like the hardest one to admit?); angry; generally not enjoying maternity leave anything like as much as last time. I talked to Father Badger about it a few times, but we agreed that it must be down to the pitiful amount of sleep I was getting - Badger Cub has always woken multiple times a night, and at eight months I could count on my fingers the times I'd had a block of four hours sleep. The FBI would probably stop short of this level of sleep deprivation.

Then three weeks ago a switch flipped and Badger Cub started sleeping. Not reliably all night, but most nights (with a few notable exceptions) he has slept eight or nine hours with one waking, and a couple of times with none. The problem is that I didn't start feeling any better. In fact I probably felt worse as I had the mental capacity to start thinking about the emotions.

I met up with a friend and her six month old baby for lunch and coffee. We chatted about many things, mostly baby related, and then she told me about her postnatal depression and how the antidepressants and counselling were helping her. I didn't realise it, but she had obviously spotted something she could identify with in the way I was talking. By the end of the afternoon I had opened up to her, shed a few tears and agreed that I probably ought to find some help rather than continue to try and deal with it myself.

I know there is no shame in depression. When my friend opened up my immediate thought was her strength in telling me. I still struggled to accept it as my situation though - I've always been the strong one, thick skinned, bulletproof. I must remind myself that I don't have to be strong; that my children deserve to have the whole of me.

It took another week for me to gather courage to talk to Father Badger and use the label - postnatal depression - so difficult. He agreed, was amazingly supportive and the following day I went to my GP. To be honest it's been a bit of an anticlimax. I told the GP that I wasn't comfortable with taking antidepressants and she referred me to Talking Space, the Oxfordshire NHS mental health service. I've been booked onto an initial telephone assessment next Friday - TEN DAYS after calling them. The average wait time for the first talking therapy session is four weeks. That takes me to the start of January, just one week before I return to work, full time.

It took a lot for me to go to my GP. A lot. I laid myself bare. I feel as though the NHS has calmly nodded, confirmed that I'm not about to top myself or put my children in danger, then cast me to the bottom of the pile.

I would rant, but I've run out of words and energy.

Image courtesy of Felixco, Inc /

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The one where I whinge a bit

I'm having one of those days. It peaked when I found the cat peeing on the door mat. There's nothing quite like clearing up still-warm cat pee while a baby shouts at you from behind the stairgate (left there because he'll want to "help").

Father Badger took both children on the usual Saturday morning walk with his mum, sister and their dogs. In theory that means I can get an extra hour sleep, but realistically by the time I've helped get them ready I am far too awake to go back to bed, however tired I am. (And I am tired.) He took Baby Badger off to a birthday party at noon, then off to Oxford for some shopping. I had strange irrational dreams of Badger Cub having a nap for a couple of hours while I got stuff done. Nothing urgent or even important, but just stuff. Instead I've been feeding (expected), playing bricks, stopping him eating DVDs and having my knees chewed all day. And no nap.

I know I should expect to be doing these things with a nine month old baby, but just once I'd like to be me again. I dream of having the house to myself for a whole day. No preschooler asking for help at the toilet. No baby sucking my jeans, crying because I've taken two paces towards the door. I feel really selfish for these thoughts, but I am slowly going insane.

Just in case you're interested, he's still awake. Other than a few ten minute naps, he's been awake since 6:30am (ELEVEN HOURS AGO). You're thinking that at least he'll sleep well tonight, but you'd be wrong - I predict at least four wakings. That's him in the photo, strapped to my back in the Ergo so that I can at least leave a room without carrying him in one arm. He's keeping himself entertained trying to pull my hair.


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Matilda Mae Welly Walk

Today was the Matilda Mae Welly Walk at Beale Park. Matilda Mae was lost to SIDS on 2nd February and her family have worked tirelessly ever since to raise money for The Lullaby Trust, the charity that works to prevent such loss and support families affected. The Welly Walk was a fundraising event and also a chance to remember Matilda Mae.

The day started with a fun musical warm up with chiffon scarves, maracas and dancing followed by a walk led by Jennie and family through the water gardens, decorated with pink and purple balloons. At the end we were all given little pots of bubbles to blow, and there were marvellous contraptions made from sticks and string for blowing giant bubbles. The air was full of bubbles - thousands of them, big and small! The rest of the day was spent on the mini train, watching meerkats, in the story telling tent... the entertainment was endless. It truly was a fabulous day, and we left with two very tired but happy children.

Although I have never met Jennie until today, and then only briefly, her loss has truly moved me. Matilda was lost on the day Badger Cub was born. I was sat on the bed in the delivery suite, just hours after giving birth, watching her outpouring of emotion on Twitter, having just found her precious baby girl silent and unmoving in the cot.

Since then she has shown such amazing strength, supporting her two elder children and family through their loss, and raising money and awareness for The Lullaby Trust. Take a look at her blog and if you also feel moved please consider donating via her fundraising page.

Jennie - thank you for today, for allowing us to share the day with you, to remember Matilda Mae, in our hearts even though we never met her. I hope the next few days are not too hard and that each day will become easier. You are amazing.
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