It's Maternal Mental Health & Wellness Week and as Little Dot is all about mamas it's important we stick together and find ways of supporting and raising awareness of coping with mental health.
Hearing other people's stories of their experience with postnatal depression or anxiety can be a comfort for anyone going through it. Sometimes it feels a relief to know you are not alone. Today on the blog we have a story from my sister, who dealt with postnatal depression and the tragic loss of our dad.
We also have an interview with www.kickscount.com, Lisa Newhouse. Giving us her slice of advice on early motherhood and again, supporting the stance that it's okay to not be okay.
If you have found the stories we have shared in this week's Mamazine helpful then please leave a comment on the webpage or on social media. I'd love to know your thoughts and experiences and I'm sure other mamas would benefit from them too. Let's get the conversation flowing. It's good to talk!
Slice of Advice with Kicks Count Lisa Newhouse
Lisa, a mum of two, is getting further into her thirties than she’d like. By day she is the General Manager of leading UK baby movement awareness campaign Kicks Count and by night she falls asleep at 9pm. Her passions are raising her gorgeous four and six year-olds as best as she possibly can, trying super hard to save precious babies lives through her work, going on long walks in her home county of Sussex and eating lightly salted pop chips.
Say hello to: Loving yourself. It’s Maternal Mental Health Week this week and, coming straight from the mouth of someone who has always battled waves of depression and anxiety, it’s about time us MAMA’s gave ourselves a break. Be it that your demons are about post-child belly wobbles, our good friend 'mum guilt' or just about anything else - it’s important to remember that you’re a gorgeous goddess of a super-woman who is smashing parenting in their own special way.
Say goodbye to: Eating a snack without sharing! Why can my kids never hear me when I ask them to get their shoes on, but they can hear the rustle of my sweet and salty popcorn packet from a distance that would out-do most dogs? There is no shame in hiding in the bathroom with a mint choc chip ice cream but, even then, the chances of being rumbled are high.
Don’t Forget: When you have that moment of thinking you’re the worst mum in the world, there is another mum somewhere else experiencing or having experienced the same thing. The doctor who fixed my sons nursemaid elbow reminded me of this as I grappled with the guilt of having been the one to cause the injury – during innocent playtime tomfoolery I’ll add! I’m not the only person to have been in that situation, nor will I be the last.
Always remember: Going back to Maternal Mental Health Week, remember that it’s OK not to be OK. There are no two-ways about it, parenting can be incredibly hard. If you’re overwhelmed by it, proudly join the club of many feeling exactly the same. Talk to someone, be it your GP or best friend. Make that step to get the support you need to make things better.
When Motherhood Becomes Overwhelming
Here we share single mother Laura's difficult and traumatic start to motherhood.
"When I was pregnant with my son I couldn't have felt happier. In fact I don't remember ever feeling so happy in my adult life! Everyone was always asking me how I was and was so interested in my pregnancy, and to be honest I think there's a lot to be said for the massive oestrogen surge of pregnancy! I can honestly say I truly did bloom... May be too much in some ways!
"The birth was rather traumatic, but then what birth isn't? I ended up with a c-section (which I have found has been a source of guilt and shame at times - it seemed I didn't earn my stripes even though it was literally terrifyied being cut open awake) Although the visits after birth from friends and family were lovely it quickly became overwhelming as I felt so unwell having haemorrhaged (iron on the floor) and had no sleep for such a long time (that's another story) so once my partner went back to work with a new promotion that saw him out all day six to six, I found myself having gone from being inundated with attention to the direct opposite... Quite alone...
"And it seemed that most times people did see me, they had got some advice or other to give. So I started to isolate myself even more to avoid it.
"The nights started drawing in. The days got shorter. The dark got longer. Sleep was still a massive issue for me. A lot of times I would put it down to my son, Sonny, and some of it was, but a lot of it was my mind keeping me up. I was googling Sudden Infant Death Syndrome frequently in the middle of the night. Totally paranoid that my son wasn't safe.
"My relationship was suffering. The house was mayhem. My mind was mayhem. My dad was suffering with mental illness too. He couldn't sleep. Neither could I. In some ways it bonded us. In others it made me mad at him. I live with the guilt of that now. I struggled to be sympathetic even though (and I suppose probably because) my mind was as fractured as his.
"I told my health visitor. I felt like she understood. I felt like I could talk to her. She prescribed me antidepressants.
"Once they kicked in I started to cope. I wasn't crying everyday. It helped to a degree, but soon I just felt flat. I wasn't upset, but I wasn't happy. The health visitor that I was able to speak to after left shortly after prescribing my mess. I never felt like anyone else understood. I just felt like this was what they expected from me. It didn't surprise them. When I had said that I had been told that I had post natal depression I was greeted with; "This is just the way it is after you've had a baby. Loads of mums feel like this". I had post natal depression and it was worse than that because nobody even believed me! So it's all well and good saying talk, but you find people don't want to hear it. Who can blame them. It gets boring. You even bore yourself in the end, so eventually you stop talking. You start living your own secret life. Finding your own ways of coping.
"If people haven't had depression then they just don't understand. I don't blame them. There are things that I haven't been through that I can't empathise with. When things that should make you happy don't.
"My dad stopped talking too, and even though I was in the same boat in many ways, I'd stopped listening as well as everyone else. It was hard to hear. You just want people to get better. You know people just want you to get better. They don't want to hear it, so you shut up and you pretend. You find a way to cope or you find away to leave. I found a way to cope and my dad found a way to leave this life, but I had my son to live for. I don't blame him for taking his. He felt like he didn't want to burden us.
"It didn't stop once I got the medication. It went on and on. My partner and I split up. Single parenthood has been tough, but it's more shit that no one wants to hear. I think support groups are a great way forward. Where I live is not a great place for that sort of thing. I would have liked to talk to people with the same shit as me. Or would we have just wanted to talk and not listen? Stuck in our own self absorbing illnesses. Who knows?
"I'm better now, in case you were wondering. So what's your story?"
Little Dot Company Supports Kicks Count
Friday 28 April saw the launch of the ‘Sidekick for Life’ long sleeve tee for mamas in waiting or new mamas. This cool summer top twins with its little partner in crime, the ‘Mummy’s Sidekick’ baby grow. Both items have been designed for Kicks Count.
£3 from every long sleeve tee and £2 from every baby grow to Kicks Count and continue to donate £5 from the MAMAHOOD hoodies.
Kicks Count has been the Little Dot selected charity since the beginning of 2017, after meeting the charity at the London Olympia Baby Show.
The work that Kicks Count does is invaluable! Pregnancy can be a scary time, and having the support and guidance there to give parents peace of mind is so important.
The Sidekick for Life top is a relaxed floaty fit and perfect for covering baby bumps and little lumps beyond pregnancy.
To launch the new twinning tops, Kicks Count and Little Dot did a Facebook giveaway. Julia Lodge from Skipton was the winner.