PARENT

A Happy Family Christmas: the realistic way - guest blog

A Happy Family Christmas: the realistic way – guest blog by Sam James 

 

 

Christmas time with babies and young children can be a magical time. It can also be a stressful time. Parenthood is an ongoing wrestle between ideal expectations versus the reality, and Christmas can be a stark reminder of this. That’s why I am going to share my 3 top tips to help you to create a realistically happy Christmas for you and your family.

 

I remember our son’s first Christmas and I had put so much pressure on myself to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas, fuelled by my perception of what all my new mummy friends were preparing and what the world of adverts, films and social media were telling me Christmas should be like.

 

The reality was nothing like it. The stress built like a pressure cooker, and it felt like everything that could go wrong did go wrong:

  • Our trip home from South Wales to Norfolk, was delayed by several days due to heavy snowfall (I normally love snow, but not in 2010!)
  • My husband and I ended up with food poisoning
  • My grandmothers water pipe burst in her garage
  • My parents washing machine broke
  • We argued with our families. I remember hiding in my room, messaging friends, wishing I was in my own home.
  • Our son was poorly on Christmas Day and I spent a considerable amount of my day on the phone to 111.
  • I lost my voice on Boxing day and woke up with conjunctivitis.

 

I vividly remember feeling so disappointed, upset and exhausted. At the time this was all I could focus on. That Christmas was a failure.

 

Yet, if I were to share photos of our son’s first Christmas it won’t show any of that. It will show him with his stocking, opening presents with his cousins, having his first Christmas lunch, families laughing and playing together.

 

In reality, 8 years on, I am able to recognise that despite all of the drama that surrounded Christmas 2010, there were many moments to treasure. With hindsight I wish I had taken the pressure off myself and my family to have a ‘perfect’ time, that I had lowered my expectations and embraced the time together warts and all.

 

It is so easy to get swept along with what we think everyone else is doing, and feeling like we should be keeping up with everyone else. So, how can you try and make Christmas work for you without the stress?

Create a Realsitic Happy Christmas.

  • Create your own family traditions

Don’t force yourself to do things that ‘everyone else’ always seems to be doing, if it doesn’t fit for you. Everyone’s situations are totally different – what works for your friend or your sibling’s family might lead to huge financial strain for you, or a really uncomfortable family situation.

 

  • Focus on the time together.

What do you want Christmas to feel like for you and your family? People remember the feelings they are left with far longer than the things that they are left with. As humans we are wired to seek out connections with each other, and being with other people and sharing positive experiences far out ways material objects, in terms of long-term happiness. There is a post on social media, written by a teacher for parents as a reminder of just this – that when they go back to school when asked about Christmas, the children share stories of staying in their pj’s for the day, playing games, watching films, going for walks. If they mention presents it tends to be the last thing they talk about.

 

  • Soften your expectations.

It is going to sound pessimistic, but I now accept that there are going to be moments when I want to scream at everyone, that someone will may end up ill, that there will be some very random present choices and some things won’t go to plan. By accepting these things in advance, I won’t feel like Christmas is ruined if it happens. So, be honest with yourself, and where can you lower the bar of expectation this Christmas?

 

 

If you’d love more tips for reducing the Christmas stress you can find my 8 top tips here https://samjamescoaching.co.uk/tinsel-tantrums/

 

Enjoy your Christmas in whatever way you choose. I can’t wait for snuggles on the sofa in pj’s with my tribe!

Save my top tips below to your phone !

 

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co-sleeping baby

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Co- sleeping

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Co- sleeping

 

Don’t let baby sleep in your bed.

Put them down awake.

Get rid of the dummy.

Put socks on him.

Dream feed them.

Have you tried a banana before bed?

Order a white noise machine, Gro clock and black out blinds.

Type in ‘how to get a baby to sleep through the night’,  and you will be met with so much conflicting and sometimes very odd advice.

Elijah our first child was always a pretty good sleeper, from around six weeks he slept 7-7 and after about a year he did so in his own room. Other than the odd early wake up, or a bout of illness and even getting rid of the dummy we have always had it pretty good with him.

We co slept for a while, it just happened naturally, if he woke up early he would come in with us and we would sleep until a reasonable hour.

I remember being told that this was the worst possibly thing to do, we would ‘create a rod for our own backs’, he wouldn’t never sleep in his own room and wouldn’t be able to settle himself etc.

I liked him being close to me, it meant I could keep an eye on him, and as he got bigger I liked when he snuck in our bed.

co-sleeping baby

Bed hopping

I do vaguely remember there was a time where the three of us would bed hop, between his room, our room and the sofa but do you know what, we still slept.

I got told by someone that if it isn’t a problem for you, then there is no problem and I hand on my heart believe this. We all slept and no it wasn’t the most convenient thing in the world but it kind of worked.

Then came his brother who didn’t quite follow in his brothers footsteps, so much so even now at sixteen months still doesn’t sleep very well.

We thought we had learnt a lot from having Elijah, and we were quite open to co sleeping again if it meant that we all slept but we were not prepared when it came to our little sleep thief.

I even in a sleep deprived  state ordered a Ewan the Sheep in hope it would work, it did not.

Take last night, he went to bed in his room, woke up but settled again around five times but as we were approaching the wee hours he came in with us and slept until 7am, and allowed his brother a lay in until 7.30am!

The need for sleep

Some may have an issue about co sleeping and it obviously can be very dangerous in certain situations and I am not necessarily an advocate for it, I am however very much for getting sleep.

I don’t have any worries that by co sleeping that I will have one of them in the bed until they are teenagers.

I think in the first couple of years you are in survival mode and you do what you can to get the illustrious bout of sleep that you think about  all day long.

There will be a time where they wont be waking up. Clambering into your bed, kicking you for hours through the night or my personal favourite using your head as a pillow.

It is and when your child doesn’t sleep, and you really do get quite desperate trying everything and anything.

It can be even harder when you know others their age who do sleep, and it can feel as though you are the one doing something wrong.

Once you have had a baby you are in such a rush for them to sleep through the night as we believe that this is an indication of their ability in a way.

Truth be told, I don’t think much helps, they will sleep when and where they want to. A little further down the road something will click and you will be waking up with a toddler heavy breathing in your face demanding that it is time for breakfast and C Beebies.

Baby photographer Norfolk

Three or four in a bed

Strangely, you will begin to miss those times where you woke up with no duvet and neck ache, snuggled up with someone whose nappy is feeling and smelling way too full.

Or when you, your partner, your child and every single one of their teddies has to come in and you find yourself balanced on the edge of the bed not daring to move in case you fall out!

Let go of the pressure, the guilt if you are reading this after a semi successful night where your baby/toddler/ pre-schooler/ cat and you did share a bed then don’t sweat it.

Once again, if it isn’t a problem for you, it isn’t a problem, try not to compare yourselves.

Different things work for different people, and that’s okay, however if one of them does still sleep with us when he is in his twenties then I may come back to revisit this!

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog, founded and runs The NICU Parent Partnership Organisation and co-hosts @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club.. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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bottle feeding


Guest blog - cake smash with Jess Wilkins Photography, Norfolk Photographer

Guest blog – cake smash with Jess Wilkins Photography, Norfolk Photographer

By Muffin and Puffin & Mollie! 

 

cake smash Norfolk

When Jess asked about collaborating for a photoshoot cake-smash I was delighted.  It was the perfect timing to mark a milestone birthday, Mollie turning 2 and also gave me an opportunity to bring some local businesses together to celebrate one another, support one another and share some hopefully wonderful content.

Knowing Jess as I do, I wasn’t worried or nervous in the slightest, she has a very calming nature and I knew that Mollie, while I couldn’t guarantee pose perfection, wouldn’t feel anything other than calm and happy in her studio.

We pulled up with cake and outfits and went straight into her perfect little studio. White, calm, beautiful, natural props and a tiny delicate rail of beautiful baby clothes (how I wish we had come to Jess when Mollie was a few days old!) A little slice of studio heaven.

Mollie was instantly drawn to the props, in particular the wooden birthday cake (how apt!) and from there it was a breeze. She happily got into her matching Christmas Pjs with me (a small request for an image from myself) and before we had a chance to give any sort of direction she had pulled the chair into the middle of the set and started posing. She does not take after me at all(!)

Baby Photographer Norfolk

A quick outfit change later into a piece made specially by the very talented Little Dottie Designs and she was back into pose mode… gleefully knocking over the TWO props and delicately eating all the sprinkles from the cake.

Jess gave no direction; the whole experience was led by Mollie with me guiding her for a few of the shots. We stopped when she stopped, and Jess shot when she was happily eating her Little Cake Company cake (topped beautifully by the topper from the talented Vellamaes) and we also took some fun time-lapse videos from #bts.

In under an hour it felt that it came to a natural end as there had been no incidents, meltdowns or tears… Mollie truly enjoyed the experience as did I. I have threatened to come back weekly for Jess’ calming influence over my little whirlwind of a toddler.

I cannot recommend Jess enough, she’s a mama herself and she just ‘gets it’ she was efficient without being bossy, she was calm without being airy and it felt more like a playdate than a studio shoot.

There’s not much point waxing lyrical about the final shots – I think they speak for themselves.

Jess can we come back for every birthday?

Sophie x

baby photographer Norfolk
baby photographer Norfolk
baby photographer Norfolk


The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Relationships

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Relationships

 

 

One thing I do not think you are fully prepared for after having a bay is how much the dynamic of your relationship changes with your partner.

Whilst you are pregnant you often live in a honeymoon bubble, excitedly imagining what your new life as parents is going to be like.

Then after the physical act of labour you are normally engulfed in the new born bubble of bliss.

Give or take a couple of weeks suddenly you are both running on empty, mum smells like cheese and you watch as a slightly too eager dad leaves to return back to work.

Sleep deprivation is indescribable, and nor how you have to find your new balance as a family. Going from two of you, to three, to four and the stress of finding your groove and getting a balance back can take months.

Resentment

The one thing that surprised me most about how our relationship changed were those undercurrents of resentment.

I resented him for getting to leave, for going out and being an adult, and for making me feel guilty if I asked him to help in the night because he had to get up for work and I was ‘just’ looking after the baby.

Knowing what I know now, it is normal to feel like this.

I guess you could say after having a baby in NICU and then open heart surgery we had it tougher than most, we got through it and looking back I never realised how hard it was for him too.

For me I was struggling and I was consumed with depression but he not only went through this with his child too, but he watched his partner fall down somewhere that he was unsure of she was going to get back out of.

Then he watched as post-natal depression overwhelmed me after the birth of our second child, he was more involved than most and I never appreciated that at the time.

Tiredness

We bicker, we argue who is more tired, who does more and who the children like the best but the one thing we try to remember is that what ever ‘phase’ is stressing us out the most another illness, early wake ups, no money, it won’t be forever.

There is of course the physical side chances are after having a baby and not sleeping for eight weeks straight you aren’t going to feel that frisky.

For me the change isn’t the physical aspect never really bothered me, it was when we stopped communicating or being honest with one another that really affected me.

It was holding in what was bothering us causing it to fester under the surface.

For a while how the two pregnancies changed my body I was self-conscious that he no longer ‘fancied’ me as such but I think your relationship after having a baby goes to a new level where it isn’t just about superficiality anymore.

We try and talk to each other, validate one another and acknowledge how the other one is feeling but after ten years together and two children our relationship has changed vastly.

Little things

There are subtle things like when he makes me a coffee when I’m working or when we wait to watch a program until we are together that tend to mean more to us now.

We used to go out multiple nights of the week and would spend whole weekends hungover on the sofa but now, we are normally getting up at the time we used to come home with the kids!

Having two children under five is hard, and it is testing.

You are bone shatteringly tired, you’ve got barely any money and you’ve just put the toys away for the hundredth time that morning.

You snap, you whinge but you know when it comes down to it, sitting down in front of the Great British Bake Off praying that no one wakes up to interrupt you is where you want to be.

I want to remember this times as this is what made us stronger as a couple and a few years down the line you will look back and feel such a sense of pride you did it together.

It can be hard to see it from their point of view and their will be blow outs of spectacular proportion normally caused by no sleep and over something small but getting through these first early years together do change you as a couple.

Dynamic

I think it can be easy to think that when you are pregnant you will both stay the same and the baby slots in, but I think it is really you two adapting around the baby.

You cant just nip out for a date night now, you will think twice about going on an all nighter and guess what C Beebies and a toddler whilst suffering from a hangover doth not make a fun Sunday.

Everything changes, who does what, when, you as people change too and there is one way is a mourning period of the couple you used to be and the lives you used to have before the baby.

I don’t think we have a magic formula, we argue like most, we are tired, but one thing we always remember and what I would say to any new parents is to accept the changes they are inevitable but they don’t define you and just laugh.

Even when you are in those trenches fighting a losing battle of getting up a hundred times in one night, and start arguing about who hasn’t fed the cat again, just laugh it won’t last forever but you two will if you stick together.

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog, founded and runs The NICU Parent Partnership Organisation and co-hosts @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club.. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on…. Birth

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on…. Birth

 

 

I recently met someone who I knew, last time I saw her she was heavily pregnant, and now she was pushing a little bundle around.

I went to congratulate her, and then it was though I couldn’t help myself, I then asked her if the birth was good, turns out she had a rotten time and I felt awful and intrusive for even asking.

Having both of my boys, I have suffered two birth traumas and used to hate when people asked me if it was natural, painful or my favourite ‘good’.

I had found myself using the exact phrase I used to abide, why is it as a nation we are so interested in birth stories, and always want to know exactly how someone gave birth before you’ve even asked the baby’s name?

Wellbeing

It’s odd we are normally so focused on the baby, we tend to forget the wellbeing of the mum, as she is just expected to put everything to one side now she is responsible for the small human she just birthed.

Birth has changed so much over time, dad’s are now active birth partners, there are new practices and methods.

I think I must have just been really oblivious when I was pregnant with my eldest about giving birth, we went to ante natal classes but seeing a doll being pushed through a pelvis doesn’t really have the same effect as actually giving birth does it?

One Born Every Minute terrified me so I had to stop watching it, towards the end of my pregnancy I was felt very under prepared. I felt for a first time mum I was not really educated when it came to giving birth. Yes, all births are different and it might have been my own fault for relaying only on the ante natal classes, but I really didn’t have a clue.

Spoiler alert; it is not like it is in the films.

With both of my births, I was sick and had an awful stomach during contractions which meant for two labours I spent most of my time on the toilet. I actually stayed on the toilet with both of them until I was ready to push!

Hospital vs Home

Elijah was born in hospital after 8 hours and a fairly textbook labour but I suffered a significant haemorrhage and the aftermath of being stitched up traumatised me. I developed and infection and needed a blood transfusion. I didn’t have a clue what was being done or why.

I spent so much of my time re living the birth over and over which when I fell pregnant the second time, it made me fear giving birth again.

There was a turning point and that was attending a hypnobirthing course with Jackie at The Orange Grove Clinic. I learnt so much about my attitude towards birth, my language and for the first time in seven months I felt positive and empowered to give birth the way I wanted.

That’s the thing with giving birth again you are suddenly more aware, you know what could and couldn’t happen and you are more prepared.

Let down

Which makes me think perhaps we are letting down some first time mums if they like me were solely relying on the local ante natal classes, or perhaps as a society it is our view as birth as a whole?

Out attitude, our language, our pressure to live up to an unrealistic image of birth and when we don’t achieve it we feel as though we have failed.

Turns out my second son had other ideas, and after sitting down to watch Die Hard 2, I ended up giving birth less than fifty minutes later in the bath!

My two experiences were polar opposites when I did eventually get to hospital with Harlow, I was met on the Midwife Led Birthing Unit, and they were so mindful of my past experience and supported and understood me.

Empowered

It made me think it really does make a difference when there is someone there to empower you, I wish I had that the first time round. Or perhaps someone had just taken the time to talk to me, to explain what was going on, being done then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so unaware of things.

There is an attitude shift towards birth at the moment, and we are beginning to look at our attitude, our language it is no longer your dirty little secret if you have a ‘bad’ birth or trauma, there is a focus on you, and your wellbeing after birth.

Birth Better

There is a fabulous network called the Birth Better Network who are doing just that, and revolutionising the way birth has affected us, and how we can make significant changes for the future. The Huffington Post which has hundreds of thousands of readers every day is also currently doing a fantastic series called the Birth Diaries to show how diverse birth can be.

I think we still have a long way to go regarding educating ourselves about birth, and we still need to shift our attitude and let the new mum take the lead to talk about her experience is she wants to but the important thing is not to put pressure or high expectations on birth and to give everyone the tools they need to have the birth they want. Or if things don’t go to plan it is explained to them every step of the way.

Make Birth Better Network

Huffington Post Birth Diaries

The Orange Grove Clinic

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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bottle feeding

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on…. Baby Classes

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on…. Baby Classes

 

So, it seems that once you’ve got the baby out of you then you have to then suddenly fill your calendar with sensory classes, baby massage and bounce and rhyme classes.

During my pregnancy with my eldest I can’t really remember on finding local baby classes, or planning to attend them. It was more than likely the fact others were doing it and me feeling like I should too!

I was quite fortunate to live a few minutes from a local children’s centre where they held most of the baby classes ion my town.

Even looking back now I remember baby classes with conflicting emotions.

Elijah had colic so someone had suggested baby massage and I did put our names down to see if it would help.

By this point we had endured a NICU stay, and were waiting for a surgery date. I began to decline mentally and certainly remember feeling panicky about attending the class.

Luckily my friend also attended with me, but I still feeling some afraid that people would pick out me as the NICU Mum, and I didn’t want their pity. I was going through a really bad time of accepting what we had been through, and also what we would have to go through and meeting other mums with their healthy babies was hard.

I briefly mentioned it to the teacher in case there was any sort of medical restriction and I saw the pity in her eyes.

I did what I do best, and deflected it, providing some distraction was also Elijah who had projectile vomited all over one of those brightly coloured matts.

As much as baby classes are great for getting you out of the house, for meeting other mums I think there is also a slightly darker side to them, well that’s my experience anyway.

I found I was always comparing myself to others, and my baby too, who was bigger, was was sleeping better, who was doing what.

There is also a fear of judgement when I whipped my Tommee Tippee out of the changing bag, I felt like I was failing.

This is likely just a representation of my mental state at the time, and I am even now, very socially awkward.

I did find it quite hard to go into a room full of parents I didn’t know and to me felt as though I was being put on trial.

I tended to feel comfortable with certain mum friends and would prefer just a house play date rather than sitting in a circle singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Over the first 18 months with Elijah we attended them sporadically, but I just don’t think we found the right fit for us. We also had a lot going on with NICU surgery, recovery etc they were just not on my top list of priorities.

I think there is a stigma surrounding baby classes too, I know of some wonderful ladies whom I have met who run their own classes and I am sure they would have certainly been better suited to us.

There are some great baby classes now on offer that are now offering something different from the norm that also help the parents out too (links below).

Greg always felt the odd one out as he tended to be the only dad and I just didn’t feel comfortable enough to keep going back.

I haven’t actually taken Harlow to a baby class and I do beat myself up he is missing out but truth is with two kids, and a trillion schedules to manage we just don’t have time. He is quite happy to play with Elijah and friends.

It has sadden me that many Children’s Centres are closing and this is where many baby classes are held, and despite me not using them much I know how important they are to others and having the access of them.

It is funny how we as parents put so much pressure on ourselves to sensor the hell out of our little ones believing it is what we should be doing at a detriment to ourselves.

I worry about this un necessary pressure on vulnerable new mums, and wish I could go back and tell that panicked mum it was all okay and it doesn’t matter because you are just doing your best.

Happy mum/dad, happy baby whether you go to baby class or not.

Yoga Babies

Baby Fit

Waterbabies

Beebops

Get Me Out the Four Walls

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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If you love Vicki honest blog please read her other blogs here.

 

 


motherhood

Be a self-care goddess this winter - GUEST BLOG

Be a self-care goddess this winter - Guest blog from Sophie aka Muffin and Puffin 

As the season draws in; showcasing autumnal hues, big knitwear, pumpkins, quality street on the shelves and the Harry Potter movies every Saturday night - it seems that hunkering down and enjoying life indoors is here for the foreseeable. Truly, it’s my favourite season but also a season where I find I sit on a delicate balance of the blues and the joys. So, I thought I would write myself a list of things to ensure I look after my self and those around me to keep it on the side of joy as much as possible.

Plan

Ever look in the shops at this time of year and wonder who is going to all these Christmas parties and where are those Christmas parties that warrant so many sequins and dresses? Well I’m not being invited to them, so I’ll make my own plans. Christmas outings, mince pies and hot chocolates with friends, woodland walks (forest bathing is IN this season) baking, movie and duvet days. I always find having small things to look forward to improves my mood greatly.

Listen

I’ve really started to enjoy podcasts… loud music makes me happy, nothing can beat insomnia-faithless while cleaning the bathroom (how rock n roll) but I’ve actually discovered some wonderful podcasts that lift my mood. Right now, I’m listening to ‘Couples Therapy’ with Casey and Candice Neistat and Dolly Alderton’s ‘Love Stories’ also an oldie but a goodie for comedy is the ‘Adam and Joe show’ for BBC6 music. Go forth and listen!

Treat

Winter can be a season of excess and with that comes guilt but eat the naughty stuff just in moderation! For me it’s not just mince pies but online shopping. There’s no greater thrill than a package in the post!

Cook

I love being in the kitchen, but a sleepless toddler makes those meals from scratch hard to make in the evening… so instead I’m planning on making chutney and sugars and various baking items and involving her in the process. Time in the kitchen in therapeutic for me… the process of selecting ingredients, chopping and then enjoying the final result… me time and a delicious meal or treat at the end.

Hobby

I am a total one for trying new things, but I’ll admit I don’t always see them through. I desperately want to be able to crochet… I bought all the gear and worked for 6 hours trying to crochet a basic square. I gave up…. So, this year I’m working on my photography and trying to read as much as I can… hobbies don’t have to be all about craft!

 

Alone

This is becoming more apparent that it is something I don’t just need but is a necessity. I am an all-round better person if I have managed to have a few hours in the week where it is just me and my head space. Now go away, it’s Netflix time.

Screens

I have been told this is a good idea… I am yet to set the rules as my job is social media and that relies on phones and screens, but I need to set boundaries with my phone and create some ‘no phone zones’! So, I’ll be making a conscious effort this winter to unplug from technology and be fully present.

Move

I won’t lie I fall in and out of love with exercise daily, I’ve never regretted a work out, but I struggle with the motivation to get there. So, I’m going to embrace the movement I do enjoy – walking. I love being outside on a cold crisp day and so does my little one. Exercise and valuable time together… the perfect combination of self-care.

So that’s my list, there’s plenty more I’m sure and if you have any other suggestions then let me know!

 

Sophie

 

Sophie Lynn

Owner @ Muffin&Puffin

‘A mini marketing company’

07738533889

www.muffinandpuffin.com -> please note website not currently live

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bottle feeding

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… PND Guest blog

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… PND

 

Those three little letters, changed my life in a way I never thought they could.

They held so much power over me, they changed me, I turned on myself and my family because of those three little letters.

I had suffered with my mental health after Elijah was in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), but after my second son was born, Post-Natal Depression (PND) consumed me.

The signs

Looking back in those first few weeks after Harlow was born I knew more about how my mental health could take a battering after having a baby than I did first time round.

It all seems to be a blur now, establishing feeding, sleep deprivation, recovery and watching my eldest struggle with the transition and my partner feeling the brunt of it all.

I cannot remember when it started, it didn’t really build up as such.

It most certainly was not just a bad case of the ‘baby blues’ it was so much more.

I remember finding a leaflet about PND in my Bounty folder and how it spoke about it didn’t reflect how I was feeling, it didn’t talk about the reality of what it was really like to have PND.

The anger

When you think of PND you probably think of a mum unable to cope, crying and one that isn’t able to love her child.

That isn’t a correct portrayal of PND, the information in things such as ante natal classes is severely lacking.

I wasn’t just weepy, I was emotionally volatile, the smallest thing would set me of.

I remember feeling so out of control,  the rage would build in me and literally explode.

Never have I been so scared of myself.

It was as though I had my baby, came home lived in the newborn bubble for a few days and boom there it was, PND knocking at my door.

Auto Pilot

I vividly remember a time where Elijah was at his Nan’s and Greg was at work. I was on my own with the baby binge watching Netflix and living in that feed, sleep and repeat cycle. As I got ready to feed him again one afternoon I looked down and I remember feeling numb. There was no rush of love, no happiness, there was nothing.

It was as though I was on auto pilot, I was doing everything that was expected of me, but without at real emotion attached to it.

I don’t think I truly bonded with Harlow until he was perhaps nearly a year old, and of course I beat myself up about it every single day.

Help

Because I was so unaware of what was happening when I was ill with Elijah, I let it fester, too ashamed to get help. To understand that what I was feeling was actually ‘normal’ per se and that my baby wouldn’t be taken away from me. It took my first year with Elijah away from me and I knew I couldn’t let it happen again.

At my 6 week check I told my GP how I was feeling, and she instantly diagnosed PND, there they were those three little letters.

The ones that defined me for what seemed like months, the ones who took over even with medication, therapy and my usual outlet of blogging.

It took me so long to claw myself out of depression, it resulted in me moving in with my Nan so she could help with the children.

Break Down

Greg stood by me the whole time, always the pillar that held our family up. He never judged me when I broke down and said I was miserable, that maybe we shouldn’t have had another baby, that I was a rubbish mum and wanted to leave.

Day after day I told him they were better off without me, I was a failure.

The sense of failure I felt for those months was draining, it affected every part of my being, my life and I couldn’t even recognize who I was anymore.

Advice

I have often wondered about what I would tell someone to do if they think they have PND, or what they can do. One thing I pride myself on is honesty. It has at times be hard to be so honest when I write down and recall how I felt when I suffered from PND, it was pure hell.

But, here is my advice (based on my own experiences, this is not a one size fits all miracle cure)

  1. Always talk, no matter how bad you feel, how dark your thoughts are, if you feel you cannot vocalize them to someone you trust, write them down. Sometimes hearing the words, or seeing them on the page helps you rationalise them, process them. You must always be open and honest no matter how hard that it. When we begin to hide it, suffer in silence, it festers.
  2. Never fear judgement from anyone. Many mums and dads have PND it is nothing to ever be ashamed of and it doesn’t reflect your parenting ability in the slightest.
  3. Find something you enjoy, a bath, a book, write a blog, go for a walk whatever makes you feel as though you are you again, make it a priority. If you can try and get out for a walk now and again (GMOT4W can help locally in Norfolk with this!)
  4. This is the hard one, but seek help. From a GP, midwife, charity (I have listed some below) they can help you, advise you and they are not there to judge you.
  5. Take one day at a time, small steps, they will turn into bigger steps, and you will find there will be a time where there are more good days than bad. It can be hard to believe it when you are in the trenches but one day you feel like you again.
  6. Someone is likely to have gone through what you have, felt how you have felt at some point, it really is okay to be honest you are never alone.

PANDAS

GMOT4W

Mind

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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motherhood

5 things I have learnt as a parent business - guest blog

5 things I have learnt as a parent business

I went on maternity, I got made redundant, I found a wonderful part time job but then my little one got poorly, and I found myself chucking it all in to give myself some breathing space because it got far too overwhelming … and @muffinandpuffinmarketing just sort of ‘happened’

It’s wonderful being able to flex my time and it’s awful trying to keep my spirits afloat as projects and clients chop and change and I’m never entirely sure what the following month will bring.

It has been a fruitful and eye opening nine months and I thought I would share some of the things I have learnt

motherhood

  1. Money makes the world go around, but kinship makes it kinder. Don’t always consider money as payment, sometimes collaboration with fellow businesses can get you just as far. Organising a photoshoot with a group of you who can all bring something to the table and then share that content. If you have a friend who is good at writing – ask them for content and bake them a cake. It doesn’t ever hurt to ask and more often than not you’ll lift one another up. Not drag each other

 

  1. Look at what you are doing, the energy you can waste in comparison can stop you going forward. We all know that social media shows only a certain truth, the best part of ourselves so celebrate it and know that there is always a #bts (behind the scenes)

 

 

  1. Always be inspired – remember who you are and create your own CPD – when I worked ‘before’ (as I like to call it) I had regular training and development goal settings with my team and directors. As a freelancer or mum worker it’s easy to get tied up in the cogs of admin, work, child, repeat … take time to be who you were and who you are and always improve. Go to a gallery if you are a creative, go for a walk if you are of the outdoors, see an exhibition, travel if you can, subscribe to a journal, be part of a Facebook group – there are endless opportunities. Don’t stop developing who you are because your business will only bloom as you continue too.

 

  1. It can be lonely working from home, don’t mistake me – I love working in PJs on the sofa, but I was someone who thrived in an office of like-minded and similar aged people. While I like my own headspace more than ever before, it’s important I touch base with people…. In Norwich we have an amazing mama movement on Instagram and I regularly have laughs and chats over DMs…it’s the closest thing and when we meet in ‘real’ life more often than not we become friends.

 

 

  1. I do not have a head for numbers, so it was important to me to be organised, have a great online bookkeeping system and engage with a local accountant. She has put my mind at ease and allowed me to make sure I am completely transparent as my little business grows its legs! I can’t imagine having to do a tax return after a year of ignoring your admin, so take a few hours every month. It will be worth it when HMRC letters pop through your door!

Sophie Lynn

Owner @ Muffin&Puffin

‘A mini marketing company’

07738533889

www.muffinandpuffin.com -> please note website not currently live

Instagram – @muffinandpuffinmarketing

Facebook – Muffin&Puffin


bottle feeding

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Bottle Feeding - Guest Blog

The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… Bottle Feeding

 

Okay, here goes.

I bottle fed both of my children.

Now, I am likely to come under fire for saying this, which to me is simply a fact.

Many will say that I didn’t give them the best start to life, that I am advocating bottle feeding or a trillion other arguments I didn’t even know existed before I became a parent.

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Many will say that I didn’t give them the best start to life, that I am advocating bottle feeding or a trillion other arguments I didn’t even know existed before I became a parent.

Isn’t it funny before you have children you just are not aware that how you decide to feed your children is an invitation for you to come under fire, you are put on display and have your parenting ability judged and dissected on this one choice which seems so minor in the great scheme of things.

When I was pregnant with Elijah, I just couldn’t shake of the feeling that I didn’t want to breast feed. I did what I did best, I researched. Strangely, to me it felt un natural.

I spoke to so many of my friends, my Nan who had bottle fed two children and read as many articles as I could.

The feeling was still there when I was nearing my due date and we went in with some ready made bottles in my hospital bag and we would see how I feel after I gave birth.

It seems though the decision was perhaps already made for us.

I was very ill, and Elijah was rushed away into the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit and wasn’t allowed to feed for three days.

When he was finally given the all clear to feed, it seemed so natural to us for Greg to take the lead with bottles while I was still physically recovering.

In NICU there was no pressure, no judgement and the nurses went with our lead. I asked if breastfeeding would help Elijah and they said that no matter how we fed our child, his heart wouldn’t suddenly be okay, it didn’t make a difference to us in that situation.

Midwives and Health Visitors continuously spoke to me about breastfeeding, or made comments when I said we were bottle feeding.

You are made to feel as though you have failed your child, and that is a personal failure as after all you are the one with the boobs which you aren’t using to feed your child with even more so when you have an ill child.

But, I look back and why? I fed my child, I got him as strong as he could be for open heart surgery.

I have fed two children, who have thrived, put weight on and are happy and healthy.

Still though we are put under this immense pressure that how we feed our child is a direct correlation to how good or bad we are as a parent.

Which is why I perhaps got a bee in my bonnet when I was pregnant with Harlow.

I knew this was likely our last pregnancy so planned to give breastfeeding ago promising myself if it began to affect me, our family I would swap to bottles and I would not feel guilty (or would at least try not too).

I breastfed Harlow for eight days before we changed to bottles. The dynamic just wasn’t working. Elijah was pushed out, Greg felt redundant and I was in a lot of pain.

I know women who have breastfeed for years, some who breastfed three children at a time and I am in awe of them but for us it just didn’t work and I am okay with that so why isn’t society?

bottle feeding

How you choose to feed your baby is a personal choice, as long as you have all the information you need, have access to advice and know what you are doing and you are your baby are happy and healthy then it really doesn’t matter.

I have seen women torn apart online for their choice, bombarded with the stats, facts and pushy campaigns.

But why?

Aren’t we all just trying our best?

No one is better than anyone because of the way they feed their child.

We are all equal.

Chances are the baby still wont sleep, throw a tantrum in Morrison’s but at least we can start to try and drop the stigma around bottle feeding, give parents support and advice on all choices and don’t regard one as superior over the other.

We must be careful and mindful of the language we use, especially for vulnerable pregnant and new mums, some may feel isolated and the feelings of failure can become destructive.

There are some great websites that provide all round information on feeding choices and personal experiences with no judgement which can be found here;

http://www.frankaboutfeeding.com/

https://norwich.mumbler.co.uk/parents/support-services/feeding/

https://norwich.mumbler.co.uk/breastfeeding-and-feeding-support-norwich-and-norfolk/

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

Facebook Instagram Twitter LinkedIn Blog

 

Read more of Vicki’s blog and let me know what other guest blog topics you’d like to see.