27/11/2018

We shouldn't be afraid to say when we are struggling

I've always been guilty of bottling up my feelings, preferring to just slap on a smile and keep going until things improved/blew over; rather than tackling the problem head-on and talking about what's bothering me.


It's something that, since becoming a mum, I have only become worse at.

I don't like asking for help, I would rather struggle through on my own. The bad days are few and far between now, so I know that once Peyton's asleep and in bed (usually with me not far behind!) a new day will soon be upon us, and everything will be harmonious and happy again.

A couple of weeks ago, Peyton had a horrible chest infection. She started with a little cough, that I thought nothing of, but each day it was getting worse and worse. It was sounding really chesty and her breathing wasn't right, either. I took her to the doctors on the Monday and she was given antibiotics (which were a nightmare to give her!). On the whole, while she was poorly, she was still her usual happy, smiley, cheeky self.


That is, until the Thursday of that week, when it was like she had been swapped overnight. She was such hard work that day.

I was already starting to feel a bit frazzled. We hadn't been out all week as I didn't want her chest infection/cold getting even worse. Barely a day goes by where we don't go outside, even if it's just for a walk around the block, so it was a shock to the system being housebound. Neither of us liked it.

All day, on the Thursday, she was unsettled. She just didn't know what she wanted, bless her. She cried when I held her, she cried when I put her down. She cried when she was sat up, she cried when she was lying down. She cried when she had a toy, she cried when I took it away. She also refused sleep all day. She was shattered - rubbing her eyes, big yawns and the lot - but she point blank refused to sleep. She would seem fine, happy and content until she realised she couldn't fit both her feet in her mouth at the same time and then the biggest meltdown you've seen would commence.




It was horrible. I'd been on my own with her all day and I was a woman on the edge. Normally that doesn't bother me, I love our days just me and her. But days like this one I could really do with Tom there to tag team with. When it came to giving her her tea, she was beyond any bringing back. She just screamed, put her hands all in it, rubbed her eyes because she was tired, then cried more. I mean, I would too hun - I can't imagine pureed broccoli and peas being smeared in your eyes was all too nice!

I was at the end of my tether and, when I trapped my finger in the high chair clip, I lost it. I burst into tears and picked up a cushion from the lounge and screamed into it. I think it's the first time I've ever done that. It made me feel a bit better, but I felt completely and utterly overwhelmed. When Tom text to say he was on his way home I felt marginally better, I knew it would be over soon and I could go have a bath and some peace and quiet.
So, when he rang me just over an hour later to say he was stuck in traffic and would still be about 45 minutes I lost it. I couldn't cope any longer, so bedtime it was. For us both.

As soon as Peyton starts getting ready for her bath she calms down and whatever was wrong with her is cured. We had a nice, peaceful bath time followed by a cuddle, a book, her feed and, surprise surprise, she was straight to sleep. As I put her in her bed, I burst into tears. She looked so angelic, peaceful and happy.

I could hear her raspy, rattly breathing and her lips were in a pout. And suddenly I felt so guilty.

So guilty for wishing her to go to sleep, guilty for getting so upset, and guilty for feeling like, at times that day, that I couldn't cope. I sat on the bed sobbing (silently, I didn't want to risk waking her!) and posted on my Instagram story the above image. I mentioned how I'd had an absolutely dreadful day and, literally within minutes, was inundated with messages.



I did feel a little bit like that person on Facebook who posts the really emotional, cryptic status and everyone comments "ohhh, you ok hun?" I didn't post them for the attention - in fact, I'd rather not have admitted to anyone that I was having an absolutely shite day - but to show people that not everything is rosy all the time. Social media can be so deceptive, only showing the positives, but I want to be realistic.

As it turned out, everyone who messaged me said their child had been exactly the same that day. So, I came to the conclusion that babies/children are like pets and their moods are affected by the moon.

I still locked myself in the bathroom and cried. Tom was home by this point and if he saw me as upset as I was he would have started the "do you need to talk to someone?" chat again, and that just winds me up even more. At that moment in time, I probably should have talked to him about it. But, honestly, I was so beside myself that I don't think I'd have made much sense. I knew I was just exhausted - mentally, physically and emotionally. I went straight to bed and knew, the next morning, everything would be fine.



We were going to see my best friend and her little girl the next day - going on a nice long walk; our favourite activity! I was so looking forward to it because, not only were we finally getting out of the house, I knew I'd be able to talk to her about my dreadful day.

I can tell Tom when I've had a bad day and, while he listens and makes a real conscious effort to help out more when he knows I feel overwhelmed, he doesn't understand the same. We've always been able to be open with each other, and we've never been ones to really argue. However, since Peyton has been born, we have bickered and argued more than we ever, ever have before! It's mental. Nothing ever lasts, though, and we soon laugh about whatever was bugging us. We are bound by our love for Peyton which sometimes is so strong we bump heads on the most insignificant, unimportant, tiny details. 

Back to my point... I know when I talk to Soph about stuff that I am 'struggling' with that she gets exactly what I mean. She doesn't think I'm crazy, or losing the plot, or a bad mum. She understands when you wish for the day to be over and it be bedtime, only to then want to wake them up and cuddle them and apologise for being exasperated.

After a good seven mile walk, and a pit-stop for a McDonald's en route, I felt like nothing had ever happened. I moaned to Soph, I told her how I'd had the day from hell and Peyton just seemed to cry non-stop all day, and explained how I felt like, for a snap second, I couldn't cope. She knew, straight away, that it was just a one-off and told me I could cope absolutely fine and was doing a great job. As did I, when we got to McDonald's and Peyton was back to being her playful, happy self sitting on the table, trying to drink my drink and trying to play with everything within reach.



My point is, talking about how I felt made me feel so much better. Coupled with the fact, of course, that she was back to her normal self straight away. I think if it had lasted beyond that one day I would have lost the plot. We're so lucky that those days are few and far between. I definitely don't think I would cope if she was fussy like that everyday. 

But, if she was, I would have to swallow my pride and ask for help. My mum is amazing, whenever she has a day off she always sees what we're doing and, if we're free, she comes round or we go out somewhere. Whenever she knows Tom is working late, or if Peyton's not been well or I don't feel great, she offers to come round and help. She always lends a hand without me even needing to ask. Sometimes, though, I should ask.



I'm so lucky to have Soph - I've always said this, but it's particularly true now. Having someone so close to you who has a baby almost the exact same age is invaluable; not just for all the good times, but the bad days, too. No matter how stupid you may think something you are thinking is, you can almost always guarantee the other has thought it, too. We swap mum guilt stories, we reassure each other and we know the other is always there. We talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. I honestly wouldn't be without her.

Having an amazing support network is vital. As much as I love my own space (and when I say my own space, I mean completely taken over by Peyton), and I don't like to talk about how I feel or ask for help, I do crave social interaction some days. It's strange how some days I can be happy to just be me and Peyton, going out of my way to avoid social interaction because I've not showered for a couple of days, brushed my hair for a few more, and have a spot the size of Wales erupting on my chin. Yet, other days, I get so tired of talking to myself and just want to go out somewhere for lunch, shopping or just a walk.

There's no rhyme or reason to it. 


I really, really feel for people who have post-natal depression. It was one of my greatest worries before Peyton was born, that I would be hit with it. On the bad days I do question whether I have aspects of it. I always tell myself that, if I still feel that way the following morning I will ring the doctors or my health visitor. I'm a firm believer in not doing rash things on bad days. If things still seem bad the next day, then act on it. And, of course, after a good(ish, because, let's be realistic, I have a five month old baby) sleep everything that seemed overwhelming the day before seems so insignificant.

Before I get chance to dwell on the trauma of the day before, Peyton's usually done something funny, learnt something new or just flashed me her incredibly cheeky smile and I just feel so full of love and pride I feel I could burst.

I didn't think my hormones could be much more wild than when I was pregnant but, jee-wiz, post-natal hormone are something else entirely!

No matter how bad it may seem some days, it'll all soon pass. Talking is the best medicine; along with a good cry, a nice hot bath and a decent sized bar of chocolate and/or glass of wine.


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