At first I was trying to survive and get by.
When she slept I spent all my time making sure the house was well presented in case people judged me.
You know the comments you worry about;
-She's not coping.
-Something is wrong with her.
-I bet she's depressed.
-She's a bad mum.
-She could have made an effort.
-Poor kid doesn't stand a chance.
The only time I made an effort with myself was when the health visitor came or when I saw my GP.
I did the house work and made sure everything was ready for her when she woke up. I couldn't sit down. I looked for things to do to keep me busy. I became obsessed with cleaning. Anything to keep my mind busy.
I went to see my counsellor and I broke down. I cried the whole session. I said that I couldn't do it anymore. I was tired.
I felt like a bad mother.
I asked her why does everyone else find it easy?
She said to me nobody finds it easy. They may seem like they are in the perfect mum bubble. But the reality is there isn't one. Admitting you are struggling is okay.
She said I needed to try and find time to relax. Have a cup of tea or sit with a book when she slept. She told me that I will have a break down if I didn't do something about it. I needed to look after myself, not just her.
I tried this and it was very hard. It took me months to actually take the time for myself. It wasn't until she was two that I started going out on my own.
If my husband wasn't home I'd put her in her bouncer in the bathroom while I had a bath. That was a start.
I would sit and have a cup of tea and read a magazine while she napped.
I realised if I didn't take the time to relax or switch off I would actually have a break down. She was right. I was so low and physically exhausted. Exhausted of crying about being exhausted. I needed to do this not only for myself but for her.
It took me a year and a half to realise and accept that I needed some self care of my own.
This is what I found worked for me;
- Have a bath with baby in their bouncer if you struggle with someone having them.
- Read a couple of pages of a book before bed so your mind goes elsewhere before you sleep.
- Write a diary or blog or even a poem and have a cup of tea. Get your worries off your mind and on to paper.
- I tried one of those colouring books that was fun.
- I love to draw. I tried it for a bit when I had the time. My mind went elsewhere and it helped with the anxiety.
- I looked forward to seeing my counsellor. I'd go see her to get everything off my chest. After each session I'd feel like a weight was lifted, at least for that week.
- Go for a walk. Put baby in their pram and breathe in some fresh air.
- Get some sleep. No matter what I did I couldn't sleep during the day. So I used to put on a box set when my husband was back and I'd watch it for an hour in bed.
- Painting my nails helped. I felt I looked like a different person after having my daughter. I found it hard to accept at first.
The little things helped.
I took my daughter to a baby music class when she was 11 months old. I met a friend there who I would now call my closest friend. Someone to text and say 'help, did your baby do this?' Someone to have a cuppa and chat with. An adult conversation for half an hour while they bop to the music with the class teacher. It is amazing.
I tried pilates and zumba, it nearly killed me but it was fun for an hour on a weekend.
I went to gym once a week. That's all I could fit in as I had no one to have her. But it was great to get out for an hour and have a cheeky Costa. Something I looked forward to.
I struggled leaving her even if it was with my mum or mother in law, so I made a list. I said to them it's for my peace of mind and asked them to picture message or txt updates so I wasn't sat thinking, has she been fed? Has she had a nap?
It really did help.