Remembering the positive moments

 

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There’s nothing quite like patting yourself on the back when you e achieved something.
Well for me it’s the little moments,….
Travelling with the children semi-solo. In the middle of December when the girls had broken up from school we embarked on an impromptu adventure abroad. Hubby had some business to attend to so we combined a few days to make a little family holiday. Along with the usual Christmas build up my anxiety was at an all time high. This trip added extra stress as I knew I was to be sitting with the girls for the entire duration of the flight whilst my husband was in another part of the plane. They were really good, ate a little of the inflight meal, and watched copious amounts of TV and no arguments, generally good they even attempted to sleep on the overnight flight. That said we slept for about a couple of hours. Whilst my youngest is always smiley and happy my eldest is exactly like me if she hasn’t had enough food or sleep and that is like a grumpy bear. So we landed and the grumpy bear awoke. We had to endure a long wait on the plane before we disembarked to a bus to take us to the terminal. The grumpy bear got grumpier…my patience was at its thinnest as hubby had disembarked earlier and was nowhere to be seen. So I managed to get the 2 sleepy girls on the bus with our hand luggage and through passport control whilst maintaining that “daddy is on the other side just getting our bags”. Praying that he really was doing just that despite my anxiety trying to convince me that he was elsewhere in the airport waiting for me and we had missed each other.
I was pretty chuffed with myself that I had managed that stressful situation with calmness and confidence.

Christmas; always an anxious inducing time (see previous post). This year felt a little different. I knew I had managed to get everything on the children’s “Santa list” so was feeling confident about a smooth Christmas morning. It was lovely. I could relax and feel happy that everyone was enjoying their presents. I knew we were seeing family for lunch and felt no anxiousness about going, which is another first.
Even after we returned home and were sat together once the girls had gone to bed, I felt relief and stress free. I can honestly say that this was the first Christmas since becoming a mummy that I enjoyed the day.

Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) is traditionally in the UK a national holiday and when the shop sales are on. My husband works for the National Health Service and so we decided that so we could be together over new year he would work this week. Now the girls are older then it is slightly keep them occupied. We bedded down in the house getting cosy in our pyjamas and they could watch to and play with their Christmas gifts. It was such a sunny day that I decided to take them out for a walk. I had a couple of things planned such as taking some magnifine glasses so they could hunt for things in the wood and the eldest was enjoying taking nature photos with her new camera, I had plenty of picnic food too. We had a great walk, there were lots of families doing the same and instead of feeling sad and sorry for myself that we weren’t doing it together as a family I felt happy that I was feeling anxious free an actually enjoying the time with the girls. Knowing that they get a bit bored on the return to the car and having passed several people who barely gave eye contact then I challenged us all to say “merry Christmas” to everyone we passed. It certainly passed the time quickly and spread the Christmas cheer too.
Another first for me. Yay

So to all you mamas out there who are finding it hard like me then remember the little moments and pat yourselves on the back too.

Xx

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Random acts of kindness

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Last Friday was the end to a rather hectic week of school nativities, Santa’s grotto and the school cake sale. We were going straight from the school run in the afternoon to the girls end of term ballet show. I had forgotten that they might need some food so popped into the local garage to grab some sandwiches. Whilst waiting to get on the forecourt parking I was stuck behind an ambulance waiting to fill up with petrol. It was a neonatal special care ambulance. Seeing it reminded me how lucky we were to have used this form of transport to transfer our first daughter hours after her birth from hospital to Great Ormond Street Hospital. I decided there and then to pick up something extra so that I could give it to the drivers. To me they are the angels who looked after us with such care when we were going through such a traumatic time.

I told the girls about the special ambulance and they wanted to choose their special gift to the drivers.
So armed with the girls sandwiches and snacks stood in line I bought the biscuits and turned to the ambulance driver who was waiting in line to pay and said “these are for you” I pointed to my eldest stood clutching her snack and told him the she was transferred in an ambulance 7yrs ago so we are very grateful and wished him happy Christmas. He was surprised and I can’t deny I felt emotional and had a little feel good factor going on. I went on my way to bundle the girls back in the car so we could get to the show on time, I then saw the driver show his colleague and we waved. He then came over to the car and said to us that there wasn’t anyone in the ambulance at this time and would we want to come and have a look. The girls were excited, I was a little hesitant we went to the ambulance and the girls clambered in. As soon as I went in the emotion hit me. The drivers were explaining all the bits and buttons to the girls who were wide eyed. All I could see was the incubator that my baby had been in. I couldn’t stop the tears. The girls were confused “why are you crying mummy?” The drivers played it down saying they are happy tears because mummy is glad you’re better. 7yrs on, those moments make me catch my breath. I don’t think I will ever forget those first defining moments of becoming a mummy and experiencing something that I would never want any mother to experience; a baby in neonatal care.

I’m glad that I didn’t stop my emotions from doing our random act of kindness but perhaps that’s why I’ve had a strange feeling of “meh” this weekend which I haven’t been able to put my finger on.

Christmas cheer?

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Christmas-time with postnatal depression.

Christmas for me marks my postnatal depression journey quite clearly. I am such a fan of the festive season, yet for the past 7 years have been battling with postnatal depression (which I am now recovered) and also with anxiety. (And still struggle with)

I really love Christmas and the planning and preparation. I love the traditions that I have kept from childhood and created with my family too. Stockings for everyone. Hubby is now on board with this and usually does quite well. Choosing our real Christmas tree, Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for Christmas Day breakfast, Elves visiting and causing mischief and encouraging kindness during December and visiting Santa of course. I love getting the house all cosy and festive. I admit I will always love it to look like the features in the John Lewis adverts or Country Living magazine but hey I can keep it real and know that it’s not about the matching crockery and perfection on the table. It’s not Christmas if there isn’t mismatched China on the table and the tallest guest sat on the smallest stool!.

Having a 7 yr old and a 5 year old girl, this Christmas I will have learnt that I can only give my best. I shouldn’t use up all my energy in the build up to Christmas Day leaving me exhausted on the one day that should be lovely. Should it really be that though? That this one day that should be lovely? I pose that question to my own statement and wonder if even by saying that I’m putting that pressure on myself subconsciously.

All too often we know the increased pressure and how it builds up. You over hear conversations as you pass people in the street or coffee shop: “….all set for Christmas?” You can’t escape the marketing ploys of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, 50% Sale etc almost panicking you into buying something you don’t want or don’t need only to feel guilty of you do or feel guilty of you don’t. It sucks you in. And makes me anxious. I feel it bubbling up inside, questioning; have I bought everything, it’s not enough, I should buy more etc etc.

The over jolly Christmas music blaring out of the shops music systems, on the radio, on the TV adverts. It’s Christmas and there is now escape from it. I love Christmas and all that it brings but I would rather do it at my own pace, there is always going to be the presents for our children they know Santa has a lot of presents to give to all the other children and so far during the last few years of requests they have been fairly modest gifts. A singing Santa Claus from the local Hardware shop went down a treat and has been the best present and the one always remembered too.

For me I have to curb my train of thought as I can go overboard in my planning. Feel guilty for not providing or doing what is expected of me when it is only me that expects it and no one else. This is where I have to stop and get back to the basics. Family, laughter and love are what I want on Christmas Day. Wherever we are and what ever we do that is the most important.

I certainly know that I’ve learnt this the hard way; that last year I spent most of Christmas Day in tears. I had done all the build up, got more and more manic about providing all I could for everyone despite me crunching that credit card and hoping that in January it wouldn’t be noticed by my husband. I Volunteered at every school fundraiser and got more and more and more Christmassy to the detriment of my mental health, I was exhausted. The final straw that broke me was that on Christmas morning the children woke up excited to see what Santa had left them….and my daughter having asked for the impossible “Elsa powers” i.e the ability to freeze people like the character in the Disney Frozen film. This was one present Santa couldn’t deliver, and yet hearing my daughter genuinely gutted that Santa hadn’t left her Elsa powers totally floored me. The tears couldn’t be held back, I felt a total failure. I wanted to curl up in bed and practically did that leaving my husband to have breakfast with the children and watch Christmas films with them. I remember skyping my mum so that she could watch her grandchildren open their presents and really not wanting to be in the same room, trying to hide the fact that I had tears running down my face. I forced myself to go to a family festive dinner but before I did I decided to make the best decision for me and that was to go back on my antidepressants. Popping that little pill on Christmas Day after being off them for a year was such a huge step but one I knew was the best one. That action alone made me feel like I was taking ownership of this awful awful feeling.

So this year, I’m determined for it to be different. Christmas Day is just another day. We will eat whatever we want, and not feel pressured to do anything. These are the things I want to remember and remind myself;

You are not the sole provider of Christmas cheer
You do not have to make everyone happy
You do not have to buy everything and be everywhere to have an enjoyable Christmas
You deserve to be happy.

And most of all the best present your children can have is you.

Merry Christmas everyone

Charlotte x
If you do feel the need to talk to someone this Christmas please call the Samaritans
116 123 (UK) or 116 123 (ROI) or if you are in the USA 1 (800)273 TALK
Australia 135 247