My gift with purchase

The term ‘gift with purchase’ is familiar to most. Those of you with experience in advertising, marketing, retail or just seasoned shopaholics are all well aware of what it means. It’s that free product you get after you purchase an item. It’s that lip gloss you get when you buy your perfume or that extended warranty when you buy your new car.

Three & a half years ago, I got a gift with purchase after I had Orli. My purchase was of course my baby girl. My gift with purchase was my Postnatal (postpartum) Mood Disorder (PMD).

Did I see it as a gift back then? Hell fricken no! Do I see it as a gift now? I most definitely do!

Here’s why.

I truly believe I am a better mother because of my PMD. It’s as though I’m more in touch with my kids emotions because my extensive therapy teaching me how to feel. I had spent my life pretty much only feeling things on the surface but not diving to explore the rest of the iceberg. I had made myself numb to most pain & wore a mask for as long as I can remember. Throughout my recovery, I worked on allowing myself to experience emotions and learnt how to process different emotions. How would my children learn to manage their emotions without being shown or taught this fundamental life skill? Thanks to my PMD, I’m hoping I won’t have to find out.

While I was pregnant & after I had Orli I experienced many flashbacks of my childhood which were hard to revisit. I always knew I wanted to do a better job with my children (my parents did the best they could, truly, I’m not blaming them) but I could only do this if I had the tools & emotional wherewithal to do so. Therapy is making me re-explore these memories & be at peace with them, accept them or simply to move on. I’m well aware that there will be things in the future when it comes to our kids & their happiness etc that will trigger my anxieties & memories however, I’ve now got the tools to both recognise & rectify how I feel & how I let the situation affect me… if at all. Had it not been for my PMD & therapy I’m almost sure this would not be possible.

My therapy made me question a lot of things. I had to re-learn things, had to see things differently & had to learn how to make myself emotionally available to Orli – admittedly, tantrums & fatigue certainly tested me, however I did & still do my best to refuel & regroup & try again. Or call on Seon – because asking for help was something I had/have to learn too! Children teach you things about yourself you never thought possible. They teach you patience, they teach you to live in the moment, they teach you that the littlest gesture can mean so much, they teach you the true meaning of advocacy, they teach you strength, they teach you resilience, they teach you to speak up (when they can’t yet & while they’re learning), they show you how to remove the clutter & focus on the little things like a flower or a bird chirping, therefore, they also teach you embrace things we have long ago taken for granted. They are amazing little creatures that bring with them innocence, life lessons you never saw coming & show you the true meaning of unconditional love. If I thought I knew myself before I had kids, I was wrong & dare I say completely delusional! But I’m ok with that. Now I can say that my PMD made me look deeper & guided me to embrace so many of these deeper aspects of motherhood that may well have passed me by.

I had many therapy sessions in the nuthouse, but one of them which I still think about most days was an activity called ‘wait, watch & wonder’. We had to sit & look at our babies & share what we thought our babies were wondering about us. This was a very painful session due to my ambivalence at the time, however, as difficult as this was, it had a huge impact on me. This was a truly empowering exercise as I learnt to connect with Orli on much deeper level. For example, when she was a baby I didn’t want her passed around at social or family occasions, because if it were me, I wouldn’t like to be passed around from person to person. I just felt that people needed to have respect for her personal space & to be conscious that she could not communicate this. (I’m well aware I could be wrong about all of this, but we’ll never know, so just work with me here). Sure she could cry to try & get her message across, but as we all know, that would have been because she was hungry, tired, wet or just being ‘difficult’ in others eyes. I am using this less with Orli as she can now communicate her wishes (oh boy, can she ever), but I am most definitely tuned into Flynn. Had I not been in the nuthouse & had these sessions, I’m certain that I would not have this connection to my kids.

I have said this before & will say many times in my posts & for as long as I live. I truly believe my PMD was one of these best things that ever happened to me. I learnt to explore my own emotions, be in touch with feelings I would not have otherwise done & believe I am more tuned in to how my kids are feeling. It truly was & still continues to be my gift with purchase.

 


Mother’s Pride – What I’m proud of

I am writing this post in Charity’s name because she brought this beautiful topic to my attention. Charity, my thoughts & love are with you at this time & please know, the Army is with & behind you whenever & forever.

Mother’s Pride – What a deeply powerful topic. Where on earth do I start?

I’ll start with me. When Orli was eight weeks old we were admitted to a parent infant unit in a psych facility, a.k.a the nuthouse & were there for three weeks. In order to go to be admitted to the nuthouse, I had to admit I had a problem & then I had to do all the hard work in order to recover (the long, windy & bumpy road of recovery). For this to all happen, I had to swallow my pride to do what was best for me, my daughter & my husband.

To say that I am proud of our daughter Orli would be an understatement. My 3.5yr old threenager  has progressed so much given her severe developmental delays (rolling at 11 months, crawling at 19mths & walking at 25mths & consistently delayed with major milestones). Looking at her today there is no sign of any delays & since starting kindergarten this year, her vocabulary has improved ten-fold & her confidence has grown along with it. (I will refrain from mentioning her attitude). Orli’s a remarkable little girl who makes me completely proud to be her mum. People comment that she is such a happy & well adjusted little girl which makes me so emotional as I thought I had ‘ruined’ her given my postnatal (postpartum) mood disorder & my apathy towards her. Just yesterday she drew her first picture of a face (which I tweeted). She added arms & legs & it became the first picture she’s drawn of a person. And ‘it’ was smiling. And tears welled up in my eyes. You just can’t bottle those feelings.

I am proud of myself for deciding to take the tablet to dry my milk up just after I gave birth to Flynn. He was 36wks (just like his sister) & very little & I knew the chance of his suck reflex not being developed was high. I also was well aware of the difficulties trying to feed a baby that tires easily requiring top ups & need to be woken for feeds. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We were back at hospital a week after our discharge as he was considered ‘failure to thrive’ only gaining 50g in a week & were there for nine weeks where he was finally diagnosed with Laryngomalacia. I know the way my mind works & I know & I would have blamed myself for his ‘FTT’ status & readmission had I been breastfeeding him. It was a stressful enough time & having to express each day & night would have sent me over the edge (like it did the first time). I’m proud of myself for putting my needs first. It was NOT an easy decision, one that I went back & forth on for, well, eight months, but I am proud for not succumbing to peer, nurse, midwife & societal pressure.

I am proud of my little boy who beat the odds by surviving his birth (I had a bi-partite placenta, placenta previa & vasa previa). It’s still painful to think of the things he endured during our nine week hospital admission (being fed nasal-gastrically & having the tube changed each week & each time he pulled it out by accident), the x-rays, the barium swallow, the urine & blood tests, the brain ultrasound, the ECG, the Echo, the nine different formulas, the constipation & the medication for that, the many suppositories & his reflux & violent projectile vomiting that went with it & the medication for that. His little body going through so much & it broke my heart many times over. And then at ten weeks of age (six weeks corrected) he smiled at me & my heart breaks a little more, because despite everything, he was happy. And he has not stopped smiling. He is the happiest little boy & smiles all the time, at everyone & at anyone. Whenever he looks at me, he gives me his gummy smile. And this makes me so proud I could explode.

I’m proud of myself for not allowing my fears of slipping into a PMD again, to dissuade me from having another baby. I’m just so very grateful I can feel proud of anything really, because there were days that I never thought I would be able to feel anything towards my baby, let alone have another one! I’m so very blessed to have two happy & beautiful kids & am so proud to be their mum.

Thanks Charity for allowing me to share this.

Does anyone else want to share your mother’s pride?

An open letter to the #PPDChatArmy mamas

 

To my dear #PPDChatArmy Mamas,

This is my first post & I wanted to take this opportunity to tell each & every one of you how I feel about you. I could go on forever about the impact you have all had on my life but I wanted to keep it brief, so all I’m going to say is thank you.

Thank you for allowing me to share my life with you.

Thank you for reading my rants & vents & consoling me when times were tough & when the journey ahead seemed unsurmountable.

Thank you for offering support to me when I asked & especially when I didn’t.

Thank you for allowing me to offer support back to all of you.

Thank  you for sharing your life with me too.

Thank you for not judging me.

Thank you for making me feel safe.

Thank you for helping me with Selma & Patty.

Thank you for teaching me how to be a warrior mum.

Thank you for letting me disarm Velma & for all agreeing that she really is a ho.

Thank you for making me smile & cry & sometimes both at the same time.

Thank you for allowing me to feel comfortable enough to reach out.

Thank you for saving me from slipping again last year.

Thank you for giving me strength each & every day. Still.

Thank you for believing in me.

Thank you for allowing my words into your home (or work office or bathroom if you access internet from your Smartphone).

Thank you for making me feel welcome.

Thank you for your words of encouragement.

Thank you for reminding me to be honest with myself. And with others.

Thank you for being there at any time day or night whenever you saw the #PPDChat hashtag on my tweets.

Thank you for helping me be ok with some of the tough decisions I have had to make.

Thank you for helping with the tough decisions I’ll have to make in the future.

Thank you for your friendship.

Thank you for your unconditional love.

Thank you for giving me the strength to take my mask off.

Thank you for making me feel important.

Thank you for making me feel part of the coolest club in town.

Thank you for not allowing me to hide.

Thank you for helping me be brave.

Thank you for your encouragement to have a voice.

Thank you for making me feel I belong.

Thank you for allowing me to say ‘today, I don’t like my child’.

Thank you for not judging me when I told you, ‘today I don’t like my child’.

Thank you for convincing me that all I have to be to my children is ‘good enough’.

Thank you for not letting me make excuses (although I’m still working on it).

Thank you for kicking arse.

Thank you for wanting to kick stigma’s arse.

Thank you for giving me strength.

Thank you all for who you are.

Thank you for everything.

One very thankful mama,

Yuz xo

PS. My kids will thank you all too one day.