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.