Having another baby after your PPMD/PNMD group – register your interest

Hi everyone,

As you know while I was pregnant with Flynn I was part of an amazing group of Survivor Mamas called the ‘baby after PPD‘ group. This group of Survivor Mamas were a much needed support during my pregnancy & in the first six months of Flynn’s life – the nine weeks in hospital & the months following as we constantly worried about his feeding & weight gain.

I’m about to help out some Mamas who are thinking of having a baby after their PPMD, to start a FaceBook support group & am shouting out to anyone who wishes to join up. The group will be completely private so that only those in the group will be able to view your comments or posts.

The group will be supporting each other on various topics including staying on/coming off medication while trying to conceive & during your pregnancy*, ways to prepare yourself for the postnatal/partum period, action plans for the postnatal/partum period, preparing your toddler for their new sibling, anxieties relating to your pregnancy & postnatal/partum period, setting up support systems for when the baby arrives etc. We will also be asking those that have managed to have a better postnatal/partum experience after their PPMD to share their wisdom & insights in order for the group members to get both real life examples as well as the proof that having a better experience is possible.

This is my way of paying it forward as the support I received was invaluable. Thanks Amber for starting up our group back then & the lifeline it provided me.

If you’re interested in joining the group, please fill in your details below or email me at yuz@notjustaboutwee.com & we’ll contact you when we’re up & running.

 

* We are not medical experts or medically trained in any way when it comes to discussing medications, dosages, weaning or staying medicated during your pregnancy. We will be offering support in whatever decision you make in consultation with your OB, midwife, GP or physician.

Things I’m afraid to tell you – my open letter to my daughter

There are a group of bloggers who are all banding together & participating in a series of posts called “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You”. The TIATTY movement was inspired by a post from Jess Constable of Make Under My Life & Ez of Creature Comforts. If you’d like more information on the TIATTY movement, you can read Jess’ interview with Laura Rossi from the Huffington Post. You can also visit Robin at Farewell Stranger to read other TIATTY posts as well. All these women are truly amazing & inspirational & I’m so very honoured to be part of this movement.

This is an open letter to my daughter, Orli, who will be four this September. (The name Orli means ‘my light’ in Hebrew).

Dear Orli monkey/muppet,

As you read this letter, please remember this: You are so very loved. You were wanted & you were planned. I love & adore you more than words could ever convey. You bring me joy each & every day & there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you. You make me so completely proud & I’m so very lucky that you chose me to be your mum.

I ask you from the depths of my being to remember that what I’m about to tell you is not your fault. It’s no ones fault. It just happened, & I’m a better person for it. So please don’t get too caught up in the how & why because, well, because it just was.

When I was pregnant with you I wasn’t being very honest myself with how I was feeling. I know that every pregnant first time mum has certain trepidations & anxieties about having a baby – about having it be completely dependent on you for the first year & a half (at least), about the sleepless nights, about the changes in you & your partners life & your relationship, about staying home with a baby & not going to (paid) work every day, about giving up a career (or at least stalling it), about having less disposable income, about saving more, about making more decisions on a daily basis & also for the long-term decisions to be made i.e. schools etc. Well, I had all of those thoughts & feelings, but also a few more too.

We had a lot going on in our lives during your pregnancy – my job was extremely stressful & I was working really long hours with management that didn’t seem to care that I was throwing up in the bathroom several times a day, excusing myself from client meetings to get air & generally feeling crap. I was covering for someone while they were on long sick leave & they decided to fire my resource, so I was pretty much doing my job, covering for someone & taking back everything I had delegated my subordinate to do. I also had a miscarriage before falling pregnant with you so I was nervous about getting too excited about you too early in case I lost you as well. I couldn’t wait to get pregnant again as we wanted you so much.

During my pregnancy with you, your Zaida’s (your Daddy’s Daddy) wasn’t very well. He’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a little while before Daddy & I got married & was having a difficult time while I was pregnant. Having said that though, he made it to see your first birthday which was special beyond words, but I worried that he might not have ever met you which was so heartbreaking & I didn’t want that to be. But I think on top of the work issues & your Zaida being unwell, the major stress I had while I was pregnant with you was that my parents (your Saba & Omi) spilt up after being married for 39 years. It came as a massive shock for me. I could see that they were no longer happy, but I never thought they would actually end their marriage. I was first told about it the week of my miscarriage, but chose to push everything & anything I felt about it under the preverbal carpet & focus on getting pregnant again whilst grieving the loss of your sibling.

And all of this leads me to why I wasn’t being honest with myself during your pregnancy. My focus was on having a baby, on starting my own family & no longer being an extension of my parents. Work didn’t matter, because I was leaving (although I was miserable each day I went), I avoided anything & everything to do with my parents because I was having a baby & that was all that mattered. I figured it was their crap & I was old enough not to be affected by their separation. I was pretty down & extremely anxious but I just kept on thinking that once you arrived my life would be complete & joy would fill my days so that nothing else mattered.

You decided to come at 36weeks. You arrived just after midnight & were taken straight away to the special care nursery for observation because you were early & so very little & I first held you (properly) about twelve hours later. You weighed 2.025kgs & were a spitting image of your Daddy. I’d love to be able to tell you that the day of your birth was the most exciting, amazing & awe inspiring day of my life. But sadly it wasn’t.

So this is where I’m going to start sharing with you all those things that I’m afraid to tell you.

* I had an out of body experience during your birth & was looking down on myself. I started thinking (whist pushing you out) that I didn’t want to have a baby. My life was good & I didn’t want it to change.

* We were separated after the birth & I was glad of this because I was so scared & wasn’t ready to meet you.

* I felt so disconnected to you after the birth & when I first held you there wasn’t that overwhelming sense of love & attachment that people talk about or happen in the movies. I felt numb.

* Daddy went with you to the special care nursery after you were born & all I could think of was that he loved you more than me & I wasn’t important anymore & was replaced.

* You stayed in hospital after I was discharged & I was relieved as I wasn’t ready to take you home.

* I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding you – I preferred to express & bottle feed you even though it was much harder work. Much harder. (And expressed for the first eight weeks of life). And when I said I preferred to bottle feed you, well, I actually meant I didn’t enjoy feeding you at all, because all you did was scream at me. I actually preferred when Daddy fed you so I wouldn’t have to.

* When you got home all you did was cry. You were so unsettled & when you finally fell asleep, I dreaded you waking up.

* I had no confidence as your Mother.

* I was completely overwhelmed by all the information I was getting about what was best for you, what was right, what was wrong & the good & the bad way of doing things. Every midwife had a different way of latching you onto my boob, every person I spoke to had conflicting advice – it was just all too much & I found it so hard to trust my own instincts & do what I felt was best. My head was a jumble of too much information & not enough clarity.

* Life was so much easier without you.

* I resented you – for not sleeping, for not allowing me to sleep, for being completely dependent on me, for the constant crying day & night, for making me have you & for putting my career on hold, for coming early & robbing me of my last four weeks of maternity leave & for not having the balloons & flowers that other hospital rooms had (we told people not to visit as you were in the nursery & they weren’t allowed to go in). I was crying all the time, I was so angry & miserable & your Daddy & I fought all the time in which was so testing on our relationship.

* I wanted to run away from home. I thought you & Daddy would be better off without me.

* I wanted my life back.

* I resented the fact that my role in life had changed. Just because I was now a mother, I was also the homemaker now too.

* I couldn’t understand why people ruined their lives & had children. And I certainly wasn’t going to do it again.

* I pretended to love & adore you in public & socially, but I was lying to both them & myself.

* I hated coming home after being out for a while as I knew it was going to just be groundhog day & I hated every minute of it.

* I wanted to have you adopted out because I was sure there was another family that would be able to take better care of you. And what I mean by ‘family’, I mean Mother.

* I wasn’t able to eat, sleep or do any menial daily tasks as I could before I had you. It was as though you made me miserable even though these tasks had nothing to do with you.

* I wondered what would happen if you feel off the change table or if I let you fall into the corner of the coffee table. I thought it, although I knew I wouldn’t act upon it.

* I was so very very sad & never thought I would ever be happy again.

* I hated the mornings because it meant that my day was going to be the same as the day before & the day before that. Actually, the days weren’t separated at all – my life just felt like one long day.

* My intrusive thoughts were so overpowering & on loop. I blamed myself for you being unsettled (it turned out you had a diary intolerance & I was craving milk & was drinking it all the time), everything was my fault, if I went out for a bit without you I usually came home to you screaming so obviously it was because you were punishing me. It took me a long time to turn the volume of that self-talk down.

* Overall, I regretted having you.

Orli monkey, the reason why these are the things I’m afraid to tell you is because I feel ashamed about the way I felt about you, the way I behaved when you were a baby & the way I, in my mind, mistreated you. I’m embarrassed because I could handle such difficult tasks at work but when it came to a baby, to my baby, to my newborn that only needed feeding, bathing & changing, I was completely incapable of functioning normally & was anxious about every.little.thing. You were completely innocent of everything I felt or thought at the time yet were integral to why I was thinking & feeling all those things. I need to remind you, that none of this was your fault. It would make me so very sad if even for a millisecond you thought it was. And what’s more, please don’t ever judge me for this because it’s not something I chose or would have ever chosen to have gone through.

I know I had some of these thoughts because I was a first time mum & overwhelmed with an unsettled baby. I also knew I had these thoughts because I was just so very very tired. But mostly I had these thoughts as I was suffering with a mental illness, more specifically, a postpartum (postnatal) mood disorder. It was confirmed ‘officially’ when you were seven weeks old & at eights weeks of age we went to a mother baby unit at a psychiatric clinic. You’ve heard me talk about ‘the nuthouse’, but I really think we need to call it our lifeline, because that’s what it was for our family. I was put onto special medication to help my mind level itself out & had lots of groups with other mums that had my issues (or similar) & the fog slowly lifted & I was started to be able to be your Mummy & not just your Mother. It took another few months until I felt better, but it was really when you were about a year old that I started feeling like myself again.

People always comment to me that you’re such a happy little girl & that when you smile your eyes sparkle. I have to be honest with you, as much as this comment makes me proud, it also triggers a sadness in me which I fear will haunt me for the rest of my life. You see, I thought that my ambivalence, numbness & disinterest in you in the first few months of your life was going to ruin you forever. I have proof now that it’s not the case & that our relationship doesn’t bare the scars of that time, however, the overwhelming fear of its possibility will never be forgotten or minimised by me.

My little angel – you have taught me more than I ever imagined I could learn from a little person. I now get why people have babies & I also why they have more than one. And so we did. You have a little brother. And the way you love & care for him is beautiful it makes me think we’ve done ok.

I’ve spent a long time trying to be ok with people knowing about my postpartum mood disorder (PPMD) as well as trying to not care what they think of me having it, being admitted to the nuthouse or being medicated or whatever. But, what I haven’t worked on & is how I’ll feel one day when YOU know all about it. It’s one thing for me to share my story because it happened to me, but, this also happened to us. I hope you continue to grant me permission to talk openly about this as it’s the only way to diminish the stigma associated with PPMD’s. I’m also passionate about the need to increase it’s awareness to ensure no one suffers in silence or alone & so that all mothers with any PPMD know that help is out there & recovery is possible.

Monkey, those are the things I’m afraid to tell you. What I’m not afraid to tell you & never will be is that I love & adore you forever & ever & you will always be the light that brought me back from the dark.

Love always,

Mama xoxo





An open letter to my Confidence

Dear Confidence,

We need to talk.

I’m feeling as though you’re not as committed to our relationship as I am & I’m starting to really question the way you treat me sometimes, specifically, the way you leave me without word, without warning & without reason.

We’ve had a really tumultuous time together haven’t we. Me being that little bit behind in Primary school – & needing catching up which included me staying down in year one, needing remedial reading & math – was really hard on you but we got there. You disappeared for while after my grade three teacher calling me stupid in front of my class but came back a year later when I started enjoying learning again having a wonderful encouraging teacher. You always remained in the gym with me when I had my gymnastics classes & in my backyard when trampolining. I was the happiest then & you really helped get me back on track academically. In grade six I had the most wonderful teacher who made me absolutely love learning & school & we were so very close that year & I’ll cherish that forever.

High school was rough on us both. Boys, bras, periods, lack of attention, bullying, bitchy girls, being labelled & judged for being a Rabbi’s daughter etc was really difficult, but things got better when we moved schools for year 11 & 12. And after school, boy-o-boy did things get even better. University brought out the academic in me. I started getting high marks because I was doing subjects I wanted to do & was good at. I loved learning, was studious, did all my assignments, handed them in on time & had a ball socially as there were no preconceived notions of who I was & how I should behave etc. Why am I reminding you ? You were there!

Fast forward a few years & I was working in advertising – I was presenting to marketing managers in large corporations, was juggling the demands of my clients with the wishes & visions of my creative department & was loyal & committed to the bosses of the two agencies I was at the longest. I had fantastic relationships with my clients & all my performance reviews reflected that. You were at an all time high & we were going places. After years of feeling as though I had to prove myself, we settled into a nice rhythm & this permeated into my social life also which now included people I enjoyed spending time with & people who made me feel good about myself.

Fast forward to a few broken hearts & relationship learning experiences about being important in someone else’s life & not just an appendage, a long distance relationship that ended as soon as it started due to the apathy & fear of the other partner & a promised life together with picket fences & kids only to have shared this person with another – except I didn’t know about it. Happiness & you returned when I met Seon. A proposal six months later & a wedding seven months after that & before we knew it we were pregnant & then pregnant again with Orli.

And then our beautiful Orli was born. We had had spent a lot of time preparing for the baby & read up on what to expect, about breastfeeding, about routines & settling, but as soon as she was born & before we could put anything into place that we’d learnt together, you left. Without warning. Just like that. Like a puff of white smoke. I was a empty shell trying to get through the days. A prem baby, being separated from birth & then coming home without her & feeling completely in over my head & out of control was the start of what I call the eye of the storm. In those days I begged for your return, but you stubbornly stayed away & kept your distance. I didn’t understand why you stayed away but you crept back ever.so.slowly over the next year. You played with me & my emotions time & time again. You teased me & at times laughed in my face, but that entire time I pretended you were with me. And it was exhausting. I wondered what you were teaching me but I couldn’t see it & it pissed me off. A lot. But in time, things between us improved & my relationship with Orli grew stronger & stronger.

Just under two years later we had a big talk about having another baby. I’d done a lot of therapy  & work in that time & was sure that this time round you were going to stay by my side. We had this one in the bag. As the pregnancy continued & the issues & complications increased we were still doing ok. Following the birth things were still looking good between us. After week home with Flynn you were slowly edging your way out the door. He wasn’t feeding very well & we went back to hospital. We were there for nine weeks & in that time you seldom visited. I just don’t understand why you were not there as I really could have done with you – even for an hour a day. We had been through & survived so much together & I just found this distance kind of cruel & unfair.

After nine weeks & Flynn’s discharge we returned home & you came back too. You had a knowing smile & a familiarity & settled back with me. Three months later you came with me to a mother & baby unit & settling school in order to give Flynn the gift of sleep. And me too! You came with us as I was sure that this five days would be so beneficial to us all. You hadn’t gone anywhere this time, I was just too tired to find you. I didn’t feel defeated, just deflated & exhausted, but five days later we came home together with renewed affection & the basis of a really wonderful long lasting relationship.

Flynn still struggles with his food & drinking/eating but I think we’re doing really well together. We’ve often had to lean on our Laryngomalacia, Tracheomalacia, Bronchomalacia in Australia (LTBM Australia) support group for things like food supplements, food & feeding advice, help & ideas & encouragement to go to a speech pathologist etc. I am & will be forever grateful for their existence, support & space & have not shied away from letting you know just how fickle you can sometimes be in our relationship.

Just recently Flynn was trying to tell me he wanted to drop down to one day sleep. And you went on a hiatus. Seriously!? How did we get here again? After everything we’d been through a change in a sleep schedule sends you away! Really!? Just so you know, I did it. With the help a few friends & digging in deep, I did it. And what’s more, is that I can feel your presence again & I truly hope you stay.

I know being there all the time with me can be tiring & sometimes unrelenting, but I really need you to roll with the punches – because clearly I can’t. That’s who you are & what I need you to be for me. There are so many times when Patty decides to drop in unannounced & I know if you were there with me, she’d have no reason to stay. And with you taking up the last chair at the table, she’d have nowhere to sit.

So Confidence, my dear friend, I’m asking you from the depths of my being to please stay with me. I need you & I can’t be who I want to be without you. I can’t be a good enough wife for Seon or a good enough mum to my kids without you. So please unpack your bags for good, put on your comfy shoes & get comfortable, cos I think you’ll be staying a while.

All my love forever & ever.

Me xo

Things you’ll never hear me say

I’ve previously written about things that I’ve learnt & also things I wanna do/have/eat/see etc, but this time I’m taking another approach & listing some of the things you will never hear me say. So, without further ado, here we go.

Oh it’s just reflux. That will pass.

I love when you downplay my anxieties about anything related to Flynn’s health or feeding issues.

That’s the grocery shopping done for the week. I won’t need to step back into the store for seven whole days.

Oh, you’ve been diagnosed with PND/PPD. Are you sure it’s not just the baby blues? Maybe go for a walk or go shopping. Things’ll look so much better then.

A day spa. Really? For me? Oh, I couldn’t. There’s so many more other things I’d rather be doing.

Oh your children aren’t vaccinated, no worries, come over for that playdate.

Can I please pay for the privilege of you inserting instruments in my wa-wa & taking swabs?

I wouldn’t give my kids leftovers for dinner.

I think it’s really important to follow everything the parenting websites say to do & not to do for your kids. It’s simply crazy not to take their advice because they know you & your child so well.

Thank you so much for the mountain of newborn baby clothes you bought as gifts. I can’t wait to go home & wash them all before my baby can wear them.

Oh wow – the Wiggles are going to be in concert again. We must get tickets.

I just don’t see the point of getting a house cleaner.

The ad said it cleans itself so it must be true.

No, really, come to our house for dinner. I’ll cook. It’s really no bother.

Your baby also has Laryngomalacia. You know they grow out of it by 12 months.

Oh really, your baby is how old? Shouldn’t they be doing X & Y by now?

If your baby isn’t sleeping through the night by at least six months they never will.

Breast is best.

Thanks for the dinner invitation for a late family dinner. The kids will be fine while being distracted (& your constant reminders of how well they are managing to stay up late is encouraging) but once in the car they will turn feral & be up half the night. I won’t resent your dinner invitation at all & will be looking forward until the next time you do the same thing to us.

I love the cold & Winter is my favourite season.

Yes, that’s it, my child is hungry/tired. Thanks for your helpful insights.

Big deal. So you have to hold your baby all day. How hard can that be?

There’s no such thing as colic. It’s a fallacy.

I’ll have a Pepsi thanks.

Oh you’ve had/got gastro/croup/bronchitis & you want to come over. Oh please do & don’t forget to infect the kids. Especially Flynn cos his Laryngomalacia means that he finds it hard to breathe & he loves a challenge! Oh he might even lose weight while he’s unwell. Double bonus!

There’s no such thing as postnatal/postpartum mood disorders (PMDs), it’s just mother’s whinging that it’s harder than they thought.

I love when you compare my baby to yours. They have so much in common, like genetics, temperaments & personalities – they really could be twins.

To the stranger: Wow, I’m amazed how well you know my kids given this is the first time you’ve seen them. What a wonderful gift you have.

Formula smells delicious. I’m going to have it now on instead of milk.

I love housework. My most favourite task is putting away washing. It rocks!

Meh, it’s just money.

I really don’t believe in depression or anxiety. They’re just excuses for being lazy & moody.

Are you sure you want to go out with someone that’s been married before?

You had your baby at 36 weeks too. Oh, well we all know that 36 weeks isn’t really prem.

I find it so comical that every one of my t-shirts gets holes in the exact same spot after wearing them once. And what’s more, I find it amusing that I can’t work out what it’s from.

Mother’s instinct is such bull.

Kids, please take your shoes off inside the house after preschool & school so that all the sand & tanbark goes everywhere. I’ve just vacuumed so it’s totally fine.

I really hope there’s no chocolate soufflé on the menu.

Hitler was just misunderstood.

To my kids: No you can’t go to bed early.

Some people have it so much worse off you know. Your issues really aren’t that bad.

Ah the wind & the rain in my face – nothing can beat that.

To another mother: Are you working at the moment?

You think your child might have lice. No worries let’s still have our playdate.

The internet is such a time waster.

Don’t buy us a lottery ticket cos we might win.

The snack fell on the floor, please put it in the bin.

I wouldn’t put kids into daycare, especially if I wasn’t going to work. It’s cruel to your kids. They really should be home with you.

He/she must be teething.

I find it funny when you call that game a ‘jew jump’.

That’s ok come in, I’m just on the toilet.

Your baby is also ‘failure to thrive’. Isn’t it wonderful constantly worrying about food & feeding issues.

You should really <insert anything here>

I’d love to make dinner tonight. I insist.

Motherhood’s a breeze.

I’m sure I’ll be adding to these, but the start I’ve made is quite thorough. Feel free to share with me what things you’ll never say. I’d love to hear them.

 

Happy birthdanniversary to us

It’s the end of April & the month of May is around the corner. More specifically, May the 2nd. The day our baby boy turns one. And the closer this day comes, the more emotional I’m feeling about it. You see this celebration is not only a wonderful & happy period celebrating our boy’s first year of life, it also brings forth some very painful memories of the past 12 months for me. And in addition to all these memories, the day itself is extremely bittersweet as my baby is growing up & given I’m not having any more, this period & phase of my life is over. Just like that. Like a snap of the fingers, pregnancies, newborns, newborn cuddles & tiny clothes are now part of my lifes memories.

Even though it’s a conscious decision to not have any more kids it doesn’t mean I can’t allow myself to grieve this decision or period of my life. Each time Flynny grows out of a size, I fold up the clothes ever so delicately & gently imagining the little boy in them who used to fill them, but knowing also, that he nor anybody else of mine will fill up those sleeves & pants. And it’s not like he’s grown out of his clothes so quickly either – he’s still wearing 0-3mth tops & I just moved him up to crawler sized nappies – it matters not. The clothes are too small for him & they’re put away with bigger ones put in their place. (Some days I think it’s natures way of providing me with a mini boy so it would give me a ‘baby’ for longer & ease me into the realisation that there will be no more).

I often wonder where the days went as the past year has gone so very quickly since Flynn came into our lives. Sometimes however, I feel each & every waking minute, like when he’s up in the middle of the night in pain or sick & time stands still & the days following until he gets better go ever so slowly. Thinking about him as a newborn sometimes feels like years ago & often feels just like yesterday.

I know the feelings I’m having leading up to Flynnys birthday are extremely common with those mums (or even parents) that have decided not to have any more kids, but I have a few additional things to celebrate, deal with & work through during this period.

September 2010 the wee stick went positive & in January 2011 my 20 weeks scan revealed I had a bipartite placenta, placenta previa & vasa previa the latter giving my baby a 20% chance of survival. I was prepared by my OB that I was going to be admitted to hospital early (as Orli came unexpectedly at 36 weeks & my membranes weren’t able to rupture at all with the baby) & was also told that if I bled at all at any time to get to hospital immediately as the baby had to be taken out asap in order to survive. To say I was anxious from 20 weeks until 34.5 weeks until my early admission would be an understatement. I felt responsible for my placenta not protecting or giving my baby the best chance & start to life. I also knew that if I didn’t get to theatre in time for the baby to come out alive, I would be responsible for it not surviving. I had ongoing internal scans to assess the baby’s growth & see how the placenta was holding up & where it decided to be on any given day. I had very low amniotic fluid intake (AFI) so each leak was a worry that the babes health would be compromised. Each leak was also checked in case it was blood so there were many times I would leave my groceries mid aisle to check myself in the nearest toilet. By 34 weeks I was a mess & we went to the hospital for CTG & obs late one night. I asked the midwives if I could stay there & be admitted a few days earlier but the nurses had no reason to keep me…. they obviously had enough anxious mums on the ward already!

After a week & a half in hospital, we made it to 36 weeks & on May 2, just after 3pm, we met Flynn Jack Rozenblum. He came into the world weighing in at 2.165kgs & not requiring an urgent blood transfusion which was something we had been warned about many times over. After a few minutes of gazing at him & being relieved he was alright, he was taken to special care for observation.

Fast forward to a week of being home & we were readmitted as Flynn was having issues with feeding & was considered ‘failure to thrive’ only gaining 50g since discharge. The nine week admission consisted of Flynny being fed nasal-gastrically (having the tube changed each week & each time he pulled it out by accident which happened quite often), having x-rays, a barium swallow, urine & blood tests, a brain ultrasound, an ECG, an Echo, trying nine different formulas, having chronic constipation (& the many suppositories he had to help) & the violent reflux which was so very painful for him & made me feeding him completely disheartening & heartbreaking. At ten weeks of age (six week corrected), he was diagnosed with Laryngomalacia & started drinking enough to not lose any weight & we were discharged the next week. I found an amazing group of mums with beautiful Malacia kids who have provided us with advice & support as we embarked on a journey of having a son with LM & all the concerns associated with the condition. Thankfully Flynny’s condition is mild but we’re still having a few issues with his feeding 12 months down the track which remains one of my main anxieties.

There were days during that nine week admission that I thought I was losing it & that we would never be going home. I just could not see past being in hospital & us ever going home to Seon & Orli. In that time, I managed to keep my head above water & also dodged any PPD/PND demons that came chasing me. As I’ve said before, there were times I thought I was slipping, however with the help of Seon, close friends & The #PPDChatArmy I managed to keep it together despite everything going on. The difference this time round was that I knew I had bonded & loved my baby boy. No one in the world knew him better than me & our connection was forever forged. Given the circumstances, I had to continuously remind myself that I was having a normal experience in an abnormal situation & that is was the circumstances not my mental state that was affecting my mood this time round.

When I look at Flynn today I marvel at his strength & at his nature. I adore him so much that I often find myself staring at him with tears running down my cheeks. His face is so familiar (he’s looking more & more like Orli), so happy, so inquisitive, so engaging & takes my breath away many times over. His smile in infectious, his nature is beautiful & he gives me joy each & every day. He is just the happiest little boy.

So as May the 2nd gets closer, I’m not only grieving that I won’t be having another baby & feeling nostalgic about my baby growing up, I will also be celebrating the fact that the PPD/PND demon that robbed me of my first experience of motherhood didn’t appear second time round & nothing got in the way of me bonding with & loving my son. I was able to have a better experience with my baby despite the circumstances which is a direct result of  lots of hard work, hours of therapy & plenty of planning. I am also so very proud of myself for not allowing my PMD to impact our decision to not have another baby. It would have been the most tragic outcome of my PMD had it convinced me not to provide Orli with the gift of a sibling & it would have been even more heartbreaking had I allowed my PMD to rob me of the experience of enjoying & loving my baby. Not a day goes by, that I’m not reminded of just how far I’ve come & just how very blessed we are.

As I sit here & reminisce, reflect, gather & share my thoughts, I’m overcome with emotion about the week ahead. Many tears will flow, many memories will be revisited but I will also be constantly telling myself just how lucky & blessed we are. I’m going to allow myself to grieve the fact that my baby is growing up & won’t be an older brother & I’m not going to block out any painful memories of the first three months we had together. I’m going to try really hard to live in the moment & enjoy the celebrations that come our way. I cannot imagine our lives without Mr Flynnstone nor my Flynny Floo Floo & will never ever take for granted the best birthday gift I ever got.

 

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.