Mothers At War – Judgemental Parents and The Link To PND

Cry it out vs. Attachment Parenting, Cloth Nappies vs. Disposable, Bottlefeeding vs. Breastfeeding, Working Mum vs. Stay at home Mum, the list goes on. These are all things mothers commonly debate. But my question is why? Why force your views or opinions onto another Mother? What gives you the right to judge another Mother and tell them what they are doing isn’t right because it isn’t what you would do? Why do you feel that it is okay to make another mother feel terrible about themselves because they aren’t parenting their child how you would like them to parent?

These are all questions I am constantly asking myself. Why? Because all over social media, there are constantly arguments about what parenting technique is best, who parents better, what is considered “cruel” and what is considered being a “helicopter mum” (apparently a helicopter mum is someone who hovers over their child not letting them be independent). My simple statement is WHO CARES? As long as the child’s needs are being met and he/she is loved and obviously not being abused then why is it anyone else’s business how a Mother parents her child? Surely I cannot be the only one who feels this way? As a first time mum, I have bared the brunt of a lot of criticism because of course, “I have no idea what I’m doing” and yes most of the time that is true. I learn new things about being a parent every single day. However, just because this is my first child doesn’t make me an incompetent mother, nor does it give anyone else the right to tell me what I am doing is wrong. Sure I make mistakes, we all do, however that is how we learn and grow, in any part of our life, not just as a parent. I have always been of the opinion that being a Mother is hard and as Mothers, we need to support each other, not put each other down. What about those of us that don’t fit it into any of those categories? I am going to give a brief insight into my parenting methods so you can see what I mean.

I breastfed my son for the first 6 weeks of his life. Not only that, but whilst my son spent 3 weeks in special care in hospital, I pumped every 3 hours and had to take my milk to the hospital twice a day. At about 5 and a half weeks, my milk supply dropped dramatically and I had to wean my son and put him on formula. We discovered about 3 weeks after weaning that my son has a severe lip tie, and if it had been cut I could have continued breastfeeding. To say I was devastated doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt. I still feel saddened by the fact that I cannot breastfeed. So does that make me a bottlefeeding mother or a breastfeeding one? Just because you see a mother formula-feeding her child, doesn’t mean it is a choice she wanted to make. Nor does it mean there is anything wrong with choosing to bottle feed over breastfeeding. Giving a mother filthy looks while she formula-feeds her child at the supermarket is certainly not going to change whether she breastfeeds or not. It simply makes you look like a judgemental cow.

I am very lucky in the fact that my son has always settled himself to sleep. Rarely do I have to rock him to sleep unless he is teething. However, sometimes he is over tired and will protest cry because he thinks he doesn’t need sleep. As I am his mother, I know that he is fed, changed, not too hot or cold and isn’t in any pain, therefor I will leave him to cry in his cot for anywhere up to 15 minutes before going in and picking him up. I check on him every few minutes to make sure he is okay. Some may call this “cruel” and using the “cry it out method”, however I call it doing what works for my child. If you aren’t there with me every single night then you have no idea what my son’s cry sounds like, nor do you know how often I check on him or how it makes me feel having to let my child cry. Now, I may seem like a “cry it out mum” but I’ll have you know that I cant handle my child crying/whinging for much longer than 5 minutes whilst he is awake during the day and have often been told “you hold him too much, stop carrying him around, he isn’t a handbag”, these comments were from family members and I brush them off as they don’t mean any harm and are just trying to help, however if it came from a stranger I would be furious. So because I hold my son a lot during the day does that make me a “helicopter mum”? But wait, that cant be if I let my child “cry it out” at night time? Are you starting to get my drift here…

I am a cloth nappying mumma, as well as a disposable nappy mum. I do what works on the day for me. Whilst I care about the environment, I don’t feel guilty about using disposable nappies. In turn, I don’t think using cloth nappies are disgusting. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion most definitely, however there is a huge difference between sharing your opinion and being nasty and judgemental. I have seen many arguments on forums about cloth nappying, whether it be that a mother feels using disposables is “wrong” or whether they think using cloth is “gross”. If you aren’t the one doing it, who cares? Not your child, not your problem.

Now, when it comes to child abuse obviously that is a whole different kettle of fish. However, this is clearly not what I am talking about in this blog. I honestly don’t understand why people have to be so damn judgemental. By sharing a glimpse of how I parent my child, I think I have shown that you don’t always know what “type” of mother someone is and how ridiculous it is that Mothers are given labels and are put into stereotypes.

Studies show that 1 in 7 mothers in Australia are diagnosed with Post Natal Depression (PND)*, I am one of those women. I honestly believe that some of it has to do with how we are judged and compared as mothers. For me, my PND stems from severe anxiety (unrelated to having a baby) but also the fact that I constantly feel like I am not good enough. I don’t bake as much as this Mum does, my house isn’t as clean as that Mum’s is, I am constantly comparing myself to other Mum’s and wondering why I am not doing as well as they are. I have a friend who has recently had her third baby, I had been thinking of her constantly since she had her bub hoping she was doing okay and wasn’t struggling, as with just one child I found getting anything done very difficult. After visiting her recently, she told me how amazing she was doing. Her newborn baby was sleeping through the night most nights, breastfeeding was going great and she was still managing to bake, cook dinner, take her child to school, do the gardening and have an incredibly clean house. I am ashamed to say that when she told me this I immediately felt sick and had to try my best not to break down and cry right in front of her. Whilst I am so glad that she is doing well, I instantly felt jealous and like the most useless wife and mother in the world. Why am I struggling so much when I only have one child and she is doing amazing with 3? Why is my son still waking every 4 hours when her newborn is sleeping through? Why do I care? I honestly feel like the reason why I compare myself to her and other mothers is because I feel like I am constantly being judged by society. If women just supported each other instead of constantly having a go at each other, I honestly believe that the amount of women with PND would decrease dramatically.

I may cop a lot of flak for writing this blog, however I feel like it needed to be said. The message I wanted to get out there by writing this is to SUPPORT EACH OTHER! Mothers often don’t show that they are struggling for fear of being judged, which can turn into PND. My advice is to ask the Mums you know whether they are okay. Ask if they need help (only if this isn’t going to add stress to yourself) and if you are the one struggling ASK FOR HELP! For me personally, I don’t have much of a support base here. I only know one other Mum (who is so nice) but we are only newly friends and I don’t feel right dumping my crap onto her, but I wish I had more people to rely on. I feel like it would make the world of difference. If you are a judgemental mum, then cut it out. It doesn’t help anyone and most times you are doing more damage than good (do you really think condemning a mother for using disposable nappies is going to make them want to use cloth? Yep I don’t think so either).

As always, feel free to message me at any time on my Facebook page (link is in the sidebar) and please share!

Be kind!

Love,

Kimberly xo

 

*Information obtained from the following link http://www.panda.org.au/images/factsheets/Women_and_Postnatal_Depression_Fact_Sheet_14.pdf

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The Wonder Weeks – Leap 4 – Dear God Why

So most new Mum’s these days would have heard of “The Wonder Weeks” book and app. If not, here is a brief description. Basically The Wonder Weeks explains the different growth spurts and new skills your child will learn at different stages of their development & splits them into what are known as “Leaps”. I haven’t read the book but do have the app. In the app it lists each leap, when your child is expected to go through the leap and what signs to look out for. It also explains the new “abilities” your child will have once the leap is over. Sounds like a load of BS right? Well I thought so too until Hunter started showing the same signs the app warned me about, at the same time he was expected to be going through the leap. Usually what occurs (depending on the leap) is your baby basically turns into an evil gremlin set out to destroy what little sanity you have left. At least that is what leap 4 has been like for me. I was pre-warned that Leap 4 is the worst and ironically enough it is also one of the longest. Leap 4 is known as “The leap of Events”, at the end of this leap your baby should be able to; hardly miss when grasping things, become very active, put Mum’s hand in their mouth, pull cloth away from own face, hit the table with a toy, search for mum and dad, respond to their name, grumble when impatient, push the breast (this part annoys me, it doesn’t say breast or bottle, just breast. Thanks for making me feel like an even bigger failure for not being able to breastfeed) once done, which roughly translates into; squeal like a monkey for the fun of it, drool enough to fill a bath tub, spit pureed food an impressive distance (usually directly into Mummy’s face), scratch, pinch, punch and pull your hair with incredible force. Why is it that apps and books can never actually be honest with you? Yes my baby is able to do all of these things now, which is brilliant as he is more capable now. However, why don’t they mention the added “abilities” that they gain that aren’t so amazing and mesmerizing? My beautiful, relaxed, happy, sleeps-through-the-night son has morphed into a little mini-hulk that thinks waking up 3 times a night with endless amounts of energy is funny (this is demonstrated by the cutest gummy smile you’ve ever seen). What are you immortal?! Seriously though, it is a tough gig being a baby. So many changes and no one to explain to you in your language why you feel so confused and can all of a sudden suck on your toes. My theory is that this is the reason why we don’t remember being babies. It would be cruel to have all of the memories of being so confused and tired all of the time. That and the teeth coming in (don’t even get me started on teething! That will be in another blog). Luckily for us, this leap is coming to an end with only 2 weeks to go until it is over. Already Hunter is starting to go back to his normal happy self (depending on the day) minus the frequent wake-ups during the night. The reason I am writing this blog is to let other Mummies know that they are not alone, it really is hell during the first few weeks of this leap (I am sure they call them Leaps because at times you really want to leap off a bridge to escape the crying) and it is okay (and sometimes necessary) to put bub in their cot where he/she is safe and walk into another room (where bubba can’t hear you) and scream into a pillow or cry. It really is a testing time of whether you are “cut out” to be a Mother. Regardless of how you feel, you are doing an AMAZING job and the best you can. I felt like an absolute failure after 2 weeks straight of Hunter crying for 2 hours at the same time every night with nothing that would console him, that was until my Mum and Dad babysat him for a few hours one night and rang me in a panic considering taking him to the hospital because nothing would stop him from crying. I asked whether he had a fever, was vomiting or had a rash and when she answered no I said “This is what he does EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT.” Long story short they managed to rock him to sleep (thank God for Grandad – my Dad) about 15 mins after calling me (I should also mention that I was home an hour later, after being told he had gone to sleep, I didn’t just leave my little one to cry with his Grandparents). The next morning they both said to me something along the lines of “I can see why you’re struggling”. It was nice to know that how I was feeling was normal and that I wasn’t a terrible mother for becoming frustrated and miserable when hunter wouldn’t stop crying.

So to those Mum’s currently only at the beginning of Leap 4, it does get better. You will survive. Reach out if you need help. For those of you that have bub’s that haven’t started the leap yet, good luck and make sure you have plenty of coffee on hand – you’re going to need it.

Disclaimer: Not all babies react like this during the leaps, some of us are just lucky to experience the full brunt of it…

As always, feel free to message me on Facebook if you need support or advice.

Love,

Kimberly x

Suffering in Silence…Living with Anxiety

Note: I chose not to re-read what I have written for fear of choosing not to post it, so please excuse any grammatical errors (or sentences they may not make sense)!

This is a blog I have been contemplating writing for a very, very long time, however I have never had the guts to do so…until now. Today I have realised how serious my battle with anxiety has gotten & I feel like it is something I can’t hide anymore. The reason I have been so hesitant to share this is that a lot of people won’t understand and the fear of people mocking me or thinking I am insane. Funnily enough that is my motivation for finally writing this. The stigma associated with mental illness means less people seek support and help which in some cases can lead to suicide. It’s not nice to feel alone and feel like nobody understands you and at times that’s how anxiety feels. I will try and keep this blog short enough that it doesn’t bore you to tears but I also want to make sure that at the end of reading this you will have a better understanding of what anxiety sufferers go through on a daily basis. So let’s get into it…

When I was about 10 years old I had my first ever panic attack. I was sitting on the couch watching the news and all of a sudden I felt very frightened for absolutely no reason. At the time I didn’t understand what was happening and as a normal kid does when they are scared, I started crying. I couldn’t explain to my parents what was wrong so they took me to bed and read me a book until I calmed down enough to go to sleep. The next day I was completely fine. About 2 years later I had my second panic attack on my first day of year 7. Now here is where I am going to tell you what my anxiety is based around, and I want to remind you that this is a realistic fear although you may think its stupid (and to be honest so do I). On school holidays the summer before school returned, I had bad tonsillitis and had to take some medication before heading to Rockhampton with my parents for an appointment. On the way there the medication had a bad effect on me and I ended up vomiting everything in my stomach. In the car. In the middle of Rocky. Since then I have had a very intense fear of vomiting. Stemming from that I have a horrible fear of vomiting in public. So on the first day of year 7 I showed up to school terrified I would throw up there. Long story short, I ended up with a severe eating disorder and weighing merely 28kg at 12 years of age. I managed to “get over” the fear and gain back a decent amount of weight. In 2005 we moved to Chinchilla and I changed schools, even then my anxiety didn’t return. I managed to live without anxiety until around September 2007 where I had an ovarian cyst burst and became very ill. I missed a lot of school and ended up dropping out due to constant panic attacks and not being able to catch up on the work. After quite a bit of Bowen therapy I managed to overcome my anxiety and get a job. I was once again fine until my boyfriend (now husband) proposed. Then I turned into an absolute wreck. I was waking up every night having a panic attack and could barely eat. This anxiety has continued on since then, with only very brief periods of normality.

My anxiety definitely isn’t as bad as what it has been previously, however it is at the point where it is significantly effecting my life. I am unable to go to large shopping centres on my own, even going with Jamie takes a lot of convincing. I get nervous going to small things like Doctor’s appointments or even taking Hunter to the Chiropractor & swimming lessons. I’ll try to briefly explain what happens when I have a panic attack, but I will write a separate blog in the near future explaining it further. My panic attacks generally start off with my heart racing and my breathing speeding up, I will then start shaking and sweating, when it gets close to its peak (which I will explain more in the other blog) I literally feel so frightened that I feel like I am going to die. The only way I can explain it that you may understand is, think of the fear you would feel if someone were to break into your house, think of how that would make you feel. Now imagine feeling that fear every time you go to a shopping centre etc. That’s what it’s like to have anxiety. It is exhausting mentally and physically. It is also extremely debilitating. It can absolutely ruin your life if you let it. Which is why I chose to write this, I want others to know it is okay to reach out for help. It is okay to admit you are struggling. Having anxiety doesn’t make you “weak” or “insane” it just means your mind has a different way of coping with stress.

I am currently doing up a mental health plan with my new GP (who is so amazing, I’m so glad I’ve found her) and will be commencing counselling within the next few weeks.

Today has been a very difficult day. Whilst I have known for a while that I have been suffering severe anxiety, it is still very hard to have a medical professional tell you that you need to get help. Today I feel like I am failing as a mother and wife because I can’t be like everyone else. I wish I could just snap my fingers and be “normal” but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. That is why I am getting help. I want to be able to take my son to whatever he wants to do, whether it be sports or any other activity. I want to be able to go to a mother’s group or even just have the confidence to meet new people. Having anxiety makes you very isolated and definitely makes it difficult to make new friends, being in a new town where we barely know anyone makes it even harder.

Anyway that is all for now! This has been one of the hardest blogs to write and it will be even harder to click “Publish” on, but it is something I have to do.

Thank you for your continued support!

Love you all

x