Friday, 30 October 2015

Reality vs. Expectation

On days like this it would be very easy to pack up and move back to Fremantle. It's raining and foggy and miserable here. I miss my friends and my life and having a sense that I belong somewhere, and I worry that we made the wrong decision. It's been a bitch of a year though, and things are much easier with Mum around, so from that perspective it was the right decision. Today though, I miss my friends and my life and the beach and the city and I haven't had the time or the ability to do that yet. We were there, then we were here, and it's all a bit muffled - IYKWIM.

It would be nice to have a life again, but it's hard here in the middle of nowhere - as much as we love being in the middle of nowhere. We don't have the "amazing group of NCT friends" that everyone else seems to have because we weren't here. It's hard to make friends when you're adulting and not working (even when you are working your colleagues don't necessarily become your friends, I think I've been lucky). Mum and baby groups are all well and good, but just because you all have a baby or three doesn't mean that you'll be friends. I find those groups really uncomfortable and forced. I need a Mel here to go to all the groups and collect the best people to form a new group. Perhaps if we move to Cheltenham in the new year things will look up.

But what I think I might really need is a job. There. I wrote it down. It's difficult, because I didn't expect to feel like this, and it turns out that managing reality vs. expectation when they don't match up is something I'm not very good at. I thought I'd go all Earth Mother and not work until Freyja was at school, and even then I thought I might want to home school. But, no. Instead I feel like I'm running away from her because I need a life and I need more than a one year old for company. It might have been different if we'd stayed, because I knew other people with babies Freyja's age, and other people who were doing the SAHM thing, so there would be friends and babies to hang out with and do things with and it wouldn't be so lonely and draining. Constantly playing and teaching and touching and taking care of and watching and loving and keeping from harm and keeping occupied and trying and trying and trying is hard. 

So I'm going to go and think about contacting a recruitment consultant. I'm also going to think about staying home until Freyja is 2, and finding a life in other ways. And I'm going to be sad for a bit about the life we don't have any more and the friends and things and places that I miss. And I'm going to be mad about the weather here (just like my husband is) and the British Summer That Never Was.

Thursday, 22 October 2015


What's the deal with the mama guilt? The second guessing, never truly believing you're doing the absolute best thing, constantly worrying you could have should have would have done it better "if"? Every decision is accompanied by anxiety, and I'm almost sure it shouldn't be.

There are millions of things I'm not uptight about. I think I'm easy going, as parents go. But there's not one thing I've thought "yes, this is EXACTLY the right thing at EXACTLY the right time" and gone ahead without hesitation.

Freyja started nursery last week. Two mornings a week at a lovely little place a couple of miles away. There are a couple of staff and not many children - the most I've seen there at any one time is 4, but sometimes there are only 2 of them, so the ratios are favourable. Ha, I sound like an adult. Also very parent like is my guilt. I assume it's normal/natural/to be expected, especially if you beat yourself up as much as I do, but it's still a shitty feeling.

Un-structuring is hard. I always thought I was this free spirit, but it turns out that (at the moment anyway) I'm shit at being free. In a way, it's easier having a 9 to 5 job.

Of the three days a week Kane works, two of them Freyja is in nursery for half the day and the other my Mum is usually home. I'm not sure what that says about me as a mother. On  the one hand, it's good for Freddie to do other things with other people and especially with other children. On the other hand, I feel like I'm doing wrong by her by making her spend time away, Obviously the 1st hand won. It can't be good for a toddler to spend ALL of their time with their parents and grandparent, socialising is really important. It's only a couple of days a week. I'm not doing her any harm. UNLESS the childminders are awful people (we don't think they are, but without installing a spy cam in a button on a baby's cardigan, who really knows?). The facilities are excellent (hark at me adulting again), lots of outside space, a pond and a forest and three rooms for different types of playing, lots of painting and messy play, music, sensory stuff, a mud kitchen, log cabin, slides, books, song time and story time, cots for sleeping... 

So what am I supposed to do while she's there? I barely know what I'm supposed to do while she's here with me; when we're inside I feel like maybe we should be doing more outside, perhaps we don't read enough (we do), perhaps she's not learning enough, maybe our play should be more creative, maybe we don't have enough outings, maybe maybe perhaps perhaps maybe. It's shit. And it can be quite boring - the thoughts and the actual doing. It's hard to keep a demanding 1 year old happy and occupied all of the time, plus there's a complete lack of any sense of achievement. Aside from getting through the day. I watch the clock until Kane comes home, but then I don't run away and hide, I hang out with both of them, we get dinner together, eat, play, Kane baths Freyja and then she goes to bed. So why watch the clock? Part of it must be the desire for company other than that of my baby, although she's good company. Part of it is because I second guess myself all the time and when someone else is there the responsibility feels less, like I might not fuck it up so badly as if I were alone. When she wakes in the night I go to her, but often I wake Kane up first to check if I should feed her. WHY WHY WHY? She's hungry, just fucking feed her. That's what I think at this moment, but do I have a clue what to do when she's actually awake and hungry? Yes. Do I trust myself to make that call? Nope.

Back to being alone. So, Freyja goes to nursery and I have time for me. But I don't know who me is, or what she likes doing. I don't recognise her in the mirror (hello atrocious weight gain due to medication), and I don't feel like her. I do know that when I do have this "me" time if I don't use it constructively I feel guilty all over again. This morning I haven't hoovered or mopped or taken the compost out or changed the sheets. I've done all the washing, so that alleviates some guilt, but really Charlie, what did you DO all morning? I'm not sure I'm cut out to have all this "me" time without a plan. I'm trying to get onto a pottery course, that will give me some sense of achievement. But why do I need this, and is it a new thing or have I been kidding myself about myself forever?

Should I get a job? Am I ready?

Urgh. And I'm no good at all at being fat. When I stopped taking my meds a few weeks ago I started losing weight. I have since started taking other meds and the dose of my old ones has been upped, and I have stopped losing weight. I am hungry. Could be boredom too, now that I'm starting to function properly, as my psych nurse pointed out, but more likely it's the meds. So I want to stop taking them ALL. I've had enough. Just, urgh.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Whirlwind Weeks

Someone eventually fished me out of the NHS sofa crack that I was dropped down, and the level of care shot from zero to overkill.

My first appointment with the psychiatrist was mid-September (on a Wednesday, as if it makes a difference), and by then I'd gone cold turkey on the antipsychotics that made me gain so much weight. My brain wasn't quite right again, aside from the "brain jolts" every time my eyes moved (I've had these before when I quit taking medication suddenly) I started to see and hear things again. Awesome. Knocking at the open bedroom door, spaceships (government, duh) in the night, people and monsters in the shadows and the dark, catching voices and seeing people out of the corner of my eye when there was nobody there - these types of things. I couldn't tell if my dreams and nightmares were real or if I was indeed dreaming. Most if it I was able to rationalise, but it got a lot harder at night.

I also lost interest in looking after myself or Freyja again. I didn't get dressed or shower every day, and beyond looking after Freyja's basic needs I found it hard to engage with her or play. Writing this makes me feel bat shit crazy and like a terrible mother.

Anyway. Having waited 2 and a half months for my urgent psych referral, I was finally in the system. The psychiatrist thought I needed to go back into hospital, but I told her that was the last thing I would do, so she engaged their crisis team to come to the house every day to check on me. I suppose they were rightly worried, but I was paranoid that they were coming to check up on me because they didn't think I could look after Freyja. I thought they were judging me and I didn't want any of them to come to the house. I also thought I wasn't unwell enough to warrant so much attention and so many resources - psychiatrist, psych nurse, crisis team of psych nurses and social workers... The list goes on. After a few days and the psych and my psych nurse (Mark, who will be my case worker for however long I'm with the recovery team) came to the house and convinced me to start taking some different antipsychotics with fewer side effects (less or no weight gain - why on earth I was put on the original ones when they were aware of my body image issues and diagnosed body dysmorphia is a sadistic mystery). 

I've had some ups and downs with meds this past month. Twice now I've realised that I've not been taking enough tablets - the brain jolts have come back this week and I realised last night that I've been short changing myself on my antidepressants by 1/3 of  the dose. No bueno. The same thing happened a couple of weeks ago with the new antipsychotics. Since sorting that out I've stopped seeing and hearing things, which is nice I suppose. What's less nice is realising that I can't be trusted to dose my own medication correctly, and that aged 31 I need my husband to sit with me while I put my pills for the week into the box I use to make sure I haven't forgotten to take a dose. Like an old lady.

Last week the crisis team came out for the final time (a relief), and everything was handed back to the recovery team. So now Mark will come once or twice a week and continue to work with me for a while. I've seen the psychiatrist weekly until this week, and my next appointment is in four weeks, which means I'm getting better.

Today I'm not having a great day, but I'm tired and I haven't been taking the correct dose of antidepressant so it's not that surprising. I didn't get dressed until after midday, and only then because mum said I probably should. While Freyja was napping I made a necklace, which helped calm my head. I haven't dome anything creative for a while so I hope the result wasn't too shit. Mum will wear it anyway, because that's the type of thing you sign up for as a parent. Shit jewellery and macaroni birthday cards. PRETEND TO LOVE IT OR FACE UPSETTING ME.

Actually, it doesn't take too much pretending (or maybe it does as your child reaches adulthood?) - Freyja made her first painting for us and it's going on the wall in a frame. Everyone else will probably think it's a load of wank, but we'll cherish that crap. The where and the how of that painting are the source of much mama guilt this week... Nursery/childminder/daycare/childcare - whatever you want to call it. I think it probably deserves another post, plus mum and Freyja are back from their walk to see the cows so it must be time for lunch.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

When in Rome... (Which I am)

It's hard to know where to start after such a long break. I often have fleeting thoughts that round themselves up and turn into silent sentences, and I think to myself "I should really write that down". But there's something about opening the blogger app on my phone that I just can't bring myself to do. Until right now, that is. Hardly ideal (I'll be interrupted a lot and lose my flo-jo), but K (HN1 for those of you that follow) and I are on the train on our way to Fiumicino Airport; we've just spent a long weekend in Rome. As you do, natch.

A long weekend and our first sans child - thanks Mum. WWJD if he was relieved of responsibility for 3 days? Sleep late, drink at lunchtime, have sex, leave the house with nothing but a tiny handbag, read a book and relax in the knowledge that there's no place to be? Probably. But then he wouldn't have spent 2.5 days pounding the streets of Rome to see EVERY sight - mainstream and alternative (apart from the fucking unicorn museum which was closed for refurbishment).

Drinking a bottle of wine with lunch on Friday at an excellent restaurant near the Colleseum was fun, but led to the tasting of various limoncello varieties. Which in turn led to the purchase of 2 bottles of limoncello and a coffee maker for my brother that we later saw for half the price. They must have seen (or heard) us coming. Bargain Queen fail.

The Vatican museums were overcrowded and hot. So uncomfortable that I think the whole place was ruined for us. Incredible art, I've never seen anything like it. The detail and workmanship and the 4 years Michaelangelo spent on his back painting that one ceiling are awesome. But being hustled through the Cistine Chapel, where there was no room to stand and take it in (let alone whip out a guide and learn something) and no air to breathe because the tour groups had breathed it all, was awful.

Other disappointing things were not finding the pope, and only seeing 2 Swiss Guard having a cheeky break behind a building. We didn't manage to have pizza for EVERY meal, but we did manage to eat more cheese than you can shake a stick at. That's a fuck ton, in case you work in metric.

Anyway, this isn't a travel blog.

I have no idea where I was up to before my hiatus, nor do I suppose it really matters. The following has happened:

K, BabyF and I moved to the UK! Specifically, to Mum's house. It's all the rage to move in with your parents in your 30's, we're bang on trend so fuck off. We put ourselves to work and in the first week pulled up some carpet, worked really hard on restoring the tiles we found underneath, painted some walls and did a lot of reorganising. Then we unpacked an entire shed (hello half the stuff from our house in Brussels packed and shipped 12 years ago and not unwrapped until now) just in time for our container to arrive in the field next door. Then we repacked the shed with our shit from Perth. In the next couple of weeks the solar panels will be installed. We made a new study for Mum and a new double guest room, and I'm halfway through making BabyF's room into a magical wonderland. Think feathers, hot air balloons and fairy lights. Our room looks like shit but we'll get there.

See? Too busy to be depressed. Or something.

BabyF started walking about a week after we arrived. She was 9 months old, unsurprisingly early. Now she's 11 months and still super adorbs - most of the time. She loves the countryside, rolls around naked in the grass, picks flowers, eats dirt and snacks on snails. Actual garden snails - sticks her fingers in and licks them - revolting child. She luuuuurves animals, playing with them, licking them, stroking them (upgraded from pulling their hair), and eating them. Apparently we are not raising a vegetarian - feels like a win for daddy when BabyF has half a sausage in each hand and can't fit any more in her mouth. Or maybe she takes after me. She loves rocks and climbing and making as much noise as possible with whatever is in her hand and dancing (she danced before she walked) and clapping and laughing and riding on our shoulders. This week, she also loves stamping.

Sleep is going pretty well (BabyF), and pretty badly (me). I went cold turkey on my antipsychotics a couple of weeks ago, mainly because of the weight I've put on, with the holes in my brain and lack of memory/vocabulary/ability to follow a conversation a close second. I've turned into a fat idiot which has done very little to help my mood. I can't look in the mirror. I hate being naked. Clothes make me cry. Going out anywhere is hard because I don't want anyone to look at me - plus I have no chat.

I tell everyone I'm fine, and that things are getting better, but I don't believe it. I'm miles better than when I was a resident crazy, but no better than before we left Australia. Perhaps worse. I have dropped some meds though and changed others - my antidepressants aren't available in this country so I've had to swap. The GP was totally useless, and my "urgent" psych referral 2.5 months ago still hasn't resulted in an actual appointment. When I was really low on my Aussie stash I had to do the transition over the phone with a psychiatrist. So much for the NHS being great in mental health. I'll report back when I'm actually in the system.

Meltdowns. Hmm. Had a few, most notably the night of mum's 60th birthday party and one night in Rome. I almost didn't go to the party - thought I could just bake the (14 layer) cake and drop it off, I was so busy in the lead up that I didn't even consider how the actual party would feel. Bleurgh. K had to drop mum off but left with a cuntish remark intended to hurt... Perfect timing to be a wanker. The Rome episode was an attractive affair on a rooftop involving drinks and a river of tears. Tear stained with puffy eyes. Chic as fuck.

I saw a psychologist yesterday for an initial assessment. I suppose the phone interview I did 6 weeks ago was an initial initial assessment. Wouldn't want to help people unless they can definitely prove twice that they're depressed. Both assessments were hard, but the questions yesterday were probing and the whole session was upsetting. I left feeling even more of a failure. The things I feel guilty about aren't the same as the things other mums admit to feeling guilty about. Sometimes I don't want to feed my baby or take care of her. I always, always, do what's best for her though, no matter how hard I find it. Other times I want to hold her and never let go. 

I've started to panic again when she cries. Not a good sign. Handled it like a champ the other night when K was out with the village men's walking group (yep, a real thing. Always ends in the pub, often results in a hangover) and BabyF screamed and screamed. A couple of times I managed to rock her to sleep and just held her like I used to. It's easy to get annoyed when you have to rock and rock and rock a baby, but when I think "she won't be a baby for long" it's easy to rock and rock and rock her while she needs it.

It was strange to be away from BabyF. I really wanted to hold her and smell her hair; if that's missing her then I missed her.

Friday, 19 June 2015


Argh fuck it, I'll write on the plane tomorrow. I have NO idea why I'm avoiding The Blog like The Plague, but it has to stop. I want a record ffs.

The plane (by the way) is taking us to the UK where we will be living for a while. Not sure how long exactly, but we're going to practice the fuck out of some mindfulness and not focus on where, when, or why we go next. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

I wrote this a while ago...

...It's been a while and we've been fairly busy, BabyF has mainly been busy being ill. Coughing and spluttering and snotting all over the place has been our game for the past couple of weeks. She has also decided that breast feeding is no longer for her (thanks anyway to Daisy for the lactation cookies which have now gone to a better, lactating home). I have mixed feelings about the breastfeeding; mainly I'm glad that it was her decision to stop - it takes away most of the guilt - but I do miss the calm cuddle time. We still have cuddles but only when Miss Independent says so. 

She's so independent and now she's crawling like a champ and exploring her world I think she's happier than when she was stationary. But as I mentioned previously, it's getting harder and harder to get her to sleep, probably because she's so stimulated that she can't wind down. Whatever the reason, it's exhausting. 

That was a while ago! Almost 2 months ago, in fact. I know this because BabyF weened herself off the boob from one day to the next when she was six months, and now she's eight months and SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. I'm going to start a new post.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Is the good stuff coming?

Tommorow we will have had our tiny human for 6 months. SIX months. I don't know where any of those six months have gone. Actually, that's not true. The first three and a half vanished into the thick black smog of depression and anxiety, the following two were spent on a psych ward getting sane, and the past couple of weeks we've spent recovering and getting used to "normal" life again.

I'd like to say (and believe) that this is a fresh start, that all the good stuff begins here, that this is where BabyF and I will build our relationship from, but I'm not sure that's how this works. I'm the only mum she's had, surely the times when I haven't wanted her, haven't wanted to be alive, haven't taken care of her physically or emotionally will have had some effect. The times I've cried, retreated, hidden, had meltdowns, will have left a residue in her rapidly growing brain and heart. 

I've always been kind to her and gentle, even when I've least felt like it, so I hope that's done something to negate the negatives. I've explained to her that I'm sad but not because of her - I'd like her to know that it's ok to be sad. She's never been left to cry, never gone to sleep without one or both of us helping her, never been hungry for longer that it takes to whip out a boob or make up a bottle, never been cold or dirty or lonely or without comfort when she's needed it.

Hopefully these things will patch over the times I was emotionally absent, and those when Husband and Nana had to take over her care for a bit.

Hopefully she won't be affected by the months we spent in hospital, or by the difficult birth, or by our breastfeeding struggle.

Hopefully she'll remember seeing and being with her mum and dad together every day, no matter where we were sleeping.

Hopefully she feels loved and safe and secure in our little triangle.

Hopefully the trouble she has getting to sleep (which is getting worse again) isn't due to her not feeling safe and secure.

Settling her has always been difficult, especially for me - it has the ability to throw me into a spin and land in a puddle of failure. Since my medications have leveled me out and I've learned different ways to settle BabyF, I've been much better at settling and getting her to sleep. It hasn't thrown me for a while, I haven't had any meltdowns related to her not settling since being out of hospital, but now it's getting harder and harder to settle her, it's getting harder and harder to avoid the spin. She screams as soon as we go into her bedroom. Screams when we lie her in her cot. Screams until we pick her up, and then stops. This goes on and on and on and it's difficult and exhausting. This week we've spent nights in a chair by her bed resettling her every half hour. I'm not sleeping very well despite the medication I'm on which is supposed to help me sleep (as well as "help" me gain weight - I'll discuss this shit in another post). 

Friday night was anxiety night - surprisingly unrelated to BabyF or Husband. I took the last of my discharge meds on Thursday night but had been to the GP and pharmacy to get continuation meds. When I went to take my 6pm quetiapine pill, it looked different to the ones I'd been taking previously so I checked the packet really carefully and realised I'd been given immediate release instead of extended release. The IR would have knocked me out for a while but Saturday I would have been manic. The XR keeps me level the next day and I've been told under no circumstances to miss a dose. So I called the psych outpatients at the hospital up the road (they've taken over my care) in a bit of a tizz and they told me to come up and they would have some prescribed for me that night. So I walked there (nervous energy) and waited a bit for the on call Dr to prescribe and the onsite pharmacy to dispense. They gave me enough for the weekend and told me to come back Monday morning for a full script. 

The old me wouldn't have batted an eyelid. The new, recovering me got into a bit of a state. Husband didn't really realise or perhaps he just didn't care - would have been nice if he had recognised that I wasn't OK and tried to help. I even told him I wasn't OK, but I guess it's hard to understand from the outside.

Anyway, onwards and upwards, 6 month vaccinations tomorrow, then Good Friday, weekend, Easter Monday. We'll have Husband home for 4 days in a row which will be nice (even though it fucks our practically non existant routine in the arse). Hopefully we'll make it to the beach a couple of times. A one year old's birthday party on Saturday (we met on the unit) with a swimming pool and hopefully sunshine.