Me before ‘Mum’.

I often think back to the days before entering in to the World of Motherhood. It’s not that I want those days back because I truly do love my life now. I honestly couldn’t imagine my life any other way and when I’m not with Harry I feel like a limb has suddenly been removed from my body. I feel naked without him and everything else that comes with him. Although, don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t mind borrowing Bernard’s watch every now and again. Oh, what I’d give just to stop time and experience a small taste of freedom and peace occasionally for an hour or two, I do miss that.

I never used to see a hot bubble bath with candles and a magazine a luxury before. Those rainy Sundays spending your day with your feet up on the sofa in your pj’s with a film and a hot cup of tea, that’s what you call ‘Heaven’. Turning on Netflix, choosing a series and nearly finishing it within a day, that’s freedom…freedom, freedom, freedom! I used to struggle to survive on a night of six hours sleep before, however I now consider a block of three hours sleep a huge success (that’s on a good night). Yes, it’s hard at times but you do learn to adapt and yes, it took me a while but I got there and after a while It becomes a part of your new life.

I really didn’t think my life would change that much. I honestly thought it would be the same but with a tiny person added in to the mix. I also didn’t realise how much stuff they required, so much in fact that we decided to move house this year because we were slowly swimming in baby equipment. I have to admit it was quite a shock to the system for me, I thought I was ready but the truth is, I’m not sure anything can prepare you for a baby. I really struggled adapting, especially within the first ten weeks of Harry’s life. This was due to many factors such as feeling overwhelmed, other health problems, the recovering from pregnancy and birth, sleep deprivation, dehydration from breast feeding, hormones, anxiety etc. Once I had got over the initial shock I finally settled in to my new role and it all suddenly became natural. I was very lucky to have such a helpful, supportive husband and an amazing support group of friends and family.

I truly admire single parents and those who’s Husbands work away for long periods at a time. Also, those with twins/triplets/quadruplets and parents not just with a newborn but with other children too, you’re an inspiration and deserve a bloody medal.

Being a Mum is not glamorous nor sexy. If I’m not covered in food, dribble, snot, sick, wee or any other kinds of bodily fluid, I’m either battling a poonami or forever having my hair, ears, eyelids and any other visible excess skin pulled in every direction possible. Wearing any kind of jewellery is now out of the question, shaving my legs is a treat and breastfeeding means you spend most of the time with your boobs outside than inside your bra and items such as breast pads, lanolin cream and chocolate become your daily must haves. I hear a constant sound of the teletubbies theme tune playing over and over in my head. We sleep to the hum of a hoover on the white noise app every night and a relaxing bath time nowadays consists of luke warm water and 3 X rubber penguin bath toys (bought from Newquay zoo as a memoir for Harry’s first zoo trip).

On the other hand, I’ve developed some wonderful new superpowers. My new sense of smell is out of this World, multi-tasking has become my middle name and I’ve gained a new, protective reflex which detects any kind of danger heading towards Harry. I own eyes like a hawk, even in the back of my head and my boobs react to any baby that cries. I also constantly feel like a walking, talking yo-yo…

The yo-yo description reflects the nights of constantly getting up and down to settle Harry. It also reflects my morning today, it was a lovely, relaxing morning full of cuddles and Cbeebies. It was all going so well and so just like any other normal morning I decided to put Harry in his jumperoo to play whilst I went to empty the dishwasher and made breakfast for us both. Suddenly from the kitchen I could hear a distant grunting and straining sound which usually can only mean one thing, ‘Noooooooo’, I shouted. In the panic I dropped the box of weetabix and ran in to Harry who was stood balancing in his jumperoo smiling and looking rather happy with himself. He looked so cute at this point that I had completely forgotten as to why I had gone back in to him. As I went to kiss his forehead I suddenly got a whiff of the most horrific smell, ‘oh god’, and as I went to pick him up I noticed a lovely, brown substance covering the whole of his back. I quickly took him upstairs to the changing table and sat him down. I’m sure I spent about a minute just staring at him thinking, ‘where the blooming heck do I start’? After carefully peeling of his pj’s, I noticed it wasn’t just up his back anymore. He had poo on his toes, his foot, his thigh, his arm, it was everywhere. At this point there was more on his body than in his nappy! I started to wipe him down with a few waterwipes but it wasn’t enough, those wipes are so blooming expensive that I wasn’t prepared to waste one whole pack on just one poo episode. Any Mum would understand! So, I finally managed to get his nappy off him whilst standing him up and carried him straight to the bathroom where I showered him down. Once he was washed, dry and smelling gorgeous I put him in his little bumbo seat naked for a few moments whilst I cleaned up the aftermath. When I returned to him he had a lovely big smile on his face again, ‘oh you little cutie’ I thought’. I then went to pick him up for a cuddle and on to get him dressed for the day when I noticed he was sitting in a pool of water, ‘Ahhhhh, Nooooooooooooo!!’, and so it was straight back to the bath for another shower. See why I call myself a yo-yo?

It can be a little like ground hog day some days so it’s important to plan trips out and see friends or family to break it up. I do make an effort to shower every day and put on a little make up to help me feel more human. This is to maintain my identity as Cath and not just Mum. It’s amazing what concealer, mascara and a little bare minerals foundation can do to a face that hasn’t had a full nights sleep in 9 months! I’ve slacked a little bit on the hair front but I figured it’s wild enough as it is so, I’m not sure it can get any more crazy really.

Before Harry came along I worked at a private Hospital five days a week as a HCA. It was stressful at times but I loved the fast paced environment and I loved the people there, it became a huge part of my life.

I enjoyed hobbies such as photography, reading, writing, craft work, meals out with friends, walks, the beach and singing. I love singing but I don’t get to sing like I used to, it was my release and it made me feel good. I do of course get to sing lots of nursery rhymes and songs to Harry, though it’s not like I can release my inner Beyoncé to twinkle twinkle, is it? I obviously don’t sound like Beyoncé but I wish I did, I just love her! Ry actually surprised me once and got us tickets for my birthday to see her at the O2 arena. We managed to get really close to her, she was incredible and so I repaid the favor by taking Ry for his 27th birthday present to see One Direction on their last tour. He loves/loved them and surprisingly, it was such a fun night. It seems we are slowly building a One Direction family as we have our little Harry and our nephew/God son is called Louis, please help me!!

Ry and I used to take our annual leave time off at the same time and would often plan an adventure somewhere, usually London or another kind of city trip/holiday. One of my favourites was our trip to Rome where we commuted on the train from Rome through Tuscany to Venice. We also took the Euro star to Paris with our lovely friends for two days which was our last city trip before trying for a baby.  We’ve had some really lovely holidays together to places such as Barcelona, Lanzarote, Florida, Mallorca and Turkey.

If we weren’t at concerts or gallivanting the world, you would either find us out with friends and with family or tucked in with a takeaway, watching either live television, Netflix or playing Call of Duty together. There was endless laughing, lots of cuddling and making up stupid, silly games or going on spontaneous adventures.

He’s my best friend.

We have had a wonderful 9 years of just ‘our time’ and I feel so lucky that we can look back on such amazing memories together. We are a fantastic, strong team and appreciate each other so much. I wouldn’t change my life, I love our family and I am so thankful to you Ryan for sharing this experience with me.  The good times outweigh the bad times and Harry’s smile is enough to make you want to squeeze him with delight, he makes life worth it. He has changed me for the better, finally my anxiety doesn’t rule my life anymore. It might still be there in the background but I have a new light in my life to focus on. The smile Harry gives Daddy when he walks through the door at the end of the day is the most heart warming feeling, that’s my new feeling of ‘Heaven’. I may not have the same energy as I used to and I know things are currently very different, its hard at times  but we will get there. After all… I’m still me.
My World.

 

Anxiety.

Anxiety is powerful, dark, lonely, painful and soul destroying. A severe patch of anxiety can dominate and take over you life.

The main reason for this blog is to cover my battle with anxiety. I still suffer with the condition but I have discovered ways to help manage it. I am currently in a really good place which might be why I’m being brave enough to share my experience.

Anxiety has always been a characteristic of mine but I’ve only recognised it in the last few years. Looking back I remember worrying a lot as a child. One worry of mine was being the last child in the school playground at the end of the day and my parents not showing up. They would only be a few minutes late if they had to come from work but it scared me and so I would ask my friends to ask their Mums to wait until they came.

I also used to hate staying away from home and I would get very home sick. I only stayed at peoples houses I felt comfortable at and school trips away frightened me.

Another trait of mine is time keeping. This is actually quite a positive quality of mine because I’m hardly ever late. I need a plan and I will stick to it.

Over the years my anxiety progressed and got even worse in my early 20’s. This anxiety wasn’t just worry, it affected me physically and made me feel really unwell.

I went through a stage where every day I woke up feeling generally unwell for about a year. I had more bad days than good days and spent a lot of my time crying. I ended up with a bad sickness record at work which caused more stress and anxiety.

I have always found alcohol has exacerbated my anxiety so I rarely drink now. Not getting enough sleep and stress also affects me.

My physical symptoms over the years have included the following;

  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Irritable bladder syndrome.
  • Palpitations.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Fast pulse.
  • Sweating.
  • Chest discomfort.
  • Aches and pains.
  • Habits such as clenching and tensing.
  • Dizziness, lightheaded and feeling detached from my body.

I felt these symptoms everyday, if it wasn’t one symptom it would be another. I was often called a hypochondriac. I used to think to myself I can’t be a hypochondriac because I felt so unwell and genuinely felt these symptoms. I used to wonder what was wrong with me and made many trips to the doctors.

When the doctor asked me if I felt anxious I would get offended and feel like they didn’t believe me. That’s because I hadn’t recognised my anxiety. I felt very alone, I felt stupid and I felt like no one listened to me.

Luckily I have my wonderful Husband Ryan, close friends, my family (especially my Mum) and my best friend Millie who have been very patient, understanding and supportive over the years. The main fact is they listen and help me talk it through. I owe so much to you all, I love you all dearly and would like to thank you for helping me get through the other side.

Finally after tests such as ECG’s, Echo cardiograms, blood tests, urine and stool tests I finally accepted I had anxiety. Once I acknowledged I had this condition I was able to work on strategies on how to cope with it and so I discovered counseling.

Cornwall has an amazing counseling service called ‘Outlook’. I had one to one sessions with a lady who introduced me to Cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT helped me to overcome my fear of driving. I passed my driving test first time but suddenly developed a fear where I couldn’t even sit in the car. Working through CBT and challenging myself really changed my life. Ryan bought me my first car which pushed me and made me even more determined. I now can happily drive anywhere I know I’m going but I still get very anxious about places I’ve never been before. I see this as huge progress though and will continue to work on the rest.

A little more about CBT.

Information taken from NHS website.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.

“It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.

CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.

CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. You’re shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel.

Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind.”

Other strategies that I have used include;

  • Breathing techniques.
  • Online websites such as ‘Mind’ and ‘Sane’.
  • Phone apps.
  • Meditation and relaxation techniques. There are some amazing mediation videos on YouTube.
  • Writing how you’re feeling (one other reason for this blog).
  • Medications such as Propanolol to help my palpitations. This helped mask some symptoms but exacerbated others. I became very addictive and reliant on this medication so it would be my recommended last resort.
  • Talking it through with someone you trust. This has been my main source of help and I want to encourage others to open up and speak to someone.

I am sure I will always feel anxious. I have also developed an OCD with plugs where I have to go round the house and turn them off before I leave to go out anywhere. In my head I know it’s ridiculous but it’s easier to turn them off then worry about them when I’m out and about.

So, this is me and my story. The main reason for this is to help inspire and encourage others who have either anxiety or any other mental health conditions. I will post self help strategies and techniques I discover along the way, I will post occasionally how I’m feeling and any new anxiety related issues I may develop.

Before I leave I’d like to leave this post on a positive high so I recommend listening to Robbie Williams new song ‘I love my life’.

Thank you for reading.

C x

A little bit about me.

So, here it goes. My first ever blog post, a blog about me and my life.

I am really hoping that I can encourage others to open up, firstly about anxiety and other types of mental health but also inspire others on my new venture which is my journey through Motherhood too. I am a bargain queen, always searching for good quality, cheap bargains and so I am hoping I can also include some of my money saving hacks and tips in to this blog too.

My name is Cath, I am nearly 26 years old and I live with my wonderful Husband Ryan. We have been married for 3 years and have been together since I was 15 years old. He is my best friend. This year I gave birth to my gorgeous 8 month old boy Harry (I’ll dedicate a post to him soon) and our lovely black cat Wilson who we rescued 4 years ago from the RSPCA.

Wilson is of course named after Tom Hank’s volleyball in Castaway but we generally call him Mr Wilson. We had a list of names we liked, our favorites were Mr Meowtington and Romeow but I couldn’t quite put my Husband through the fact he might have to sit in the vets on his own and answer to Mr Meowington, although I’m sure that would have made someone’s day! He lost half of his tail in an accident so when we saw the fresh stitches and those ‘take me home eyes’ we just could not resist him. We have a lovely relationship and he truly loves us. Did you know that black cats are the cats that find it most hardest to be adopted?

I am currently on maternity leave and loving every moment. I will be returning to work soon but only part time. Before maternity leave I was a Health Care Assistant at a lovely private Hospital, I loved my job and have been there for 6 years. I will be returning there as member of bank staff but I have a new job as my main part time role which is very flexible with childcare, very local and something completely new. I will be starting there on the 1st December so I can keep you up to date!

We have a wonderful support group of family and friends, we are very lucky.

One main reason I have decided to open up about my life is my battle and struggle with anxiety. I have suffered with this condition for a very long time, I’m sure it’s always been there but as I grew older it became more evident. I have now accepted it as a quality of mine, not always positive but it makes me who I am and why be ashamed of that?

Those closest to me have known for a long time and if they can accept me for it and treat me the same way than there really is nothing to be embarrassed about. I will write a post dedicated to anxiety soon but I really do feel that opening up and talking about it has got me through it.

Please keep an eye out for future posts, I welcome back any feedback on this blog and I hope you’ll support my new hobby.

Thank you,

C  x