Growing up right before our very eyes.

Dedicated to Harry Saltern, Age 1, 07/03/2016

” You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. ”

– Dr Seuss.

•••

G r o w i n g   U p

•••

Faith planted the little seed, a love made it grow.

My body so flexible, so robust, so strong.

Working away 24/7.

For nine whole months I was your home, your nest, your warmth and life.

This little human,

Growing, feeding, breathing inside of me.

A feeling like no other.

Feelings of joy, happiness and excitement…

but scared of the unknown.

The mixed emotions about becoming a Mother.

•••

Pregnancy is truly the greatest gift in life.

The most powerful creation.

The most beautiful experience.

Those reassuring movements made me never feel alone.

The kicks, the turns and those cute little hiccups,

all felt from the inside.

•••

Time and patience was the hardest thing.

We couldn’t wait to meet you.

A nursery, a pram and a cot so bare.

A nine month waiting game for this precious life to arrive.

My greatest achievement!

•••

I can’t describe the feeling I felt when I first laid eyes on you.

Your skin, your eyes, your smile,

everything just so perfect.

Your body so small, so fragile, so delicate.

So vulnerable.

We promised to protect you!

You had the tiniest hands and feet

and the cutest little button nose.

Your body weighed just under six pounds.

I really could not be more grateful!!!

•••

The way you crawled across my body to find your food is an experience I shall never forget.

A moment I shall truly cherish forever.

A connection, a bond and a love so strong.

So real.

It was the most natural feeling.

•••

I was your source of nutrition for six whole months.

It was me that turned you into that little chunk.

Those gorgeous Michelin man arms and those yummy, chubby thighs.

I did that, we did that.

The perfect team!

•••

A year has gone by and we’ve learnt so much together.

You’ve developed beautifully.

You’ve met all of your milestones.

You’ve made us laugh, smile, cry.

You’ve completed our family.

•••

I love the way you now crawl everywhere.

Beaming the biggest smile as you go.

A little boy, so happy and free.

So at ease in your surroundings.

•••

That little brain so intelligent,

taking everything in.

Learning to stand up tall and cruise along the sofas.

Pulling the toys out of your toy box.

All on your own.

•••

I love the way you play with your cars.

Rolling and pushing them along the carpet,

shouting the word ‘weeeee’ as you play.

That’s the cutest!

•••

You cleverly create a bomb explosion of toys.

A daily occurrence of what signifies a multi-coloured mine field, scattered across our living room floor.

A room that was once so tidy and neutral,

has now been transformed into something so bright.

So vibrant.

So cheerful.

So loud.

These are just the little things that make you so special.

•••

The three hundred balls from your ball pool dispersed in every direction possible.

Though, Mummy and Daddy really don’t mind!

We like to create silly games with the balls,

Whilst you sit and watch with that hilarious puzzled look on your face.

As if to say…

‘Erm, guys. Who’s meant to be the grown up one’s here?’

I’m afraid you’ve been blessed with a crazy set of immature parents.

•••

You’ve brought so much colour into our lives.

A World filled with such joy,

Such happiness,

Such laughter.

A Love beyond belief.

A constant whirl of euphoria.

•••

I just love how much you adore animals,

The Teletubbies,

Bath time,

and those walks with your Father.

A relationship so unique.

You really do adore your Daddy.

I know he adores you.

He makes you smile and laugh,

a lot!

•••

I even love the food that ends up getting tangled in your hair.

Or thrown in every direction possible.

We are constantly cleaning up after your mess.

Though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I don’t know what I would do without you.

Not now I have this special little person in my life.

•••

I love your beautiful hair and the little curls that are starting to appear.

I adore the way you screech with happiness almost everywhere you go,

turning heads along the way.

I love the way you give us big hugs,

squeezing our necks so tightly.

I love the way you get excited over bubbles being blown.

I love the way your face lights up when we both come home from work.

I love the way you’ll sit and let me stroke and tickle your neck.

I love you!

•••

I love that you are beginning to understand more.

Engaging and acknowledging certain words.

You seem to currently find the word no very funny though.

It makes your mouth curl up at the sides.

For some reason this word has the opposite effect on you,

and you think it’s a game. 

I really am trying to be serious,

but all I can see is that huge grin beaming at me.

I have to quickly turn my head away!

Before I let on my own smile.

Before you see my moment of failure,

and before I break into laughter.

It’s just too hard to be cross with you!

•••

You are a little adrenaline junkie and you love to be startled.

You’re not afraid nor scared to go to anyone.

Balloons are not your favourite though.

You seem very unsure.

We promise to not shower you with balloons on your birthday.

We just want you to be happy.

We can’t wait to celebrate with you.

•••

You’re so brave and so strong.

We are very proud!

•••

Wilson the puss puss is getting there too…

He will leap to your room when you start crying in the night.

We think he’s checking to see if you’re ok.

It’s an amazing improvement from that first day we brought you home.

He stood up like a Meerkat for what seemed a very long time.

Eyes wide open and very scared.

We were concerned how things would work out.

He’s watched you grow.

He seems to want to protect you.

We think he really does adore you.

Unless you crawl towards him, screeching and shouting in his face.

…He doesn’t like that!

•••

You are not the greatest sleeper, we’ve established that!

We’re working on that though, the time will come and we will get there.

We are just lucky to have a healthy, gorgeous boy.

That is all that matters!

•••

So many people love you little boy,

You are truly adored.

Mummy and Daddy are so lucky to have such lovely friends who will do anything for you.

Your Grandparents, Uncles, Aunties and the rest of our huge extended family,

all think you’re pretty special too.

•••

Today you turn one, another exciting milestone.

It’s not a time to be sad,

but a time to look forward.

You may be growing up fast.

 Though, I feel so lucky to be able to watch you grow.

•••

I can’t wait for a future of memory making.

Beach days,

Walks in the woods,

Your first splash in a puddle,

Our first trip to the cinema together,

Our first holiday as a family.

The list is endless!

We have so much to look forward to.

•••

My advice to you little one is…

To just be yourself.

Continue to turn those heads.

Make the most of life.

Go on adventures,

Climb mountains,

Travel the land and sea.

Be true to yourself.

Be polite.

Be kind.

Be determined.

Be happy.

Be honest.

Be inspired.

Inspire and teach others.

Experiment.

Take risks.

…We will pick you up if you fall.

Know we are always here for you.

Talk to us, day or night.

We will always stick by you,

No matter what!

Life can be tough and hard at times,

It can be a scary World.

Though, our World can also be amazing.

People will walk in and out of your life.

Choose the people that choose you.

It’s ok to feel sad sometimes,

Just tell us what’s on your mind.

We will help you.

We will comfort you.

We will guide you and we will nurture you.

Let’s continue to learn together.

•••

One day you will read this,

In a journal I’ve started to create for you.

I will give it to you when you’re older.

So you can know what an incredible first year it’s been.

But also know what a gentle, happy and courageous little boy you are.

•••

You’ve made me so much stronger,

and taught me so much.

You’ve made me a better person.

I feel so much more determined now.

You’ve helped me to discover the most important people in my life,

the one’s who have and always will be there for us.

You’ve inspired me to write.

You’ve encouraged me to open up about my anxiety.

Because of you we have helped others,

and raised awareness.

That is one of my other greatest achievements in life.

I can’t thank you enough for being by my side and for helping me accomplish this!

•••

You are my World, my light, my life and future.

Thank you for coming in to my World.

Thank you for being you.

•••

Happy 1st Birthday Harry.

 

 

 

 

The tale of the little sleep thief.

It’s currently 2am. Harry is wide awake and I am sat watching him chuck every single ball possible out of his ball pool…it contains 300 balls! I am just watching him doing it and I don’t have the strength to stop him anymore. I’m so knackered that I can barely lift my right arm, therefore all I can do is watch the distruction unfold before my very eyes and look forward to a colourful rainbow of balls spread across my living room floor when we return back down in the morning. I say morning, it’s currently morning now but I refuse to accept that. I can’t think straight. I just want him to sleep. Sleep child, sleeeeep! 

It’s been two hours since Harry woke and I have tried everything. This has been happening every night for the last two weeks, I’m out of answers and our last resort in the end is to bring him downstairs so he can tire himself out. Ry and I have had to take these night adventures in turns. Luckily Ry had last week off and has been incredibly helpful but he’s back to work six days straight this week. Therefore, I’ll be the lucky night warrior this week. 

Harry has had a really tough few months and the illnesses have been relentless. In December he had a cold, two ear infections, tonsilitis, hand, foot and mouth and then the dreaded sickness bug. 

The sickness bug was our lowest point so far. Harry started being sick on the eve of Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve-Eve), at that time we were not sure if it was a bug but we took precautions just incase. However, during the day on Christmas Eve I noticed I had no appetite. I was a little worried but I refused to believe I was coming down with something. I was adamant that nothing would spoil our Christmas because I’m pretty certain I’d never been this excited for Christmas before. I also don’t think I’ve ever seen Ry so excited which made the build up really special. Unfortunately in the night on Christmas Eve I also started vomiting which lasted from 11pm at night until 5pm Christmas Day. It was horrendous. Harry still wasn’t 100%, Ry was full of a cold and it had to be the most miserable Christmas I’ve ever experienced. I think I spent most of the day lying on the floor. I felt so guilty every now and again so I managed to build up a little bit of energy to open some presents but then ten minutes later I was back on the bathroom floor sprawled out like a beached whale. I just couldn’t stop the constant flow of tears, I was so upset. I was missing my Christmas dinner, missing seeing my family and missing my first special Christmas with my little boy and husband. 

Lots of people said to me ‘oh well, there is always next year. Harry won’t remember, he’s only little’ and ‘it’s just another day’.

I remember those comments really hurt because nobody understood how excited I really was. Harry might not remember but we will and we were absolutely gutted. Also, Ry had been looking forward to some time off after a very busy month of work and never got to enjoy it.

Ryan got the bug a few days later and so, the Saltern family were in quarantine for a total of six days. We were pleasantly surprised one evening by a knock on the door. Stood in our doorway was my Mum sporting a pair of reindeer antlers on her head and fairy lights flashing around her neck, bringing true Christmas spirit to our front door. She was also holding an amazing care package full of goodies to help make us feel better. Also stood next to her was my Dad, dressed with no quirky Christmas attire and pretty much holding his breath whilst awkwardly backing away from the front door towards the car. Absolutely hilarious and an amazing act of kindness that truely made our Christmas.

As you can tell Christmas 2016 is a bit of a sore subject but I am hopeful that we will have a brighter Christmas next year. 

Since the dreaded bug. Harry has also had a nasty cough and cold. This cough has lasted weeks and kept him awake during the night. He also looks as though he has another tooth on the way, all in all a recipe for a horrendous night. Or in our current circumstance, month.

The cough seems to creep back at night when we’re all most vulnerable. The tickle doesn’t seem to disappear which causes Harry to urge and gag constantly. The urging then leads to a case of projectile vomit, which then leads to a very awake baby and incredibly exhausted parents. This has been our nightly pattern for the last two weeks, there has to be an end in sight surely. 

2.30am – Harry is finally looking tired. Pray for Mummy!!

11am the following day:

So, I’m just writing this after an awful experience I’ve had this morning. Waking up this morning I felt absolutely fine, I managed to get about four hours sleep after Harry went down in the night and although I really could have done with some more sleep, it was better than nothing. Suddenly, I started to feel very odd. I noticed a strange shape appear in my eye, a flashing silhouette which I can only imagine was an aura from a migraine. I only know this because I’ve had similar experiences before. I then started to feel really dizzy and quite disorientated, I wasn’t sure if I was going to pass out or faint. Although the feeling wasn’t going away, I still tried to remain calm but I couldn’t help feeling scared. I was worrying about Harry and how I was going to look after him whilst feeling so poorly. As a result of worrying, I could feel my pulse start to race and I knew if I wasn’t careful it may bring on a panic attack, thank you anxiety. I knew I just needed to contact someone. I managed to speak to Ry on the phone who calmed me and reassured me. However, he was at work so he couldn’t talk for long. I then managed to speak to my Dad and brother Matt who both reassured me. Matt told me he would be round to visit in a little while which made me feel slightly more at ease. After taking a cocktail of paracetamol and ibroprufen, eating something and drinking what felt like gallons of water, I then started to feel much better.

My brother has since been round. By then I was feeling lots better so we were able to have a cup of tea and a catch up. I think this episode was a combination of both exhaustion and dehydration. I am also currently having an inflammatory response flare-up which happens a few times a year. This condition attacks my joints. Mainly affecting my knees, hips, wrists, back, toes and ankles. Sometimes it can affect both sides at the same time but it’s currently only affecting my right side. I take naproxen to help with my flare-ups and I am looked after by a rheumatology specialist who I have an appointment with on Wednesday, that definitely has come at the right time. I have noticed my headaches, anxiety and inflammatory responses are possibly linked to my hormones which I will mention at my appointment and hopefully get some further advice. 

It is now 13.30 and this is the current situation. (This blog has somehow turned into a 24 hour diary).


Harry has never fallen asleep by himself like this before. We usually have to rock him to sleep of some kind. He was happily playing in his play area and suddenly just fell asleep. I am now going to try and nap on the sofa too whilst I can!! 

16.00

Harry ended up joining me for a sleep on the sofa. It’s been a while since I’ve had the honour of sleepy cuddles in the day. Best feeling ever. 


I was thinking that it’s been a little while since I’ve updated my blog. Life feels so much more busy since I have been working. I now work two days a week and more when I have childcare, which I’m really enjoying. I was recently offered a new role in my job to work with their online retail team and help with some online marketing. I also wrote my first blog for them the other day, I’m really content and so pleased to be able to continue my love for writing at work too. 

On the days I’m not working, Harry and I tend to get booked up with plans quite quickly. We are either having play dates, catching up with friends, seeing family, having some Mummy and Son chill time or I’m catching up on housework. We are very lucky to have such a fantastic network of friends and family in our lives with so much support. We are also super lucky that people are always wanting to see us. I actually used to be able to get away without relying on a calendar or a diary, however since accidentally double booking two friends last month for the same day, I now have to book everything in on a calendar! I felt so incredibly guilty that I can’t let myself do that again. I have to blame my sleep deprived, baby brain…is that still acceptable? 

Despite the tiredness and the difficult nights, we are blessed with mainly positives that truely out-rule the negative times. Harry is so well behaved and has such a lovely nature. It doesn’t take much for him to smile or laugh and for him to make us laugh too. He is constantly learning and understanding more, developing daily. He learnt to crawl just after Christmas and he has since been pulling himself up and standing wherever possible. We now have a room divider/play pen in our living room which gives Harry a wonderful amount of room to play but is also very safe. He now pulls toys out of his toy box by himself and has started to become more interested in books, especially the touch and feel ones. He is now enjoying his food more and tends to eat a lot of what we are eating. He is also now in his cot in his own bedroom which we recently finished doing up. Things are improving and getting easier – we just need to work on the nights! I am so in love with this little person who just makes me burst with pride. 

One scary thought is that Harry is going to be one in a few weeks. I’m going to have a one year old child. How and when did that happen? This year has been the quickest year of my life. Although I’d quite like it to slow down, I am enjoying seeing Harry grow in to this gorgeous little human and I can’t wait for his next milestones. Oh and before you wonder, I am definitely not broody just yet!!

I feel awful because I haven’t yet organised a party for Harry. Does a one year old need a party? We’ve been invited to some lovely first birthdays so far, which were amazing but with Ry and I both working it’s really hard to find some free time when we are both off together. We are going to have a family gathering with cake the Sunday before Harry’s birthday. We are also going to Paignton zoo for a Mummy and Harry birthday treat as our birthdays are quite close together, I’m really excited. Then on his actual birthday we thought about taking him swimming or to a soft play area, just the three of us. 

On another subject, those of you who follow my Instagram account will notice I post lots of pictures of Harry. I’ve heard some people complain before when they see that their friends constantly post pictures of their children. Out of all the horrible stuff we see daily on social media, this is hardly a crime. I can also tell you that it’s for no one else’s benefit but our own. My profile is private and so I can choose who I want to follow my posts. I use my Instagram as a memory blog. I love photography, therefore Instagram is somewhere I can express this passion, plus be able to view my favourite photos in one place. Mum’s and Dad’s – you can’t ever capture enough memories of your children. It may not mean anything to anyone else but it should be encouraged, whether you put it in on social media or not (as long as done safely) because they will be your most treasured memories. 

I am off now to enjoy an evening with my lovely family and demolish the homemade pasta bake Ryan has prepared for us all, he’s such a catch!

Keep an eye out for my next post that I’m currently working on – introducing my own motherhood tips, hacks and ultimate saviours. 

Thank you again for reading. 

C x

Breathe.

I wanted the title of my blog to mean something to me and a word I could connect to. The title ‘Breathe’ keeps me calm and relaxed, it’s a word that has meant a lot to me over the years which has also helped encourage me to write. ‘Breathe’ has saved me in so many situations and as a result has become one of my favourite words. I wanted to share with you what this word means to me and why. Who knows, maybe it could become one of your new best-loved words.

Breathing is an every day, normal human habit. It happens automatically but do we really appreciate the importance of breathing and what effect it has on our health?

When my anxiety journey started I spent many days and nights researching my symptoms, searching for help and looking for answers. The panic attack episodes, the lightheadedness, the dizziness, the shortness of breath, the chest pains, the palpitations, the aches and the pains, the dry mouth, the tiredness, the constant feeling of thinking I may pass out daily, the loss of confidence and the fear and the darkness of anxiety all played a part with a poor connection of breathing.

Bad breathing restricts the blood flow to your brain, causing your nerve cells to become affected. This can cause many symptoms listed above. When we’re anxious we tend to hyperventilate or over-breathe. I did this a lot without even realising at times, I would often feel relaxed even when anxious but I wouldn’t realise it until the symptoms and panic would kick in. This is why I assumed I was seriously ill at the time because I had no idea I was suffering from anxiety. At times I would struggle to breathe which can make you feel like you don’t have enough oxygen in your body when in actual fact you have more than enough – almost too much. However, in order to use this oxygen your body needs a certain amount of carbon dioxide. When hyperventilating the normally carefully controlled levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen get all thrown out of sync. This chemical imbalance starts to affect your nervous system by putting your body on alert and causing a host of horrible symptoms.

I am certain that my poor breathing, alongside my worries, is the beginning part of the cycle that activates my ‘fight or flight response’. This is our body’s primitive, automatic and inborn response which will strike when your body is under stress. This response prepares your body to fight or flee from any possible attack or threat to our survival. When I’m anxious about something I develop the poor breathing and as a result my symptoms increase and so I become even more anxious, causing a soul-destroying vicious cycle. My body automatically detects whats causing me to feel anxious as a threat and will continue to do so until I break the cycle.

For example:

During my driving lessons, I was a confident driver so I had no idea I would be so anxious about driving one day. It must have been because I felt at ease having my instructor with me the whole time, I could still ask questions if I needed to and he had controls on the passenger side which was always my safety net.

I didn’t feel ready when my driving test day approached but I decided to use it as a practice test. I just had no confidence in passing that day, especially first time. When the examiner told me I had passed, I was really rather shocked.  Ryan instantly got me insured on his car so I would occasionally drive but not every day. Suddenly I started to drive less and less until one day I couldn’t even sit in the driver’s seat of a car on my own.

As time went on my fear got worse where I wouldn’t drive without anyone else in the car with me. I would rather get up early and walk 25 minutes to the bus stop in the dark and pouring rain instead of getting in a nice, warm car where I could drive to work singing to the radio. I was unhappy because I hated not knowing how I was going to get to and from work daily, I had no independence and I relied on Ryan a lot. Going to the supermarket for most people is fairly minor but for me, it was a big deal. I would sit and battle with my mind for ages trying to decide whether to go, where I would park, constantly re-thinking the journey over and over in my head but because I would get so worked up I would often give up and decide not to go. So much time wasted with no gain but most of all, I really needed those essentials from the shop.

I am sure the worry of transport and the fear of driving caused the main majority of my anxiety. I felt so ill during this time in my life where my symptoms were at the highest they’ve ever been. I was so unhappy, so low, with no confidence and an absolute nervous wreck. I didn’t realise it at the time that these worries and fears were the cause of all this.

I would dread an opportunity where I would need to drive because it would make me ill and so I would avoid the situation by cancelling or not going. It may have been an opportunity to meet up with friends but it was easier for me to not go so I didn’t have to battle with my symptoms and nerves. Once I made a decision not to go it would instantly make me feel better and relief would suddenly set in but I would also regret it. I was ashamed of myself on losing out on such memories and opportunities, I was letting my anxiety win.

After many weekly trips to the doctors and constantly being told my health is fine but I have anxiety, I finally started to believe them. I decided enough was enough and so I started to seek help through counselling. I sat with a counsellor where we discussed any worries or fears of mine and any situations I would usually avoid. The more I talked, the more and more I realised I was suffering from anxiety and so we attempted to tackle it by using CBT. At this time Ryan bought me a car which made me even more determined to start driving again.

Suddenly the fog became to clear, I followed the CBT guide and decided to tackle small journeys one day/week at a time. The first goal was to sit in the driver’s seat on my own and start the engine, this was the hardest goal. After taking deep breaths in and out I was able to overcome that first hurdle. The next day I was to drive up the road and back. Then to drive a bit further to the nearest roundabout and come back home. I managed these within the first week and so the following week I challenged myself to go to the supermarket. It was hard but I did it. It might have been 8pm at night where there was no traffic and lots of available parking but I still did it. Then within two weeks, I had overcome my first drive to work. I can not even explain the feeling I had when I drove to work for the first time. I have never been so proud of myself. In an instant my confidence grew, I felt independent and free but most of all, I finally didn’t have dripping wet hair or damp trousers and socks from the dreaded walk.

I am now in a much better place with my driving, I can go to places I know but still struggle on occasions with places I don’t know. I’m still training myself and I’m eager to continue to improve.

I really believe the fight or flight response played a huge part in this. My body was telling me to flee the situation because it saw driving as such a threat. This affected my life drastically. My body is now learning to fight and so the driving doesn’t seem like such a huge threat anymore. I still get the odd symptoms but not like I used to. I am in a much happier, brighter place and my anxiety has been particularly well controlled for the last two years. I still get my anxieties and worries but they are more minor so I can normally rationalise with my brain and work through it, mainly through using breathing techniques. I still look back to how cloudy and dark my life was then and I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have come out the other side. The day I accepted I had anxiety was one of the most courageous and bravest hurdles I’ve overcome. I was able to work at it and challenge myself. I did my own research to try and help understand what is happening to my body and why. I sought help, I spoke to friends and family and I developed techniques to ease my symptoms.

Breathing really helped through this phase in my life. I focused on breathing exercises where you inhale and exhale for a certain amount of time. I also found some amazing videos on YouTube by searching for either breathing exercises or relaxation techniques. Lots of exercise videos on YouTube encourage you to relax in a quiet room by yourself where you listen to the lapping of waves on a beach, birds in the sky and the breeze of the wind on palm trees. Usually, there is a voice over of someone encouraging you to relax each and every part of your body as the video goes on. It really worked for me and is something I would recommend to anyone undergoing any types of stress, anxiety or depression.

When I am focusing on my breathing I imagine that I am inhaling clean, fresh air into my lungs. When exhaling I imagine pushing out all of the toxins, the unwanted waste and symptoms out of my body.

I used these YouTube videos a lot during my pregnancy. I also listened to pregnancy meditation videos and attended pregnancy yoga classes (the best thing ever) and I am absolutely certain the meditation and yoga was my saviour during pregnancy and labour. I breathed my whole way through the labour with the help of some fabulous gas and air. I was calm which is totally the opposite of how I thought I’d be. I was able to listen to instructions from the midwife and hold proper conversations between contractions, although I was constantly apologising for the moo-ing sound effects! I felt like I was there the whole time mentally though which meant I was able to enjoy the experience as much as I could with a clear head.

Breathing has also helped me to keep calm during many other situations that normally cause me to feel anxious, such as:

– Any procedures involving needles on myself. I am able to take blood from others but not quite so willing to be the actual patient!

– Taking off or landing on a plane.

– Dealing with any workload stress.

– Walking into a room full of people. I.e. Doctors surgery or restaurant.

– Taking any exams or tests.

– Spending the night at home on my own.

– Being in the dark.

– Becoming a new Mum and the shock of hardly sleeping. It’s the most beautiful job but life-changing. At times its been challenging and hard but breathing your way through those times can seriously help! I struggled an awful lot post-natally during those first six months, it was a really tough time.

I have never found a cure for my anxiety but what I have found is a coping mechanism which works for me. I have had people say to me ‘just don’t worry’ or ‘get on with it’. I honestly really wish it was that simple. Those that haven’t experienced anxiety before may not fully understand how we feel. So my plan is to open everyone’s eyes to see that anxiety is not as clear as you think, there’s no guidebook or instructions, it’s not written in black and white, it’s hard work and really, really tough. Everyone’s anxieties are different but you need to work at it. You need to try and find your own individual connection and root cause first in order to work on strategies to change the cycle.

To anyone that does suffer from anxiety and to anyone who has similar symptoms to me. I am so sorry, I understand what you are going through, you are not alone and I feel your pain. It will be fine, one day you will find a way through this darkness and life will become brighter. Please just keep working at it, never give up and don’t let it win!

This blog is like therapy in a way for me and a good reminder to just breathe. I hope this is helpful and reaches out to those who need it the most but raises awareness at the same time.

I welcome back any feedback, good or bad and any requests/ideas that you would like to see on any of my future blog posts.

Thank you so much for your time.

Love,

Cath x

 

I’m dreaming of… a full night’s sleep.

Harry has now reached nine months old which means he’s been out of me the same amount of time he was in. He’s growing up so quickly, I just can’t believe how quick it goes and how much he is changing. I feel so blessed to be able experience such a wonderful journey and help guide and grow what was a tiny 5Ib 11oz baby in to a 24Ib nine month old boy. Also, to be able to have such an influence on Harry’s future. Being a parent is such an important job, it comes with it’s ups and downs but ultimately it’s full of such love, laughter and happiness. I couldn’t imagine anything better than being a Mum.

Harry reaching nine months means two things for me…

Number one.

My full time Mummy job is up. I will never get that time with Harry all to myself again. My maternity pay has ended and so it is now my role to return to work. I have recently started a new job which is going well. I am slowly settling in and enjoying it but I do have mixed emotions of excitement and sadness. I am excited to be ‘Cath’ again a couple of days a week, to eat my lunch in peace, to enjoy a hot drink at my desk and engage in adult conversation but I’m also sad to be leaving Harry. I don’t want to miss out on any first words or future developmental stages, I love putting him down to sleep for his naps, I love my days with him but I am sure this will encourage me to not take advantage of these days and make the most of the time I do have with him. I feel like I’m having to learn all over again, I’m having to learn a new job, learn how to leave Harry and learn how to trust he’ll be ok without me. I’m adjusting though and I’m positive that I’ll get there.

Number two.

It also means that Ry and I haven’t properly slept for nine months. It’s actually longer for the both of us because the last month of my pregnancy was pretty awful. I felt like a hippopotamus! I was big, not very mobile and I would often get stuck in to a position I couldn’t independently get out of. Ry used to have to push or pull me to get out of bed and I also snored…a lot. It was so loud it used to wake both of us up. This was due to factors such as hormonal changes, weight gain and fluid retention which obviously couldn’t be helped but I did feel sorry for Ry, it really was hideous! Poor Ry spent the remaining last few weeks on the air bed whilst Wilson our cat became my bed buddy. At least I didn’t repulse Wilson with the snoring! Those cats are loyal.

So the reason for the title of the post is because I’ve just been feeling a little overwhelmed, tired and emotional lately. Writing these blogs not only help me but hopefully it helps others to relate. I am quite an open person at times and I feel proud to share my experiences. I write these mostly when Harry is either napping or when I have put him to bed. I tend to start writing and then add to it as the days go on.

Change and not enough sleep really affects my anxiety and I was particularly aware of this towards the end of my maternity leave and the lead up to starting my new job. I know there are some awful things happening in the World, I know sleeping isn’t everything and there are worse things in life but it is something that is required to be able to function properly. It recharges your batteries for the following day. I liken it to a mobile phone or an electric car, without being charged up they can’t function. Although somehow your body is so powerful that it pushes you and gets you through the day, no matter how low your battery is. Some days are easier than others.

It’s got to be true that whoever said ‘sleep is for the weak’, either hasn’t had children, is the most incredible, patient person ever or has to be a robot.

My amazing Mum is there for help and advice 24/7. She recently responded to my first SOS message asking her to have Harry for a night. She’d had him once before when I had to have a little op but this time was a small cry for help. Thanks to Mum she very kindly had Harry the same night which meant we got to have a lovely, peaceful sleep. It was the first time I had asked anyone to have Harry in nine months as Harry used to use me a lot in the night for comfort when I was breast feeding, therefore it was harder for anyone to have him for the night. He recently naturally stopped feeding from me though and is now on formula so it’s now a lot easier for him to stay elsewhere. Although, I am reluctant to send him to anyone because I feel guilty as I just know it’s not going to be an easy night.

I know I’m not alone and I’m sure there are a lot of other Mums out there who are anxious about going back to work and parents who just don’t get to sleep. I can’t help but feel sorry for my husband and I on occasions though. I feel bad saying that but I think it’s ok to be a little selfish sometimes. Harry wakes every couple of hours and always has done. Sometimes it’s been half hourly, hourly, two hourly and we are extremely lucky when we get a block of four hours sleep.

Harry recently had another tooth poke through the gum and has just recovered from a poorly few weeks of having a cold, tonsillitis, ear infections and hand, foot and mouth. As you can imagine our nights have been even worse than usual lately, however the sleeping doesn’t matter as much when they’re ill. I have never seen Harry so poorly and I would have given anything to take that away from him. I would have no sleep for a year if it meant he didn’t have to go through what he went through again. At one stage he was completely off his food, very sleepy, running a temperature of around 39 most of the day, very weak and floppy with funny breathing, ice cold hands and feet and a rash that appeared all over his body. He was very brave though and trooped on and he’s now currently on the mend.

I have discovered that when you have work the next day it’s essential that you must try and avoid looking at a clock when you have been woken during the night. When you realise it’s 4am and your baby is wide awake and not planning on returning back to sleep any time soon, it’s very disappointing and depressing when you know your sleep is literally being taken away from you. One night recently Ry and I both had work the next day so we both planned to get up at six. Ry goes to work early anyway but I needed to get myself ready, Harry’s stuff ready and drop Harry to my Mums before work, so I gave myself plenty of time to prepare. That night however, Harry woke up at 3.30am until just after 5am but when we finally got back to sleep ourselves we then had to get up in less than hour. It was torture!

What I sometimes struggle with is balance. It’s so hard to balance a working life, enjoy time with and look after your baby, spend quality time with your Husband and family, maintain your friendships, have some time for yourself and also to keep up with all the housework…all on very little sleep!

Therefore I am sorry to anyone if I have been completely rubbish lately. Please understand that I’m just learning how to juggle my new life. I’ve not become a recluse or a boring 25 year old. I am just trying to live and survive but also be a good friend, wife, mum, sister, daughter, etc just like all the other parents in the World. I know we are not alone, it’s life and I’m sure it will get easier.

I have joined a few Mummy group pages on Facebook which are great for advice but I often see Women complaining about their other halves on there. Yes, some men are probably totally useless but not all men are and I honestly have to say that my Husband is one good egg! I cannot praise him enough, he is a fantastic Dad and Hubby. He is absolutely shattered but never complains. He just gets on, never expects anything from me, appreciates me and if it wasn’t for Ry I’m not sure I would have gotten through these last nine months as easily. He has made it so much more smoother for the both of us, he brightens up the low times, he’s positive and strong, he’s just amazing. Not once has he said to me ‘what have you done all day?’ Or ‘why is the dishwasher not emptied, why has the washing not gone on?’, he just walks in, smiles and gives us both a hug and then continues on with the evening. He will help out with jobs, plays with Harry and gets involved with Harry’s evening and bath routine every night. The first week of Harry being born Ry did the main majority of the nappy changes because I was so exhausted and couldn’t easily walk. I spoke to the midwife on the phone on day four and she asked me what colour Harry’s poo had been, I didn’t have a clue because Ry had been on nappy duty. The midwife was very impressed and said “well, we don’t often hear of that!!”

I honestly am so grateful and thankful for that. Ry understood, he stepped up and he is already such a great role model for Harry at just nine months. He is demonstrating wonderful morals and manners and showing what it’s really like to be the head of the house by providing his support and showing his appreciation. There is none of that stereotypical, old fashioned nonsense in our Saltern household, thankfully. Ry is a gentleman who respects women and we are super lucky to have a Ryan in our lives.

If you are a man and reading this, if you are about to have a baby, just recently had a baby or hope to be a Father one day than I hope your wife/partner is as lucky as I am to have such a wonderful, understanding and helpful Husband. Please remember we’re not just home all day doing nothing, we are also working too. We are actually on call 24/7, our brains don’t ever switch off, our minds are constantly full of worry and guilt, along with the 100 list of jobs we have left to do. We feed, clean, teach, change and play with your child, trying to raise them as best as we can. We know you work hard but we do too. We do not sit on our backsides all day like some people assume. There is no feet up, no drinking hot tea and no watching Jeremy Kyle. Not in our household any way.

What i’m trying to say is sometimes a simple gift of appreciation will do. We don’t ask for much but your love and support. Please give your wife a break and offer her a bath or a hot cup of tea every now and again. Or even just your simple words would do. An ‘I love you’ or a ‘thank you’ really does go miles.

If you are a single parent and reading this than I hope you know how amazing you are. It must be so hard at times but remember to appreciate and be proud of yourself. I am totally in awe of your strength.

I know I have rambled on about the fact that we don’t get a full nights sleep. I’m also sorry if it sounds like I’m complaining because I’m not and that is not my aim for this post. I just want to be honest because I know there are other  people out there who too are in a similar position to us. At times you feel very alone and isolated. Every day you wish for tonight to be a good night and all you hear from people is ‘it’ll get better’. I’m sure it will, however for now I will just enjoy the extra cuddles we get from Harry during the night and appreciate how lucky we are to have such a lovely, healthy, good natured boy. That’s all that matters.

If you’re having a bad day just remember that it won’t be this way forever. They grow up so quickly so rather than look back with regret, buckle that seatbelt of yours and enjoy the bumpy ride. We are so lucky after all to be able to experience such a wonderful gift.

Thank you for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

C x

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