Wishing and wondering

I have spent a fair bit of the last year wishing or wondering.  I am talking about my small wishes at home not my big wishes – like global peace, an end to oppression in countries like North Korea and a stop to continued worldwide violence and suffering.  My wishes at home have been so much smaller but have still taken up so much of my head space.

I have wished…

  • I didn’t feel sick (morning sickness), that I didn’t need to lie down
  • That I wasn’t vomiting (more morning sickness)
  • That I wasn’t exhausted (more pregnancy effects and having three children)
  • That I had a daughter – that I got to be a real mother,  that I wasn’t living and experiencing someones worse nightmare
  • That my friends and family were not struggling – experiencing pain and bullying amongst other things
  • That things would end,  that I could go back and make different choices, that things weren’t so hard
  • That friends who can’t have children could or that I could have given them a child
  • That my children wouldn’t tantrum and fuss and just behave (I know this is a perfection that doesn’t exist)
  • That I could loose my pregnancy baby weight as easily as everyone around me (I have wished I wasn’t ‘chubby’ to start with)
  • That I could have a natural birth – avoiding the my third c-section, that I could feel like a real mother
  • That things were just easy for a while
  • That we didn’t have to battle to keep things like guns and pirates out of my sons play, that others wouldn’t tell him to lie about it ( we believe in being honest about the impact of these things and believing that playing these games starts to make it feel normal – a blog post for another day)
  • That it was easy to get help and support for Postnatal depression,  that I could have the things that helped like my magic chiropractor and acupuncture everyday
  • That postnatal depression didn’t make me feel like a failure
  • That postnatal depression chose someone else and not me
  • That I was stronger
  • That I felt people understood how it feels to be me and to have postnatal depression, that people understood how much it has affected me
  • That people understood that despite having postnatal depression(feeling sad and awful) and wanting a girl I still love all my boys
  • That I felt I was a good enough mother

The wishes could go on all day.  I have wondered…

  • What I have done to deserve postnatal depression
  • Why nothing we tried to have a girl worked (yes- we tried all sorts of things)
  • If we should have paid to visit the US and gender selected our third child (yes you can really do that, and no I am not sure I am ok with it)
  • Why me – just to anything and everything
  • Why simple things can be so hard when you are far from feeling 100%
  • Why we aren’t more honest, or open about our struggles, our battles and how we really feel, why we aren’t honest about most things
  • Why around 75% of babies being born where I live are boys
  • Why people think it is ok for children to play violent games, to play with guns, to play pirates (all of which are real and kill people everyday)
  • Why it feels like things keep going wrong
  • Why I keep getting it wrong
  • Why I have such a supportive and caring husband – who has stuck beside me no matter what
  • Why everything I like is expensive and usually Scandinavian
  • How I can love my boys so much and that despite everything they love me
  • Why we are all so hard on ourselves
  • Why people feel the need to hurt others and put others down,
  • How I can stop hurting and upsetting people I care about
  • Why everyone feels the need to comment on the fact that I have three boys, why it is usually with a pitying and negative tone,
  • Why being a parent is so lonely and so hard
  • Why I so often feel on the outside – like I don’t fit in – like I am somehow different or strange
  • Why I can’t just be happy
  • Why when you ask for help people make you feel so small and so useless

Like the wishes the wonders could go on all day.  I know I am lucky,  I am sitting in a warm house, in a beautiful place with a healthy and happy family around me and I am grateful, so grateful.

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Four out of five

Today I am yet again reminded that I have failed.  I am only a mother of boys.  Four out of five of my family are boys – I am the only girl. While every baby is a joy and a blessing, gender disappointment is still real and still hurts.  It is another thing we don’t talk about like bullying and suicide.

I have knitted the pink blanket, brought the girls clothes and dreamed of the dolls house I would buy.  Instead I dyed my blanket and became an expert in toy cars. I have been excluded from the girls things, the girls only events and listened to the ‘woman are the future speeches’ (yes I really believe my boys are the future and are important too).

Gender disappointment for me is a feeling of failure at achieving something/having something I always thought I would and being excluded and left out.  I am very aware that I have three amazing beautiful and healthy children – I am so lucky, but a part of me will always be sad I never had a daughter.  It is a club that I always thought I would join but never can.

The best explanation I have had of gender disappointment is comparing it to travel.  Imagine spending your whole life dreaming of visiting Paris (for example).  You plan what you will do there, dream about what it will be like.  Further to this everyone around you is going there, talking about how amazing it is, constantly pointing out the things that you can only experience in Paris.  Paris becomes the promised land- something wonderful.  You try everything you can to visit there, yet you can never go there (no matter how hard you try or how many times you try). Instead you end up either in some strange destination or at home,  you make this best of this but everyone around you seems determined to point out what you have missed out on, and how you don’t matter because you have never been there, and of course you mustn’t talk about how your failure exists or makes you feel.  You are told that what you feel is wrong and that you are just negative and ungrateful.

I am making progress with letting go of my daughter dreams,  I take joy in my boys.   I am trying to raise them to be caring, loving and gentle rather than aggressive and macho.  I am raising them to be the best possible people not the best boys.

I am trying to let go of being excluded from pigtails, dresses ( don’t get me started on how two thirds of clothes in shops are for girls), dollhouses, princess books, fairies, planning a wedding (the picture of watching my husband walking a daughter down the aisle), being  a maternal grandma (supporting a daughter through pregnancy and parenting) and everything that goes with having a girl.

Yes, there are so many things you can do with boys,  not just girls.  We sing loudly to Adele together (yes they are sad I didn’t take them to the concert). They have dolls (Bubba Doll Doll is very well travelled, and the source of much stress, encountering dogs and needing to wear pyjamas every night), they have pink and love glitter. I am buying my dream dollhouse, but in the end I still only have boys.

Some days it still just hurts.  Today it hurts.  Another thing to add to the list.

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Our happy place

Today we went to our happy place.  It is a special place as it is where we got married but also a place where we all just relax and have fun.  Rather than tell you what we did I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves – enjoy.

Dad of the house

Today my husband has a work dinner so he won’t be home for dinner or bedtime.  Luckily for me I have some replacements to step into his role of ‘Dad of the house’.  We head out for the day (following my cold shower as we have an issue with the hot water cylinder not a recipe to start my day in a relaxed way). Max steps up and reminds me of several things I have forgotten – like his brothers helmet when we set off scootering.   He follows this up by carrying the keys (as I have no pocket), taking photos of me, trying to buy treats (just like his Dad), packing and carrying shopping and backseat driving.  Finn steps up by deciding that today is a day to provide me with constant kisses (yes – wet and slobbery sometimes with tongue – I love my Finni Boo Bear kisses).  Noah in a somewhat grumpy phase attacks his Dads dream of an early night – falling asleep at 4pm (after an extensive tantrum).   Luckily Max is saved from putting Noah to bed – a challenge he has accepted in the past.  I declined Max’s offer of a spontaneous picnic that would have involved waking up Noah (Max did offer to pack everything).  Max did say “you have got me there” when I pointed out the the ‘Dad of the house’ role includes changing the fresh pooey nappy (yes my husband is amazing and is in charge of nappy changes when he is home).

I am now crossing my fingers I can get all my ‘Dads of the house’ into bed before my married at first sight is on (Noah is awake which indicates my plans could be in trouble).

On another note we have been talking a lot about poems,  Noah pipes up from the backseat “Mum I have a rhyme”

Tall Giraffe

Standing tall

Fat elephanty

Fat elephanty

Fat elephant.

 

Just one of Noah’s many articulate and insightful phrases today.

 

 

Hiding

The word hiding means an act of concealment or concealing.  Hiding is something that people are expert at – secreting and hiding away our thoughts and feelings – the good and especially the bad.  While this is a great thing when passing judgement on others  it can be really powerful thing to revel our thoughts and feelings to those around us, others in a similar situation and anyone anywhere who is interested.

After writing honestly and openly sharing just a small part of how I have been feeling I got some amazing and supportive feedback (thanks to everyone for their kind words).  Unfortunately with the best intentions some people close to me ‘freaked out’ about my publicly open approach.  While I respect their desire to protect me one of the hardest things in my postnatal depression experience has been feeling alone.  One of the things that has helped is hearing from friends that this has happened to them as well.  I am amazed how many people have revelled that they too suffered from PND.  The sad thing is that this was hidden, I really wish they had shared how they were feeling and that I could have done something to support them.

In being open and honest I hope anyone with PND or a struggle in their life realises that they are not alone and that there are people who care. In sharing my struggles I am ending my own ‘concealment’ and if this means facing the negativity of some others I hope I am strong enough.

Have a great week- I am going to focus on watching Finn discover the house as he learns to crawl and enjoy my big boys prowling the house as snow tigers.

 

Feeling sad

Todays another day when I should be feeling great yet I am feeling sad.   I know the reasons why – not enough sleep, mastitis brewing and the ever present postnatal depression .  Unfortunately knowing the reasons doesn’t make me less sad, less grumpy or more patient.   I look at a photo of day gone past wishing I could go back there.

All the doubts and negativity start to creep back in.  The feelings of being trapped, being alone and being overwhelmed.  I know I should be trying to spend time with the boys, distracting myself or getting something done.  But everything seems to take more energy and more confidence than I have.

Things could be worse – my cup could be empty not just part filled.  I will chalk this up to being another not great day.  While I watch Finn learning to stand I’ll cross my fingers for tomorrow.

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Believing

Believing can be a really hard thing. Believing that your struggles are not your fault and believing that things will get better.

My struggle with postnatal depression (PND) has been hard.  It is still hard.  Everyday can be a fight to believe that I will get better,  that life is worth fighting for and that things will get better.  I keep trying to shake off the negative thoughts, keep trying to believe that PND really is a chemical imbalance and not just one of my failings.  It is hard for me to see that my super supportive and amazing husband, parents, family and friends don’t see me as a failure for having only boys, for having only c-sections, for having PND, for finding things hard.

I often wonder what people see/think when the meet and interact with me (I know I shouldn’t care).  Do they see someone who looks like they have things under control and has an ‘easy life’ with a warm house, food, family and confidence.  Or do they see the me that has little self-esteem, that feels like a failure,  that struggles to be enough and do enough.

I often lecture my boys especially Max on ‘trying his best’.  We often battle each other over my desire for him to do his best and his desire to sometimes just be.  I have had to swallow humble pie and learn from him that it is ok to just be,  that you can’t always do your best.  We have made peace in many ways agreeing that you have to believe, just like you have to believe in Santa for him to come, you have to believe in yourself and in the future and in trying no matter how hard things are for ourselves.

I keep trying to believe that I am worth it and believe that my family still love me despite my imperfections.  I keep trying to be grateful.  I keep trying to believe things will get better.

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Noah didn’t believe he could climb to the top of Rangitoto a real volcano – but his photo shows he could do it.

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Honesty and struggles

Today I was shown up someone much younger than me.  We decided to blog together but she has shown so much more courage than me, being honest and open about her life and challenges.  She is an inspiration in her approach to life and her struggles, and an amazing writer – I usually cry after reading her writing.  Both of us have had a tough time lately and we are both working to change and heal ourselves.

So today thanks to her inspiration o I want to share my struggle with postnatal depression.  Having each one of my children has been hard – all have been c-sections while I have been desperate for a natural birth – despairing at the comments of others who claimed to just ‘be in the zone’ or ‘it was beautiful’ or ‘so empowering’.  Each birth has brought with it the sense of failure and disappointment and not being able to have a baby properly – at not being a real mother or good enough.  Noah’s birth was tinted by the disappointment that he was a boy.  This again resurfaced when I was pregnant with Finn (we found out at 18 weeks we were expecting our third boy despite trying ‘everything’ for a girl’). Some how my all my dreams and plans had always included being a parent to a girl ( there seems to be something in the air where we live around 75% of babies are boys).

My entire pregnancy with Finn was a struggle – nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, swelling, nightmare and sadness.  The plan was for this to end when Finn was born and for two months it did,  I felt like I could cope and could deal with the demands of parenting.  Then things started to chip away and crumble – my husband went away for work, I hurt my back, I had to have a breast biopsy – and I became sad.  Unfortunately the sadness grew as did the down times, the grumpiness, the stress, the lack of motivation/energy and exhaustion despite Finn being a easy, content and happy baby.

At some point I realised I had postnatal depression (PND) –  words can’t describe what it has been like for me.  PND is different for everyone both in how it affects them and how they deal with it.  For me it was a loss of the will to carry on, to be a parent, to keep going and overall to live.  On the whole I am the master of putting on a front and not letting my internal struggles show- on the outside I seemed fine on the inside I doubted everything. Every comment on having three boys hurt like someone smacking in my face again, the lady who laughed at me just made me angry.  Every comment about how ‘you have your hands full’ made me doubt myself and believe I wasn’t good enough and that I couldn’t keep going and that life was too hard.  I felt guilty for everything and felt that I didn’t deserve anything I had and that Finn deserved a better mother, and that no one wanted Finn or me.  Overwhelmed became my word and became me.

Being a stubborn  I choose to try everything natural to try and beat the PND.  Some things helped – there were truely good weeks and there were ok weeks but the bad weeks and the negative thoughts, the sadness and the black clouds on my life kept on coming.  With the support of my amazing husband,  I finally decided to try medication.  The turning point for me was seeing how much I was affecting the boys especially Max.

I am lucky and the medication is helping – I feel more like me, like I am getting my life back and realising that I can keep going.  There is still the sad times, the low self-esteem and feelings of grief when I see a baby girl but things are definitely getting better.  I hope that sharing this encourages others to share their PND journeys, and encourages you to think before you make that comment like ‘three boys are my worst nightmare.”

 

Mixtures

So the boys are into mixtures.  Making and creating anything.  This has involved raiding my pantry-it started off with using up some expired things from the pantry but while I was upstairs included helping themselves and adding anything from the pantry.  Today they have been focused on liquids after Max read George’s Marvellous Medicine.  Unfortunately it does end in growling mum after the pantry shut message is ignored.  It also pays not to ask what is being added.

Bath secrets

It is no secret that I love water, any water but most often the bath or shower.  We use the bath a lot in our family.  Probably because I love it so much my boys do too, we can spend hours in it.  Luckily when building our house I had the foresight to make sure our bath was quite big, these days it often has three, four or sometimes five of us in it at once (I will save you from the photos).  The boys are also masters of the outside bath,  we love flexi-tubs and our flexi- baby bath for outside baths anywhere.  Recently my eldest has stolen his mums trick of reading in the bath.  As well as a good book I have another secret to make your bath that much better-  the humble old Epsom salts.  While pregnant and swollen I was prepared to try anything to help the swelling amongst other pregnancy complaints.  Hours of internet research suggested Epsom salts in your bath.  Along with a few drops of essential oils (lavender and ti-tree are our favourites) half a cup to a cup of Epsom salts makes your bath that much more luxurious and relaxing.  It its also a good way to absorb more magnesium and it really does help swelling.  The boys have learnt this trick so all baths in our house now contain Epsom salts and a selection and bath toys, animals and boys and sometimes bubbles.