Monday, 21 August 2017

A letter to my post-natal depression

I will not loose against this.

I am ashamed  to see you again.

I thought we went our separate ways a long time ago.

I paid my dues, letting you taint the first 18 months of my first son’s life.

Now, here you are once again as I embark as a new mother of two.

I feared you, and what you would do to me again.

You overwhelmed me.

You consumed me.

You changed me, I didn’t recognise myself anymore.

You scared me, and from the look in his eyes of how I was acting, and what I was saying you scared my partner too.

There was so much darkness in me.

You made me resent my own children.

You made me believe I couldn’t cope, that I was a failure.

You had convinced me I was a rubbish mother.

You manipulated me, and controlled me.

I didn’t sleep because of you.

I wasn’t eating because of how you made me feel.

You made me feel like I couldn’t face anyone.

You got your way and isolated me, you had me to yourself.

You trapped me.

You made me feel like I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s love not even my own children’s.

You constructed fantasies of me leaving my family.

You put a voice in my head that they would be better off without me.

You re engaged my anxiety, I felt like I was swimming against the tide every day when I woke up.

I felt like it my fault you were here again, why couldn’t I just be a ‘normal’ mother?

You made me question everything.

There was one thing you were not counting on, and that is the fact I knew who you are, what you could do.

I knew how to beat you and I knew I could do it.

It may take a while but I will not let you win again.

There will be dark days to come, but there will be so many good days too.

You are not part of me, you are just something that has a temporary residence inside me.

You will not be there forever, you will not control me for long.

I know I am normal, and I am not alone.

I am a good mother, with or without you.

So, this letter is to say, I accept you but, you are not who I really am.

And frankly PND you are a complete b***h.


Monday, 14 August 2017

Peacocking the packed lunch

Elijah and his one true love. Cheese.
Action stations everyone. Elijah needs a packed lunch for the next two weeks while the nursery chef is off.

Now, to some that may not seem like a big deal right? Chuck a sandwich and some Mini Chedders in and away you go.

No, no, no it is so much more than that in the age of the peacocking packed lunch.

It's all about healthy, break the budget organic teeny tiny portioned toddler snacks. It's about alternative quinoa crisps that taste like cardboard. What the hell was wrong with a Dairylea Lunchable I ask you?

It is though there is now a direct link between the quality of your kid's packed lunch to your parenting ability.

Jam sandwich today compared to Timmy's wholegrain rotisserie chicken and organic tomatoes? You shoddy parent. Is that a Penguin? A PENGUIN??? Irresponsible parenting. You mean to say you sent your child in with a whole piece of fruit? Not sliced into tiny completely uniform sticks? I am calling social services. You bloody monster.

You cannot just whack in a Wagon Wheel anymore as it is deemeed unhealthy by the powers that be (personally I blame cocking Jaime Oliver. Turkey Twizzler RIP). You cannot pack nuts in case someone has an allergy. (Um me #arks). Notes get sent home by the angry dinner staff mafia as a tiny packet of raisins aka toddler crack has a lot of sugar and is the sole cause of the childhood obsesity crisis didnt you know?

This may also be where the staff realise one of my secret shames that Elijah eats and has eaten the same thing for lunch for around a year. Cheese sandwich leaving 3/4 of the bread, crisps, his own weight in Babybells and whatever stolen chocolate item he has got from the treat draw. Hardly the suff of Ella's Kitchen.

So, what did I do? Went to Morrisons panic brought half the shop with anything that one, he would eat thus not raising suspicion and two would be accepted as a reasonably healthy packed lunch. The fear of judgement is at an all time high people.

I might also confess our lunch box game is poor. A hastily brought Poundland jobby that is likely to break under the weight of a fly.

Sorry son, I have failed you. You do not have a peacock of a packed lunch. More like a old manky chicken.

Jesus knows what fresh hell his school packed lunch will bring.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Are we too easily offended?

 Serena posing for Vanity Fair

Do you need to give birth to be a “real woman”. The short answer? No.

Serena Williams faced a social media crucifying this week when she said in a magazine interview that she was excited to give birth as she would feel like a “real woman”. A slight poor choice of words which many took offence to and didn't hesitate to let her know by barraging her via social media channels. 

I am speculating here but I do not think she meant this as an insult to women. To those who cannot have children or choose not to. Does this make them any less of a woman compared to someone who has had children? Of course not.  When I gave birth did I feel any more of a woman compared to my pre child self? No, it made me a mother but no more of a woman. The same principle applies that you do not have to have given birth to be a mother.

Put very crudely, women were meant to carry and bear children. This was their biological design, to help carry on the human race. In this day and age there are so many more factors to consider. It isn’t as simple as that. Not all women want to have children and not all mothers give birth to theirs. Families come in all shapes and sizes and it isn't a one size fits all world anymore.

Some topics will always cause an uproar. And this is one of them. Women are not the timid hide in the shadows beings we used to be. We have a voice and one we exercise reguarly. We want to be heard, to be respected for the decisions we make.  Women do not apolgise for not wanting children or admitting how desperate they are to have them. There is still too much stigma and a sense of shame surrounding the topic of inferitility. 

People do love a good witch hunt and when something starts trending it will soon snow ball into something very ugly. One comment suddenly turns into one of the leading strong female role models in sport attacking those who cannot and choose not to have children with the common # of #chooseyourwordscarefully 

I have to admit something here and it has changed my view dramatically of how I view things on social media. When I first saw that Serena had made that comment; I too, was taken aback about how insensitive it was. Talking to my partner about it, he perceived it as something differently entirely. He said that being a sports woman she is likely to be seen as very masculine. I can imagine the comments she must have received about the way she looks and the field she has chosen to pursue a career in. Being pregnant and giving birth is something (at the moment 😉) only a woman can do. This is what I believe she was trying to convey in the interview and not what she was accused of doing. I may be wrong but I struggle to see why a feminist icon would destroy her reputation by being purposely insensitive to a lot of women  that lookup to and respect her.

It is argued we are the easily offended generation and social media does play a role. I was once attacked by what seemed like half the CHD community after I penned an article to say I didn't like it when people asked me if my son was fixed after his heart op. I was bombarded with comments and many said I was too easily offended. I do believe those in the spot light should indeed choose their words more carefully, (D Trump I am looking at you) hell, I think we could all do with doing this perhaps the world would be a kinder place. We are all still allowed an opinion and have a voice and with the ability to make something viral worldwide in a click and a matter of seconds it is so easy to cause a stir or controversy with someone. Just as it takes one retweet, one comment and the trolls are after you in the blink of an eye. When the likelihood is it has been misconstrued, manipulated and taken utterly out of context. 

When you do come across these sensationalised articles we are all guilty of devouring after they pop up on our newsfeeds maybe we should just take a step back revaluate before we start sharpening the pitchforks. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Harlow's one month update


It is a week late (obvs) but here are the main observations of Harlow's first month. I have also been keeping a post partem diary which will hopefully be revealed soon. Keep your eyes peeled 👀
The monkey is damn right chunky. He is a mini @gregcockerill. Not had him weighed for a couple of weeks (sorry kiddo) but he is nearly out of newborn clothes.
We have not lost too much hair ATM but he does look like he has a tiny toupee circa Neil Diamond.
So far we have been pretty lucky with Harlow waking up roughly twice at night and around the same time. Bet I have jinxed it now but we do have a rough routine.It's not fun knowing that in a hour after the night feed your toddler will be up demanding food and Fireman Bastard Sam and his damn right catchy theme tune.
You forget how funny a newborn cracking off is.
The baby voice returns almost instantly.
The elation is real when they start stretching their feeds out longer than every 1 1/2 hours. We average 3/4 atm.
You become accumsted to completing everyday chores one handed with said limpet attatched which is his nickname.
Poonamis still leave you lost for words and wondering how on earth you will clean it up. So much so Greg had a small breakdown over one and made me do it. We have experienced a couple of memorable ones.
We have had our first smile ❤
Seeing Harlow watch Elijah in awe leaves me a hormonal mess.
The first month has gone by so quickly I know I need to appreciate it all before we know it the newborn days will be over. So I am off to sniff his head some more!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Survival tips when your flying solo...

Bribery. Alot of bribery.
Whether you have one, two, three or six small humans that belong to you, there will come a time where you have to ride the frankly terrifying ride of parentdom alone. Here are a few observations/ tips you can use for your own survival! 

1. Expect to be attached to a small human for 90% of the day. Sack of any plans to achieve anying other than perhaps having enough time to poo before the screaming begins again. Bonus points if you get to wipe before you're interrupted by the wailing limpet or invading toddler. I mean who doesn't like an audience? 

2. What you plan to shower or bath? HAHAHA. Unless you time it very well this is not going to happen. My advice? Wet wipes, dry shampoo and deodrant ALOT of deodrant. 

3. Pack a Bear Grylls worthy survival bag if you dare venture outside. You cannot have enough wipes and clothes everything will be covered in sick, shit and piss before you have even left the house...Ahhh the day light it burns...

4. Get confident identifying various stains on your clothes when someone asks what's that? Pretend you didn't notice until now. But you did and made the conscious decison to rewear it this morning after it sat on the floor for 2 days festering.

5. Have a pack of biscuits on hand at all time. They are suitable for breakfast/lunch/ tea. You can eat them with one hand too.

6. Make sure you always have the following in the house..  perhaps more important that wet wipes. Coffee.... GIN.... COFFEE.... GIN...

7. Accept help... all the help. You can digest the guilt later. You feel like you have to do it all and do it alone. You don't. Someone wants to make you food? Take the older kids out? Wash up? For heavens sake sit on your arse and let them! You birthed a person and are keeping it alive. First time round I broke myself trying to do it all. Second time? I let everyone help and yeah, I felt a tad bad but it was so much better for us all in the long run.

8. The best investment you can make as a parent? Netflix. Perfect for feeding binge sessions and to bribe older siblings with too. I am 90% sure Elijah has watched every episode of Fireman Sam EVER made but it has brought me a lot of time! 

9. You can use wet wipes for everything! Jam on the wall? Baby vomit on your leggings? Facial clenser? Poo up the toddler's back? Hell, all they need now is to make edible ones and you have an all rounder there!

10. Remember to laugh. It can sometimes feel like the last thing you feel like doing but it is so important! Laugh it off when your toddler keeps the cat prisoner in his Paw Patrol tent much to her dismay. Or when you find him butt naked up the window watching the bin men. When your toddler shouts F**k sake at the top of his voice in McDonald's or when your newborn just projectiled at baby massage and did the biggest poonami in Costa.

What would be your top tip for surviving the small humans??

#parent #survival #passthegin 


Friday, 4 August 2017

Are we oversharing?

It seems to be a bit of a hot topic currently that we are oversharing photos of our children across social media. Or ‘sharenting’ as it has become known as.  Which to me sounds like something you do as a teenager up the rugby field after too much Frosty Jacks. Cor, did you hear about Lisa? She let Craig give her a good ol’ sharenting at the weekend.  As a parent blogger, and avid follower of many others I do not think twice about how natural it is for parents today to share photos of their children on their profiles. There has been a small revolution occurring in the last few years, one that has changed how we see modern parents and that is the honest accounts of parenting. Not a set up scene, or a paper of the cracks façade but a real-life insight into what we all go through every single day. This has redefined the out of reach social expectations we have been so used to in yester years, or the ridiculous notion we should not share our struggles and suffer in silence. It is standard to announce pregnancies with scan photos, celebrate milestones all via photos on social media. Apparently that 7/10 parents would not share photos of their children online, and some including actress Romola Gerai said that we should be prosecuted for sharing photos. As a child cannot consent they we are exploiting them by using their image which could be taken and used, that by sharenting we are harming our children and their future.

Sharing to much?
Until I had Elijah I didn’t even have a Facebook account set up, and I joined Instagram on an afternoon impulse. A way to share photos (mainly of Elijah) as like any proud hormonal new mum I wanted to share and show him off to the world. What I didn’t expect was to connect with many other parents but especially other NICU and CHD parents and in turn their photos/posts gave me hope. That Elijah could grow up and have a normal life, that there were so many positive success stories, so many people campaigning for things that would change the future of parents to come for generations. That they were using their social media platforms to raise awareness, to get a message out there, and in some cases just to get through the day in one piece. I have shared photos of Elijah for nearly three years, and my blog followed. My blog is called The Honest Confessions and that is exactly what I do. I honestly confess what it is like to have a child in NICU, to face surgery, to be pregnant, my birth story and my mental health struggles. Do I see this as oversharing? To me it isn’t, but to document my daily life and feelings it may be to some. Starting the blog and writing is a way for me to process everything, the good the bad and the ugly. If I was feeling like this were other people? Would they benefit from reading my posts? Could it make just one person feel like they are not alone? To give them hope as other stories have done for me? One post, one photo that it is all it could take to save someone from feeling like this. That is why I share our daily lives.

It could be argued that be sharing so much via the blog and photos of Elijah and now Harlow could be detrimental to them. That they may not want to read about the time their mum gave birth to them, or find it difficult when they read my mental health struggles. Elijah is three and Harlow only a month old they do not know or understand what I write about or share. However, if when they older they turned around and didn’t want me to share a photo of them or write about them as such I would stop. I will always be honest with my boys, so what I have written before will not come as a shock to them. I will not share photos of them naked, or something that could affect them personally later down the line. I am in control to a degree of what I put up on my social media and blog but I am also very mindful of the fact my accounts and blog are public and on the internet and I cannot control what people could do to the photos. Some have asked me before what my partner Greg thinks of me sharing so much and so candidly online, uploading daily posts and stories and the thing is he doesn’t mind. At times he actively encourages it, being so open online to strangers gave me the confidence to face my demons and talk to him about how I was really feeling. It made us closer when I wasn’t hiding how I really felt and told him the truth.

An expert said that by sharing photos online of our children then we are encouraging them to focus on appearance and not their personality. Not sure if she has seen my Instagram feed but it most certainly is not about appearance and it is all about the personality (well, normally the weird and wonderful exploits of a toddler and a new born). That this will in turn make them obsess over getting the perfect ‘selfie’ and fixate on looks. I do not think it is parents encouraging this but rather the over filtered, over photo shopped media and the ridiculous expectations they enforce. I have been sharing my post partem progress online and it has boosted my self-confidence, and taught me to accept and be proud of my body.

It is your decision whether you share a photo of your children, just as it is your decision to follow someone that does but this does not mean they are a bad parent or any less of a parent if they choose to share photos or not.  Do we need to be prosecuted for this though? No, why don’t we spend this time and energy on teaching our children to be safe online isn’t that what matters? Why don’t we use social media for good for once? To raise awareness of issues, to campaign for change to make someone feel less alone? To promote body condifence. To save a parent from feeling low? We are in an age where celeb parents upload daily and show us their real lives, where people rush to complete stranger’s aid via a call for help put on social media. Where one photo of a poonami explosion provides some welcome light relief after a rubbish day, or a photo with someone else in their PJ’s at 16.00 with more bags than Morrison’s make you feel less alone. Could you argue there is no privacy anymore, that we share all of ourselves online? Are we invading our children’s privacy? Perhaps, we do share too much but for the unity, the support and the fact a lot of us are just trying to get through parentdom in one piece I am grateful for the sharenters (seriously who came up with this?).
So yes, for selfish reasons I do sharent, as it helps me personally and mentally and I hope it helps others and if it does get us through the day and makes us better parents; I can only see this as a good thing.

I am off to sharent right now, just kidding, the toddler is naked eating jam on toast.