Do you ever ‘check in’ with yourself?
Last week was the UK’s first Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, and I’ve been reading some very raw and honest stories: first-hand accounts of post-natal depression (PND), medication and breast feeding, and the realities of motherhood when things aren’t falling into place.
My own experience seems insignificant in comparison, and I wasn’t sure I should even write this post. Because I didn’t suffer PND. I’ve had some pretty low ‘lows’ over the last two years, but I’ve always been able to pick myself up. I didn’t seek professional help. I always had somewhere to turn, and someone to listen.
But mental health is so important for every mum, and I think it’s vital that we all share our stories. No matter how insignificant we might think they are.
Soft play centres can be pretty horrific. Never more so than a wet day in London during school holidays. So when I found myself at one on a rainy summer day with my mum-in-law and son, waiting to miscarry and hoping it wouldn’t happen there, I had to shake my head at the absurdity.
I’ve been in limbo before: waiting to find out whether I was BRCA positive, waiting for my UK Indefinite Leave to Remain application to be approved, waiting for mortgage approval and an offer to be accepted and for the agent to hand us the keys.
But the limbo between being told you’ve had a missed miscarriage, and the appointment to surgically manage everything, is a strange and upsetting period I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
When hubby and I went for our 12 week scan I told him I was feeling anxious and I didn’t know why.
‘What’s there to be anxious about?’ he said, giving my hand a squeeze. ‘We’ve done this before, it’s just a baby’.
Except that it wasn’t.
How are you? It’s a loaded question when you’re a new mum, and you think to yourself how much do they really want to know?
In my past life I was a successful white collar worker, moving project by project up the corporate ladder. My work had allowed me to visit some remote and beautiful countries, and I went from being an Aussie backpacker in London to a home-owning, loft-converting immigrant with indefinite leave to remain.
A preventative double mastectomy slowed me down in 2013, but following that I got married, we travelled the U.S. for 5 weeks, and I ran my first marathon.
Then I had a baby.
I was messaging my mum and sisters the other day (we group chat A LOT), and my mum said something that made me feel really sad. We were talking about my sister’s upcoming wedding, and my mum was worried she looked fat in the dress she’d bought.
Now I’m not going to lie. I’d tried on my bridesmaid dress a few days before, and my eyes had expertly picked out every flaw. Arms too big and flabby, but if I got a fake tan and didn’t press them against my sides I might get away with it. That darned weak chin (ignore it), and dark bags under my eyes (concealer?). The back of the dress was lovely and low, but I saw shoulders not broad enough and too rounded. Mummy tummy? Tick. I scrutinised the bottom of the dress. I could just make out my saddle bags. Damn. I looked at every possible angle, and thought maybe if I tried harder I could lose a bit of weight. Spanx might help. If I wasn’t so weak and love cheese so much. Maybe if I didn’t eat for one day a week…