Hello Lucky Things, I hope your week is going ok. Well, I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a while now. People start blogs for all kinds of reasons. The main reason for me? Last summer I’d just come out of the worst part and hopefully the tail-end of the baby blues. My husband Mr H did me a massive favour at the end of last summer. Having just put our second baby to sleep, Mr H gave my confidence a massive nudge and said I just need to start my blog. A blog had been on my personal ideas list for 2 years. It was time to start my creative adventure and exercise my brain muscles in a different way! Funny how the tough times can generate ideas and new things to focus on. So before I could start drawing mind-maps about blog strategy and over-analysing how I could even write a blog, we set up the blog platform and social media domains that very night. I’m sure it will be one of the best things I ever do, so I hope it gives followers many reasons to like, smile, care and share.
On 4 February it was #TimeToThink day encouraging us to talk more freely about mental health. So it felt like a good time to share my baby blues story and how I said bye to the baby blues. One of my closest friends (who is now on the other side of the world) told me today that she’s happy I’m more open about the difficult things in life. Since having our first baby and being lucky enough that IVF worked for us, I have been super-open about the IVF journey and other tough times we’ve come across. It’s been pretty cool being able to express the ups and downs and best of all people get to see another side to me. Being open has enabled me to build some wonderful new friendships very quickly and helped to reinforce current friendships. Being open has also given others the chance to share their own stories of anxiety or depression (what I like to call the low-times). One thing I know is that true friends and family really don’t judge you as they’re too busy worrying about you, wishing you happy things and wanting your life to be ok.Some may not understand exactly what’s going on in your world but the most important thing is that they’re there for you.
So this is probably going to be one of the most open and heartfelt posts I may write for the blog. Plus, it’s totally about me and my own experience (one of the best things about blogs!) I hope you enjoyed reading it, maybe relating to bits or just taking it in as a valued blog-follower.
If you’ve had a peek at the More About Me page on this blog, you’ll know our two little ones were IVF babies (aka Toddler Munch/Big Munch and Baby Munch). So after two blessed miracles appearing in our lives after years of anguish dealing with the fertility roller coaster, how on earth could I be suffering from the baby blues? Surely, I must have been one of the happiest ladies on this earth. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly was. I was very aware my dream came true not once but twice.I’d been given the opportunity to have a bump again and give birth however tough pregnancies can feel at times.
People who know me well know how grateful I am for certain things in life. Being grateful even appeared on my leadership style questionnaires at work. I’m grateful to have the chance to be a mummy and see how our families enjoy blessed time with our little ones. I have watched my mum and mom-in-law switch roles into incredible grandparents.
Since Toddler Munch was born nearly 3 years ago, I thank her nearly every bedtime for choosing me to be her mummy. She gave me something I really didn’t think I’d ever have. At a few points over the years, I never thought I’d get to change the nappies for our own babies, hearing a little person saying “Mummy you’re my best friend’, asking me why daddy has taken her car or drawing me a complex scribble and explaining that it’s actually her twin cousins E and N.
I adored our new little baby M and fell in love with her more every day. We had given our first baby a friend for life. Someone to play with, argue over who’s wearing which shoes and maybe a travel companion to explore the world one day. Toddler Munch was growing fast and I was proud of her new tricks and talents. She adapted well to having another girl in the house who was also very cute.
So what happened last Summer and how did the baby blues come about? I guess I may never know exactly why. That’s the tough thing about any kind of low-times. It could be a mix of biological things with hormones moving in all kinds of directions. There are a few things that happened which could have encouraged the baby blues to grow. Before Baby Munch was born in May 2015, we moved to a new area in December 2014 and Toddler Munch was of course trying out some new meltdowns (hmm, she probably gets the strong-minded bit from her mummy).
Being independent as a mum, a wife or as ‘me’ is pretty important. During my first maternity leave a couple of months after the birth, I remember the first time being out at night heading over to my friend’s birthday dinner. The tube wasn’t working so I had to get a cab, driving from the north to south London. I enjoyed every moment as I watched the memory-filled streets of London and remembered the small things why me and Mr H love this city so much. I was worried about being on the other side of London but it was my first dose of proper ‘me-time’. A chance to reflect on how lucky I was to now be a mummy who was also getting to see her friends and may even get to have a proper (non-kitchen or lounge-based) dance later that night.
Last Summer I wasn’t able to get out on my own that much. Mr H was super supportive but Baby Munch was not interested in taking the bottle so she was heavily reliant on me for milk. So bottle refusal from early weeks limited my independence, something I really valued with our first baby.
Also, as I was busy with work and looking after Toddler Munch before the due date I hadn’t thought much about making friends in the new area before starting maternity leave. I also didn’t think I need to. I already had a couple of friends in the area and lots of friends a short drive away. Most of my old NCT crew moved to different places but we were always in touch. So why would I need any more friends when I had some great ones already? I googled pre-natal yoga classes in the new area but couldn’t find any. Luckily I came across a yoga teacher (Julie K) who was also a mum. Two for the price of one; I enjoyed great yoga with bump and I made a new local friend with a great positive attitude.
Then during the newborn days last Summer, Mr H spotted that I wasn’t quite myself. Maybe because the sun was shining and I wasn’t getting out about. We had one of the hottest weathers last Summer but I didn’t get to enjoy it like my last maternity leave. So the fact I wasn’t outdoors enough could have been a cause. Funny as some people think that if the sun is shining then we must be happy. Maybe because I wasn’t as social and interested in making new friends (when I love chatting and meeting new people wherever we are!)
Time for a nap….I was so committed to getting sleep during the day whilst Baby M napped, I didn’t go out for as many buggy walks even around the block. I forgot that most newborns would sleep anywhere and love buggy motion.We were lucky that Toddler Munch could stay in nursery a few days a week. I also wanted to be in good shape and have lots of energy for when I picked up Toddler Munch from nursery. So I told myself it’s better to sleep whilst I could. Yes, in the newborn days sleep as a mummy and daddy is critical. But it’s equally important to get the right balance with other things that are also good for you.I have friends and close ones who suffer from depression and my workplace was quite hot on mental health. So I guess I’ve always been pretty self-aware of how I’m feeling and especially during any low-times.
Music is my sanctuary...One major thing I noticed during last Summer was that I wasn’t listening to music everyday. My first maternity leave was full of music. Me and Mr H could easily play music in every room in our flat. With Big Munch, the radio was either on in the kitchen, the music video channels on the TV in the lounge, music was on when the mums crew came round (where he Elmo or Robin Thicke), Spotify playlists on my iPhone in the bathroom and speakers in the bedroom. At times, I’d even get to play a record or two on our decks with our first baby in the sling or when she was bopping away in the Jumperoo. So it was a huge realisation that music was missing from my daily routine as a mummy (and the daily routine as ‘me’).
Outfit love…Another thing I noticed was that I wasn’t quite dressing as me. If you’ve come across some of the Lucky Things Facebook posts you may have spotted I love accessories and colour-filled outfits. I found myself wearing more functional clothes but for me they weren’t bright enough and felt too much of an uniform. Even at work I always make sure I’m in clothes I really love, ones that give me confidence and brighten my day. Last Summer I wasn’t having fun making up new outfits and getting out my favourite ‘weekend’ garms. So as an emergency treat, I ordered a £4 bright coral coloured vest from Tesco F&F so it could be delivered to my local store (also a reason to get out with the buggy!). It became one of my staple summer and autumn items.To match, the coral nail varnish came out. I pulled out my favourite earrings and scarves. Baby Munch was too little to grab my earrings at that stage and scarves doubled up as feeding cover ups. I was feeling better already.
Wheels, sling and automobiles?…Travel also played an interesting part on the baby blues period. It was far easier to jump in the car to pick up Toddler Munch from nursery when I really should have walked with the buggy and Baby Munch could have snuggled up in the sling. But at the time I was focused on being practical and getting Toddler Munch home as soon as possible. My mother-in-law then suggested it was time to get a double-buggy. I’d hoped to avoid this expenditure and assumed the buggy board would be ok in the early days. But Toddler Munch wasn’t quite tall enough to use the buggy board and sometimes she liked kicking back and chilling in the buggy too. So I found a decent second-hand Phil and Teds buggy which played its part in moving away from the blues as I was out and about each morning taking the little ones on a walk to nursery. The double buggy’s cocoon for Baby Munch was super convenient and much lighter to lug around nursery. My best friend had her first baby around the same time as Baby Munch. We didn’t live close enough to see each other every week but spoke everyday. I’ve always loved her energy for life and she told me that I had to get out each day for a buggy walk, even a quick one. She used to push the buggy to the top of her road and come back again; some fresh air was better than none. The exposure to daylight would also help baby Munch to sleep better at night.
Time to meet more friends...With my first baby 3 years ago I managed to build a wonderful network of friends and newbie mums in our old area. It was so easy. I’d make friends on the bus, at the health centre and happily walk up to mums down our road to introduce myself and Big Munch. I even organised a mums and babe Macmillan coffee morning. We were lucky to have been part of the loveliest and funniest NCT groups we could imagine. I made some very close friends on my last maternity leave, we knew lots about each other’s lives as mummies and before mummy-dom. We grew together as grown-ups winging it through parenting. We probably would have been mates if we worked in the same place.I would get to speak or see them nearly every day for impromptu walks or pop round to their homes for a break and home-made cake (one friend has some serious baking skills!)
My mother-in-law was very in-tune with my baby blues. She’d keep an eye on me from afar every day, sending me gentle non-intrusive texts asking “how’s your day been?” or “have you done anything nice today?” It then came the time for her to give me some more direct advice. Baby Munch was about 6 weeks old. She said “I know you already have lots of friends and mummy ones but it’s time for you to just go a local baby group, just go to one and see if you like it. You need to get out there and see some other local mums”. So I googled one and found that there was a NCT Bumps and Babies group at the local library, plus it was the next day. So setting myself the goal for tomorrow, I promised myself I’d go along.
I went along to the local NCT Bumps and Babies group and by chance met two mums who had toddlers in the same nursery class as Toddler Munch. Result! They both knew what it was like to have two little ones and we could easily chat about the daily struggles and funny moments with a toddler and a newborn. It was cute our toddlers already knew each other. Who would have known my 2 year old would be helping me to build my new mummy network?!
A few days later, I messaged the two mums I’d met letting them know I was popping to our lovely local cafe Boydens in case they fancied joining me. Both came along. I forgot how easy it was to catch up with people and at short notice. I’m sure they were also happy to get a break from the house or errands around the high street. Another mum walked in and I started chatting to her too. It turned out she was also new to the area and so we quickly exchanged numbers. There’s still a funny feeling when you ask to exchange numbers for the first time but luckily she didn’t decline and think I was being too over-friendly! I strongly believe one positive thing does lead to another and she said I should go for a coffee catch up with another group of mums she’d met on a pre-natal course. I realised with bump number 2 I’d missed out or not needed to go to groups like NCT or hospital classes as we were second-timers (not that we knew everything about parenting!) It was so nice as they met at an outside cafe, I got to explore a new local area and discovered a cool playground for Toddler Munch when I got lost.
So within a few weeks I’d managed to build a nice local mummy network with the help of a few introductions and a couple of Whats Up groups. In a way it felt like I created a new NCT thing without doing the NCT course all over again.
It was also good to think of “one thing a day” I was going to do to brighten up the previous day’s on maternity leave. Something I recommend even if you’re not going through baby blues or any kinds of blues. I was back as Mummy S, getting out and about, feeling brighter in what I was wearing and starting a new playlist for maternity leave with Baby Munch.
A little favour if you don’t mind. Please share this post with those you know or don’t know. Like, share, tweet, or just talk about it. The more we share stories about the baby blues and post-natal depression, the less mummies, daddies, friends and families will feel isolated and hopefully seek help to sing their way out of their own blues.
Just so you know I’m always listening to music again. I wrote this blogpost listening to my Hanging out with Baby M playlist on Spotify. Thanks for reading x
If you think you could be experiencing some baby blues or know someone who might be, check out my post on things that might help with the baby blues.