Blogmas Christmas Tag – 2018

One of the things I love most about blogging are the community events. I’m particularly fond of any kind of tag post, due to my nosey nature. I’ve spent all morning reading Christmas tags and it’s inspired me to write one of my own! I hope you enjoy!

  1. As a kid, did a sibling ever receive a present that you wished was for you?
    I grew up an only child, but, I have a cousin a year younger than I. Because we all gathered at our Grandmothers Christmas Eve to spend Christmas day together, she and I always received the same gifts, usually just in different colours. I don’t really remember any of them. One year though, both of my cousins received a Nintendo DS (complete with Nintendogs) and your girl was devastated. I do remember that one.
  2. Be honest: do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts better?
    Giving – unless the receiver hates my gift – if you think you’re good at convincing me you love it just know that your face gives you away.
  3. Do you make New Years resolutions? Do you stick to them?
    Of course I make them, but stick to them? Does anyone really?

  4. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
    No – my Mother rules with an iron fist (still). No presents until after 7:30am on the 25th. Preferably after she’s made coffee, but that one’s negotiable. 
  5. What tops your tree?
    Honestly, whatever Jason puts up there. I can’t actually reach the top of our tree to change his selection even if it is lame. This year, it’s a big glitter covered pink star. I’m a big fan.
  6. Have you ever made a snowman?
    No, I was lucky enough to live in Kansas and experience snow for the first time around Christmas time, but unfortunately, I wasn’t expecting it to be so cold so I scurried indoors to the warmth of the heater wasting my opportunity.

  7. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
    I was quite heavily pregnant on Christmas Day in 2017, and a lot of jokes were made when my Mother presented me with sparkling grape juice, so I retreated to the pool to escape the relentless bullying and needed to call for help after becoming trapped on my inflatable swan. Yes they took pictures, no I’m not sharing them with you.  

  8. How you decorate your house during December?
    We essentially just put tinsel on everything. The TV, the counter-tops, the cats scratchy-post, the microwave, you get the idea. Throw in the occasional ornamental Santa. We have a shirtless Santa holding a surfboard in the kitchen, it’s pretty comical.

  9. Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
    It’s real white plastic. I’m not sure you can get real Christmas trees in Australia. I’ve never heard of anyone having one, at least. Wouldn’t a real one drop crap all over the floor? Aren’t they full of bugs? How do you dispose of them?

  10. Most memorable Holiday moment?
    My cousin and I were about nine or ten years old and we were swimming in her pool late near midnight as the celebrations were still ongoing, when a thunderstorm hit. It was a bad one that seemingly went on for hours so we hid – still in the water – in the overturned inflatable boat for “safety” (lol). No one came and told us the flaw in our plan until the following day when it was brought up at breakfast. We could have died. I’m not sure why this is my most memorable moment…

  11. Tell me about a person who makes your Christmas day very special?
    Previously I’d have said my Mother but now it’ll have to be my daughter Aubree – which I’m sure is my mums selection too, lol. I get to live vicariously through her, and that’s pretty great. 

  12. Of the two, which do you prefer? Christmas, or your birthday?
    Once I passed 21 I concluded I’m no longer a fan of my birthdays so Christmas is a clear winner here. That being said, it probably would have been Christmas anyway, as it’s about celebrating everyone and not just myself. 

  13. Use one noise to describe how excited you are for Christmas.
    Let’s gather some cattle! Yee-haw!

  14. What do you like to do on Christmas break?
    We go to the beach a lot (if you follow my Instagram you’re probably thinking “shut up about the beach already” so I’ll take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support). It’s hotter than the surface of the sun here during December so there’s really not a whole lot else to do, other than sit inside and eat the food meant for Christmas Day (currently me).
  15. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?
    Christmas barbecue Breakfast, it’s the greatest. We all sit around the table with a weird assortment of food and drink and talk absolute garbage. It’s my favourite part of the whole day! 

  16. What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
    This little animal thing kinda like Polly Pocket, but pets. Hold on, let me Google it.
    Okay, it was Littlest Pet Shop! It was the playhouse with the hamster wheel. They all had bobble heads too. It was pretty cool. 

  17. What is the worst present you’ve ever received?
    Don’t mean to throw anyone under the bus here but socks. Mum, socks are not a good gift. 

  18. What is your all-time favourite holiday food/sweet treat?
    Egg nog! The non-alcoholic kind you can get in Coles only during December. It’s amazing. I hoard cartons and freeze them like a total psychopath. It has to last me all year!

  19. What is your favourite Christmas film?
    The Grinch – the older I get, the more I get him.
  20. What is your favourite Christmas song?
    Anything Michael Buble – where is that man for the remaining eleven months of the year?
  21. What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
    Probably Arkansas during a nice snow. I’d like to man up and build that snowman we talked about earlier, as well as spend some time with Jason’s family.

  22. When do you start getting excited for Christmas?
  23. Where do you usually spend your holiday?
    At mums place, being an absolute pest.

  24. Who does most of the work in your family on Christmas day?
    I would say the women of the family, with the exception of cooking all of us breakfast. But the cleaning, drink serving etc is all us.

  25. You have been granted one Christmas wish…what will it be?
    Let me win the lottery, just once. If I can go into specifics, I’d like it to be the super Powerball jackpot with myself the only winner. I just don’t want to split that cool 100 mil. Could I live very comfortably with half of that? Sure, but this is my Christmas wish.

Christmas tag questions found here – though I modified them slightly;

Let me know if you’ve done a Christmas Tag this year as I’d love to give it a read!

PS; Merry Christmas for tomorrow!

Tiff x

Why I Had No Intention To Breastfeed

To all of my formula feeding mothers out there – I get you. The intent questioning, the lectures, the rude remarks, the dirty looks whilst mixing a bottle in public. I get that, and I get you.

There are a dozen and one different reasons why you may have decided that formula was the best choice for you and your baby. Maybe you struggled to express and needed the help with feeds during the night shift. Maybe you were in too much pain to go on. Heck maybe you just didn’t want to breastfeed. Each and every reason is a very valid reason. A reason that you don’t have to justify to anyone.
Whatever your reason for formula feeding though, you’ve probably spent way too many moments consumed with guilt, wondering if there’s something you could have done better, an oatmeal cookie you could have consumed to increase supply (maybe you’ve tried three or four, but that next one may have been the one). Or a gadget to help baby latch that only frustrated an already confused baby further. Or perhaps the solution to your problem was simply pumping for 11 hours a day instead of 9? With only the small price of your sanity to pay.

I think that there are several factors assisting in the survival of the negative attitude toward formula feeding mothers. The  greatest of those reasons being that we are continually led to believe that we are doing something wrong. For example, Australia has a less than appreciated message to share with to all formula feeding mothers. If you venture onto the website of any formula manufacturer –  perhaps you’re being a “good mum” and researching which formula is nutritionally best for your child – it doesn’t matter – you’re greeted with a pop up letting you know that “breast is best” and (in essence), that you should reconsider your choice on how to feed your baby. Instead of clicking the little “x” in the right hand corner of your pop up that as you would typically when being notified you’d won a million dollars for being the eight gazillionth visitor a website you’ve found on the eighth page of Google – they’ve removed this – and to continue browsing you instead have have to scroll to the bottom of this obnoxious little pop up and click “I understand”. I do understand that this is a legal requirement here – but is it really appropriate? To guilt a mother that may already be struggling internally with her decision to cut her breastfeeding journey short out of sheer necessity?

It isn’t just websites however. It’s also written on a leaflet inside the tin of formula I’ve just purchased. Not to put any particular brand on blast here – but this leaflet declares “IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breastfeeding is best” between the lid and the seal. You couldn’t miss it if you tried. Like, well thank you, Captain Obvious? If I was capable of producing the golden elixir of life myself for free, I wouldn’t be shelling out the $19.95 for your product, now would I?

If that weren’t enough, it’s also on signs plastered all over the walls of antenatal clinics, and medical staff are seemingly encouraged to push breastfeeding too. A lot of people wouldn’t see this push as a problem, but consider this. At about 17 weeks pregnant, I had an experience with a nurses assistant who was collecting basic information about me prior to my meeting with a high risk specialist. She was collecting the usual – my weight, height, medical history – that sort of thing. She asked if I intended to breastfeed, and I told her no. She was disgusted by my answer and made no attempt to hide it. She demanded, not asked, but demanded to know why. I simply told her I had to formula feed. I had already come to terms with having to deal with being judged or overshare personal information about myself (LOL at past me – we now have a blog!).
The issue is that I have Epilepsy, and my medication is passed in high concentration through breast milk – a significantly higher concentration than what was passed through the placenta during pregnancy. Both the manufacturer and my neurologist recommend not breastfeeding due to the risk of the baby contracting Steven Johnson’s Syndrome. If you don’t know what that is, google at your own discretion. There’s a reason it took just shy of a year to slowly wean me onto this particular drug – and SJS is it.
She went on to ask which medication I was taking and of course, I told her. She mispronounced it as she told me it was safe (comforting), then asked what it was for (ultra comforting). I explained to her – respectfully of course –  that no, it was in fact not safe, to which she argued with me before using Google to research the drug further (comforting climax). In all honesty I probably should have reported her that day as I’m sure that being a medical “professional” some women would have assumed she’d know what she was talking about and just taken her on her word – but as I stated above, the choice to formula feed was a difficult one, so I did my research. Research she should have done before irresponsibly pushing her personal agenda. On my exit I was handed a collection of brochures on breastfeeding, as well as resources to utilise if I was having a problem. What I would have liked, is one of those little boobie-bibles to instead be a few paragraphs of information on how to select a formula that’s right for your baby if breastfeeding just wasn’t working out for you. Do you know how long I spent standing in Coles Googling what HA or Gold+ was supposed to mean? I don’t, but I’m sure it was way too bloody long. But of course, the first rule of fight club is we don’t talk about fight club.

Finally, we’ve arrived at the important question (drawn out drum roll please). Is your baby fed? Growing? Happy (often, not always)? If you answered yes, then congratulations! You’re doing fantastic! Feeding a baby looks different for every woman, and listen, you’re doing great! You’re already worrying about what’s best for your baby! There is no one size fits all formula to success when it comes to nourishing that newborn. In a few years, breast or bottle will be a topic you never have to speak on again if you don’t want to. So enjoy your precious moments feeding your baby now, however that looks for you.

Oh, and PS: Remember that they’re all going to grow up into Cheetos munching, Red Bull chugging teenagers anyway!

Tiff xx

SAHM Tips For A Productive Morning Routine

Hello ladies!

We all know that being a stay at home mum is far from easy, and at times can be quite chaotic and incredibly stressful, so I was inspired to make this post after falling down the “My morning routine” Youtube black-hole this afternoon (…is anyone else obsessed with those?). I envied their productiveness and despite only one or two actually having children, they all had one thing in common. All of them seemed to have a consistent “routine”. So, I reflected on my own routine for a while, and ta-da, here we are. I’ve compiled a few tips that I’ve recently implemented and have benefited from when it comes to being a more productive (and in turn happier) mum.

Wake up an hour (or two) earlier;
Okay, so this one’s not for everyone. Hear me out though! If you aren’t already waking up at the ass-crack of dawn (excuse the Aussie colloquialism there but I felt there wasn’t quite enough emphasis if I simply said “waking up early“), waking up earlier than your children gives you the chance to get a few things done that might take (infinitely) longer than it would if they were around to “help” you. For me, I’ll start a load of washing, spray and wipe counter-tops, clean the bathroom mirrors and do a bit of tidying in my daughters room. Following that, provided my daughters still snoozing, I’ll sit down with a coffee and read (or write) a blog post or two, then get myself ready for the day. Realistically, this is about when she wakes, as she’s sensed that the coffee is fresh and warm and in my hands, so I usually don’t have the time to actually shower until nap time – but I’ll brush my hair and teeth. Small victories.

The next big one is a positive mindset. I like to start my day with some exercise – actually, that’s a lie. I don’t like to start it with exercise, some days I’d go as far as to say I loathe starting my day with exercise. But nonetheless, I start my day with a 20-30 minute jog or speed-walk on my cheap cheap slightly questionable eBay treadmill. Why? It leaves me feeling energised, awake and fresh (after the shower that follows, of course), which has me in a clear positive mindset for the rest of the day. I find I’m a lot more productive and get my tasks at home done much more efficiently if I’ve taken some time to work out, and at the end of the day I seem to sleep much more soundly as well. Win-win.
If a morning jog isn’t for you though, I’d try making the bed. It gives me the same (though slightly watered down) mood boost, weird, right?

Now that we’re feeling fresh and positive, it’s a good time to start all of the tasks that take the longest or that you want to do the least and get those suckers out of the way first. Otherwise, I find that if I put off a task that I really should do, but am not thrilled to be doing (ahem, bleaching the shower) I put it off until I’ve found an excuse not to do it at all. If that’s that’s the task I envisioned the Becky-Home-Ecy version of myself doing first, I’ll occasionally even run out of time to do the jobs or errands I had intended to do later. I don’t mean to, it’s just that every afternoon after a long day of trying to interpret baby babble and picking up banana puffs from the floor I hit a wall. A wall of exhaustion and “I can’t be bothered now” attitude. I know I’ll get there, it happens on the daily. Yet there I was at procrastination station, ready to board a train to nah-she’ll-be-right-I’ll-do-it-tomorrowville (I’m now editing this post, and see that this is a bad joke, it stays, nonetheless).

Prepare the night before
This one almost seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but I’ve only just recently started doing this one myself – and that is to lay everything out the night before. For me, this is choosing an outfit for baby and I, packing her lunch, setting aside my travel mug with a spoonful (more than I should be having) of instant coffee inside, filling up the kettle so I’m not wondering where the horrendous hissing sound is coming from when I stumble out of bed and flick the thing on, and ensuring that the nappy bag is fully stocked – you get the idea. Doing this has saved me so much time. I would always underestimate just how long it actually takes for me to get us both ready, and everything always seems to take so much longer when you have somewhere to be. It might even give you enough time for a real sit down breakfast. But if you have children, I make no promises.

Make a to-do list
Finally, I’m a list person. I’m very fond of a good list. Why? Because they’re a great motivator! Seeing those little check marks next to the tasks nearing there due date is such a mood booster, and it motivates me to “see how many more I can get checked off”. Plus, if you, like me, have an awful memory, it keeps you day from being plagued with “I’m totally forgetting something important” thoughts. Less stress for you, and less confusion when your phone has been shut off because you’ve not paid your bill. (One time this has happened. One. Why? Because now I write lists.)
Seriously though – try this one. It’s very satisfying.

So there we have it, my five biggest tips to boost the productivity of your day! Let me know if you have any more that I’ve missed or any tips you have for me!

Tiff xx

Huggies “Little Swimmers” Review

So if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that we went to our first water park last week. There was no lazy river unfortunately. Yes, I’m still upset. No, I don’t want to talk about it.

Anyway, that absolutely massive disappointment aside, let’s begin. Whilst doing our grocery shopping the night before our little adventure, we happened to cruise past the nappy section (whist headed for the cold iced coffee fridge no doubt) and I, by chance, looked up to spot the Huggies swim pants. Yes, that’s right, we had plans to swim all day and nearly forgot to pick up some swim nappies. Wouldn’t that have been an interesting experience? So I stand as tall as my tippy toes will take me, and pick a packet up announcing to the whole aisle “Ah yes, swim nappies, I’ve found them”. I was really hoping to fool Jason into thinking I’d actually been responsible enough to add these suckers to the list days ago as we’d talked about. I’m really not convinced I fooled him, being that I’m sure my face gave away what I was actually thinking, which was “Why the heck are 11 of these just shy of $14? Do the working class not swim over there at Huggies HQ?”.
I’ll add that he occasionally reads this blog so I’m sure what cover I may have had is blown now, nonetheless. Fancy Thai food tonight?

I oddly found it difficult to find unbiased reviews of these bad boys online so I figured I’d bite the bullet and give them a go. Coles had a home-brand alternative for less than half the price, but those are a lot harder for majority of you to find and purchase so I gave them a miss. For the record, with Summer coming, I’d be more than happy to rate, review and compare cheaper alternatives to Huggies – if that’s something anyone would be interested in seeing. (Really, anyone at all. I’m not brave enough to try store brand with no reviews without some type of encouragement. Sorry Coles, I’ve made that mistake one too many times, and this time involves baby by-product).

So, lets start with negatives in order to end on a positive note. An issue I found with these, is that they tend run a little small. Uh Tiffani, of course they do, the aim is to avoid unexpected code browns, remember? Ok yes – but we had to purchase a size larger than we typically would with regular old Huggies and they were still incredibly hard to get around chunky baby legs. They’re the pull up style of course, but twice as hard to get on.

Only two sizes were available to us, so I wonder how far the size range actually extends had we have gone to a different store. I cannot seem to find a box of these to purchase in bulk as you are able to do with most other Huggies products, so there are no discounts for buying a larger quantity as of right now.

Now the positives. Overall, I did find them to work pretty well. They were comfortable – I’m assuming, as my daughter would have loudly announced her discomfort if they were not (hello Halloween pumpkin costume). They held together great despite the one nappy being submerged for about an hour, nothing unwelcome escaped and they didn’t irritate my daughters skin – despite it being sensitive as of late. They also have tear away sides, which I appreciate in case, well, she uses them for their intended purpose. Do they keep urine contained? This I can’t confirm nor deny, but as for any swim pant, I would assume the answer is kinda yes, kinda no?

They weren’t the most discreet nappy she’d ever worn, but the colourful Nemo themed print serves as a welcome distraction at changing time- those with roll-y babies know what I’m saying, and my daughter loves the sound they make when she waves them around (though I’m not sure if this is a positive or not honestly, as she was pretty upset when I had to take it from her when I was done…).

Ultimately would I repurchase? Yes. At least until I find a cheaper alternative that works just as well. They did what they told me they’d do, and no angry rashes ensued. Australian mums can find a free sample here:
This is not an affiliate link, I repeat this is not an affiliate link! I just thought it might be a little bit handy. Sorry UK mums, I sadly couldn’t find a link for you!

Tiff xx

My Experience With Having Children Young…And A Partner On The Other Side Of The World

Okay so maybe I’m not fresh out of middle school doing-homework-in-the-waiting-room young (not that it’s anyone’s place to judge me if I were), but I’m still young enough to have copped an extra serve of side eye throughout my pregnancy. I  was pregnant at 20, and had my daughter at 21, and the amount of negative remarks I received from strangers, mind you, was uncanny. I’m 5’1, so I’ll cut some of them some slack and I suppose when I’m fresh faced, I do look a little younger. Despite being engaged, I also received my fair share of single mum judgement, which I found a little…bizarre. What I also found bizarre, was the young-mother judgement I faced from (ex) acquaintances, who are simultaneously against abortion. It seems are if we were both a little confused there.

For the most part, I travelled alone so perhaps this was a contributing factor. I attended appointments, lab work and ultrasounds unaccompanied, which added a whole new layer to the pity I seemingly received. My partner – and daughters father, was still living and working in the United States. Visas are incredibly expensive, and my insurance in the USA did not cover pregnancy, so, alas, we were forced to live apart until 10 days before the birth of our daughter – but that’s a whole other story.

Every appointment I was met with “where’s dad?” (the babies, not mine of course) which I had anticipated, so I’d repeat the script I had mentally formulated explaining my situation – which was always met with a lot of questions and aww-ing. I could tell they didn’t believe me. We were faced with a lot of unfortunately timed set backs, so he was unable to attend any of my appointments at all, and each time I’d remind the doctors (or midwives) of my situation they’d ask “so when will he be here?” From about 15 weeks onward, I’d usually respond with “hopefully in a few weeks”, and in all honesty, I don’t blame them for thinking there was nobody coming, but, they didn’t have to make it so obvious. There was always a long pause followed by the tone. You know the one. Cousin Marys’ gold fish has just died and she’s throwing a funeral for it. You attend to support her but your words of comfort are forced, disingenuous and you’re slightly judgemental of the whole situation but you’re trying to be there for her anyway. That tone. One doctor even made sure to tell me how her mother was a single mum and it’s tough but you get through it. Not in a story sharing kind of way, but in an attempt to be encouraging (I appreciated that, kind of).

Worse still, an ultrasound technician during one of my early scans followed up our conversation on why I was “alone” by asking my age – at the only ultrasound my mother was able to attend with me mind you – and before I could answer she glanced at my paperwork, skim read her way to my date of birth and let out a “oh thank god, we’ve seen a few kids having kids today”. Ah, sorry, but what? My mother and I glanced at one another clearly with the same thought running through her mind – “did she just say that?” and sensing that we were now slightly uncomfortable, she quickly announced that “baby has a lot of hair!” That’s fantastic Judge Judy I’ve just bought a few cute bows – but I really hope you keep your comments to yourself in front of mothers born after ’99.

At the hospital I was advised prior to birth that I’d be meeting with a social worker prior to being discharged. Odd, I thought. When I asked why this might be being that I had never been in trouble with the law nor failed mandatory drug tests, I was told it was “to make sure I didn’t have a seizure whilst holding baby and that there was someone with me at all times just in case”. This was very obviously fabricated for several reasons. First and foremost, no social worker is capable of “preventing a seizure”. They aren’t even capable of proving first aid in the event of one. Secondly, I was under the care of a fantastic neurologist who has kept me seizure free for over seven years. Seven years. Finally, did we forget about her father? Who, at the time, was in the room instead of joining us via Facebook messenger video link. I questioned this, and there was a subject change before she hurried out of the room and sent the student midwife in to finish up. Her unwillingness (or inability) to explain any further was a bit indicative of the fact that my seizure disorder was being used to cover up the real reason, which I’m convinced was a combination of my relationship situation as well as my age. Though this I cannot prove.
I however go on to ask a few of my younger mum friends whether they saw a social worker and unsurprisingly, they all said yes. For various flimsy reasons. No support was offered nor was baby looked at, they had come to check for a tidy home and a child that was wearing clothes. The single ones were even “checked in on” every few days for the first few weeks. I then asked my older mum friends – those in their late twenties and early thirties and interestingly, no social worker. Each of us (6 of us total) gave birth in the same hospital, four of us under the care of the same obstetrician. Peculiar, right?

So, to the nitty-gritty. Are things harder for me? Do I have any regrets so far? I’d have to say no. I live independently, and own my own vehicle – separate of that of my partner. I am educated, I am engaged to someone that I have been with for several years. I have the privilege of living in a country that allows you to begin work at age 14, so I managed to save enough money to purchase all of my baby items early without too much stress. A change table, crib, toys, clothing – you get the idea. This also gave me the opportunity to grow up a little. I had responsibilities outside of the home, people relying on me and a need to be punctual. I do feel as though working young (whist simultaneously studying a certification) helped shape me into a focused and responsible young adult as well as providing me with some degree of financial stability, and without this experience my situation may not be what it is. But, because I am (now) 22, it’s assumed that I am not ready. That this must have been an oops baby. Insert eye roll here.

Do I “miss out on living my life” or “enjoying my youth?” – This is a common comment I’ve received from (typically) the baby boomer generation. What is “enjoying my youth” exactly? Every time I ask this in response to the somewhat rude comment on what was at the time, my pregnancy, I get a vague answer. Generally “living” and “experiencing the world” consists of partying, dating freely, clubbing and pub crawls. Is that really better than what I have? Do I need to experience those things to make me “ready” to settle down? Thing is, I did experience all of those things. They weren’t for me. I have also travelled the world. Holidayed in Thailand, Europe, Malaysia, and, even lived in the United States for a year. Those were experiences I wanted to have before settling down, and I had them. That being said though, had I not been able to travel in my teenage and early adult years, I may have a yearning to do so now. I would encourage anyone to get some travelling in prior to children if that was something they were hoping to do someday.

So,  to the point of this rant(?). Whether someone is “ready” to have a child depends solely on them and their relationship, wants in life and ability to provide for a child, emotionally as well as financially. It’s simply case-by-case. Not all thirty-somethings are responsible wealthy happily married home owners and not all twenty-somethings are not. We must get out of the habit of judging other pregnant women – or teens,  and instead, support them. Pregnancy is hard. It’s an emotionally taxing roller-coaster. Bodies change, mindsets change and relationships will change. It will not be an easy road for any new or expectant mother regardless of her circumstances. The last thing any pregnant woman needs is the negative remarks from strangers attempting to guilt her because she is having a child. A child that they’ll likely never meet. In particular those same strangers that are more often than not pro lifers. I apologise for the ranty nature of this entry, but please, be kind to others! You can’t be truly happy harbouring hatred in your heart.

Tiff xx

The Baby Blues, Got You Too?

A “darker” topic today ladies. Depression post (and in my case, during) pregnancy is an overwhelming and all consuming state of mind that no one prepares you for. No one discusses. Let’s discuss the taboo.

During (and even before) pregnancy, we frequently hear stories of mothers love being so instant, so strong and so beautiful. A bond that is truly unbreakable. A love and connection that you have never felt before. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. We are told that from the moment you see your child, all of the pain you are feeling just fades away, to become nothing more than a distant memory because the surge of love is so overpowering that it washes away any and all other emotions .

So, what happens when the baby is placed on your chest and your head is filled with thoughts of “can someone get it off me now?” What happens when there’s no sudden rush of love, or even a slight sense of attachment? What happens when instead of joy, you feel overwhelmed, regret, sadness?

Recently, a few of my friends spoke out about their experiences with postpartum depression and anxiety and I was truly shocked. These were people I’d grown up with – known for just shy of two decades – and I hadn’t suspected a thing. As an outsider looking in, their families seemed perfect. Outwardly, they were the happy, bubbly people I had always known, but on the inside they were struggling with their own mind. A dark internal battle with the uncomfortable – even painful – thoughts that they couldn’t control. They had lost themselves, and had put on a facade for the rest of us. Why? Because they were too embarrassed to speak out. They’ve inspired me to bring my story to you today, because I feel it is important to share these experiences with other women so that they know that they are not alone in feeling this way. So that they know this is so very common. So that they know they are not bad mothers, failures or undeserving of their child. One in seven women go on to develop PPD and it can develop immediately after childbirth, or up to twelve weeks postpartum. So why are we encouraged to hide these feelings? Be ashamed of them?

Personally, depression hit me at the end of the first and all the way through the second trimester. This was a planned “miracle” baby that I had been so excited about initially, so why was I desperately emailing the abortion clinics in my area to find out their latest termination date? Why every time I went grocery shopping did I imagine myself crossing the median line and driving into the path of the oncoming truck? Or off of the nearest bridge? Why did I spend every night crying on the bathroom floor about how trapped I was? I had never felt this intense feeling of doom before, and I wanted it to stop. The voice in my head told me that this was temporary, a hormonal shift caused by pregnancy that would pass. So why was I too ashamed to speak to anyone about it?

I received a referral to a psychiatrist at my 15 week appointment after a brief psych quiz that was standard for all newly pregnant women to take. Do you struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep? Yes. Do you ever feel like harming yourself? No. (Lie). Do you ever feel anxious in public situations? No. (Lie). I answered the remaining 12 questions how I thought they were supposed to be answered. But, despite doing my best to seem “normal”, my results indicated that I was “at high risk”. I threw that white note of shame straight into the trash. “See a psychiatrist? No way. I’m not crazy” I thought to myself. I wish I hadn’t contributed to the stigma behind PPD, as there shouldn’t any shame in seeking help. It’s there for a reason -that reason being – I’m normal. If I were the only one to have ever felt this way, the service wouldn’t be there waiting for me. But of course, I didn’t want to be “one of the weak ones”. I could do this on my own. So my stubborn nature told me.

So back home I went, to lay in bed and cry, for the umteenth day in a row.

The nurse working beneath the psychiatrist called after a week of not hearing from me. It was a blocked number calling, and being that the only call I usually receive from a blocked number is my neurologist, I answered. “ah crap” I thought as she introduced herself. I considered hanging up on her – phone troubles and what not. But instead, I thought well, I’m already trapped with nothing better to do, so why not. We spoke for an hour, and during that time I felt a weight lifted of of my shoulders. As silly as it sounds, she was a bright light in a dark time. To talk to someone who was actively listening and suggesting coping techniques tailored to myself was fantastic. She knew what to say and was in no hurry to get off of the phone with me. Usually, when speaking with doctors, I feel almost like a pay check, my concerns met with a “mmm” and a nod, and typically, a script. Not this time. She made it clear that medication was available if I felt I needed more than what I was capable of providing myself, or, if I wanted to come down just to talk again I was welcome to do so.

An important note is from that point forward, my physician was supposed to have me retake this quiz once a month to reassess my state of mind, but I was never asked to take it again. “Is baby ok?”, “How’s baby doing?”, “Feeling baby move a lot?” but no “how are you doing?”. Women seem to slip through the cracks to a degree, and at the time, that was fine with me. We need to look out for one another, and that’s something I’ll be making more of an effort to do from now on.

Around 25 weeks pregnant, I woke up one morning and I was…fine. The feelings had passed and I was back to my “normal” self. Normal aside from the occasional pregnancy induced mood swing, which was brief and nothing in comparison to what I had been feeling. I’m still amazed (and scared) at how swiftly I was engulfed in this dark despair, and how quickly it left me. Though it took me a few months to bond with my daughter (and believe me, I’m there now), I was thankful I didn’t experience these emotions again postpartum, but I had anticipated them, and was prepared to seek help immediately this time.

If you know someone struggling or are struggling yourself, please reach out. Check in with your loved ones and remind them that it’s okay to not be okay.

Tiff xx

The First Trip Out With A New(ish) Baby

Good Lord was I nervous.  I was shaking in my $7 Kmart slip on sandals at the thought of taking a baby out in public. She was 6 months old. It’s been Winter. Much too cold outside of the cold (and sound) insulating walls of our home. Waiting this long definitely had nothing to do with the pure terror and anxiety I felt at the sheer thought of taking her to an event with thousands of witnesses to a potential melt down hours from home and at least a twenty minute walk from the car. Could you imagine? I could.

Taking her to a carnival was brave, but was it too brave? There would be a lot of noise, a lot of screaming. I didn’t know where the parent rooms were, and how long would we be gone. How many meals should I pack? Will she be able to nap, or will my sweet baby girl transform into an raging pint-sized T-rex right before my eyes? It was like mankind’s first journey to the moon, but a slightly bigger deal.

So I packed the diaper bag the night before, giving me time to (over)think about what I’d forgotten. I spent an extra hour trying to fall asleep, forget counting sheep tonight, we’re checking off baby supplies. Baby sunscreen (including second mental rant about why a tiny tube was $12 and furthermore, that I was willing to pay that)? Check. Binkie? Check. Six flavours of pre-prepared baby food in case she hates the first five? Check. Rainbow squeaky dinosaur of distraction? Check. I was ready.

How did this pan out, you eagerly wonder.
Well, kind stranger, let me tell you.
It was fine. I would even dare go as far as to say great. Bold of me, I know. She slept all day, save for the petting zoo (she was very keen on harassing the sheep and the goats…the chickens, not so much), she drank her room temperature bottle in front of the milk-a-plastic-cow tent and we left with the Very Hungry Caterpillar showbag that I was adamant we needed to get her. Seriously, I had this thing circled in the event magazine for days and I had to arrive first thing in the morning in case it sold out – sorry Jason, I know I told you we left so early to avoid traffic, minor detail.

I do suppose it’s totally normal to feel nervous taking your baby out in public for the first time but thankfully, the panic and anxiousness was all for nothing! I scolded myself for not having faith in my daughter behaving well, but with how I was as a child, you really have to be on the guard for the right-back-at-you-naughty-baby-karma. That being said though, she did loudly declare that it was time to go home at the very beginning of the event we’d just hung around for 3 hours to see, the only event I was overly keen on watching, but all things considered, she was her version of an angel, so I guess I could watch the replay at home on Youtube. Ah the days of the internet.

My advice to a new parent? Find a map. Locate, highlight and memorise every parent room or potential change table within walking (running) distance of the complex…Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but definitely have an idea of where they’re located within the vicinity. If possible, and if baby is predictable enough, leave after baby has taken a poop. Conveniently for me, it’s the good morning from Aubree that she graces me with as I drink my coffee every morning. If that’s not your luck, make sure baby has a clean bum before you leave the safety of home, even if it looks like a tiny toileting. One thing I’ve learned the hard way – always bring one more bottle than you think you’ll need. Traffic has caught me off guard twice before – you’d think I’d have learned after the first time but that’s not my style – and, finally, take a deep breath, it’ll be fine.

Happy exploring,
Tiff xx

Never leave I love yous left unsaid

Hi all,

A bit of a darker post today. A post I’m hoping inspires some reflection. It definitely did for me.

Yesterday, I was driving to meet a close friend that I hadn’t seen in a while. Life had gotten in the way, as it does as we grow older, and we finally made plans to catch up. It was a rainy day – the first we’d had in a few weeks. Nothing too crazy, but just enough to set a gloomy scene. I was driving along, abiding by the road rules, as I always do. Traffic was heavy – it was noon. A peak hour. I was sitting just under the speed limit, in the right hand lane. I had a right turn coming soon. I saw a car exiting the parking lot of the industrial area to my right. He was at a give way (yield) sign. I was just inches from him and he pulled out, onto the main road. Right in front of my car, travelling at speed. I know in these situations, they tell you to break and not swerve, but I owe my life to my instinct to grab my wheel and yank it as hard as I could to the left. I missed this fellow commuter by inches. I dare say an inch, singular. The other driver, clearly very shaken, stopped in the middle of the lane he’d been so desperate to enter, as I drove to find somewhere to park feeling an anxiety attack coming on. I’m not sure how long he sat there, but I glanced in my revision mirror, and he was still stationary as he faded from my view. I hoped he’d move, as he was still endangering other road users as long as he remained there. But I sure wasn’t going back to encourage him to do so.
I wonder, did he not see my bright red car?  Were they under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Was their eyesight fading, and they were too stubborn to turn in their licence? Was his judgement so poor that he thought he could make it in front of me? (I very much doubt this one, there was not a chance). I’ll never know. I don’t care to know. But I so desperately hope that they were shaken enough to take more care on the roads. I’m sure they’re as desperate to make it home to their families as I am, so for that I cannot be too mad.

I thanked somebody – whomever you believe it is watching over us, or my lucky stars if that isn’t for you – that I hadn’t had a lapse in concentration for even a second. To change radio station, or adjust my sun visor, perhaps. I thanked them that the lane beside me that I violently swerved into was clear, despite the roads being so busy. I thanked them that the driver in the other lane – that I found myself in – hadn’t been travelling just that little bit faster. I thanked them that my daughter was not in the car with me, and that the road was not yet wet enough to encourage my car to roll.

I made it – though balling my eyes out – to my friends house that day. I was lucky. I knew that hitting a (somewhat) stationary object at 70kmph did not have my chances of survival looking very peachy. I’m sure the other driver would have been fine, minor injuries perhaps, but nothing substantial. Please believe that if I were exaggerating just how close to tragic this had the potential to be, even slightly, I wouldn’t be writing this post for you today.

When I got home, I grabbed my daughter, cried once again, and told her just how much I love her. She’s too young to understand, but her “mamas home” smiles were enough for me.

So I ask you that if you love someone – tell them each and every time they leave for work, or you “quickly run some errands”. Annoyed with your spouse? Children? Put it to the back of your mind for a minute and let them know that you love them. Hug your children a little tighter tonight. Never go to bed on an argument.
Remember that those that die today, had plans for tomorrow.

Tiff x