Post Natal Depression – a personal story

In October we had Mental Health Day. Some mothers experience Postnatal Depression with many consequences for them, their babies and attachment, and for their families. Many chose not speak up because they think they ‘should be able to cope’. Here’s a story from a friend of mine, who did speak up and sought help. Thank you Shanelle for sharing something so personal, in such an open way…

“Today is World Mental Health Day.

I wanted to share this picture of my daughter and I from 10 years ago, when my post natal depression was at its peak.

You cannot tell someone’s mental health state just by looking at them. You cannot know how someone is feeling by the way they present themselves to the world. You can never know the stories that someone is telling themselves over and over in their head.

I was great at wearing the mask of “perfect mother” when I was out in public. If you saw me out and about, you would probably think that I had adjusted to my new role of motherhood rather well. If there was video footage of what was happening in the 4 walls of my home, you would be shocked to know I was the same person.

There was constant anxiety over doing things the “right” way, if I was following the rules (of course my baby had a rulebook!). There was so much guilt associated with feeling totally out of my depth with the challenges of being a new mum. I constantly beat myself up over a traumatic birth experience and a daughter born with a dislocated hip.

I was so sad, so emotional, so teary. I was exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping well in fear that something might happen. I felt so alone and isolated, like I was the only one going through this experience. I was ashamed that this wasn’t a natural experience for me. Why hadn’t I got the fairy-tale the media makes motherhood out to be?

I would put my daughter down for her nap and then lock myself in the walk-in robe to cry. Locked in the darkness the tears would stream endlessly.

I kept myself busy cooking, cleaning, washing and whatever else I could to keep my mind off how I was really feeling. It got to a point where I couldn’t handle it anymore.

Finally I made the call to see my GP. A call that was probably one of the bravest and scariest things that I have ever done. A call that ultimately put me onto the path of receiving the help I so desperately needed and to getting my mental health under control.

10 years on, I now have 2 beautiful children. Most days are great, however there are times when depression starts to creep back in. Nowadays I am aware of the signs to look out for and can put the steps into place to get me back on track before I am

Statistics say that 1 in 2 of us will develop a mental illness during our lifetime. Mental Illness doesn’t have to define you. It can be managed.

It’s time the guilt and shame were removed from mental illness. People don’t choose to get diabetes, nor do we choose to have a mental illness. We need to be able to have open and honest conversations about how we are genuinely feeling and know that these conversations will be taken seriously and are free from judgement.

Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness (www.peachtree.org.au) is an organisation that I found during my second pregnancy who focuses on peer support for mental health challenges during the perinatal period. There are several Peachy Parent groups who meet each week throughout Queensland providing support to parents from a lived-experience perspective. Having the support and understanding of other parents who have had similar experiences is so important on the road to recovery.

Please, if you need to reach out – contact your GP, call Lifeline 13 1114 or PANDA 1300 726 306 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467″

Shanelle

Happy Parenting this week, by taking good care of yourself Mums… it’s important for you, and for your family – You are Special and Very Important!

Toddler playing outside

What is my Baby Hearing?

Hearing is an important and necessary part of speech development. Babies are now given a hearing test at birth, as if there are any difficulties they are detected early so that measures can be taken to optimise the development of language and speech.

As with most development, it is an on-going process. So what can your baby hear at different ages?

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Ahhhhh, silence!

You know that wonderful feeling you have when the children have gone to bed, and all is quiet in the house?  – a sigh comes from your lips, a sense of calm takes place, and a smile comes to your face as you relish the ‘nothingness.’ I believe these times are very important to us as humans. We live in a very busy and noisy world. We are always on the go and surrounded by noise – and often intrusive, louder noises eg the TV, cars and trucks driving past our house, the clatter of our saucepans and the chatter of voices.

How often in a day do you have moments of silence?

How often in a day do you wish for some quiet time?

When I was in active parenting (my children are older now and have flown the nest!), they attended the same country school which I taught at. Some days I would get them to take the bus home, rather than come in the car with me. The car trip home took 30 minutes, and the bus took 60 minutes. So, I got 30 minutes of quiet time in the car to switch from Teacher mode, to Mummy mode…. And I got a cup of hot coffee in peace before they arrived home – full of energy, busting to tell me what happened today, and of course saying: ‘What’s to eat?’ This quiet time refreshed me, bought a sense of peace, and enabled me to go forward into several hours of engaging through play, dinner and bed time reading. Read more

How You Can Establish Healthy Sleeping Patterns - katrinket

How You Can Establish Healthy Sleeping Patterns

You know how great you feel after a good nights sleep… You smile more, you have the energy  to take on the day with enthusiasm, and you cope better if things don’t go well. Isn’t that what we want for our children too? Whilst we can’t make children sleep, we can create an environment that is conducive to sleep.

A good nights sleep assists the growth and development of a healthier body, a better concentration and attention span, improved strength and co-ordination, and more emotional balance.

A good nights sleep also makes the next day better for both parents and children!

It is important to establish good sleep routines early in a baby’s life, so that they quickly learn ‘how’ to go to sleep. It is even easier for the child to learn this, when the adults are consistent with the routine – regardless of whether it is Mum or Dad who are preparing the child for bed. When you follow the same routine each night, you establish a pattern in the child which gets them ready for sleep. Does it mean they will be happy about it – no, not necessarily! But, who is the one who knows how much sleep children need, and what they will be like without it… You! Young children generally do not know when they are tired. It’s rare for a child to say “Yes” when asked “Do you want to go to bed?” As adults we are the responsible ones!

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children-need-love-the-most-deserve-least

Children need love the most, when they deserve it the least

Children need love the most,
when they deserve it the least.

Controversial statement eh? Especially when Miss 4 has just cut the dogs hair, or Master 2 drew on the carpet with the texta or Miss 3 has put the car keys ‘somewhere’, when you need to leave now!

My statement still stands.

When children are misbehaving, it’s because they don’t know a better way to do it ie to use scissors ‘properly’ or that textas are for use on paper only.

I hear a lot of you saying: ‘Yes, s/he does know that! I’ve told her before!’

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boys-need-to-play-with-dolls

Why Boys Need to Play with Dolls

How many women do you know who complain that their partners or husbands ‘never’ help around the house? Over the years as a mother and a Parenting Consultant, I’ve heard far more complaints, than praise about the men’s housekeeping participation. This also seems to be born out by researchers who claim that females still do the bulk of the housework.

Why do you think that this is the case?

I believe part of it stems from the early messages children take on board from their parents. We know young children are almost like sponges, picking up on all we, as parents, say and do. Children don’t filter the messages, they just see it as ‘the norm’ – meaning that this is how we should behave. Therefore, if  we as children grew up with Mum doing all the housework, then I will believe that’s how I must behave. And, that’s what I will teach my children. So, our children will also have received the message that housework is for females!

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Child biting on lid

YIKES – My Child is Biting Others!!!!

Why do they do that? And, what should I do about it????

After work, I picked up my 2 year old daughter, Grace, at her sitters – my best friend, Nola. I was greeted with a glum face from Nola, who ashamedly told me that her 2 year old Nancy had bitten Grace on her back, when she couldn’t get her way. And she’d left teeth marks and drawn blood!

You can just imagine the feelings that all of us were experiencing – pain, horror, embarrassment, protection – both as Biter, and Prey! It was an absolutely horrible experience for all 4 of us!

The reality is that many young children do bite, and not just food! Those little new teeth are so sharp, and can inflict a lot of damage!

Anecdotal evidence suggests that about a quarter of children bite others, usually between the ages of 2-3 years.

Babies may bite, as they are teething, have sore gums and are learning to chew – very unpleasant if they are attached to Mum’s breast at that time – Ouchhhh! Usually we give them suitable toys to chew upon. You’ll find that a baby will not bite at the beginning of a feed, when they are most hungry. It’s usually when their tummy has been filled a little, and they get distracted. The key is to be alert!

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Story Telling for Parents

What makes a good story?

 

Think of a book that you’ve read to your young child, which they’ve loved it – in which case you’ve probably read it hundreds of times!

 

What was it they loved?

 

Books on ‘repeat cycle’ at your house often have  similar features. Things like:

Colourful pictures

An engaging story

A lead character

An element of drama

A chorus  or refrain which children can remember and join in with, and

A desire to turn the page to see what happens next

 

Stories also come alive due to how the reader delivers the story:

Your use of different voices for the different characters

The tone of your voice – serious or light-hearted

The volume of your voice – a loud growly voice, or a gentle whisper.

The questions you ask to engage the child in the story

The enthusiasm in your face and

The encouragement you give for your child to join in.

 

Why does your child choose the same book over and over? Read more

Mother and child walking through a japanese garden.

Going For a Walk

Today I went for a walk through a quaint little town, exploring it and the surroundings. As I walked, I noticed a beautiful feather on the ground and picked it up. Immediately it reminded me of walking with my young children some years ago.

We regularly went walking whether it was around our property (we lived in a rural area), around town, at the beach or in the bush. As we walked, I always seemed to have a ‘Collector’ with me….. at least one of my children would be in a collecting mode, and I learnt to always carry a small basket or bag for their collections. Sometimes it was leaves, other times it was shells, and sometimes it was stones – from pebbles to rocks! The child would decide if the speciman was ‘worth’ collecting….. maybe based on the colour, the size, the shape, some patterns on it, or just because they liked it! As they collected, they would be describing to me, what was special about it.

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Remember to Play

As parent, there are a swag of ‘jobs’ that come with parenting… additional washing, cooking, cleaning, breast or bottle feeding, settling the baby, working through bed-time routines, sibling rivalry, introducing solids, solving problems, answering questions, reading to them, tidying up, talking with them…. and a hundred more jobs…

 

It’s no wonder that parenting is a tiring job.

In no other role are you on call 24/7, receive no set breaks and get no pay for your work!

 

Sometimes as parents we get so caught up in all that must be done… that we actually forget the most important thing… the little people around us!

 

These children didn’t come to us to be ‘chores’. Yes, caring for them can be time consuming and exhausting, but that’s not what they see…. Children see YOU and want to be with you, being part of whatever you are doing. I’m talking about young children here, not teenagers…. that’s a story for another day! Read more