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 6 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.

6 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!

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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Two young kids splashing in a play pool

The Things Some Parents Say…

In my work as a Parenting Consultant I work with parents who approach me for different reasons. I have parents who want reassurance that their child is developing as they ‘should’ ie that they are meeting the milestones for development in the areas of Language, Intellectual skills, Motor skills – both gross and fine motor, and Social-Emotional skills. Some parents contact me when they think there may be a possible delay in one of these areas – that their child isn’t talking as much as his peers, or not moving as well. Other parents contact me when Mum is returning to work and they want to check on how to best ensure that the child will cope with this new change of routine and people in childcare. And other parents contact me when there is an issue with their child eg around bedtime routines, or when they are approaching toilet-learning, or when they are behavioural issues.

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Image of a nice kids bed in a neat room

When Do I Move my Toddler into a Bed?

This is a question many parents wonder about. There is no ‘right’ time to move them into a bed, and your decision may be based on a variety of things….

  • You may have a new baby arriving and know that they will only sleep in a bassinet for the first few months;
  • You may be concerned that your toddler is attempting to climb out of their cot;
  • The toddler may be indicating that they want a big bed like their sister/ brother/ cousin, or
  • You may be renovating and want to include the child’s bedroom in that.

There are many reasons ‘why’ you might want to move them. From a safety point of view, they can stay in the cot until they are getting too big for it, or until they start to climb out – as then they may be at risk of falling or injury.

Whatever your reason for moving them, here are a few suggestions to make the transition easier:

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Image by Kevin Cramer 2012 via Flickr

My Kids are Now Adults!

This article is supplied by guest writer, Rodney Tattam, who writes a weekly blog, called One Page Wonder.

“The best thing parents can do for their children is allow them to be who they were born to be.” ― Nancy Arroyo Ruffin

Week after week I endeavour to post something that has a positive Twenty one years ago we became parents for the very first time and our lives changed forever, and so much for the better. Two years later we were blessed with our second son and life became incredible. At this period there are so many changes happening in your life and so much to learn and comprehend. Most of it, you learn or make up as you go.

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Christmas Kids

All I want for Christmas is…

So want do you say to yourself at this time?

  • Yahhhh I love Christmas;
  • It’s so expensive;
  • I can’t want for it to be over;
  • I love watching the kids faces on Christmas morning;
  • Family disagreements – no thanks;
  • I love family get togethers, especially Christmas;
  • I love the excitement and special treats.

 

Which ever sentiments you have about Christmas, the reality is it is approaching fast! What can we do to make it a pleasant, positive experience for children and families? Here’s some ideas…

 

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How Does Speech Develop in Babies?

Language begins to develop prior to birth, when babies hear the parents’ voices in utereo. When a baby, who has just been born, is placed between their mother and a stranger, and they both speak to the baby, she will turn towards the recognisable voice of her Mum – amazing!

 

From birth to 6 weeks, this recognition of both Mum and Dad’s voices continues, and the baby responds to sounds and voices, but aren’t yet able to localise them. Babies have different cries to indicate their need for food, sleep, or to be burped! When parents are able to correctly identify these cries, then they can quickly settle the baby .

You can read more about this, in a previous article I wrote: http://theparentingcafe.com.au/the-5-words-your-newborn-says/ 

You can help by: Look at your baby and talk with her. Smile at her. Surround her with gentle, pleasant sounds, and avoid sudden loud noises, which may startle her.

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Gratitude in Parenting: Being grateful and teaching our children gratitude.

I recently had a trip overseas to see my family in Denmark. While I was there, I was away from the busy-ness of my daily life and so had more time to relax and think.

Flying gives me great pleasure – I get excited just like a child – the thrill of taxiing down the runway, and the glee when the plane lifts and soars above the ground – I sit there, almost grinning like the Cheshire Cat in ‘Alice in Wonderful’.

The next day I’m lying on the grass in my sister, Anita’s backyard, in the sunshine with my niece, gazing through the dappled light of the giant tree at the moving clouds. I felt grateful and blessed to be there, for Cecilie’s company (I only see her every 4-5 years), for the sun when it was mid-winter back home in Tasmania, for being able to laze about instead of working, for the fact I had enough money to take such a trip, and for the joy of being with family again – so many things to be grateful for! Read more

A Story for Parents

Come and sit down parents, your fairy godmother wants to tell you a timely story…

Once upon a time a beautiful baby was born. The parents loved her dearly and took great care of her. They put boundaries around her, to keep her safe. They noticed her signs for when she was tired, and put her to bed, even though they wanted to hold her and play with her longer.

As she grew, the boundaries changed. They instilled rules about saying ‘ta’, limiting the TV time, putting in safety plugs and ensuring that the back fences were strong so that she could play safely in the backyard – all to raise a happy, well-adjusted child.

Then one day, a few years later, something different happened. When the parents said it was bedtime, she asked for another story. The parents happily read another one. The next night she wanted 2 extra stories, and the parents were pleased that she loved reading so much! The following night she wanted 2 long stories and then a drink of water, and then the toilet, and another cuddle. The 15 minute night routine was now 50 minutes!

But how did this happen, wailed the parents (who actually had enjoyed their night times together one their daughter was asleep).

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Superman as a 3yr old

Superman is a 3 year old!

You know how Superman wears a disguise, as the ordinary Clark Kent?

Yesterday I saw Superman in another disguise – as a 3 year old boy!

I was in a department store, in a very long queue of people, waiting to make our purchases. Ahead of me was a Mum, with her 3 year old son (aka Superman). She had a large purchase, with a few smaller items sitting on top and was pushing it along in the line. Superman was looking at all the items which shops insist on putting just at children’s eye level – lollies, chocolates, drinks and small items. He picked various ones up and carefully replaced them.

Then, waiting in a long line became less appealing for him, and he started playing a game with the soft drink bottles – pushing them over, one at a time. Mum noticed and asked him to stop. He promptly decided to ignore her, and pushed another couple over. At this point Mum said: “If you don’t stop that, you can’t have this toy” (the one about to be purchased). He continued pushing them over, and she said: “Okay, no toy.” At this point Superman had a mini-tantrum, which stopped quickly when no-one took any notice. Great work Mum!
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