Em. Hello. Anybody out there? Can you hear me? It’s me Nicci. Help. I said help. HEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLPPPPPPPPPPPPP!
I think that’s the inside of my mind. The screaming ‘help’ part. I think that’s what it does all day, even when I have a face of calm and serene blankness on the outside.
“How are things?” people ask.
“They’re GREAT,” I say.
“How are you feeling?”
“I feel really good,” I say.
“How is the baby?”
“Oh she’s great, she’s just a doll. Haven’t had a minute’s bother with her.”
So why do I feel like my whole world is crumbling around me?
I won’t lie. I have googled ‘post natal depression’. But how can you tell what’s PND or just a case of the baby blues? Who wouldn’t be overwhelmed dealing with a newborn and a toddler? Where’s the line between something more serious and something completely normal and expected?
Someone said to me recently while I was standing in Penny’s – desperately searching the racks for breast feeding friendly tops in the ten minutes I had before the newborn began squalling in her pram again – your problem is you’re too organised. You need to let things go. Don’t be worrying about the house or having things in order. You need to just sit back and let it happen around you.
She was right. Dead right – nail on the head stuff. I am trying to do it all. I know I am. But I don’t know any other way to do it.
I’m trying to look after the baby. I’m breastfeeding so as soon as she squawks I’m there organising her feed – she feeds throughout the day and night and so there is no escape – I’m her lifeline and everything must be dropped to tend to her, including toddlers. So far she’s been a good sleeper and feeder and even goes for long stretches at night. But still. No escape.
I’m trying to look after the toddler. Her Dad has been brilliant and has devoted most of his time to her, but he still needs to leave the house and go to work and be an adult human and we are slowly building up the hours when I am left with them both. I’ve been very lucky to have his support, but it doesn’t stop me getting very stressed out when handling them both. Being two and a half, the toddler is beyond demanding and I’m so conscious of giving her enough attention and love too. All the mammy guilt. And sometimes shouty-ness.
I’m trying to look after the house. Some days it’s clean. Most days it’s not. Even when it is clean, within a hour or two, it becomes messy again. The cycle drives me cuckoo – it is never ending and relentless. At times I look around at everything out of place and wonder if a mess can kill you? Like can you drop dead from the stress of looking around your shithole? I expect you can. I feel like it is strangling me.
I’m trying to recover. Four weeks after my c-section, I’m doing very well but the first ten days were horrendous. I was in a lot of pain and moving an inch in the bed was agony – not conducive to swinging a newborn round your tummy area and sitting up to feed. I think I’ve blocked a lot of it from my memory.
I’m trying not to be rude to friends and family. By that I mean respond to communications within a decent period of time. One of the hardest thing we’ve found this time round is dealing with the sheer volume of social communication coming at us. At one point I was getting back to texts, private facebook messages, twitter messages, what’s app messages, Instagram comments, emails, snapchats, facebook page comments (x 2) and blog comments. Then there’s the phonecalls, visits in person and gorgeous presents being dropped off in gift bags to our door or through family and friends. Part of this is our fault, having so many social accounts and continually posting baby pics (mea culpa) and we could of course just ignore messages coming through, people would probably understand. But the guilt. And the stress of the phone lighting up. A baby secretary. Now there’s an idea.
I’m trying to write my second book. Okay, this is the part where most people look at me and think ‘what the fluff is wrong with her’ or tell me ‘ you’re doing too much’ and you know secretly I probably throw it out there just to make out that I’m amazing with all this skill set and time management. But the truth is that this is something I ENJOY. It’s something I do for me and I also find it relaxing. I feel better having produced 2,000 words a day towards my novel rather than another three washes that have already been replaced with three more bagfuls of pukey muslins. I’ve completed 20,000 words in about two weeks, but that would be more if we didn’t have our trip to the hospital.
Oh yes, the hospital.
Among all the madness and just about coping-ness, our newborn got quite sick and we had a week of worrying and trying to manage her before eventually ending up in A&E and in hospital for three nights. That was the week I cried the most.
I did wonder, afterwards, if our baby being ill was what had been upsetting me all along, that it wasn’t baby blues at all but tears of helplessness. We had already been to the doc who had declared our baby was perfectly fine, and so I went home and watched her deteriorate and slept with one eye open for two nights as I felt she could stop breathing at any moment before bringing her back to the docs in desperation. From then on she got the treatment she needed and all I felt was relief. The tears dried up when I got to the hospital. There, I felt finally back in control. Or under the control of experts whose job it was to help get my baby better. Not mine. And my magic breastmilk. (So much for all that immunity milky boobs!)
What else have I been trying to do?
Pump milk. So I can leave the house sometime in the future without baby.
Celebrate my birthday. That was yesterday. We’d a great night planned out last Friday, but obviously, priorities took over with our sick baba. We did get finally get out last night for an impromptu meal and drink and it did us the world of good. We both woke up this morning like new people. I even came down to find the husband had put a wash on. Seriously, that life changing.
It’s becoming obvious that while juggling all the balls in the air, making time for ourselves could be the most important. Lately, it feels as if we’ve never spent so much time apart. We play tag constantly, handing over the small or big one, getting out the door to various commitments, organising who can face making food or collecting a takeaway that day, all the while, himself is trying to earn enough to keep us a family as I’m on maternity benefit and organise getting me places if I need to go. I can’t drive for another two weeks.
Tiredness. Arguments. Dealing with the tantruming toddler who spends most of her days spray painting our newly covered sofas in blackcurrant juice. But she’s very sweet too. Her Godmother bought her a tiny doll and while we were in hospital it slept in Bonnie’s place in the pram.
Last night, just as we walked out the door for our hastily arranged meal after a very trying weekend of cancelled birthday plans and sick newborns, the boiler exploded. All over our kitchen causing a flood Noah himself would be proud of.
Himself cleaned it up while I sat upstairs putting eyeliner on.
I don’t care anymore, I said.
It’s the start of me sitting back and just letting things happen around me.
I’ll let you know how I get on with that.
I’m on Snapchat at LadyNicci but am not overly active at the minute. Forgive me.