Post natal rage – 12 different words for ‘anger’

I’m angry. I spend most of my day trying to suppress and control the rising tightness in my chest and throat. As you may have guessed, the main symptom of my post natal depression so far is not the traditional low mood (although there are days when this affects me), but is pure, frightening, clear rage.

I’m annoyed that my high blood pressure at the end of my pregnancy made those last days around Christmas so miserable.

I’m irritated that my friends without children rarely visit or even check in, little knowing or appreciating how much it would mean to me.

I’m livid that I feel like I’m becoming invisible, and that the person I once was has faded away.

I’m endlessly conflicted about how I feel about returning to work.

I’m infuriated that every day logistics of getting ready, having a wash and making myself look presentable, getting her in and out of the car and ensuring we have everything we need are such a struggle, and feel solely my responsibility.

I’m exasperated at myself for the pressure I put on myself, and for letting post natal depression ruin what should be a blessed time.

I fully resent that my husband goes to work each day leaving me alone to ensure our baby is kept alive.

I am displeased that my anger is affecting my relationship with my husband.

I am outraged at the physical pain women have to go through in birth and beyond.

I am frustrated that I alone sustain our baby and am trapped when doing so.

I’m absolutely furious that surgery for my third degree tear stopped me from having that golden first hour with my baby.

I’m in agony that because of our traumatic birth my husband doesn’t want another baby.

I’m angry.

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Five tips to have the ‘perfect’ mother and baby class

Turning up at your first parent and baby class, you may not know what to expect. You might feel like you need an idiot (and sleep deprivation) proof guide – please read my five hints below to having the perfect bonding time with your angelic, smiling, coo-ing darling (spoiler alert – this won’t happen – and that’s ok.)

1) Make sure your precious one is napped, fed and burped – the trifecta: The amount of stress I felt doing endless mental arithmetic of nap and feed times and attempting to force Piglet to stuff herself when she probably wasn’t hungry just isn’t worth it! If your baby needs to feed during a class, take some time out and feed them! If they need a little snooze, go with it. The temper tantrums, tears and grizzling just isn’t worth it (and that’s just you). Yes it’s nice if they’re awake, smiling and coo-ing through a class if you’ve managed to nail the trifecta of well rested, well fed and burped beforehand, but as you’ll know by now, no matter how much you plan (and usually when you’ve really tried too hard) it’s highly unlikely this will happen.

2) Set off early – no, even earlier than that: you’ll already be well aware that leaving the house is not the simple process of grabbing your keys and phone (remember those halcyon days?!) but now involves complex check lists, transferring half the contents of your house to your car, and potential poo or vom-canos involving an entire change of clothes just when you NEED to leave. Don’t start the class feeling flustered by rushing in after the start, but above all, if you are late, DON’T WORRY. Going from a professional mindset where tardiness is frowned upon to a world where events beyond your control can cause an entire clothes change due to poo leakage (baby’s outfit and indeed yours can need salvaging) as soon as you get into the car is an extreme gear shift, but you must embrace it. Other parents in the class will exchange sympathetic smiles as you dash in, apologising profusely. Don’t let it ruin your day.

3) Bring a cushion: whoever thought that making women who have just given birth sit or kneel on a cold floor in some god-forsaken church hall for an hour was a good idea is clearly some sort of masochist. I found this out the hard way – rocking up at my first ever class with Piglet 6 weeks after a third degree tear I definitely wasn’t prepared to casually sit, kneel and get up and down with my new ever heavier baby, let alone try and smile through it and act as though my insides weren’t crying out in agony. And be warned – getting up and down isn’t the easy breezy manoeuvre of old. Now you need to squeeze as you rise. Trust me. Be the envy of all the other mums there – bring a little cushion. And wear a maternity pad.

4) Wear comfy clothes: look, I will be frank with you. There will be mums there who look like they’ve just stepped out of a magazine. They will have clean hair, a full face of makeup, and even be wearing an actual outfit. You may vaguely remember at one point before your bundle of joy came along, you might spend some time putting together inventive ensembles using different creative combinations of your wardrobe – whereas now you just throw on leggings and a baggy t-shirt that smells sort of clean but inevitably has an unnoticed patch of baby sick or wet blob of milk which you won’t find until after you’ve been out all day. These glam-mummies will be wearing – whisper it – lipstick. They will look so put together you will feel actual bitter-tasting jealousy and incredulity – HOW on earth are they managing this?! Fear not. Look around the rest of the class – you are crawling round on the floor, wincing as you sing an inane nursery rhyme with frankly problematic lyrics and trying to master counter-intuitive hand signals to stimulate your little darling. You are doing an amazing job – leggings and a t-shirt is perfect.

5) Learn the words: it will feel as though every other mum knows more nursery rhymes and random songs than you do. As you wonder how their sleep deprived brains are retaining all this information, let alone managing to smile and get their baby to gaze adoringly up at them at the same time, while your baby wriggles and looks anywhere but at you, do not stress. The lyrics of a lot of nursery rhymes are extremely problematic – Knick Knack Paddy Whack anyone?! And don’t get me started on Polly Put The Sodding Kettle On…so by not knowing the exact words you can change them to match your own views, or indeed just muddled through the fug of lack of sleep by just singing la la la to the tune, interspersed with your baby’s name now and again. Singing to your baby is fantastic to help their brain develop – but in all honesty it doesn’t matter if you know the words, or even the tune. The frightfully earnest Mum next to you at class who knows all the words AND the hand actions will never know the pure joy of catching the eye of a similarly self conscious mum who hasn’t sung out loud in front of anyone sober in decades, and exchanging an eye roll.

There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ mum and baby class. There will be tears, demands for food and poo/wee at awkward times (and that’s just you). Accept that this is the new world order, and embrace those precious moments where just for a second, your baby makes eye contact and smiles during the millionth rendition of Old Macdonald.

Birth Matters: You matter.

Going back to the hospital where I’d gone through such a traumatic birth brought it all back – the familiarity of the harsh lighting in the corridors; the smell of disinfectant and the unbearable warmth as we trekked round. The only difference was that this time I wasn’t lugging around a huge bump, my stride no longer a slow waddle.

We had waited 3 and half months for this appointment. As it had approached I had become gradually more and more nervous, not knowing what to expect. As always in these situations, I researched to ensure I felt prepared and in control, but there was surprisingly little on the internet that gave me any indication of what would happen – just this short page on the NHS website: https://www.leedsth.nhs.uk/a-z-of-services/leeds-maternity-care/what-we-do/birth-matters-clinic/ which sadly gave very little specific information.

I was referred to Birth Matters after experiencing a birth that was so far removed from my ‘birth plan’ it was laughable. Every time I spoke about my birth I would stop, unable to continue for feeling like I was choking, the lump in my throat so constricting, and blinking away tears furiously. I raised my negative feelings about my birth with healthcare professionals immediately in the days following my birth, and was referred straight away. Despite this, our appointment was given as being 3 and half months away, the delay of which added to my feelings of helplessness and frustration. For me it was important that my husband came with me, as not only did I need his support but I also felt he needed this debrief as much as I did, having admitted to feeling utterly helpless as his wife went through terrifying agony and being left alone with our newborn as I was rushed to surgery.

Knocking on the door of our appointment we were greeted by a friendly midwife, and ushered into comfortable chairs. On a small table was a jug of water, some glasses and a box of tissues. These small tokens of thoughtfulness reassured me straight away that I would be taken seriously. The midwife had clearly taken the time to review our case before we had arrived – she barely had to refer to her notes the whole time we were there. She calmly and sympathetically talked us through our birth timeline – allowing us to interrupt and talk about how we had felt, or little moments we remembered, and to ask questions. One of my fears about the appointment was that I would have my experience belittled as both me and my baby had come out of the birth relatively unharmed, however she fully supported the fact that it had affected me so badly. Several times during the appointment I cried, squeezing my husband’s hand as I struggled to regain control to continue.

The main point I wanted to come away from the appointment with was reassurance that should we choose to have another baby that I would be supported to try and ensure a different outcome, and to have a more positive birth experience next time. This was exactly how I felt as I left, as the midwife explained that Birth Matters is not just a debrief service, but also can support women during a pregnancy who have anxieties about their birth. In our case she suggested that we would be entitled to contact Birth Matters even before we were considering another baby to meet with a specialist consultant and put a plan in place to try to avoid the negative set of events that led to my traumatic birth. At no point were we rushed, and we were in discussions for the best part of an hour. Afterwards, she sent us the official timeline of our birth by email, adding a personal message at the start, and said we could use this email address in the future should we want any more children.

Over 30,000 women a year have a traumatic birth in the UK, although as always with these stats it is probably a lot higher. Services like Birth Matters are incredibly important, and feel like a lifeline after experiencing something that is portrayed as being so positive in a highly negative way. I wanted to share the details of my appointment so that other women searching the internet in the darkness of night, silently crying so as not to wake their new baby, would find comfort in knowing what to expect and that this can be the start of recovering psychologically.

I left our appointment feeling so much lighter. I had been taken seriously, had my experience respected and sympathised with, and been given clear cut medical information for the future that took into account my exact case and circumstances. Talking so honestly with someone who we felt understood us had given us the reassurance and the beginnings of closure we craved.

If you went through a traumatic birth and find that it affects you negatively, please do seek medical assistance and ask for a referral to Birth Matters. You matter.

What’s APP-ertaining- the best apps for new mums

Picture credit: Hello Magazine

Being a new mum is absolutely exhausting – from the lack of sleep to the attempting to keep your little one alive, let alone entertained, it’s easy to see why many mums will download any app going to help out!

As a brand new (clueless) mummy myself, I have put together the apps I have found most useful in the first three months of my baby’s life:

Hoop – The one for keeping your sanity by getting you out of the house

Despite how difficult it is some days to get out of the house, (the sheer organisation and logistics behind ensuring the change bag has everything you need, the travel system folding in and out of your car, and praying that the traffic lights won’t turn to red as you HAVE to keep moving so that your baby won’t scream) going out even once each day definitely kept me sane during those first whirlwind weeks.

Hoop helps you to find drop in sessions and bookable classes for you and your baby. You can easily select your location, how far away you’d be prepared to travel, and then it displays all the classes on each day of the week in your area. You can also search by category, day of the week and age range of your children! This really helped me to try out new activities with my baby and therefore to have more of a structure to my day, and meet other mums, as well as stimulate and interest Baby R.

Hoop is a free app, downloadable from all app stores.

The Wonder Weeks – The one that explains why your baby is being a nightmare

What I didn’t realise before I gave birth is that there are key age-related developmental leaps in the first few months that every baby goes through. What I also didn’t realise is that babies become DEMONS during this time as they process new skills and sensations.

The Wonder Weeks is an app based on a best selling book and audio book, and the app includes free links to the pertinent chapters. It highlights the particular leap your child is going through, helps you visualise through informative videos, and gives you hints for games to play to further develop key skills. Despite the sometimes slightly archaic language, this app is great for knowing what your baby is going through, and even syncs with your calendar to give you fair warning of when your baby will need some extra love (and patience – I’d recommend getting the wine in.)

The Wonder Weeks is £2.99 from app stores.

Baby Sensory Signbook – The one to help you communicate with your baby

Baby Sensory is my favourite baby class of the week. Singing songs, flashing lights, fun themes, different textures and new games – all so helpful for those of us new to the baby business to inspire playtime. Babies love singing, and by signing as you sing, you are developing their language and communication skills.

This app contains the signs for the key words to the opening song ‘Say Hello To The Sun’ (sung worldwide to tens of thousands of babies each week in the Baby Sensory classes!) and hundreds of other signs to help you and your baby learn to communicate with each other. You can search for key words on the home page. Each sign has a clear video showing you how to do the sign, and you can select your favourites to keep handy.

Baby Sensory Signbook is £3.99 from app stores.

Mush – The one that’s like a dating app

So the thing I wasn’t anticipating as a new mum was having to make new friends as an adult. It can be excruciating if (like me) you are at all socially awkward, however new friends will help you make plans to get out of the house, and also give you adult conversation and a sounding board for all the ‘is it normal for my baby to….’ questions you will have.

Mush allows you to create a profile, and then browse profiles of other parents in your local area. There are also scheduled meet ups, and message boards for questions and recommendations. It feels a bit like a low pressure dating app when you try and connect with other mums, but is great to broaden your friendship group when on maternity leave.

Mush is free from app stores.

Apps I did not find useful

I really loved the idea of apps such as Kinedu and Baby Sparks – who doesn’t want tailored games and activities to play with your child each day? In reality however, I was extremely disappointed.

The free trial I had with Kinedu was brilliant – I was given four new games to play each day with my baby that suited her age and upcoming developmental milestone, with instructional videos, and lists of equipment I would need in upcoming days. In order to continue with this, I would need to pay a large subscription fee, which on my statutory maternity pay was not feasible, so sadly I deleted this initially free app.

Baby Sparks worked on a similar premise, where you were shown activities to play with your baby, however only a couple of these (the most basic) were free – the rest (which looked far more exciting) were locked until you paid a fee to release these. Boo.

Which apps have you found useful to use with your new born baby?

Clever stuff – happy babies

One of the most expensive purchases we made as new parents to be was the travel system. I had to google ‘buggies for dummies’ during my pregnancy as I didn’t know my pushchairs from my prams – I certainly didn’t know what a travel system was. To my naive pre-baby self, you got some sort of contraption to push them around in and that was it!

To anyone as clueless as I was – don’t despair. A travel system combines everything you need – a car seat, a pram and a pushchair, all of which click into the same chassis. This proves really useful as you can transport baby easily from birth til a few years old.

We knew a travel system was the way to go for us. What we didn’t realise was how saturated the market was! We walked into Mothercare and stood dumbfounded at the enormous display of travel systems at every price point imaginable. Surely we didn’t need to spend thousands of pounds to take our baby out?!

I was instantly drawn to the Cosatto range. Bright, colourful and unique – it stood out instantly in the sea of grey and black.

Their motto ‘Clever stuff happy babies’ inspired me. I had no idea that Cosatto worked so closely with top researchers to help our little ones develop and learn just by looking at the unique patterns on their pushchair!

We were amazed at how light the Cosatto range was. Even heavily pregnant and increasingly weak me could pick up, fold and manoeuvre each one. My special awareness is the absolute worst – even supermarket trolleys can defeat me – so having a tiny turning circle, and quick, simple folding mechanism that I could work out without assistance was amazing!

We decided on the Wow, chose the gorgeous rainbow bright ‘Spectroluxe’ and rejoiced in having made the choice so easy.

Baby R was born, and a couple of days later I finally felt ready to venture out. A short (ouchy) walk close to home was all I could manage, but my smile couldn’t have been bigger on that cold January day as I proudly showed off our bright pram!

The Wow is INCREDIBLE. Every detail of being a new mum has been thought of and attended to. There is loads of room in the bottom for all those necessities you can’t possibly leave the house without (my change bag is stuffed full). The sturdy chassis travels well even over quite rough ground such as parks. You can remove the wheels to wash them if they get caked in mud (a regular occurrence in this cold wet winter!). The mattress inside is comfortable, and babies can sleep in it safely for the duration of any outing. We have even used it overnight when staying with family. Baby R loves looking at the high contrast patterns in the hood, and I can’t wait to use it to teach her colours. The motivational messages such as ‘dream big’ inside the hood reassure me that Cosatto cares as much about my baby’s future as I do.

Once Baby R is big enough, we can replace the lie flat pram with the pushchair. We foolishly didn’t purchase the footmuff at the same time as everything else, and as a result it sold out. I rang the Cosatto helpline in desperation, and the attentive customer service helped me out – within minutes we had a suitable alternative shipping out. Like the rest of the travel system, it arrived the very next day!

The travel seat is also absolutely brilliant. Safe and sturdy, with a newborn insert and easily adjustable straps, I know that Baby R is snug and comfortable in it. It is light weight so can be carried on its own, or clips quickly into the chassis or isofix base.

The only thing I would say is that the car seat buckle can sometimes be slightly tricky with a wriggling baby – but it is soon mastered!

In conclusion, the Cosatto Wow really does live up to ‘clever stuff happy babies’, and I couldn’t recommend it strongly enough to any parents to be!

What travel system did you choose to buy? Were you happy with your choice?

Disclaimer: I researched and paid for my Cosatto Wow myself, so all views are completely my own.