I’m so pleased to have a place to record Joss’ development and funny little ways! We have had some really good first words in the last week or two, and a tooth at 14m at last!
Here’s a sample conversation with Jossy!
Mammy: What does a doggy do?
Mammy: That’s right, wuff, what about a snake?
Jossy: sssssssss! (this kills me!)
Mammy: Shall we blow some bubbles?
She also says tikotiko which are tickles and says this when stroking cats and dogs (she’s totally animal mad but we live next to an urban farm so no surprise there then!) and duckaduckaducka which started off as a noise she liked along with doardoardoar but if I ask her to bring the duck she now says duck and brings it over!
“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock
(This post is written purely from my own experience, it is about mental health, it makes no claims to advise, only to encourage parents who may be experiencing PND)
When I had Joss I quickly developed an early onset anxiety. In the early days I worried I wasn’t going to be a good mama, when she was six months old it got too much to bear. These six statements are intended to encourage and support mamas experiencing similar feelings and issues. In my case this was probably more postnatal anxiety than postnatal depression, but I hope that talking about my experiences might help other mamas, without the labels as I’m no expert!
Number one: You know more than you think you know
This has become a bit of a mantra when I meet new mums at baby groups and the likes. I remember Joss being about five days old and I couldn’t rest, couldn’t sleep, I was frantic, reading books about breastfeeding, routines, anti-routines, turning night into day and day into night, child development, I felt overwhelmed! Things came to a head when my husband hid a copy of Gina Ford under the bookcase and a copy of Your Baby, the First Year in the shoe cupboard. How could I be the best for her? Was I meeting her needs? What more did she need? What about her development? Her weight? Oh my, her weight, was she putting it on, was she swallowing milk, how could I keep her awake to feed, questions, questions, questions. It was that classic anxiety, that old what if? that has followed me through most of my life. It was back, last seen at uni, 2005, back in 2012 with a vengeance. Looking back I knew more than I gave myself credit for, she is my daughter, she just sort of fits with me, I got to know her whims, wants and needs quickly and all seems to be well, so have faith mama, you know more than you think you know.
Number two: You’re doing the best you can
Try to let bad days be just that, a bad day, don’t fret and let it turn into a bad week, a bad month, this too shall pass and you are doing the very best you can.
Number three: If you’re worried it’s a good thing, it shows you care
When I was really really anxious, I remember it well, it was about weaning and whether Joss was eating enough and whether I was feeding her a good enough balance, at that time I was really worried that I was worrying too much. Someone said to me, what would happen if you didn’t worry about your little girl? It taught me that worry is on a continuum, too much and we tip over, too little and we don’t do enough, so a little worry is healthy, don’t beat yourself up if you’re an anxious sort, we’re ok, there are a lot of us out there!
Lesson four: You know they will do it in their own time
Someone asked me recently whether Joss is walking, she isn’t. You know at baby groups, there’s always someone who wants to know what all the babies are doing, usually because their child is ahead? That used to get to me, not anymore, I look at that smiling face and think to myself, if I can make you smile every day and you make me smile too then the rest will follow, and it will!
Number five: If mama aint happy aint nobody happy
We had this on a babygro, I liked it, when I read it and realised it meant I needed to slow down and have some time for me it sort of became a mantra. Don’t burn yourself out, I sometimes (ok often) worry that I shouldn’t be away from Joss, mamas at baby group would gloat about never having been away from their little ones. If you want to stay with your baby that’s cool, if you want and need a break then ask for one, and don’t feel guilty, a little time may just refresh you, this is especially important for me now Joss is teething – on those days when you can do no right you sometimes just need five minutes peace and quiet just to catch your breath and head back into the fray with a smile.
Number six: It might help to do some sense checking
This won’t work for everyone, I used to do my sense checking via Google, see something I didn’t like and spiral away into anxiety. I learned through CBT to do it in my own head, so when I was anxious that Joss wasn’t eating well and skipping meals I looked to how energetic she was, windmilling away and rolling, I learned that babies can regulate their own appetites quite well thank you very much, and let her take the lead, it helped to work through my worries logically sometimes.
If you’re interested in CBT you could speak to your GP, many areas have self-referral into CBT now too. There are also lots of mental health and post partum networks online, just search #ppd or #pnd on twitter and a lot comes up.
When I heard we’d been chosen by Munchkin to test their products I crossed everything that the booster seat would be in the product bundle as I’d been feeding Joss on my knee out at other people’s houses for way too long and she’d learned loads of tricks for wriggling away to play!
I was really pleased to see it in the mega box of products and knew we’d test that first! The practical things first – it has two seat heights and two positions for the feeding tray, can be attached to any dining chair but also used on the floor. The seat strapped easily to a large dining chair, the three point harness clipped easily and the first tray setting was a good fit even though Joss is skinny and usually too small for most seats! I was surprised how steady she was without straps over the shoulder but the seat was really robust. Even though we kept the seat on the lower position Joss quickly found she was boosted to a prime view of the TV and can be seen stretching to see here!
I love the vibrant green and sturdy chair back, Joss seemed really comfy and happily tucked into her cheese and courgette muffin, I think she liked eating with us as she could see our lunch and beg for bits and bobs from our plates!
You can see here that although she’s a littley she was sat upright and comfortable. I was really impressed with this product, particularly as its priced at under £20 online and if we had dining chairs at home I’d have preferred this to our standard high chair, top marks from us!
I just heard about heuristic play last week, and treasure boxes too. We’ve just been around the house this morning, snow coming down fast, so I took a few minutes to search for some ideas online. Niff loved the basket, and its contents were so ordinary looking to me, but so interesting to her. She especially liked the rubber icecube mould, the silk scarf and had a good chew on the bristles of the toothbrush! The metal spoon was clearly preferred over the plastic and the weird bath sponge was just thrown! It was a really nice way to spend a morning, I had a cuppa and just observed. Heuristic play is about sitting back and letting them explore objects, work out for themselves what they do, or don’t do, and it kept her happy for a good hour!
So today was messy! It’s important to me that Niff enjoys feeling textures etc as I dislike being sticky and messy, I love that we can go to our local Children’s Centre, get babies, floors and mam’s hair covered in paint and leave the scene of devastation behind – for free! Long may they continue, these sessions are lovely for Niff but also give me a confidence boostm , other mams to chat to and loads of info on hand about feeding, home safety etc. For all Niff was head to toe paint she did make Daddy a lovely picture poem!
My how you’ve grown into a beautiful, bright and inquisitive girl! When we brought you home we all marvelled at how alert you were, and that alertness has turned into a real interest in the world around you, you’d rather play than eat, rather sing than sleep and rather dance than rest, you’ve brought energy, passion and love into my world and I’ll hold your hand forever as we explore the world together.
It’s no coincidence in my mind that the first song we played after your birth was this Mumford and Sons track, Roll Away Your Stone, it seemed so appropriate, spirited and fitting:
“Stars hide your fires,
These here are my desires
And I will give them up to you this time around
And so, I’ll be found with my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul”
No mother could capture the feeling of bringing a child into the world, if I feel brave one day I may share your birth story, but for now all I can say is that it was the most intense moment of my life and sparked the beginning of yours, the time and circumstance was challenging but so so rewarding.
Keep looking at the world in wonder little one, love forever, Mammy x