Tag Archives: Relationships

American Pie: The Reunion… the antidote to PND?

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When the doctor first diagnosed me with postnatal depression 2 months ago – I was literally knocked sideways. I had just given birth to a beautiful and healthy baby, had an amazing man by my side, and had nothing to be unhappy about! I only went to the doctors as I had separation anxiety when Dexter and I were apart and was I hugely self-conscious about it.

Since that day, things got progressively more difficult in our home. I found myself analysing my relationships even more; with both Dexter and Craig. I was so consumed with parenting, poor Craig didn’t get too much of a look-in. A typical day would involve Craig going to work, returning home and cooking dinner with Dex, whilst I had some hands-free time. We’d eat in silence as the television was on, bath Dex, feed him, and settle him down. With all the practical bits of running a home, Craig and I would rarely get any quality time together. I’d go to bed first, and would often be asleep by the time Craig finished up downstairs.

It’s always been in the back of my mind that Craig and I need more ‘alone’ time – but until this weekend I just couldn’t seem to put it right. We’d just got so used to our routines. I was constantly tired and our little bundle of joy just seemed to need me more than Craig did.

The by-product of all this obsessing meant it got to the point where all our conversations were about Dexter and we rarely laughed together or had a kiss and a cuddle. I mistakenly thought that Dexter was the centre of our world and that it would be our achievements as parents that would make us stronger as a couple. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Craig and I were ever in danger of falling out of love with each other – I just lost track of what was important.

Reading Festival – 2011 – Life before Dexter

The realisation came for me when we watched American Pie: The Reunion this weekend. Craig got home on the Friday with a bottle of wine and a dine-in-for-two type affair. I was bored of I’m a Celebrity (shock – horror!) and was fed up of staring at the laptop, so suggested we pop on the latest offering from Lovefilm.

The film wasn’t great. It was typical American Pie humour; cringeworthy and ridiculous. But ironically there was something I could actually relate to this time round. Michele and Jim had had a baby and were struggling to make ‘time’ for each other. This was the overrunning theme the whole way through – at first it was their son that got in the way, then their friends; they were both out of sync and concerned about the impact on their relationship.

It wasn’t lost on me that Craig kept glancing at me. He’s tried to talk to me about it before but I’ve always quickly changed the subject. I must admit that there are parallels between their relationship and ours – but (for me) these aren’t the obvious ones. What struck me most was what worked about their relationship are the same things that work in ours. The reason Craig and I got together in the first place was because we were able to make each other laugh. Somehow, along the way, I’d forgotten this – but Craig hasn’t and he’s been missing me.

So many times we’ve discussed how “We’ve changed” as a result of having Dexter. We’ve quite rightly “grown up” and have new “responsibilities” – all the old clichés. I think I took this a million steps too far though and fell into the trap of thinking Craig would be impressed if I was the ‘perfect parent’ and would love me more for it. What I’ve realised is that being a good parent is one thing, but it’s also important to be a good girlfriend. Both need equal amounts of my energy and time.

I always found it a little strange that some mothers blog so candidly about their experience with postnatal depression and their relationships. I couldn’t stand the thought of Dexter ever reading that I was sad, or that his mummy ever ‘struggled’. I grew up in a household blighted by my own mothers depression, and desperately didn’t want Dexter to experience the same thing. My friends and family also read this blog and I honestly believe that some things should remain private. So what’s changed now?

This blog is all about our family; Craig and I are just as much protagonists as Dexter is! I’m just as likely to feel compelled to write about Dexter’s little achievements as I am about ours. This week I smashed the hell out of PND – and that’s a pretty big deal.

I just feel differently about depression now. It doesn’t define me and it’s not like I’ve done something wrong. PND is simply a result of my post-baby hormones and isn’t any more than that. I’m not going to give it anymore thought or attention – I’ve got more important things to do with my life – like play with Dex and Craig.

I don’t have to worry that Dexter won’t understand why I’ve decided to write this post. All he’ll know is that he has a fun-filled house with a mummy and daddy who are human and do their best. There’ll be plenty of stories behind our success as a family – this is simply one of them.

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We’re in! The British Red Cross First Aid Challenge

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It goes without saying how important our little angel’s are. But would we really know what to do if they choked, sustained a burn, fainted…? This is pretty close to my heart (and Craig’s) given Dexter has already been hospitalised twice in his short little life. We were lucky and got to A&E in plenty of time before a Strep B blood infection caused him any major suffering, but I remember all too well how scary the experience was.

On both occasions, one of us had been alone with Dex when the symptoms started. It’s awful being alone with a child when something goes wrong. I remember frantically trying to call Craig when he was out wetting Dexter’s head – I guess I just wanted validation that something was wrong and I wasn’t overreacting. As ridiculous as it seems, you start to blame yourself (and each other) and it can put enormous strain on even the closest of relationships.

Dexter at the Royal Berkshire Hospital aged 6 weeks - He was so ill

Dexter at the Royal Berkshire Hospital aged 6 weeks – He was so ill

 

Since learning that The British Red Cross are commencing a new nationwide campaign to get all parents learning first aid, we just had to get involved.

The campaign was launched in response to a survey showing that most parents don’t feel confident about what to do if their child were injured. In a survey of over 2,000 parents (undertaken by Bounty’s Word of Mum™ panel) 96% of respondents agreed that all parents should have some first aid knowledge. The study identified the main fears of parents as choking, treating an unconscious baby or child and meningitis – however despite this, many parents struggle to find the time to learn how to treat these cases.

Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross head of first aid education, commented:

We know that the majority of parents want to learn first aid, but may not get round to it for all sorts of reasons. We’re asking parents to set themselves this challenge – learn something, no matter how much time you have. Even 15 minutes is enough to learn something that could make all the difference in an emergency

With over 24,000 parents expected to attend the Baby Show Earls Court over three days, the British Red Cross First Aid Challenge will be launching at the popular event this October 26th. Parents will be able to kick-off the challenge with training sessions taking place every hour. But the good news is that you don’t have to be an attendee to get involved. The website (www.redcross.org.uk/firstaidchallenge) will also launch the same day, featuring free videos, emergency advice and information on first aid courses around the UK – the campaign will also encourage parents to download a letter to send to head teachers to ask local schools to teach first aid in the classroom.

Signing up to the First Aid Challenge is completely free and each participant will receive information on how to deal with day-to-day mishaps confidently and updates about free first aid demonstrations across the UK. Alternatively, if parents prefer to keep a how-to hard-copy in the house, a brand new First Aid manual focussing on treatment for babies and children is available now, priced £10.99.

Tracey Turner from the British Red Cross said:

We hope this challenge will make all parents stop, think and decide to learn some first aid. We all know that as children grow and explore, inevitably they will have some kind of accident, be it big or small. We are passionate about giving everyone the skills and the confidence to know what to do.

Both Craig and I are signed up and we’ll be taking a quick crash course at the Baby Show Earl’s Court on Saturday. I urge all my readers to sign up to the course and get involved too.

You can follow the British Red Cross on Twitter (@BritishRedCross)- they need our help to spread the message so get RT’ing any campaign tweets you see!