Behind My Smile – New Year, New Mindset

Never forget that you are a brilliant Mother or Father, a loving partner, a fantastic person, you are not alone and post natal depression does not define you as a person or reflect who you are. It is not the end, it will only make you stronger once you feel better, you will be yourself again, you may not think this now, but you will. It can be frightening and scary, there are millions of others out there walking in similar steps to you in silence but this is normal, you need to talk about your feelings. You are capable, you are brave and you are significant, even when it feels like your not. Stay strong.

When we first found out we were due to have twins, I was so excited and started planning for our new arrivals from 12 weeks. We bought our pram from a friend of a friend, we already had lots of bits and bobs from when Charlie was a baby and by 23 weeks we already attended a twins and multiples baby class run by TAMBA. I felt prepared. I was ready for not one baby, but two.

Despite having a quite traumatic pregnancy, I was looking forward to meeting my babies and really looked forward to going into labour. Birthing Charlie was lovely, I enjoyed it so much. It was so straightforward, no tearing, no assistance and I was let home the next morning. I wasn’t scared to give birth to two babies, I already knew I was going to have an epidural so I wasn’t going to be in pain (or at least I thought).

I planned every single aspect up to the run up of the birth. On my lunch break I wrote extensive lists of exactly what I would put in my hospital bag. I am sure I even wrote lists about the lists I needed to write. Surely, this can’t be too hard. I’m ready. I’m prepared. I already have had one baby, surely two won’t be much harder. That was coming from the baby brain Yasmin, who sent the hospital bag list to the work printer and forgetting to collecting it one night resulting in explaining to my colleague what ‘breast pads’ are and going into detail about leaky nipples. Let’s just say, he was mortified.

After not exactly having that ‘pregnancy glow’, I gave birth to my babies and it wasn’t exactly how I ever imagined.  (Read my birthing story here).  I was so upset and it was the start of a journey which I never prepared myself for.

The first week of my babies lives:

The day after giving birth the pains were so strong, I was huddled up in a ball holding back the tears, I was given paracetamol but it didn’t do much. It was 30 degrees in May, I had been away from home for days and I just wanted to be back and see Charlie. I felt sad that the birth wasn’t how I imagined it to be and just wanted to cuddle my babies in the comfort of my own home. The doctor came round to ask us how we were feeling and if I was up to going home, I instantly said ‘yes’, but deep down I knew I wasn’t ready. My body had endured so much in the last few months but I felt so trapped and wanted to be home.

Once we got home, Charlie arrived back from his Grandma’s house, I was so happy to see him. Our journey as a 5 had finally started and I couldn’t wait more than to bond with our new tiny arrivals. Family and friends all wanted to come over to see the bundles of joy, but I wasn’t ready. I was still in pain and the bleeding was unreal. It was horrible. I wanted to heal in my own home and in my own time.

I couldn’t help but be filled with so much emotion, I felt so happy, I had everything I ever wanted right in front of my eyes. It was so lovely to see Charlie turn from an only child to a big brother, and boy, he was absolutely amazing. He was in awe of his sisters, he was so kind and gentle with them. I was trying to take it all in but time was going so fast.

Two weeks in:

Penny weighed in at 5lb 4oz and Lola at 5lb, good weights for twins? They were so small, I have never seen babies as small, and they started to lose weight to the point they were both referred back to hospital. We were feeding the girls as instructed by the midwifery staff but not much changed. Penny dropped down to 4lb 6oz and Lola down to 4lb 2oz, which meant their stomaches were so small; they were feeding little and often which meant the smallest amount of milk were taking around 60 to 90 minutes per feed. I didn’t even feel too tired, I felt happy, we had two little babies in front of us and I couldn’t be more smitten. 

We tried harder and harder to get the girls to take more milk so they would sleep that little bit longer and it started to work. The girls had a 3-4 hour pattern, they would take the 60 to 90 minutes to feed, 30 minutes to wind, 1 hour to and 1 and a half sleep (possibly two hours if we were lucky).

Three weeks in:

It finally hit me. Sleep deprivation. The adrenaline had gone. I needed to rest. We were both exhausted. Adam made a sign and put it on the door for all the guests who thought they’d just ‘nip in’ which said ‘mum and baby sleeping’. There was also a note on there for the Amazon Man, the Post Man, etc not to knock in case it woke us up.

But seriously what good is that? If I close my eyes tighter will I sleep? Counting sheep? Am I too old for that shit? I just couldn’t switch off, so much for sleeping when the babies sleep. I just couldn’t do it. I had a couple of offers of people to watch the babies while we could have an hour, but the offers soon faded as the new baby thing died off.

Six weeks in:

The girls slowly started taking more milk, sleeping that little bit more which meant us having more rest, but it was still exhausting. My body still couldn’t get over the lost sleep, I felt like I was drunk as I was so dazed at times. Adam gave me more than a few nights off, which was amazing. Although he didn’t sleep for days in return, I don’t even know how he did it.

We was never offered much help as from the outside it looked like we were managing fine, and as a lot of people said ‘we made it look easy’. This isn’t easy, this is so tough. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I guess perception is such a strong thing, what something looks like rather than it actually is can make people take a step back.

I managed to get a few days out, me and Charlie regular walked over to the local park for some fresh air with the girls but it was so warm outside I was scared of them getting sunburnt despite being lathered up in suncream. I even went to food shopping at night once the girls were in bed so Adam could have some time to himself and I could get out of the house.

Two months in:

I started to feel human again, I had stopped bleeding, the girls were sleeping that little bit more, I started spending more time with Charlie again. Before the girls came along me and Charlie had such a brilliant bond. He is my best friend I could have ever wished for. To say he was only 2, he was a great listener and has such a good sense of humour. We had more day trips which was really nice, although it was a military operation to get out sometimes! Changed, check. Bag packed, checked. 6 nappies each, check. Fresh sets of clothes, check. Milk and bottles, check. The list goes on. It used to take over an hour to get out of the house in preparation. We went to the coast, Wheelgate park and even went to Tattershall Lakes for the weekend. It was so nice to get away from home. But this is where it all began.

Helped seemed to be few and far between during this moment in time. I felt like people offered help but not the help I wanted or needed. Offers to feed the girls milk or give them a cuddle, not the shit jobs, not the cleaning, washing the dishes, sorting out the babies bottles, jobs that didn’t really help me at all. No one fed the girls like me or Adam either and it meant that they were out of sync which left problems later on in the day. Little did I know that my girls would be so set to routine that any little change effects them like the plague. I had a twin feeding M shaped pillow which was a life saver and it let me feed the girls simultaneously so they would stay laid in it to nap in. Ahh, bliss. An hour to myself… Or I mean, Charlie has his quiet hour on the iPad while I washed and sterilised bottles, did the clothes washing or tidied up a little. 

Three to five months in: 

I started to feel a little more isolated from the outside world. Some days I was house bound and there was no sign of making a move and other days it was an absolute breeze, there was literally no in between. On the days I couldn’t get out,I started to feel sad, really sad. I cried a hell of a lot, I told myself it’s okay, but it wasn’t. I’m strong. This isn’t who I am. I can’t feel like this any longer. I don’t feel like the girl I used to be.

Running on no sleep was catching up with me again, the girls still weren’t sleeping though the night and all I could think of was the long gone days of a full night of sleep and an hour to myself here or there. I was trying to be the best possible Mum to Charlie and the twins, I was putting in all the effort I could. I feel useless, I feel like I’m not enough. Housework was getting cut, the ironing pile was towering high and I couldn’t even be bothered to shower. I feel so low. My motivation has gone along with my smile.

I know I have one of the greatest gifts that I could ever imagine, I have a beautiful family who I adore but as I look back there are some really dark times. I felt tied, I couldn’t think straight and I felt so unbelieveable trapped in the comfort of my own home. I couldn’t get out of the house on the days I needed too, I don’t really know anyone in the same position as me. People tried to tell me they knew exactly what it was like, but it hurt so much inside, they didn’t know. They have never had twins before, and we have no twins in the family so they haven’t had the struggle.

When I could get out of the house, I found comfort in seeing other twin Mums. It’s like getting a new car, once you get one, you see the same model everywhere. Like twins, once you have them, you spot them miles off. Identical twins, non identical twins, makes and models of prams, girl girl twins, boy boy twins, boy girl twins, etc, the list goes on. When I was out and about whenever I saw a twin Mum it’s a feeling like I’ve never had, you could talk to them as if you have known them for years – although you have only just met them. They know the twin life. It’s incredible, that I could talk to a stranger and every time they would feel exactly how I feel.

There was one particular day in a local supermarket car park. A lady parked up next to me and had identical girl twins. She was in a similar situation to me, she also had a little boy who had just turned 3. She looked so strong but as we got talking we agreed on a lot of stuff about twins. As I drove home it really made me think about what my life has become over the last year and what changes have been brought upon us, and of course two bonny little faces joining the Booth clan. I started to think about what we was agreeing on and how I wasn’t on my own.

  1. Twins is hard. There is no hiding that fact. Having one baby, was easy. These two, completely different.
  2. It’s not the babies who are hard work, it’s the amount of work you have to do to be prepared with twins. There is no such thing as downtime. Time when babies napping means time preparing.
  3. Having my first child for a play date or a sleepover, does not give me a break – infact, he is the break and I would rather him be at home.
  4. A smile can cover something so broken inside. (This is very deep I know, but very true). A lot of people are fighting a battle you don’t even know about, so be kind, always.

I found Charlie an absolute breeze, he was the most amazing baby, and still is the greatest little boy, he was so easy to care for, so laid back and I can only compare the girls to him. If I only had one baby as well as Charlie I could only imagined it to be easy. I am lucky that both the girls are easy to look after, on their own, but with two it’s the lack of sleep and the time taken away from me that some days could be more difficult than others. There could be really good days and equally really bad days.

There is no sitting down for 5 minutes, I needed to be prepared, if I wasn’t then I would stress and become so anxious. It gave me headache and made me feel sick so it wasn’t worth it. I’ve always been a worrier, don’t get me wrong. I’ve never seen it as such a bad thing. I see it as being a perfectionist. I like things in a certain way and I don’t like things going wrong. It links well to my job too, as I can’t really make any mistakes. But this time it was different.

I found it so difficult that I couldn’t always do as much as what I want to do. I would make plans to go out with friends, but the girls would always go to bed later those nights, it’s like they knew! So I would always be hours late.

Things started getting really hard. I started to wonder if I even wanted to be here anymore. I feel like such an inconvenience to everyone by feeling so down. I cancelled plans, and I didn’t really want anyone to see me like this. I found it so hard to smile even though I had so much to smile about. I was covering up when all I needed to do was cry. I can’t do this anymore. When I look back on this now, I find it really difficult to think about as I was feeling all of this emotion, absolutely no one knew what I was going through, I never spoke about it to anyone – that’s where I was wrong and should have spoke up. I believed feeling like this was a sign of weakness and wanted to be the bubbly girl everyone always knew.

I had a lot of pressures in my life at this time and of course I still do, we had 3 children to look after, a mortgage and bills to pay, Adam is busy with Uni life , I was planning on dates of going back to work and changing my working hours as money was starting to dry up being on maternity leave. I usually used to go to the toilet to cry where I would sit, get all the emotion out and then go back to the girls and Charlie all happy and smiley. I never want the kids to see me down and sad, I don’t want it to affect them. I usually had my moments when they were in bed too – when I have time to reflect on the day I’ve had. One day I was sat really upset, Charlie came to me and said “Mummy, are you sad?” I replied “No, Charlie. I’m fine”. He gave me a kiss and said “Can you be happy now?”. It was so heartbreaking, I felt like I was failing him.

I needed to support my kids and of course, Adam. He decided to go back to University to train to be a Primary School Teacher in 2016, he will be finished in 18 months but it just seems like such a long time away. He has so much on, assignments, work placements, lectures. I just felt like I was weighing him down with my problems and sometimes I couldn’t even be as supportive to him as I need to be.

One of the hardest things I found was being alone in my own head. As I have mentioned before, I am one of the worst for worrying and I can take a small but unimportant scenario in my head and get completely lost within it. It’s not good at all and if I’m honest, I don’t like it and needed to change. I decided to take the leap and go to the doctors. I had been previously but not a lot was mentioned. I told him exactly how I was feeling. I wasn’t happy, I found nothing made me happy, I couldn’t smile or laugh. I didn’t feel like me anymore, I didn’t know who I was. I felt lost and broken inside. He recommended that I take antidepressants. I was advised to take them for over a year, they would take over a month to start working and they had many side affects. It all felt a little rushed for me to make a decision, even though the doctor encouraged this route, I declined.

I need to change my mindset, I need to focus on the good. It was difficult though as no one really knew what I was going through apart from Adam, I didn’t really speak about it as I didn’t want to be a burden and when I finally did, I was told I needed to ‘snap out of it’. I decided not to talk about it again and kept it to myself but it did eat away at me.

The weeks went on and I slowly started feeling better in myself, we got out every single morning and spend the afternoons at home, it was working a treat. I felt so much better from exercise and fresh air. Me and Adam were getting on again, we made more time for each other and we felt like a couple again. It had been hard the last few months to take out to talk to each other, stay up and watch a film or order a take away as we were both so tired. But it was nice to start getting back on track.

Six months in:

I woke up with a strange pain in my side, I had this before, it was diagnosed as ‘Grumbling Appendix’ and I also have endometriosis so it’s not great. It usually just comes and goes every so often. I really couldn’t be bothered with taking 3 children to A&E, then waiting, to be then sent home with painkillers. Adam headed off to Uni and the pain got worse, I rang my GP who advised me to go down to the medical centre straight away. When I got there, I was straight in to see the doctor, they did certain tests and sent me straight to the Surgical Assessment Unit at the hospital. As soon as I got to hospital with the kids, I sat in a small waiting area where Charlie was given paper and crayons while I was to fill in some kind of form. I text Adam to give him the update, he decided to leave early and come and get the kids. I wasn’t worried, I was in pain but I always see a doctor, get a prescription and get discharged. This time, I was given a bed and prepped for surgery the next morning. I was worried to leave the girls as I have never been away from them before, but I had no choice. I was given a declaration to sign incase anything went wrong and some options that could happen.

  1. Laparoscopy
  2. Removal of appendix
  3. Removal of ovary
  4. Hysterectomy (dependant on problems)

I have to admit, I didn’t want to have any more children but having the chance of the choice taken away from me was pretty crap. I was taken into surgery and I had a number of cysts (the size of grapefruits) on one of my ovaries, there was a lot of blood in my pelvis too which was from ruptured cysts. I was discharged the day after and put on bed rest. I was just so relieved it wasn’t anything worse.

Lets be frank, bed rest with 3 kids just isn’t manageable. After a day or so I started getting back into our normal routine but I wasn’t allowed to drive so we only stayed local when we got out of the house.

The days became much more longer and drawn out as we couldn’t go far and I started feeling worse. I was weak again. I was low. I needed to be me again. I was at rock bottom and needed to get back up again. I needed to do this not only for me but for my family too. I will get better, I have too.

I decided to change the way I see things, be positive and see the improvement. I started seeing the good of me being the best Mother I can be. Charlie is an absolute treasure, he’s kind, thoughtful and caring – sometimes I forget he’s only just turned 3. He’s so sociable and loves a good little chin wag with a cuppa. He didn’t get there on his own, we are supportive parents who believe in giving the child the chance to make their own decisions. This has worked so well for us and Charlie knows the difference in right and wrong. I have two little girls who love me all of the world, I can take them anywhere and they are no trouble – I need to not meltdown and have a case of the ‘what ifs’…

As I started to make slow positive steps, I started doing much more exercise. I bought a Mountain Buggy Duet and started walking. My aim was 8,000 steps a day and with kids it was always easy to meet. I walked anywhere, I walked to the supermarket which was only a 2.5 mile round trip but we made a detour to the park on the way back, so it passed the day and Charlie loved the buggy board (or the skateboard as he likes to call it). We even swapped using the car to take public transport, busses, trams and trains. I haven’t been on any of these for years and it was also great life experience for Charlie. He was shown how to wait for a bus, how to stop a bus, including using a highway code, how we have to pay for services/goods and most of all manners and social skills. The amount of people who stop us when we are out and about is crazy all wanting to talk about the twins. It’s great for Charlie to join in and become sociable and develop his speech.

After weeks of deliberation I made the decision to cut short my maternity leave and set a back to work date. I’m really lucky at the fact I love my job and the people who I work with, my boss is also really understanding of my situation so it has been agreed for me to go back part time 3 days a week, which is brilliant. I am so looking forward to going back, using my brain and having adult conversation!

Trying to make a difference: 

I have now come to terms with how I have been feeling in 2018 and now know it’s fine and completely normal to feel like that. Sometimes in life we are set challenges, they are not in place to knock us down but purely to make us stronger.

As I was trying to walk every day, I saw lots of other Mums doing the same. I decided to put together a walking club together on a Tuesday morning in my local area to encourage parents, siblings, grandparents, family members, friends to exercise. It is free, a great way to blow off the cobwebs and speak to other mums. So far it has been a great success and it will be back up and running once the kids go back to school. We will also have visits from local charities to help us talk about how we are feeling, as a problem shared is definitely a problem halved. If you would like any information please message me!

Post natal depression is tough, it can bury you so far down that you think there is no way up. But there is, I promise you that. I have been there and I am proof that things will get better with the right help. Below are some stats to show that you are not alone ❤

In a recent survey done by 4Children they found that in singleton birth:

  • 1 in 10 women are affected up to a year after giving birth
  • 58% of new mothers did not seek help for PND
  • 60% of women did not feel that it was serious enough to warrant professional treatment
  • Click here for more information

From a survey from TAMBA with twins or multiples they found:

  • 1 in 5 of multiple birth parents suffered post natal depression
  • Mothers and fathers can suffer with PND
  • 25% of parents who were single were more likely to suffer PND
  • Parents dealing with complications during pregnancy were twice as likley to suffer with PND after giving birth
  • 20-30 year olds are the highest rate of parents with PND (25%)
  • Parents surveyed who also had older children were more likely to develop PND (23%) than those whose multiples were their only children (19%)
  • Click here for more information

Click here to see a list of symptoms

If you are ever feeling down or on your own my inbox is always open, message me on here or drop me a DM ❤ @twinspoblog on Instagram.

Below are a few numbers if you need someone to talk to or you have been affected by the text above:

  • NHS 111
  • Twinline: 0800 138 0509 (Tamba’s free helpline)
  • PANDAS Helpline: 0843 28 98 401 (Pre And Post Natal Depression Advice and Support)
  • MindInfoLine: 0300 123 3393 Text: 86463

Thank you, Yasmin xxx

 

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