Why did no one tell me my boobs would spray my husband in the face, while I was wearing fishnet pants ?

As I stood and looked at my three days postpartum self in the mirror, a thought struck me. Well, more than struck me, wailed out of my mouth via the sounds of an enormous scream. Why did no one tell me it was this hard. Whhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Bar going postnatally bananas, I did have the sense to know that my exhaustion and sheer disbelief at the hard work being a mum those first few weeks was down to that – exhaution, disbelief and shock at having to be an on call responsible person for a small child 24 hours a day , while bent over double from childbirth. I wish someone had told me all the things that happen in those first few weeks after having a child. The good, the bad and the ugly. All I wish is that someone had told me you bleed ALOT, every time you do a wee, you think your fandango is on fire,that after having a c section ( the easy way to give birth apparently) you won’t be able to stand straight,get out of bed,breathe without feeling searing pain,that your nipples are capable of being cut by a baby with no teeth, and that babies don’t ever actually sleep.

My boobs, though always ample, were like volcanos that hadn’t worked out how to explode yet. The midwife came round to weigh the baby and john said’ Eve, you might want to put some clothes on, the midwife is here’. I shuffled past him bent over and stood at the front door, au natural if you will. I burst into tears and said ‘ I can’t do this’ and went to seek solace in her arms. I meant I can’t do parenthood, I can’t be a mum forever, I’m terrified, please help me and take the baby away. She however thought I meant I couldn’t breastfeed and so began squeezing my boobs in and out to as she said ‘ get that juicy milk flowing’. The vision of standing there as naked as I could be , being milked like a cow by a milkmaid is one I will always hold dear to my heart. I hope she remembers me so fondly.

Saying that, I did find breastfeeding hard. I can’t remember a lot of the early days but John often says, as he looks at me nursing my now four year old, god Eve, I never thought you would be feeding him four years on considering how hard it was those first six weeks. He says I would be in tears with Joe not able to latch on to my left boob. It was bleeding , cut, went bright red and so full at the need to be released, would squirt all over John every time I rolled over in bed. This apparently happens when you’re turned on as well but let’s not discuss that.

I typically had no breastfeeding support in the hospital. Once I’d given birth, I fed Joe from my right boob and it was the only time where I though, oohh,the birds are singing around my head and I feel like skipping down the street. For about ten minutes, as it seemed to be so easy. Fast forward a few hours though, John had been made to leave the hospital,my baby was crying, I was attached to the bed with a catheter and the midwives button appeared to be broken. I rang it for 6 hours to ask a nurse to pass me my child. No one came. By the time it was 2am, a nurse came in and shouted at me to ‘get my baby to stop crying as it’s keeping people awake’,I asked her to hand the baby to me, she did just that and turned to walk away. I asked for her help to get Joe to latch. ‘Rub his nose with your nipple, that will make him do it. If not, give him a bottle as breastfeeding might not be for you. Breastfeeding alone equals no life’. And that was it. My breastfeeding support done.

I persevered though giving Joe just boob as for me, I think it was the only way I would allow myself to be near him. I was so scared of his very presence and had many scary,psychotic thoughts about who I was ,why I was alive, the purpose of life,was I in a coffin,was I in the Truman Show,was John an actor and is that star in the sky really a light of a studio, that I think somewhere deep down, something in me knew if I didn’t keep feeding him, I would lose all connection with him completely. But that’s not my point. My point is,if I had another baby, I would not leave the hospital until the baby was feeding. I would make sure John could stay with me. I’d check the midwives are available to be contacted all the time. I wish I had been told all these things before I had Joe and asserted they be done , or have John there to do it for me, I don’t think I’d have left hospital in the total breakdown state I was in. I would have still developed psychosis and anxiety as that appeared almost as soon as he was born, but I definitely would have left hospital slightly confident in my ability to nurture my child via my breasts.

Breastfeeding is hard but with the right support it works and its wonderful. As it turned out to be for me.I’m very in support of breastfeeding. I think women should be able to feed wherever they want,without having to cover their child in a tent and they should be able to feed for as long as they and their child want to. Feeding a four year old really isn’t because a mother is selfish and wants her child to remain a baby. Trust me , there is no way you can force a child to nurse and considering the gymnastics that are performed while my child feeds, I think he sees it as practise for a future Olympic sport .It’s because , pure and simple, a child wants to keep breastfeeding from its mother.

Back to the mirror incident. I stood there with milk hanging of the end of my nipples, fishnet knickers over my c section scar and black rings under my eyes ,I looked like I was about to appear in an ahem, special interest, film. The fishnet knickers that I was wearing, I was told, were an ‘an absolute must if you are having a c section darling’ by some middle class friends. They cost a lot of money and all they succeeded in managing to do was to tangle themselves around the bead attached to the end of my stitches causing them to unravel. John phoned labour ward and said , what on earth do we do? Puzzled, the midwives said, we don’t have a clue, but maybe you could put a plaster over it? So that night , john painstakingly cut and trimmed 24 Spider-man plasters and stuck them along my wound. I resembled a patchwork doll. Still, when I had my meltdown in the gps office the next day, the nurse who took my pity on me said he hadn’t done a bad job of patching me up. At least he has a new career option should his current job fail to work out.

I’d also say, if one is having a c section , don’t buy these pants as they make you look like a has-been porn star. I repeat, they are FISHNET PANTS . They may assist with airflow but when the wind whips around you, your breath will be severely taken away. I went on holiday when I was 21 to Spain and got very sunburnt. I hobbled to the Spanish doctor and said I need help. They handed me some emergency contraception. I said no, I don’t need this, I need something to help my melting skin. The doctor who saw me spent an hour applying cream and wrapping me in a ‘protective dressing’. When I got back to my hotel and took my top of, my friend looked mortified and burst out into hysterical laughter. Puzzled, I looked at myself. I’m not sure if I can describe this properly, but he had wrapped bandages around my body, but had left my boobs bare. He had then put a fishnet body stocking over me. I looked like I should be in a bar with a pint glass collecting pound coins ahead of my strip show. I didn’t look quite the same with the fishnet pants three days after having my child, but it has meant I’ll never wear fishnets ever again.

Advice here is, get yourself to Primark before sprog has dropped and buy yourself some massive potato sack style pants. You can bring out the Ann Summers nipple tassels after the six week check, but until then , stick with pants that go up to your under arms. And buy about 57 pairs. Attach the biggest maternity pads you can find to them and revel in the glory that a) you don’t look like you belong in Razzle and more importantly b) potato sacks aren’t capable of pulling out your precious stitches and the maternity towel won’t shift around in said pants. This not what the baby magazine said I would look like. I am supposed to have daisies in my hair, spending hours just staring at my child and thinking , oohh lets do it again and have another one straight away. In reality, I was walking round with my legs so far apart it looked like I needed the loo almost constantly,with ice cubes in my bra and DVT socks under my leggings. Mmm I looked a right treat.

My friend came round over one afternoon when I was really starting to lose it. Those of you who read my first blog post will know I was starting to go beyond slightly crazy at this time. When she came in, she looked like a goddess. Hair straight,size 10 white jeans on and a big broad smile. The baby looked like this seasons perfect accessory. I looked at myself. Considering the last time I was a size 10 was when I was ten years old, so that part didn’t count, but my hair was stuck to my head with enough grease to fry an egg and I had my black maternity pyjama bottoms on, complete with a sanitary towel that went halfway up my back. She asked how I was and I smiled through shaking teeth and said yeah fine, isn’t motherhood wonderful. She said, yeah it is, but it can’t do a shit yet and I’m going up the wall. I then got a full low down on vaginal stitches and the terrifying fear she had of ‘passing stools’ in case she caused herself some damage. I admit, I felt some light relief that even though she looked like a supermodel, she too wasn’t living in the pink coloured bliss we are led to believe the first few days and weeks are.

The first week was beyond hard. Not only was I developing a deep anxiety with a few psychotic incidents thrown in for good measure, but I found the role of just being a mum, so very very hard. I wish my £400 antenatal classes had said to me , buy some nipple cream before you give birth instead of spending 6 lessons on how to perform a six legged yoga pose while hypnotising yourself through labour .Especially when you are having a c section.

I wish someone had said look, they shit all the time. Especially when it’s 4am, you’ve changed their nappy,feed them for an hour and lay them back in the Moses basket. And the poo is bright yellow and will somehow end up in their ears.and will remain there for six weeks , similar to sand in your bikini bottoms. But do you know what I really wish someone had said? I wish someone has been so honest about how it can be hard but then said look,it’s so hard but you know what, It does get easier. And don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re doing fine.

Soon, they will smile.and that’s gorgeous. And soon, they won’t be feeding 57 times a day. And at some point, they do sleep for more than half an hour. And at some point, around six weeks, the bleeding stops and you can retire the Primark potato sack pants and engage in conjugal relations with the other half. Then,they are six months. And they throw food everywhere. And it’s hysterical. They make little noises and they have lovely little tiny feet that smell all sweaty and dirty and gorgeous. I would look at Joe and smell his little feet and say to him that stinky feet are the sign of a fun day. Of course at six months old, he just said goo goo gaa gaa back to me and vomited down my top but it’s still something we say now, four years later when he kicks his sweaty little socks off from nursery.

And then they start walking and clapping at themselves and say those lovely words ‘mama’. I won’t ever forget the day Joe said mama. My heart, the heart that I thought was too terrified of him to revel in anything he did, filled with so much joy that I cried. My boobs also started leaking everywhere and made a terrible mess. The early days are hard. Super hard and they seem like they will never end. And every new age brings new adventures and new hardships. But it does really become the most wonderful thing in the whole entire world. Just go and smell your kids little feet. And see how much fun they have had. And you have had.

Silvery stretch marks and spanx pants

This morning, as I was staring at how beautiful I am from the nose up, I noticed an intruder lurking on my face. Near where my non existent cheek bones are was a hair, approximately 3 metres long. It definitely wasn’t there when I went to bed so I can only assume I must have been eating magic beans for something to grow so bloody long, so bloody quickly. After attempting find my tweezers to extract it and failing, I tried to  cut it with my four year olds safety scissors. Don’t attempt to do this. It marks your face.badly. I then had the not so brainwave to rip it out of the skin with some Sellotape. I roped in the four year old to do the pulling off. He announced he wanted to be a ‘ripper offerer’ when he is a grown up while I lay there screaming. Still looking like something that belongs in a travelling circus.

I noticed that random hairs started appearing on my body after having my son. So aside from the going mad, I also had to contend with becoming a cul de sac version of the bearded lady. This mornings attempt a home wax job only served to remind me how much my body has changed since having Joe.

When I was pregnant and found out that due to my two wombs, that I couldn’t give birth vaginally, my wonderful consultant booked me in for a c-section. He told me I was the best in the business and that he would operate so beautifully, that no one would ever be able to see my scar. Amazing I thought. And he was right. No one will ever see my scar.but not because my consultant had finessed his skills with a knife. But because of the lovely shelf like stomach I seem to have adopted forever since giving birth. I Edward SCissorhands might have well as operated on me as my delightful stomach now hangs so much, it won’t be long before I trip over it. There have been times where I have considered lobbying for spanx on the NHS.

This reminds of the time where I almost cut off my circulation while wearing a pair of control pants. John and I were in America for 3 weeks a few years ago. We had gone out to a bar in Baltimore and I had worn a tight black dress and the obligatory control pants underneath. Only problem was, I couldn’t breathe in them. A friend had told me that you should always buy them in a size smaller than what you actually are, as they suck you in even more. After devouring this info and spending half an hour attempting to pull the bloody things up, I hobbled out of the hotel room looking like I had a broom up my arse. John kept asking why I was breathing so heavily and had to help me walk down the road.

Once we got to the bar, I couldn’t climb onto the bar stool. John had gone to the loo so I found myself being hoisted into the seat by two very helpful young men after I had slid off during an ill fated attempt to jump onto it. More disaster followed when our food arrived, and I was so constricted, I couldn’t swallow. I was forced to tell John how I had practically mummified myself under my clothes in an attempt to look like a supermodel. He instructed me to ‘take the bloody things off’ so I then slid of the chair and shuffled to the toilet. It took another half an hour to pull them off inch by inch and I was so relieved when it happened, I ran out of the loo and yelled in a very loud voice, ‘baby, it’s done. I’ve got NO CRACKERJACKS ON’. Everyone turned and looked at me and the realisation hit me that I had just announced to an entire bar of people that I was knicker less. John tried to reassure me that maybe crackerjacks isn’t the international word for knickers hence my declaration was probably lost in translation. Who knows. But it did teach me a valuable lesson in the art of knicker wearing and that I should attempt to keep my voice down in public places.

But I digress. My point here is that I guess childbirth has made me realise that your body can change in ways you never expected but it’s ok. The world is still turning, you’ve created and grown a life in this amazing body and yet we spend many hours and much money trying to fix what nature has bestowed on us. It’s hard. I remember when I came back to London after coming out of the psychiatric mother and baby unit. The combination of meds to help my mind return from where on earth it had gone had made me put on a lot of weight. I said hello to a family member whose first word were ‘bloody hell Eve,look how fat you are. And how are you doing now by the way?’. I burst into tears and walked into the hallway to be greeted by another family member who said ‘goodness, isn’t your hair brittle? You need to sort yourself out now and start making an effort’. The worst part was that I thought I had. I felt like going to the kitchen and smearing butter all over my arse and thighs as that’s where it eventually ends up and shaving my head a la Britney Spears. I also quite fancied attacking people with an umbrella as well but feared they would just think I was still crazy when it fact,it was them who were in the wrong.

My stomach may resemble a road map of lovely little silver lines and I won’t forget the day before I had Joe when I noticed a purple streak across the top of my bum. I thought John must have slept walk and mistaken me for a sheet of paper and drawn all over me but on closer investigation, it was revealed to just be a massive stretch mark. But it represents that I have done something wonderful. I’ve had a baby and my body has been through that and a severe mental illness.

Joe came up to me last year and pushed his belly button into mine. He said ‘ mummy, daddy said this is how we was joined when me was growings in your tummy’ and he kissed those silver lines which covered what was his home for nine months. Yes, I’m not a supermodel. Yes, I have baby hairs that resemble when I hacked at my fringe when I was seven,yes I have skin tags that do look weird and yes, I do have massive boobs because I’m breastfeeding a four year old. But I don’t care. I’m the queen of my own kingdom,I’m the boss of me , and I’m fabulous. A fabulous mum, with the body to prove it.

I’m a mum,I went mad and I get myself into all kinds of muddles

I’ve been tasked with making a blog. I can’t remember what I’ve been promised now I’ve succeeded with this mission, but if it’s not champagne for breakfast, then I won’t be happy.

For those who don’t know me I’m Eve.I’m a 34 yr old mum to a four year old boy. I have a husband who isn’t really my husband but we live together, have conjugal relations when we remember that’s what’s couples do and have an equal love for our child. I’ve just read over this and see I’ve declared myself 34. Which isn’t right. I’m definitely 33 .

I’ve had a fairly normal life. I spent my twenties living in a pub with a group of marines who spent the majority of their time sticking bits of their anatomy into the top of vodka bottles. I wandered around in a semi permanent Merlot daze for most of this time and once jumped over a kebab shop counter with my friend Catherine, put Mr kebab man’s hat on, sawed myself off some donor meat,fried myself some fries and ran out declaring my undying love for the 16 free chicken wings I had been allowed to run off to the sunset with.

And and then I met john. I say met, but I mean, became a couple. We sat opposite each other in work. He sent me a text one morning at 5am after dancing bare chested in a gay nightclub and being propositioned by a man called Sergio dressed as a sailor. He says it made him realise he loved me , even though Sergio seemed like a very nice fellow. The text read ‘ I think I love you’. He had me at ‘I’.

That was in 2006. Then in 2010, I gave birth to our little boy Joe. I discovered I’m a rare specimen in the medical world and I’ve been blessed with not one, but two wombs. Doctors loved me. I was prodded and poked by every medical student in London and by the time my c section came round,I don’t think there was a single person in the whole of East London who hadn’t seen my nether regions. All was wonderful in the world.

We didn’t know whether were having a boy or a girl. The first we learned of it was at the end of my c section when I felt a tug and saw a jet stream of wee flying over the consultant’s head. We heard those heartwarming words ‘he is pissing all over me’ and I turned to John and said, I think it’s a boy. I looked up to see a child screaming. He looked like he had a halo around him and I thought it was the second coming. John remarked that he looked like Jesus surrounded by a beacon of light.

And then we were wheeled out of theatre. My mum arrived and before she had even looked at Joe , she yelled ‘ what’s wrong with you Evelyn, you look glazed over’. I declared I was fine  and went back to checking my facebook status. A few days later, after my c section scar unravelled, a meltdown in the gp’soffice where I lay on the floor in tears begging a nurse to take pity on me and the reality of owning a child who fed 57 hours a day and slept for precisely none of this time, I experienced my first feelings of psychosis. I looked at my duvet cover. It looked like it was dancing, the colours were changing . I asked John why he kept washing the bedclothes and changing things around. And then I wondered why I was totally utterly devastatingly afraid of my son. My own child. Terrified.

By the time Joe was three days old, I had decided I didn’t want him. Even worse, I felt trapped by his very presence. The reality that I was now a mum forever hit me in a catastrophic way. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of blue congratulation cards and would wake up feeling smothered. The terror of anxiety when I opened my eyes in the morning time is still a feeling that was so intense that I struggle to describe it.

I began to think I was floating in the corner of the room. I would wake up feeling as though I was in a coffin that was bolted down. I would spend ages staring at my mummy wardrobe of leggings and then struggle to put them on. And not even because my dough like stomach was in the way. It was because I couldn’t remember how to get dressed.

And then there was the day I trussed myself up a la Mary poppins. Neat bun piled on top of head,apron on , going wild with the antibacterial spray. I did hold back on singing to the birds but  I don’t think I was far off climbing out of the window and letting out a crazed version of ‘the hills are alive’ . John came home to find me standing in the kitchen staring into space holding a frozen packet of stewing steak. I was muttering ‘ must make stew’ on repeat.

I couldn’t get anyone to take me seriously. At the point where I had started to think that death was the only way out of this world I was trapped in, a doctor told me unless I had planned my own suicide , I was ‘low risk’.  To make me feel even better about my world crashing down around me , a family member said ‘ I know you feel like you’re going mad,but you look better than ever’. Wonderful, so I’m too terrified to be in the same room as my own child but I can rock a bikini for the first time in my life.

The day I was hospitalised in a psychiatric mother and baby unit came six weeks too late. I should have been in it from the day Joe was born. And we had to move from London to Nottingham to get a doctor to pay attention to me and accept that ‘putting some mascara on and making a nice Victoria sandwich’ was not going to stop me from feeling so terrified of Joe.

But then I went into the unit. And I started my recovery. I went on meds, my lips went blue,I met a woman who made coconut ice with vodka and spent her days sucking on it while trying to get me to break out of the unit to play bingo in Bradford, and I discovered that when you are in hospital, always order from the Caribbean or Indian menu. The food is amazing and I would highly recommend it.

The unit was wonderful. It took me a week to be in the same room as Joe. The night I closed my bedroom door and sat in my room on my own with Joe was the biggest turning point of my illness. I would never have thought , years before, that I would have to learn to be near my child and not feel fear. This was the greatest challenge of my life . And I was winning it.

And win it I did. It took a long time. I had blips. I phoned the crisis line and was spoken to by a nurse who said she would call me back once she had finished her pot noodle. Must have been from Waitrose (other supermarkets are available) as she never called me back. I had to endure nosey neighbours leap out in front of Joe’s buggy speaking to me in a vveeerryyyy sllllow vooiccceeee “Hel.lo Eve. Doing well aren’t you? Isn’t she Peter? Doing welllllllll”. I’d take Joe to baby groups to see Mavis telling Maureen ‘ Do u know she wanted to die?’ And see them elbow each other as I went past.

I had been told I was fine,that meds were wrong,that I was just tired. All these were wrong. Very wrong. I wasn’t fine, I took so many meds I could have made a shop full of rattles and even though my child didn’t seem to understand the concept of sleep and still doesn’t four years on,I was actually very very ill. I had postpartum psychosis and postnatal anxiety. I needed the meds to help my mind clear so I could focus on recovery. I could handle the blue lips if the meds stopped me from thinking the clouds were suffocating me and most if all, if they stopped me from fearing my own son.

Nearly five yrs on, I’m back to the old me. I’m a mum. A good mum, a happy mum. Joe and I share a love of noodles and chocolate and we are best mates. I do tire occasionally of having to pretend to be a green goblin superhero who destroys people with green farts but I like the sentiment behind it. He is definitely my son.

And now I’m doing what I can to raise awareness of mental health after having a baby. No one told me that it’s possible to feel like the world is crashing down around you to such an extent that you may feel like death is the only way out. But now I know it is possible and that it’s not just possible, but that you do recover. And can lead a happy life.

I’ve met some fab people over the last few months who I’m working with the create an awareness campaign for ante and postnatal mental health for mums and dads. Just because men don’t give birth through their bits, doesn’t meant hey can’t feel sad too.

You can and do get better xx

Blogging about motherhood,the madness it can bring and the muddles I find myself in.