“My feet don’t smell enough for me to go to sleep”

The joys of a child who has reached the age where he can spell the word sleep but doesn’t quite understand the context. Never has,never will,big hair , don’t care.

Sleep is overrated. I haven’t slept for five years and look at me, I’m fine. As long as I have my 27 quid concealer and inhale diet coke on a minute by minute basis, I’m just dandy. Sleep is to be avoided at all costs. Especially if you are four, it’s midnight and you are jumping up and down on your bed in mike the knight pants,farting and shouting ‘mummy is a bum daddy is a bum,I’m not a bum but everyone is a bum’. I meanwhile want to take myself off to a dark corner somewhere and cover myself in wotsits and have a bath filled with Baileys. No such luck. I’m standing next to the bed holding his hand,while he fires of his list of world changing questions. Forget Question Time. Dimbleby,resign your zany ties,Joe is here to put the world to rights.

I present the list of questions fired at me from the small child while I stood there for an hour,visualising the varicose veins forming in my legs.

I can’t go to sleep mummy because “……
My feet are hot
I’ve got a bogey
My toe near the other toe hurts
Hang on, I need to count the spikes on dinosaur teddy
Why don’t we poo out of our mouth?
I need the cushion from the living room.I can’t remember which one.
Why don’t we poo out our willy and wee out our bum?
What colour is England’s away kit?
Can I have a delicate massage please?
The pillow is too hot
Now it’s too cold
Where does mike the knight live?
At my party I’m having three slices of cake and the other children are only having one
Are we the Christmas religion?
Do I speak West hamish?
I think my bum has fallen off
Can you die after daddy please
I need cold skin
Why is our nose attached to our mouth?
In olden times did the servants buy the milk and say oh hello Mr shop keeper I need some milk please so I can have a bath in it
At my party remember I’m having three slices of cake
Can you be quiet please mummy cos I need to go to sleep

Just woken up.sits up. ‘Mummmmmyyyyyyy’……..

Can we talk about Hitler again
Is muckingham palace the Queens only palace?
When we die are we replaced by new people?
When I’m 99 can I still have my front teeth?
Why do front teeth fall out first?
Why does the security man in Brent Cross stand by the moving stairs?
Can you go now please

And there we have it, sound asleep. My little man. And his lovely little brain. Resting.

He will be awake in 10 mins.


Helga, can you come and iron this depression out of me please ? This bloody stigma has creased me all up again

I went to toddler group when recovering from my psychotic episode. It had taken all my strength to go there. As part of my exposure therapy, I had to build up spending time with joe on my own each day. It started with walking around the garden with him. This took about thirty seconds and of course seems as memorable as scratching your arse to someone who hasn’t been unwell but to me, it was a truly terrifying but necessary experience. Every day over a three month period, I would have to build up being on my own with him 30 seconds more each day. Sometimes I would vomit with fear, I always shook with nerves and every second, minute and hour, I would wish the time away. Sometimes I would listen to the ticks on the clock and think they sounded like that were ticking along to my life sentence of motherhood, to drive me to even more despair.

The day I decided to go to the toddler group, I was feeling very brave. No one knew me,no one knew that 8 weeks before I had been in the doggy position on my in laws bed, screaming. I’d love to say that john and I had thrown caution to the wind and in the throes of passion decided to have a rumble in the in- laws bedroom jungle and that is what caused me to be on all fours yelling my head off but it wasn’t. That was the day I was hospitalised in the mother and baby unit. I’d woken up and it felt as though I was stuck to the bed with glue. I opened my eyes and couldn’t see properly. I thought I’d gone blind, felt like I had been taken hostage by the world and all I wanted to do was escape. Escape anyway I could. I told John I couldn’t face life anymore. I stood staring out of the window,pulling at my hair and running my eyes frantically trying together my vision to return. But getting myself to specsavers for a snazzy new specs was not going to solve this problem. Reason being, I had become so anxious,my eyesight was actually blurring. I wasn’t imagining it. I wasn’t in the midst of a psychotic episode thinking I was in the North Pole and snow was pouring front of my eyes.

I ran into the bathroom and sat on the side of the bath. John recalls that I was babbling behind the door about how the razors looked shiny in the sunshine and how pretty they looked glistening in this glow. I don’t know whether I was staring at the them thinking I could end my life at this very moment or considering shaving my forest like legs in the absence of a lawnmower that was capable of cutting two foot long leg hair. He was banging on the door telling me to come out and I flicked the lock open. I looked at him and my brain bolted. I ran into his parents room and started pulling at the curtains and scratching the walls. I jumped on the bed and assumed my dog like pose and started yelling. Not just normal screams, but deep deep wails that felt like they had been hiding in my soul for those first six previous weeks of motherhood. I can still remember the salty taste in my mouth from my sea of tears as I shook my head frantically. I fell to my elbows and sobbed ‘please, please can someone help me,I need someone to help me’. John was on the end of the bed on the phone to the hospital , shouting ,trying to speak to a psychiatrist. I can remember him holding the phone up in the air so the receptionist could hear my wails and frantic rumblings and his mum was shouting over him saying I was talking about needing the pain to be taken away. An hour later, I was admitted to the unit and my recovery began.

My life was about to start a new journey , the journey to get better and I didn’t know how long it would be and where I would end up but I knew I didn’t want to feel like this forever. On my discharge from the unit, I found I would be getting daily visits from a community psychiatric nurse and she would be giving me daily tasks to help me get used to Joes presence. And that included getting out and about and braving the big new world ahead of me. And so back to the toddler group. I crept up and thought I could pretend to be the old Eve . I found a woman who was tandem feeding her kids and I thought, ooh, she looks exciting, I’ll go and sit with her. I plonked myself down and put joe on my knee, safe in the knowledge no one knew of the torture of the last two months and I could just be me, Eve , with my child for the next hour. Not Eve , the girl who had been muttering about living in the clouds and who wanted to chop all her hair off and give it to the homeless man to keep him warm. I actually wanted to do that and even now I think it’s quite a nice little sentiment. I’m glad I didn’t though as I think if I had gone all Army and buzz cut my long mane , looking in the mirror to see me looking like an egg with an over zealous forehead really would have finished me off.

While sitting with the nice kind looking lady with the two babies attached to each boob, I began to feel ok. I had really feared this, I thought I would run away when I got to the front door but I hadn’t. I’d gone in. I’d even accepted a cup of tea instead of fuelling my addiction to diet coke so I could seem like all the other normal mums. And then it happened. A nice looking nosy stranger ran over to me with wild abandon,knocking children out of her way, yelling ‘ oh helllloooo. Yes you, I’m talking to you. We were just saying how nice it is that your husband has been given all this time off work while you get over your postnatal depression. We can’t believe you had to go into a psychiatric ward because being a mum is the most natural thing in the world ‘and off she went . It was then that I realised how much of a stigma postnatal mental health is, because motherhood is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world. And here was me, finding it the most difficult thing in the world. I understand why some mums don’t want to take a whole year of work, I understand why some mums feel like motherhood is so hard that they fail to see how on earth it’s natural at all. And yet when people find out that you are suffering with postnatal depression, there is usually a gasp. A gasp because what we expect is that when a baby is born, a mother is born and that mother will take on her new role with glee. We don’t expect her to say, I don’t like it, I don’t want it , I can’t look at it, I’m scared of it ,take it away,take me away.

A journalist recently wrote an article on how stigma towards mental illness doesn’t actually exist. And neither do genital crabs do they? What an absolute dick. The whole Time To Change campaign was built around the fact that people feel uncomfortable knowing that someone has a mental illness and not knowing how to talk to them. That is a stigma right there. It.does.exist. Thing is, with itchy bits, people find it a bit embarrassing and go to the doctor and get something to scratch the itch , get drunk, tell their friends and everyone laughs about it but with postnatal depression, people find it a bit embarrassing , don’t go to the doctor, so don’t get something to scratch the itch and then feel like they can’t tell anyone. I always wonder how people end up on ’Embarrassing Bodies’ on TV with their legs akimbo saying they think a worm crawled in their neither regions and let the camera man zoom in on them. I’d love to see a programme like this but for people with mental health problems. Just imagine ? think how much exposure that would give to mental health and open people’s minds to the suffering endured. We love a bit of exposure , as revealed by looking at my Twitter feed after someone asks the DR on the TV to look at their fandango.

Mental health problems are common, but nearly nine in ten people who experience them say they face stigma and discrimination as a result. Lady stupid who wrote the article on how stigma doesn’t actually exist clearly hasn’t been at the brunt of it. I hope she never has to suffer and face a barrage of comments from Daily Fail readers saying ‘pull yourself together lady,depression is a made up illness’. I think there is this belief that if you are suffering from postnatal illness it is a) not real and you are being an over-emotional woman who needs to pull herself together and get on with things as this is what you have been out on gods green earth for – to create or b) a scary illness which means you want to sell your baby the the travelling circus and that you are incapable of being normal ever again, so people talk about in hushed tones and to you like you are a baby.

This stigma is one of the worst parts of suffering as a new mum because it can mean a complete loss of the life you knew before. And not being able to live that life again. And no one understanding why. My friends were coming to see me and the baby and would say ‘oh you must be so happy’. They would bring some lovely presents, coo over joe and then leave. I spent the time they were with me banging my foot against the sofa, desperately wishing someone to say, are you ok Eve but of course, why would they? It’s just not expected. And I don’t think they are awful because they didn’t ask. You don’t go to your friends house who has had the baby they so desperately wanted and say ‘you hate it don’t you, you look terrified’.

I had a friend who had been trying for a child for a long time that we didn’t know about. She told me I was ungrateful when she found out I had been in the mother and baby unit. Ungrateful , as there were women in the world like her who wanted a child so badly and here was Eve , with a beautiful baby and asking people if they would like to take it home with them . I’d lost babies before Joe and my pregnancy was fraught with terror. I had planned for a stillbirth all the way through. My womb condition meant we knew we would be very lucky for a child at the end of my pregnancy and every week, I was tested for the babies movements and size. I had thought about whether we could take pictures of our baby if it wasn’t born alive , would I be allowed to cuddle it before it was taken away and we hadn’t bought anything baby related until about a week before my c section. We would walk around Babies R Us and my hand would rock Moses baskets and I would skim my finger along nappies. We would always walk out empty handed , knowing we didn’t want to buy anything , just in case the worst situation we had been warned about happened.

I think when I had joe , I was in a state of shock. I’d put so much energy into looking after my pregnancy and was so convinced there wouldn’t be a baby at the end , that when he was handed me , I didn’t know what to do with him. He wasn’t supposed to be here yet here he was, perfect. And I felt completely unprepared. I had wanted him so much. I remember the day I declared to John that I wanted a baby. ‘ I want to be a mummy’ I announced one afternoon when john was putting his socks on. We agreed we would go to Greece on holiday and in our return start trying for a little version of ourselves. Two weeks later, I found out I was already pregnant and had been when I declared my mum intentions to john. Seems I had got ridiculously drunk on our anniversary a few weeks prior, drank five bottles of wine,fell in the bath, banged my head on a loo seat and vomited my night away. Which included my pill. One amorous morning later, it seems my fate was sealed and joe decided to set up camp in my womb.

I wanted him so much. We had parties for our baby in my tummy to celebrate getting so far in my pregnancy. I wrote a card to my bump at 30 weeks and said ‘ keep those little knees kicking little one’. I truly desperately wanted him. Never in my wildest dreams did I think within a few days of having him, I would sink into such a dark deep place that I wanted to die.

The stigma can be further heightened by the reaction of others. After I had been admitted to the unit, I got a phone call from a family member. I had just walked down to the basement of the hospital,past a pile of psychiatric wards, looked like a witch who had come out of the shit side of a fight, with four days worth of mascara smeared all over my face and kept telling john over and over that I could smell burning flesh whirl around the hospital. I convinced myself the ECT lounge was gearing up for me and as I walked into the unit , I fell to the floor in a heap and wailed that I just wanted some wires connected to my head to take all the pain away.

The phone rang and john answered it. It was passed to me and before I even said hello I heard ‘ Evelyn, you know that if you are sectioned,you’ll lose your job don’t you. Don’t tell anyone in work.The job you have worked so hard for. It will all be gone. And then you’ll have no money and then no house. And is joe going to be taken off you?’. Ten thousand questions in the space of thirty seconds and I span completely out of control. I needed to get better. If I didn’t , I would be dead , no doubt about it, but other people were worrying about my job. They failed to realise if I wasn’t in the unit, there would be no me to do that job. I would be a memory, not an actual living being but they were more concerned that people would find out I was in the ‘nut house’ as they so nicely put it. The reality is, I am extremely lucky with my job. Everyone knows I went bananas and it hasn’t stood in my way at all. I am very lucky. This is how it should be for everyone in the workplace but I know this definitely isn’t the case.

There is a very real stigma about being in psychiatric care. People seem to think they need to talk to you in a very slow voice,spelling words out for you like they are a pre-school teacher and permanently smile at you. I found people spoke to me like old people do to children, that awful squeaky voice that goes up and down like me playing an out of tune recorder, age 9. I’m still not quite sure why people think that if you have a mental health problem that you suddenly have the brain of a three yr old.

My mum arrived at the unit and said oohhhh it’s quite nice in here isn’t it. The beds aren’t chained to the walls are they? I said no mother because it isn’t 1876 and Jack Nicholson is wandering around either. She announced she had told my relatives I was in the unit and that a mass was being said for me at the family church in Ireland. I said ‘what the fuck does that mean’. My mum said that everyone had lit candles for me in church and the priest had announced in his sermon that he wanted the congregation to pray for me to ‘accept the role God had given me’. I went ballistic. I said ‘I’m not fucking dead, why are people lighting candles for me? And I don’t believe in God. Does he want the baby ?’. She said that people just couldn’t believe this had happened to me, strong Eve. My mum said that people were asking why I hadn’t bonded with the baby and were speculating that maybe it was because I hadn’t felt his head pop out of my lady garden, maybe it was because he was dangling off my boobs 28 hours a day, maybe it was because I hadn’t been able to get drunk and fall over while I was pregnant. The nurse said, or maybe its just because its happened. Postnatal illness is a really serious thing but no one ever talks about it. And she was right. Another woman said Princess Diana even had it you know and talked about it in that interview where she said she was the queen of hearts. Everyone’s ears pricked up. See, I have something in common with royalty after all. I always knew I was the queen of my own kingdom really.

Let’s be thankful that the awfulness of perinatal mental health problems are being brought to the publics attention, whoever is raising it and I happen to think it’s good to see people who have people on their payroll to wipe their arse admit that even with all the money in the world, they couldn’t avoid the strike of the blues. Surely that’s a sign that it can strike anyone? And this must mean we can start chipping away at the stigma of suffering. Gwyneth Paltrow said she suffered and was ridiculed ‘well if you ate air for breakfast and mung beans for tea wouldn’t you feel depressed’. Just because she may have had a nanny and puts hot cups on her back instead of drinking tea out of them it doesn’t mean she hasn’t suffered.

Postnatal depression does not discriminate. People are snooty about Katie Price having suffered, as if someone with her background isn’t allowed. Just because she has shown her boobs off in lads mags , doesn’t mean her experience is any less valid. She is a woman, she is a mother. A mother who said when she had her son she felt so low she felt like she had a ‘terrible angry feeling’ she couldn’t explain. Why can’t she have felt like a bag of bricks was chucked at her head when she had her child? For those that say stigma doesn’t exist, I’ve found that some people seem to think that only a certain kind of person can suffer from PND. One comment I saw on an article about Gwyneth said ‘ how the hell would Paltrow know what true post natal depression is? She has nannys and no shortage of money/ me time – get a grip’. I know that even if I had had a nanny and oodles of money, I would have still have been hit by the postnatal hammer 67 times around the head. Having enough money to ensure you can get your roots done every three weeks doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to suffer. True postnatal depression ? Surely , regardless of whether it makes you feel sad and weepy or psychotic and fill you with desires to go and climb the neighbours apple tree , naked , if it’s making you feel shit, then it’s bad enough for you to be able to say , you know, I have it, I have postnatal depression. I’ve had a baby, I feel awful and I’m going to tell someone. Yes, I may an au pair called Helga who irons my knickers, ensures the baby eats purple sprouting broccoli and fit into my skinny jeans BUT I feel like I’ve made a terrible mistake. I may have a lovely shiny smile because of my lovely shiny white teeth that cost me loads of money, but this expensive smile is hiding the fact that I’m too scared to be near my baby. Being rich doesn’t mean you can’t feel down and filled with regret and it doesn’t mean you can just snap out of it. That’s why it is so shocking when we find out a celebrity has had mental health problems after the birth of a baby. It seems like they have it all. And they don’t.

Motherhood is not a contest to see who can be best off. Though the way people stare at you when you say you don’t love it as much as the fake Jimmy Choo you got at Christmas you would think it is. Throw in , and then I started to feel terrified, anxious of being near my child, eat anti-depressants instead of smarties and spend an hour a week talking to a quack about my feelings because I have postnatal depression and the eyes stop staring at you and instead roll around around like a pile of marbles.

We shouldn’t take away from the joy of motherhood. It truly is the best thing that has ever happened to me. From the worst time in my life, the best time has emerged. I am mummy to the most beautiful child. His tummy hangs over his batman pants and he has lovely squidgy arms that my lips sink into when I kiss them. He wakes me up in the morning by stroking my face and says ‘ most beautiful mama ever’. He also pointed at Cheryl Cole on the TV and said ‘ooohh mummy, look at you on the TV, you so pretty’.Yes my dear boy, that is most definitely me. He has brought me so much joy that my heart aches for him when I’m not with him. He has started school now and I spend my day wondering what he is doing and I have this enormous desire to protect and love him more than anything else in the world.

However, I don’t think we should stand by the myth that motherhood is always the most wonderful experience. It became it for me but was catastrophically awful to start with. I don’t want to normalise postnatal depression because doing that means it would get no support. What I want to do is stop the stigma. Allow mums to say, I’m not ok. I’m actually really sad and can’t bear to leave the house. And this does not mean I’m a psycho, this doesn’t mean I’m a terrible person and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m a horrible,evil bad mother.

It is the worst feeling in the world to think you don’t love your baby. Or feel like you don’t want them. And then in order to get support to help overcome these fears, you have to tell someone that you feel this way. And people are shocked. It’s like you have broken the law of nature in the worst way possible. People would plead with me to look at joe, to hold him, to smell him ,to revel in his brilliance. But I couldn’t and I didn’t know why. People said, put him in his pram , wheel him through the park, embrace the new life you have with him. But I couldn’t. I was too scared to be in my own with him. My own child. I couldn’t be in the same room with him on my own. My own flesh and blood who was made out of so much love. I would look at other mums and think , how are they doing it, how are they walking down the street on their own with their child and not feel fear? How can they feel ok? Thank god for John who said, ok , this is bad but we can make it better. And we struggled to get someone medical to actually listen to me. And when they eventually did, I felt like they had picked a scab off and the blood wouldn’t stop pouring out. I had been so so so scared to reveal my darkest thoughts to anyone because it’s just not what you do is it ? You make out it’s all ok when you actually feel like you are dying inside. But when the psychiatrist said its ok eve, what you are experiencing is awful and no one talks about but I do and you don’t need to be ashamed anymore, I felt this hope flickering in me, a hope that a really thought was gone forever.

Postnatal illness is awful. Really really awful. And a big part of making it better is people accepting your feelings and helping you through it. And make you realise that things really will be ok.

‘Make yourself a cake and avoid cooking yourself’ – things not to say to a mum with Postnatal Depression

‘Evelyn,scrub that sink before the midwife comes. If she sees it like that, she will tell social services’ , said a family member when joe was 3 weeks old and my mind was spinning out of control. The one time I had been near the sink since having joe was when I had had a psychotic episode,performed a manic makeover on myself to spruce myself up to look like a make up counter girl,all preened and what I thought was perfect , had ended with me standing in the kitchen for two hours, in one place,stinking of bleach and rambling about stewing steak.

It seems this family member thought we were in 1824 and matrons still walked around hospitals wiping their finger across surfaces for dust and midwives came to houses not to weigh the baby but to inspect whether there are more cake crumbs on the floor than around ones mouth. The very last thing I needed to hear while it was quite clear that my mind was flying around the room and bouncing off the walls was that total strangers would be so disgusted with my off colour stainless steel sink, that it would warrant a visit from heavies from the council.

On the way back from an event with some of my #pndfamily girlfriends recently, we talked about all the things that people said to us while were in the grip of postnatal illness. Things that they probably wouldn’t say to someone with a physical illness. These things may seem so innocent to the people that say them and they may even be attempting to help, but these words can make a mother who already feels like she is sinking , like a failure who can’t just wake up and think, oohh now, yesterday I hated my baby,wanted to bang my head against the wall and walked around terrified of my new lifelong job as a mum , but today, I feel just peachy.my baby may only sleep for 3 minutes a day and the walls may feel like they are closing in on me but I’m going to sprinkle myself with fairy dust and pull myself together.

Ahh, those three little words . I used to fear the words ‘ you look fat’ or ‘ wine glass empty’ but when I gave birth and suddenly felt like I had made an enormous mistake in my decision to have a child, the words ‘pull yourself together’ were said to me often. By many people. I’m sure people don’t mean to hurt you when they say it but when a mum is postnatally ill and doesn’t want to carry on,it’s not like she is saying oh I’m tired, I don’t feel,like going out to 80s night down the legion and a friend says on pull yourself together, we will drink a vat of Chardonnay and have a kebab after.

Postnatal illness is not something you can pull yourself out of easily. It is the darkest deepest pit you may ever find yourself in and getting out of this pit is like a secret escape. It’s like your digging yourself out of it one sand grain at a time. With your fingernail. And every so often , when you feel like you have almost dug yourself out of it, the fucking sand all drops down on top of yourself again. You want to be like the mum you see out of your bedroom window who was at your antenatal class. You want to look at your baby and think, ahh, this is the best time of my life. But you can’t. Your mind isn’t letting you ,no matter how much you tell it to stop , it won’t.

I looked at my diary as I remembered what someone had said to me the week before I was hospitalised in the mother and baby unit. ‘Pull yourself together,you’re a mother now. You need to understand that this is it now. You should have thought about this before you had a baby,I tried to tell you having a baby wasn’t all dressing them up and going goo goo ga ha’. You can imagine the state I must have been in considering the week later I was in full time psychiatric care. I was so confused with life that I was struggling to wash and couldn’t work out how to get dressed. I needed a lawn mower to shave my legs,searched the internet frantically to see where I could offload myself to and spent a fair amount of the day clutching the walls of the house begging john to call an ambulance as ‘ the clouds are trapping me and want to take me away’. As you can see, I think it was quite hard to pull myself out of it. And I couldn’t even dress my child up and go goo goo ga go as every time I tried to do it , I would shake so much with fear at his very presence , that I had to hand this responsibility to john.

The most basic of tasks can feel like the biggest in the world. Pulling yourself together often takes more than a slick of mascara and treating yourself to a bottle of vino blanco.Sometimes, things like medication are needed to get the job started.

And so onto the next thing on the list of things not to say to a mother in the midst of a meltdown. ‘You don’t need meds’ . I’m one for testing out natural approaches to support medical issues. My friend Alice once gave me her 1001 natural remedies book after we had consumed 23 bottles of cherry beer in the pub and we spent the rest of our evening flicking through it with me gojng ‘ohh I make my own shampoo with coconut milk’ which then quickly changed to us laughing very loudly at the recommendation to insert whole garlic cloves into your vagina should you happen to not smell of some freshly cut roses down there. Either that, or to rub over a mix of Apple cider vinegar and bicarb of soda all over it until bubbles start exploding out of your honeypot. As joyful as these sounded, I knew that in order to get over the feeling of being suffocated by my child’s very presence and to stop desiring the climb up a beanstalk into the clouds, I’d need more than a spoonful of coconut oil and a long hot bath. If one more person told me to take a bloody hot bath, I think I would have ripped the bath out of the wall. Baths are nice. They are hot and bubbly and in my younger days, I would take in a glass of Buck’s Fizz and a copy of the national enquirer and sit in one for a hour, relaxing to my hearts content.

I’m afraid however,I don’t think they are medically proven to stop the onset of psychosis. The one morning where John had left me to have a long shower to try and relax, I rubbed my skin raw. I found my mind thinking perhaps if I shed a skin layer, like a snake, maybe that would shed the feelings I had. This didn’t work. John came into the bathroom to find me standing under the shower,still with my pants on , with bright red skin saying ‘don’t bring the baby in here’. That’s one to remove from the ‘ treatment options for postpartum psychosis’ list then.

I spent six weeks attempting to get a doctor to say to me , you know, you are ill and we need to stop pissing around and do something properly to start your recovery. Instead, everyone I saw said hmm, oh motherhood is hard,or that magic gem ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’. I think these people have amnesia. As.babies.do.not.ever.sleep. Well mine didn’t . He would sleep for ten minute slots. It was torturous. When I attempted to sleep when he slept, I would be woken up as soon as I started to drop off. Rather than feel refreshed, I felt as though the devil was living on one of my shoulders and was hitting me over the head, cackling at me.

One of the best things someone said to me was actually a GP. I think this was GP number 315 I had gone to see who , when I said I kept seeing flashing lights in front of my eyes and a desire to cut through the clouds and live on the moon,said ‘you know what you should do dear? Bake a nice Victoria sandwich.take a real pride in it and sit down and enjoy eating it’.If only this doctor would get the worldwide credit she deserves. I mean, who knew severe postpartum mood disorders could be cured by creaming some butter and sugar together? I might have had some light relief sticking my head into the icing bowl at the end and devouring the innards but I was in such a state I probably would have put myself in the oven instead of the cake and refuse to come out when the timer went ping.

What I needed and I what eventually helped me get better was medication. Lots of medication. My antipsychotics were magic little ‘blue pills’ that calmed me down as is geared up to sprint across the mother and baby unit and crash into the wall in a race with the patient who made coconut ice out of vodka and then my anti-depressants became such a part of my daily life and I took so many of them, they had their own designated shelf in the bathroom.I had to take them three times a day, I put on about 57 stone in weight and they had the unfortunate side effect of making me retain my wee. Come bedtime, John got used to saying goodnight to me while I was sat on the loo with my forehead touching the floor in a gymnastic attempt to get my wee to rock to the front of my body . I would stay in this position until half a teaspoon of wee would drip out and then I’d have to get up and walk around the house in order for more wee to , erm, drop down enough for me to assume my favoured new position on the toilet. For variety sometimes I would put my forehead on the floor and then go on my tiptoes. I would repeat this scenario approximately 27 times and then would appear in bed about an hour later shouting, my wee is all out now. John would mumble ok and roll over, I would lie down and half a second later feel as though the flood gates had opened and have to run of to the loo again. For another hour of forehead to floor,bum in the air fun and games. I got used to this two hour ritual and it was only when I came off my meds three years later and discovered I could just do a simple wee before bed and then to sleep without having to set up camp in the bathroom , that I found out the antidepressant I was prescribed and had worked so well, was also given to kids who had issues with wetting the bed.

I didn’t care though. I was a alive. No amount of getting some fresh air or reading a book in the park was gojng to stop me from thinking the characters on the TV were real and were after me or that my head wasn’t in a vice.

Pre small child, being ill was usually brought on by the mother of all hangovers. I generally used to wake up and feel like a French man was living inside my head, banging it repeatedly with a baguette. I used to think the French man was living in there because of all the French brandy I would consume avec diet coke. Caffeine free of course. I do have some restraint.

And then of course, I gave birth and actually became properly ill. The kind of ill that required more than a fry up and an afternoon lying on the sofa moaning I’m dying over and over to recover. Actually, I did lie on the sofa moaning I’m dying over and over once I had given birth to Joe but for a totally different reason. And this reason was because I had a serious mental illness. That little secret illness that no one tells you about , postpartum psychosis.

It’s so secret, that most GPs I encountered had never even heard of it. A GP told me that postnatal illness didn’t exist in the sixties. Clearly not. I mean, women definitely weren’t carted off to asylums never to see the light of day again, labelled as having ‘bad nerves’ were they? I’ve been watching the asylum history programme on itv recently and there was a heavy focus on a mother who had postnatal illness back in the golden olden days where it apparently didn’t exist and it outlined the terror she went through and her husbands battle to get her proper treatment. Me thinks it has always existed but women used to just be labelled hysterical and were locked away forever.

And it is so secret that some people think it’s a new made up , fashionable illness. ‘pnd didn’t exist in my day/ its just an excuse for mums to be lazy/ I had 7 children and inhaled motherhood like it was a massive chocolate bar / or the best one yet ‘ I was to busy to be depressed’.

Im not sure it possible for a new mum to be lazy. Take into account the yelling screams of a entirely dependent on you human being, the fact that you are either a human milking machine or having to sterilise bottles at 3am. To those who mock PND , you are very lucky you were’t curled round the stairs bannister with a nappy over your head covering your eyes chanting must sleep must sleep must sleep. I did this and as ludicrous as it sounds and as it most definitely looked at the time, I didn’t do it because I was lazy , I did it because I was ill. If mums had been in hospital and pushed a massive tumour out of their arse for 27 hours with barely any pain relief after growing the tumour for nine months, everyone would rightfully say, oohh, you need some rest. And by the grace of god, you can lie in bed and watch this morning and recover in peace. But turn the word tumour into the word baby and people go ‘pull yourself together and get on with things’.

A wise wizard told me, when Joe was four weeks old that ’15 year olds manage to have babies and cope so I don’t see why you can’t’. Motherhood is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world. The presumption is you pop baby out and life doesn’t change and you just carry in as normal. That would be wonderful if that was the case for everyone. But it isn’t.

It is so hard as a family member or friend to see the woman in front of you who may have previously been strong,a coper,fierce and proud change to someone who feels so sad,low and desperate. There is so much you can do to help her through this time. And I know it’s a struggle to know what to say or even do. But they only have to be small things. Small things, like kind words , can be a lifeline . Instead of saying pull yourself together, try, how are you? Can I help you at all? Would you like me to write down how you are feeling so you can show the doctor? Would you like me to come to the doctor with you? Do you want me to stay over and sleep in your room with you and you can cry and I’ll listen to whatever you want to say?

The woman you knew will come back. And she will probably be stronger and braver than ever. To go through postnatal illness makes you question yourself so much. Elements of your character that made you the person you are seem to disappear and that is truly terrifying. I thought that not only my mind, but that I would never return. I never ever thought I would get better. My husband was so wonderful. Throughout the whole time he never said oh for gods sake Eve. He just held my hand and said I love you, it’s awful but we will get through this. He kissed my head as I walked through the hospital to be admitted to the mother and baby unit. He said he would always love me, never leave me and would look after me forever. Those words gave me so much more hope than ‘pull yourself together’. Those words helped me realise that I would get better.

And I did xx

You’re not taking my boobie away, you idiot lady

Hello, my name is Eve. I still breastfeed my 4 year old son and do so because I want him to remain a baby forever. This is what I would be made to say if there was a group for mothers who breastfeed their child longer than what is considered the norm , to try and get over this ‘problem’. A ‘breastfeeders anonymous’ if you will.

Before I had Joe, I’d never really thought about breastfeeding. I wasn’t breastfed and all but one of my mates didn’t have babies so I’d never properly considered how I’d nourish my offspring. My friend with a baby mix fed so my assumption was that I would do the same . I had however always been proud of my boobs. They were my pride and joy.I wasn’t blessed with a flat stomach, I had child bearing hips since I was about 9 and a buck tooth that shone bright in photos. I hated all of these features. But I had great boobs. Women pay good money for a pair of lils like mine .

I’d read stories in those amazingly trashy women’s weeklies with headlines like ‘ my school son still suckles at my breasts’ and would think, what on earth? That child should be eating normal food by now. And John never ceases to remind me of the day when, 8 months pregnant at our antenatal class, we were shown breastfeeding pictures from all around the world. I did lots of oohh ahh, look at that lovely little cute newborn feeding from its mummy and then saw the pictures at the top of the table that showed toddlers and then , the shock horror of it, children of four and five feeding. Our antenatal teacher said ‘in Europe, it’s very in vogue to feed way past babyhood and in Outer Mongolia,even fathers nurse their older children’. I can remember saying to John, ‘I want to be in vogue but I’ll wear some Capri pants and cut my hair into a Pob to be so, there is no way in hell that I will be breastfeeding a walking, talking kid’. And then I gave birth. Went completely bananas, fed Joe through a haze of anti psychotics and have emerged nearly five years later,no longer with my head in narnia but still nursing my son who will be going to school in six weeks.

Sometimes, when people find out I still nurse Joe, there is usually a) a horrified look on their face c) a comment along the lines of ‘don’t you think it’s about time you stopped this Eve, I mean, he will never be independent’ and then 7) which is usually from strangers ‘ that is absolutely disgusting’. Some did did tell me once that it was akin to abuse. What a delightful thing to say to a mother. As you will know from my other blogs, breastfeeding became important to me almost overnight. I had assumed I would mix feed Joe so before he was even born, along with the 87 can of caffeine free diet coke and value strawberry angel delights I became obsessed with, I would order those ready made cartons of formula. I just assumed I would use them. And then I gave birth, went insane,became terrified of being near my son,refused to look at him or be in the same room as him but felt a desperate pang to feed him myself. I don’t know what it was. I found the very idea of being near him beyond comprehension. I remember the day that I ran out into the middle of the road with no pants on screaming ‘I’m trapped , take me away from this world,he has trapped me’. I felt no sense of shame that I had just bared my saggy arse to the nosey old lady over the road and as John brought me back into the house, I slumped myself on the floor, crying my eyes out. My mum was there and said ‘ Evelyn, what is it love, tell me how you feel, please’. I looked at her, angry and I can remember clear as day saying ‘ I hate it, I can’t bear it , I can’t.even.bear.to.look.at.him’. My mum started weeping and said ‘ but he is so precious Evelyn. Look at him love, please,cuddle him, please love’, and I just stared at the carpet. And then he started crying. And I did what I was later to realise I always did when he did this – I picked him up and nursed him. I found it hard to look at him but my boobs would tingle when he cried as if they ached to comfort him.

The feelings I experienced were so confusing and if I am frank, kind of terrified me. I had a massive desire to not be a mum. I was , what was later described in therapy, grieving deeply for my old life. I felt dead,void of positive feelings towards the future and scared of the life waiting for me ahead. But I found myself needing and wanting it nurse the child I didn’t think I wanted.

The day I was hospitalised is when I had a sense of realisation that I wanted to not only be my sons mother and carer but I also wanted to be his life giver. After John had found me wandering around in a daze, I had ran into his parents room and began crawling round the bed on all fours. I was screaming for someone to help me. John was talking on the phone to a psychiatrist and I was walking up and down the stairs over and over,talking to myself. I suddenly heard another voice. My mother in law was on the phone to the doctors surgery and was asking for the GP to prescribe some tablets for me to dry my milk up so she could bottle feed Joe.  And this was when my brain bolted. I knew I was ill. I knew I was terrified of my role as a mum and god, the terror of this being a job I would have forever like it or not, filled me with a fear that I had never ever experienced. I was confused,scared and lost in my own terrifying thoughts but I knew something. I knew I wanted to feed my son. I knew I could do that. It was the one thing that I could do for him that no one else could and a rage went through me. I had grown used to feeling angry over those first six weeks but this was a different sort. I stood there and shouted ‘ that is not happening. I’m not talking those tablets.he is my son, and I am feeding him and no one else I is.No one’. I knew that I wasn’t going to have that role taken from me. It was as if some mother force from deep within me roared out of me. I think my heart knew if I stopped feeding him , I would lose any connection I had with him forever. And I could not let that happen. I was his mother and there was no way in hell anyone else was going to take the feeding from me. My milk was yearning to feed him and my heart and head both knew that’s what I needed to carry on doing. I in no way wanted him being fed by someone else.

When he got to six months , the oh so you’ll be weaning him comments started coming. And I thought, oh, erm I dunno. I’d never even thought about stopping. At this point, I’d never even heard of ‘extended/natural term’ breastfeeding, I simply just didn’t see any reason to stop. And then we just carried on. A few times I would say, oh I reckon when he is a year and then that changed to 18 months and then one day I said , I think I’ll just keep going until he wants to stop. I’ve had the ‘ when he goes to school Eve, you can’t slip your nip through the school gates to feed him’ comments. I thought, well speak for yourself as I have amazing boobs that can stretch in all different directions so wind your neck in. Of course, I jest. I mean, imagine having stretchy boobs ? But comments like this show how people don’t understand how feeding a child older than a baby or even a toddler doesn’t mean they walk around the shopping mall all day with a boob in their mouth. It simply means they feed milk from their mother when they want it. It’s quite simple really – once a day Joe says can I have a yogurt please mummy and then at another point of the day usually before he goes to bed, he says can I have boobie please mummy. I don’t offer, I don’t refuse.

I have no shame in my child making the decision to continue nursing and I absolutely will not allow him to be made to feel ashamed of this choice in any way shape or form. Some people might not like it and that’s fine, I felt like that once too. I don’t want to change their mind. Their opinion is as valid as mine but I will not let them make my son feel ashamed.

I remember at Joe’s two year check, the health visitor gushed about how independent he seemed and confident and oohh, look at his lovely teeth and how he must take such good care of them. When she asked about his diet and I said, yep, all good in that front and mentioned he still nursed,it was as if I had just told her I breastfeed the neighbours dog. She looked at me in such horror and put on a little baby voice and said ” you have the let him go at some mum and think of his little teeth decaying” and then stroked his head and said ‘you’re a big boy now joe,no more Milkies from mummy ok?’. Joe put his hands on hips and shouted ‘ no no no.you are not taking boobie away from me, you are an idiot lady’ and burst into tears. I told her to jog on in a more colourful way and flounced out in dramatic fashion.

Another comment I see all the time is ‘you just want to keep him as a baby’. I won’t spend much time on this, but for those of you who have met my child, you will know there is no way he can be forced to do anything. I might conduct a public demonstration at some point to demonstrate the fact that you can’t force a four year old to nurse. I might run around with my boob out in the local park shouting feed feed feed Joe ,nowwwwww. He would stare at me and say, mummy, you’re acting crazy, and I don’t want boobie now. I’ll tell you when I do. I have no desires to keep Joe as a baby. I was too terrified to even look at him for nearly two months after he’s was born and until he was one, he woke up 17 times a night. I found looking after a baby frightening, terrifying and  exhausting so I can assure you, I definitely don’t nurse him to keep him a baby. Very simply, I nurse him because he wants me to and I’m not bothered about it.

There seems to be some bizarre idea, aided, that if you feed your child past six months, you have pubes down to your knees, braided and beaded and wear handmade shoes made out of tofu. Not that there is anything wrong with this. Not at all. Tofu is a very versatile foodstuff. And for those that know me well, I practise attachment parenting, make my own air freshener and wrap Joes feet in freshly brewed lemon socks when he has a cold. However, I do also favour a Brazilian wax. Shock horror though , I have friends who don’t own a TV and make their own blusher out of turmeric who haven’t nursed their child into toddlerhood. My point here is to not make assumptions about people just because they have a different lifestyle to yourself and don’t think that mothers who feed their children past babyhood have some sort of wild political agenda. This point has been made to me by someone. Someone who doesn’t understand politics.

I’ve never really understood the issue people have with women feeding their kids in public. It’s.a.boob. It’s a body part. John put it right last year when he said ‘ if milk came out of your fingers and your kid sucked on them in public,no one would care but because it’s a boob, the world, it’s mother and it’s wife start having a panic attack at the sight of some skin’. And he is right. If you want to nurse in public discreetly, then of course , do that as that’s what you want to do. But ladies, if you want to feed your kid in public without covering yourself in a mobile tent, then just flip le bobbie out and do it. I always find those tweets about public breastfeeding that go ‘ oh my effing god, there is a women with her tit out feeding her baby in McDonald’s.put it away lady,I’m trying to eat my lunch here’ hilarious. Erm, well, your in a ‘restaurant’ having your lunch and so is this child. What would you prefer the mother do ? Blitz up a happy meal and feed it to her 3 week old child? It’s a boob.

I have a friend who once explained in a way I’d never heard before but she put it in such an eloquent way I must share it with you ‘Saying it should be covered up because it also has a sexual use is pretty fucking dim as this means surely we should all be walking around with our hand over our mouths because you know, not only are mouths used for eating and speaking, but they also perform blow jobs’ . She has a valid point.

I had to laugh at that TV programme Loose Women a few months ago. The issue of feeding in public came up and everyone said ooh yes, we have to ‘allow’ women to do this and there was lots of nodding and then an audience member said ‘of course it’s fine, as long as it happens like it does in France , where you cover the baby with a blanket’ and there was applause. So babies can be fed their food source, but must do while enduring a man made heat wave made of wool. My suggestion is if you are offended by the sight of a piece of skin being sucked on by a child to ensure it stays fed and alive is to wrap yourself in a duvet, sit in the corner and stare at the floor. If you think it’s ok for a child to have to do that so your feelings aren’t hurt, then I’m sure it’s more than fine for you to take your own advice.

There are those clever minded bods who say ‘pump your milk and feed your baby in public with a bottle’ so you don’t nurse outside the four walls of your home. As the mother of a child who refused point blank to take to any of 914 bottles we purchased in order for me to get some kind of break as I began to climb the walls of insanity, I can tell you it ain’t always as simple as , ohhhh, I’ll just quickly express some milk and pop it in this very expensive bottle that promises to be the exact shape of my nipple. I found myself with pots of expressed milk sitting all over the house as our mission to attempt to get joe to take a bottle failed abysmally. We tried everything. All the usual bottles that adorn the shelves of the supermarket, even blow up travel bottles. We even had a mould made of my nipple and sent it off to a company somewhere near the moon which came back resembling an elephants trunk. I’d like to say at this point that my nipples are not in real life akin to that of an elephant,hence whys the bottle was hurtled across the room by my very angry child. And why should my child have to feed out of a bottle just because people can’t get their head out of the gutter?

And for the mummies who formula feed after being ill like I was.I wasn’t treated with lithium so I was very lucky I was able to nurse.I feel lucky and blessed that though very hard at the start,our breastfeeding relationship has been so lovely. I chose to continue feeding and it was the right choice for our family. I don’t like being judged for nursing my four year old so I don’t judge mums who were in my position who chose/needed to feed in a different way. Breastfeeding for Joe and I is wonderful and I love that my son cherishes it and finds it such a comfort as it really is so much more than a source of nutrition, particularly now.

We are all mothers. I’ve endured nearly five years of negative comments about the nursing relationship I have with my son and this has made me realise even more that mums have such a hard job. My friend put it so well when she said of breastfeeding and the length of time it goes on for -‘ it’s what you are comfortable with isn’t it?’ – and she is right. Feeding longer than the six months ‘norm’ may not be for everyone but all I ask is for people to not make hurtful comments about the children and mothers who do nurse for longer. I’ve had people day ‘you don’t look like one of those mums Eve’ when they find out we still breastfeed and I wonder what I’m supposed to look like? I’m just a mum surely ? Let’s all be supportive of each other and let’s all be nice. Let’s not judge when we haven’t walked in others shoes. Bonjour.

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.