Everything changed when I reached breaking point….
I had my son Finn when I was 35. Up until then, I was working at a media company, having a busy fun London life and perhaps not looking after myself as best as I could. I’m from Devon originally so have no family nearby and being one of the first of my friends in London to have children threw me into a whole other baby world I knew nothing about. Now here I was with a babe of my own to look after. I really didn’t have a clue.
He’s three now & I feel like I’ve been on a monumental journey and learnt so much, not just about becoming a mum, but about who I am too.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. The first year I really struggled and felt like I was in it alone. My partner is very supportive but gets home after bedtime so there I was day after day, just me and Finn. All my friends were at work or lived far away. I went to some baby classes but found it difficult to get somewhere on time or Finn would be sick so I didn’t get to as many as I wanted to so I retreated into myself & went out less and less.
With all my focus on Finn, I didn’t have the time or energy to look after myself properly. He was never a great sleeper so & I was tired, eating too much sugar, my back hurt and I was anxious all the time. The monotony of every day and then feeling ungrateful for complaining about the monotony was making me feel like the worst human. I was reaching breaking point so something had to change.
These are some wellness steps I took to help myself.
1) Speak to your GP. I felt like a total hypochondriac crying, reeling off a whole list of ailments. Whether you have perinatal depression, (around 1 in 5 women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth) anxiety, or your hormones are all over the place, getting professional help will set you on the right track. I was referred to a physio and recommended for cognitive behaviour therapy. It felt like I had lots of support and was a good start.
2) Find your tribe.
Being at home every day, just me was a huge shock to the system. I was lonely. People need people. I found socially I was getting more and more awkward and it used to be my job to talk to new people every day and now my head was empty, I had no chat! Except for baby chat! Through Instagram I found a lovely local mum called Lorna (@mrshhayward
) who felt isolated during maternity leave too so she started some meetups in the SW and we’ve found there are hundreds of us feeling the same way! It’s helped beyond words.
3) Mindfulness. When I have a shower in the morning, even if it’s a total madhouse I try to think of things that I’m thankful for and it really helps to start the day thinking positively. I’m fully aware that life can side blind you when you least expect it so I try to focus on the here and the now and the good and find joy it.
4) Look after your back, core & do your pelvic floor exercises. Everything in your body is linked to work in harmony and if one thing is out of tune it will put pressure on other areas. One evening I went to pick Finn out of his bath and something clicked in my back and I couldn’t move! I know how to pick a box up properly after health and safety training at work but a wriggling thrashing toddler is a different story. I went to a chiropractor who worked their magic and now I do stretches in the morning and lie on my back, pull my knees up to my chest and roll from side to side. I go to yoga & gong baths but if I can’t get away I will do some moves at home to stretch and to help feel peaceful. It’s not always easy to find the time to do that but I’m trying to make things like this a necessity, not a luxury.
The first year of Finn’s Life
I felt like the first years of Finn’s life I was constantly on my phone and when he started saying “Mummy where’s your phone” when I wasn’t using it, it hurt. I’m trying to be more mindful of how much and why I’m on social media. Modern life makes us feel like we should be busy all the time even down to silly things like I was getting FOMO that I hadn’t watched the latest Netflix series!! I’ve tried to close lots of these tabs down in my brain and it’s really helped me to feel a balanced and calmer person. We’re not in a race with anyone. Be easy on yourself! Take time for YOU, when you can. I know that it’s hard when you’re a mum as you’re rarely alone & have to military-style plan things but sometimes small pleasures like reading your favourite magazine, uninterrupted with a cup of tea are bliss and good for the soul. (My partner missed Finn’s birth as he was buying me Heat magazine!! That I never got to read!!) Also things like painting your toenails or wearing nice underwear, even if no one will get to see them, you will.
Also, another tip for back pain is to get fitted for the right size bra! My chiropractor said that this is very common and causes so much back pain. I was wearing totally the wrong size!! Not even close! I’m 38 now and I’m only just finding out all this stuff about life and motherhood and myself! It’s never too late, everything is a lesson.
Blog Post written by Jess Huxtable