A Mothers Love And Compromising Your Self Care

This week has been a particularly hard week for me.

I AM EXHAUSTED!!

Now, I’m not for one second saying that I have it any harder than anyone else or any other mother.  I acknowledge the amazing support system I have around me, absolutely.

However, with all of that, there is still some things that other people cannot provide.

I decided a year ago that I would allow my toddler to continue to breastfeed for as long as she wanted or up until the age of two.  She turned two a month ago with absolutely no signs of letting up whatsoever.

Any attempts to withhold said breast would cause her immense amounts of distress.  Given the choice of a piece of chocolate and her beloved ‘boobie’, the boob would always win.

For the most part this hasn’t been a problem until 8 weeks ago.  8 weeks and 6 days to be exact.

It was my birthday weekend and I had plans to completely turn up.  So much so, that I had planned for my daughters father to get her ready and take her to nursery the morning after.  I was going to lie in and sleep until my body decided to get up.  I rolled in at 4am Monday morning, got myself ready for bed and passed out……for about 45 minutes.

It was almost as if she smelt me through her closed bedroom door.  I couldn’t believe it (crying face).

I soon realised that Bambalina was extremely unwell, limp, coughing and had a streaming nose.  The fact I had only had 45 mins sleep meant nothing.  When mummy mode kicks in its like a switch, your needs no longer matter.

For the first few weeks of her waking up because of this hacking cough, I coped quite well.  I was buzzing about prepping for season two of Love Laid Bare, doing my radio show and production weekly, started another project with some other ladies and attending networking events. I was on a roll. Or so I thought.

I was invited to attend to a wedding of a close family friend and the trip was quickly approaching.  As much as a free trip to Antigua would be anyones dream, I was dreading it.  At this point we’ve already had 3 weeks of chaotic sleep patterns and this weeks trip was about to make it a lot worse.  What should be a week of relaxation would be the complete opposite.

At two years old my daughter has already clocked up enough air miles.  Two trips to the Caribbean and one to Turkey have afforded me the knowledge of knowing what to expect on these holidays.  What was filling me with dread was that my mum was not going to be part of this trip like she had been all of the previous times.

If I needed a break, Bambalina would willingly goto her mummy substitute and prefers to be with her a lot of the time.  I have zero qualms with that.

This is in brief how are trips away usually go:-

  • She is a dream for all the other flight passengers. She is either very charming or sleeps throughout the entire flight. If she does sleep throughout the flight it means I cannot move, not even to use the toilet (I have not always shared the same flight with my mum by the way).  Think of a 8-9 hour flight not being able to use the toilet (this happened on the way back from Antigua and Turkey).
  • She does not care who we are seated next to. When she’s ready to nurse she wants to adopt her usual position of comfort which is completely horizontal with her feet in the gangway or on our neighbours lap.  Do you know how awkward and uncomfortable that is?
  • On the day of arrival after 3 million hours of combined travelling, she wakes up at 3am. Ready for breakfast and to start the day. Meanwhile breakfast doesn’t open for at least another 4 hours. At this point I’ve only now had a few hours sleep.
  • Following a long morning of frolicking in the sea or pool and her turning into a very picky eater, she will then go down for a nap at around 11 am.  Her day will end at around 6-7pm latest and so does mine. Sigh.  However, I am not tired as my body can quickly adjust to new time zones. Forcing myself to sleep isn’t a skill I have mastered yet and so the cycle of short sleeps continue.

Before this ends up turning into a travel blog let me get back to my point.

Over this 8-9 week period I’ve been grabbing at the most 4-5 hours of interrupted sleep, but in reality its more like 2-3.

The first signs of exhaustion were my sudden lack of patience and irritability.  Food on the floor is a given when you have a toddler but I was finding myself flying into a blinding rage internally.  I’m very conscious about my energy around her so although I would try hard not to shout, she could tell in my demeanour that I was furious.  To which she would find hilarious. Wooooosaaaaah!!!

There were many conversations with fellow mum’s where I could be completely honest about my feelings.  Shout out to Gina, Alyx and Dionne.  They were my goto’s when moments got rough and I actually felt like giving her a tap on the bum (not that I ever did, may I add).

The second sign

I lost my voice the day before my radio show. Randomly out of nowhere.  I was in the middle of doing a baby sale and interviewing customers for the show in-between. I didn’t have a cold, sore throat and plus I’m no Mariah Carey.  However, my voice vanished.  It was like my body was telling me to halt, but of course I didn’t listen.  Whilst I physically could not do my show I still had the ability to work on Love Laid Bare and the other projects I’d started! Sometimes when you lose you win too! Lol. Or so I thought.

The third sign

I began to struggle to do basic things. If I cooked and washed up it meant that I physically just couldn’t do the washing for example.  Clean clothes were piled up waiting to be folded and put away……and I just couldn’t.  I’d constantly ask myself ‘what is wrong with you?’. I couldn’t even give myself an answer.

The fourth sign

My face started to break out again, the second time within four months.  Breakouts were not something I suffered with since I was a teenager.  My skin care regime was tight and had never failed me from the age of 16.

The final sign

Back ache.  All of a sudden my lower back was in bits.  I put this down to not going to the gym which had weakened my core muscles even more, sitting down too much, needing a new mattress and any other explanation I could find.  When the pain and tension crept up and took over my whole back making it difficult for me to sleep and get comfortable, was when I eventually snapped.

I was now in a situation where although I could fall asleep, once I was woken up by my daughter, the stress and anxiety flooded in.  My back muscles would tighten with a vice grip and I would toss and turn for four more hours until day break. Still only having 3 hours of light sleep under my belt.  

Everyday I complained that I was tired, but only to people I knew would understand.  

Some people are so far removed from those kind of sleepless nights that their only advice is to ‘just sleep’.  I’d be advised to sleep when she naps in the afternoon, but sometimes she might only sleep for 40-60 mins which is the time Id usually reserve for either getting some work done or preparing dinner etc.

What some people also don’t understand is that when your body has past the point of normal fatigue, your nerves are completely shot and you’re highly anxious.  Then you have these random bursts of energy and it’s very hard to then just switch off and sleep.

You fool yourself.

 I believed I was coping just fine, although the signs were saying that I was
crumbling.  You fear looking vulnerable.  You don’t want to be judged on your ability to cope and being a woman in general.  It’s almost akin to a pack of hungry hyenas waiting in the shadows to attack as soon as you put your hands up to say you’re not coping.  Where in reality, this is primarily in your own head.

In my head I begged and pleaded that someone would telepathically hear my cries and offer to take her for the night.  There were ample offers to have her on her days off from nursery, but it was night sleep that I needed.  I also realised that this request was futile because I cannot seem to express much milk anymore.  She, however has no problem in extracting it but I think there is a science behind that.

So here I was at another dead-end.

I’d cried with exhaustion for a few fleeting moments for several days, but the release calmed me and made me feel a bit better, so I welcomed it. 

That Wednesday morning I’d had two hours sleep from the night before.  

Coupled with this tight rubber snake contracting within my back muscles, my toddler was also quite active in her sleep.  I clung to the edge whilst trying to ensure that she didn’t fall off the bed at any moment.  I was so wired that sleep was a myth.  

My alarm went off at 7am and I couldn’t move.  The twenty percent of my brain that was currently working toyed with the idea of keeping her home and trying to sleep, but I knew realistically that if she stayed home my situation would be ten times worse.  Moreover I had a podcast and blog to release in the evening and a ghost writing session at 9.30am.  I got her dressed and did her hair in the dark, I think it took me over an hour.

When it came to the time to leave, I realised how late it was and the fact she may have missed breakfast.  There was no way I would have time to patiently give her breakfast, drop her and be back in time for my 9.30am appointment.  After dragging on a jumper and leggings in a complete daze, I walked back into my room fighting the tears until I couldn’t hold back the water dam that followed.

My body said ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!’

I crumbled and then wailed.  I couldn’t do it. Any of it.  I was weak and spent. I think I cried for at least an hour.

It felt like nobody was listening to me and now here I am naked with no place to hide.  

Why did it have to get to this point?  

I remember my sister saying to me a week before that she didn’t know how I did it and how I coped.  My reply was that I’m not coping but what can I do? I smiled and carried on with whatever it was I was doing.  I had clearly been on autopilot and was a few days from crashing and burning.

Now, I would love to say that after I got back home I curled up into bed to rest.  Ha! Of course not.

I stopped by Sainsbury’s and bought myself a red bull and a croissant. I came home, burnt some sage and prepared for my 9.30am appointment with my laptop at the ready. We spoke for around an hour and I put on the biggest pretence of appearing to be fine.  Sometimes you have to do what you have to do unfortunately.

After that session I sat in a Himalayan salt bath with the blinds closed and a salt lamp burning. I topped up that bath for two hours whilst trying to secure a massage appointment because my back was not letting up.

Anytime I tried to relax or flex my shoulders it felt like my muscles were bones, rubbing against each other.  

I was in agony.

A beauty salon agreed to see me for a 2pm appointment and the masseuse was a dream.  I felt GREAT afterwards.  My shoulders could finally drop and the pain appeared to have vanished.  However, once I started to drive back home the tension started to build back up again and I lost all sense of relaxation.  

My mum popped by with a six-pack of super malt and a bunch of flowers, bless her, loooool!

I struggled to wind down until about 10pm that night and probably didn’t fall asleep until midnight.  Now guess who was awake again by 2am?  My hopes of her going back to sleep were killed once she declared that she wanted to go downstairs.  She has never done this before and why tonight of all nights?

She had toast and a hot drink and playfully made fun of my tummy and boobies.  We sat having a very energetic chat until I realised it was now approaching 3am and she would be up at 7am. Nope nope and nope.  This party was over

I managed to fold into bed and was blessed with four hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I felt on top of the world.

There I was, thinking I was out of the woods until my mum called again that morning to ask how I was doing.  Again I ended up in tears and we agreed she would have my daughter from Friday evening until Saturday evening.

It was then that it dawned on me that I could’ve arranged this weeks ago.  However, I was plagued by fatigue and my pride was also making it appear that everything was fine.  I was not thinking straight or acting accordingly.

Two good friends also offered separately to put me up in a hotel for my night off.  The thought alone made me hugely grateful, so thank you and much love to them.

In Conclusion

This post was supposed to be about me giving you guys tips on self-care, but I’ve now realised that I’ve just spilt my guts instead.

Maybe the lesson in here is that I need to practice what I preach.

So, it’s now Saturday afternoon and my daughter had a successful night with her Nana.  Yes she woke up once crying for her boobies, but she went back to sleep after 20 mins and has been happy ever since.  

The world didn’t fall apart and I have been able to ‘rest’.  I say that loosely as I’ve still written this blog, recorded the podcast below, sought out web designers on fiver.com and now need to tidy my house.

When you are in a constant mode of feeling you’re never doing enough, is when you can set yourself up for failure.  Going forward I will be more conscious of the fact that there is only so much my body can take over a sustained period of time.  Paying myself back in the form of a glass of prosecco also isn’t actually benefiting me either.  But I do love a chilled glass of prosecco!

Anyway, that’s enough of my musings for the day.  The podcast speaks a bit more broadly on the whole issue of self care, so please have a listen, like and repost.

Thank you for reading and take care of yourself!

Dionne xx

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*All posts were taken from Kloveism’s Instagram page! Please follow her account on Instagram @kloveism

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