And I do appreciate you being round…
I have now been back at work for 6 weeks and have made it to the first half term break. There were times I didn’t think I would make it, and right now I really don’t know how I did.
My daughter is taking to solids slowly, so I am still needing to express at work at least twice a day to be able to keep up with the volume of milk needed for her days with Daddy, and to ensure that my supply is not compromised and I can still feed when I am with her. My pumping breaks have become my prison. I say goodbye to my husband and daughter at 7am, I then often do not speak to another adult until I return home at 4.30pm. I would love some company during these lonely times.
I feel like my PND has reached a peak. I am in danger of it beating me. I don’t have much fight left but I will fight it the best I can. I have asked for help, called on my army of supporters to help me defeat the enemy. Sadly only half of my troops have come forward.
If you have never experienced mental health problems you may not fully appreciate the challenge of asking for help. It’s hard. Really hard. Harder still when you build up your courage, ask for help, and are denied the support that you so badly need. My family has a long history of mental health concerns and we have been both supported and let down by the NHS, when desperation hits they have not always been there to support. I am still to hear from my CBT worker to rearrange the appointment that they cancelled on 16th January. I have chased this.
Of course, the NHS and medical professionals are not the only soldiers in your army. Friends, family and workmates all play an essential part in the battle. So, I have asked for help. My family remain amazing, understanding and supporting without judgement. My friends have, in the most part, been amazing.
Sadly however I have once again found myself defending my decision to breastfeed. This is even more the case now my daughter has passed the six month mark. Adverts for follow on milk, (a substance invented purely to allow the manufacturers to get around the ban on advertising first milk formula) suggest that when baby hits 6 months it is time to “move on from breastfeeding”. This is not what is suggested by the World Health Organisation, who encourage and advise extended feeding to two years. I hope to eventually reach a stage where I no longer need to express at work, where I feed my daughter in the morning and the evening, but, as with the way I have approached all aspects of parenting so far, I will let my daughter guide me. I will not dictate the speed at which this happens, I will allow her to go at her own pace. For now, I need to be expressing at work. Sadly, this seems to mean choosing between company and my daughter. As lonely as I may feel, this is an easy choice. She is, and always will be, my priority. She’s worth it.
Meanwhile, the troops I have been able to gather are fully behind me. I know that they understand, they support and they will help me keep going. Thank you. Thank you for being the listening ear, the voice of reason, the shoulder to cry on, the wisdom of experience and above all, thank you for understanding me. I will not, (and should not have to) choose anything above my daughter. Company at break times will come again in time, my daughter will only need me this much for a short time.
This too will pass.