Parenting

Hi

My son is going to be three in a few weeks and I had pp when he was three months. Then a second psychotic episode this march.

What I'm wondering is - did anyone else , like me, struggle to enjoy parenting? I would say we have quite a good bond and he has developed beautifully. He's a wonderful little boy - but i still find myself reluctant to want to play with him for any long period or when we are together, quite often I just wish I could be doing something else.

I think I feel like I lost my identity twice Over - once through motherhood and once through the psychosis.

My husband is the main carer to our little boy. I watch him play with little one and I just don't have the same energy and enthusiasm as him, I'm always comparing myself.

I would love to hear that it will get better over time

I wanted to enjoy motherhood and it hasn't been what I expected.

Thanks for any support you can give

spaghetti x

15 Replies

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  • HI spaghetti

    Thanks for your post.

    I am sure what you have written a lot of people will be able to relate to, and I hope you will get some replies that can reassure and support you.

    We all have such individual and different experiences of PP, and of recovery. E.g. I was acutely unwell on day 3 and then very depressed for a year and a half afterwards. Luckily I haven't had a psychotic relapse (yet). I say this because obviously your PP 'story' is different from mine, we have different experiences.

    After I was depressed, for the first year of my son's life I had very similar feelings to what you describe. I felt so BORED a lot of the time (probably partly because I was depressed) and felt awful about this, as you say I didn't expect parenthood to be like that. I thought I would be so happy, loving my baby all the time. I would also look at my partner with my son, making him laugh etc, and I just thought I was so rubbish, that my son didn't love me, we didn't have a bond etc. In fact what I found out as he got older was that he became very attached and loving towards to me. I was lucky in that we weren't separated ever because I was in a MBU and this helped I'm sure.

    Personally I find being with kids can be tiring and demanding. I am feeling very well now, and at times I struggle to enjoy long (or even short!) periods of playing role play with my son (depending on what's going on for me) - to the point that I set an alarm on my phone so he knows there's an end and say mummy needs a break and I make a cup of tea and stick the TV on!! If you are feeling vulnerable, or have had periods when you aren't well (which you have had), being able to play enthusiastically with your son is probably almost impossible. I know for me some days I just struggled to get through the day.

    Now because I feel well, I don't feel so bad about this (not enjoying playing with my son all the time). Whereas when I was feeling vulnerable I would be questioning why I don't enjoy it all the time, and that I should, and I'm a bad mum because of it. And you know what - despite my setting alarms and not being the most enthusiastic mum in playing at times, I've just got his school book for the first 6 weeks of term, and he seems to talk about me a lot - and the best thing outside of school is "playing with mummy" (and watching TV lol!!). I say this because I think we - including you - don't need to be perfect, good enough is good enough if that makes sense!

    Anyway I hope some of my ramble helps - do take or leave anything!

    X

  • I absolutely loved your email, thank you. I think not trying to be perfect is good advice ! Found it really helpful just to get everything off my chest yesterday. I went on to have a good afternoon and to remember that I don't have those negative feelings, on most days.

    Anyway a huge thank you

  • Hi Spaghetti

    Ah, I'm really glad what I wrote helped :) Hope you are doing OK?

    Really good it helped to get it all of your chest as well. Its hard isn't it to be positive on some days when you are feeling a bit negative, at least that's what I found! Everything looks a bit bleak...

    I also remember something really valuable my psychologist said that got me through some days "my son's happiness doesn't depend on my happiness" - e.g. I don't need to be happy in order for my son to be happy. I think that's really true as well. It was because one of the things that would get me down is that I'm not enjoying being with my son (at times) or I'm not 'playing' with him like I 'should' and that this was somehow really bad and damaging him...not true I think!

    I also found there was a lot in the phrase 'you've got to fake it to make it' - which is something someone said to me in the MBU. Sometimes I would force myself to interact/play etc and pretend I was happy and enthusiastic and somehow he did turn my mood around sometimes - sometimes it didn't work! - but I think it did have an accumulative affect and sometimes it did just help me through the really dark bits...

    Take care X

  • Thank you very much for this and the extra, helpful tips. Yes I'm feeling in a good place now thanks. I've actually had the weekend away with a friend, found I missed my son a little and feel reenergised now to look after him. Thank you for all the Support from you and the other posters. X x

  • Hi Spaghetti, I totally identify with what you are saying, and what Sunny and Wild has said. I definitely had that experience of getting very easily bored with role play games etc and quickly wanting to be doing something else, then beating myself up about how I "should" feel and what I "should" be doing with my kids. As for comparing myself unfavourably to others, I was a master of it - friends, neighbours, family members, even mums in soap operas and films - they all seemed to be doing so much better than me! But looking back now I recognise more objectively that having young children is just really exhausting, especially when you're trying to recover from an illness that takes a long time to come to terms with (I was ill with PP and/or depression after both of mine) Also, my own observation amongst friends and family is that there's often one parent who finds it easier to do the "fun" things with the kids. In my house that's my husband, and I'm much better at meeting the kids practical needs and supporting them with emotional issues, homework etc. Mine are 7 and 11 now, and I've built strong bonds with both of them, mostly achieved through practical rather than fun activities!

    Something I did find helpful, if only as a relief from feeling "inadequate", was to work out what activities I did find a bit more enjoyable to do with them, and focus on short bursts of doing that together - some things I remember are reading a book to them, snuggling up to watch one of the kids films that I also like myself , doing some easy cooking/decorating (often a packet mix for me - I'm no baker!), doing a jigsaw puzzle. If I was still in that place now I think I'd try colouring together as I find this new adult mindfulness stuff very calming!

    You said that you often just want to be doing something else - I wonder if you get a chance to actually do something else sometimes? I certainly found it easier to enjoy and engage with the kids when I'd had a break doing a "grown up" thing, even if was just going for a quick swim, or sitting in a nice coffee shop reading a newspaper.

    Just to say as well though, I have found that I've found it much easier to enjoy parenting as they've got older. Their physical demands, the need to watch them all the time etc do relent as they mature, and the activities they now enjoy are closer to what I'd naturally enjoy myself, whether it's board games, watching a show, swimming trips, learning to ice skate, having a woodland walk etc. I'd definitely say we do have fun together now in a way that I don't usually find too boring or exhausting! So don't lose hope - loads of friends have admitted to me that she just didn't enjoy the baby/toddler years, but love the relationship they have with their older kids.

    I reckon you're doing great, and everything you describe is pretty "normal" stuff (but many parents don't feel able to admit to those feelings!)

    Tracey xxx

  • Hello spaghetti,

    What a refreshing and honest post to read, thanks so much for sharing. I (like many others, I'm sure) can totally relate! I think if non-PP mums were honest too, they would also say this is the case at least some of the time. Children are hard work, and the general (media, society etc) portrayal of motherhood can be such a myth in my opinion.

    I really struggled with confidence and motivation when I was recovering from PP (I was ill 6 years ago after my 1st child was born). I found it really hard to play and focus on him when all I sometimes wanted to do was sit quietly and not do anything at all. I think I needed time and space to heal and some days I felt like a complete failure if I got anxious and then had no time for my baby aside from the basics.

    Like others have said, this has definitely been one of those "time is a healer" things. And for me, knowing that what other parents (mostly Mums, in my experience) portray in public is the glossy version of it, that has helped me. I went to a baby group which was really hard work, although I did make a couple of good friends and we could be more at ease and honest with each other, whereas at the group it felt all very false - breastfeeding, nappy anecdotes and other stuff which I could not all relate to.

    I had another baby 2 years ago and stayed well and this experience was quite different, although the tiredness and having 2 rather than just 1 is different of course and pretty exhausting. I do enjoy motherhood but I also enjoy things I can do as "me", without kids and not having to feel guilty about it. I work and I also try and keep in touch with friends and do things that we used to do, rather than just meet up with kids. Things have definitely changed, but I think life evolves sometimes and as with all things, it's about getting a balance which works for you. And knowing that no-one is perfect, as has been said too!

    I also feel that my eldest has an excellent bond with his Dad and part of this may be because when I was ill and recovering, I couldn't always be there or do what was needed. It makes me feel sad in a way, but it's a silver lining that they are so close and that makes me smile, which helps.

    I hope you find ways through and with time, that things will get easier and you'll feel better about it. Don't beat yourself up, I am sure you are a great Mum and your little one adores you. Sometimes we can never do enough, but we shouldn't have to feel bad for admitting that it's hard. Take care, xx

  • Hello Tracey and 'Spanner' thank you so much for the wonderful replies. I really appreciate them. X x

  • Hi Spaghetti, I can empathise. Motherhood has no way been what I expected either. I've had one episode but it took so much of my enthusiasm and 2.5 years on I still find it hard to have the energy needed for my son in the same way that my partner does, for example, my partner often does the early mornings as I just have to sleep. I think the advice posted above is brilliant and I'm going to try the alarm clock myself.

    A few things have really helped me recently...

    Tea. I now love my ritual of having a cup of tea at certain times of day. Waiting for the kettle to boil gives me a moment of breathing space.

    I got into mindfulness on the advice of a nurse at the MBU and now listen to a mindfulness video on youtube most days before going to bed. I find it helps me switch off. I have also found a meditation session that is on once a month and it is exactly what I need, I so look forward to going to these sessions.

    I also went on the APP art weekend back in May and I have fallen back in love with making art, which I haven't done since school. I was inspired to do a 5 week pottery evening class, and I've just bought some styrafoam to make some card prints at home. It's purely for my pleasure, and doesn't matter that I'm not that good at art! I just find that doing making/drawing every few weeks helps me have a way to switch off, and importantly, gets me off my phone with social media etc.!

    I find that having these moments away from my son make me come back to him with much more enthusiasm (ready to play racing cars... again...). I hope you can find some nice treats too to keep you going.

    Wishing you all the best xxx

  • Hello Spaghetti, lovely to hear from you and I believe your feelings are totally normal and experienced by most new mums. Parenting can be a struggle for many. We're sold a myth of fulfilled motherhood and can feel guilty when it doesn't live up to expectation. Also parenting can be utterly exhausting.

    I remember vividly trying to cope with the aftermath of PP more than 30

    Years ago, I felt guilty, lonely and isolated and missed the person that was me, I had taken a break from nursing and missed my role in the outside role. I even felt resentful that my husband still had a place in the outside world, but my world seemed so small. I felt trapped and so guilty and couldn't express my feelings so I resorted to scribbling the down and hiding them which was so therapeutic. Writing helped to give me back my identity and felt a safe place to admit I wasn't fulfilled my role as a mother.

    My episode was over 30 years ago. It does get easier though and I am sure many mums can identify with you, irrespective of PP

    All the very best to you and I wish there had been a forum like this all those years ago where wonderful brave women can share their experiences and support eech other. take care. Love Vee. Xx

  • Hi Spaghetti,

    Though I don't wish these feelings on anyone, I was so relieved to read your post and know that I'm not the only one! My little girl is four and a half months - I was diagnosed with PP just a few days after her birth.

    As for your question: Did anyone else struggle to enjoy parenting? It's a resounding "YES!!" from me! I know that I love my daughter, but I just don't want the lonely and overwhelming responsibility of looking after her. I miss my old life, my old freedom... I feel like I don't have a life anymore - like you said, I feel like I have lost my identity.

    My husband is a natural dad and doesn't seem fazed by anything really. I don't have the same energy or enthusiasm as him either. I feel jealous of how easily it seems to come to him to be with her.

    The main thing that's keeping me going is hoping that it will get better with time. I feel bad, but I'm wishing time away until she is older and we can interact more... The replies to your original post have given me some hope...

  • Hello Peppermint

    Thanks for posting ..... this is such a good thread. I think you are amazing to be just four and a half months on from PP and communicating so well. It was so difficult for me too in my sons' early days. Thinking about it now, that was probably due to my first son being six months old before I 'got to know him' due to being in general psychiatric care without him most of the time. Similarly, with my second son, six years later, it took me ages to believe that I could be a good mum to him.

    Like a few mums here I struggled with confidence and couldn't relate any of my experiences to the other mums in the 'meet a mum' group. I didn't interact at all as I felt awkward to hear them talking about their perfect pregnancies and births. So I didn't return.

    It's early days for you .... feeling overwhelmed is not surprising for all that you have been through. I felt 'hidden' as the stigma of mental illness was so strong at the time my sons were born and not discussed in the family or outside home.

    Being so tiny at the moment your daughter does need a lot of your time and attention but as your confidence builds you will find things easier. Try not to isolate yourself ...... I'm sure your friends would love to meet you for a tea or coffee to catch up while your husband looks after your daughter? You will get your energy back ...... you have taken such a knock with PP that it takes time to fully recover so try not to keep judging yourself.

    Try not to worry, I'm sure with the support you have from your husband you will find your way and enjoy many happy family times together. Take time to heal ...... rest when your baby girl is sleeping and be very proud of how far you have come.

    Take very good care of yourself .......

  • Hi peppermint

    Thanks so much for sharing on here. I'm sorry you have these difficult feelings too. I wonder if there are some good days or whether it's always the same? Once i started journalling about it i found that not every day was bad.

    I'm curious about what you say about your husband. I wondered if maybe he seems more of a 'natural' because actually he's not with yiur daughter so much of the time so he doesn't get so tired. Being with children can be exhauting. I think the truth that noone ever talks about it is that it's not only fun and cute but also a hard slog which can be exhausting, boring and demoralising. Maybe full time childcare is more like a job than anything else. And even though i do it myself ALL the time, i dont think comparing myself to others is helpful - well, in my case it feels like an indirect way of beating myself up.

    In my experience it has got better with time, even though i have got some way to go. As my son learned to talk in sentences, our relationship has felt so much more real. That doesnt help ,uch at your daughter's age though, i wonder if yiu have any friends with babies who you can have playdates with? Or maybe get out to a sure start actibity?

    Im really happy to keep talkinkg about this on here. It's a subject close to my heart!

    Sending you love and hopes for an enjoyable first christmas holiday.

    Spaghetti

  • I want thank everyone who supported me on this thread. I've been with my son all the time on our own for the last fortnight and it's been wonderful I haven't been struggling with difficult feelings and I attribute this to getting everyone's help

    A big thank you for (touch wood) helping me overcome such a big problem. You are all ace.

    Spaghetti

  • Fab to hear your update! All the best for 2016, here's to more relaxing and fun times for us all, and supportive chat here when we need it! Take care, xx

  • Remember parenting is a team sport.

    Don't beat yourself up if your husband currently has more energy for 'playtime'. It's a good thing he can fill in the gaps for you so your little boy isnt missing out.

    I remember feeling wholly inadequate at Mums and Tots Groups I attended shortly after leaving the MBU. All the other mums seemed so energetic, capable and confident in their parenting skills. Mostly, I found, it was just a perception, and scratch below the surface they all had their own insecurities too.

    My own little girl grew up to be very open and loving and completely allayed any fears I may have felt when I was at my most ill that we may have failed to bond. In fact, i would say, we all share a much closer relationship than the ones my husband and I experienced with our own parents.

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