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Hiya! I'm Rose, 34, living in South East London, walking distance to my mum (who looks after my son 2 days/wk) & partners brother. Changed careers just before the pandemic & moved from charity/hospitality to managing a participatory theatre company. Been with my boyfriend for 11 years & we have a 3 year old son together.
What were your expectations of being a mum prior to becoming one?
Honestly, I was nervous about a whole life change - the friends I mostly hung with were not having kids & we had an open house sort of for friends & gatherings.
How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?
I was excited & felt really ready. My friends & family were amazing & really supported me throughout
How did you feel during your pregnancy? How was your physical health and mental health?
I felt fine for first 5 months - nausea but no vomiting, still went out & did sober activities, the odd bout of absolute meltdown 'biscuit crumbs on my jumper tears. However, I spent a week in hospital at 28weeks after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (straight off the bat, not gestational). I was exhausted and thought it was just regular pregnancy but no, this would be forever. While I was I hospital, my regular Dr rang to tell me I had Group B Streptococcus. That was a low point- kick me while I'm down. So in all honesty, it was exhausting and now I'm left with a chronic condition.
How was your experience of your baby’s birth?
Due to the T1 & GBS, I was induced at 38weeks, with drips either side with insulin & antibiotics. However, my experience was pretty positive and thank god for gas n air!
How did you feel emotionally/mentally after the birth?
After birth I had the usual baby blues 5 days after where I cried uncontrollably (embarrassingly the house was full of friends & family). But generally fine. Great support.
Did you experience any postnatal mental health difficulties?
My biggest difficulty came a few years later. Everything got too much - trying to buy a flat, lack of sleep, trying to navigate career, dealing with constant medication & condition - and I had a breakdown. Cut off everyone around me, work suffered, relationships suffered, couldn't cope with my son much. After a week of terrible thoughts, I sought help & was prescribed some beta blockers. They helped with the immediate symptoms & I started talking to those around me again. I think focusing on my son had provided a distraction but balancing everything became too much.
How are you feeling now?
There are still days when it feels overwhelming - the balancing act is constant & all encompassing. However my friends know when I'm getting insular & talk me back round.
How have you found parenting during the pandemic?
Positives - potty training in early pandemic was hard but also the only time in our lives where we'll be stuck inside for 2 weeks!
Negatives - out of work musician partner playing the violin 4 hours a day in tiny London flat.
What helps you feel like “you”?
Seeing friends/family; going to the pub with my partner; new hair colour; swimming...I've lost a few things along the way too so I'm still finding replacements
What has surprised you about being a Mum?
The chats - now that he's 3, we have the most interesting chats & he's constantly surprising me with his kindness & insight. Also, I suffer with massive anxiety but looking back to maternity leave, there's loads of things I did that just seem so far out of my comfort zone. I think it felt pretty natural to me (hard but natural).
Do you think that social media affects you as a woman, and as a Mum?
Definitely, but in the past year I've started following positive (or funny) parenting/female accounts - like BirdisPapaya, MamaStillGotit, Knee High in parenting, Victoria Emes- and they've really helped to change my social media scrolling.
Do you think that social media during the pandemic has helped or hindered you as a woman, and as a Mum?
Probably spent way too much time on it in the evenings however, as above, it's also provided some connection.
What advice would you give a new mum?
You are exactly the mum your child wants. Roll with it.