3 Years Ago by Sinead Willis

(Original content at https://dancingwithpnd.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/3-years-ago/)

Its almost 3 years ago since my experience with post-natal depression began.  It seems a lifetime ago now, thank goodness, but I wanted to put down my experience in the hope it will help others.  I think it would have helped me knowing there was light at the end of the tunnel, by a mother who had been there and who had felt completely lost.

I feel strong enough now to talk about what happened and I asked for my medical notes so that I could piece together the missing parts I can’t remember, which has helped.  It also made me see how ill I was, almost to the point of being delusional about certain things.  That’s what this illness can do.

I think it is also important to look back and see how certain life events contributed to me developing PND.  I initially thought it had happened after my second child and that I had no problems before but I believe there were things that happened that set me up to be a prime candidate for developing PND.

My first child was born 10 years ago.  The birth was difficult and had an effect on me for a long time.  I didn’t realise at the time that there was such a thing as birth trauma, I just thought it was me not being able to handle the birth well.  I didn’t feel depressed afterwards but I became anxious and decided I could not have another child again.  I realise now that I should have spoken to someone and that I needed counselling about this, but there wasn’t as much awareness then as there is now.

A year after my daughter was born my husband developed cancer.  It was caught at the early stages so he went on to make a full recovery but it created more anxiety that I might lose my husband and all those thoughts that you try not to think about.  For 5 years it was a nervous time when he had to go for his checkup every 6 months, but eventually he got the all clear which was great news.

When my daughter was about 6 I began to think about having another child.  I tried to put the fear out of my mind that anything bad would happen and when I became pregnant I was very happy.  However, I started to have problems and when I went for a scan at about 10 weeks they found that the baby had died.  I think I dealt with this by trying to forget it had happened and to try again when I had recovered.  About 6 months later I was pregnant again but much more wary this time.  Again the same thing happened and at another scan my worst fears were confirmed.  I was at the point of giving up by this time but I still felt I wanted another child and I felt that it couldn’t happen again so eventually I became pregnant for a third time.  At seven weeks I began to have problems again so I went to hospital for a scan, expecting the worst but there on the screen was a beating heart!  All was well.  I went on to have a good pregnancy and although the birth was difficult I felt more prepared this time and it wasn’t as traumatic.  I now realise I had been through a lot by this point and all the difficult things that had happened previously were making me feel like I needed to be on my guard, that bad things happened and it was only a matter of time.  Thankfully I no longer think like this and realise it was just an unfortunate series of events.

After my baby boy was born I had a happy few weeks and all was going well.  By about two months in tiredness was affecting me and my mood was slipping.  I went to see my GP who prescribed an anti-depressant and I started taking them as advised.  What I didnt expect was that I would have a reaction to them.  I don’t know how common my reaction was and I don’t want to put off people from taking antidepressants because I think they are a lifesaver and they definately work but sometimes it is a case of trying a few until you find the right one.

It was my son’s christening in Ireland that weekend so we went off on the ferry and all was well.  By the day of the christening I remember saying to my mum that I felt weird and anxious but I didn’t associate it yet with the tablets I was taking.  That night I stopped sleeping, well I got one hour from 12 until 1am, then I was wide awake all night, not good when you need your sleep with a young baby.  The same thing happened the next night, 1 hour sleep.  By the time I was back on the ferry for my return journey I was starting to feel spaced out, sweaty, exhausted and I ended up getting lost on the ferry when it had docked and my husband was trying to find me.  I couldn’t find my way to the car deck, I was very disorientated.  For some reason it never occurred to me to stop taking the tablets, I was someone who was compliant and didn’t challenge because doctors knew best.

When I got back to my home the pattern of not sleeping continued.  My mood then started slipping very badly.  I stopped caring about anything or anyone which is not my normal personality as I care very deeply about people.  I lost the drive to function and live life and the only way I could describe it was like someone had taken the batteries out of me, like a child’s toy.  I was walking about in a big heavy body that was an effort to even move and I was expected to take care of a baby who needed me and needed 24 hour care.  I think my mind just shut down and I gave up.

The community mental health team were involved at this stage and they were very good but it became clear I was becoming very ill.  It was suggested I go into a Mother and Baby unit.  I remember thinking I didn’t really care, I would go anywhere anyone told me because I had no purpose.  I agreed and off I went to Morpeth, 100 miles away to the nearest mother and baby unit, because my local mother and baby unit just 2 miles away, had closed the year before, which I am still annoyed about to be honest.  I feel a lot of the suffering my family had to go through could have been prevented had I have been treated closer to home, but that is another story and another campaign.

It must have been a terrible time for my husband, daughter and my mother as they dropped me off at the unit, but I remember feeling numb and not really caring which sounds awful but this illness shut me down emotionally which was what hurt me the most looking back.  My family were my life before all this happened.

I am now very grateful that I went into this unit because it was a lifesaver and the nurses and staff who work in these units are amazing and have the patience of saints!  However, I didn’t appreciate this at the time and I remember looking at my ceiling for hours in my bedroom and saying to myself “so this is how I have ended up”.  I was a very black and white thinker so seeing myself in a place like this was a failure to me.  Now I think very differently and see how lucky I was to get a bed in this unit.

I was in Morpeth for 3 months and although there are bad memories there are some good, including the wonderful mothers I met while I was there who I still keep in touch with and they amaze me as I watch what wonderful mothers they have become and I think, they appreciate things much more after what they have come through.

My recovery was not as quick as was hoped and it was felt that being so far away from home was hindering things so I was transferred closer to home when a bed became available.  Things didn’t work out for me in this unit and I discharged myself thinking I would be able to cope at home.  I remember standing in the kitchen trying to cook dinner and nothing coming easily to me, things that I had done automatically before for many years were like mammoth tasks, I remember looking at the chicken and thinking I need to cut that up but being all confused with the cooking times and my brain just freezing.  I was pretending I was okay and talking normally and being this pretend person I was supposed to be but I was nowhere near well enough to be home yet.

I eventually went into the adult ward in York and my family in Ireland took my son to look after him until I got better which I will always be so grateful for because they did a wonderful job caring for him.

My recovery started to happen in this ward and the staff were wonderful.  Some of the nurses had worked in the mother and baby unit in York before it had closed so they already knew what to do with me and I was very lucky to have them help me.  I was also able to get visits from my husband and daughter much more frequently and this helped me to start having hope.  I was also visited by friends who were not going to give up on me and one friend in particular used to drag me out of my room and make me walk to the hospital coffee shop and refuse to believe me when I said I would never get better.  I think the faith she had in me really started to give me some hope.  I was also being supported by my family in Ireland even though they were far away and they would send photos and call me and they really believed I would get better too and they constantly encouraged me to keep going with treatments.  I was also prayed for by many people and I truly believe the power of prayer had a big part in my recovery too.

When I was well enough to leave the adult ward I started trying to pick up the pieces of my home life and it wasn’t so difficult this time.  I had a few setbacks like the time I went to my daughters sports day and had to be taken home because I was so overwelmed by it all but there were little steps of recovery starting to happen.

My mental health nurse said that I needed to think about working on my relationship with my son so it was agreed I would move back to my parents house where I could work on the bond and have my parents and brothers to help and support me.  After a few months of getting nowhere and feeling I wasn’t bonding with my son and that everything was hopeless, I met a wonderful psychiatrist who set me on the right path for recovery.  She arranged for me to see a bonding specialist in the NHS who worked in infant mental health, that wasn’t her official title but that’s what she did.  These sessions were the breakthrough I needed as she observed how we still had a strong bond and praised how I was with him and that instinctively I still cared for him.  I also did a 6 week course called a WRAP course which helped me to get some power back over depression and taught me that there were things I could do to help myself.  This was the start of me becoming well again.  Slowly my bond with my son developed until I couldn’t stop kissing his little face and I started to feel alive again and started setting goals and having a purpose again.

I moved back to my house in England shortly after and was able to look after my children on my own and haven’t looked back.  I am now a very happy mummy and I don’t worry about anything any more, life is for living not worrying and when bad things happen I will deal with it.

I am now of the view that no matter how ill depression makes you, you can and will recover.  I have a place at university next year to study psychology and I hope to work in mental health in the future.  I am also back dancing again and hope to compete again in Feb next year which will be a big achievement for me.

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Hopefully this story will help those who need to hear it.  Take care of yourself xxxx

To read more, please visit the Dancing with PND blog: https://dancingwithpnd.wordpress.com/

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Mine’s a Pint by Catherine PANDAS

We have a comical moustache shaped chalkboard in our kitchen. Someone gave it to R at Christmas and for some reason it’s become our alcohol pledge board.

We were hit side and front on by something that would affect all three kiddliewinks at the start of the year, so we thought we’d stop drinking. I drunkenly scrawled a cryptic message upon the ‘tache, “No booze for good reason” and we launched into a three week dry spell, spurred on by this odd message. Over time, the board has been vandalised and twisted. Up until five minutes ago, the board read: “Booze for many good reasons”.

With a chubby palm, I have erased this leaving the following message scribed into a dusty cloud, “No booze because we want to look and feel good on our wedding day.” And that’s that.

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The thing is, we drink too much. And more harrowingly, I drink too much. R is a happy companion, but I know he’d be just as happy with a cuppa whereas my heartbeat raises every time an empty bottle clunks its way into the recycling bin.

When you’re suffering from mental illness, booze is not a friend. Alcohol is a depressant, and if you have an addictive personality like me, it can be destructive on many levels. We can usually afford to pick up a sneaky bottle of red after a hard day, or a happy day, or a…. Wednesday..? But when does it start to become a problem??

When I was on my own with V, when she was small, I drank destructively. I drank to forget about my own life. My awful life. My awful mind. My awful body. I wouldn’t stop until I’d thought through a thick fog of wine, “Oh dear, I think I’ve had too much to drink.” And by then it was usually too late. Then the guilt washed around me at 3am, waking up still drunk, “I’m a Mother”.

I’m not drinking for a week. Well, we are not drinking for a week. And next week I’m going to tell you all about the no doubt positive effects it’s had on my mental health.

As the week goes on, I’ll be updating this post to include things we get up to in the evening, that we’d otherwise spend sat on the sofa working our way through a TV series whilst sharing a bottle of something. For example, tonight, I’m going to the gym. I’ve also got a big cross stitch to finish this week so will probably spend one or two evenings working on that. Stay tuned!

Catherine xx

Memory Jogging by Catherine PANDAS

Thanks to ‘Time Hop’ my life is now riddled with odd jolts back to my PND infested world. I don’t even have the app, but members of my family do and often send videos and pictures over to our shared WhatsApp group of my daughter when she was tiny. They’re fun to watch, and my little girl loves seeing her little chubby face blowing raspberries or dribbling porridge down her chin. I laugh with her, because it’s funny, but also because it’s like watching these things for the very first time.

V’s Dad was not around when she was little, he’s never been around. We lived with my parents, and I think it’s thanks to my supportive family that I survived that first year in particular. Sometimes I’m in the background of the photos, dressed in dark clothes, eyes blank, exhausted. I feel guilty for the Mother I should have been at that time, and for the memories I’ve lost in the timeless fog of depression.

It’s not just photos though, it can be looking through baby clothes with an excited pregnant friend, seeing a Sophie the Giraffe or even hearing another parent squeeze “Please will you just shut up for one minute” through gritted teeth.

When V was very little, I used to lie in bed watching The Sopranos while feeding her, or expressing milk, or lying down praying for a quick nap. I watched the whole box set. Recently, I thought I’d watch it again and as soon as the opening music hit my ears I was plummeted back to my dark place. It was an almost physical reaction. The black dog laying selfishly across my shoulders. I became hunched and I could feel the anxiety creeping all over my skin. I turned it off.

It’s hard because you can’t go back to reclaim those memories, or do them differently. I just remember to cherish every moment now. Every simple conversation. Every shared bath. Every time I smell my sleeping daughters hair. I can’t relive those early days, but I’m determined to continue making a happy world for my daughter to live in and love making new memories together.

Xx

Interview with Louise Baker – author of Going Through It All Over Again: Postnatal Depression and Us

Thank you so much for writing such an honest and inspiring piece for us.

Looking back, do you think your husband may also have been suffering from postnatal depression?

While my husband undoubtedly had a hard time of my pregnancies, and the first few weeks of parenthood, I sometimes worry that most of his anxieties were caused by me. He remembers dreading coming home from work because he never knew how he’d find me, and I will always feel a sense of responsibility for those ‘ruined’ few weeks. Even now I think he gets a hard time of it, although we communicate so much more than I was able to in the beginning. That has certainly helped!

Did you ever speak to your midwife about your feelings of anxiety during pregnancy?

I remember having numerous conversations with our midwife during my first pregnancy, and it was her who referred me for help and introduced me to the counselling I went on to have. The second time around I saw two or three different midwives, and that dialogue became harder to open. I felt as though I was having to explain everything over and over again, even though I wasn’t really sure I could put my finger on what I wanted to say. I found the health visitor invaluable the second time round.

Do you feel that there should be more help and support for those suffering from antenatal depression and/or anxiety?

Certainly – even now postnatal anxiety and depression are seen as something of a taboo, and I know that I’ve certainly not been forthcoming in talking about it. You’re never quite sure how people will react. Until I suffered myself, I wasn’t even aware that antenatal depression and anxiety was possible. Surely pregnancy is a joyous time? That myth can lead to women feeling isolated, as they’re sure they’re not supposed to feel like that. Support at these points is absolutely vital to stop anxiety escalating.

I like that you’ve written “You are not postnatal depression”, but how did you learn to disassociate yourself from your illness?

It’s hard, because sometimes it becomes an excuse – I’ve had a bad day, but that’s okay because I have an illness. I think, for me, the most important thing was to not consider postnatal anxiety to be an illness, and also to focus on my children. I was determined that they shouldn’t suffer because I was having a bad day, and just thinking about how they might feel is a great way to pull myself back sometimes. ‘It’ just happens to be something hovering in the background, but it isn’t the heart and soul of who I am. Every day I wake up with a mantra – today will be a good day. Sometimes I’m confident enough to pull that off!

I too have struggled to come off medication, do you still have hope that one day it will be a possibility for you?

Oh yes. I was prescribed medication when my first son was still very small and decided early on that it wasn’t for me. I stopped taking it altogether and found I was able to control my anxieties on my own. The second time around has been harder – a little more of a roller coaster as I attempted to understand what would work for me. I didn’t want pills to control me, but I’ve learned to accept that they’re not altering who I am, merely how I cope under certain strains. I know that one day I’ll be able to control my own emotions, so I have no doubt that this is just a temporary solution.

What do you do during your dark days to try and lift yourself out of them?

I leave the house. I can usually tell quite quickly what sort of day I’ve woken up to, and so if I start to feel a little low we’ll head out to the park, or I’ll contact friends to try and arrange something. As long as the children are up and active, and enjoying their day, I think it’s okay if I’m having a bad day – their happiness is one of the best feelings in the world, and it’s infectious. Staying at home tends to be a trigger for anxiety, as I’ll feel guilty if I’m not up to doing much.

And finally, do you have a message for anyone who has not yet seen the light?

Just that it is there – honestly! Antenatal and postnatal anxiety and depression are so cruel, bringing you down when you should be on Cloud 9. The tiredness and range of new hormones and emotions never helps, but you need to understand that this isn’t going to be forever, and it’s okay to have dark days. They just make the good days seem all the more brighter. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help either – telling yourself that you’re suffering is one thing, but being able to admit that is a huge step forward.

Going Through It All Over Again: Postnatal Depression and Us – by Louise Baker

Whenever the topic of having a third child comes up, whether it’s during a fleeting, “wouldn’t it be nice if…?” moment, or in response to a well-meaning friend asking if we’re going to be trying for a daughter to ‘complete’ our family, my husband’s response is always the same; “I couldn’t go through that again!” While those in our company will, more often than not, react with nervous laughter and shocked looks, the truth is that I can see behind his cheeky smile, and I know he’s only half joking. You see, my husband is hurting just as much as I have been, and still am; postnatal depression hasn’t just haunted me, but our whole family. When I briefly think how wonderful it would be to add another child to our family, or how much I miss being pregnant, the anxiety and depression that I felt while I was expecting both of our little boys, and the feelings of dread that I still get now, are enough to remind me that I’d only be trying to ‘get it right this time’, and that’s not fair on anyone.

***

I can’t really put my finger on when it all began. I had always wanted children, and was over the moon when, on New Year’s Eve 2011, we received our ‘Big Fat Positive’. However I noticed that as my pregnancy progressed so did the mixed feelings; I wasn’t a happy, glowing mummy to be, but an anxious mess who would sob at the drop of a hat, worry to the point of panic attacks, and wile away hours staring into space, worried of failure. I was sure that everything would be okay once the baby arrived, though – I’d be hit by those feelings of love and know exactly what to do, right? The problem with my antenatal anxiety, though, was that it followed me like a dark cloud into the early weeks, and months, of our new son’s life. I sobbed for the entirety of his first day, and his newborn stage feels like it passed in a blur. Every day was yet another one that I had to face, and I found that I even hated breastfeeding; it made me feel so alone, and I stressed about every single feed until the anxiety finally began to subside at around the six month mark. I started to feel okay – and I was doing okay as a mother too.

***

When we discovered that I was pregnant with our second child, the feelings of anxiety and loneliness, along with the guilt I managed to muster for daring to court these emotions, surfaced much more quickly. I know now, looking back, that nothing was helped by a loss in our family; I felt guilty that the baby I wasn’t sure I wanted was thriving, while another life had ended, and it wasn’t until our extended family received some beautiful news that I allowed myself to embrace our son. Of course when he arrived, I loved my newest little boy more deeply than I’d let myself believe, but still I knew things were far from perfect. I once again struggled with breast feeding; I was terrified of eating or drinking anything, fearful of what I was indirectly feeding him, I was worried about how much he got in every suck, I was weary every time he cried, and I was resentful of the night feeds. I loved my newborn son, I just didn’t want to be his mummy. This time round, though, I had health visitors who were more on the ball, a team of support around me, a counsellor who was willing to listen as I snivelled, and a determination not repeat the ‘mistakes’ of my oldest son’s early weeks and months. I was also more accepting of medication – whatever it took to feel better, essentially. Do you know what? After several weeks of discussing everything from my childhood to weaning my toddler, meetings with our local Home Start centre, Sure Start team, and health visitors, and the love of a good man and family, I did start to feel more human, and was confident enough, even, to come off my medication. Postnatal depression is a cruel illness, hitting at a time when you need all the strength you can muster, and want to feel every happiness that the world can offer; it does not define you, though. You are not postnatal depression, nor is it all that you are.

***

I recently made the difficult decision to begin taking medication again, following almost four months without chemical assistance. Those four months had plenty of ups and downs, and I began to realise that all I need, for now, is to be there for my boys, and my husband, no matter what that means. I’d become so good at hiding things from everyone that I think I began to believe myself that it was as ‘easy’ as last time to overcome. The truth is that my journey isn’t quite over. The good days are often amazing, bright and full of colour, but the down days are dark and clouded by anxiety, self-doubt, and shouting; I don’t want to be – in fact I can’t bear to be – that person, that mother, any more. I have come to realise that I’m not a bad mummy, or a bad person; there are just a few imbalances ‘up there’ that need ironing out. A few wibbly hormones, I guess you could say. If it takes medication to hold my hand while I smooth out the creases then so be it – I know, for now, I am doing the best I can by my children. They don’t deserve to have my anxieties riding upon their shoulders during childhood, and I don’t deserve to miss out on those little, precious things because I’m too caught up in a bigger picture that doesn’t concern anyone else.

Postnatal depression, and the anxieties it brings with it, has been something of a long, dark tunnel, but I have a torch, the love of some wonderful people, and a door at the end that will lead to something amazing.

“Spotted” by Catherine PANDAS

Hello there!  I’m Catherine.  I’m the (wobbly) braun behind the PANDAS Guest Blog.  It’s been suggested by our team that it would be interesting to have a regular feature, the tale of someone who’s been there, done that… and I volunteered!

I’m 30.  I live in a town called Rugby.  I play the cello and cross-stitch for money.  I have a daughter, V, who is 2 years and 8 months old.  I live with my fiance R.  R has two children.  L is 7 and M is 4 (nearly 5).  L and M live with us part-time, 50/50.  The rest of the time they live with their Mum who lives down the road.  V’s Dad lives in a town called Tarlac with his wife and son, and we haven’t heard from him since January.

I was diagnosed with postnatal depression when V was about 6 months old.  I was “spotted” by a Stop Smoking counsellor.  I had started smoking, secretly, about two weeks after my daughter was born.  Looking back, I now believe I was desperate to scrape back some of the life I had before.  I remember hearing, so often, “Ooh, your life is turned upside down when you have a baby.  Nothing will ever be the same.”  I didn’t believe it until it happened.  I started to miss small things like walking with my headphones in, music blaring.  I missed smoking cigarettes and drinking red wine in my living room, listening to vinyls on my record player.  I missed sleep.  And then, before I knew it, there I was, standing outside in my dressing gown, baby sleeping in the kitchen, me with a fag in one hand and googling “New Mum helpline” on my phone with the other.  How did this happen?  How did I get here?

I arrived at my Stop Smoking appointment (my reminiscent habit had started to get out of control…) sweating, late, heart pounding.  V was screaming and clawing at me to lift her out of her carry cot.  I sat in the chair with my squirming child, I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyes.  (Don’t cry, don’t cry).  She asked the dreaded question, “Is everything okay?”

And that was that.  I crumbled.  And I said the words out loud.  “I just can’t cope”.

I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t been “spotted” by that lady.  I’d love to try and find her one day to say thank you.  My GP called me that afternoon, and made an appointment with me for the following morning.  It’s a long road, one that I’m still trawling along, but I believe my recovery process began when being “spotted” prompted me in to saying what I’d been feeling.  I couldn’t cope with my new baby and I needed help.

C xx

Interfering Middle Class – the Superior Street Harasser by Laura Davis

I have always hated being hassled by strangers. It is my kryptonite. Time was, like lots of women I was only hassled for the following: having large breasts, being ugly, being attractive, being fat, being thin, wearing a short skirt, wearing trousers, wearing shorts, wearing pink, wearing black, wearing a red cardy, wearing a red coat, not smiling, smiling, wearing makeup, not wearing makeup, being pale, having a nice arse, having a fat arse, having no arse(?), for listening to music (my headphones were yanked out of my ears by a man who was angry I had chosen to listen to my music, meaning I couldn’t hear the stuff he was shouting at me as I passed. How rude of me), and for generally being female in public without due care and attention.This is my experience and nothing compared to the crap you get if you are not white and heterosexual. Also, the fellas don’t completely get away unscathed. I know plenty of men who have been abused for having long hair (of course, a strangers hair length can be a very provocative issue), and I also saw a guy who was wearing a yellow tshirt and black jeans being yelled at by some builders for being a “Bumblebee motherfucker”.Well, we all get what we deserve don’t we? I thought this was about as bad as it can get going out into public. This was until I got pregnant and had children. Then I was welcomed to a whole new strain of people who can’t seem to keep their thoughts trapped inside their heads or on occasion their hands to themselves. The middle class busy body.

My first encounters started in my first pregnancy when I was large enough to show. Naturally you do get some people who are just being friendly, along the standard when are you due type questions. Even if I was not in the mood, I could except there was no malice intended. But when, without permission or warning my bump was just groped by random women on more than one occasion, I realised my condition meant I wasn’t considered an authority over my own body anymore. The worst encounter I had was in the M&S food hall. Not usually a place that would fill you with fear, unless it was during the Valentine’s day two dine for £10 offer and there is only one beef Wellington left. In that case you best be wearing full body armour and packing heat, because it’s gonna get ugly. I was waiting at the checkout when three elderly ladies temporarily ceased shopping for apricot Swiss roll to feel my stomach and assess by the shape and feel of it if I was carrying a boy or girl. I tried to interject a couple of times but they didn’t acknowledge me once. One of them mid squish even announced “Oh, I can feel it’s bum here. It’s certainly ready to come out!” I was ready to come out by that point. Out of my skin and into a space rocket waiting to be fired directly into the sun. It was beyond creepy. I didn’t feel I could have a go at them. Shouting at three dears with their baskets full of Percy Pig treats for the grandkids. I would have looked like the bad guy. How is what they did any different to having your arse grabbed by a man on the dance floor of a night club? It is still a violation of my personal space and they felt my son’s bottom! Felt up before he was even born. Not to mention the endless body policing you have to put up with. If you happen to be eating a sandwich that contains mayonnaise, you can get “You can’t eat mayonnaise when you are pregnant!” To this you pointlessly explain that only applies to home made mayonnaise, if it’s something like Helmans it is pasteurised and completely safe. The response in return is usually “Well if you harm your baby you only have yourself to blame”. At that point the only person you want to harm is them, preferably by shoving an industrial size jar of mayonnaise up their arse. Don’t even try to go there when it comes to explaining you can in fact eat goats cheese if it has been cooked in something. They will be on the phone to social services before you have even stabbed it with your fork. People with very loud opinions and very little knowledge of infection control and food hygiene. It has never happened to me but I have heard of some women being refused a glass of wine in a bar or restaurant when pregnant. How humiliating. They have tried to defend their choice by explaining the NHS guidelines state it is safe to consume no more than 1-2 units of alcohol a week when pregnant (the same as a small glass of wine), but what is the point in taking this advice from your midwife, when you can get told what you can and can’t have by an ignorant interfering bastard? Us women can’t be trusted so strangers are forced to intervene.

When complaining about these incidents I was warned that if I think that’s bad, wait until the baby arrives. Wise words. The interfering from total strangers is enough to make me struggle to leave my house some days. You can get scolded for having your child in a buggy, for not having them in a buggy, for stopping to look at your phone, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, letting them eat an unhealthy snack, taking them to the library which irritates the very same people who assume kids don’t read anymore, and random checks that your baby is wearing sun block and even if you confirm they are you still get a lecture. This is to name but a few. It’s mostly from women in their late 50’s onwards, but sometimes it’s men too. Men usually make remarks about my son’s hair not being short enough (again with the hair!). People can have their opinion, but unless you actually see a child in danger, why do they think they have the right to interfere? They assume they were/are better parents than you. They pay their taxes. They have a right to express an opinion. “It’s these mothers that…..” insert one of the mentioned grievances from above. “They didn’t have these mobile phones when we raised our kids.” No, but I distinctly remember my mum going on the phone to her friends when I was a small child. Does it make it less evil if it’s attached to a wall? No. You just couldn’t see mothers doing it then. They think they are saving the day. I imagine they fantasise a headline on the front page “Woman in her 60’s defeats paedophile ring after scolding texting mother in the park who’s toddler was not wearing mittens in December.” Underneath is a photo of them with the mayor, receiving the key to the city. In the background Batman, Spiderman, Superman and all The Avengers cry tears of pride. They make this assumption in passing judgement, based on nothing more than a brief snapshot of your life. Plus lots of people don’t like us mortals having children full stop. “It’s selfish!” They cry. “The world is already over populated! They shouldn’t be allowed anymore children!” In other words, you were born so we can all stop breeding now. Ignore the fact that this country actually has a reasonably low birth rate, and it’s actually down to our aging population (yes, not immigrants either). Gosh darn our fabulous health care and welfare system! Giving people a fuller life! It is conservative and self righteous. They see themselves as a modem day White Feather Movement. But how do I see them? As no better than men leaning out of a car window, yelling at me about the size of my tits.