POST-NATAL HELL? THIS ONE IS FOR YOU

I was reading the news today on my journey to work and I suddenly stumbled this very sad story about this woman who killed herself because post-natal depression made her psychotic, and even though she asked for help multiple times, everyone dismissed her or treated her like a lunatic nuisance. She worried social services would have taken her daughter away from her, and even though her family rallied to help her and kept asking her doctor for help, she didn’t see a way out from her hell but by committing suicide. I knew I should have steered clear from that article as soon as my eyes read the title, but… I just had to read it. It hits very, very close to home.
My heart breaks for this woman, for her family and for her daughter. I’m sitting here writing this and crying, for her, for me, for all us women who have been ignored, dismissed like stupid hoes trying to get attention, mistreated and made to fear for our children’s wellbeing because of the actions of doctors and health providers.

I know what it feels to be in her shoes.
I have been in her shoes.
For three good years.
Fair to say I have quite the experience learned directly on the field.
I know how painful it is to be badly brushed off like you are a stupid idiot wasting doctor’s time with your stupid, irrational fears; didn’t you read the books? Weren’t you paying attention to antenatal classes? It’s baby blues for fuck sake, get a grip! Bloody first-time mum…
I know what damage a badly-mannered health visitor can do to you: I was a very fragile woman, caring 24/7 for my son with my mind spinning and my body aching, and I got treated like the worst mother in the world, I got made to feel guilty for stuff that wasn’t even under my control: for example, my son developed jaundice soon after birth; the midwife who came round told me off in a badly manner for not taking my son out enough for him to benefit from the sunshine to ease his condition; however, since I came out of the hospital, the weather had been rainy or dull and grey nonstop for weeks. Bitch, I ain’t no Storm from X-Men OK? The fact that I’m in my pyjama has nothing to do with my depression but all to do with the stupid shitty weather that is almost the norm in this bloody country of yours, and I can’t do anything about it or else I would have made the UK as hot as a Caribbean island all year round, you dumb twat. I’m Italian, I like sun, I hate freezing my ass, I’m not stripping my son naked when outside is barely 10 degrees Celsius.
I got told everything I was doing was wrong, I got yelled at and treated like a I was the dumbest person on planet earth. I got threatened with social services paying a visit to my house when I dared to mentioned I kind of was feeling a bit suicidal.
I wish the person I am now could go back in time and be present in the same room where the old me was being treated like scum by these midwives and health visitors because I’m telling you, shit would hit the fan at the first word uttered by those witches from hell. I would slap the shit out them and boot their sorry asses out of my house. No way I would have let them treat the old me like they did. Heck, I’d even ring the police and then we see who’s the bad bitch in here, you prick. You watch me.
Then, I’d make the old me a lovely cup of tea, give my old self a massive hug and tell myself “bitch, you will go through shit, I’m telling you, it’s going to get worse from now on, but hold on tight princess, you will get through this. You’ll be stronger, you’ll become a strong a fierce Queen, but before that happens, you need to see how deep the hell inside you is… and believe me, it is almost bottomless. But you will win, because you don’t know it now, but you are so, so strong, and that strength will keep you alive. By the way, you are doing, and you will do, a great job, don’t let these shitheads make you believe otherwise”.

I don’t want to read these news ever again. I don’t want other women to go through the same shit I did. I’m tired of hearing stuff like “The NHS is stretched already as it is and be grateful you get what you get”. Fuck off. Myself, that poor woman, all other women going through this hell, we need HELP. We need to be taken seriously. We need to be made to feel like we are not idiots. We need someone to truly listen to what we are going through, to care for us in those delicate moments, to hold our hands and reassure us, not to fucking being threatened with social services. What the hell! We are not bad mums, if anything, we want to be great mums.

I’m furious. This news brought up feelings I kept bottled up for years. I’m crying, I’m shaking and I’m raging. Oh my gosh I’m furious. FURIOUS.

If you are a new mum, and you are going through something that it is not exactly adding up in your brain, if you are a mum going through this hell, please, please, please, listen, because these words are for you:
I know you are scared.
I know you can’t seem to think straight.
I know you have this gut feeling that something is getting worse by the minute.
I know you feel like you are not supposed to feel the way you do: after all, everyone has filled your head with this impossible idyllic maternity ideas such as that you should be feeling happy, blessed, serene and peaceful, and that is all but anything you are feeling right now.
Oh, forget to compare yourself with those impeccable, incredible, super yummy mummies who knows it all, who make you feel inferior because your baby should be sleeping eight hours a night like an angel, you should snap back in shape like a model two weeks after birth, you should be breastfeeding, eat organic shit, go to yoga “mum & baby” classes, but the only thing you can barely manage to do on a daily basis is getting out of bed.
You are doing you.
You are going through an extremely delicate and difficult time of your life right now. You need help. Don’t hide, speak up. There are people who will listen to you. I would listen to you because I’ve been there, and it is a very lonely place to be when you are on your own fighting that monster who is eating you inside.
Please, listen to me: don’t surrender. I know the temptation is there. I know at times it is so strong, so… so seductive, that it seems the only way to go. It is not. There is an end to your hell and it is not necessarily the end of you. There is help out there. Scream if you have to, don’t keep it bottled up inside you. If you don’t have the strength, make your friends, your family, whoever you trust, make them fight that corner for you.
If your doctor is not listening go and find another one. If that doctor is not listening too, go and find another one, and another, and another. If only I managed to meet my current therapist years ago, my life would have been so much more different. I am sure there are amazing midwives and doctors out there, unfortunately the rotten apples cause damages which put everyone under a bad light.

You are an amazing human being, I know you are. I know you shouldn’t be feeling the way you do, it is unfair, why you? Why me? One thing is certain: it is NOT your fault. It is not a sign that you did something wrong, it is not because you are a bad mother. It is very bad luck, it is a fucking shitty lottery and you got the (un)lucky winning ticket. As hard as it is to believe it right now, I can assure you it will get better. It will take some time, but you will come out of this.
Stay strong my sister.
You are not alone in this.peony

TOMBOY MUMMY

The other night I was snuggled in bed with my (not so little anymore) bundle of joy (aka my son). We were watching cartoons after dinner, and out of nowhere he looked at me and asked “mummy, why babies are in mummies’ tummies? Was I in your tummy? What did I do when I was there?”

First thought: “hooooly shit. Fuck, I’m so screwed!”

Second thought: “please come up with a very nice answer that won’t lead to the school calling you because your son said some weird stuff, like the time you told him his gastroenteritis was caused by bugs like little spiders and then he made a very creepy picture the following week, and you had to have an hour long call with the school about it…..”

I managed (hopefully) to dodge this massive bullet with a very easy and clear explanation that he accepted without moaning too much. Then he hugged me, told me he loved me and that was it. I held is little body in my arms and I thought “damn, my boy is so growing up”.

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me and my little boy a year or so ago

I did so many things I am not quite happy about in my life so far; I don’t necessarily regret them, since they brought me to the place, mentally and physically, where I am now, but put it this way: if I could go back in time, I may not necessarily repeat them the same way I did them the first time. However, there is one thing I never, ever, ever regretted, not even in my darkest times, not even when the world crumbled and collapsed straight on my sole shoulders: becoming a mum.

I never had the “mother instinct” or dreamt about having children. It was just one of those things I didn’t care too much about, but that “if it happens it will be ok”. I never felt “that pressure”. Yes, people around me nagged about the fact that I should have put “one in the oven” once I got married, but still, me giving a shit about it was not something truly happening. I was absolutely clueless about anything related to babies; I never had any young relatives around me when I was younger, I never played with dolls, I just never ever. EVER.

From the moment I held this tiny life in my arms, I felt my heart bursting with love. I couldn’t believe that my body, my horrible, hated body, made such a wonderful, living and breathing (and fucking hell, crying and pooing and vomiting) creature. I spent ages just cuddling him, keeping him with me, on me, kissing him and making sure he was fine. In my case, the saying “when a child is born, a mother is born” is so, so true.

I’m a single mum as we speak, though it is fair to say I’ve always been that way. At times, I must admit, it is a curse: I wish I could get a free pass now and then without having to beg babysitters or my parents to fly their asses from Italy to help me; oh, I would love a proper night out without worrying about coming home when the sun is rising. However, aside from these things, I know I love it just the way it is: me and him, doing our own things the way we want it. I always tell my son “you and I, we are a team” and every time he gives me the biggest smiles.

I’m not a perfect mother and I’ve never been one since the beginning of my life as a mum. I don’t look “like a mum”, I don’t behave “like a mum”; at best, I’m a tomboy mum: more than once, at the school gates, I’ve been asked whether I was my son’s older sister, au pair, baby sitter, nanny…. Just because I go and pick him up in my leather jacket and heavy metal t-shirt. Few mums gave me “the looks” more than once, like “how dare she”: I kept staring at them, dead in the eyes, waiting for them to utter any word against me. Like I care. To me, all that matters is my son and his education; anything else, including mums with too much time in their hands who bitches against me, I don’t have a single fuck to give. We live in a rather “posh” town, though my neighbourhood is quite “normal”. When we moved here 3 and a half years ago, it was march, the weather was quite cold still, so I was always clothed like the Michelin man from head to toes. When the warmer days came round, I stopped wearing 4 layers of extremely thick tights and just put a pair of shorts or shirt…. And all my neighbours, who were used to have a rather “average” woman strolling around, pushing her lovely toddler comfortably sitting on the pushchair, suddenly discovered yours truly was no average at all. More than one of them where left quite perplexed at my tattoos, my metal shirts, my leather jacket and me being… well… me.

It is weird in a way that my appearance makes people think that my son is a wild, feral creature. Fucking hell, few tattoos and a slayer t-shirt, and people are quickly to assume you are a mom from hell. It couldn’t be further from the truth: I am strict with discipline, make no mistakes about it. My son behaves like a little soldier and I wouldn’t have it any other way; I do hate spoiled brats and misbehaving kids so hell would freeze before my son becomes one of them. It is kind of funny: once I got into the idea of having a child, I desperately wanted a boy because well, a girlie-girl, princesses-loving daughter would have had a very bad time with me at the time, so when I discovered I was expecting a boy… it felt like winning the lottery of life.
Well, my son is definitely a boisterous, loud, crazy boy, don’t get me wrong, but is also quirky in his own way, a very gentle soul, way more into fashion than me, he loves my makeup, knows all the shades of colour better than me (“muuuuum – eyes rolling – this is not just BLUE, this is turquoise”) and yes, when we need to go out, he takes ages before he decides what t-shirt goes with which trousers AND the shoes. He cracks me up sometimes when he goes into fashionista mode and tells me stuff like “muuuuuum you can’t wear your working shoes to go shopping!!” or “mum that lipstick you are wearing is so cool!”.

He is 100% involved in my life. Of course, I shield him and protect him from all the horrible stuff, including whatever his idiot of a dad (my ex-husband) did who almost got him arrested, but on a normal, day to day basis, my son and I have no secrets. Whether is “mummy will come late tonight ‘cause she is going to see Kreator” to “mummy is not ok because her heart is a little bit broken”, my son and I are on the same page. He knows he can tell me whatever he feels or thinks, and that we can work together through any issue: he always says, “we are a team” and yes, we are. Sometimes I feel like it is us against the world.

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Chelsea fan @ Stamford Bridge

Whenever I can, I try to make him experience the things that are part of my life: when he was two, I took him to see Megadeth & Lamb of God with me, and he ended up eating chocolate with Randy Blythe (Lamb of God’s singer); when Randy asked him “hey, do you want to sing with me on stage?”, my (usually extremely shy) shy son grabbed his hand and said “yeah, let’s go”. He even had a “party” with Megadeth, and Dave Mustaine (the frontman) taught him how to do the horn sign. I took him to Stamford Bridge more than once to see Chelsea FC playing, and believe him, it is like having a pundit sitting next to you: if he is not singing, he is talking ALL THE TIME. He is a regular at my office, where he knows everyone, from the big boss to all my colleagues. He even attended more than one (real) meeting just because he was loving the attention: he managed to sit on a forty-five minutes call pretending to take notes like he was a real employee!

I must admit, I’m scared if I think at the future, because the more he grows, the more there will be just so much I can do to protect him; he will have to fend for himself more and more, and “a huggie and a kissy” won’t make up for whatever will happen to him. One thing is for sure: till I can, whoever will try and break his heart, or bully him, or whatever, will have to face ME.
Believe me, I’ll be more than happy to storm around with a cricket bat to teach people a lesson or two.