I’m always one to say “no I’m fine” when people offer help, whether it’s help tidying up after a whirlwind play date, help with cooking for the masses, even offers of help when I’m juggling two boys, a pushchair, bags of shopping and a particularly troublesome door. Why I refuse help I don’t know, I don’t know what I’m out to prove but there have been times I should’ve asked for help….in fact it was so stupid of me not to.
When I had my eldest he was 11 weeks premature, we endured an anxious few weeks watching his every move, trying not to think of the worst and rushing around trying to get everything ready for his momentous homecoming. Once he was home and my OH was back at work things truly got hard. I was juggling a premature baby and his anti reflux medication with round the clock expressing. At first I seemed to have a grip on it all, I even baked now and again!! But then things caught up on me. The adrenaline soon wore off and trying to balance the wake ups in the night between expressing and feeding became too hard. I literally started to unravel.
During the night I would try to schedule expressing either before or after a feed, this would mean I could be up for upto two hours only to have to repeat the process three hours later. Soon dawn would be approaching and it would seem stupid to try and go back to bed as I would soon be up again repeating the cycle. So 5am would see me up after having a maximum of 4-5 hours broken sleep, having a shower and breakfast before the next round of feeding and expressing. Then the day would start and I would be confined to the four walls of the living room as I attempted to balance bouncing a screaming baby with my foot on the bouncer whilst expressing and when I could, shovel whatever food I could find into my mouth. Soon it got too much and I would be sat in floods of tears thinking how did my life get to this point??
Now this would be where I should’ve asked for help….but did I? Nope!!! When the health visitor came round and I completed the questionnaire they use to see where you lay on the baby blues scale I lied. I had my make up on, the living room was tidy and I shrugged off the questions “so how are you coping?”
” oh you know, it has its tough moments but I’m fine” cue the big smile whilst cuddling a sleeping baby. I even hid most of it from my husband, I didn’t want him to know I was on the verge of losing it, I was trying to do everything I could for my little boy, I couldn’t give up and say ‘I can’t actually do this’.
Why did I lie? I was literally losing the plot but for some stupid reason I couldn’t show signs of weakness. I was so incredibly alone, I couldn’t make it out of the house without the panic of when the next feed/express cycle would be and I certainly couldn’t face being out in the world when my little bundle of love would start screaming inconsolably because he was in so much pain from the reflux.
I needed help but I didn’t ask!!!
It took me four months from when my tiny baby came home before I started to venture out of the house, we were still in the depths of winter so the days were cold and dark and my time out was limited to when I next had to express. I slowly started to attend groups and meet some regular faces and finally started to make friends but I was still struggling.
There are many things I should’ve done and I am very fortunate that all went as well as it did in the end as I experienced some very dark moments that scare me now when I look back, however there are some things that I wish people had done for me!! I had two health visitor home visits…two!!! Yes that’s normal but surely I wasn’t a normal case, I had a premature baby, surely that could warrant an extra visit or two?!?! Or even a phone call. If that had happened and I had seen a regular face early on I might’ve asked for help.
Things soon became easier to handle and days went by when I wasn’t sobbing my heart out and feeling like I was on the verge of snapping. I was soon out or hosting play dates, I had even picked up baking again and had a few orders coming in as well a prepping for my first public stand at a local baby fayre.
Now I am on my second baby….well he’s not so much of a baby anymore – more of a roly poly squidge of a beast, and I’m glad to say that I have not felt half as bad as I did with my first but right now I am going to ask for help.
I am reaching the point of exhaustion. I have two beautiful boys who are definitely keeping me on my toes and I am working my hardest to keep all the plates spinning by keeping on top of the shopping, sort of keeping on top of the chores, making meals, ordering nappies, planning Christmas presents and keeping everyone as happy as can be but I can physically feel it starting to slip away.
So whilst the heart palpitations, seeing stars and feelings of lightheadness and wanting to faint are very much part of my day at the moment I am going to wave the white flag of surrender and ask for help, because I am no use to anyone if I suddenly burn out and all the spinning plates come crashing down.
You see there’s nothing really wrong with asking for help, no one expects you to be superwoman, in fact trying to conceal the tears and struggles only makes it harder for other people to admit that they are struggling too, if we just said we needed help maybe we could help each other.
Thank goodness my OH is on holiday for the next two weeks, seems to be perfectly timed. Hopefully with another pair of hands to help with the humdrum of every day life as well as helping to wrangle our two wild monsters I can recharge, maybe relax and build my strength and sanity back up again ready to embrace the next hard slog.
Most of the time I am actually fine but right now I could just do with a little bit of help.