Tag Archives: motherhood

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I screamed and screamed and screamed but nobody would listen to me

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I have been diagnosed with postnatal depression twice in my life, both times I begged for help very loudly and very clearly, and it fell on deaf ears. 

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Sillier than Sally Designs

People seem to think that women with postnatal depression keep everything bottled inside and never ask for help. I did ask for help. I begged for it. Sure some people have never ever asked for help ever, but most actually do. 

Firstly I asked my husband for help when my daughter was born. He said no. He reminded me that the nurse we did a birth course with said that the working partner had to be fit for work so it wasn’t appropriate to ask them for too much help. And she did say that, she really did  I told my GP I wasn’t coping, that my daughter wouldn’t sleep so I couldn’t and I was exhausted. It took her two hours to feed, then she’d only sleep in my arms. The GP flat out told me I was lying and being a typical first time mum. She said if that was true I’d be dead. I said I was already throwing up and my legs were buckling under me. She just sighed and told me that as my daughter was 5 weeks premature that she needed extra care and to deal with it. I spoke to my community nurses, they again said I was just being a hysrical first time mum. To just cut her off feeding and to put her down. Putting her down resulted in her shrieking in pain, a piercing cry far different from I’m hungry or I want a cuddle, and then would explode in vomit. I told the nurses and the GP this. They just sighed and dismissed me.

Now that I’ve read The Girl Who Cried Pain I understand why. It’s because women are far more likely to be dismissed and left untreated by medical professionals. It’s why women have to see doctors more often, we get sent away without follow up treatment or testing. We have to go back. This study should be mandatory reading for all medical students.

When my daughter was 4 months old she needed her vaccinations, my regular GP was busy, the receptionist recommended another GP. I took the appointment. When I put my daughter down to be weighed and she immediately began shrieking and then gurgling with vomit the doctor diagnosed her with reflux. It wasn’t a subtle case. It was an obvious case that should have been picked up by any medical professional easily. But of course, the ones I’d encountered had their “hysterical mother” blinkers on. She also picked up that my daughter had hip dysplasia. It was so bad that a large part of her pelvis hadn’t formed. Within two weeks my daughter had been put in for surgery and placed in a spica cast. She was also given reflux medication. These are two things a parent CANNOT treat. These are two things that specialists need to diagnose and treat. The medical system failed my daughter because they didn’t listen to me because they felt that I was a silly first time mother. They made the start of my child’s life agony because of their unconscionable bias.

Of course after months of being ignored and left with no sleep I was in a bad way. I would cry, I would vomit, I would collapse. My body was broken but my soul was too. The medical staff hadn’t believed me and my husband trusted them over me because they had the medical degrees. He started to come around after the specialists came flocking and he realised the initial medical professionals had been very fucking wrong and he had been wrong to believe them and treat me accordingly. After my daughter was starting to settle my new GP, the only one I see now, said that now that the intensive treatment of my daughter was starting to dissipate it was time to focus on me.

I was given a mental health check, I failed spectacularly… or aced it? I was prescribed antidepressants and referred to a psychologist. I got the initial set amount and then the two extensions for more for extreme cases. That’s right, extreme. There was nothing subtle or small about it. And I continued to see that therapist afterwards until my money ran out. Things began to settle.

And then I had a miscarriage followed by reoccurring bouts of pancreatitis. It was not fun and involved far too much time in hospital for my liking.

Enter the twins. I got pregnant with twins immediately after a three week stay in hospital. Clearly my husbandis a very sexy man and I just can’t keep my hands off him. The pregnancy went really well up until 30 weeks. And then it continued to go badly until my boys were born via emergency c-section at 32 weeks. They were 8 weeks early. The spent 3 weeks in the NICU. When I went for checkups for the twins back at the hospital I said I was exhausted and having three kids under three years old was really hard. I also mentioned that the twins clearly had reflux like their big sister had and having to keep them both upright was hard, they were basically living in their car seats being rocked. The hospital paediatrician told me that all prem babies had some reflux issues but it couldn’t be that bad or they wouldn’t have been discharged. Again, I was called a liar. When I spoke to the hospital social worker she said, “That’s life in the fast lane.” I was again dismissed.




And then I ended up in hospital with pancreatitis again. Doctors don’t know why, that’s the reality for 20% of cases. So I was in hospital pumping milk but not allowed to eat or drink. I kept needing shots of glucose. At no point was I offered any assistance on how I was to cope with this situation. I was discharged, still weak and sick, and expected to immediately go back into full time care of my three children, the oldest was two. Given that the medical professionals weren’t willing to say I was sick and needed help why would my husband and others believe I was? So I suffered on. And I truly mean suffered. Until my boys and I ended up in hospital again.

The boys had bronchiolitis. My daughter had a cold and had passed it on to the kids. We’d been told to have our daughter taken care of by family members so that she wasn’t in the house with the boys as they were too little. Unfortunately we couldn’t get someone who would look after her for the duration of her cold and she was returned to us sick complete with an lecture. The boys got sick. The boys couldn’t breath so off we went.

I was ready to die. Nobody would listen to me again and I knew that people rush to help widowed men. It was time to die. I had decided that once my husband visited the boys in hospital I would pretend I was going to the bathroom but in reality walk into traffic. And then the paediatrician who had treated my daughter for reflux walked passed talking to another doctor. I had one last hope. I called out and said hello. He looked over at me, immediately excused himself from the other doctor and came over. I looked like hell and he wasn’t going to walk passed like everyone else. Hevsat me down and asked me how I was. I told him, just like I had told everyone else, but he believed me. He didn’t dismiss me. He called the NICU social worker. She was a different one from the one I saw when my boys were in a NICU. She apologised and saidI should have been picked up earlier. I had several risk factors

  1. Premature birth
  2. The under threes were outnumbering us
  3. Previous history 
  4. I had been hospitalised with illness 

I should have been helped long before this moment. I should have been referred at the very latest when I was hospitalised with pancreatitis. She was so sorry. They could have referred me to get 50 hours babysitting a week because I was an ill primary carer. BUT I was passed that now so she was going to refer me to the hospital psychiatric team. They referred me to a psychiatric hospital with a Mother and Baby unit. Once the boys were well enough to be discharged from the regular hospital we went straight there. And the rest you know because it’s in my book.

I was one of the many women who did not suffer in silence. I suffered out loud very much BEGGING for help and was ignored. I am not alonein this. Perpetuating the stereotype that women who aren’t helped simply didn’t ask for it, or didn’t ask for it correctly, is dangerous and victim blaming. We need to demand more of our medical professionals. We need to demand a systematic change in the treatment of women. And yeah, I get it #notallmedicalprofessionals but enough of them.  Enough of them to make it a subconscious bias that pervades the field. I again urge you to read The Girls Who Cried Pain. Let’s not keep women screaming in the wilderness. Let’s demand change. We are 50% of the population and deserve equal respect and equal treatment. 
If you or someone you know has postnatal depression, don’t hesitate to cook them fully prepared meals (not partially, FULLY), and do their washing. You can also find great resources at The Gidget Foundation.
So, how did hearing my story in my own words compare to hearing it from journalists from Kidspot and Femail?

Suicide is the number one cause of death amongst women postnatally, not medical complications. Don’t you think it’s time we started to listen to women when they ask for help?

Find my book on booktopia or everywhere

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I’m in Kidspot 

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Image courtesy of super babe Josie Neeves Photography.

Tania Connolly recently conducted an interview with me about my experience with postnatal depression and having three under three. Hope you enjoy it.
http://www.kidspot.com.au/parenting/parenthood/mums/how-three-under-three-left-me-in-a-psychiatric-hospital

It is always interesting for me reading about my own experience but from another person’s perspective. How did you find reading my story, that you’re used to hearing about from me, through Tania Connolly’s lense? How does it compare to my first ever interview with one Lauren Ingram?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4083002/Mother-contemplated-suicide-reveals-s-like-psychiatric-hospital-post-natal-depression.html

Grab my book from Booktopia or everywhere really. 🙂

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: The Favourite Child

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My nutella addicted middle child


My husband tells me that I favour our middle child. What’s more, my mother agrees. They tell me he’s cheeky, whereas when I look into his big blue eyes I see a child utterly without guile. I kind of figured they were just wrong. After all, his nonna seems to agree with me. He’s a sweet little boy who rarely throws a tantrum and enjoys sitting with his mum or nonna…


… of course there is that time that he said, “Happy birthday, poo poo head,” to his opa. But what three year old doesn’t find that kind of thing funny? And yesterday he did run off with his sister’s Batgirl and try to put it in the washing machine. I guess he did smack his identical twin brother over the head with a giant fairy tale book this morning. And he does lie in wait for his dad and constantly leap out at him like a minature ninja… but he’s still a very sweet boy. 


It’s not like his older sister and twin brother don’t have their moments. I seem to be constantly carrying one or other of those pair. I swear they were an Emperor and Empress in a past life. They still haven’t gotten the hang of walking on their own two feet. And the noise, oh the noises that come out of those pair. It is like living next door to an airport. So usually I’d just dismiss my husband and mother’s claims of favouritism. But this morning something happened to give me pause.


During the night my youngest child crawled quietly into my bed and went to sleep down the bottom of my bed. My daughter was already in the bed. It’s not unusual for me to end up with the pair of them in my bed, the only weird bit was that my youngest child didn’t come in screaming and then attempt to sleep on my head. Apart from that it was just your regular Monday night. Me, and my oldest and youngest children, just much quieter and less physically invasive than usual.

At about 5am my mini Empress woke me to escort her to the toilet. I obediently did so but insisted she be quiet as to not wake the baby of the family. There’s only a minute gap between my boys, but it still counts. She did her best to stay quiet but eventually the urge to chat took hold not long after we returned to bed. I reminded her again to be quiet because of the baby. The three year old baby. And then I took a closer look at the baby. It wasn’t my youngest child but my middle child. And suddenly I got filled with this sense of urgency that my daughter must be quiet and my little boy needed to sleep. My heart stuck in my throat and a feeling of panic began to well up.

It’s a feeling I recognise all to well. It’s a very similar feeling that I used to get when looking at my boys when they were first born, and more so for my middle child. He was the smaller twin. The weaker twin. The one that almost didn’t make it.
During my pregnancy with my boys everything was going perfectly until 30 weeks. All of a sudden everything changed. Twin B had dropped off in his growth rate, his heartbeat was getting harder to detect. At 31 weeks my waters broke and I was kept in hospital on antibiotics and receiving daily ultrasounds. Twin B continued to tapper off. One afternoon at 32 weeks they told me that I’d need a cesarean the following day as the growth was now to little and the heart rate too uneven to endure a labour. I didn’t care. I wanted a live baby, I wasn’t fussed if that meant no vaginal birth. 
That night the nurses came in and hooked me up to a monitor, I could tell things weren’t great. Nobody yelled or screamed but they decided to start me on the IVs I’d need for the cesarean a bit early. They continued coming in and out and then decided they’d wheel me down for surgery early. And then they felt given we were already there why no nip into the emergency delivery theatre and just get on with it. 
My boys came out and both cried. I cried with relief that they were alive. They took twin B out first because he was the most fragile. So twin B became twin 1 and my middle child. He was tiny. 1.7kgs. He was perfect. And he was tough. He and his brother only needed nose prongs and only spent 3 weeks in the NICU. It could have been so much worse. I witnessed so much worse for other parents in the NICU. But it was enough to make me thankful that they were alive. And fearful. 
Most of my worries were around my middle child, being that he was the one that had the issues in utero, and was 400 grams smaller than his younger brother. He’s fine now. They both are. Perfectly little boys that play and laugh most of the day. But I guess I still have that anxiety. That worry that he’ll be gone. That he won’t make it. It’s irrational and buried, but it’s there.

So although they’re wrong that my middle child is my favourite, because I love all my kids equally, maybe they’re right that I treat him a little differently. Because maybe I’m just a little bit more grateful that he’s alive, because he nearly wasn’t. 
Do think you have a “favourite” child?

Nice Things People Have Said About My Memoir

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I am feeling so lucky that people I have never had the pleasure of meeting in real life are connecting with my book about postnatal depression. I could use #blessed right now without being ironic. The list even includes authors and bloggers who I have admired from afar, which utterly blows my mind. I went for a deliberately conversational tone, that tired minds could soak in, and dumped any highbrow existentialism in favour of being awkwardly and messily me. I am so glad it worked and people are able to connect so easily with my book. I’m going to share some of the comments from people… I’m not crying… okay, maybe I’m a little misty eyed.

 

‘The result was a funny, real, and sometimes confronting look at something many women deal with.’ Lauren Ingram, The Daily Mail

 

‘A potpourri of confessions, wise advice (not just for those suffering PND), hilarious parenting and cleaning tips, and compelling stories. CONFESSIONS OF A MAD MOOER is told with honesty and humour, and will make you want to join Robin’s girl tribe.’ Tania Chandler, Author of Please Don’t Leave Me Here and Dead in the Water, review on GoodReads

 

‘This book had me laughing out loud, holding my breath, and restarting my heart. The recognition of familiar situations, the descriptions of stereotypical reactions, the responses of well-meaning people…all conveyed in a no-nonsense account that is full of practical advice and suggestions, and most importantly, lots of non-judgemental support.’ Cass Moriarty, author of The Promise Seed, review on GoodReads

 

‘One might think that as this book covers the very important topic of PND (and I am well and truly out of the ‘post natal’ zone, with my ‘babies’ now staring down the barrel of adolescence), it’s no longer relevant to me. But the tough issues that mothers constantly face: (anxiety, yeh – definitely anxiety), the pressure to be that perfect parent, or worrying that your less-desirable parenting skills are going to outweigh the ones you’re proud of – never seem to go away. This book helped me see with a clarity (which I’ve really only learned to appreciate over more recent years), that those early years can be hard. Really hard. It’s ok to admit that, and it’s ok to ask for help. This book gives permission for mothers to do that, in the most humorous, honest way.’ Marie McLean, blogger and banterer, review on GoodReads

 

‘Robin’s voice is witty & unfiltered, but she also manages to hit home on some very big, often taboo subjects. I will be recommending this to all my mum friends, if not buying a few copies to share around.’ Kirsty Dummin Smith, blogger and very tired mum of a newborn, review on GoodReads

 

And can I just give a special shout out to John Hunter Hospital! There are a group of nurses their who bought like 10 copies of my book. You guys are awesome. Let’s all blow a big kiss to John Hunter’s Paediatric Ward. Mwah!

Find out where to grab my book here. OR just ask your local bookshop to order it in. They all have accounts with Ingram Australia / Lightening Source who distribute my book so you can get it anywhere in Oz. And they have deals OS too so check it out.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I Gave My Kids Mum Cuts

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I gave my kids mum cuts and now I have guilt. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m not a hairdresser. I don’t try to cut other people’s hair. I’ve never thought about offering to cut someone else’s hair before but for some reason I decided that I could definitely cut my children’s hair. My little girl turned out fine…. Unfortunately my boys now look like extras from Blackadder.

I am not sure if I have failed them as a mother or given them the much needed, character building, “bad hair cut from your mum” component that every child needs. It’s sure to be a character building experience, but will it be in a good way? 

My mother used to love to give my siblings and I a good old mum cut. When my sister asked for a bob, she got a mullet with a spiked top, I think she might have been in high school at the time. My poor brother was Blackaddered on a regular basis, and although he is smiling in photos but the pain of unjust haircuts is clearly visible in his eyes. As for me, my hair was cut in such a manner that my curls formed large cup like shapes around my ears that made me look even more like a monkey than I already did, and I one time I had my chin sliced open with wayward scissor snaps.

When it comes to character, my siblings and I have loads of it. We are in no need of any future character building, we’re all full up. Not that the mum cuts were the most character building experiences of our childhood, they were more the icing on the character-rich cake. I think my kids could do with a little less character than I got so I always get anxious when I unintentionally repeat the sins of the past.

My husband assures me that it’s fine. They’re too young to understand just how bad the hair cut is (he’s not denying its awfulness), and the extra short fringe shows off their beautiful faces. He says the contrast of the bad haircut actually makes them look even cuter. He has declared it a win. I’m hoping that he is right….

And after all, it’s just hair. It’ll grow back.

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: 5 Uplifting Quotes About Motherhood

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​”Mothers are all slightly insane.”- J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“There’s no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her kids.”- Stephen King

“(24/7) once you sign on to be a mother, that’s the only shift they offer.”- Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”- L.R. Knost, Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages

“You don’t have favourites among your children, but you do have allies.”- Zadie Smith, On Beauty

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: The Movie… Sort of

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I’ve done something new today, uploaded a video to YouTube. I’ve never done it before. It was exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Especially because my first post was the trailer or my book, “Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks” which is out in December. 

I’ve never made a book trailer before either. That was pretty nerve wracking in itself. In the end I kept it simple; just my words, and pictures of me with my little ones when we were going through my PND. I’ve attached the link. I hope you like it and I hope you’ll love my book. And don’t forget to check back regular for excerpts, give aways, exact release dates and links on where to get a copy.


Thanks for supporting me. You all mean more to me than I can say.

If you or someone you know has postnatal depression you cand find good resources on the following sites:

PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/

PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/

Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/