Health and Wellbeing (mental, physical, emotional & spiritual)

Standing beside my Perinatal Depression

As someone who has had mental health allowances for the past 12 years, I knew that my approach to pregnancy needed to be planned, specific and aware.

Before the first trimester was done and dusted I made sure I was referred to a Psychiatrist with Perinatal experience. I’ve never been one for talk therapy, but I do have a great appreciation for pharmacology and am acutely aware of the chemical sh*t-storm that causes the lows I experience.

I have previously written about my awful experience with the Mirena IUD and how toxic progesterone was for me. So I was worried that my inner demons were going to be on Spring Break once I had those pregnancy hormones pumping around!

That first trimester was a constant ping-pong game of joy and excitement v. apprehension and doubt. What was I doing? Who did I think I was bringing a baby into the world? Was I ready to be a Mum. So on and so forth. Then I would be with my Husband, planning for the future and everything was okay.

Being matched with my Psychiatrist instantly felt like having an experienced, professional and knowledgeable cheerleader on my side. I left my first appointment feeling empowered and confident. I had my doubts, as I had sought treatment from the same hospital (different Psychiatrist) who was a little too quick to (incorrectly) diagnose me. Which led to being placed on absolutely inappropriate (read: life damaging) medication. So to say I was gun-shy and hesitant is putting it lightly.

However my journey so far with my Psychiatrist has been wonderful. Even with the added uncertainty of COVID-19, she has effectively given me the tools and the confidence to manage my anxiety and depression while pregnant. There is a high chance I will end up with Post-Natal Depression, and I will cross that rickety bridge if/when it happens. What it means is that I am constantly having to assess the future, to try and prepare for something which may not happen. Knowledge (and even more so, acknowledgement) is power as far as I am concerned. So while some think I have a pessimistic view to the future, I believe that in preparing for the ‘worst’, then I’m taking some of the power away from the beast that is my anxiety and depression. I may be sharing my journey, mind & soul with my mental health – but at 34 and with several notable fights in the past with it – I refuse to take a back-seat.

Mental health is no joke, and it certainly is nothing to be ashamed of. Saying this out loud is one thing, but taking ownership of it and acknowledging it as part of your story is another. There are so many resources out there and other people willing to help you up. Don’t ever feel ashamed to speak, and always ask for help when you need it.

Courtney x

Australia · Health and Wellbeing (mental, physical, emotional & spiritual)

Week 32 – Why is there hair growing on my belly?

My belly is growing hair and it is freaking me out.

I also can’t breathe properly and I seem to be going to the bathroom every half hour.

My little babe is perfecting their excellent karate moves, and quite frankly the strength behind each move is kind of shocking!

I had my first Midwife appointment this week, it was a private antenatal class which was quite good. Most of the information shared was information I had read or heard about from my sister or Mum, but as my Midwife was talking about my experience with my birth and my baby it really hit home.

There were tears and quite frankly I didn’t see that coming. I don’t cry easily, don’t really experience the happy tears and certainly don’t cry around people I don’t know! Yet here I was, picturing the moment I will meet our baby and I was overcome with emotions.

Truth be told I missed a fair bit of the information because my eyes kept tearing up at finally meeting our baby! The emotional hangover I had after the crying lasted the rest of the day and I actually had to go to bed early. Emotional wreck I tell you!

It is wild to know that we will meet our babe soon, I’m excited but nervous. I have two more weeks of work left before I start maternity leave.

I guess it’s nearly time to start planning my hospital stay!

What were your third trimester saviours?

babies and family · Love and Happiness (and all the fun bits in between)

Nauseous, sweaty & puffy – month 2 ♡

I found out I was pregnant in month two of my pregnancy, right before our family trip to Bali! For the first half of our trip I felt tired and hot. Bali in Summer was always going to be unpleasant, but my body acting as it’s own furnace made it much, much worse!

During our last few days of Bali I contracted what I thought was a cold, but once I was home it pretty quickly became apparent I had Influenza. It absolutely destroyed me (on top of the pregnancy nausea), and I was so glad we were over the active part of our holiday and I could lay down!

I think given I was so sick, it is hard to tell what was pregnancy and what was the flu – but the signs and symptoms I did have were: swollen/tender boobs, fatigue, nausea (without vomiting) and headaches. On our last day we drove from Ubud back to the Bali airport for our flight home and it was the most intense nausea I had experienced yet. That 40 minute drive on windy roads, with a tap-happy braker, really tested me!

The second half of the second month was not good. I felt both drunk and hungover at the same time, all of the time. I also had flashbacks to that time I had vertigo. The nausea was unrelenting, if I moved too quickly (or if I moved at all), the waves of nausea would completely take over.

Basically my appearance for the first trimester resembled this ↙

unnamed

Week 8 I had bleeding, which meant a trip to the hospital and I was told that I was experiencing a threatened miscarriage. I knew that having a miscarriage was always possible, and it terrified me. What made it even scarier was the fact that there was nothing I could do to prevent it. I just had to ride it out and hope for the best.

From a personal perspective I switched back to eating meat around week 8, I had been vegetarian for a year. I was struggling with food and felt fatigued and unwell. Despite supplements, I made the decision to go back to eating meat a few times a week. This wasn’t a medical choice, it was a personal choice and even if it was for my own mental wellness then I was happy with my choice.

Week 9 was my first appointment with my OB, and running through all of the initial information was exciting but made it all so phenomenally real. It was when I had my ultrasound and saw our tiny little baby dancing and grooving on the screen that my heart exploded! Especially after having nearly lost the pregnancy just the week before. It was dancing like a little care bear and looked just like a chicos baby lolly…

Week 10 I went for my first full ultrasound and G and I saw our little babe on screen and saw that it’s size was bang-on with my expected due date. It was getting hard to believe that I had almost reached the end of my first trimester!

I had started to see the tiniest of baby bumps, I knew that I had an anterior placenta which is known to stop your baby bump from ‘popping’ as early as others. I also am quite tall (average legs but long torso), so I was a little excited when I could see a noticeable little bump.

I couldn’t sleep because of insomnia as well as a wild-resurgence of my restless leg syndrome. So that was fun. Nausea, sweaty, swollen, sore boobs and the inability to stop my legs from moving. In the darkest hours of night I just kept thinking how do I survive this for another 7 months?!

The only things that helped with my all-day nausea (and I mean helped minimally, certainly didn’t stop it) was ginger (tea, ginger beer, crystallised, kombucha), and watermelon. The only thing I could manage to eat was fruit – mostly watermelon. I found that the smell of mint or menthol helped as well!

Oh and ice-cold water, and drinking it slowly. Honestly without ice-cold water I would have been in trouble. I also couldn’t stomach coffee or tea during the second month. I was even struggling with Diet Coke, which is absolutely my favourite beverage of all time.

Overall it was definitely a month of noticeable change, and some pretty debilitating side-effects, but seeing the very subtle changes and looking at my ultrasound pictures definitely made it that little easier (and all of the ginger, watermelon and cold water!).

Month two of pregnancy signs/symptoms :

  • Nausea – yes+++++
  • Bloating – yes+++
  • Sleep problems / insomnia – yes++++
  • Tender/swollen breasts – yes++++
  • Fatigue – yes+++
  • Moodiness – not really+

Tell me, what was/is your month two of pregnancy like?

Courtney x

babies and family

The Freebie – month 1 ♡

Month one of your pregnancy is kind of a freebie, isn’t it? For most of us, you don’t realise you are pregnant and even though by the time your missed period happens you are considered to be a month pregnant, technically it is 2 weeks or less.

Christmas was with my in-laws interstate and we had both worked up until Christmas Eve and knowing that we had a week down in Sydney to just relax and celebrate was the only thing pulling us through.

Christmas Day was a blast and normally once the presents and formalities are out of the way, it’s wine-time. I had one glass of prosecco and felt off. At the time I felt kind of ripped off because I was vegetarian and thought how is it I have food poisoning from salad?! I remember having to lie down with the sweats (not unusual during an Australian summer), but felt so terribly off.

Christmas turned into a water-drinking affair and a pretty solid nap. Again, it had been a long lead up to Christmas, work had been crazy and it was hot – so I didn’t think too much of it.

I stayed off for the rest of our trip interstate and figured I was coming down with smomething.

It turns out I was in the very early stages of pregnancy!

So, to quickly summarise what your ‘standard’ or ‘typical’ pregnancy signs and symptoms are for month one:

  • Acute sense of smell
  • Need to wee more often
  • Spotting
  • Nausea
  • Metallic taste

I’ve always been part-wolf when it comes to my sense of smell so I didn’t notice a huge difference there. I also drink heaps of water, so couldn’t see a noticeable difference there.

I also had spotting the day before my period was due, which is phenomenally normal for me. When I saw that I figured I was going to get a negative pregnancy test. I also experienced the nausea on Christmas Day and for the rest of the month, but I also really struggle in the best.

So taking all of that into consideration, on paper – I really didn’t expect to see those two pink lines, but here we are and I couldn’t be happier ♡♡♡.

Like I’ve said, month one really does feel like a freebie, but since this little babe was planned things I did before and during month one were:

  • avoided alcohol & cigarettes for the most part (a few cheeky champagnes over that crazy Christmas period – before I knew I was pregnant
  • spoke with my GP and let him know what my plans were
  • started taking Elevit as my multi-vitamin

Courtney ♡

 

Australia

Expecting Mindfully

Pregnancy is miraculous, a gift, an honour and a marvel which is hard to believe. It is also hard freaking work!

I’m now in my seventh month of my pregnancy (with my first babe) and ooo boy, I was not prepared for all the weird and wonderful surprises during this journey!

Our pregnancy was planned and long-awaited and when we found out I was pregnant, I honestly felt as though my heart was going to beat out of my chest.

2020 has been a time of awful uncertainty in the world, and to some degree it has been a real conflict to celebrate and talk about this baby, knowing the struggles and the pain Earth and her inhabitants are going through.

For my own mental health I’ve been keeping a mindfulness journal, intermittently – but I want to make a conscious effort to keep it up during this last trimester.

This is a little spot for me to write about my pregnancy so far, and pregnancy ahead. Primarily this has always been a travel blog, and then a mental health blog, so I am hoping the transition makes sense.

I would love to connect with other mums-to-be and especially other mums who have experienced peri/post natal mental health battles.

Courtney x

Australia

24 Weeks

‘When you moved, I felt squeezed with a wild infatuation and protectiveness. We are one. Nothing, not even death, can change that.’ – Suzanne Finnamore

In the last week my belly bump has grown, it is rounder than before and it feels much more firm. Moving in certain ways is getting harder and I am really starting to feel the weight.

There is more to it than just its growth though, I’ve started to feel movements. Your movements.

Beautiful, fluttering movements. After a really rough pregnancy, to be able to experience those first noticeable movements from you is nothing short of delightful.

When I wake in the mornings and roll over onto my back, I wait for you to rise to the surface (so to speak). I will feel the motion and shortly after see the risen part of my stomach. Last week you were mostly to the left, this week you have been to the right. I spend my first five minutes awake waiting for my little surface visitor. When you do meet my hand at the surface and push every so slowly against it, it is the days reassurance for me.

That what I am going through day to day, is for both of us. It is not just for me anymore. This alone beautiful but terrifying, both settling and overwhelming.

For now the flutters are just between you and I, the movements cannot be felt on the outside and your Dad hasn’t felt you yet. In your own time your movements will become more pronounced.

Thank you for greeting me in the morning, for having a little groove whenever I play music and for being the cute little frog you are at the moment.

I can’t wait to meet you.

x

Health and Wellbeing (mental, physical, emotional & spiritual) · Love and Happiness (and all the fun bits in between) · Self Improvement · Wives, Husbands and Marriages

I made the mistake of not saying ‘No’…

A couple of years ago I decided that I was going to say ‘No’ more, stand by my decision and not feel as though I had to justify my response. It served me well, particularly in my personal life. Saying no to outings I did not want to go to, saying no to having people in my space, saying no to things that did not please me or make me feel happy.

Sounds tricky right? It isn’t, not really. Once you let go of the guilt or assumed expectation that you ‘better’ have a good excuse. Truth is, you do not owe anyone your time, or pieces of you aren’t willing to share.

A couple of weeks ago I was put in a position where I couldn’t say no. I wanted to, with every fibre of my being. I knew full well that I would come home feeling like absolute trash. I tried to trust the experience like maybe it was not going to be a complete and utter waste of time. That I would be left raw and exposed. Of course, it went exactly how I expected it to. I went in with the best intentions, tried to leave my suspicion at the door of the intention behind the entire thing. Within an hour I could feel the judgement being cast upon me. Which is always rich when it is coming from someone who would be better off minding their manner and attitude.

So I sit here a fortnight later, still annoyed. I still feel as though I was made to expose a part of me which I was fiercely protecting. I tried to go to this event with solidarity with my Partner and instead what I suspected came true. I was the commodity. I was not welcomed, I was judged and I left feeling as though I had put myself into a position of judgement.

I now feel like the life I have tried to hard to justify and protect was left wide open for the criticism of people who, quite frankly, mean absolutely nothing to me.

Sometimes we cannot put our foot down, we find ourselves in a position of compromise. When you are in a relationship and you love your partner, you can sometimes ignore your gut instinct. Just like I did. I tried to push aside my suspicions and that awful feeling in my stomach. I tried to embrace the potential for new connections and (heaven forbid) acceptance.

It would seem that even seven years on, I still let the opinions of nobodies and those who are so far removed from being important in my world, hurt me.

Next time I will say no, and I will be firm in my response. I did for so many years, was challenged and ridiculed for it. Yet, when I finally backed down, I ended up in a space of hurt and sadness.

So I ask you, what do you do to reclaim your space, your purpose and your self-love when there has been a speed-bump you have gone crashing into? How do you leave yourself open to your partner and new opportunities, yet closed to criticism or judgement from others?

Courtney x

Health and Wellbeing (mental, physical, emotional & spiritual) · Love and Happiness (and all the fun bits in between) · personal growth · Self Improvement

Protecting your own Self-Peace & Energy

When do you stop farming out your own energy, at the cost of your own self-peace just to be hurt or to have it thrown in your face?

I spent my twenties spread too thin. Constantly trying to juggle the number of confusing friendships and competing priorities. Only to have most friendships dwindle away.

My thirties have always been about protecting those friendships which are precious to me. Regardless of where our lives take us. Marriages, travel, families, interstate moves, building houses. Whatever it was, it would never be enough to break these long term friendships up. However you long for your friends. You miss their cuddles and your heart just isn’t quite the same without their laughter.

Food for thought…

I watched my husbands younger family member Skype her friend and text her at the same time and I thought it was overkill. Then I realised how much I missed my friends. What I would have done to be with them and see their faces. It’s true that you can experiencing heartbreak away from those you love. I made a solid effort at growing my friendship group but mostly I just feel disappointed.

New friends rarely work out. Everyone wants something from you, some people like to keep you close especially if you’re life is complicated, or you’re a natural problem solver or in a position to help them. I’ve tried to fight those thoughts recently, but have ended up burned once again.

I’m sure it’s possible to develop new friendships as you age, but the screening process is so much more complicated. I find myself at the moment looking around at several people who a year ago I considered close and now I barely speak to them.

I can’t be everyone’s big sister. I can’t keep being the work mum.

My friendship is not one sided. I have needs as well. I’m consistently trying to help others. I end up a free and over utilised source of psychological counselling. Only to find myself turned inside out, feeling exposed and exhausted. Yet, because of the strong personality people are so prone to point out, I am very rarely asked if I am okay.

I am not okay. I am tired, I am worn and I am confused. I have stuff going on, my needs and wants are valid and I too need a listening ear.

As I approach my mid-thirties and race towards a massive change in my life, I’ve started thinking about how I can reclaim my space, my time and start putting me first. I still want to be a good friend, to those friendships that nourish me but I need to learn how to close the door on non-serving friends.

Any advice on how to do this effectively and kindly, while protecting my own space and peace is welcomed. Thank you x

Courtney

Contraception, Birth Control, Fertility...(and other such things) · Health and Wellbeing (mental, physical, emotional & spiritual) · Lifestyle

Toss the tampons, embrace your moon-cup.

P-E-R-I-O-D-S

I have debated back and forth whether or not to write this post. For most of my friends, we have entered a real phase of acknowledging that our periods are real and not something we should be ashamed of. For the generation above us though (strictly excluding any beloved hippy relatives), it isn’t something you speak about.

img_2965My mother freaks OUT whenever I mention my period. I speak quite openly about it, not at dinner or with my Boss – but I sure as hell am comfortable talking to my Husband about it (a taboo act, if you ask Mum).

Even though I knew I could talk to my Mum about this ‘change’, I still wasn’t ready for my period to show up. One day I was playing freely in the backyard, the next I was panicking about having become a woman, while saying ‘You’re a woman now, time to grow up’ in the mirror repeatedly (look, I wish I had made that up for dramatic effect, but it really happened).

In fact, I decided to just ignore my first period, a week of excruciating pain and bleeding and I just ignored it. I wish I hadn’t of ignored it though, Mum was well prepared, with a bag stashed away in her cupboard, filled with all items available to you in 1998. In terms of open conversation, however, that was the start and end of it. Mum passed the bag along, gave me a pretty thorough drill-down on the situation, on hygiene and that was it.img_2961

You’re looking at about six months for a tampon to decompose, and even then the amount of water and natural/man-made resources to do so is massive. Also, I f*cking HATE paying for them. 10,000 tampons at an average of $5 for a box of 16 organic tampons and I am looking at around $3,000 for single-use cotton tampons, packed in individual plastic each, and that estimate is grossly under what it has actually cost.

Little did we know that by the time I was 14 I would have the sort of periods which would disable me to the point I couldn’t go to school (thanks, Endometriosis), or that I would be in a constant state of panic in my school skirts. I have not been blessed with a polite, feminine period – rather I have the type of monthly event where it is clear my uterus is throwing a freaking tantrum at having not gotten pregnant for another month.

img_2963When I turned 32 I decided I was sick of tampons and pads and all of the plastic and just the whole show of it all. After 20 years of periods and roughly 6-8 tampons a day, with a 5-7 day period every 28 days (like clockwork, actually) it works out to be approximately 10,000 tampons I have used in my lifetime. TEN THOUSAND TAMPONS. Sure, I use the organic cotton kind but they still come wrapped up in plastic. Not to mention they go into landfill or down the loo (you can flush tampons, I’ve checked with my Plumber Hubby).

Providing you pick the right cup you should not need to change it more often than every 12 hours. That said, if you do experience heavier periods, than you may like to wear a liner on your heavier days. Ideally, the best/cleanest/most hygienic way to change them is in the shower. I have been using mine for around a year now, and only in a few cases of emergency have I needed to use a tampon here and there.

There is no shortage of brands out there, and I have no alignment to any particular product. When you are doing your research though, some of the things you might like to consider are the material, firmness, capacity, size, cup shape, stem design, air holes and quality and safety.img_2968

They can be messy (which is why the shower is my go-to), the fitting changes from brand to brand, getting used to inserting the cup can take a bit of practice and trial and error! (this goes for the removal as well), and you do need to maintain your moon cup and ensure you sterilise it correctly.

They’re easy to use, they are convenient, they save costs, there are the environmental benefits, there is no odour, there are health benefits, you don’t need to replace them as often, they’re quite comfortable and they’re movement-friendly!

Biome sells the Diva Cup, which is one of the brands I have used – you can find the link here.

Thank you for reading my post! I am a Brisbane based creative and blogger. I live with my Husband, make hand-crafted household and personal eco-friendly items, and accessories.

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Courtney Gaye

I do not receive payment for my blogging, and in the event, I have been gifted any products and items, I will always mention this.