27 weeks of growing you.

It’s been a long one, one full of apprehension, appointments, medication, embarrassment, but smiles too.

Last week I had a recurring shingles infection outbreak, it meant I had to go back on antiviral medication and it was painful. During this time we had to see a midwife for a routine appointment and because I can no longer attend these appointments on my own, your dad drove me and got to hear your heartbeat live, for the first time. That was smile number one.

On Thursday I attended the hospital again for some blood tests, and also had a GTT or glucose tolerance test as they are known, to check for gestational diabetes. I have been dreading this test. I had one with your sister too, though I have diabetes in my family, I wasn’t considered high risk during my first pregnancy. This time though due to BMI and hypertension, I was convinced gestational diabetes was a given. The test was painless but it’s effects on my body, fasting, blood taken on an empty stomach with only pain killers rattling round in there made me sick. The drive was uncomfortable, the wait in between the same. I felt like dog shit. The twenty four hours that followed scared me. It was your sister’s birthday party the weekend following the test, and I was panicky about not being able to indulge in birthday cake. Thankfully though, I found out on the morning I DIDN’T have gestational diabetes, my relief was tangible, I cried real tears. Finally a sliver of hope amongst what has otherwise been an assault on my body.

Friday morning I took my recently hired mobility scooter for a spin. It pains me to say that this was difficult. It shouldn’t have been, but deep rooted in my psyche is inherent ableism. I didn’t get questioning looks, but I did get a lot of sympathetic smiles, which in truth were almost as uncomfortable as the former would of been. However, with that in mind, I enjoyed a morning out with our family, and that inspired smile number two.

Saturday arrived and your sister was buzzing for her birthday party, we’re still under strict restrictions here so she was only allowed one friend, but it was her bestie, Maddie. It was wonderful, your nanny, daddy & I all dressed up in fancy dress and I painted your sister and Maddie’s faces. Using the crutches has become increasingly difficult and painful for me, making my fibromyalgia scream, so after a few hours I was beat. But smile number 3 was the best, seeing your sister’s happy face and feeling like under the circumstances I had given her the best possible birthday party, was a moment to cherish and be proud of. I couldn’t sleep last night because the pain following has been so unbearable and today your Daddy took your sister out for the day so I could get some rest. The pain of carrying you on top of my illness is becoming harder to control the more you grow. The hardest part of all this is the limitations on the medication that is safe for me to take whilst carrying you. I worry how I will care for you when you arrive.

In under two weeks time we have another scan to check your growth and also to discuss how you might enter the world. I think I’d like to have a planned induction this time if it’s possible for me to avoid cesarian. Your sister was induced and it definitely wasn’t easy but in comparison to pregnancy, labour isn’t something that scares me.

Tomorrow is your sister’s fifth birthday and we will celebrate again despite the pain I’m in, because us mums push through for our kids, but I know I’ll need time to recover again afterwards. I have an occupational therapist visiting next week to see if I am suitable for some more adaptations to help me see out the rest of this pregnancy with limited mobility.

I am staying strong, and so are you. Keep it up. We’re doing okay you and me.

26 weeks of growing you

Your movements have returned to normal, I cross my heart and thank god, that together we are surviving this.

My brain though, my mood, my feelings are still off kilter. I don’t know how I feel anymore but I think the word best to describe it is numb. I don’t feel despairingly depressed which can only be a good thing, but I don’t feel overjoyed either. I feel like all I do is complain, I feel like all I do is feel pain. I feel like I’m blaming pregnancy for a lot unintentionally. I don’t want you to be born from these feelings but it’s very hard, so hard to feel connected to you when I myself feel so disconnected from everything and everyone. This week I had a reactivation of an old shingles virus – it’s agony, it’s keeping me awake at night and it can be potentially dangerous for you, so I have to take more medication.

I’ve been so quiet, so distant, my friends have tried encouraging me, coaxing me, offering support and I’m so grateful but I have nothing to say. I’m acutely aware that I am becoming a negative person a person whose insular and reclusive, a person who brings the mood down, a fun sponge.

You are growing and I am growing with you, finding comfort in food because I can’t move so exercise is non existent. A man from the council came today to fit me a second stair rail, I’ll be getting a bath seat too apparently and I feel eighty five years old. I feel fat, not glowing. People’s kindness in their opinion that I glow is actually starting to annoy me. I look fine so I must be fine. (Rolls eyes)

I am conflicted. I’m so grateful for the people that have rallied round and tried to make me feel supported even though I haven’t been able to be supportive of them. I take my friendships seriously and it frustrates me if I can’t give back. I don’t think it’s expected but I want to be able to be supportive of friends of mine too. In reverse there are also people that I selfishly perhaps feel should care more and have been distant.

Then I have to be stern and remind myself that everyone has stuff going on and the world doesn’t revolve around me and my pregnancy. Except that’s all my world revolves around at the moment. I’m getting fomo again of everyone’s summer plans and I’m envious, I know it’s not cute to admit your jealousy, but I am nothing if not honest. You will learn that.

Your dad and I have been trying to write a will – well I have. Who would look after you and your sister if something happened to us both? Your sister has eight godparents. It was too many and the lesson has been learnt that giving someone a title will not make them an active participant in a child’s life.

I found this online about the role of a godparent – In general, a godparent’s role is to stay connected with the child in some manner throughout life. You will be at the baby’s christening and perhaps take part in the ceremony. Most importantly, you’ll serve as a mentor and take the symbolic place of the child’s parent of your gender if that parent passes away

Your sister sees approximately three of her eight godparents. Two she hasn’t seen since her christening four years ago, but less than she’s seen them, she doesn’t even know they exist. What will happen if we die? Who will step up to the role? I’m doubtful that I would include more than one, maybe two of them as a named person in my last will and testament to care for her, so who will care for you? Should I even bother to get you christened? My circle is smaller now. I’m fine with that, but I’m also a person who takes these things seriously so I find it sad that others don’t. Again maybe unfairly, but don’t sign up for a job you don’t want.

This is anxious rambling I know that. I know this is worse case scenario stuff, but someone has to think about it, don’t they? Someone has to consider what will happen in the event your dad and I can’t take care of you.

As I write this you are kicking up a storm in my tummy, active after my last cup of tea. I’m in bed now, it’s 13:00 so the middle of the day but after the guy came to fit the stair rail and I talked to my boss on the phone, I am once again drained of all energy and expenditure of said energy cannot recommence until I am recharged.

I’ve packed away some of your new clothes, tried to think again about what you need whilst also planning for your sisters birthday this weekend. She wants to be a mermaid, her wish is my command. I hope you two will love each other fiercely but I won’t pretend that she is always an amenable character, sometimes she’s feisty like me. On Sunday night she stayed at Nanny’s and got her head stuck in a dining chair. Everyone was too panicked to take a picture but it’s a story we’ll tell you in the future when reminding you what not to do – I laughed, she is fine. I will keep laughing because humour helps and you like the sound of my cackle, the witchy tones of my voice. My underpronounced T’s and over pronounced R’s. I know this because sometimes I talk to you and you move.

You’re on your way now, growth speeds up here, and I will continue to keep you safe. Please keep moving.

25 weeks of growing you

I had a bath on Monday and got out at 7pm. Most nights we read your sister a story in bed and you kick like crazy, her trying to catch them in between prolonged pronunciation and sounding of words like the, but your kicks were gone.

Your sister went to bed sad that she hadn’t gotten to feel them and I was starting to get concerned. I watched The Caroline Flack documentary with your Daddy and it was very sad, she reminded me a lot of myself and how I don’t have the capacity to cope well with heartbreak and complex emotions, but it didn’t serve to take my mind off of you. I ate some crisps, jiggled my still soft bump and your dad made me a sugary tea. Still you stayed still, I felt like I could physically hear your silence, deafeningly loud to me.

By bed time I was frantic, I called maternity but couldn’t get through the first 14 times. My call log looking like the days when your dad used to go out ‘for a few drinks’ and leave his phone unanswered. He doesn’t do that anymore thank goodness. I tried again and got through, they wanted to see me. Or at least told me they’d need to. I haven’t driven for almost two months. It’s dangerous for me because my mobility is so bad, but I didn’t have a choice, I had to go. Your sister in bed and nobody I felt able to call at 11pm at night to sit with her. My mum would of done it, your Nanny, but I didn’t want to wake her.

When I arrived I couldn’t get through to the team again, it was dark, scary in the poorly lit car park. Me trying to swivel out of the seat and lean over for my crutches. I hobbled to the door, a midwife waiting for me ‘you should of parked closer’ she said, and I felt guilty, I couldn’t risk another parking fine, we don’t have any money. But maybe I should of drove to the door, why was I thinking about money when all that mattered was you? My brain felt fried.

She asked me about my mental health and I bristled, feeling like I was waisting her time. I’m not crazy lady, I’m here because it says on my notes, don’t delay if you notice something off with your baby. My baby boy, you, I have felt your kicks thick and fast for weeks now. I count them.

‘You’re only 24 weeks + 5 days, still early to feel regular movements’ she was trying to be reassuring but she just began to annoy me, because I know you. I know when you don’t move.

After this dance she got me on the bed.

‘Heartbeat strong, oh wait there’s only one, but don’t worry it’s your baby’s’ What the fuck was this woman on? I gave myself a shake and listened in to you. If my heartbeat was gone, it didn’t matter because in that moment I knew I was alive, all I cared about was if you were.

I feel tired, so unbelievably tired. I feel like I have nothing to give to anything else. Nothing to give to the life around me because everything is focused on getting you out in one piece.

I’m not being a very good friend at the moment, I’m not being a very good wife either, because the dwindling energy I have is focused on being a good mother. I can’t give your sister everything she needs whilst I’m carrying you, but I’m trying, and if I can carry you to the end of this pregnancy and deliver you safely, we’ll all be together and hopefully more physically able to take life by the horns as a family of four. Hang in there boy. The kicks count.

Acceptance isn’t linear

Entitled with contradictory statement maybe? Surely if you accept something, that’s it? Accepted, done, move on. Well….. I disagree.

The reason being is, take grief for example, you might accept someone is no longer physically on earth for you to love, but find it hard to accept the feelings that come with that knowledge. It’s not over just because you’ve said aloud you accept it. You can acknowledge a situation, tell yourself you accept it, and then change your mind. It’s not back tracking, it’s reality. You may start to accept one thing only to be faced with another, making your acceptance of the first, harder again.

I use grief as a prime example, Miranda Heart comedienne and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis sufferer recently said ‘With chronic illness comes a daily grief’ and nothing has ever rung truer with me.

I accepted my diagnoses a long time ago, because I’ve lived with symptoms for so long that there was no alternative to accepting their presence in my life. True and absolute. However, everyday brings with it it’s own challenge, every new symptom overshadowing my acceptance of the old ones.

With pregnancy too, because I’ve accepted I’m a person that doesn’t enjoy pregnancy, doesn’t cope well and doesn’t feel well throughout, but that acceptance doesn’t stop my grief. It doesn’t stop me wishing things were different or wanting to trade my body. You can accept and acknowledge a situation without enjoying it or thriving within it, and the goal posts can move.

I know during pregnancy my only goal is to get myself and my baby to the end in one piece, but once my son is here, the goal posts will move again and it will be back to getting through the days with chronic illness, because there is no end to them. There’s no one and only goal. Life is interchangeable and acceptance shifts. People tell me right now, that it will be worth it when my baby is here, like I don’t know that already, and they tell me to hang in there like it’s possible to do anything else.

They may or may not know, I have been hanging in there everyday for the last 5 years and more. Of course I get good days, though they seem fewer the older I become, but I don’t all of a sudden become well because I’ve had a good day. I don’t get to walk around with the knowledge that there’s only so long until better days are coming, because my good days can be equivocal to someone else’s worst.

I feel I can hardly shout this from the rooftops on a daily basis because then the few friends who have stuck with me would likely also tire of my complaints, so I have no choice but to accept my situation. Somedays I do it with grace and positivity and sometimes I do it reluctantly and with frustration.

When it comes to health of any kind I don’t think we ever agree to the offer. We look for a cure, we look for sustainable treatments and ways to better our situation. Never fully assenting to the offer of a diagnosis.

It’s true you can’t fully understand someone’s situation until you’ve walked in their shoes, and that also means what is easier to accept for one person may be harder for another. We can’t ever know how we’ll deal with something until it happens to us. We can’t ever fully accept a situation until it’s been lived in, and nobody can be blamed for that. It can’t be expected of any of us to accept everything someone else experiences but we can choose to accept their version. To believe them.

One thing I have learned about acceptance is, it looks different for everyone, including myself, for some occasions it brings peace and others it makes me want to fight back harder.

It’s not linear. It’s not complete and absolute. But it can be a starting point.

Week 24 of growing you

This week started off better. I felt like I was relaxing, thinking about taking my maternity leave early and making decisions that are best for us.

Then the anxiety kicked in. I can’t do this. I’m getting bigger and life is getting harder again. I’m lonely but I don’t want to see people. I don’t want restrictions to ease I don’t want the world to go back to normal whilst mine still feels so fragile and isolated.

I’m still feeling really let down by my midwives. Not sure if it’s their fault or my own but I just don’t feel like they’re supporting me in the same way they did with your sister and even then it was only after I made a complaint.

I’ve been taking tablets I should of stopped at 12 weeks but nobody told me. Every time I call them the receptionist has a God complex, doesn’t matter if it’s the same one or a different one, they are inflammatory, sounding harried and uninterested. When we turned up for your 20 week scan they almost sent me away saying repeatedly ‘there’s no Bethany on the list’ except of course my name is Stephanie and nobody was listening. All of these appointments are scary and maybe I’m on high alert and overly sensitive, but I just want someone to use kid gloves a little. Be a bit more mindful that we never really know what we’re walking in to as pregnant women when we turn up for scans and monitoring of our babies.

Then I feel guilty again, and grateful we have the NHS and I know their struggle is separate from my own. Different. Everything isn’t about me. Your sister has now felt you kick. It was a beautiful moment and she is getting more comfortable talking about you as though you’re already a fully fledged member of our family. Telling you she loves you, we all do.

She has enough love for all of us. She lifts me up on the dark days and she lets us know everyday that there is hope. Life is hard but then it gets great again and all of the mundane moments in between, like Frank the dog lying on your bump, are what keep me going.

There is promise in the flutters from my insides. There is promise in spring. In my family and friends. In food and comfort and pyjamas. There is promise in the stretch marks snaking their way up my belly, because they are you, and you are growing. Inside of me. I’m never alone anymore even when the world around me feels abandoned and desolate. You are here.

Week 23 of pregnancy. Growing you.

Urgh little mate, our boy, you’re really making my life difficult. There is no hope for me on the mobility front until you are here and in my arms, but I know you’re worth it. I know this struggle will bring you to me.

Your sister and I have been reading and singing to you this week. Your dad and she still can’t feel your kicks, which I find so odd because they are bloody ferocious. I’ve finally started compiling an Amazon wish list of all the things you need. So much has been forgotten since your sister was small. The trivial things, like what toys to buy and whether to buy muslins or bibs. I remember all the other stuff though. I even remember labour. I remember being high on gas and air. I remember swearing a lot and refusing to push when your sisters head was crowning, I remember her being rushed to NICU and feeling like I couldn’t help her. I remember the trauma and the tears but I can’t remember what brand of nappies I preferred or how long I waited until I got the wet wipes out instead of cotton wool and boiled water to wipe her bum.

I’ve been growing increasingly frustrated this week. I feel like whenever I try to speak to a doctor or a midwife I’m being dismissed or considered a nuisance. I know the NHS are struggling and I am just one person but I’m still a person who is struggling too.

We know your name now, but your daddy won’t let me tell anyone. Your sister helped us choose it and funnily enough she hasn’t told anyone either. She is so funny and excited and I know she wants to meet you as desperately as we do.

I feel fragile and emotional but stronger because of you. I feel needy but content in being solitary. I have a great urge to protect you from the world and the mess that it’s in.

People have been sending us food and we have had some support from my mum, your nanny, but there’s no denying that a pandemic puts a very harsh limit on people we can ask for help during a time that we really need it.

We have a dog Frank who will be one just before you arrive and we have already started to play him baby cries. Though we hope you like sleep more than your sister did. I’m awake at 2am writing this. Your sister has been stirring she has a bit of a cold. I can feel you waking up with me. I hope we both manage to get back to sleep soon.

My baby boy. 💙

Avulux Vs Migraine

Flashes in your peripheral vision that slowly etch their way into both eyes, overwhelming fatigue with nausea that fills your mouth and makes your stomach roll. Pain in the base of your skull, around your eyes, tingling in your face, maybe in other body parts too. Before you know it you are in bed with ice packs strapped across your eyes, the need to eradicate light from every source immediately is paramount.

Not again. Please not again. You took your meds. You’ve been taking preventive meds every day for years, onset medication like triptans may also be used, but sometimes leave you feeling worse, blood pressure sky rockets and the explosion in your head makes you contemplate heading to your nearest hospital. Are you having a stroke? There’s absolutely no way to continue your day, you can’t walk, you can’t see and the pain is making it hard to speak.

You know it’s a migraine you’ve had them for twenty years, but what if this time it’s not just a migraine? Why aren’t your pain killers working? Sleep is not forth coming. Sleeping through this kind of pain is impossible. Tomorrow you’ll call your doctor and ask for more meds and they’ll tell you there’s nothing more they can do.

Randomly you get offered to try some glasses that block out light known to trigger migraine. You roll your tired eyes and think it can’t be that easy. I’ve tried everything what are these glasses going to do? The skeptic in you isn’t sure about this, but the desperation to ease further attacks makes you relent.

This is my story and this is how I came to hear of avulux glasses.

Avulux reached out to me in January this year. They didn’t offer me free glasses instantly, they asked to meet with me online to find out my symptoms and if Avulux would be suitable for me personally. I explained that I think my migraine maybe related to hormonal changes because of the increase in frequency and severity during my pregnancy, but because all of my migraine attacks start with aura they were confident Avulux may be able to help.

After meeting with the Avulux team and learning a lot about the science behind the product I was intrigued and excited to try a pair for myself. Avulux lenses are like no other light blocking glasses on the market. If you’ve researched migraine treatment you will know you can pick up a pair of blue light blocking glasses from Amazon for around £25.

So what makes Avulux so special?

Avulux filters up to 97% of the most painful blue, amber, and red light that have been shown to incite migraine attacks and increase headache pain. Avulux actually let’s in soothing green light to ensure there’s a fair balance of light filtered vs passed through, thus it’s comfortable to wear them indoors or outdoors and they don’t cause further light sensitivity nor do they dark adapt one’s eyes. They don’t alter colours or vision and you can still see clearly wearing them. 

Avulux suggest that if you use the glasses at the first sign of migraine aura, or other migraine symptom onset, you get the best results. For those with more than 15 headache days per month, they suggest wearing them continuously as a preventative. And don’t just take their word for it, read here the experiences of Avulux users for yourself. Avulux Reviews

So, here begs the next question. Do they work for me?

I have suffered from migraine since aged thirteen, I am now thirty three, and over the years they have increased alarmingly in frequency and severity. I have been trying to manage migraine with preventative medicines for the last four years, accompanied by onset medication such as triptans and painkillers. Since becoming pregnant and having to drastically reduce and remove certain medications migraine has attacked me every 3-4 days and an attack usually lasts 2-3 days. This has been constant for the last twenty weeks. When my Avulux glasses arrived I was almost waiting for a migraine to strike, and like clockwork three days after their arrival it began.

I woke with a pounding in my head that accompanied visual disturbances and vomiting. As soon as I woke I was certain the day would be a total write off. My Avulux glasses went on at 8.30 am. By lunchtime I was still very nauseous, but the pain in my head had not increased at all almost unheard of during a migraine attack. Though I felt fragile all day, I was able to carry out activities that are usually forbidden during migraine, such as read a book and watch television, use my phone and communicate with my family.

I woke up the following morning feeling exactly the same. This isn’t unusual, as mentioned attacks usually last a minimum of 48 hours. Again I used my glasses upon waking, and again I was able to function, not feeling fantastic but not in the depths of despair with unimaginable pain either.

My husband was skeptical, maybe it was the placebo effect? But I am confident that had I not been wearing Avulux I would have been in the full throes of a severe attack. Avulux were very clear during discussion that their lenses are a migraine treatment and not a cure. They also advised some users suggest that wearing Avulux reduces symptoms enough for them to carry on their day. This tallies up with my experience. I didn’t feel cured, I didn’t feel amazing, but I also didn’t feel inexplicable pain. For me personally a reduction in severity is a monumental step in the right direction towards a better and more controlled life with migraine. The following week the same happened twice, I woke with head pain, eye pain, fragility and fatigue. This time I didn’t reach for pain medication instantly, I applied my glasses first. And low and behold it staved off the migraine pain again, and allowed me to celebrate upon finding out the gender of my baby that evening with my family.

For these mentioned reasons I highly recommend Avulux as a reliable and sustainable treatment for migraine that comes without side effect or risk to the user.

Further advice

If you suffer with chronic or ongoing migraine you will know that unfortunately a cure has yet to be found. If it’s a cure you are looking for, you won’t find it here, or in fact anywhere. What you will get from wearing Avulux is confidence that symptom severity will be reduced. They are a recognised migraine treatment in both the UK and Canada. They make no false claims and they are available to try completely free for sixty days. If that isn’t enough to tempt you to take the leap forward for a better life, you can relax in knowing you can pay for Avulux in payment plan instalments. The Avulux team have also kindly given me a code DIVAMUM to allow my followers to receive $25 USD off when purchasing you can purchase through my aff link here Divamum Money Off but ensure to also add the code at checkout

Avulux haven’t cured me of my illness but they have helped me find relief even on the really hard days.

I think I’m failing but my kid still thinks I’m a superhero 🦸🏽‍♀️

It’s no secret that during pregnancy your hormones are all over the shop, one minute you’re chomping on cheese on toast and the next your crying into your cottage pie that your friend drove 25 miles to deliver. It’s a funny old game this growing a human malarkey.

Because my health has been on a steady decline since my daughter was born, this pregnancy though a lot like hers, has been overshadowed with worry and feeling unwell constantly. When I say constantly I mean it. It’s either not being able to walk, migraines, sickness, feeling faint, high blood pressure and the rest, it’s been bad, and not fun. Also those people who said you never get two the same, you were wrong.

That said the guilt of ‘wasting’ days in bed in an attempt to make the next one better and unable to do all of the things I want with my family has had a negative impact on my emotions. Team this with hormones and you have me, an unstable, anxious, dribbling mess.

This week said emotions have been on overdrive and I’ve spent countless hours in tears, I’m surprised there were any left after the first ten or so. My husband has looked at me with puppy dog eyes and a need to fix my broken spirit and my daughter has looked at me with longing and frustration. I haven’t been able to meet their demands, particularly those of the little person. She doesn’t get why mummy is always in bed and at one point I was worried she was going off the idea of having a brother because he’s been making her mum so poorly. It all hit a crescendo on Tuesday when Ciara wanted 5 things at once and I couldn’t even give her the simplest one, which was turn the volume up on the TV. I couldn’t do it because the bastard NowTV remote is a dodgy little fucker and it just would not work. Off she stomped whilst moaning at the dog and calling for her dad to come and fix the problem that mummy was incapable of rectifying.

Once I heard her footsteps on the stairs I burst into a fit of hysterics, threw the remote which bounced off the bed and smashed a photo on the bedroom wall. It wasn’t my finest moment because I couldn’t even roll myself off to pick up the glass before Shaun bursts in asking me WTF I was doing!?

Picture it, 5 month pregnant woman whose legs don’t work, rolling around on the bed with no bra on and crying inconsolably. It’s not a pretty image is it?

I don’t want to do this anymore I wailed, like an actual whale. To his credit, Shaun turns the tv off and shouts down to Ciara that they’re going to watch tele downstairs instead. I didn’t see them again that evening because I cried myself to sleep and woke up at 10pm and waddled into her room to give her a kiss goodnight, something I abhor to miss.

The next day I’m feeling full of shame and still in pain wondering how I’m going to get through the days for the next 4 months. But I needn’t of worried about the rest of the family because like clockwork they traipse in from school and work with smiles and cuddles for me and chat shit about their days as if the previous ones have been erased.

Ciara was pleased that I had finished colouring in her tiger costume with a sharpie for world book day and asked if she could come and snuggle in my bed.

This morning I got up at 7 after being awake from 2am with possibly the worst nerve pain ever. I say this because I can’t treat flare ups in the same way I would when I’m not pregnant ie with heavy drugs. The pain relief I’m taking at the moment just isn’t working to the same effect. Anyway up I get and by ‘up’ I mean sit up in my bed and paint my beautiful daughter’s face and send her off to school with a smile.

It doesn’t matter that I collapsed back in bed after and slept until lunchtime, because she was happy. When she got home she found me asleep in the bath because it’s the only place I don’t feel like my body is on fire and she poked me to tell me about her day. Including poo gate by another kid in class which we all found highly amusing.

I do feel like I’m failing life on the reg at the moment and somedays I can’t get on top of those crazy emotions and pretend I’m bossing it, because I’m not. But what I do know, with absolute clarity is that when it comes to my kids my best is good enough, and the need to be moving all the time and trying harder is born out of my own insecurities, not those of my five year old. She loves me on all of the days, even the really shitty ones. She loves me for all of the things I can do, not all of the things I can’t.

The pros and cons of having an open social media account.

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who follows my socials that I am for the MOST part an open book. I believe in being real and I choose to show the good and the bad online, there are many reasons I do this and again for the most part I feel like it works for me. That’s not to say it’s not without it’s drawbacks and I wanted to write a little about both the pros and the cons here in this article.

The first positive and it’ll come as no surprise if you follow me regularly is that it’s great for raising awareness about topics that are important. Social media is the fastest and generally most effective way to draw attention to these topics. Without awareness we would still very much be living in the past. Without social media, topics such as chronic illness, mental health, maternal mental health and motherhood would still be seen as taboo, still misunderstood. I believe that being open about your struggles can encourage others to find the courage to do the same.

The negative to this of course is, it’s often deemed attention seeking and whatever you post online can be misinterpreted. Most social media posts are opinion and not fact checked before going live, therefore it shouldn’t be your sole source of information even on topics that are familiar to you.

Second positive for me personally is that the connections I’ve made via social media have been invaluable in so many ways. I’ve found communities of people that have had similar experiences to me, and it’s provided some great opportunities. Before I started blogging and posting regularly on Instagram I could only dream of getting my work published in print. I’ve since been published several times, I’ve even had my scripture printed on clothing and now cohost a monthly podcast, without social media none of that would have been possible.

The downside to making connections online is they aren’t always genuine or beneficial. Collaborations opportunities should be well researched before agreeing or entering into any contractual obligations. If you choose to share your hard work and in my case that’s writing, then it’s important that you gain trust in your collaborators before doing so. The second negative about online connections is of course trolls. Even small time accounts can receive abuse and negative comments from people they’ve never met. Some people will say that you open yourself up for backlash and should accept it, but nobody, nobody has the right to treat you like shit. It can take a while to grow a thick skin though and sometimes sadly, the trolls do get to us.

Third positive is that having an open account can make you easier to find, meaning old friends you’ve lost touch with can find you. People who share your interests can find you. I say this is a pro because for me I’ve reconnected with some old friends in recent years and they’ve become constants in my life. I worked with a friend when I was just eighteen and we found each other via social media again about two years ago and now regularly keep in touch (when permissions allow) I’ve also made some amazing new friends that live locally to me and are now real life friends.

The con in this instance is the same as the pro. Having an open page can make you easier to find and that’s not always a good thing. You might have made some changes in your life that people who knew you during a previous one don’t understand. You might not want everyone you work with being able to see you post drunken stories on the weekends, these are all things to consider before opening up your account for public viewing.

Finally, my fourth pro is the ease in which you can set up events and reach many people at the same time. There’s no other way to do this, particularly if you don’t carry around an old address book or have everyone’s numbers stored in your phone. Tools such as Instagram and Facebook are great ways to send invitations to events and create group chats with extended friends and family members. You can still do this with a closed account but you usually have to be friends with or following people you want to add, the difference when having an open account is, people are able to find you, your groups and events easier by searches and hashtags. Having an open account is also great if you want to share news with wider audiences via stories.

For me personally the con in this instance is, if everyone can see what you’re doing at all times they often forget to actually communicate with you, making assumptions based solely on the information you’ve shared and never actually bothering to dig any deeper. You’re more susceptible to lurkers, people you know but whom never bother interacting with your posts. I come across lots of these and it can be a bit of a kick in the teeth at times, people who you think are your friends watch your stories see your good news or your struggle and don’t ever bother to engage. I even have extended family members that do this and some of them would argue they don’t need to ask because they stay up to date from my posts. So although I do believe making new connections is great, it can pull you away from real life connections with people at the same time.

To summarise, I think it’s important to spend some time figuring out what you wish to get out of your social media platforms and if it’s just to keep in touch with people you know a private account might suit you best. If it’s to bring attention to important topics, find new connections and partake in collaborations then a public account might work better for you. Either way it’s clear that each option has their own benefits and disadvantages.

Week 22 of pregnancy, carrying you, baby #2

We didn’t know what you’d be. We weren’t sure you’d show up on a scan as healthy. Our twenty week scan was nearly two weeks late and it made us impatient and anxious. We still don’t know what the outcome will be or if you’re truly ok in there. All we know is that you’re wanted.

Now I can no longer walk again it’s difficult to associate pregnancy with positivity. It was the same with your sister, causing me pain so difficult to overcome that I never really know what each day will bring. We’ve been left to our own devices by the health care system. Lots of people told me it happens with second babies. You’re an assumed pro by number two, you don’t need any support. Except I do need support. I do need reassurance. I am not a pro.

You present me, your mum with symptoms similar to the ones your sister did, but it’s different this time. They keep telling us about the risks to you, but don’t really do anything to help us overcome them. Maybe there’s little they can do, or maybe they expect me to know, I don’t. Medication that I need to function, to care for your sibling too, means you might need help when you’re born.

They have offered me mental health support that has been good, but physically I’m in worse shape than ever and I still have to care for your sister, so it’s hard.

We weren’t amongst the chaos of a pandemic when she was on her way. This time our support has lacked and your sister has been home for most of it. Waiting for your arrival with baited breath. With hope, but also with boredom. She longs for a playmate but she doesn’t fully understand the implications of pregnancy and why her mummy has become less fun.

Me, your mum, I have a few health issues already. Ones that were present before you were even a thought in my mind, a seed in my belly. Ones that haven’t gone away, that never really will, but that we’re working hard to escape. We love you already. That much we know, but each and every day that we will you to grow, we are scared that you’ll have a hard start. That your life won’t begin with all of the joys of a hot July summer. We worry that I might not be strong enough to care for you. That the help we need might not be available or accessible. Maybe we should have been more prepared but you showed up with two lines three weeks after my last period and we weren’t prepared, all we knew is that we would keep you.

I’m off work at the moment. Pregnancy isn’t kind to my health or my mind. I was struggling to hold down a job before you came along, but I’m trying. I fall into a category of disabled that isn’t well recognised or even always believed. I don’t get financial help for my disability and your Daddy works very hard but we aren’t wealthy enough that I don’t have to work. We are looking at ways to accommodate my return, and we have to hope that I will be well after your birth. Well enough to care for you. The trouble is I get periods of wellness that don’t really last. They are usually days and not weeks or months. I hope you don’t grow up having to care for me. I hope that I will always be able to give you what you need.

I love you. I love your heartbeat and your tiny feet. I love your kicks and I hope that when you arrive you will know that whatever challenges we face, my love for you will continue to grow.

I hope that you and your sister will always know that Mummy tried. She will never stop trying to give you a good life and will always be there to share it with you.