Winging it

When I decided to resign from my job I was excited, full of hope at all the spare time I’d have to write. Truth is I have absolutely no spare time, there’s ALWAYS something to do at home. At work, it’s just your job that needs doing until you get home, at home all day and it’s the dishes, the washing, the dust on the skirting boards, the charity shop clothes bags, the shopping, the planning and prepping dinner from scratch etc.

How did I manage that before you ask? I didn’t.

Before, I didn’t do the shopping, well not physically anyway. Amazon pantry was my bff along with whichever super market had the best BOGOFF deals. Before, I didn’t clean the skirting boards or do the sorting for the charity shops, I just lived in a mess. So why am I doing it now? Because it does need doing, and now I don’t have a hard day’s work an as excuse as to why I’m not getting it done.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining, it’s great that I have time to do all this stuff, but I have found little if no time at all to write, study, or do any of the things I said I was going to do.

When I was working, my mum did the school runs, Shaun did the washing, we ate from jars, and the shopping was delivered at a time of my choosing. But I find, rightly or wrongly, it’s expected of you to get things done if ‘You’re at home all day’ remember though, we’re still doing school run’s or looking after little people, we’re still trying (at least I am) to get some work done.

I can actually take an oath that I haven’t watch a SINGLE episode of Jeremy Kyle since leaving work. I have however, caught up on Lose Women on more than one occasion.

I really miss the social bustle of working for a large organisation and I’ve gone from feeling excited to feeling scared and at times lonely.

I want to be successful in my work, my parenting, my social groups, managing my health. I want people to believe I have it all covered from the every angle, but of course I don’t. I’m 100% winging it, with little guidance accept the online world of other mum’s who’ve followed their passions and my family and friends. The few people in my life that truly have my back, the ones that want to see me succeed are at the forefront of my mind every time I feel like quitting.

I may never succeed in my dream to write a novel, but I sure as shit won’t, if I don’t even try.

So it’s with a slight wobble I’m reminding you (and myself) to keep going. To let your creativity drive you in whatever form you find it. To keep at it because mama’s don’t quit and diva’s don’t lie down.

I will tell myself and you, everyday if I have to, that WE have got this.

And when we don’t got it, there’s always Guinness.

The road to threedom

So, Ciara’s been going through some developmental challenges lately. In just 6 short months she’s gone from barely stringing sentences together, to chatting NON STOP!

She can now count in sequence, she is potty trained, even waking up in the night and demanding a new pair of pants because:

‘I don’t want a nappy mummy’

She’s been specifically asking for people she hasn’t seen in a while, so memory is not an issue for this little dot. She’s asked for Auntie Becky and E, Nanny, and Grandad with the paw patrol bike, and often talks about her friends at preschool David, Chester and Lana with the pretty hair. It’s amazing isn’t it? How bloody clever is my kid! My heart could burst.

But… all of this extra feeling, knowing, and awareness must be a pretty crazy place in this little one’s head. I know this, because mummy is getting the brunt of it all.

‘I don’t want to’ is her favourite phrase.

‘No mummy’ is the second.

Whilst she’s doing all these amazing, magical, things, I find myself getting frustrated with her outbursts. I feel terrible about it but I can’t help sometimes wishing she’s just put the fucking blue pants on, instead of demanding rainbow ones. Or eat the damn toast you asked for 10 minutes ago kid! Who gives a flying fuck if the corner has come off, you don’t eat the crusts anyway!!!

So there’s a bit of wee in your potty already, sorry Mummy hasn’t had chance to rinse it out whilst dealing with your other 10,000 demands in the last 5 minutes.

I love you, but if you scream in my face one more time about having to put your coat on I’m gonna set the bastard coat on fire!

(Disclaimer no 2 – I don’t actually say this to her, I just roll my eyes whilst thinking it)

Then I take a deep breath and start the process of answering why Marshall has a red hat, Chase on the case has a blue one, and explaining that it’s a ‘Pumpkin’ and not a ‘Cuntpin’

I even allow the ingratitude that I got her an ‘Everest pillow’ instead of a Skye one. The world hasn’t ended my dear child just say ‘thank you Mummy’

Then I go to bed at night feeling so bad about wishing she would do as she’s told, I feel bad for not taking in the fact she’s learning, and her inquisitive nature is what might make her a Detective Inspector one day.

I feel bad that I tutted whilst having to kiss both knees when there wasn’t even a ‘baddie’ on either of them.

But guess what? I’m not the only person in the world to feel utterly fucked off and guilty all at once, and neither are you.

We’re human. It’s demanding being a mum and we don’t always get chance to take a deep breath and take in everything that’s going on, because we’re too busy trying to get tea on the table that you know your kid won’t even eat, and 20,000 pairs of pants washed ready for nursery tomorrow.

Every night before she goes to bed we have half hour chill time. We have cuddles, we read stories and we sing twinkle twinkle, and every night I tell her how amazing she is and how much I love her. Even when she’s tested me to the absolute limit.

I don’t always get it right, but I’m confident she knows I’m doing my best and that I love her more than life itself and that is enough.

Antidepressants vs insulin.

I’ve been on antidepressants on and off since I was 14 years old. More on than off. Over half of my life. I’m not depressed, not anymore, I haven’t been for some time now, but I do GET depressed when in pain, and I also have varying forms of anxiety. When I say varying, it can go from mild to unbearable in seconds, if you have anxiety, you’ll know where I’m coming from. I am insecure and often struck with self loathing and paranoia.

So, I’ve always taken antidepressants to kind of keep me on a level. They do work, and if they aren’t working for you, you might need a different type or dose adjustment.

I’ve never felt shame in taking them even before it was ‘cool’ to talk about your mental health. (I mean that in the best possible way, being that I think it is cool we talk about it)

Diabetics don’t feel shame at taking insulin and therefore depressives shouldn’t feel shame in taking antidepressants.

Today I am 14 days free of Duloxetine (Cymbalta).

I’ve been on it for 2 years 8 months for fibromyalgia pain and low mood. I still have both of those, so why you ask, am I ceasing treatment? Well the main reason is because, Ciara was born withdrawing from antidepressants that I was told by my healthcare professionals, were safe to take during pregnancy. They weren’t safe for us though, and she fought for her life for the first 6 days following her birth. So before I contemplate having another child I want to be drug free.

I take a variety of other drugs too for my condition, and therefore this is just one pill in a long line of pills, that I am planning to quit.

The withdrawal has been hard, I’m not going to pretend otherwise. The brain zaps are something else, like electric shocks through the temples and the emotions have been flooding out of me like someone pulled the plug on a whale tank. I’ve cried, laughed, snapped, it’s been the proverbial whirlwind alright. Even more reason I refuse to subject another baby to these symptoms. I live with a lot of guilt about the start Ciara had, and even though I know I absolutely needed those drugs at the time, I still don’t think if I knew of the consequences I would of continued to take them. They potentially saved my life whilst almost costing me my daughter’s. So you can see why I’m conflicted?

I’m using CBD oil now and whilst I’ve used that before, I’ve never used it to combat withdrawal, it’s probably a bit early to say whether or not it’s helping, as like I said, the withdrawal definitely has been noticeable.

Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this isn’t so you go and throw away your pills, it’s so you don’t feel ashamed when making decisions about treatment.

I would go back on them tomorrow if I felt suicidal again or my functionality was off because of my mood. I’m not precious about taking drugs and if something works for you I think it’s important you feel comfortable with whatever treatment you decide upon. Depression can be, a life long condition, it’s also often a life threatening one when left untreated. It’s so important to remember you’re not the minority! So many people take antidepressants these days, they aren’t as invasive as they were years ago. Even the ones I took when I was 14 were a whole lot more zombifying than the ones I take now. Most people function well with treatment. My excuses are quite lazy, I need to do some more natural boosting of the endorphins in order to combat the repercussions of coming off my meds.

It’s not a case of flick a switch and everything’s fine, and it would be naive of me to expect it to be. I do however want to share the journey of transitioning from pills to plants and homeopathic therapies. Mainly because I want to review whether it actually works and if there are other ways for me to combat pain and depression aside from prescription drugs.

Today I drank celery juice for the first time and you can find me gagging on Instagram. It was vile, but I’m told these things aren’t instant, so I may need to try it for a while longer to feel the benefit! I’ll be buying a nose peg and hoping for the best.

Feel free to share your tips of what works for you. So many people say exercise and I’ve always got an excuse as to why I can’t do it. 2019 needs to be a year of less excuses because, time doesn’t wait and the clocks are ticking.

A shit load of reasons why you should not ask a woman when she’s having another baby…

Reasons why you should never ask a Mum when she’s having another baby….

I’ve updated this with extra points to reflect my current situation. I originally wrote this blog after Ciara was born in 2016. The minute people became aware that Ciara is starting school this year, they have been on me with the second kid question, like flies on shit, seagulls to a sandwich. It’s a throwaway question. It’s rarely asked with any intent to upset but there are so many reasons as to why you shouldn’t ask it. Most of my friends know my situation already, so they don’t ask. If they do ask it’s a conversation that is a two way, it’s a chance for me to talk about my hopes or reservations, but strangers? Strangers go straight for the jugular. Strangers need to back off. Auntie Aggy who you haven’t seen in 10 years but proceeds to tell you how bad an age gap is for children, she needs to shut the fuck up. Or Ethel next door giving you the third degree about your biological clock. So here’s my reasons newly extended as to why you should still not ask a mum when she’s having her next child!

1. She may not want anymore. She might be happy with her one beautiful child. Period.

2. She may not be able to have anymore. Your body goes through all sorts of changes after pregnancy and secondary infertility is a very real and very common problem. Please be mindful before you approach a woman you seldom know, with a loaded question like when she’s about to pop another human out.

3. She may have only just got her body back to a perfect 10. (Not me obvs) – but some women are passionate about returning to their pre baby bodies and that’s their choice. Just because you can’t think of anything worse than going on a diet or hitting the gym post pregnancy, remember we’re not all the same.

4. She may be suffering with her mental health and or PTSD from the trauma of her child’s relentless screaming, or her toddler throwing themselves on the floor screaming NOOOOO over and over again, she can’t yet bear the thought of having 2 irrational psychopaths living in her house. Jokes aside – these phases our children go through are not all roses and rainbows are they? Give the girl a break.

5. She may of had such a bad pregnancy that the thought of going through that trauma again, whilst also being a whale with a swollen fanny and fat ankles, just ain’t on the agenda for the foreseeable. If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know my pregnancy story, I won’t bore you with it again, but pregnancy wasn’t enjoyable for me and no matter how many well wishers tell me it’ll be different with number 2, I still don’t get excited at the prospect.

6. Sex is so much better without another human inside of your abdomen. Ok so if you’ve just had a baby you might not be at it like rabbits, but maybe resurrecting your sex life is on the agenda. You go Goddess!!

7. Her and her partner/significant other only just survived the first baby, give them chance. Babies can have a negative impact on relationships as much as they can a positive one. The early stages can be particularly traumatic and resentment can fester. Maybe your girl isn’t ready for the second wave of hating her other half for his measly 2 weeks paternity leave, or the fact he gets to avoid night feeds whilst she’s breastfeeding.

8. Similar to the above, she may have found herself single, or be going through relationship difficulties, and therefore the next baby seems too far off to contemplate. You wouldn’t ask her when she’s getting her next boyfriend would you? So leave her be.

9. They like spending their money on holidays, date nights and stamp collections. The M Word. It’s a big one. Let’s not pretend money’s not a factor. Yes you will find the money and do your best to survive the financial toll of having a family, but some people want more than just survival.

9. They are just too tired. The first child is just about sleeping through the night at 2, let’s let them sleep a while eh?

10. Their child has disabilities, health problems or learning difficulties that they are navigating their way through and managing. The next baby hasn’t been thought of yet. Their first child needs all of their attention.

11. They had a traumatic birth experience. Birth trauma is very common but also very seldom talked about. Women who have negative pregnancy and birth experiences unsurprisingly might have their reservations about baby no 2. Don’t make them spell it out for you, it’s much kinder to just not ask.

12. Maternal mental illness is serious. It can become life threatening. I was suicidal during pregnancy and for a long while after too, that has had a big influence over my decision to not get pregnant again yet. Women who suffer ante and postnatally with their mental health will naturally be more anxious about going through that experience again or worsening their current symptoms.

13. My baby nearly died. Babies are rushed to NICU often. 44% of full term babies are taken in to special care and it’s scary, that’s without even looking at the premie stats. In fact for new parents, it’s terrifying. Nobody in their right mind would want to go through that twice and the thoughts surrounding the possibility of it happening a second time can influence a mum’s decision on whether to have a second child.

14. Mum has her own health problems and she doesn’t want to discuss them with Doris in the corner shop. So Doris if you’re reading. Drop it, Hun! Contrary to popular belief mums get sick too, and this might be affecting her ability to parent one child, let alone two.

15. It’s not the right time. Maybe the mum you’re questioning has gone back to work and got herself a promotion, or she’s decided to further her career by going back to college to learn a new skill. Maybe they’ve just bought a house and are doing it up. Maybe they’ve got a big birthday coming up and are waiting until after then so they can get suitably shitfaced for the occasion. Maybe it’s just not the right time. And that’s ok.

16. They’ve been trying and suffered baby loss. Imagine getting asked when you’re having another one if you’d just miscarried? 1 in 3 women miscarry. I’ll let that sink in.

17. Finally, my personal favourite: Because it’s none of your business. #justsaying.

Us women often share our thoughts with our friends, so it’s likely if she wants you to know, she’ll tell you. This question of ‘are you having another?’ Or ‘do you want more?’ is honestly I think the most personal question I’ve ever been asked.

It’s likely to get awkward real quick if I start reeling off the above reasons in answer to your questions, so to cut out this embarrassment for both of us, drop the question. We know you don’t mean anything by it. We know you’re just making conversation but you should know, it makes us uncomfortable. (It does me, anyway)

It’s not just the question either, it’s the unsolicited advice that naturally follows…. Why you mustn’t have an only child, or how you’ll regret not doing it sooner if you don’t start now. How no two pregnancies are the same.

We’re not listening. We don’t want to answer you anymore – Our bodies. Our minds. Our families. Our choice.