Tag Archives: parenting

The Hormonal House

As you may imagine, our house is often the place to find hormonal outbursts. The four bigs are all of an age where you can very easily say the wrong thing and find yourself on the receiving end of a mouthful of upset. It isn’t fun and it isn’t pretty. With hindsight, it was The Boy’s extreme reaction to teenage hormones that was the precursor to his looking for answers and working out that he was trapped in the wrong body. 

We went through a hellish two years when periods arrived that I’m very glad not to have gone through again just yet. We spoke to a GP who claimed that it would take a few years to settle down and she wasn’t prepared to offer anything to help until then. We were a year in and stuck in a 3 weeks on/ 5 days off cycle. Blood tests confirmed anemia and we added iron tablets to the multivitamin morning regime. I should point out that this mirrored my own journey through the menstrual maze; the cramps, the heavy flow, the feeling that I was always restricted by the blood. At first, we felt that this contributed to the negative cycle he seemed to be caught in, and in many ways it did, just not in the way we thought. The joke many women scoff at about men coping (or rather not) with periods and giving birth seemed to be the case. My child confided in me that he was a boy and suddenly the extreme reaction to starting a period *again* made sense. Periods – the thing that only little girls have to get used to and my son had to cope more often than most. The hormonal outrage that we had been struggling with was a constant reminder for him that he was being punished by his female shell and my little teen was lost in the emotions of it all.

One of the first things we discussed at Tavistock was the need to control periods. He was desperately trying to embrace his male self when he was woken in the night by cramps and the need for a bath. Amazingly, they offered an easy solution straight away. I had explained to him that I wasn’t aware of a pill that stopped the period completely and we were both a bit frustrated. The psychologist explained that they often use Nerothisterone, a progesterone only tablet commonly used by many to delay a period for a few days but that, when taken delay, can delay menstruation for a considerable time. This tiny little pill was a game changer. He started taking it a few days later and has been relatively happy with it ever since. Every few months he has to stop taking it and have a breakthrough bleed. This week isn’t very pretty. 

So, moving forward. We have finally had the recommendation to be moved on to blockers and his relief is palpable. He will spend the next 6 months to a year exploring life with all his birth hormones blocked, a journey to hopefully get him closer to testosterone – what he’s wanted all along. By this time next year he will be well on his way to the Adult Team where the truly complicated stuff happens.

In preparation for the next year we have been advised to talk to a fertility specialist to talk about long term options. Unfortunately, we don’t have much information about the risks of long term testosterone use on ferility. Although we have had transgender persons for quite some time now, the use of testosterone in young men who are still considering the changing path of transition and their ability to have, or not, there own biological children is still a very new concept and mostly unknown. Lets be honest about this, the ferilisation of an egg for someone for has never taken T is a miracle in itself so we can only give a best guess for what the chances are. That sounds a bit doom and gloom so let me pair it with the following.

There have been quite a few stories of transgender families having biological children this past year. UK ftm Dad had his daughter earlier this year and this lovely couple shared their joy at their son’s birth just this month. These are very encouraging stories and will give many trans teens hope for the future. Whether or not it gives hope to my Boy, I’m not sure. So many conversations over the past three years; adoption, fertility clinics, turkey basters, online sperm donations, helping family or having family help out…. I can’t imagine him making a firm decision within a year and yet he has made decisions this past year which I couldn’t believe possible from my baby, but I guess he’s not my baby anymore, not whilst we move through these hoops and jumps on his path to transitioning into a grown man.

He is far braver and far wiser than I could ever be. His level head, the way he considers others whilst making decisions (mostly), his flourishing independance and even knowing when he still needs his mum. I’m so proud of him and right now, with the three biggest all arguing in front of me, I say that with ease. 

We still have the hormonal rages from the Bigs. Not really emjoying this part of the parenting rollercoaster but in for a penny, in for a pound 😉

Sweeping it under the carpet

With our size family, we often have to deal with issues of self esteem. There are 3 gingerlings, some bean poles, some belly woes, a few geeklings and a couple of nerds, a bookworm and a sports enthusiast. We have been exceptionally lucky because none of these things have led to any sustained bullying or upset. The issues we have had is because of the sense of justice, the choice to follow the rules, the lack of “tell-tale” mentality at home which allows for a greater sense of needing others to do their best and the reporting of poor behaviour or rule breaking.

My children get pulled apart for doing the right thing. It is absolutely frustrating that they have to deal with back handed name calling, pinching, pushing, isolation tactics etc. and when I try to discuss the issue at school, it is *my* child who is told to ignore poor behaviour in others, to walk away from troublesome 10 year olds, to find a new place to play, to stop taking things so personally. 

This doesn’t wash with us nor does it mean that the school get to deny they have a problem with bullying. As a parent, it is my job to protect my children, to encourage a positive attitude and install a compass to help steer them clear from trouble. When I drop them off at the class door I expect the staff to put the same effort in and 10 years ago, mostly, they did. As I now approach our youngest two entering the system I can see definite flaws in how things are being handled and the way the schools mark down incidents.

At a recent meeting with one of the Heads, it was mentioned that the mother of the boy who *slapped my child around the face* was not keen on the school’s behaviour policy so although it would have been mentioned the school had not given the child any sanctions beyond asking him to say sorry. So, as an adult, I can go into the playground and smack a member of staff and all I’ll have to do is say sorry….. No. I can’t see that assault being let go quite so easily and this is what children face everyday at school.

There’s one of those urban legends about a young lad who twangs a girl’s bra strap multiple times and when he doesn’t back off the female turns around and punches him in the face. Parents are called to the school and the girl looks to be excluded for a day or three for violence when the mother, quite rightly, steps in and explains that if the young adult isn’t punished she will be forced to press charges for sexual assault. It is almost certainly a lesson based on some truth but also one that doesn’t seem to be being heard by those in a position of power and responsibility.

My beautiful niece, only 12 years old, was having trouble with the snidey kids at her secondary school. It started with giggling as she passed, whispers in the class line, notes being passed around reminding others that she wasn’t to be talked to. Her mum tried to do right by our little Smiler, explained to not let these kids get the better of her, remind her that she isn’t any of those things being talked about, to be “the better person” and walk away. That worked for a short while but when these bullies saw it wasn’t working they stepped it up a notch and eventually became physical. One day she finally had enough. Smiler had done everything she was supposed to; walk away, tell a parent, tell a teacher, tell head of year. Now she had nowhere else to go and felt that she wasn’t worth as much as these other delightful tweenagers because no one had her back at school, a place where she spends the majority of her time, where she is supposed to be as safe as, or better safer than, home. She stood up for herself and when the leader tried to trip her up, again, she told her in no uncertain terms that she needed to pack it in right now. The other girl laughed before grabbing a handful of Smiler’s hair. She defended herself brilliantly and matched her enemy pull for pull, scratch for scratch. She was put in isolation for the rest of the week and made to apologise to the other girl.

What does that teach the next generation? Do the right thing but you might get hurt in the process but stand up for yourself and you will be punished and probably more harshly than your bully..? Why are we allowing the bullys and their bullying parents to dictate how we handle these situations? Why should our children be putting up with hurtful behaviour, attitudes, and violence, the consequences of which stay with a person for a lifetime? Accidental headlocks, recommending the wearing of shorts under skirts to prevent bullies from showing your knickers to the rest of the school, ignoring others blatently breaking school rules, holding back the tears for fear you give the bully more ammunition. Our children shouldn’t have to feel scared at school, they shouldn’t have nightmares or breakdowns as you insist that they attend classes. 

I urge all parents to stand up to bullies. Speak to the teacher, the Head, explain that you will not stand by and allow your child to be subjected to poor behaviour because the school fail to see it, or worse, see it and do not appropriately handle the situation. Our children have the right to an education free from harm and harrassment, lessons that don’t involve being kicked under the table, lunchtimes free from people ruining food, and also to walk home without a group of kids following or crowding around them.

School isn’t always fun, we all know how far the government have gone to make tests the most important part of the learning process, but as adults, we have the capability and responsibility to keep our children free from physical AND mental harm. 

Apple for Teacher

Once upon a school class, I wanted to be a pediatrician. I felt a compelling sense that I needed to help people especially the young. Little by little I grew as an individual and decided that my path had led away from medicine. I could not stand to be in school and the idea that I had to spend another 10 years of life not being able to help children whilst I studied and amounted a vast debt just didn’t seem right.

The Mr and I met at college. He is the reason I absolutely believe in love at first sight. He came out of a meeting in the hall and swaggered down towards the common area and I knew with every fibre of my being that I was going to have children with him. Fourteen months later our first child was delivered by caesarean section, a more than healthy 9lb 15oz and a beautifully fuzzy ginger top. Looking at this tiny (!) human being I knew that I had found my path. I wanted to be a mother, a really good mother. 

Mothering is so much more than making sure you meet the 4 Bs. – bottle/boob, bottom, burping, bundling. Bundling is my favourite part. The mini human gets laid in a lovingly made blanket from a nanna, aunt, bestfriend, and you tuck the edges around them almost too tightly. Some like their arms tucked too whilst others have one arm out, a thumb in their mouth, and then you hold them. Just hold them. 

In the late hours, when the world seems quiet and it is just you two, that’s when the lessons are learnt. You teach your child about love, acceptance, joy and laughter, even fear. In return your child shows you compassion, independence, loyalty, faith and trust.

Oddly, that isn’t exactly what I had planned on exploring but it is a good start to where our family finds itself right now.

The youngest gingerling has just finished doing some “fun” quizzes and as a reward she will be going to the seaside. Miss Diva didn’t find them so fun. You had to sit in boring seats and you weren’t allowed to even laugh! But she got to write a really good story only she didn’t have enough time to finish it and that isn’t fair.

Year 2 SATs suck. I have always had a passionate dislike of them. They tell us nothing about what truly matters when we look at our 6 and 7 year olds. It doesn’t state their favourite colour or toy, whether they prefer Science or Art, how high they climb on the bars or how much their handwriting has improved this year. My wonderful 6 (and a half! Very important to Miss Diva) year old has spent the last 6 months learning how to pass a test. She was told how to write with a start, a middle, and an end – like those are the only options available when writing a story. She knows how to work out a word problem in maths, which is useful in the long run but not so helpful in encouraging her how to remember her times table and then how to use that to work out division. The last time she worked on a beautiful piece of artwork was Christmas and they haven’t had a music lesson since the class assembly in January. She has had afterschool booster sessions and even a couple of days of extra mini quizzes during the holidays. My beautiful prancing, dancing, singing, smiling, giggling 6 and a half year old wasn’t even alloed to laugh.

Yay. I’m sure that tells the government lots about my child.

My not so little anymore CEO is just about to start her “fun quizzes” except without the sugar coating. She knows exactly what is expected of her by her teachers and is not sleeping because of it. Her SATs prep started last school year. As soon as My Daydreamer went off on her school leavers journey the lines were laid down to start teaching the year 5 class how to “do well” in their SATs. For the whole of the last 12 months they have had it drummed into them just how important these tests are and they have worked for nothing else. I have every faith in my rule enforcer, my little teacher’s pet, my stressed and anxious nearly nearly 11 year old. She has the most awe inspiring spirit, her mind is so enquisitive, always asking questions, always fighting for the World to be a better place to grow. I know she is intelligent, probably top 10 at her school, I have no desire for her to do these exams which leave her despondent and fearful. To see the light ebb from her as her shoulders slump and her wrists need rubbing from cramp. 

The tests don’t show that though. They aren’t interested in my child’s personality, her strengths and weaknesses, they only care about how well she can decipher the maths word puzzle, how her teachers have taught her the difference between clauses, how to use adverbs correctly, the humble comma, and when to use there, their, and they’re. She must also resist the use of emoticons because they’re not appropriate. 

>.>

My no longer little but my almost fully grown red head has been stuck in his bedroom for the last two years. The once vivid green walls are now adorned with a revision timetable covered by an exam timetable, post it notes in various shapes and sizes, thought maps, English quotes, and words of hope that soon this month long stressfest will soon be over. 

The GCSEs are the ones that terrify me. The teachers have high hopes for my biggest boy. Meeting after meeting, email after email, each one telling us if he just studies a little longer, revises just a little harder, pushes himself just a little further…. He has bitten each and every fingernail, you can see the little patch of fringe where he has been tugging and twisting, he is mainlining chocolate and his light hasn’t been out before 2am in a ridiculously long length of time. 

We have spent so much of the last five years battling the anxiety and handling the stress so that he can explore his identity and then embrace his transition. My boy doesn’t need this extra burden. He would have put himself under enough pressure to do well. He desperately wants to do well, he wants to get the qualifications he needs to move forward on his career path and help children in a way I absolutely understand. He is determined to make a difference in this world and he sees the educational route as his future journey. 

His GCSEs won’t show that about him. They won’t show off his absolutely enchanting voice, his delicate style of drawing that he has no faith in, his dark sense of humour which he shares with his father, his passion for politics causing voices to shake and hands to clench. They won’t count the tears he has shed because he doesn’t think he is good enough, the notes screwed up because they need to be just so.

The numbers at the end of the day won’t matter to me, they won’t change how much I love and cherish them, I am not concerned about competing with the other mums in the playground or stealing the Best Mum award of 2017. 

My children have been, otherwise, fabulously educated and by some of the best teachers – when they leave compulsory education at 18 they will be articulate, well-rounded, informed young adults but a good chunk of it will come from us, as parents, family & friends, who have all worked just as hard as the professionals to ensure that the next generation are ready for what comes next.

They are going to be awesome adults. 

Jus’ Sayin’

😉

Mothering the hard way

I was fairly young when I became a mother. I had turned 18 about six weeks previously and had just taken the keys to my first home. 

I can tell you that from a very young age, all I could think about was jobs that helped people and being a mummy. I played with dolls for a lot longer than I would admit to my peers, I recall quite clearly wanting to breastfeed too which seemed quite alien having never actually known anyone to feed in this way. I loved the idea of cloth nappies and baby clothes hanging on the line to dry, trips to feed the ducks and hiding behind my fingers as I listen to a little voice saying “watch me, mummy!”

Nobody warned me about the sleepless nights – well they did but I thought it meant the occassional night because of teething or a bit of earache. Why did no one tell me that some babies just don’t sleep? Seriously. I’m pretty certain that The Boy got by on these 20 second cat naps for a solid three years. I am not exageragerating. There was only one night when he slept for very long whilst my breast was out of reach and I used it to escape. My depression was at the point where I just kissed him goodbye, nudged the Mr to look after him and I fled. 

It was gone midnight, I parked at the top of a hill which meant I had a clear view of our local area and I cried until I ran dry. It was also across the road from my younger sister and my heart leapt when I saw her light go on at near 2am. She welcomed me in, gave me tea, listened to my rantings and bemusedly told me that there was nothing she could do, I had to seek out help for myself. I wanted to cut her tongue out and feed it back to her. She was, of course, quite right. No one could help me but myself. I arrived home to the familiar sound of my tiny son’s wail and knew I was back where I belonged. Still wanted to kick my little sister under the table for being a know it all.

Also, dithering. I never dithered before children. I wanted to achieve something so I did and if I didn’t I just tried again. Or not. It wasn’t a big deal. When you’re a mother every decision counts. It starts before they are born with finding out the gender, writing a Birthing Plan, choosing pain medication, to give Vitamin K or not, to swaddle or wrap, to bottle or boob, choosing a name, a cot, a nappy brand….. When you reach the stage where you are choosing their educators you freeze all over again. You ask yourself why it took so long to settle on the Supermarket label over Big Brand Names when *this* choice is the one that really matters. I cheated. I couldn’t work out what I wanted from a school so I just let the council decide for me by submitting the forms late. This is not a recommendation. We were thankfully offered a place at the first choice school about 2 weeks after the Firstborn started which was handy because so far I really didn’t like the second place school we were given.

I thought I would do things differently when time came for secondary choices but it was no easier and I darn sight harder. Five years later, at the end of secondary school life, I’m still unclear on if we made the right decision but I think it’d been mostly okay. Best of a poor bunch possibly.

And that’s just the important stuff. Accepting the vegetarian declaration followed by another child being a pescatarian was a bit of a nail biter. Allowing Tellitubbies back into my life? I wish I had the choice to say no! I swear, the smalls know how to navigate our tellevision setup better than I do. That’s the other big small issue. Tech time. The (nearly) seven year old comes home with Internet based homework. With each year they spend in school the tech time needed continues to climb. I can’t even say much because, well, the Mr is Mr IT. He spends all day fiddling and fixing technology so it seems only wise that schools are cluing in to this situation and making students tech savvy but that ultimately means that the children have more screeen time each day than they do PE or playtime. 

Everyday I’m winging it. I have no guru waiting with sage advice, there is no one size fits all “idiots guide” and the only advantage I have over most others is that we have enough children to keep experimenting and trying to get it right.

I don’t think I’m doing too badly either. The strength of their characters is plain for all to see, the spirit with which they each grab life keeps me on my toes and astonishes me daily, their warm, kind, giving, generous hearts is often mentioned by those around us and we both consider ourselves blessed to end each day with our children having taught us more about the world, the human race, ourselves, than when we awoke. 

I find children to be so utterly enthralling. Yes, of course I have days when I am just glad that *my* bedtime has finally arrived but I would never choose a do over. I’m ready to start a new day and see how many lost shoes there are, how many chocolate krispy cakes survived the night, and how just one night will have altered at least one of us just enough to say that our family has grown in one way or another. 

There may well be 10 in our bed but not for all the riches in the world would I change it. I am already the richest of mothers and though it may be very hard at times, I’m loving every minute of it.

 

Signing Off

Or starting again.

Cards on the table, the past 7 months have been a complete and utter nightmare. I mean, things weren’t good for my physical health anyway, I was hit hard by the CFS and the return of the school routine meant that I suffered a dip which means the house takes a nose dive. No one was getting food poisoning, everyone was fed and watered, bills were paid, clothes were washed but rooms were chaos and my living room was crazy with crafting and outgrown uniform and, you get the idea. Our eldest wasn’t quite 16, the baby not yet 2, my priority was keeping the kids doing what they needed to do. I couldn’t do the house too. The Mr is only 18 in house training terms – a work in progress, if you will.

I digress. One afternoon, the weather still wonderful, the mediums wanted to play, the baby had a 4 o’clock call with the breast and the bigs were being bigs – “homework” was being completed. I saw the Dare Devil pass the living room and going upstairs to the bathroom. Normal, everyday, ignorable. A few minutes later the Fashionista and the Protester come running downstairs “Mum! Mum! Can you hear him?” 

No was the simple answer. DD was upstairs, what had he done? Only now he was downstairs. In the garden. Having avoided the stairs…

My crazy, climbing, clingon (as was) had taken a fall from the upstairs bathroom window. It’s a 10, maybe 12 foot drop. My heart was in my mouth and my stupid body was frozen. The Protester carried him in to me, whimpers and unshed tears; no blood and all limbs moving, relief flooded me. I rang for an ambulance, I rang The Mr, I rang The OutLaws. Nearly 90 minutes I held him as still as I could in my lap, talking to him, playing with his floppy mop of curls, telling him about my day and anything else I could think of to keep him with me. He told me he hadn’t hit his head but he’s 8! What does he know? My heart broke as he went off with Dad in the ambulance. I could barely walk, I wasn’t the right person to support him. 

Short of it, he was absolutely fine. A tiny crack on the inner side of the pelvis so a bit sore but other than that he practically managed to walk away from it thanks to some fancy hand holds and swinging rather than dropping. Jeepers, I love that boy!

The long of it. The house was a mess, our 8 year old was able to fall out of a window, flags were raised. Anyone who knows us would say that is a bit extreme but not everyone knows us, unfortunately. 

The Social Workers turned up the following evening. I was at home with The Smalls and because of how my body handles stress it was as bad as you might imagine. I all but freaked out when they left and all of our wonderful friends and family rallied around. The Mr’s week off was put to very good use, I reached out to my own Mother (who has been a trooper even to this day), battle lines were drawn. 

The system is flawed, it’s hard work to navigate, and you really get left in the dark. Immediately there was talk of child protection and despite not one other issue Social Services forged ahead. I can see why, I really do, but I loathe the not knowing and that was where I was left. I had to chase, chase, chase. I was proactive, writing my own “reports” on each child, summing up our flaws and trying to big up our good bits. The day of the Child Protection meeting I was certain I was going to be sick. I hadn’t slept in weeks, I was on hyper aware, the whole family were permanently tense. And then they cancelled. That was my breaking point. How could these people be the best judge of how I run my family when they can’t organise a meeting? Or at least have the decency to tell us before I had a hideously long walk to get to the Civic Centre with no parking. More emails, more chasing, another date set. 

They worked out that we had 80 years of parenting experience and this was the first time we appeared on their radar. Their concerns were my organisational skills (clutter), a lack of interaction with the Health Visitor and getting everyone counselling because. Yeah, just because. One was too selfless in her thinking, one not concerned enough, one so absorbed in their own journey which in itself was also a cause for concern – because being transgender is a big “we haven’t dealt with this before” issue for Social Services down our way.

I would have laughed if it hadn’t been for the tears rolling down my cheeks. None of it made sense to me. My house smelling of cats was their number one problem, apparently The Smalls weren’t talking as expected but I think my prepared list of words they can say put a big footprint on that. Listen people, if a 2 and 3 year old don’t want to talk to you when they’ve only known you five minutes that doesn’t mean they are somehow abnormal (count to 10, count to 10…)

The children were now part of a Child In Need plan and we would have meetings with 2 new Social Workers. Finally, 7 months after “The Incident”, our case has been closed and the relief was overwhelming. We expected and anticipated it and managed it as best we could. The OutLaws stepped up and helped with the school runs and looking after the Smalls so all I had to do was rest. I slept for 30+ hours in a 48 hour window and it was so very needed. Oddly, I don’t feel like I’ve recharged as much as I might have once hoped but I do feel like the weight has gone.

In conclusion;

>It wasn’t as awful as I feared

>It was as “red tape” led as I expected

>For some families, this could have broken them

>If I never see these four women again it wouldn’t leave me heartbroken.

>I am now less likely to tell others that it will be okay and that they’re only there to help

>They don’t help. They issue demands and give no thought to how people are going to “fix” the problems they have found

>It takes it’s toll on everyone
My son did a ridiculous thing and I was all but blamed because I should have been properly supervising him. They want you to do the impossible. As a disabled mother, I already feel guilt day in and day out. All the things I used to do without thinking have now become the most tiring  of experiences; just getting off the sofa takes a great deal of physical effort, a bucket load of pain, and a few internal choice words. I am no longer the easy going, carefree parent I used to be for the first four but instead, I am a worrier, a hesitator, a person constantly on guard and someone who has been forced to rely on others. This experience has made my motherly paranoia 10x worse and they will never understand the damage they have caused.

Social services can and do make a tremendous positive impact on families and often, quite literally, save lives. They are not infallible, they are, after all, only human and this means mistakes can and will happen. Granted, the mistakes for our family were made because of the system and not through malice but I think that makes us the lucky ones. Two women walked into my home and immediately made assumptions which I can’t blame them for. I *think* we are one of the good families, one of the switched on, educated, engaged families. There are others out there who are falling short for similar reasons as our own but I fear the children in those incidences will live with the repercussions for a very long time.

My boy thought he had been bad. He still feels that for those 2 weeks where it was “recommended” that he stay with his grandparents he was being punished. By me. He’s eight, he has no idea of what the real reasons were or that my lack of visitation was because I couldn’t move and not because I was angry with him. Our bond has been shaken and I don’t know if it will ever be the same. Some families have been through this and didn’t make it out the other side. My heart breaks for all of those families. I lived in daily fear of my children being taken and it took an army of people to make sure that I made it through. When people talk about social services now I get it. I understand that even if you have done nothing you still have everything to fear. These strangers have complete control over your children and depending on how their local enforcers view things could make life take a terrible turn.

I wish it wasn’t so. I wish we all spoke openly about our experiences and therefore forced accountability to be out in the open too. Social Workers don’t want to take away children, they don’t want to break apart families but the role they play in society means that is exactly what they do. 

When the original knock at the door happened I was totally taken aback. I asked them if they could hold off, could they come back tomorrow, it’s already 6:30 and the babies need their baths before bed. “Oh no” they said. “It won’t take long” they said. “Better to get it done straight away” they said. I was a disabled mother caring for two young children whilst her husband visited with the older children as he stayed at the hospital with their son. They shoulda woulda coulda left it and come back the next day. Too late now. Nothing can change anything for us but perhaps next time they will do things differently and will still manage to do the best by the family they encounter. 

The Big D

If you know anything about me you probably know that being a mother is everything. I’ve never not wanted to be one, I told the Mr on our first date that I wanted a big family and a home full of love and laughter.

I was never going to be “one of those” mums who allow themselves to be depressed…..

Blimey, I was an unthinking fool. 

My depression probably hit immediately. I looked at my beautiful blue baby with orange fuzz and the rush didn’t happen, that overwhelming sense of “wow” that I thought happened. I kept waiting for it. I knew with every fibre of my being that I loved them and would do anything that was needed to protect them and yet, I felt nothing else. 

I think we were 3 months in before the HV persuaded me to speak to the GP after a routine vaccination appointment. He shoved pills at me. I should at this point tell you that I was badly depressed as a teen, I was suicidal and able to spend a ridiculous amount of time alone, I regularly skipped school but was able to hide it from the adults in my life, I tried stealing from shops but no one ever noticed the slightly chubby school girl walking up and down the makeup aisle. I was utterly miserable and as pills were my weapon of choice – counting out just the right number of paracetamol I could take without my body self-emptying to avoid danger, the pills moving from pile to pile and each one having the name of the person who pushed me to the edge. So when I was offered pills by the Dr I felt invisible yet again. 

I battled alone, took more fresh air, planned a wedding, watched my little Gingerling grow. At the 11th month mark, I threw my back out and I was given a huge box of paracetamol and I knew the darkness was lifting. Had they been placed in my hand 6 months earlier I would have seen it as a sign that fuel had been given to my journey, that devil on my shoulder would have grown further and the light finally extinguished.

This has been the pattern for as long as I can recall. At times it was easier, the process shortened, the help more readily available, and then there was the time we do not talk about. I have birthed in many ways but by far The Dare Devil’s delievery pushed me to my limits. I had an urgent ceaserian section due to breech presentation. He had spun again and again before flipping one last time in early labour, bracing himself against my ribs, stubbornly refusing to exit as expected.

I cried throughout the warm up, I cried throughout the surgery, I cried throughout recovery, I sobbed silently all night long so as to not upset the other new mums. I had some of the best friends at this point. My two Young Aunts took control and made sure that I stayed healthy. They filled my day with visits and playgroups, they insisted on lunch out and let me cry when I needed too. It wasn’t easy, this recovery process is never easy and I don’t think you ever fully recover. I have nightmares on the weeks leading up to Easter and his birthday, as I did last night. I remember so clearly sitting in my car, the engine running, looking at the wall across the junction pondering if it would matter, begging for sleep that was never found. The light was so hard to find, almost invisible, buried in the darkest of corners where I was forced to admit that I wasn’t the best person for my baby son nor for his older siblings, forced to accept that I needed help and could no longer pretend that it was all okay. I was pregnant again before I asked for help, my younger sister holding my hand, reminding me that, just like Pooh Bear, I was stronger than I seemed, that not only could I but I *would* come out the other side and that actually, I wasn’t failing my family who were all safe and warm, fed and loved but that it was myself that I kept beating up, it was myself who had taken one too many beatings and needed time to heal and to feel the love that my Dare Devil was giving me. I had spent so long surviving that I had forgotten what laughing felt like, I had forgotten what fear felt like. I was numb for so long whilst I hid from storm clouds that I missed all the bits that reminded us that we are human, that we are alive.

I admitted the fear as I wallowed in the soothing water of my birth pool, I embraced the feeling of love as I opened my arms with trepidation and became a mother once again, I smiled as I looked down into the deep soothing eyes of my newborn and I knew things could get better. It took a truly scary moment 6 weeks later to know that it would. The Dare Devil flew. Or crashed. I sat nursing the baby whilst he decided to climb on the top bunk before falling over the edge. He bit his tongue nearly in two and I didn’t know if it was possible for a child to survive after loosing so much blood. He bounced. I’m sure he must have because by the time we reached A&E he was miserable and tired. He had lost his latch so could no longer latch and despite this ravine along the length of his tongue showed no other signs that he had been involved in an accident. That was the first day of my future. Don’t get me wrong, I still have days when I feel lost and alone but somehow I am better equipped to deal with the storm. 

My family, and the friends I consider family, taught me how to dance in the rain whilst seeking out rainbows. They taught me not to be afraid of a storm but to ride it out, to see it for what it really was, just a darkness not a blackhole. They said that it was okay to talk about it, to share that of course it can, and often is, the most terrifying of places but also to share the hope, to let others know they are not alone, that others have gone before and found their own path out, to allow me the chance to be the hand that holds another so they no longer feel so utterly alone.

You, yes you. You are not alone. Maybe your depression came hand in hand with the baby, maybe it came from a young age and a chaotic family life or innocence lost to another by force. Maybe it is the result of years living with pain that no one heard, the physical condition which has no name, no cure and no hope.

You are not alone. There are many friends waiting to offer a handand they are ready whenever you are. There is no time limit, there are no conditions, you can have the support time and time again if need be, we really don’t mind. As long as you know you are not alone because we are here. Always here.

#depression #pnd #postnataldepression #mentalhealth #youarenotalone

Crash and Rebuild

Fibromyalgia, the illness that keeps on giving.

This past year has seen my living condition deteriate. My joints have becoming incresingly stiff and tender with the lightest of touches sending a seering pain through my arm making holding hands with the Toddler a rarity. Likewise, my knees are working against me so when said Toddler decided to wander close to the road I had a challenge reaching her.

Today was a perfect example of how stress changes my delicate hold over my body.

Yesterday, my CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) hit hard and I was asleep for the night at 8pm – issue no1: I didn’t take my night time meds. I woke around 2am with everything screaming at me – issue no2: where did I leave my meds? FibroFog is a kicker. Found some and then looked at my extra big bed filled with the Mr and child 5th, 7th, & 8th. No room for mummy 😦 Starting to sound like Peace At Last, if you ask me 😉 so off to the Pre-schooler’s bottom bunk. Oh I’m so glad she’s got a delicate bottom – issue no3: over sensitivity. Every spring in that mattress wanted to say hello but my impolite response seemed to be ignored (obviously learning from the children) Around 6am, I heard the start of the alarms. It took 10 minutes to get off that bloomin’ bunk and another 10mins to walk the 15 steps to the loo. By this point I know I’m on a losing battle. Found the wonderful tramadol and flopped on to my slowly emptying bed. Game over – issue no4: joint lock. My shoulders pulled together and clicked, my hips pulled apart and locked, and my back hummed the inner hum of a mother on the edge.

I admitted defeat and the Mr stepped up and took charge. I often moan about his helpfulness but he didn’t miss a beat. I think we both knew it was due and we are in the incredibly fortunate position of having the Mr’s parents ready, willing and able to help out. 

The whole family has felt the implications of an accident last September but it is only know, 6 months later, that we can start to move forward and destress, hence my body fighting back. I’ll talk more about that another day but for now I want to just be thankful for the NHS, mostly, who continue to provide me with pain altering meds although I’m waiting for a new referral which may lead to a new combo! Also, for having a family who understand that my body is a bit more than a little broken and so step up and help when help is most needed.

I had the whole day to myself today which was used for sleeping and another day to myself tomorrow which I’m going to use for more reviving. My FMS shows itself in different ways to my sister and probably to other lifers too. Today, I was ruled by the fatigue and governed by the joint pain and nerve sensitivity. The fog kept hitting me hard so comprehensive thinking was somewhat delayed and now, at silly o’clock, the insomnia wants to say hello >.> but I’m going to say Night Night regardless in the hopes that this yawning is a positive sign…

TTFN – ta ta for now
#fibro #fms #fibromyalgia #CFS #insomnia #family #NHS

Mum’s night off

I had made wonderful plans all in advance (this is not me as I currently never know when a bad day will hit!).

I paid hard earnt cash for a train fare and a hotel room for the night.

I had everything packed, I even remembered my toothbrush before I was ready to leave.

Boom. Every single digit sang, every limb as heavy as a sack of potatoes, my head suddenly squeezed like a boa constricta had it locked down for dinner, my heart pounding second after second before randomly stopping and then exploding through my chest. Weekend over.

Does my body hate me? Every week I pay attention to a new symptom, for example, my right hand pointing digit has been stiff for a good while now and last week it looked a little bruise. Today I could draw a circle across half of my hand’s back as I outline this tight, puffy portion of skin. Good job I can type with four fingers, I guess :-/

However. In true Mumma Bear style I decided to fight back. I couldn’t do anything about the train fare and at £22 it was a loss we could just about cover. The hotel room was a different matter and, quite frankly, I wasn’t about to lose a good night’s sleep!

Here I should mention I have issues with talking to people on the phone. I won’t accept unknown numbers, I’ve learnt that restricted numbers tends to be the GP calling me back, anything that looks like a call centre gets sent to voicemail. Making calls is hideous. I get clammy, twitchy and I can feel the bile in my stomach rising 😦 normally I would try to find an email address and go from there but I had no choice with this. We had less than 3 hours to sort something out and sort it I did!

The lovely lady up in Birmingham emailed the “Booking Gods” explaining that I wouldn’t be able to make it up north so was there any possibility of getting a bed in the closest branch to me here in South London… Success! There was a bed available and it had my name on it. 

I lost a few hours as I needed a lift from The Outlaws but I was determined to spend a few glorious hours all by myself with no “mummy, can I?” or “Mum! He hit me” followed by “she hit me first!”

I took a shower uninterrupted. I sat on the toilet without chit chat. I trumped without apology! For 15.5 hours I could just relax and stop for the first time in I don’t know how long.

Do you know what I realised? I live for the noise, the chaos, the never ending questions starting with “why?”, the mess – so much mess!- and the hugs. There are too many days were hugs aren’t possible, when I have no control of the pain and the slightest featherlike touch releases the kind of noise only bats can hear. I want to get as many hugs as I can whilsy they still want to hug. Slowly but surely, those days are numbered. 

#timeaway #fibromyalgia #disabledmum #hugs #anxiety #showernotbath #largefamily

One painful step forward, two excruiating steps back

I rang the doctor today, cried as I explained that I was in pain, that I really needed to see a specialist now rather than wait *again* for yet another GP at the practice to see that the regime of meds I’m on simply isn’t working.

Nope, no can do. Ring again tomorrow and talk to “The Man Who Can” only he was the one who said that upping my vitamin D would help. If only it would. 

Every day is now a struggle. From the exercises I do to get my legs in a working state before leaving my bed to the exercises I do with my neck and shoulders to try and sleep at night. I can no longer tie shoe laces, or put my hair up (nor brush it first), putting on a coat is a struggle and taking it off more so. And what I miss most, lifting the little ones. I can’t grasp them enough to pick up, I can’t sit them on my knees because of the pain, I can’t snuggle tight if someone can see the wince of pain in my eyes, but, I’m still breathing, my days are not yet numbered, I *do* wake each day and the pain reminds me that I still have time. 

Time to say I love you, time to say I admire you, time to eat too much, time to laugh until I pee myself (8 babies = not very long!), time to stop and take stock and time to remember that I am me. Fibromyalgia might be my diagnosis but it isn’t who I am. There are days when I might forget that I am a writer, a musician, a cook and a baker, a joker, a lover, a sister, a friend, a daughter, a mother and then a person managing as best she can with what is now her disability.

I’m also going to be late!  

#fibromyalgia #nhs #morethanmysymptoms #disabledmum #largefamily