A mum of 2 trying to stay sane in an overly airbrushed world.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Blame it on the Booby!

Before I birthed my first child, still in the wonderfully naΓ―ve stage of motherhood I faced the first of many NCT antenatal class ice breakers...

What is the worst thing about pregnancy so far?

Of all the possible things I could of said (feel free to think of your own response) I answered instantly with MATERNITY BRAS.

I do not regret the swiftness of that response even now 4 years on! Why so offensive, you may wonder?! 

Being a 'lucky' FF/G cup the bra market is still limited so the minute you step out of your comfort zone into the realms of 'specialist' bras such as maternity, sports or post surgery you will encounter the following:

- little to no choice
- a range with NO sex appeal (or appealing features at all)
- expensive alternatives which will bankrupt you
- sizing based on nothing more than your clothes size (doesn't work for really doesn't please stop doing this high street stores!

In pregnancy I found some comfy bras which did the job (and not a lot more) but hated every day of wearing them. I was overjoyed to get past the breastfeeding stage and back into my supportive, trusted and attractive underwear and carry on as before.

Then I got breast cancer and I have found myself more and more detached from my breasts; I haven't physically felt the lump since the day I was diagnosed for fear of getting obsessed with it and its size, I really struggle to feel any desire to show them off as an asset - most of the time the thought of wearing an underwired bra is repulsive.
On my bad days this is my way of preparing for the worst; if I require a single or double mastectomy I have to face the fact that they'll be gone, I may be left with nothing or readjust to a whole new body - so why not just disassociate now...bit like saying a short, swift goodbye rather than dragging it out. On good days when I feel relatively normal I know this is not the way to continue - I still have a life now, I still go out, I still wear clothes so I need to make the most of all I have for as long as I have it and post treatment and surgery I will have got my life back and I want to be able to love the body I'm fighting so hard to get healthy.

The solution?

Online shopping of course!

I went in search of some 'sexy', comfortable and correctly sized non-wired bras suitable for cup sizes larger than a DD. All hail the brave and wonderful body positive ladies on Instagram who model ACTUAL, AFFORDABLE and WELL FITTING DD+ lingerie - there is hope out there!

I managed to find three absolutely perfect bras in one place an online underwear supplier called
Tutti Rouge so I placed my order and hoped they’d be as good as they looked. 

At this point I think it’s necessary to tell you I PAID for all three of the items I’m about to tell you about. I have no affiliation to the brand - this is purely a review to help others in search of similar items if they are wanting/needing to move away from underwired products.

Oh, and also I'm no underwear please excuse the amateur shots - I hope they help give an idea of the bras in real life.

1. The ‘Ashley’ is a bralette which you pull over the head (so no back clasp), it has adjustable straps, an underband (that doesn't ride up) and a wrap style front extra support.

2. The ‘Madison’ a bra in a mix of animal print and lace - again featuring a good underband (keeps its shape and doesn't ride up), adjustable straps and back clap to alter the fit.

3. The ‘Taylor’ a pull over the head longline bralette. Has no adjustable straps or back clasp but very comfortable to wear and still supportive. The cup has slight
padding for additional shape.

Having worn all three both in and out of the house I can fully recommend you give them a try if you are looking for a comfortable alternative to an underwired bra. They are true to size, affordable and they still give you a good shape with enough support to keep the 'saggy maggie' feeling at bay. 

If you need some non-wired comfort - TRY THESE!

More please Tutti Rouge!


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Computer Says No. System Failure.

1st of June 2015 the government announced plans to bring forward the additional 15 'free' childcare hours for working parents.

A statement on informed us:
The Childcare Bill, will double free childcare available for all working parents of 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week – available to up to 600,000 families and worth around £5,000 a year – including the £2,500 they can already save from existing free childcare offers.
And, in a move to underline the government’s commitment to support working families with the costs of childcare, plans are being drawn up to introduce the changes for some families a year earlier than planned, with pilots in some areas offering 30 hours worth of free places from September 2016.
Sounded fabulous, and luckily by the time my eldest son turned 3 our area was part of the pilot. Our local council signed us up and we received the additional hours following the Easter holidays (April 2017). This was perfect timing for our family as I was returning to work in May following the birth of our second child and those hours really were a lifesaver in buffering the realisation and effect of a now part time wage coming from me to contribute to all those outgoings a family curtails.

Life was going well, kids all settled into their childcare, my return to work was smooth and not too heart wrenching, we were planning to move house, holidays were all booked...then I found a lump in my breast. This was in the first week of July and to cut a long story short it was cancer. The NHS have been fabulous from diagnosis to my first chemotherapy treatment all organised within a month; but getting to that point took a lot of tests, trips to the hospital, many anxious waits and a lot of trying to keep my young children's lives 'normal'. Its not been easy - it'd be fair to say from July to now (September 2017) we've had a lot of plates spinning as we've adjusted our life to the reality of cancer.

Our eldest starting pre-school has been an amazing lifeline, it means he can go somewhere regularly with his friends in our local village as I continue treatment. This was until Thursday just gone (7th September 2017) and I was asked for his DERN number to confirm his eligibility for the additional 15 hours...I'd received a letter from the local council about 8 weeks earlier asking for proof of my earnings to confirm eligibility which I'd hand delivered on the way back from one of the many trips to hospital, but heard nothing I rang to confirm all was OK and get his number for the term.

That was when the it all started to fall apart.

The council informed me that the proof I had delivered was to confirm the eligibility he had up to September, the scheme had now transferred to being handled nationally by the HMRC and I had to re-register via a government portal BUT I was too late, the deadline was 31st August 2017. In my months of focusing on having cancer and beating it I had obviously misread or totally misinterpreted the letter I had received; but I was only 7 days late - surely the humans in charge of the scheme would allow an extension based on medical grounds? This was my error but it was one I fully believe that had been made due to the amount of stress, worry and other things cancer has brought into my life. We had to cancel our family holiday due to my treatment and if a company like Ryanair can refund the cost of our flights within a day just from seeing a diagnosis letter, a national organisation to help the people of the country will have some form of flex in its schemes?!

The short and only inoffensive way I can verbalise their answer to me is NO. I spent 3 hours on the phone to various people within the department on that same day 7 days post deadline to be told:
  • The 'computer' cannot issue any further codes past the deadline day...*
  • Millions have missed the deadline for one reason or another - therefore special exception cannot be taken on the fact I have been dealing with a medical diagnosis and having life preserving/saving treatment.
* I have since found out they can and are processing further codes as they have messed up releasing them and are having to compensate millions as their costs will not be covered this month.

Talking to the call handlers I was passed between was like interacting with robots - no feelings, no empathy, no instinct to try and help a family who haven't just 'forgotten' - they've  actually had a real reason for messing up this time round. How can there be absolutely no flex in a system which so many families rely on to get out to work, to keep roofs over their heads, to have some hours of respite in amongst the other changes they may be experiencing? So much work seems to be being done to make this world more inclusive of all the different types of family there now are, but we really are falling short if the government childcare service aren't actually giving a second thought to the children involved. I can only speak for my children - but they will now need to have their routine changed, be pulled from their childcare and looked after at home with a post chemotherapy mother who cannot move some days due to the fatigue, sickness and muscle pains this treatment induces.  

There is an appeals process for school places which seems a harder bit of admin and process to reverse but nothing for this!?

Lets finish on a statement from former Prime Minister David Cameron:
My message is clear. This government is on the side of working people – helping them get on and supporting them at every stage of life.** 
That is exactly why we are pressing ahead with these reforms - so that not a moment is lost in getting on with the task - going further than ever before to help with childcare costs, helping hardworking families and giving people the opportunity to get into work.
**Just don't let these stages in life get in the way of their deadlines...when a human error occurs the computer will say no and their is no way of getting what your children are owed back. This decision has totally floored our family, it is the first time I have cried post diagnosis and as if the next few months weren't already going to be tough enough...I now dread them even more.

Total utter system failure. Shame on you HMRC.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Death is not a Dirty Word

This is not a blog about me thinking I'm going to die from this little bit of cancer inside my breast. Its merely a musing on the change to thought process when death is a realistic side effect of your current situation.

The word 'cancer' immediately evokes panic. That's the power it possesses with all its unknown characteristics. Its so common, yet so sneaky - the big C has us all on our toes with its potentially fatal edge. The truth, albeit it a sad one is that it does mark the beginning of the end for so many.

If you follow my Instagram page you will know I'm not one for bull shit, sugar coating stuff (other than food) or any sort of faffing about. Maybe it makes me cold hearted or harsh - but I do think in this day and age I think we should all be able to call a spade a spade.

My spade is that cancer could be the cause of my death.

A lot of people around me don't like me to verbalise that...but I'm not doing it to be dramatic or morbid, surely we'd all like a heads up to what it is that will eventually mark the beginning of the end? After all, merely waking up each morning opens us up to the possibility of a lot of death scenarios - no one starts their day thinking they'll have a car accident, choke on their lunch or get knocked over by a bus do they?!

Being given a bit of notice at least gives you the time to prepare and to put things in place, something which is even more important when you have young children. At 3 and 1 I have a small chance of my eldest retaining some memories of me, but my youngest wouldn't. That is the most heart-breaking thing of this whole diagnosis - my gorgeous boys having to hear from others how much I loved them and how gorgeous I consider them to be. 
My oncologist was very honest with my prognosis (I asked her to be very blunt and tell me if this would be my cause of death) she happily informed that she thought I'd be around for at least another 30 years...which is good to hear but even the best laid plans can veer off track and considering your own mortality is a totally healthy thing to consider and reflect on!

In light of my big C diagnosis I've been trying to think of things I wish had done...but I can only come up with one sensible one:
  • Taking out critical life cover with my life insurance back when we bought our house - that extra £10 a month at the time of seemed unnecessary, but that's bitten me on the arse now!

At the other end of the spectrum facing death could make me regret certain lifestyle choices...the key word being could. I don't see the point in berating myself, i'm not going to change - life's too short for that shit (terrible pun unintended)!
This is a quick list of things off the top of my (shaved) head, backed up by a quick Google of 'Things that cause cancer':
  • That night out in the 'uni years' when I smoked 40 fags...that and all the other years Richmond Superking Menthols were a loyal friend
  • Wearing underwired bras
  • Taking the contraceptive pill for years
  • Using roll on deodorant
  • Using eye-shadow
  • Using lipstick
  • Using foundation
  • Having and using a mobile phone...
I could go on but I won't; as you can see nobody has much of a clue as to the hard and fast reasons for getting cancer - yes smoking is proven to increase your chances so I'll hold my hand up to that, but it wouldn't have made me not do it. In reality I could always have been destined to get cancer if my BRCA gene test comes back showing a fault, so living a life of deprivation would have been a waste of time.

As long as you can look back and have a short list of 'things I wish I'd done' then I think you've done well - of course there are amazing experiences, life events and outlandish acts of grandeur I could add to mine...but I'm saving them for the post I write on 'bucket lists'. πŸ˜‰

Monday, 7 August 2017

Cancer K.O.

Not even cancer letters are immune from colouring!
I had pretty much deduced that I was going to be told I had cancer that day. I just knew.

It didn't make hearing the word any easier. The feeling of that moment was shockingly surreal - nothing dramatic, just numbing and totally life changing. I could still take in what the consultant was saying and follow the conversation, until she said 'Chemotherapy'. 

That was when I had to interject to clarify my worst thoughts; that this was actually really serious! My consultant brushed this off with casual, collected prowess - she made it sound so normal and was totally confident that they could get rid of the cancer and operate on me within 6 months.

I'm not ashamed to say that by this point everything had started going fuzzy, I felt sick and feared an embarrassing situation was approaching. I asked to lie down, but it didn't help - it merely bought me enough time to ask for a cardboard bowl just in time to catch the contents of my stomach. My consultant still cool as a cucumber thought it best to take a break and sent me to have a mammogram before discussing my treatment any further.

Having a mammogram is painless: stand upright with your baps out and be sandwiched between vice-like plates for some indepth photos of your breasts - easy...just not so much when you're in shock. It was when in my final 'mammo-pose' when I felt the undeniable urge and need to sit down; next thing I know I'm horizontal, back to the floor and awaking from my first ever faint! In true British style my first thought was to apologise to the nurse who had caught me and saved me from a swift bang to the head..."they just told me I have cancer, I'm sorry to put you out like this - I've never fainted before". It was then that I saw my first 'cancer' face - the expression of shock, sadness and speechlessness all rolled into one.

Before that day I'd only been in hospital to have my children - I'd never been 'ill', so this was a pretty eventful afternoon for me; it just didn't end with the endorphins having a new baby to show off brings. To say it didn't go as expected is an understatement; what I thought would be confirmation of a little bit of cancer that would require a quickie operation and a few days off work had quickly snowballed into something that just doesn't happen to you. I can't have cancer! I have 2 children, I'm really enjoying being back at work - I have plans, I don't have time for this! None of that matters now, its all been stripped back and its simple - I must get well and rid my body of this disease.

From that afternoon I gained:

1 x 1.5cm cancerous tumour 
1 x CT scan appointment to check my body for any other cancer
1 x MRI appointment for my breasts to examined to grade my cancer
1 x BRACA2 gene testing appointment to assess if this was something I needed to protect myself from in the future
1 x Assisted conception appointment to discuss freezing my eggs IF I ever wanted more children
1 x Oncology appointment to discuss my upcoming chemotherapy
1 x Consultant appointment for half way through my treatment to discuss surgery options
1 x Key worker
1 x Bag filled with a lot of leaflets and information on cancer, hair loss, telling children and life with cancer

& equally I lost or stood to lose:

1 x summer holiday - to be cancelled immediately due to my urgent need for treatment
1 x realistic chance of conceiving a potential 3rd child
1 x head of hair
1 x successful return to work
1 x healthy immune system
1 x mid thirties of my choice
1 x freedom to make plans for the foreseeable future
1 x life with my family & friends (morbid I know, but its the reality of the disease)

A new chapter begins and I'd really like to keep it as short and sweet as possible!


Sunday, 30 July 2017

All at C.

My life changed forever on Friday 7th July. 

Following an amazing weekend in Rome and attending my debut Pizzup I was suffering an epic but 'happy' hangover. Luckily I had the day off work and the kids were still booked into childcare (great planning/parenting), so that shower should have been amazing - I didn't think I'd find a lump in my breast.

My first thought was that it must be a pre-period breast lump, just another one of those hormonal things girls get used to. My more dramatic and sensationalist mind jumped to all the stories I had read of mothers with breast cancer so I got out of the shower and instantly get a doctors appointment for that day. My sane, more rational mind did eventually kick in and talked me into cancelling the appointment and seeing if the lump was still there after the weekend. A busy weekend meant I was able to pretty much forget about it - but Monday came and there it still was. By lunchtime that day I had been referred to our local breast care unit. The doctor had confirmed there was 'something' there and due to my age (33) a referral was standard procedure - but reassured that it was most likely a cyst and that these referrals usually ended in good news for 90% of people.  Our NHS gets a lot of bad press - in my experience it is nothing short of amazing. My appointment letter was on my doormat the very next day and I only had 1 week to wait and 7 days with children, a job and general mum life does wonders in masking a whole world of potential issues and worry!

If you've never been to your local breast care unit its quite eye-opening to be in a waiting area surrounded by people from every walk of life, every age group and all with that one thing in common - they might have cancer. 
Once called you undergo an examination with a nurse who then decides if you require an ultrasound or mammogram; again a cyst was mentioned as the probable cause of this lump and an ultrasound would be all that was needed to confirm that. A scan of the breast is no different to a pregnancy scan, there's just less to see.
Years of watching Casualty paid off in the next moments as I saw the black blob on the screen and sensed a change of atmosphere in the room, even I could see that was no cyst! They began checking around my armpit and instantly I knew they were checking if my lymph nodes were clear of similar black blobs. 

Shit just got real!

What followed was a biopsy of the lump, it sounds horrendous but its really not that bad, they inject a lot of local anaesthetic into the area and you feel nothing. God bless the nurse trying to keep me occupied by talking about my kids while various needles were inserted into the area and cells from my lump were extracted for microscopic examination - she commented on my calmness which I can only attribute to the need and desperation to do anything to get this thing resolved.

Post breast biopsy

I was told that all lumps are rated between 1-5 and that mine was a 3 - not deadly serious, but also not completely normal. The biopsy result to determine what the lump was would take a week to come through but the staff prepped me to be ready to hear the words everyone dreads. 

That brings me to now...
Frantically documenting this blog as I count down the hours to my results. Mentally I am fine - I can handle what is to come, I just want to be in control as much as possible. 
I've lived the last 7 days as normal, the bare minimum of those around us have been told the potential news - purely not to cause an unnecessary cancer panic. I don't want to be causing a drama over nothing, and I do not want to instigate unnecessary change into my children's lives before it is essential.

The only thing I can be sure of as the seconds tick by is that I am going to publish this whether the news is good or bad - not to increase my follower numbers, over share or be the centre of attention but because I am 33 years old, I have two young children and this came from no where. 

Check is maybe the only 'C' word we can all truly take to heart and like from this: check yourself, tell others to check and be checked if you're unsure! I found my lump randomly having a wash, I wasn't even purposefully checking. I could easily have ignored it, luckily I didn't because the results I got about an hour after writing the above confirmed that I did have cancer.

Actual. proper. CANCER. πŸ˜•


Sunday, 25 June 2017

ParAnting 101

This week it was my birthday; another year older, wiser and closer to being within the realms of being called 'middle aged'.

The descent into wisdom is enlightening - surely I must be making better life choices. I know I give less and less of a f**k what people think as time goes by, and that is nothing but positive. The amound of irritation I feel from 'life' however maybe not... 

If you're familiar with the concept of the TV show 'Room 101' you'll know its a show where you can banish 3 items of annoyance from existence.

Sadly my lack of celeb-status means I'm unlikely to make it on the guest list, so I thought instead I would write a post on what from the world of parenting really annoys me.
Here goes: 

10. Bath toys. They turn even the most chic of bathrooms into an instant shit tip; i've yet to find a decent vessel to act as storage, and anyone with the knowledge on preventing everything being filled with water and slowly turning black needs to DM me immediately!

9. Sweet/plastic shit machines. We all know the type, lurking in the corners of shops and car parks where you've already spent a fortune. £1 is the minimum required spend to make the magical wheel of random plastic shit generation turn to reveal the useless item going home with you today.    

8. Rides outside supermarkets. I've become a master of the 'oh look its broken' routine - but god forbid I see some stupid parent allowing their child on one in view of mine. Bloody tantrum tantilising hell placed in parents way of getting shit done! 

7. Swimming pools. From the moment you walk in its annoying. Why we pay for the pleasure of an experience which involves removing shoes it took an hour to get on; or worse still trying to put blue shoe covers on before you've even started undressing. Once you locate a family changing room the real 'fun' begins as you try to get 2 children ready without losing them underneath the gap between the changing room and the floor or slip and concuss themselves on the wet concrete floor. 10 mins of splashing in cold water later and its time to get out. Its then time to get you and your children dressed in extreme clammy circumstances. If you've ever tried to re-enter a pair of skinny jeans in a changing room you'll know what I mean! HELL.

6. Nappy bins. An unnecessary gadget in the domestic home - I can understand them in larger places with high foot fall...but if you've ever inhaled too quickly after opening and closing one you'll know why this is here. #backdraft 

5. Kids menus. The kids version of buffet bingo - chips, nuggets, chips, sausage, beans, chips, burger, spag bol, cheeseburger and more chips! It baffles me that there is yet to be somewhere I have visited to just offer smaller portions of the normal menu for kids...

4. Toilets with no change table. Nice family day out, have managed to dress up for the occasion and feel reasonably good about yourself. Cue baby answering a call of nature and needing a nappy change - only to discover you're in a venue with everything but a change table. How many times have you changed a nappy on a floor, toilet siston, toilet seat and strip you of any remaining dignity. My own personal favourite was a teething leaky poo moment mid-christening...nothing better than crouching in heels on a church toilet floor. 

3. Party bags. Not necessary. You've just shelled out on entertaining your nearest, dearest and their offspring. Bags full of plastic shit, crayons and little toys to be choked on really don't add to the experience. I know its controversial but I don't like them OK!? Sorry, not sorry!

2. Mis-use of parent and child spaces. There are a few types of violation in this category, the quickest to spring to mind are: 

  • not having a child. 
  • having a child seat but no child in the car.  
  • use of the spaces when your child is technically a young adult. 

One of my proudest mum moments was confronting a lady (nearing pension age) who parked a soft top 'extreme high end' car in the last parent and child spaces in an M&S car park. I kindly informed her that she had parked in a space for parents with children (plenty of other spaces were available), she responded by telling me she had dropped her kids round the other side of the shopping park - well many arguments sprung to mind but the most obvious was that her children were of an age to be left independently to walk around a busy shopping park?! Why park in a space with loads of space to unload from all doors for any other reason than to protect her 'real' baby - the car. She basically sneered at me and continued in to do her M&S food shop with an audience of spectators around the trolley park as I continued to tell her she was extremely selfish, rude and inconsiderate. 
Getting a child in a car seat out of a tight space is near impossible, i'm sure you've all had similar experiences!

1. People who choose the tables next to my family. I'm aware my children are most peoples idea of nightmare dinner guests - if I could i'd rather not sit with them. With this in mind, I will always ask for a table furthest away from other diners so not to disturb and ruin other peoples experience. Within minutes I can guarantee some idiot is asking to be put on the table right next to us in a sea of other available tables. WTF?!!! It actually makes my blood boil. Its utter madness, space invasion and highly irritating. I have to retrain myself from moving tables or actually putting my head through it.


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Full Time. Part Time. All The Time.

In my experience the partner who doesn't go to work, the one who does the lions share of the childcare can be subjected to such classic cases of 'foot in mouth' disease:

"But I have to go to actual work."

"You get to have a lie in everyday."

"If I could play with the kids all day instead of work - I would." 

"Choosing and buying my families gifts is your job now." My personal favourite and the one which caused all surrounding oxygen to turn 50 shades of blue!

I'm sure you've all got your own versions of the above but such insight and wisdom from the other half can be frustrating, annoying and only ever about 20% truthful - after all most women will return to work in some form, meaning they will be work-ing, mum-ing, domestic godess-ing and partner-ing all in one. 

That's a hell of a lot of th-ings to be! 

Its not easy returning to work; back to the routine, back to caring about something more than nap times, feeds and tantrum negotiation. I returned 3 weeks ago, changing from full time to part time. I still work the equivalent of 4 days a week and it sometimes feels as though I am trying to 'have it all' but why shouldn't I have my own identity, career and earnings. 

That's the logical answer for going back - money, prospects and the future plans that see beyond school starts and when the kids can make ME a cup of tea! In reality it totally misses out the stresses of sorting childcare, being OK with your baby going to someone else for the majority of their day and then paying them most of the money you have just earnt.    

Doing this second time round...technically I'm now a pro (yeah right!), I tried to learn from the past. This time I ensured I did my ten (optional) KIT (keeping in touch) days and eased myself back into the commute, getting up at a set time and having to dress and exit the house with two children by 7:30am. I surprised myself...I enjoyed it! It was a nice break out of mum life, with a bit of adult conversation thrown in. I'll admit though, as my 'official' return date loomed and full time mum life came to an end - I did feel a certain sense of dread. 

Had I disregarded possibly the most important factor for me in returning to work? The effect on my mental health? 
Going back after baby one I was getting up an hour earlier than necessary, waking my baby through my own tears and spending my early morning playing with him or cuddling him so to turn down the churning feelings of guilt and heartbreak. 

Was this going to happen again? Would it be worse this time?   

Mentally I have been 'fine' for some months now, i'd even go as far to say I have been 'good'. The last thing I wanted was to set off on another loop of the depression roller-coaster! Ironically this transition was not what actually caused my recent and unnecessary loop de loop in to mental health mayhem. It was my own idiocy in forgetting to request my repeat prescription - then forgetting to pick it up...eventually ending up a week off my anti-depressants. 

WELL I WON'T BE FORGETTING THAT AGAIN! That week off the pills I spent in awe of how well I am doing on them and that I am no where near ready to even discuss coming off them yet. How I felt that week was like having bad PMT mixed with extreme irritability. I had to forcibly shut myself off to certain situations, triggers and people - another quick stab of memory into how life felt before I was diagnosed. It led me to a revelation...going back to work after baby two is SO MUCH better. I can only credit this to being diagnosed and treated for my depression. It's actually made work AMAZING!

Yes that's right, I described work as amazing! I literally feel like a different person at work - be that because I am a parent of two and its changed my approach or if its because I have re-found a little bit of the person that was shadowed by depression. 

Mental Health Awareness week has been and gone; my point is that every week is mental health week. Anyone out there in doubt if they are 'depressed' or sceptical that a little tablet can change anything please believe this; its blindingly obvious to me now that I have not been myself in any of the 3 years since I began pushing babies out of my vagina. If you don't feel right or you're aware of changes in your behaviour...GO AND SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR! You deserve to feel 'normal' again.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Bank Holiday Hell

As parents we all crave that little bit of 'me' time; enjoy a few stolen moments doing something we enjoyed before you took responsibility of a small person. To some theirs no such thing as too much 'me' time. Spring has loads of potential with bank holidays galore; sounds perfect...unless you're experiencing your first bank holiday as a single parent.

Those familiar with my previous posts will know I have a friend negotiating her new life as a 'lone' parent. I stress 'lone' because the ex-other half would laugh in the face of anyone who suggest he parent more than he can get away with. Currently stuck in mediation 'purgatory' progressing through a system so slow and tedious it makes a snail resemble Usain Bolt. The road to divorce, legal intervention and justice for a child who wants the time they deserve from both parents is the most frustrating process I've ever witnessed. This isn't meant to be a 'pity post', far from it - I hope I am highlighting the real darkness that can be overlooked when trying to help those in this situation. 

The CBeebies bedtime song has long been a victory for me (like i'm sure it is for many far and wide); but when you're doing it alone its a bit of a curse...YES you survived another day, but once your child is asleep (hopefully without too many choruses of 'I want mummy and daddy back together') you face a silent house and a glorified form of house arrest where the previously simple tasks of nipping to the shop, going out for a walk or Domino's not offering delivery in your area are actual first world problems. 
Of course you have friends who can help in these situations - but what part of 'surviving' and 'doing it alone' is that? Even with all the friends, family and colleagues in the world bedtime equals social lock-down and a bit more time to think about everything

Now enter the bank holidays - a single parents bold and italic version of what is now every other night. That 'family' based occasion you dread to attempt alone that rubs salt in your still freshly wounded family. 
My friend would want me to stress that aside from the initial split - it has been these weekends which she has found hardest. These have been the time that reality has truly hit. Its not from neglect or lack of social functions to go to (far from it) but she now feels the inadvertent third wheel at events by no choice of her own and to no fault of those around her (who want her there more than anything). 

Its simply a stark reminder of what you have lost and what others still have. Sounds petty and childish but IT ISN'T FAIR. 

Of course it is all part of the process and as each public holiday comes and goes it will get a bit easier, but if I have learnt one thing from my friends experience; it is that she is by no means the minority (far from it) but there seems to be very little to no support out there for newly single parents or their children. With two more bank holidays before we hit the hell that is Christmas - maybe we could all try and dedicate them to trying something different with those experiencing extreme change? Steer away from the traditional, make some new memories that can overshadow the past and make that home alone time a little less hellish.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Hardcore Sexit

I didn't mean to vote out.

Can't even remember doing it.

If I could find a way to take it back and rejoin the sexual union I was once part of I would!

I wish I could remember when it happened; the moment I was switched off and I lost all desire to do 'IT' anymore. I definitely wanted to do it the day I conceived my first child, so at least that is somewhere to start...

Since that day four years ago I have had two children (a 3 year old and a 10 month old), been diagnosed with Post Natal Depression (PND) and then dealt with everything else that life has thrown at me.

SEX really has been the last thing on my mind.

Well, it was until I realised it was a problem. Listening to others talk excitedly about all the great sex they were having and then the awkward almost constant knock backs I am serving my husband led to a never ending load of questions:

Is it me?

Is it my husband?

Is it the kids?

Am I in the wrong marriage?

Am I too tired?

Am I abnormal?

Have I just lost it?

The answer to all of those questions is NO! I can say that so confidently because even if you offered me the most romantic, passionate night of selfish pleasure with the man of my dreams I would still rather do other things - like sit and watch some good telly or have a really nice dinner; sex would be the last choice, I just have no interest.

I have sought help, I have discussed this with my GP, Health Visitor, in peer counselling and to my friends. Everyone seems to think it can be easily fixed with a few nights away and trying some 'new' things...been there, done that, still not wearing an 'I ❤ Sex' t-shirt. The only distance I have gained towards an answer is finding some like-minded mothers with PND who also feel like me but were just too scared to admit it.

A female Viagra would be good...and I know the more you have it, the more you want it. That is all well and good if you have a solid week without your kids to try and get back into the groove...but I don't have that luxury and in a world full of sex it seems totally alien and isolating to actually be admitting that I just don't know what to do from here. I know its not just me, I know its related to parenting and having the what can I do to help?!

I care enough to write this, I care enough to admit it to groups of people who really don't care to know my vag is as dry as Gandhi's flip flop and most of all I care and worry about the damage this affliction will do to my marriage. I know it bothers my husband - so how long before he tires of trying and just goes elsewhere? I'd really like to be able to want to have sex with him again, to not dread his advances and fear pushing him away even more.

I'm sorry I have no answers...I just thought this needed saying and I hope it rings true with someone else!
Anyone else out there? Or is it just me? πŸ˜–

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Note to self...

If you could have a super power, which would you choose? 

Psychic abilities, invisibility, x-ray vision, super strength? 

I'd love the power of instant hindsight. To not make really stupid decisions, waste time or money on things like:
  • Spending £50+ a month on a mobile phone bill in my early 20's.
  • Eating takeaways everyday for the first few months of uni. 
  • Being 'friends' with people I knew I didn't like.
  • Not putting into my pension until I was 25.
  • Having a full on fringe cut into my thin, shapeless hair and then pairing it with hooped earrings.
Instant hindsight would make me rich beyond my wildest dreams, a better person and have a few less grey hairs. Wouldn't it?!

Sounds great in theory, but would I really have listened to someone telling me to be sensible, even boring at times? The simple answer to that is NO! I'd of told myself to chill out and to let me enjoy being young! The truth is that I've hit that 'age' where I realise my mother was trying to do that for me...😳
All those times I was told to save money, take my make up off, eat properly and go to my lectures at uni - that was my instant hindsight...trying to steer me in the right direction. I'll admit now my mother obviously had a point, but at the time I really liked the naive bubble I was living in. 

Let's take the man I aspired to marry as an example:
18 year old me...

Marriage material - 18 year old me:
1. Rich
2. Older than me
3. Tall
4. Fun
5. Spontaneous
6. Formula one driver
7. Decisive

Marriage material - 30 something me:
1. Has a job he enjoys so not too grumpy
2. Taller than me
3. Fun
4. Supportive
5. Hands on father
6. Handy with practical tasks (DIY, mechanics, gardening etc)
7. Replaces toilet roll when needed

Quite a contrast; 18 year old me was shallow, unaware and totally clueless to what actually mattered in 'real life'. 

In hindsight, instant hindsight probably wouldn't be that great. Without all the poor decisions, bad haircuts and wastes of money I could still be living a very naive life.

If I'm destined (or already heading) to being my mother then I may as well wish for a better super power...definitely going to go for the ability to teleport - that way I never have to undertake a long car or plane journey with my kids EVER again. That's much more valuable!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Helping Your Newly Single Mum Friend

Friendship: A chance meeting that develops into fun, memories and a million WhatsApp messages. Your only agenda for being there is because you want to be, it's a bond built on pure appreciation of a particular person. Maybe that's why a friends pain can sometimes feel like a personal attack.

When a friend is going through tough times it's hard to know what to do that will actually help.

Hopefully I can give you an idea of where to start.

My best friend's husband recently walked out on her and their son. Casting aside a relationship of 11 years and a child of pre-school age with little more than a look back over his shoulder and a few texts telling friends and family to 'look after her'. He left behind a heartbroken woman and a child with no comprehension of why daddy would leave and make mummy so sad. 

Breaking up IS hard to do. It's even more traumatic if it's unexpected, unrequited and dealt to you in a way you wouldn't wish upon your worst enemy. In the space of less than a minute, my friend's life (as she knew it) was over. The person she shared most of her hours with, loved, cared for and most importantly parented a child with was suddenly just someone she used to know. She was inadvertently alone.

(Why he left is irrelevant to the point of this piece but let's just say my friend was not at fault, a court of a million men would rule her the victim).

What's followed that day is weeks of unravelling lies, constant questioning, revelations of deceit and extreme shock to the point of physical illness. To my friend's extreme credit she's dealt with it with more pride and dignity than I ever could. She will say herself, the only reason for this is because she is now the sole parent - all her strength is needed to keep her child in a stable environment and try to answer the heartbreaking questions like 'why daddy is lost' and 'why are mummy and daddy not friends anymore'. She doesn't get a break or choice as to what days or hours she can commit to...that child is her priority regardless of any of her own personal issues or feelings and beyond all the tantrums and testing behaviour she does the right thing.

It's fair to say she's having a pretty crap start to the year, but she is getting there and these are the things she feels helped her most in those first few traumatic weeks:

1. Be there. To talk, sleep, drink, or eat. Help them to function and care for themselves - this will be the last thing on their mind.
2. Make plans. Take each day at a time, but start to make future plans for a day out, night out, anything to look forward to.
3. Childcare. Parenting is tough at the best of times,  but doing every bedtime, bath time and meal time alone is horrendous. Any offers of help to do some of the routine will be well accepted.
4. Make new memories. Everywhere they turn will hold a memory or link to their previous life. If you can, try and go to new places or take a break somewhere they are free of constant reminders.
5. Know when to stop. Everyone will have an opinion and want to air it - especially if there has been wrong doing on either side. Just try and stay aware, there will be days it's all they want to talk about and others when they just need a break from it. 

From my own battle with depression I have been introduced to the concept that serious change will provoke a 'chain reaction' of emotion:

1. Denial
2. Realisation
3. Anger
4. Letting go
5. Searching
6. Understanding
7. Acceptance 

It's not uncommon to re-visit these emotions and 'go back a stage' along the way. I have found it helpful as a way of  referencing where I am.

Most importantly reassure them it's OK to feel moments of happiness and enjoy things again. That they will never be alone, and they're strong enough to get through this.


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Merry Christmas....Enjoy The Microwave!

Yes, you have read the title of this post correctly. My husband feels that as a woman, wife and mother I would want a microwave as a gift πŸ˜’.

He is not a bad person or husband; in the same way that I am not a greedy, materialistic cow-bag. I'm extremely lucky to have a loyal and caring man helping me through the day to day struggles of life. It just feels like he no longer feels the need to try and do heartfelt things.

He can do romantic things. 

He can put thought into presents.

He used to before the engagement ring took its place on my finger nearly 5 years ago! Could it be this romantic ritual of lifelong commitment that renders the end of romance as we (think) we know it?

Should a gift for a loved one always be meaningful and well thought? Or is a practical, useful gift just as good?

    My own mother told me I was ungrateful in turning my nose up at the microwave...but not one of my friends could keep a straight face. 

    Am I unreasonable? 

    Do I expect too much? 

    I do question my judgement...but then to my amusement whilst watching Emmerdale over Christmas a story unfolded of a husband buying his wife a kettle for Christmas - to much disagreement and hilarity. My husband of course found this hilarious, as if it had cemented his place in the comedy hall of fame. 

    He has form though, check out previous offending articles: 


    (Bought in lime green)

    • These were birthday presents bought 2 months after an amazingly romantic and well planned secret proposal...the link between these two items is that the retail park nearest our house at the time had both an Argos and Sports Direct.

    • My 30th birthday gift 2 years post-proposal...mirrors are now a great bone of contention in our house and he will always try to get one in to prove its an OK present.
    The irony of the situation at Christmas just gone was that I'd bought him something I knew he'd truly love. A hospitality day at his beloved Leicester City FC on the booze with some mates. I had taken time to find him something he wouldn't get to do every day and really enjoy. In contrast to what would have faced me, a kitchen appliance which would reflect my own disgusted reflection back to me every day.  

    Luckily the microwave was never purchased, the moguls who invented Black Friday bought him some time to revise the original plan, as I'm sure you can imagine my face when he said he wanted to go and get me a microwave on that Friday a couple of weeks before Christmas.

    Whether my husband is just lazy, complacent or simply too practical to now put thought into my presents - please do not let it happen to you! 

    Be clear.

    Drop hints.

    Sometimes they all need a little help...

    It doesn't need to break the bank - she probably just wants a gift which in someway represents your that a song with nice words, a photo of you together, or even just an evening without the kids! 


    Tuesday, 31 January 2017

    Now That's What I Call A Theme Tune!

    This is a quick but controversial post - a little bit of fun to brighten your day. I think its likely to divide people more than Mr. Trump himself (big statement).

    The 80's was an epic decade for many reasons, but I want to focus on its awesome kid's TV theme tunes. Listening back to the ones on my list, they've clearly had a lot of time, money and thought put in...3 words I could not bring myself to say about the Peppa Pig theme tune even if you paid me. 

    If you're lucky enough to be too young to be familiar with these, or your brain is frazzled by a baby/toddler/children to remember then please take a moment to click the link and enjoy πŸ˜„

    1. The Wuzzles
    I would give my front teeth to get Henry into this. Brilliant concept and so cute!
    "Ooooooooh they got originality, living with a split personality."

    1. Duck Tales
    I couldn't split the top two...both catchy, both lyrically suited to the characters and the shows - pure Disney perfection.

    3. Chip and Dale
    Its a pure coincidence these are all Disney so far, maybe they just had all the big money to spend or it could just be the Disney legacy of fantastic musical arranging!?

    4. Inspector Gadget
    I was obsessed with this when I was young, literally wanted to be Penny. Even named my dog after her, they've since remade this and made it all modern...they've ruined it.

    5. Gummi Bears
    The last Disney offering but one of those tunes I can remember singing with friends at primary school. Good times.

    6. Thundercats
    Pure 80's tune...I think they've also remade and ruined this ☹️.

    7. The Racoons
    This song was, and still is far too big for a cartoon. Makes me feel a bit emotional even now! Beautiful!

    8. Bucky O'Hare
    Way ahead of its time! Rabbits in space fighting off intergalactic toads (makes Macka Packa and Iggle Piggle look tame).
    "Lets croak us some toads!"

    9. Count Duckula
    Beautifully British and catchy as hell! Anything with David Jason involved is a winner...(perhaps not Pip Ahoy though?!)

    10, Sharky and George
    Another one which we used to sing in the playground, looking back now it was so obviously French - never noticed it at the time. Hasn't aged as well as the rest but still a classic! 

    Kids these days...don't know what they missed! 

    Any issues with any of these - please feel free to take it up with me on here or on social media πŸ˜‰
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