Wonderful women…

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It was Mothers Day on Sunday. And mine started pretty lousy with a morning MRI scan, it then improved with a visit from my Mum and Mother in Law which I sadly can’t remember much of as I was pretty out of it. I then had a glorious hour or so with my little girl, cuddles, giggles and time that made up for any pain and difficulty I’m currently going through. I miss Scarlett so much at the moment. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the limited time with my daughter is by far the hardest part of all this. 
But I had a bit of amazing time with her earlier and my husband caught a couple of said moments on camera. My heart always goes out to those who no longer have their Mums with them or for whom Mothers Day is a particularly difficult day. 

  
With Mothers Day being so early this year, it has coincided quite nicely being just two days before International Women’s Day today. Which makes me think of all the tremendously strong women in my life. Some of whom are mothers and some of whom are not. Funnily enough, some of those that aren’t mothers have provided me with love, support and strength which would make you think they were. But I think that’s testamount to the strength and spirit of women.
Firstly before I carry on, the below is excluding family members, only because I would like to hope they already know they inspire me, support me and are loved by me! 
Anyway, as any readers of my blog are bored of hearing by now, this third trimester has been an extremely difficult, frightening and challenging one. We have now luckily got to a point where although the preference is to still keep little one inside for a few more weeks, if they manage an escape, they will be ok. So in some respects, we’re now in the clear. My kidneys aren’t functioning very well which has led to frequent infections and a lot of repeat hospital visits. My epilepsy has been playing up, getting worse as the weeks have gone on, so lots of confusion, post it notes all round my room and I’m never on my own and someone else is always looking after Scarlett, mainly her amazing Dad. During this time more than any other, I have been struck by how the strength of people around me has really got me through. There are women in my life that have stopped me from falling, made it clear their hand is there should I need pulling up but with no obligation to take it. I am quite embarrassed by the epilepsy, I shouldn’t be, and I urge others with it not to be. But as someone with an academic career and who likes to be in control of her emotions. I find it very difficult to then let anyone see me so very out of control and having to keep asking my husband questions about simple day to day things. So I closed my door, I leave messages unanswered until I’m sure I can respond sensibly or without breaking down into an emotional mess. Sometimes this has simply meant I haven’t replied, usually even though I’ve been really touched to hear from someone and/or appreciated their kind message. However, even that hasn’t put people off being supportive, my weaknesses haven’t altered the strength they’ve shown. 
I would say something corny like they’ve been the wind beneath my wings but frankly it’s the copious amount of drugs in on that has made me feel like I’m flying…! However, they certainly have kept me from feeling like I can’t make it in the middle of the night when a fever makes me see things coming out from the walls, or when I’m gripping the side of the hospital bed because of the pain. They probably don’t know when they’ve made the biggest difference so I’d like to dedicate this post to the unsung heroes. My friends, who I adore and am grateful every day that my children will grow up around. (DISCLAIMER : there are unsung male friends too, and I will sing their praises on International Men’s Day on November 19th!)
(The examples below are by no means extensive or inclusive of all the thanks I should make, and to those I unintentionally miss out, I profusely apologise, you are all loved)
Holly – nicknamed ‘alcoholly’ after some of our exploits in our 20’s, telling Hols you’re out for a quiet night used to be a rather pointless endeavour (and I may add, her husband Sam, they both lead me astray on several occasions!) she now has two children so cheeky vimto based nights are few and far between (although I am very much looking forward to one after this pregnancy!) I get messages from Holly and she makes it clear that if I need anything or need company, she’ll be round. No agenda or annoyance that I’ve been rubbish at replying, just support. And tagging me in Facebook with memories from nights out/funny times we’ve enjoyed over the years. Posts that I’ve looked at in the middle of the night and smiled and realised that this difficult period has an end date and there are more good times to come. It keeps me going when it’s the dark, quiet part of the night that otherwise makes things feel worse.
Gemma – an incredibly strong woman who has a similar ‘let’s go for it’ attitude to myself, a close friend of mine for many years and someone who has been through her own fair share of difficult times that she dealt with with such grace and strength. She had seen my Instagram posts about having lots of baths and my slight current obsession with Lush products, and she dropped round a bag of Lush goodies to my husband on her way to a weekend away as she knew I liked them and wanted me to know she was thinking of me. Well, when I received them, floods of tears followed, so thoughtful, so appreciated and I just couldn’t have been more grateful. 
Bee – a friend who is much stronger than she realises and much more in tune with who she is than a lot of people I know, a quality I suspect she underestimates. I receive several text messages of support from her, one recently that without her knowing, couldn’t have been better timed. She doesn’t ask if I’m feeling better, (something a lot of well meaning people do which is a question I find hard to answer, I don’t want to be a complainer but it’s not going to get any better before baby arrives) she sends me positivity and good vibes. And however stupid it may sound, in the middle of the night I sometimes read her messages and it helps me reaffirm that I can do it.
Emily – when I first met Emily, she reminded me of myself when I was younger. A zest for life, bubbly, a bit ridiculous (OK a lot ridiculous!) but with a really clever and passionate brain. (I’m bigging myself up quite arrogantly there sorry!) my point is, over the last couple of years, my husband and I have prioritised/been super busy building a business/making and having children/buying a home/getting married, all the grown up things and it made me realise I’d let tiredness dull my sense of fun slightly. I met her when pregnant which didn’t help, my adventure levels were low! ANYWAY, bed rest doesn’t allow for much fun, but Emily doesn’t let me wallow. Not only does she send me snapchats that make me laugh and text me about non medical things which is very refreshing. She’s helped me hold onto a passionate zest for life that I had forgotten to prioritise for a while. She always makes it clear to my husband that if he needs any support with Scarlett etc, he is just to call. So she puts a smile on my face and gives my husband an unconditional safety net and I just love her for both. 
Be – this should really be the whole family really as throughout this time I have received a number of cards wishing me the best and sending good thoughts, always homemade and always just so thoughtful. But with an entry of her own because she has taught me a lot about the kind of mother I want to be. (Obviously I have learnt a lot from my Mum and my mother in law and I in no way want to belittle their influences because their influences are bountiful.) However, Be has taught me some thoughts and ideas that I would never have come to myself. And the homemade cards have made me feel loved and in some perhaps strange way protected, they all sit in my room to be looked at when I’m letting negative thoughts and feels take hold.
Sheila – I have known Sheila since I was 17 and when I first met her she terrified me! There is nothing that will stop Sheila achieving and bringing out the best in her students, and it is not unusual for past students to come back from all over the UK and beyond just to be a part of a new Sheila project! She could be called a tyrant, but only because of how deeply she cares about each and every person that comes into her life. I often joke that both pregnancies and my marriage are her fault anyway, my husband and I first met aged 5 but it was through Sheila that we were reacquainted. And she has been a huge supporter of both of us and our family since. Over this difficult time, despite being hugely busy, she always finds the time to send messages and when she says you’re in her thoughts and prayers she means it. An incredible woman who through her own life, shows me how strong women are capable of being.
There are so many other women that inspire me in different ways: Tri, Tessa, Laura, Erin, Amy, Sally, Sophie, Minky, Pip, Lotte, Cham Cham Lucy, Pano’s Jen and even that doesn’t cover them all. I only hope that I can be a tenth of the strength they show me in ways they may not even realise they do. And I hope they all know that if they ever need a boost from me there is little I wouldn’t do to try and remind them that they all kick ass, they’re all amazing.
I was saddened this morning to see Lorraine Kelly laugh and mock Kim Kardashians naked selfie that she recently chose to post. Especially as it came directly after a segment about International Women’s Day! I do not know Kim Kardashian, I do not follow her programme or her life. I do think she has a beautiful figure and respect and would fight for her right to post it on her terms if that’s what she chooses to do. I think that it’s a real shame that an influential woman like Lorraine would choose to belittle that choice or decide that there are times it’s ok to put another woman down in any way and feel like she’s justified to do so. She isn’t. 
I want my daughters growing up holding other people up, respecting their choices and holding their own steadfastly enough that if anyone tries to bring them down they are unaffected. I am proud that the influences they will have in their life include the people I’ve mentioned above. It makes me confident in the women they will become.
So happy International Women’s Day to all you amazing women out there. Carry on being fabulously you, celebrate those women around you and thank you; thank you for the bottom of my heart to those that have shaped me into the woman I have become, the mother I’m still learning to be, and the growth I will continue to make because of your light, strength, support and love.

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