Reluctantly Resting…

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I am now infertile. This is a very strange thing to say. It’s necessary, that is to say medically necessary. It would be too dangerous on my kidneys, and to be honest if the epilepsy was as bad as in my second pregnancy, that alone is enough to decide without the GP insisting on it. I had a total of three recommendations from various departments that I get permanent baby making privileges removed, I tried not to take it too personally..! My husband could have had the male equivalent, and offered to. But do you know what. For me it was important to take charge of this myself. I can’t have anymore children without endangering them or myself so it was important to me to take ownership of the necessary steps. I also had two rather painful cysts that needed to be removed so it was a case of ‘whilst you’re down there’..! 

So yesterday I got into the familiar gown, with the familiar sexy compression socks, and repeated my details to seven different people (if any identity mistakes have been made, they will have done it on purpose, it’s necessary to cover them but by the time I went into surgery, I’m pretty sure everyone in the hospital knew I was Danielle, date of birthday 5th of the 2nd 1985!). Anyway, after a relaxed hour in the ward, having blood pressure taken, with the anaesthetist coming to take me through the various drugs I’d be under, and the surgeon comprehensively taking me through the process, it felt more like a day spa compared to the two births. Both of which, as emergency csections had much less explaining, and a lot more running down the corridor shouting out bits of information for my husband to sign consent for before sticking me in the back with a needle! I had no idea routine surgery was so calm! I had a student nurse with me which has come to be a good luck charm for my husband and I as we had student midwives with us for both children’s births. It was her first time in theatre and she was more nervous than I was. As the sterilisation was laparoscopic, when she came out, she was a bit disappointed it hadn’t been more gory, and we discussed cool Greys Anatomy cases that she hopes to see some of in her career! I’m going to send a card to wish her good luck for the rest of her career because she (like all the staff there) were brilliant and I think she’ll make a brilliant nurse. One of the theatre assistants was also on a placement, studying medicine at Cardiff, an original Cheltenham boy who hopes to become a surgeon. Was also great and we chatted about TV programmes making exciting sounding professions much less paperwork heavy than they actually are!! Again another excellent addition to our NHS. My surgeon was hilarious, originally a refugee and a privilege to have such a friendly expert on my case. He explained it all clearly, with humour and I couldn’t have felt in safer hands. 

Anyway, gushing about the NHS aside (I know that we’re very lucky in Cheltenham, the strain in other towns and cities makes it much harder for the staff to give as much time and attention as they’d like). I went into surgery at 2pm, and came out at 4pm, with (as the paperwork listed rather hilariously) my reproductive career over.

I’m on stronger epilepsy drugs since the day before yesterday until tomorrow, as sometimes going under general anaesthetic, and going through surgery can make it worse. The outcome of that is I become (as my husband affectionately calls it!) the duchess of Floopstown! So I’ve been a little bit all over the place (I apparently burst into tears last night because my husband’s apprentice said that the afternoon tea he’d had in Oxford with us was one of the best he’d tried, and I was really upset that his fiancée hadn’t been there with us…! The afternoon tea was weeks ago now so who knows why that came up in conversation, but Floopstown is an unpredictable place!). I’ve been teary, giggly, generally not with it most of the time. I called my brother to tell him I was home, and he informed me that, as he was the one who drove me home, he was in fact aware. He also reiterated that he’d had a good day, as I had apparently asked him three or four times on the 5 minute journey home! I insisted on having a ‘tea party’, which basically just consisted of forcing my husband, and his two apprentices to have a cup of tea at 10.30 at night after they’d got back from work, I didn’t finish my tea, but allegedly I was thrilled with having a tea party! 

My point is, I don’t think I have yet dealt properly with my change in status. My family will likely think it is me being dramatic. But I am aware that I feel a little bit bereft, unnecessarily feel less womanly now I have had a procedure that has taken away quite a major function. I didn’t think I could have kids, regular readers will know the plethora of ridiculousness that means it was likely to be difficult to conceive. So I only really started to deal with the fact that I could aged 28. I admit before then I’d been shamefully blasé about protection with regular partners because I didn’t think it could happen, and it never had. But it seems my body just needed the right partner who has, as it turns out magic powers! (I probably shouldn’t make a comment like that publicly really but he’ll I’m still on the stronger drugs!) so my ‘reproductive career’ as it was termed(!) has only really been five years long, and it can at least be said that I made the most of that time!! We have two beautiful children that have completed our family, so I really cannot complain about being made redundant from that particular role. Especially as I count myself extremely lucky to have been able to create two amazing, healthy, happy little girls. That said, I now definitely cannot, and that does make me feel a little sad and I think that’s allowed. I will get over myself very quickly but I will allow myself to mourn the end of that era. 

I also admit to being a bit frustrated at being the sick kid again. Last week, I hosted 16 family members for an Easter roast dinner with no problem at all. In fact, the whole weekend our house was joyously full of family, and I thoroughly enjoyed hosting it all. I am a very happy and proud matriarch of my family and that’s a role I really cherish, looking after people and taking care of things. The pregnancy hormones, almost on cue started to finally be gone just after Holly’s first birthday, which is, I believe the time they do go, and I had just started feeling human again, or woman in control of her own body again I should say! And although it’s still being controlled by medication, the epilepsy hadn’t been an issue. I was really on track to be ‘normal’ as it were (HA! Normals not a word I would usually use, I’m not a fan of being normal or average, I’ve always danced to my own tune, even if it’s a bit of an odd one!). So to be back in bed, with my children not allowed to climb over me, and not being able to scoop them both up and run around with them. Having to rest and rely on other people to cook for me, or help me wash because I can’t stretch up or bend down without my husband’s help, feels like a huge step back. I suddenly feel useless again. My matriarchy is wilting(!) My husband has had to hold my hand and tell me that everything’s going to be ok, I woke him at 2am because the faces in the walls (seriously the stronger epilepsy stuff stops the seizures but it REALLY flips me out!!) were frightening and I needed reassurance that they weren’t real. That’s not quite the strong, ‘head of the family’ role I was enjoying getting on with post a tricky three years! 

But, as I keep being reminded. It’s temporary. I have only spoken to my husband about it so far because other (well meaning) people tend to say things like yes but it’s not for long/don’t worry about that/it’s alright, and, don’t get me wrong. LOGICALLY, I have a PhD, I KNOW that’s all true. But it’s like after a bereavement or a break up when people tell you you’ll feel better in time, “yes that’s great I’m aware of that but that DOESNT HELP ME RIGHT NOW DOES IT!” I say all this (mostly in jest) because it’s impossible really to know what to say in these situations. I always compare it to someone saying to someone whose hungry “you won’t be hungry later”, either help the person source food or talk about something else! So I KNOW that this will be the shortest stint of being the sick kid. And in two weeks time I’ll be back to feeling stronger and healthier and can get back to swimming and looking after everyone and generally being ‘normal’. But now, today, when I can’t sit up without being in pain, and awaiting biopsy results, and not being able to carry my children, none of that helps how I feel now, today. 

So I’m just going to allow it. Even in the happiest of musicals there’s a moment we can all really embrace the sad sentimental song. It’s ok for there to be downs even when you’re an optimist. And sometimes, excuse my language but sometimes things are a bit shit. And even though you know at your worst that other people are going through worse, it’s ok sometimes not to care about that and just let yourself feel. And that’s what I’m going for a day or so. I’m going to be clingy towards my husband, I’m going to cry, I’m going to play video games and then cry some more or check the notes in my phone because I’ve forgotten what’s going on, and I’m going to nap, and I’m going to ask for a huge dinner and not eat two bites because I feel nauseous and anything else that comes with today!

Everything’s ok and I am ok and most importantly my family is ok. And that’s all that REALLY matters. 

I’m also aware that this particular blog post is a bit jumbled and a bit all over the place but I’m a big believer in keeping this record as real as possible. Only then can it help my kids if and when they decide to become mothers and maybe go through similar things. I’ve got loads of Facebook photo albums that show all the highlight reels. But the backstage pass is just as important.

I’m now infertile, and I’m sad about that today. And I’m in pain, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the cysts won’t be anymore of a problem than having them removed, one had apparently ruptured anyway so was just an empty sack of rubbishness! I’m hugely grateful for all the staff that treated me yesterday and I’m hugely in love with my husband for how amazingly he’s taking care of me. My girls are everything and I look forward to getting back to running around with them. In the meantime I’m back to being jealous of people who get to spend time with them instead of me but hopefully that won’t be as severe as the last pregnancy (I was pretty bitter the last few months, I missed my little Ladey comrade!).

But I’ll be up and about soon, this matriarch has people to take care of and big family events to plan! To everyone in my life, family and friends, I love you and miss you, see you all soon. Ladey will be back! 

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Four Explore Magic…

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My husband and I work together, live together and have a lot of mutual hobbies. But because we both work freelance hours, the working part of our lives is often really dominant. And sometimes the lines are blurred, we often get to go out to the theatre, or to stay away for the night due to work; but sometimes we’ll find ourselves, in a really romantic setting…discussing whether we’ve invoiced for last weeks workshop or advertised tomorrow’s session, and we’re constantly planning the courses we run, coming up with ideas etc.

Recently we’ve tried to ensure that we don’t check emails if we’re away for the night, or we try and ignore text messages/FB messages/Twitter notifications. But with many fingers in many different pies between the two of us, it’s almost impossible to avoid it all. We’ve discussed it quite a bit, how do we separate personal and professional life? And how do we ensure we get quality time together as a couple, as a husband and wife?
This week, we answered our own question accidentally. For Holly’s first birthday, we had gone in with my Dad on organising a two day trip to Alton Towers, staying in the hotel for one night in a theme room, with dinner at a fun restaurant where your meals arrive by rollercoaster! 

We to and fro’d on whether to do it, because, our last experience of staying in a hotel with both kids was…tough to say the least!! Neither would go to bed, both kept waking the other up, and my husband and I had to sit in the dark from 7pm…fun fun fun! With one aged 1, and one nearly 3, it had been a while since we’d taken them both away because…it’s a really tiring nightmare! BUT, it’s our last 1st birthday for our children, and we wanted to treat them both to something special so we packed up the car and we held our breath and went for it! 

And it was, the, most, perfect, magical two days we’ve both ever had. A couple of realisations very early on. 

1. The girls are that little bit older now, and both can move about without having to be carried which means we’re out of that really dependant baby stage.

2. The girls are at an age where they’ve started ‘playing’ with each other.

3. Scarlett’s now tall enough to go on all of the toddler rides and with it being Holly’s first time at anywhere like this, she was just filled with delight watching it all, especially loving watching her big sister on things. So there was SO much we could do with them in the park.

4. Their sleep routines are steady enough now that a one off night as a special treat doesn’t disrupt the next few days, and we were therefore able to just play all together in the room, especially as there was a giant polar bear in it..! And then come about 9pm, they easily settled down and we were able to chat quietly before dropping off quite early ourselves thanks to a super active day!

But the main two things we realised, were that, we prioritise supporting our family. So there’s a guilt to ignoring messages or emails or any work related things, even when we’re having quality time together. HOWEVER, our girls are the bigger priority. So when we were with them these couple of days, we ignored work things because they deserve that, and we didn’t feel guilty because THEY are more important. We don’t see ourselves as important enough to ignore work for, but they definitely are! The other main thing is that quality time as a team of four is going into a really magical stage. Both girls are getting to the age where excitement levels are off the chart and seeing their eyes light up, or watching them laugh at a giant puppet, or when they turned around to smile at us to share how excited they are…? OUR.HEARTS.KEPT.BURSTING!!  

We’ve been so busy trying to work out some intellectual reason on how to perfectly balance the various aspects of our lives, we didn’t just see what was right under our noses! Our beautiful children and our family of four.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they’re not a nightmare sometimes…! Or that it went perfectly smoothly! We had a 1am wake up thanks to Holly who was obviously a bit unsettled with the new surrounding perhaps, and it was 3am before we got back to sleep as it’s much more difficult to settle a baby when you’re trying not to wake her toddler sibling, as well as being ultra aware of other hotel guests! We were extremely lucky with their behaviour, this week we had fantastically behaved children (that is just luck of the drawer, it can so easily go the other way!). But when we left the park today, we still had a mini tears breakdown from Scarlett who wasn’t keen on the idea of going home! We felt the same, but it’s not quite as socially acceptable for us to cry..! And it really didn’t last too long so I almost feel guilty mentioning it, because Scarlett can REALLY tantrum when she puts her mind to it..! 

We’re now back home, and we’re EXHAUSTED, but we somehow feel refreshed..! 

Being the dramatic pair that we are, on the way home, we started getting emotional about what an exciting time of our family life we were going into. We’ve officially passed newborn baby stage, and now we have two little, magical, ridiculous and hilarious children, who for now are also excited to spend time with us! This stage will pass on the blink of an eye, so it’s DEFINITELY worth prioritising.

Not all our ‘Four Explore’ holidays will go as well as this one did, we know that. We’ve had enough experience to know how lucky we were with this one, but the moments that made us well up with happiness, pride and joy, are well worth the days that don’t go our way (mostly..I mean who am I kidding, it can be a bloody battlefield some days!). But as we flop down into bed tonight, tiredly giddy from the glow of a fab two days, we’ll toast (a cup of herbal tea…seriously we’re really tired!) to some more magical memories that will follow!