Continuing Collecting Memories…

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Holly suffered so much more with tooth pain than Scarlett ever did, I’m not sure Scarlett ever even noticed her teeth coming through(!). Holly was quicker to walk than Scarlett, Scarlett started talking clearly sooner than Holly has. They are both very spirited, bright eyed and full of smiles and laughs. Holly has more of a temper, Scarlett I think may be a bit less of a daredevil than Holly (maybe slightly more sensible is the better way to explain it!)

As they grow up, they will gain other similarities and their differences will also become more apparent. Their differences are to be celebrated as much as their similarities are to be cherished. Their hearts will be forever entwined together, but they will travel their individual paths with each others support (and probably gentle mockery because the sibling bond is like no other). My brother and I are similar in many ways, we’re both dorky and a bit weird, we’re just as likely to make a strange noise at each other as we are to communicate normally. So far, so sibling. We’re both defensive and have tempers. We’re both extremely passionate about our interests (both of us with video games, him with football and me with theatre), and we both also use humour to hide what we’re really feeling 90% of the time, both only really confiding primarily in our partners and quite often each other. On the same page, he loves fast cars and I wouldn’t be out of place running barefoot in a meadow. If he goes on holiday, he’d rather stay someplace nice with English speaking areas, whereas I like to roam locally when abroad and would happily stay in a shared hostel room if it meant getting to see the ‘real’ area. I have an open door policy at home and often invite groups of people round, I’m his sister and have never been round to his for a meal and that’s not because he hates me, I don’t think he’s ever hosted a family event or more than one friend because he likes his space to be his space. Neither of us are wrong, neither of us are bad people, we’re very similar with quite a lot of differences. We’re extremely close despite being different generations and despite sometimes not understanding each other. The biggest thing is that we both know that in an emergency, we could call the other and we would be there in an instant. 

My hope is that my girls will have a similar close bond, perhaps even easier as they are so close in age. They will grow up watching the same TV shows, knowing the same people, perhaps being taught by the same teachers and having the same cultural references. This will likely mean they have more moments of screaming at each other, more days that they hate each other. the close proximity will draw them closer and on occasion make them wish they were further apart!

At the moment Holly adores Scarlett, and Scarlett adores showing off to Holly. They make each other laugh, they hit each other with lego bricks when one wants to build a tower and the other wants to knock it down. They both love to dance and sing, they both like giving cuddles and I think that they are both going to be very empathic as they always notice and react when one of me or my husband are upset or in pain. 

I’ve been proofing and arranging two books today to be published. ‘A Bumpy Ride’, and ‘A Bumpier Ride’. I started this blog to take note of both pregnancies right up until their first birthdays. They have a book each, from around 4 months pregnant, to just after their first birthday. And within the pages, are countless memories, anecdotes and descriptions of a time that even now, not much later on, the details have become fuzzy. The memories have started to fade, which is terrifying, it makes me extremely grateful to have written it all down. Putting the thoughts together made me wonder what to do with the remaining posts. I have continued writing now past Holly’s first birthday with no real plan with what to do with those posts. But in reality, this entire process is for the girls, for them to read, or ignore if they’d rather! I have so many questions from when I was younger, questions that understandably are a bit difficult for my parents to now answer, especially as it was over thirty years ago! I’m lucky that I have a diary from 1985 that my Mum wrote, a short passage of which I’ve posted below. It’s an insight into those small details that you can’t remember even a couple of years after as the first few years are such a blur, it’s like a descriptive memory that you don’t have as such a young child and that you inevitably lose as an adult. 

Perhaps the series WILL become a trilogy, the what came next, ages 1 – 5, the years that they won’t be able to remember for themselves. Whatever happens, I hope they both know how much my husband and I adore them, and how much of a priority they are to us. I also hope they grow up to know how important they are to each other, regardless of how their differences might make them feel like they don’t have a lot in common, or how much their similarities remind them too much of each other! I’m so excited to see how they both grow up together, but for now I’m enjoying savouring every little, desperately important but fleeting moment.

1985 Diary Entrys

Tuesday 21st May 1985: Danielle got up at 8.30am and I feel completely refreshed although I woke up at about 4am anticipating Danielle waking up. She has been trying to lift herself up from her bottom. At the moment she can’t lift her top half together with her legs and bottom. Danielle went to bed at 8.30pm. She woke up at 4.15 but it was because her little arm was caught between the bars in her cot and was absolutely freezing

Thursday 23rd May 1985: Danielle was first up at 6.15 for a feed, then went back down at 6.30 until 9.45. She has been really good today, although she seems to want to chew on her bottom lip – I’m not sure if she’s teething but it sure looks like it. I put her to bed at 8pm but she woke up again at 9 laughing at her Nanna Whelan!! I put her back to bed at 9.15 and she seems to have settled.

Sunday 2nd June 1985: Danielle first woke at 6.15am, then after feeding her she woke up at 8am. She’s been very good today, smiling everyone. I took her to the beach and she loved it. Her Auntie Jan put Danielle’s feet in the the water but it was a bit cold!! Danielle settled at 8pm.

Monday 29th August 1985: Danielle has finally got her tongue around the word ‘Dada’. she’s been saying it all day and she sounds lovely. I put it on tape so that Nick would believe me.

Friday 9th August 1985: We took Danielle to the baths today for the first time. It was so cold but she loved it.

Sunday 15th September 1985: Danielle started crawling today. Although she’s been moving around for some time, she actually crawled properly today.

Friday 20th September 1985: Danielle said ‘mama’ properly today. Now Danielle has started crawling there’s no stopping her and we keep having to move everything out of her way (especially the papers and my catalogues which she is determined to eat)

There it is, a little insight to my first year, first swim, first words, crawling, little moments that would otherwise be lost to time. In ten years time will I remember that Scarlett went nappy free and started using the potty on Friday 1st September? Doubtful. Will I know that the girls went to their first music concert on Saturday 17th June 2017, and it was Rick Astley, one of Mummy’s favourites? No probably not. But I’ve got it written down, and although it seems unimportant, those moments are precious. And therefore I will continue to safeguard those memories.

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The Unavoidable Unknown..

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Hypothyroidism confirmed. Which is a relief and a bit strange and suddenly makes so many things make sense from the past few years. I was a bit occupied with thoughts of it in the day or two that followed getting the results. But now? Now my brain is keeping me awake thinking of crazy things.

So firstly a couple of quick things. I thought it was much more serious, I was all but convinced from the weekend where I’d spent time in hospital, that my luck had run out and the news they were calling with was going to much worse than a manageable chronic thing. So much so that I’d been thinking a lot about what would happen with my girls, and my husband if something were to happen to me. I know I know, very dramatic, but when it’s the middle of the night and you know something’s wrong but you’re not sure what, your mind tortures you. So much so that (and I’m about to sound properly sleep deprived crazy) tonight I’ve been distracted by the fact that my husband and I are starting to search for primary schools for our eldest to start in September 2018 (that’s a whole other blog post…HOW can our baby girl be old enough for school?!!!). That means it is 2017, which means the bereaved parents of Sandy Hook primary school children would have this year been looking for secondary schools. And that breaks my heart. It seems like a relatively recent news story but it was five years ago this December. I remember it being one of the most horrific tragedies because of the high percentage of innocent children being the victims. And five years has gone. Now for me, I became a parent in that time and now we’re looking at primary schools. Something so big yet somehow so trivial. As a parent you worry about living in a good catchment area, you read results statistics (and then talk about how they don’t really matter), you discuss whether the religious aspect of a school is important. You look at what secondary schools it might lead to. As a parent you NEVER imagine that something so awful could happen in real life. And those parents this year could never have imagined that applying to secondary schools for those beloved students wouldn’t happen. You just don’t, because thinking about it is heart wrenchingly devastating and you just wouldn’t leave the house if you considered things like that as a possibility. It would paralyse you with fear every day if you allowed it to. I know this logically so the fact that my brain is keeping me up thinking about it is only damaging, and gains nothing but misery.I don’t know why my brain went from ‘relatively positive diagnosis’ to every parents worst nightmare. Something about the lack of control I suppose. My fear over the weekend was that I cannot bear the thought of not being able to look after and protect my family, but ultimately there’s nothing I can do about certain situations, and then the leap is there to be had (if your subconscious enjoys punishing you as much as mine clearly does). 

And what can you do when these kind of mind demons take hold? Not a lot, I can logically explain to someone that it’s not healthy, not realistic to even try and think about these things, but I know that won’t stop the wiring in my brain from psychologically electrocuting me. The best thing we can do is live the best life we all possibly can. Take the trip, eat icecream in October, get the train even though you know it might be busy at the theme park and will probably rain anyway, book the hotel, dance in your pants; I know that all of those seem random, but if you make decisions that will make you and your family happy, you at least will build the best possible life around you. And as and when bad things happen, and they do to all of us in big and small ways, you at least saturate most of it with good. Don’t put blocks in front of the life you want to live, why are you waiting? 

None of this can take away the grief and horror that the parents of Newtown went through, or the reverberation felt from it across the world. Same for the horrendous events that have come since, it’s not a foreign issue, the London bombings, the Manchester attacks, the London Bridge incident; all of these were gut wrenching and unpredictable. We are lucky to live in a country where gun crime isn’t an every day issue, luckier still to live in a modern western culture where our families safety isn’t constantly under threat. 

(I digress, there are several massive issues that this could all lead to for discussion.)

My main point is that we cannot help the events and situations we are faced with that are out of our control. So it’s makes it even more important to live the absolute best life we can do. To look out for each other, to laugh with each other, to hold each other together when needed. 

I guess maybe what I’m saying is that it’s a terrifying world but we can all be a strong beating heart within it.

Digesting the Downtimes…

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It has been a crappy few weeks. An opener to a blog post, and a pun, value for money within the first seven words..! I’m about to reveal something that I really don’t usually talk about openly. My digestive system.

Eurgh, I’m shuddering even just writing this, I’ll keep this as polite as possible. None of us are immune to ups and downs, and a less than happy gut from time to time. I have been slightly prone to stomach problems for most of my life. After a recent bug, I have been struggling, feeling increasingly poorly, vomiting quite a lot, and after 5 days realised that not only was something obviously not healthy, it hadn’t been ‘correctly’ functioning for longer than was ideal. The next day my tummy was so swollen I needed to get out my old maternity wear to be able to move about comfortably and that day we called the 111 NHS helpline. I’ve recently had some issues with my wisdom teeth and then our youngest had a case of Impetigo which she shared with me, so the lines of where the tummy bug started and the wisdom tooth pain/impetigo issues were blurred. Things got to quite a severe point sneakily.

A trip down to the out of hours saw me back at home with a diagnosis of a blockage, with medication to take. Eight sachets over six hours should do it I was told but I had three days worth of eight sachets just in case it was a bad case. Cut to three days later and there was no joy, so we were advised to go down to A&E, which we did. I was seen very quickly and soon had some morphine easing the pain, and liquids rehydrating me. Sadly, two rather intrusive medical procedures later, and we were no closer to joy. They agreed to let me go home at 3am the following morning as the much stronger medication I had been told was ‘guaranteed to work’, and I REALLY wanted to get back to my own bed instead of the ward. That was yesterday morning. The guaranteed medication has definitely had some slight effect but definitely not as quickly or as thoroughly as advertised. It’s currently 1am, I’m exhausted, in pain, and it’s now exactly a week since we realised there was quite a significant issue. I have had several bloods taken for testing and we’re hoping to get some form of answer on Thursday. The top suggestion from the hospital Dr’s is perhaps an issue with my thyroid, which may have been particularly bad on this occasion because of having a simple bug when my immune system was low leading to a downward spiral. I have also recently when awake at night been making a LOT of homemade bread, and in discussion with the Dr, that big intake of bread may well have been enough to really aggravate an already sensitive system.
I have been very grouchy in recent weeks, as things have ebbed and flowed, I’ve had to cancel quite a few commitments, both professional and personal, and a lifelong issue that has never been quite this bad is draining. I live with a chronic health issue in having epilepsy but I’m well acquainted with it and I know exactly how to deal with it. However, I think back to the beginning steps of that process and it makes me feel weary! If hypothyroidism is the issue, it would make a lot of things makes sense, and will hopefully lead to being able to have significantly less issues. Having read up on it, I will also be able to make a few easy lifestyle changes to ease flare ups. So all good news, but being at the beginning of that process is not fun. Because for now at least, there are a lot of headaches, not a lot of sleep, a hell of a lot of pain, and two little girls who deserve much better from their Mother than being cooped up in the house quite so much with a grouchy Mummy who isn’t playing with them as much.

When I was first diagnosed with epilepsy, the first couple of years was a long process of brain scans, tests, mishaps, 24 hour waking study, blood tests, tears, frustration and exhaustion. Do you know what made it easier? Being 15. Going through that process wasn’t fun but it was certainly helped by the energy of youth! Doing a similar process now? With two toddlers who deserve two active parents? Being twice the age I was? The thought alone of having more blood tests when both my arms are already bruised from multiple blood tests and two cannulas (I famously have terrible veins that are tricky to find so consequently I tend to come out looking like a pin cushion!) is not a happy prospect.

I’ll admit I’ve been quite down about it. I’m tired, the pregnancies exhausted me, the recurring epilepsy exhausted me. The slow recovery from two emergency c-sections exhausted me. Trying to feel human again exhausted me. The sterilisation op and removal of ovarian cysts earlier this year exhausted me.

HOWEVER. I’m not 15. This isn’t about me anymore. Life throws stuff at you every day. And it doesn’t really matter what it throws at you, it matters how you deal with it. I have two daughters, two beacons of sunshine who see what the world is like, primarily from my husband and I. We’ve not had the easiest of rides over the last few years but that’s true of every single person on this planet, and likely those on other planets as well! We post the highlights on social media because frankly it’s the highlights that matter. It’s very important to us that the kids don’t see too much of the negatives. If we’re worried about a redundancy, that’s not something a child should be aware of. If we’re scared about a diagnosis, that’s not something a child should have on their shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not bringing them up in a fairy land, they will be brought up knowing that life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. But we are certainly going to give them the strength to get through any difficulties they face, and by the time they are older, none of the things that are difficult for us now, will matter. It is tiring, I know I sound like a child when I say I don’t want any more needles in my arm this week, I want to sleep and I’ve had enough.

But after a break tomorrow (we are very lucky to have Grandparents support with the kids), I’m bloody well going to sort myself out, put a big pot of coffee on, and ensure that my beautiful girls and I have some quality time together. And if the results on Thursday are something that needs some serious effort to rectify, I’ll make those efforts. And as soon as I can, I’m taking my little family on a break away to have some fun!
It’s been a crappy few weeks, and it could probably quite easily turn into a crappy few months depending on how the next few days go. But my daughters are worth more than that. They deserve more than that. My husband deserves more than that, he deserves with all the support he’s been giving me (including being up for a solid 24 hours yesterday thanks to an early wake up with the kids and a VERY late homecoming from the hospital) to have his fun loving wife at least some of the time! And I deserve better too. We all want to have a duvet day now and again, it all gets a bit much for all of us from time to time. And a stiff upper lip and an optimistic outlook are both all well and good (and much better than committing to being permanently miserable!) but sometimes you need to decide, ok this is rubbish, but it’s a rubbish day, not a rubbish life.

So I suppose instead of dwelling on an unhappy gut and the problems it’s causing, while I down another pint of water to try and help improve that particular situation. I’m instead reminiscing and looking over our families highlights, to remind myself that although tonight is no fun; my marriage, my children, and the life we’ve built together, is my dream come true. If my child self, and teenage self could see where I am, they would be thrilled. They wouldn’t care about this temporary blip or any other blip, they would excitedly ask about the adventures we’ve been on. I have several pictures of hospital wards, medications, bruised arms and other related things! I have plenty that could be the accompanying picture for this particular post. But instead I’m going to use a couple of the real highlights from recently, that in years to come will totally overshadow tonight’s pain. And when perhaps my daughters and I read this back when they’re older, I look forward to reminiscing about happy times the four of us have had in Autumn of 2017 (especially as it’s the first ‘Halloween month’ thanks to Scarlett’s devotion to the holiday!) and the other parts that don’t matter will be a distant memory.