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! 

Fuel for the future…

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I’m much better since the recent procedure I had but it’ll be a while before I’m back to best. I was getting frustrated with myself at how long it was taking, my sleeps all over the place, i’m spending a lot of the early hours awake and my energy levels are quite often in the drain. I booked an extra appointment with the Dr because I’m not known for being the best of patients and when I’m told to take it easy I start to get immediately antsy. At my check up it was made clear that three operations within six months is a strain on the body, especially when becoming a new parent. Luckily for me, my Dr knows me well and knows that telling me to rest up and take it easy is just as useful as talking to me in Latin, I don’t really understand! So he took a different tact, he knows I’m a writer, he knows I need to keep myself busy so he suggested I make sure some of my projects can be done from home. The message was altered accordingly, rest my body, sleep when I can (Scarlett allowing!) and then I’m allowed to occupy my mind!

And as I walked out of the GP surgery, it felt like a massive relief, a massive relief for my husband as well who has been an absolute rock but for all his influence on me, hasn’t been able to get me to slow down! The first thing I did when I got home was make a list (you know how I love a list!) of what I was going to do over the next couple of months, most of which I can do from home. A list to stop me going stir crazy.

  1. Watch my beautiful little girl develop – she changes every single day, she is turning into a confident, beautiful, funny and clever child and being her Mother is one of the highest honours I have ever been bestowed.
  2. The Anti Bullying campaign, there’s meetings to be had and that does mean getting out and about but it means a lot to me and I have some fantastic people on my team helping with it, so as much as possible meetings will be in cosy coffee shops and as local as possible and I will *gulp* delegate as much as possible when necessary and understand that that’s ok…!
  3. Work on completing the second children’s story, whilst getting the first published. This can all be done by the comfort of my iPad and computer.
  4. Take care of my own health even half as much as I care about Scarletts. Tests showed I was still quite dehydrated and three days in a row I had coffee for breakfast whilst cooking multiple things to ensure the freezer was stacked with homemade baby meals. The organisation will now include making sure I am also getting all my nutrients and vitamins; this includes my husband, we have a lot of fun cooking together but we’re going to make sure that that doesn’t just involve our evening meal!
  5. Quality time with my husband. We had a surprise date on the weekend and we had such a fabulous time. We laugh together every day and enjoy our time with Scarlett all the time, but we’re parents every day. And when we get childcare, we have time as husband and wife and it’s amazing. When Scarlett goes to sleep there’s always emails to respond to or tidying up to be done, but I’m more in love with my husband every day we’re together so I’m going to make sure we have some time to enjoy being husband and wife even when we’re just at home. 

When I made that list, I instantly felt lighter. All of a sudden, I didn’t need to stress that I wouldn’t be able to get stuff done, I didn’t have to worry that I didn’t have the energy to do things. I had a concrete list of things to concentrate on, priorities to attend to. I’m not being forced to stop, I’m able to heal whilst still moving forward! 

It does put certain plans on hold, I was planning a big 30th birthday bash, not to mention some of the 30 before 30 list items, there was also a play I was going to be part of, I was joining a choir and I had started back at netball. All things I can no longer realistically do at the moment. It pains me to say it but I cannot do it all. Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT plan on giving up on those things, they remain on my ‘to do’ list, but they’re now on my ’to do slightly later’ list. I won’t finish my 30 before 30 list by 5th February, it’s a week and I’m ambitious and a dreamer but I’m not a complete idiot! However, I will spend an entire year being 30 and so I’m giving myself some more time. Think it’s a cop out? Think I’m breaking the rules? Yeah I am, but I set the rules, so now I’m changing them. What are you going to do, ring the life plans police?! Don’t get me wrong, I stressed myself out because I wouldn’t be completing it in time, I’m not so good at failing, but it’s only by my own benchmarks that I was doing it in the first place. The only difference between whether I succeed or fail is how I look at it. And why would I look at it as a failure if I had an alternative way of seeing it? 

I had a day of feeling low that my 30th wouldn’t be extraordinary, I wanted something really landmark, it’s 30, it’s a big one! And for me personally it’s an important one. And then I realised that I have an extraordinary life, a wonderful husband and the most beautiful baby. The two most important people in my life who I will wake up with that day. And by the sounds of things, I certainly won’t be doing nothing, I’ve been told to keep certain days/evenings and afternoons free, my Dad’s coming down so I’ll have all my family around and so it will be landmark. And hey, next year, if I manage to stay out of the operating theatre for longer than a few months, I’ll do something big, we’ll fly to New York, we’ll host a fancy ball, we’ll climb a mountain. I’ve always done life according to my own rules. I was in hospital when my husband turned 30, so next year, maybe we’ll do something ridiculously big together for the big 3-1, or the big 3-2, we have our whole lives ahead of us for multiple landmarks!

I’ve always been in a rush to do lots of things right now, I’ve always wanted to get as much done as possible and if I’m resting then I’m failing; if I’m taking it easy, I’m not pushing forward or succeeding. What I’ve learnt recently though is that I have to learn that if I push and push and push, the only thing I end up doing is setting myself further back. If i’d rested properly after the emergency C-Section and the follow up second operation, maybe I would have avoided the third. I can’t know for sure, but what I do know is that if I carry on pushing, I’ll be getting on for a 4th operation before Scarlett’s first birthday. By pushing so hard, I’ve held myself back. But now I need to take heed of the Dr’s advice, my husbands advice, my family’s advice! it’s time to rest my body! My mind can keep going (there is no off switch for that, I’ve searched!) but even that won’t be able to continue if I don’t sort myself out. I owe that to myself and more importantly, I owe that to Scarlett. So the next couple of months will be at a more sedate pace. there’s time for everything I want to achieve and if I sort myself out I’ll be able to do even more.

We all want to surpass our own expectations, and we all want to dream big. Sometimes the only thing holding us back is ourselves. For me, finally sitting down will set me free! You wouldn’t drive a car without putting petrol in it, or expect it to drive without enough air in the tyres, cars can’t take that kind of pressure and carry on successfully. So why do we so often not treat our own bodies with the same courtesy as we treat our cars? If you’re running on empty, put some air in your tyres, make sure you have enough petrol before going on a journey beyond your capabilities. It doesn’t make you a failure, you wouldn’t say the car failed at making the trip, you shake your head at the driver who doesn’t look after it well enough. 

There are so many exciting journeys to go on, some of them are local, some of them don’t need much petrol but it doesn’t mean you’re not adventuring or moving forward. With a healthy car, you can travel miles, and I plan on going on lots of adventures in the future so for now, my car is having a service.