WOMAN

I am not someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, someone’s wife. I am a woman, a human, a life. I am a woman. I have fire strong within. We are tired of your bull shit. Your torment. Your sin. I am a woman, see me grow tall, see the weight that I carry, see how I conquer all. See how I rise up, fight on, hear me now, I’m not here for you, no weight makes me bow. We don’t fear your actions, your violence, your words. For we are warriors with a voice to be heard. Yes, I am a woman and I came here to be, to stand up and tell you that I came here for me.

It is hard out here

A few weeks ago a stranger messaged asking, ‘do you not enjoy motherhood? Are you trying to put people off having kids?’ I was a little taken aback and it has taken me sometime to process how I feel about those words. On the back of this I want to share a story with you about the importance of talking about the tough times, as well as the good times.

I consider myself exceptionally lucky to have two amazing, healthy children and after experiencing the loss of a baby myself, a small part of me will never forget and will always mourn.

Losing our baby hit me hard, really hard. I plummeted and just kept going with no thought for anyone else, especially my husband and his pain too. I was hurting but I was also very selfish, now when I look back I do not recognise the person I became. It took me a long time to recover and grow. It was a really dark time and how it impacted me and my behaviour, genuinely added further to the trauma.

I threw myself into planning a huge wedding, the gym, work, University, anything really. I appeared (or so I thought) to have everything in control, I drank (a lot), ate salads, opened a savings account, renovated a whole house. I thought I had nailed it. Inside I was destroyed. I was exhausted, my obsession with keeping busy and trying to ‘appear’ ok was damaging my fragile mental health even further. I did not want to talk about it.

We had a beautiful wedding, everything I could have dreamed of, but the cracks were beginning to show. Then BANG! Baby Cass was born.

When you have children, your first child, everything changes. I thought it would not change so much, but it did. I struggled, really struggled. Everything was a sensory nightmare, the birth, the noise, the lack of sleep, constantly being touched by another human being, breast feeding, the visitors coming to my house all the time, not a moment to think, the mess. There was no stillness, no downtime and not a moment to think.

I was traumatised and I did not know why. I plagued myself with thoughts of, ‘it is you, you’re not doing it right. You should be happy, you are ungrateful, this is what you wanted, make it work, don’t complain, pretend you’re fine.’ But I was not fine, far from it. I used to hide upstairs and scream in the carpet as loud as I could so no one heard, I used to carry Cass in his sling and walk for miles just so that he would sleep and I could get a moment to myself. I used to sit awake all night feeding, loving and caring for him even though at times, I just wanted to rip my skin off my body because my senses were going into over drive and I was touched out.

I used to cry for hours on my own in the dark wishing for a break, for Cass to sleep so I could just get some rest. I wanted to make him happy, he just seemed so sad, I felt like I was failing as a mother. But still, I did not want to talk about it. This was meant to be the happiest time of our lives together, but for those first few weeks I just struggled to cope.

I wanted to be a mum so much but now I was I was freaking out. I did not love being a mum. I loved my baby, I loved him fiercely, but I did not want to be a mum. I did not want to talk about it. I had wanted this for so long and now my baby was here it was horrendous. I could not cope. Was it meant to be so hard? This hard? Was i meant to be this exhausted, feeding for hours on end, my body and mind broken. I just wanted to curl up into a ball and for everything to stop.

I thought that going to every single baby group would help me, I tried to get out every day and be around people. This made it worse. The noise of the baby groups, keeping up with social expectations, trying to understand new relationships with adults. When all the time I should have been trying to understand my new relationship with my baby. The fall out of trying to do so much was epic.

I did not talk to anyone about what was actually going on. I just carried on as though I was ‘fine.’ I was not fine. I had a huge nervous breakdown. It was the darkest time of my life. If I am honest I only remember fragments of how I was, which is probably for the best. something had to change and now it was out in the open for everyone to see.

Finally when I was feeling better I did want to talk about it and I had opened up to my family and my doctor about how unbelievably hard I was finding things. Not only did I receive support for everything that had happened I was also diagnosed as being Autistic. I could feel a peace within myself that had never been there before, like I was finally getting to know who I really was. I revisited old wounds and unpacked all of those emotions that I had buried deep. I spoke about the trauma of losing a child, how I had to sit in the maternity ward surrounded by pregnant women waiting for their scans. Being prodded and poked and scanned only to be told that there was no baby anymore. Being told by a GP that it happens and that I needed to ‘get on with it,’ after I attempted to seek some help.

Since receiving my diagnosis and learning to be more open about my emotions, I have given birth to our second child, Delilah. I was able to discuss my sensory and communication difficulties with the midwives before her birth and the whole experience was amazing. I have received the support that I should have had the first time round from the NHS and family and friends because now I have the confidence and understanding to ask for it. I am a different person and I am better for it.

I still find things challenging, really challenging but my awareness of myself has taken the edge off. These days I do not go to all the baby groups. I am not readily available to every single person who walks into my life, because I feel that is how I ‘should’ behave. My priority is my family and I love to spend time alone with my children. I rest, I talk with my husband and I put plans in place. I have also stopped beating myself up for finding things hard or just needing a break.

I felt like having my little boy gave me the strength to say, ‘this is really hard and I’m not willing to do this anymore.’ I needed answers in order to recognise and deal with my difficulties in a healthy way and with a bit more knowledge and understanding about myself. Cass taught me that I needed to grown up and take responsibility, I thought I was ready for kids. I was not, it was a shock. Having Delilah has allowed me to see the person that I really am and how beautiful and amazing the first year of motherhood should be. I am grateful every day for my children, what they teach me and how they have allowed me to grow. Motherhood broke me and saved me in equal measures.

Life is all about growing, facing demons, making changes and talking about difficulties. In my experience if you do not talk about the hard times then they come back for you, harder. So to all you people out there who think that you know all forms of motherhood, you are wrong, you do not. We should encourage people to talk about the happy times, but we should also ask them about the tough times too. All feelings and experiences are valid. Maybe next time try to listen.

Tired

The things that they told you would come with such ease, when you stop and look back now.

Were the things that brought you screaming to your knees, looking at others and wondering how?

Your body is wrecked.

Your emotions are shattered and the voice in your head’s screaming out, ‘these are the things that you wanted, it’s too late to be filled with this doubt.’

The things that made you question yourself. In the dark, breaking down, crying too. As you’re losing then finding your mind, moving forward but trying to stay you.

‘You’re ungrateful, you’re incapable, you’re fussing too much, think of all the others without. Your tears they’re not real, just cope, suck it up, stop your moaning, for fucks sake, sort it out.’

Pretending and smiling and carrying on, day after day after day, sitting for hours silently in the dark.

I promise you, it will be ok!

The Two AM Lull

Tick tick tock, the two am clock. Scrolling and reading, you know you should stop. The swiping and tapping, and drawing, easing into something still there. A moment alone, a minute to spare. Your eyes, heavy with sleep. But this moment of calm you need to hold on to. You need to keep.

The writing and painting, creating and building, making something silently in a peace you once knew. A small little window, a time to reflect, at the tick, tick, tock of the two am clock. Spending time just remembering you.

The thoughts of the morning with cries and laughter, five am wake ups and no sleep there after. The hustle, the bustle, the ‘where are your shoes? Kerfuffle.’ The chaos, the wild, the exhausting, powerful love for your child. The teatime zoo with flying food, and water fights. Snuggles into pyjamas, at least fifteen stories, followed by Kisses goodnight.

As you sit. Exhausted. Longing for food and for sleep, the tick tick tock of the two am clock. Grabbing a silent hour, so precious to keep. With eyes so tired but heart so full, as you rebuild yourself in the two am lull.

Lucy

GIRL

You should be sexy, you should be cool, you should be organised. Is this necessary? I’m still at school. You need to be fierce, you need to be strong, you need to be cautious, you need to belong. You need to be gentle, you need to be smart, you need to be quiet, to never fall apart. You need to carry others, when they’re feeling low. It’s your job to lift them up, when they’re struggling to grow.

Your skirt’s too short, your top’s too tight, your tights are too thin, your hair’s not right. Your accent’s too posh, your thighs are too fat, your boobs are too big, your bum is too flat. Your eyebrows; too light, your face is too round, your nose is too big, your voice, it’s too loud. Your legs are too short, your feet are too wide, your stomach’s too soft, have you even tried?

You need to get married, need to have a baby, need to get a mortgage. Are you starting to feel crazy? You need to work harder, you need to look pretty, you need to keep the house tidy. Feeling tired? That’s a pity. You need a career, a life of your own, you need to be funny, all you want is time alone. You need to keep going, it’s important you know. A women’s work’s never done, never let weakness show.

The things that we hear, the things we are told, the words thought to be harmless, can really take hold. It’s that fucking simple, life should be fair, but life as a girl with equality. It is not always there. Let’s stand together with every women we know, we all know what it feels like on those days when your low. Fighting a battle that no one else really sees, fighting a battle whilst screaming out to be me.

Lucy

Happily Ever After

The endless parties, the up all night, the beautiful music, the staying bright. The drinks, the dancing, the 6am friends, the never ending disco, the party to the end. The house shares, the laughter, the disco pants, the fun, the knowing at 4am you’re still not done. The glitter, the photos, the pal you just met. The stories, the headaches, the ‘let’s do it again.’ The nightclubs, the djs, the wild nights running free. The travel, the gigs, the only you and only me. The best times, the good times, the memories we have. The future looks different, to the things we then had.

The months of trying, the one line or two, the exciting buzz, when you can’t believe that it’s true. The trying to hide it, the twelve week scan, the ‘oh fuck we’d best come up with a plan.’ The wriggles, the tickles, the flutters, the kicks. The stretch marks, the ‘kankles,’ the migraines, the sick. The dreaming and longing for them to arrive, the wishing that it could just be week 39. The breathing, the pushing, the ‘GIVE ME THE DRUGS!’ The most magical feeling to have. The LOVE. The closeness, the cuddles, the long nights, the poo. The first steps, the smiles, when they say, ‘love you too.’ The exhaustion, raw emotion, the joy and the laughter. You would not change it for anything, the happily ever after.

Lucy

Grown

I will help you when you can’t sleep at night. I will hold you whilst you cry. I will carry you every where that I go, in my heart, arms, soul and mind.

I will wipe the tears out from your eyes. I will protect you with all that I am. I will do my best to make you smile, as much as I possibly can.

I will teach you everything I know. I hope that it is enough. I’ll listen, I’ll watch, I’ll hold your hand, because sometimes life can be tough.

I will take you on a journey. I will show you all you can be. I will help you when times are tricky, but I know soon you will not need me.

I will watch you walk away from me, to build a life of your own. I will miss our time together but I know you can do it alone.

I cherish every moment, the tough times and the great, because it is you who teaches me who I am, my tiny little mate!

Nobody told me…

That you will NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. That your boobs will be forever pointing down. Down Boobs will be their new name. That you will never wee alone unless you have planned it, like some covert operation. That even though your yoga teacher or some other birth ‘guru’ told you that your ‘baby is the perfect size for your body,’ your vagina will still split all the way to your arse hole and look more like a cross stitch project, than your previous well groomed lady garden. That your nipples will be so red raw, that you will develop an irrational resentment towards your husband for not being able to lactate. That you will never drink a truly hot beverage again. That your hair will fall out (nightmare). That your period will come back (bigger nightmare). That the chub rub between your thighs will continue to be the ruiner of all Summer dresses and hot days for months (years) after you have given birth. That cycling shorts will save you. That you will now have to bath with 46 rubber ducks and a plastic boat. That you may never bath again. That your sofa will never be clean. That you will no longer think Mr Tumble is a weirdo and that you would actually quite like him to come and live in your house. That Happy Meals and Fruit Shoots are ok and that you needn’t have been such a judgey dick before you had even had kids. That you will forgive yourself for being a judgey dick. That you will never reach the bottom of the wash bin, NEVER, don’t even try. That you will smell like a milky armpit for at least twelve months and that you will probably be ok with this. That one night they will sleep through, but then you will wake them because you got scared. That you will trade your handbag for a nappy bag or a Bag for Life. That at some point you will get actual human shit on your face and someone else’s sick in your pants. That you will have your favourite shows on CBeebies, and you will be excited when they come on. That you will never be on time again. That you will know every word to their favourite book. That you will cry and scream because you are broken and you cannot get up one more time. That you will sit up all night stroking their head because they’re too sick or too tired or too emotional or just too toddler. That you will wish and dream for a moment alone but when they go you will long for their return. That your heart will be so full it could burst. That you will cry when you find the smallest sock that no longer fits. That your exhaustion, frustration and the absolute chaos can be forgotten with a smile, a word or a cuddle. That you will burst with pride at the smallest change and your heart will swell to see them grow. That you will miss those first few weeks. That you will lose some friends but gain the world. That you will change in ways that terrify you but you will like it. That you will achieve things that you never thought possible.

That it will all be worth it.

Want to know what I think?

At twelve weeks in the comments really start to begin.

‘Oh wow you really are looking so small,

has your baby even started to grow at all?’

‘I just do not think you are eating well,’ quickly followed by

‘Oh my god you are starting to swell!’

‘I wouldn’t do that, I would do this…

(Just in case my previous comment you missed)

Do you want to know why I would do it this way?

Why won’t they listen to what YOU want to say?

You are nearing the end, you are tired and feel past it,

but their obsessive prying and comments, I wish they could mask it.

‘They’ll probably come late, at least two weeks over,

I’d just forget your Birth-plan.’

I’m not sure how I kept my composure?!

Baby is here! My world is complete

but still they drone on, they will not be beat.

‘Oh baby looks small, are they not eating well? Wow, look at their belly it’s starting to swell!’

How are you feeding them, bottle or breast? You want my opinion… ‘cus you know, I KNOW BEST!’

The opinions and comments they go ON and ON!

About mother and baby and how things ‘should’ be done.

So next time you see a new mum and her child,

hold on to your judgement and offer your smile.

Lucy

It is not all shit

I feel that it is really important to talk about our mental health. When I write I try to make sure that my posts are real and honest, because it is fucking hard. I often think that anything worth having is hard, this is definitely true with raising a family.

I aim to raise awareness of the importance of our mental health. My own mental health is more important to me than anything else in my life. If it is not good my husband suffers, my children suffer, my friends suffer, the dog definitely suffers, but most importantly I suffer. As far as my mind is concerned I need to be at the top of my game. I neglected my mental health for so many years and it destroyed me. It has taken me thirty three years to realise this and after my recent diagnosis of Autism, I feel that everything is slowly falling into place.

For me it is important to talk and reach out and normalise difficulties when it comes to coping with my mental health. If I broke my leg I would not feel ashamed to go to A&E, if I had a chest infection I would not be ashamed to visit my GP and this is how I am learning to be for my mental health too. However, dealing with any form of mental illness and anxiety may make this incredibly difficult for many people, so I talk about how hard things are because I want others to see that it is ok for stuff to be really tough sometimes. It does not mean that it is hard all the time, a lot of the time it is absolutely Bobby Dazzler, but for me it is important to acknowledge that sometimes things are tough and look for healthy ways to deal with this.

I LOVE my life, my family, my home but I want to normalise the tough times as much as the wonderful times. I want my smiling family photos to be followed by stories of sleepless crap, toddler tantrums and days where the only thing that I have consumed has been eight cans of Diet Coke and a Mars Bar.

For me life is about owning those challenges and difficult times and focusing on ways to make it better for next time. Nothing is perfect, but not everything is shit.

Here we are today after 3 coffees, 2 diet cokes, 1 brew and 2 pieces of cake 🤣