Domestic Violence. A Firsthand Account

Domestic Violence. A Firsthand Account

This writer has asked to remain anonymous. However, it doesn’t matter who the victim is or what they look like, the reality remains the same. As many of head joyfully into the long weekend, others are full of trepidation of what danger could unfurl in their own homes:


Domestic abuse is prolific in the UK. The stats speak for themselves.

• One in four women and one in six men will be affected by it in their lifetime.

• By the age of 18, one in seven children will have lived with domestic abuse.

• The police receive 100 calls an hour about domestic abuse.

• Two women a week are killed by their partner or ex partner in England and Wales.

And yet, hardly anyone talks about. It needs more attention and more discussion. As a psychologist working in children’s services, I see the impact domestic abuse has on families every day. I know it needs more voices. So here is mine.

• I lived with domestic abuse from the age of 6 until I left for university, committed by my Step dad against my mum.

• This abuse took various forms.

• He was physically violent – I don’t know the full extent, but I know at some point he tried to kill her. I didn’t see much but I heard a lot, mostly from my bedroom at night.

• He was controlling. He always knew what she was doing. Everything was in his name – her phone, her car, the house – so they could be taken away whenever he chose.

• He drank heavily and was unpredictable and volatile. Their relationship was on and off and we moved many times because of it, often at the drop of a hat.

• When they weren’t together, he was even worse. I remember on one occasion he saw my mum out on a date and lost it: he stole her car and then kicked our front door down, before chasing my mum through the house and hitting her while we were all hiding upstairs.

• There were police involvement, injunctions, restraining orders and general chaos.

• I probably am not what you are imagining. The general impression is domestic abuse affects the poorest of families, with the most complex of social circumstances. That’s not us. My parents divorced when I was a baby, but otherwise we were just your average family. I put my efforts into school and did really well there. I internalised everything and learned to keep my needs to myself. You wouldn’t have known.

• And most people still don’t know. I hardly told anyone at the time, and those who I have told since know little more than my mum had a partner who ‘wasn’t that nice to her’.

• Why can’t I tell them? And why have I made this anonymous?

• Firstly, I am ashamed. I can’t explain that logically: for anyone else in my position, I would have only empathy and sympathy, not an ounce of negative judgement. But that feeling of shame is there and it is strong.

• Secondly, I don’t feel like it’s my story to share. It’s my mum’s. And she doesn’t talk about it. She is happy and settled. I could have asked her permission to share it, but I think it would really upset her to know I still think about it.

• These reasons parallel why I didn’t tell anyone, or reach out for adult help, as I was growing up – I was ashamed, and I was terrified about we would be taken away from our mum.

• Then there was the fear that telling would have put my mum more at risk. And this is an appropriate fear: women are known to be most at risk when they tell and try to leave.

• As an adult I can see this is a crazy amount of responsibility for a child to bear. But at the time I felt like this was my responsibility, to keep my mum safe, and I absolutely did not question that.

• I remember lying awake most nights, listening out for when my step dad got home from the pub, waiting to hear if an argument broke out, listening out for a sign that something bad was going to happen – a scream, a bang. If it did, I didn’t know what to do – stay awake and listen more?

• When I was younger, I never intervened but felt constantly guilty for not doing so.

• As I got older, I might shout down, or call mum up to us. This seemed to disarm him a bit.

• When I was 18, he came over once when we had moved away. I heard him shouting and mum screaming. I ran downstairs. He stopped upon seeing me and broke down and fell to the floor crying.

• That was a turning point in how much I feared him. But it also made me wonder if I could have done more earlier – what if I had intervened when I was younger? Yes, I might have gotten hurt, but I recall many times wishing he would hit me, just once, as I believed that would be it for my mum and she would leave him once and for all. She would do for me what she couldn’t do for herself.

• I think the most difficult thing for me was the instability. In terms of his mood, where we were living, our finances, and whether my mum would be alive come morning. I don’t know how real the latter threat was day-to-day, but it was real in my mind.

• That instability was so hard. But I was lucky: we had family and friends who were reliable and had enough resources to support us, who we could and did go to in times of crisis. Lots of children are not so lucky.

• The fear of everything changing at a moment’s notice has stayed with me. I feel so incredibly lucky to have my two children, and my partner, and it feels too good to be true – I have a constant worry that it is about to be taken away at any point. Things just can’t be this good and stay that way, can they?

• It has impacted me in other ways too. My friends have long teased me about being tight. How do I explain that this is because my mum felt stuck in this situation at least partly because without him, things were pretty desperate financially?

• And that having savings as a teenager meant that when my stepdad kicked us out of the house in the middle of the night, chasing us all out while throwing gravel at us, and kept my mum’s purse and car, I was able to pay for her to hire a car so that she could get us to work and school. That is why I am terrified of spending my savings.

• As I read this back, it sounds pretty bad. And I know from my work that domestic abuse has a real and significant impact on any children involved. And yet, I still question myself all the time. Was it really that bad? Should I have found it as hard as I did?

• Maybe it’s because as a family we didn’t talk about it. My brother and sister have said to me recently “I had a great childhood” and “I don’t think all that affected me”, both of which pulled me up short. Maybe I’m making something out of nothing? But I know objectively it isn’t nothing and I want others to know that too.

• The impact of these experiences hasn’t been all bad. As a parent, I put less pressure on myself than others do to be perfect , and I think this is because I really know that stability, love and feeling safe are all that really matters – not enough baby sensory classes, a few too many fish fingers and a bit too much TV do not.

• It also made me work stupidly hard at school. School made sense: I felt in control and happy there. I gave it everything and got top grades. When I left uni, I did really struggle for a year or so, and looked elsewhere for control, namely food and exercise, but thankfully I clawed my way out of that, and overall that intense work ethic set me up well for the future.

• It played a role in my career choice too. It made me want to help other young people who are struggling, and there’s nothing like living with a ticking time bomb to make you finely attuned to people’s feelings.

• Many of you reading this will have thought “Why didn’t she leave?”. This is the dominant narrative in domestic abuse. We need to change this to “Why doesn’t he STOP?”. Shift the responsibility from the victim to the perpetrators. They are the ones doing this.

• But I understand why people ask that question. You think if it were you and your children, you would leave. But I never asked it of my mum. And you wouldn’t if you had lived it. You would have seen the years of him persistently chipping away at her confidence; how financially he arranged it so we were completely dependent on him; how when we did leave, it got worse. And you would have seen that, although it’s hard to believe, in between times he was charming and fun and we all loved him. And who hasn’t stayed with someone who isn’t good for you because you love them, without all the rest thrown in?

• So what can you do? Firstly, to quote a previous list maker, be kind. You never know what other people are going through.

• Don’t make jokes about domestic abuse. It is still way too much of a silent problem that some people you know are likely experiencing. The number of times male friends have joked about “knocking her about” is quite unbelievable.

• Support domestic abuse charities. They are on social media – follow them. Share their campaigns. Donate. Volunteer.

• Keep an eye out for the signs. And not just unexplained bruises. A look, a friend who runs home when their partner texts, anything.

• If you spot the signs, or someone tells you they are being abused? Make yourself available. Without judgement. Listen. Tell them that their partner’s behaviour is not acceptable. Let them know you will help however you can. DON’T JUDGE.

• If you think you know a perpetrator? Do something. Seek advice – we don’t want to increase the risk for the victim. There are many organisations that could help you with this, all it takes is a Google. But whatever you do, don’t ignore it.

• Know that you can report it to the police. Domestic abuse prosecutions can be made without the victim pressing charges. 1 in 4 perpetrators are repeat offenders, with some having as many as six victims. The sooner they can be stopped, the better.

• Keep an eye on other children you know. Including that quiet, well behaved child – maybe they have learned to keep everything to themselves?

• If you know a child has witnessed domestic abuse, make sure someone is talking to them about it, and giving them the chance to talk. I cannot think of the number of adults that must have known about this, and the number of professionals we came into contact with, but no one ever talked to me about it. The systemic response to domestic abuse has improved over the last 20 years, but there is still some way to go.

• And finally, if you are living with domestic abuse, please know that you are not alone, it is not your fault and you can get help. There are some wonderful organisations out there who will help you with all of it. The national domestic abuse helpline is a good start.

• And please know that the most important thing for your children isn’t staying in their home, or having their things, or having their parents together. It’s feeling safe and secure and not worrying about you any more.

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How I Finally Learned to Be Kind to Myself

How I Finally Learned to Be Kind to Myself

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.46.27.pngI’ve known Zoe aka  @motherkind_zoe a longtime, we have a mutual best buddy in common. I’ve always seen her as someone who is absolutely nailing stuff but this list, and the journey of self-discovery behind it, is a classic example of how we can never really know what’s going on in someoneelse’s mind or comprehend the internal battles they are facing.

It’s an emotional and educational read:


  • I’ve always been unbelievably hard on myself.

  • Even from the age of 8 I remember internally berating myself when I was bullied, believing it was something ‘wrong’ with me and willing myself to be different to be liked.

  • I always felt like I wasn’t enough and everything in my life reflected that.

  • I over-achieved, thinking if I did enough on the outside how I felt on the inside would change – straight A’s, 1st class degree, landed a competitive graduate scheme at a prestigious brand.

  • In my early 20’s I pushed myself working way too hard, staying in jobs I hated, saying yes when I meant no.

  • I was driven by fear.

  • I was expert at avoiding myself, keeping busy all the time and creating mini-dramas to keep the focus off having to look at myself.

  • I was massive people pleaser – I thought what other people wanted was more important than what I wanted.

  • I punished my body with an unkind mix of too much cheap wine, white carbs, sugar and stress.

  • I spoke to myself in a way I wouldn’t talk to my worst enemy. I was anxious and totally unsure of myself.

  • I was miserable – everything looked great on the outside but inside I was a mess.

  • When I was 24 a huge family crisis forced me to look within (and I’m bloody grateful for that crisis today, hands down the best thing that ever happened to me, but at the time it was horrific).

  • I joined a 12 step recovery group called Al Anon, went to therapy and decided to do everything I could to work on my relationship with myself.

  • I wanted to be truly happy, to like myself and learn to loosen up and actually enjoy life.

  • When I learnt to be with myself, I saw how most the time I was acting as if I hated myself.

  • It was quite shocking.

  • I started to understand why I was so hard on myself.

  • I did the sometimes painful work to look at my patterns and conditioning.

  • I came to understand why I found it so hard to be my own cheerleader, give myself a break and believe in myself.

  • I came to see how I was lost inside, I had no idea who I was or what I really wanted (beyond what society told me I ‘should’ want), so I was chasing something ‘out there’ to make me feel better (jobs, success, clothes, boyfriends, stuff).

  • THAT DOESN’T WORK.

  • I realised I had to learn to be kinder to myself, to love myself (was that even possible?)  if I was going to create the joyful, free, happy life I so badly wanted.

  • I had to accept that only I could do that work and no amount of the right job, the right man or the right friends would fix what was an inside problem.

  • I became pretty obsessed with my healing, recovery and inner life.

  • It fascinated me, lit me up and made me feel so hopeful and excited about the future.

  • I read about 500+ books on self development, spirituality and psychology and went to 1000’s of recovery meetings.

  • I was a bit obsessed.

  • It was all I’d all talk about for a while (sorry friends).

  • I learnt that I had pretty wonky view of life and that my beliefs about life (there’s not enough of anything, life is scary, the worse is likely to happen etc) weren’t serving me.

  • I learnt I was biased towards negativity, lack and fear and this is what I needed to change.

  • I started to change my inner dialogue using meditation to get to know the negative chatter and then affirmations to replace some of the harsh internal words when l caught them.

  • I found that 99% of what I was saying to myself was harsh and untrue

  • I learnt I was a perfectionist and held myself (and others) to impossibly high standards.

  • I learned how I had a need to control people and events in my life to feel safe, which was an exhausting way to live.

  • I wrote down the things I believed about myself – some of the big ones were: I wasn’t good enough, deep down I was flawed, I needed a big, successful career to feel acceptable, I would never be truly happy. There were many more.

  • I started to look for evidence that the opposite was true and I found loads.

  • I started focusing on what I liked about myself, what I was grateful for and what I’d like more of in my life.

  • I accepted myself, exactly as I was. I started to accept others exactly as they were. All my relationships improved.

  • I allowed myself for the first time ever to dream, to start to explore what really made me feel alive and happy (Spoiler: it wasn’t becoming CEO in the city as my previous self believed…).

  • I started being kinder to my body, reading every positive nutrition book I could get my hands on.

  • I started to eat like I loved myself (even when I had to fake it to make it).

  • I stopped drinking (I haven’t drunk for 5 years now) as I saw that it wasn’t serving me.

  • In fact, everything that wasn’t good for me dropped away.  

  • That was really scary at first.

  • Still is sometimes.

  • I started to see myself as a real, imperfect, struggling woman trying her best.

  • My shoulders dropped 5 inches and I started to smile more.Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.42.39.png

  • I had weekly talking therapy (it’s been 10 years now and I’ve had every kind out there) went on retreats and started looking after myself like I was the precious, wonderful human I am.

  • I’ve developed a deep trust in life and I’ve learnt to go with flow and enjoy it all.

  • I don’t suffer with worry, fear, anxiety, negativity, depression much anymore and when that thinking comes back I have a set of tools that put me back on an even keel (meditation, yoga, therapy, recovery meetings, journaling and sleep in case you’re interested).

  • But my inner-kindness journey continues, daily.

  • I feel really lucky that I was forced to work on myself from a relatively young age and that a result I’ve totally transformed the trajectory of my life.

  • I think I would have ended up with severe depression, anxiety, illness, going through the motions of life ticking boxes, stuck in the ‘shoulds.’  

  • From being kinder to myself I’ve now married a lovely guy, had a baby and started a new career which is my absolute passion (I trained as a coach and meditation teacher).

  • I’ve learnt that self kindness often isn’t the easy thing.

  • Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is sticking to my promise to be kind to myself no matter what.

  • Refusing to let guilt consume me.

  • Resting without the weight on my chest of what I ‘should’ be doing.

  • Saying ‘no’ when the people pleaser in me screams at me to say ‘yes.’

  • Letting go of control, perfection and I how I think things ‘should’ be.

  • Constantly challenging my thoughts about myself.

  • It’s a daily practice that I’m committed to.

  • Even more so now I’m a mum, when I’m kind to myself i’m a much better parent.

  • Setting and holding boundaries are still a work in progress for me.

  • But today I know I’m doing the best I can.

  • I’m more than kind to myself today, I think I actually *love* myself (still feels odd writing that).

  • I see so many of us mums being so unkind to ourselves.

  • Pushing harder, feeling guilty, feeling unworthy, full of fear, going through the motions, stressed and overwhelmed.

  • At the end of my podcast (The Motherkind Podcast, check it out – sorry shameless plug) I always ask my guests the same question ‘what gift would you give to all the mums in the world and why?’.

  • My answer would be self-kindness.

  • I would give every mum out there the ability to give themselves a break, to realise how perfectly imperfect we all are and how we’re all just doing our best.

  • If I could say one thing to you it would be to do the inner work, it’s tough but trust me will be the best thing you ever do, find your true self, make the tough choices, love the real you, cherish her and most of all, be kind to her.   Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.46.35.png

Endometriosis. I Wouldn’t Wish It on My Worst Enemy

Endometriosis. I Wouldn’t Wish It on My Worst Enemy

endo lead imageThis list from Emma made me realise how much I’d taken ‘just having my period’ for granted. My PMT has got worse with age, but other than that a fierce appetite and a bit of bloating, Aunt Flow is nothing more than an inconvenience for me. Reading this list it’s clear how hellish living Endometriosis can be.

Here Emma aka @mummyspaininthearse tells us why she wouldn’t wish the condition on her worst enemy:


  • I’ll never forget my first period. It goes without saying for any woman, it’s a pretty momentous occasion, but pretty it ain’t. I vividly remember waking up in what only can be described as a pool full of blood, shaking, in the most indescribable pain.

  • I was 10 years old.

  • My Mum took me into the shower to try and calm me down and clean up all of the blood.

  • Every period would usually last for around 14 days straight. I’d come back on 14 days later with the same agonising pain and heaviness. My GP would send me away telling me that some periods are just like that and no period is ever normal.

  • This is far from normal.

  • I would be in a heap on the bathroom floor, sobbing with the pain, even when I wasn’t on a period. I felt as if my stomach was trying to rip itself apart, like there was a hot burning iron trying to scold my insides.

  • When I was 13 I was diagnosed with Von Willerbrands, a blood clotting disorder. This made my case even worse as my GP was even more resistant to referring me to a gynaecologist as he put the heaviness all down to this….

  • But what about the mind numbing pain?

  • Finally after 6 years of countless appointments and tears my GP referred me to a Gynaecologist to have an ultrasound. I was so relieved that finally someone was taking me seriously.

  • The scan came back normal.

  • But…. How….

  • I remember breaking down on the way home as everything inside of me, everything felt far from normal.

  • I began different treatments. Different types of the pill, the Mirena coil for a year (which for me personally was hell as it felt as if I was having constant contractions as it was a foreign body just trying to get out of me), pain relief (Oramorph being the strongest) and then in the end something called Prostap. A monthly injection which makes your body believe it’s going through a false menopause.

  • I was 19 years old.

  • I hated it. I hated what it stood for. I hated what it was doing to my body. I hated how it was turning me into this old woman. I was paranoid that everyone who saw me would just ‘know’. It completely messed with my emotions, but it helped with my pain, so I had to stay on it as the physical pain was just getting too much. There were times I would find myself sitting on the bedroom floor crying, not even knowing why. The only problem is, you can only stay on Prostap for 6 months at a time as it can cause Osteoporosis, so after 6 months I’d have to come off of it.

  • And that’s when the mind numbing pain would hit you all over again.

  • It’s when I went back to my gynaecologist one day that he started talking to me about something he believed I may have, seeing as the Prostap works so well, something called Endometriosis.

  • What the feck is that? I’m sorry; the lining of the womb grows out of itself and does what now? Attaches itself to different organs? Are you shitting me?

  • Before I knew it, I was booked in for keyhole surgery to investigate. The thing is with Endometriosis, is the only way it can be diagnosed is through laparoscopic surgery, hence why it takes on average 7-8 years for a woman to be diagnosed. Even though 1 in 10 women suffer one form or another with this chronic illness.

  • When my surgery date came up, I was a complete mixture of emotions. Of course I was nervous, but part of me was relieved that I was finally 10 years after starting my periods getting the answers that I so desperately needed.

  • Speaking to the surgeon afterwards I felt numb. There was nothing. They found nothing.

  • What…

  • They believed it was something called Adenomyosis (Endometriosis that stays in the lining of the womb) and due to this they wanted to send me to another surgeon in another hospital who was more specialised.

  • I felt so numb.

  • Why didn’t they just find ‘something’ so they could burn the fecker away and I could get on with my life?

  • I’m not sure if this is perfect timing or not so great timing either, but I’ve also just met a guy… wow, so he’s definitely the one. How do I know this? I stayed the night as his parents’ house in his ‘white’ football kit and woke up to blood everywhere….

  • …even on him….

  • I wasn’t even due on…

  • FML

  • So I’ve met the new surgeon. I like him. He seems to want to open me up again pretty sharpish. Bloody hell (excuse the pun). I only had my last op 12 months ago. As when I’m not on the ‘make me a crazy ass bitch’ injections, the pain is just like something out of alien.

  • Oh wow… I certainly wasn’t in this much pain the last time I woke up from surgery. Seriously, what the hell has he done to me!?

  • I’m sorry, can you repeat that please? I had Endometriosis where? I feel like I’m going to faint. Or at least be sick. Dan’s face. He looks scared, but he’s doing that ‘everything fine’ face.

  • Everything is not fine.

  • How can it be on my ovaries, womb, rectum, back, hip, bowel, bladder… how? Just how?

  • Everything from then on became a continuous whirlwind. Prostap injections into the stomach/hip. Laparoscopic surgery to burn away more Endometriosis which seemed to be growing more and more aggressive every time they opened me up which resulted in the surgery being longer and the recovery taking more of a toll on my body each time. And repeat.

  • Once me and Dan were married, I stopped the Prostap injections straight away as we knew we wanted to start a family imminently. To say it was utter agony, physically and emotionally is an understatement. I had nothing stopping the Endo growing. Every month I would come on a period with a Tsunami of blood, reminding me that I still wasn’t pregnant. The pain was constant, causing me to physically shake. Making love was excruciating.

  • It was utterly devastating for both of us.

  • In the meantime I had more surgery. More thick, life changing Endometriosis was taken away.

  • 3 months after surgery, on Valentine’s Day, I found out we were expecting Annabelle.

  • It was without a doubt the toughest pregnancy due to the severity of my migraines, constant sickness (which made me tear my oesophagus and throw up blood), pain of adhesions stretching from previous surgeries and SPD from 4 months, but it was without a shadow of a doubt the best, the most beautiful time of my life and I will always cherish it.

  • During pregnancy, Endo is believed to stop grow due to hormones not feeding it, a bit like the Prostap injections. Within 2 weeks of having Belle, my symptoms came back with a bang.

  • I just knew…

  • So began the Prostap injections and more surgery with a new-born.

  • Worryingly, even whilst on the Prostap injections the pain started to intensify and I started to bleed at any given time. Dark, thick blood (Which I later found out to be something called ‘chocolate cysts’).My Endometriosis was getting stronger.

  • It was winning the fight….

  • After 6 laparoscopies me, Dan and my surgeon agreed that enough was enough. Endometriosis had won. The only thing left was a hysterectomy. Something I had been fighting against all of these years.

  • I was 30 years old.

  • I left the surgeons room and sat in the café with my Mum and just cried and cried. I didn’t care who saw me. My heart had broken into two.

  • No more children.

  • Ever.

  • I will never be able to give Dan another child. I will never be able to give Belle a Brother or Sister…. She loves babies…. I’m a failure….

  • Nearly 6 hours of surgery and even then things didn’t go to plan. Endo had stuck all of my organs together. The bowel and uterus being the most rigid, so they could only remove my ovaries and fallopian tubes perforating my bowel in the meantime.

  • A week in hospital with tubes coming out of your stomach, arms and ‘nunny’, trying to act as if everything is absolutely fine in front of your 2 year old daughter is nothing short of heart breaking.

  • A matter of a few months went by and I was brought back in for emergency surgery as even though I had both ovaries removed, every month I would still have a period that would last a week with constant pain that would leave me literally dripping in sweat, exhausted to the point of feeling as if I could keel over. I had lost 2 stone as something was showing on a scan to be suffocating my bowel and the heavy bleeding from the bowel was now every, single day.

  • I felt as if I was slowly dying.

  • Going down to surgery I could feel my heart racing. I had put on a unicorn dressing gown to try and see light of the situation, but inside I knew something was terribly wrong. The thing with Endo, is you start really knowing your body and I knew something was really, terribly wrong.

  • Oh Dear God…

  • I can’t breathe. This pain is just insane. Why does it say 8.30pm on the clock? It can’t be. I was out to sleep at 12.30pm. Why are there so many people around me? ‘Emma, Love. There have been complications, but we’re all here for you. Do you need more pain relief?’ ‘Drugs, just give me drugs, please’. Oh, God. I sound like a drug addict. Right now, I don’t care. This pain, Jesus Christ. It’s so much worse than all of the other times. I can feel a bag!? Shit, have I got a stoma bag? Why is there blood pumping into me? Don’t bother; I don’t want to be here if the pain is going to be like this. Oh God, did I just think that? Belle. I need to see Belle. ‘Emma, Love? You’re doing really well. Can you hear me, Sweetheart?’

  • And so it was done.

  • A full hysterectomy. 7 and half hours of surgery with robots. More Endo removed from multiple organs (images I’ll never erase from my mind), damaged ureter which resulted in a 30cm stent to be left in for 8 weeks which was utter agony every time I moved an inch, every time I went for a wee I genuinely felt as if I was going to keel over from the pain, countless UTI’s and ended up in hospital on an IV drip of antibiotics for a kidney infection.

  • Once the stent was out, I desperately tried to look at this as a fresh start to see this as something ticked off my list of health problems (Fibromyalgia, Chronic Migraines, von willerbrands, curved spine, leaking heart valve), but something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel right.

  • The pain was still there.

  • Countless times I would go to my Doctor, Out of hours or A&E in agony asking if HRT could grow Endo as the pain was getting worse and worse. Doctors would explain to me that it was adhesion pain from previous surgery, that it was be IBS (even gynaecologist had me fill in food diaries), that I need to go back to pain management and just ‘get on with it’. I eventually stopped the HRT without telling my GP as I firmly believed it was growing Endo and my migraines (which are hormone related) were getting so bad I felt I was on the verge of having a stroke.

  • One day I was having an ultrasound due to my weight loss and enlarged spleen and the sonographer said she would kindly scan where I was having a lot of my pain lower down. She asked me when I last had my period….

  • But I’ve had a full hysterectomy…

  • She found an ovary with a large cyst on it. I felt numb. Sick. Angry. Devastated. Every emotion you could imagine. When I phoned up my surgeon’s secretary, I spoke to someone standing in for her who simply turned around and said three times ‘It’s nothing to do with us’. And ‘Stop getting so stressed’.

  • ……..

  • There are days I don’t know who I am anymore. I look in the mirror and all I see is a tired, haggard, ‘old’ woman. I’m exhausted. I feel so ill all of the time. I feel like this thing is slowly trying to kill me. Day by day.

  • When I finally meet up with my surgeon (eventually I had to go private as even though I was put through as urgent, the waiting time was 5 months. I couldn’t wait that long as in the meantime I ended up in hospital for 5 days after keeling over twice in one day), to say he’s devastated, shocked and perplexed by everything is an understatement. The pathology reports 100% show that BOTH ovaries were removed, yet the scan clearly shows some form of a working ovary and my bloods show that not only am I going through a menopause I am also producing Oestrogen. He calls me his Enigma and if there is a stomach that he wouldn’t want to operate on – it’d be mine.

  • Trust me, love. If there is a stomach that I wouldn’t want you to operate on either, it would be mine.

  • People keep telling me how I’m strong, when in fact all I feel is numb.

  • Then there are the days that I am strong. Stronger than you could ever imagine. I have been fighting Endometriosis for 22 years now and this son of a bitch will never beat me. I will never let it win.

  • I’ve been told my operation has been put as urgent, so here’s hoping it will be done as soon as possible without any damage and I will be able to move forward from this chapter finally. I will not give up on this fight.

  • I pray every, single day that my daughter and nieces never get this life changing condition.  

  • Endometriosis is not just a bad period. Endometriosis has taken my life, my husband’s life, my daughter’s life, my family’s life, my close friends’ life and crapped on it from a great height.

  • I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

  • If you suspect that you have Endometriosis, please demand to get it checked sooner rather than later.

  • I beg you.

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Recovering After Having a Baby

Recovering After Having a Baby

post natal 2 no textI had my third baby, Greta, 3 months ago and took a very different approach to postpartum recovery than with my previous 2 babies.

Partly this was inspired by my friend  Steph Douglas who wrote about it brilliantly here. But also from the mistakes I made the first and second time.


  • With Bertie, our first, we had the whole world round within hours of his birth.

  • And that steady flow of visitors continued for weeks. Which came from a really good place. We wanted to show our new human off and people were keen to see him.

  • But in retrospect it was a huge error.

  • I remember trying to get myself ‘in the zone’ to attempt to pass that first postpartum poo. All the while knowing my extended family were busy eating biscuits next door. Too. Much.Pressure (and I’m not just talking about my perineum).

  • Similarly, trying to master the art of breastfeeding in the company of your brothers isn’t a recipe for success. We are close, doesn’t mean they enjoy seeing my areola poking about.

  • Or mistakenly inviting friends round for curry then feeling the dread/ exhaustion kick in around 10pm. There I was politely nibbling a naan when I should have been trying to catch some shut-eye. (Since having kids that friend and I have laughed about quite what a bad idea that was).

  • Jokes aside I am forever confronted with flashbacks from that time.

  • I remember getting to the end of day three and feeling as if I had hardly seen my baby. Far from ideal when I was already struggling to bond.

  • I remember trying to process the horror of my traumatic birth whilst putting on a brave face.

  • I remember trying to sit on the sofa whilst in agony from an epistomy.

  • I remember wanting to cry ‘just because’, but having to hold it in.

  • I remember slipping into Post Natal Depression.post natal 4

  • Second time aorund I was determined to do things better. I spent most of my pregnancy preparing to make my birth as good as it could be.

  • It paid off. I had a wonderful birth at home with Woody. Read about it here.

  • BUT I was so overjoyed to have avoided the violation and trauma of the first birth that I went bonkers.

  • Oxcitocin is a powerful thing.

  • Day 2 we went for a pub lunch. Yup. The day after pushing a human out of my Fanny I went out, sat on a hard wooden seat and acted like it was no big deal.

  • Day 9 we went to soft play (Gambado Beckenham for anyone local) telling myself ‘I had 2 kids now this is the sort of thing you had to do’.

  • Wrong.

  • With both babies I burned out at 4 months.

  • I think adrenalin had got me through until then.

  • It’s also the point when the novelty wears off. Less cooing over a new baby and sympathatic ears about how you are coping.

  • And your hair falls out. FFS.

  • ANYWAY third time I was determined to give myself the time and care I’d missed out on before.

  • Here’s how.

  • I planned a lot.

  • Taking the advice of Clemmie ( aka @mother_of_daughters) and Steph, I commited one week in bed, one week on the sofa.

  • That’s right, I didn’t leave the house from the morning I went into labour until 14 days later.

  • Don’t get me wrong this does NOT come easily to me.

  • I struggle to do ‘nothing’. I like getting things done. I like feeling like I’ve achieved something with my day.

  • But not this time. For 2 weeks I was determined to ‘actively do nothing’.

  • I’d even briefed Ben: “when I start saying that I could ‘probably manage a little walk to the park’ DON’T LET ME”.

  • And he didn’t.

  • And it was wonderful.

  • I stayed in my PJs for 14 glorious days  (not the same pair that’d be gross).

  • Close family popped in, but I didn’t do the quick tidy up before their arrival, or try and make myslef look less of a wreck.

  • And it worked. I found that if you are in bed, people are a) more inclined to remember that you have just given birth. B) not ask you for a cup of tea!!post natal 3

  • I let my body recover. Even if you have had a good labour, it’s still a HUGE deal. Not to mention pregnancy before that. Let it recuperate.

  • Interestingly my bleeding stopped quickly too. Which I think must be related.

  • I did those first few poos in peace (after sending Ben for emergency luctolose and anasul).

  • Rather than wanting to punch anyone who told me to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, I FINALLY understood that that was possible. 

  • If I felt tired I slept.

  • I didn’t get the fear of the night feeds because I didn’t have any plans the next day.

  • I didn’t have to worry about clothes that would fit on my postpartum body. Maternity PJs never let you down!

  • I didn’t have to think whether the bathroom bin had to be changed or whether there was milk for people’s tea.

  • I didn’t have to think at all. I just had to be. So liberating.

  • And such a rare gift. When else in your life can you justify being so focused on yourself?!

  • Pretty soon I took things to the next level. I started making ours (mine and Greta’s) space as zen as possible – low lighting, nice candals burning, classical music playing. It was part nest/part spa and we loved it.

  • It genuinely felt like a holiday, but with all the comforts of your own home.

  • There were benefits too. Greta and I really bonded because she ‘had my everything’. I loved being able to give her that time, especially as a 3rd child who is destined for a life being dragged on school runs, kids parties etc,

  • It was great for my older boys too, it meant they could adjust to change of having a new sibling without input or well meaning, but often pressured questions from others. “How do you like your new sister?” Seems innocent enough but actually its a huge thing for any small person to take onboard, especially when the inanimate being in question is hogging your Mummy.

  • I hope it was positive for Ben aswell. I’ve never asked him, but it seemed as though he really relished the role of being able to protect his two girls and keep us in our little oxytocin bubble.

  • Again allowing someone else to help me doesn’t come easy. Too determined to play the ‘strong, independent, woman’ card. But it felt lovely to give myself over to be taken care of. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable does not make you weak.

  • It also reduced the resentment I had previously: the sort that bubbles up, mixes with the hormones and eventually blurts out ‘I JUST HAD A BABY AND YOU DIDN’T UNPACK THE DISHWASHER’ ‘I AM BLEEDING, HAVE PILES AND SORE NIPS AND YOU ARE COMPLAINING THAT YOU ARE TIRED!!!’. We avoided that, becuase I felt like I was getting the respect and kindness that I deserved (at last!!).

  • The best bit of all is that I soaked up every inch of my gorgeous new baby. I lost myself in the smell of her head and the tininess of her nails and the miracle that had just occurred. I fell head over heels for her.

  • You never ever get that time back and frankly there is nothing more valuable than loving your family and being kind to yourself.

  • Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t make having a newborn a walk in the park, but 12 weeks in I can say hand on heart that those 2 weeks of rest or ‘pulling up the drawbridge’ as Steph calls it, were one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. For me. For my baby. For my mental health and in turn for our family as a whole.

  • So if you are having a baby or know someone who is please tell them they have permission to do the same. They’ll be beyond graeful that you did.

  • POST NATAL REST 2

My Son Has A Cleft Palate

My Son Has A Cleft Palate

lead imageTo mark the end of Cleft Palate Awareness week I am delighted to share this list which, yet again, reminded my how naive I am; though I understood the physical impact of Cleft I had never stopped to consider the greater implications.

Thank you Becky for sharing this with us:


  • I’m Becky, I work full time in marketing and am a mum to 2.5 year old Felix who was born in November 2015 and diagnosed at birth with a cleft of the soft palate. We’ve been under Great Ormond Street Hospital for his care since he was born.

  • You tend to find that people only really understand and recognise a cleft lip, but there are various types of cleft, all with different implications for the short and long term… you can find more information here…. https://www.clapa.com/what-is-cleft-lip-palate/

  • Felix has a thing called Pierre Robin Sequence, where the main feature is a small lower jaw, but also includes a cleft palate. It’s mainly diagnosed at birth.

  • The most difficult thing to come to terms with is that there is no straightforward ‘cleft+ 1 operation = fixed ’ approach. It is a winding path of treatment that takes time to get used to. I am a very black and white person, who likes results and clarity- so this hasn’t been something I’ve found easy.

  • Most babies have surgery to close the cleft at around 10 months old. So far Felix has had 2 operations and we found out recently that he will need more….

  • When Felix was born and diagnosed, I can remember almost immediately post birth, the paediatrician looking at his chin and commenting on its small size and how this was a marker they needed to check, but also quickly referencing my own small chin (thanks!). Since then I’ve become midley obsessed with weak chins.

  • It’s weird when I think about scan photos, I always in hindsight remember thinking his chin was tiny- but I guess lots of babies have a little chin.

  • They very quickly saw there was a cleft, and told us they would be in contact with the local Cleft team to come and see us before we left hospital. Felix at not even a day old, then had to undergo loads of other tests to check for other related issues.

  • Our lovely cleft nurse specialist arrived to the post-labour ward the next morning with a selection of bottles for us to use (babies with a cleft palate have very poor suction and so need the help of squeezy bottles to feed)

  • Obviously, keen to get home, I had to fight my way out of the hospital because they wanted us to stay until he had established a feeding routine- I told them under no uncertain terms that I needed to go as we had visitors coming, that I would call if I needed (standard crazy new mother and very standard me!)

  • We were given an appointment at Great Ormond Street for when Felix was 4 days old. This was a total blur. I remember being told we were ‘very together’ and didn’t seem fazed….seeing an entire room of medical professionals, discussing treatment plans upto 18 years of age and having to go and get medical photography done…whilst uncomfortably waddling around the place. I wasn’t fazed because I had NO idea what was going on.

  • I tried to live in denial for a good while….pretending everything was fine and that Felix was completely normal…. Trying to use normal bottles that weren’t helping him at all. That was stupid…..

  • Breastfeeding is simply not an option because of the suction issue- I can imagine for some people that would be really hard to come to terms with… I had always been open minded about that anyway, so it didn’t bother me too much. I did a bit of pumping, but Felix didn’t really sleep even as a new born, so that didn’t last very long… it’s a great way of getting your partner involved immediately  I do remember having mixed feelings about it- seeing all the other NCT mums breastfeeding away, and me messing about with leaky squeezy bottles. Luckily on the flip side, while they were busy worrying about the normal crap you worry about with a first new born, we had bigger fish to fry and that gave me some good perspective.Cleft image 3

  • About a week in, I did come across one absolute moron who decided to inform me (in a slightly less explicit way, but nevertheless obvious enough) that you can medically abort a baby until 40 weeks for a cleft palate. She was very lucky I didn’t ram her with the buggy, or much worse. Gobsmacking.

  • Once diagnosed, I blamed myself- obviously. I googled every cause of Pierre Robin Sequence, tried to read every medical journal article published on the internet (understanding very little).  I scrutinised everything I did, and probably found about 20 root causes. But eventually you move on from this, onto another set of worries.

  • At appointments, you need to ask all of the questions…..don’t leave anything unanswered- however stupid and however based on page 12 of your latest very specific google search.  These times with professionals are few and far between and you need to get the answers. I remember our Paediatrician saying to me at one point ‘You REALLY need to stop googling now’. I didn’t, but probably reigned it in slightly.

  • Children’s hospitals are emotionally draining, yet incredible places.

  • We used to leave feeling emotionally exhausted for days, but it’s much easier now. I try to remember that a cleft is a small issue in these amazing places of care. But when you’re going in for a sleep study, for a hearing test, for an examination or for an operation, it is hard. Now we use it as a good excuse for a nice lunch out as a family.

  • Every now and again, I remember writing absolutely crazy emails to our cleft nurse… about my latest paranoia with Felix’s condition…Her responses were always measured and lovely. It’s important to remember that you don’t know what you’re doing and these professionals do- so it’s fine to seek advice (even if written at 2am in a slightly erratic way!)  

  • Feeding and weaning are all SO messy. Get used to milk coming down the nose regularly and the same with weaning! Everything comes down the nose and the sneezes are RIDICULOUS….think pureed butternut squash everywhere!

  • Wind is a major issue. Cleft babies seem to take in a lot more air. We spent hours and hours and hours extracting an awful tiny uncomfortable fart or burp from Felix, but one that was clearly causing him so much discomfort.

  • Weight gain is another major issue. I remember the days of having to send weekly reports to the hospital on what Felix had consumed, because his weight gain was slow. They did 2 sleep studies on him as they thought he might be not gaining enough oxygen. Eventually, at around 4 months old, the Dr hit the nail on the head ‘this baby does not ever stop wriggling does he?’….

  • The cleft repair operation is really tough, but it is manageable. No one wants to hold a mask on their 10 month old until they drop off to sleep, but it’s very gentle. Felix was away for about 4 hours- it felt about 20. I remember pacing up and down the corridor waiting for the buzzer to go off.

  • Again, no one wants to watch their baby coming round from anaesthetic, full of lines and tubes and with a sore mouth that’s been stitched together. The first couple of days recovery is really tough and exhausting. There’s a lot of medication, a lot of observation, a lot of trying to encourage eating, in a noisy hospital, for a small baby.

  • Taking turns and getting people to come and help or just entertain you is so important. Recovery is quite all consuming and any light relief is much appreciated. Felix is a thumb sucker and so we had to try and make sure he didn’t put his thumb in his mouth…every nap time, for 3 weeks.

  • Felix’s wound opened up, about 4 days into recovery. That sinking feeling when I saw it was awful. We saw consultants straight away, they were hopeful, but unfortunately it didn’t heal correctly and needed repairing again.

  • The second surgery & recovery didn’t seem to be as bad. You’re probably much better prepared for what’s ahead… the anaesthetic was  still really hard, and seeing him come out so confused and angry was horrible too… but these kids are SO resilient, they bounce back. Within 2 hours of coming out of theatre, Felix was smashing down chocolate cake mashed with yoghurt to make it really runny.

  • Speech development can be impacted (although not always!) Unfortunately whilst the cleft seems to have been repaired, Felix’s palate is too short and causes issues with sound production. So more surgery is ahead. He has speech therapy weekly to help with sound production, and it makes SO much difference.

  • We’re now into the 1% of the 1% (or so it feels)-  a place I couldn’t have ever imagined…. a velopharyngeal dysfunction clinic. (air escaping making sound production difficult). You think it won’t happen to you… and then you’re there…but you deal with it, because you have to.

  • Felix is SO strong willed, focused and determined, with an amazing sense of humour and a passion for transport that is unrivalled. No doubt the tough times he’s already experienced will have contributed to these characteristics. He’s super confident, chats and sings none stop. He’s got some further hurdles to overcome, that he doesn’t even know about or understand…but he will and he will be a stronger little boy for it…..

  • The CLAPA (Cleft Lip and Palate Association) charity is a great support. I’ve spoken to parents on there and supported other families facing surgery. Being able to contact parents who have been on the same journey is invaluable…Cleft image 4.jpg

Two Mummy’s: Same-sex Parenting

Two Mummy’s: Same-sex Parenting

unnamed-1I put a shout-out on Instagram a few weeks ago looking for some same-sex parenting lists. I loved this one the @UnlikelyDad wrote about his and his partners adoption journey and was keen to hear more stories. Lots of people got in touch (and I’ll be sharing them in due course) but Rowan’s came through first so am delighted to share her insight into parenting as two Mummy’s:


  • We decided 20 years ago to have babies with our best friend, when the time was right. It was too hard, too complicated and we lost each other & the friendship through the process, which still hurts. I do know people for whom this approach has worked. However, sailing into that ilk of arrangement, it is prudent to understand that it may not happen within a month, 3 months, 6, or even two years. You may encounter hurdles and perhaps even devastation along the way.

  • In the end, we had to choose a donor and medical assistance. I have no regrets. Ultimately, we had to move on quickly despite our sadness. Women have limited windows etc, etc

  • We had three miscarriages on our journey to have children. It was sincerely the worst time of our lives. An isolating, horribly sad, desperate black hole. Later, IVF was successful for us, first time. We are thankful every day for that.

  • Having a male father type figure seemed far less important to me once I realised we were a mighty family unit. My partner and I are more than enough for our child. She has everything she needs. There are positive male role models in her life, which I value, of course.

  • Choosing a sperm donor is singularly the most bizarre/hilarious thing I have ever done. We had an American Clinic who included photos from childhood and adulthood, huge quantities of information and an essay from the Donor himself.

  • In the end, it came down to instinct. We agreed instantly on the same person. We have not looked back. Once decided, it was a desperate race to secure units. I remember phoning America in a Marks & Spencer’s car park talking about availability of sperm. I’m glad that I was efficient, because all the units were gone by the end of that weekend.

  • It is a very odd thing, to arrange a transaction of sperm for money. Even if it was formally through a clinic.

  • At no point throughout the process was my partner concerned about not sharing biology with our child. It was never an issue for her, she just knew it didn’t matter. I think it is a concern for some. Had my partner been the birth mother, honestly, I might have been worried about it, but I know now, ultimately, it is of no consequence.

  • It can be slightly disconcerting to watch somebody else’s features develop on your child, even if it is just a toe or an ear shape. An unknown. I grew up without a father, owning only three faded, awkwardly positioned photographs of him. It concerned me that this would be our child’s experience. However, the information we have, both visual and written, for our donor is amazing. More than I will ever have about my own biology. One day she can choose to meet him if she wants to. We purposefully decided on someone willing to be in contact one day, should she decide that path. That was my only prerequisite in a donor.

  • We try to raise her to consider kindness, compassion and empathy before all other things.

  • It seems there are quite a few same sex family groups in our city; it is our hope that she will encounter this as she goes through school, and have it be an integrated part of her culture.

  • My partner identifies as female but dresses as a boy. Has done since childhood. Boy’s hair etc. it seems less confusing a gender issue to our child and her friends than it is for adults.unnamed-4

  • Our families never had a problem with our decisions about having children. Ever. We were actively encouraged and financially supported by both sides which is so fortunate because it was costly and we had absolutely no money. I feel for people without support. Hard enough to have kids, harder still if you’re unsupported or indeed ostrisized by your family.

  • I am sure some people have differing, less fortunate experiences with their families’ opinions about their chosen lifestyles. But things are changing and quite different to when I was coming out 20 plus years ago.

  • When we found out we were pregnant, after a tense two-week wait, we were utterly over joyed. That joy was tempered by abject fear that we would lose our baby. We had scans frequently. I hired a doppler (not for everyone) which reassured us on a daily basis that all was ok. My partner lost a stone over the nine months because she was so deeply anxious.

  • The clinic we chose was recommended to us. They were amazing, very inclusive and we felt valued and supported by them. Especially as we came with extreme feelings of failure, anxiety and also, importantly, traumatized by losses.

  • When I went into labour, I drove myself to the hospital, sans bag or anything useful. COMPLETE denial. The car stacked up three days of parking fees, in absence of another driver. We had to have a friend pick it up eventually.

  • The nurses, midwives & consultants were amazing. They included my partner in all decisions.

  • We chose very carefully, where we now live. It took months of searching for the right area. We did not want to be out with the city, we wanted to be in an inclusive, broad, liberal environment with absolutely no homophobia etc. we nailed it. I hope that our child will face zero bullying, however if she does, we will fight it head on.

  • It no longer even occurs to me that we are in a non-hetero normative relationship and family group. I do attribute that to where we decided to live. We have sacrificed a larger house and space to live centrally.

  • I teach secondary level students part-time. I have seen more and more same-sex parent groups coming through in past ten years. These teenagers are incredibly comfortable and open about their family contexts. This is very encouraging for us.

  • I am openly gay at work, the students probably all know that I am married to my partner and that we have a family. They don’t even blink.

  • We have not had a recent negative experience concerning other people’s opinions. Most parents don’t care and want to be around a family group like ours, I suppose it reminds younger children that the world is populated by all different kinds of people.

  • Nurseries and schools have been amazing. We were concerned that traditions like Father’s Day might be an issue. However, with such diverse modern family constructs they are very inclusive. Father’s day becomes uncles/grandfather’s day. We receive two cards from her on mother’s day.

  • Despite our best efforts to make sure that all her toys and clothes are non-gender specific, she is a massive princess and loves all things pink. Of course.

  • We spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how we should be addressed by our daughter. Very naturally, on her own, she pretty much decided Mummy and Muma. Later, it will change no doubt. That’s ok too.

  • Our daughter has approximately 15 donor siblings. Or ‘diblings’ (donor/sibling) as they are popularly termed.

  • Those family groups seem to be mainly same-sex couples. Some are single Mum’s deciding to have children on their own. Heterosexual couples utilising sperm donation are the minority. This is not the case for the egg donation field.

  • We have a closed social media group for the parents of these siblings. We can see physical likenesses, personality development, likes & dislikes developing now. However, generally, all the kids look more like their birth mothers than the donor. Another set of genes and that could have been entirely the opposite.unnamed-5

  • We wanted to have siblings for our child. It felt important at the time, so we went back to the clinic and proceeded with our two frozen embryos. We also felt strongly about leaving no man behind. Unfortunately, they didn’t t make it. We were sad but also felt enormously blessed, given the struggle we overcame to have one baby.

  • She has the possibility of half brothers and sisters in America, UK, Australia and Canada. She can choose to make contact later on and form relationships and kindred experiences with them. This makes me feel better about her being an only child, but it will be up to her.

  • Some of the UK family groups have already met up socially, the young siblings being introduced.

  • I am a believer in the idea of an urban family, not being from a large, close traditional one myself. I feel strongly you ‘make’ your family and that shared biology is of little or any importance. Friends with children around us are as important in a familial sense, as ‘blood’ family members. We have many cousins, aunts & uncles in our family, in no way related to us.

  • We made our daughter a book detailing simply how she came about. She has enjoyed learning about it now she is a little older. We are very open with her; she will always have truth about her background. We will hide nothing. Research has shown that this is categorically the right approach for donor-conceived children. So far, it is working out. She is a happy contented child, I mean, she has noticed other people have dads, but understands all families are different. We work hard to normalise that.

  • I am the birth mother for our child, but the bond between our daughter and her other parent is incredible. I would say that it might even have been stronger than mine at the beginning. She was the first to hold her after she was born. That was the very definition of love at first sight. I watched it happen.

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Anorexia and Motherhood

Anorexia and Motherhood

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 09.49.41Often the focus of this blog is on the challenges of Motherhood, of which there are many. However becoming a Mother can also be extremely healing. This list from Lily Parkinson AKA @thehonestbabyblog is a prime example of that and how birth helped her find peace with her body after suffering with a long-standing eating disorder:


  • I have always had a complex relationship with body. I am a very happy and confident person, but also one that suffers with anxiety. 

  • This all culminated in me becoming anorexic 4 years ago when I was 19, at the end of my 1st year at uni.

  • They say 1/3 of sufferers live with the illness forever, 1/3 get completely better, and shockingly, for 1/3, the illness claims their life.

  • I’m so lucky to be in the middle category, and honestly every day I feel so thankful and proud of myself for that. It took time, a cocktail of doctors and therapists who I had to see weekly (the NHS and Exeter Uni are amazing); an ocean of tears (mostly from myself and my poor mum), and a threat from uni for me to get better, but eventually, because of SO much support from my friends and mostly my mum, it happened.

  • I had to start reintroducing foods (plus up the quantities), and start by eating a really small amount extra each day, beginning with half a Ryvita. Unbelievably, at the time this was so hard for me. 

  • The key thing was removing scales from my life. I went from weighing myself every morning, to never ever weighing myself at all, and to this day I have no idea how much I weigh. Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 09.52.44.png

  • My mum always said that its about how you feel rather than look, and you can tell a lot by how your clothes fit and this is a mantra that I truly live by.

  • Another big part of it was also that I had to stop exercising so much. I used to gym daily, sometimes for hours (and would get into a hysterical crying state if I couldn’t go), to the extent that the uni revoked my membership. This was the scariest thing at the time, but such a blessing in retrospect, and I can honestly say that I have never stepped foot into a gym since. 

  • Instead of gyming, I started running outside which I MUCH prefer. I used to run back to a place where I remember feeling SO low once to remind myself that I NEVER want to go back to that place emotionally.

  • Running gradually got a lot more lighthearted and fun since then (never thought I would be one to say that!) and going out with one of our dogs became one of my favourite things ever to do… partly because going with him gave me the excuse to walk whenever I wanted to!

  • So… exercise since conceiving? About as likely as Ottilie changing her own nappy. I’m trying to remember if I ran at all since I found out I was pregnant… I don’t think I did? I remained active and would walk a mile or two on the way home from work (I still go on a long walk pretty much every day- only now, with the pram!), but I had such awful ‘morning’ (the biggest lie of motherhood) sickness for four months that the thought of doing anything more strenuous was a no-go.

  • Also, before conceiving, I mostly exercised because I wanted to counteract the effect of the alcohol that I was drinking throughout the week, so when I found out I was pregnant and stopped drinking, I felt like the need wasn’t as great… especially because I was being so sick!

  • I was so nauseous that I used to get told that I’d lost weight in the first trimester (can confirm this was NOT actually true). Though by this point I was well enough that I could eat pretty much whatever I wanted, throughout pregnancy I would still have small freak outs if I felt like I had been too unhealthy for a couple of days running. These thoughts were easily extinguished by my mum and my best friend- these two know my inner most darkest thoughts and know me inside out.

  • I prided myself in keeping my figure throughout pregnancy and moisturised like a mad-woman to prevent stretch marks… HOWEVER the big game changer for me was giving birth. 

  • Literally IMMEDIATELY since then I have had a completely different relationship with my body. It’s no longer just a tool for vanity, it’s got a purposeand its genuinely the most important purpose in the world – it grew and then PUSHED OUT my baby girl (I didn’t have a period for about a year when I was ill, so genuinely didn’t know if I could have children).

  • Suddenly, literally nothing else mattered, and it still doesn’t, so long as I am healthy and present for her. My body continues to feed my baby and the stretch marks that I have garnered on my boobs since they expanded post-birth are a sign of that and I’m proud of it. Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 09.38.35

  • I honestly, honestly couldn’t care less. I never was one that was overly desperate to breastfeed before giving birth because I know that its simply not possible for some women, and I think that the abuse that other women get for bottle feeding is disgusting. Ottilie really led the way with that one- knowing exactly what to do almost as soon as she was put on my chest.

  • I have this fantastic quote that is ‘if you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?’ and I think it’s amazing. Looking after yourself INCLUDES indulging when you feel like it, and food is such a pleasurable thing to engage in- it shouldn’t just be fuel. 

  • I’ve got shitloads of cellulite, I’m naturally pale (I’m sort of known for fake tanning daily- not to make me orange, just ‘glowy’, (though saying there were some mishaps in the past would be an understatement) but this has almost completely stopped!) I also noticed as soon as O was born that she has cellulite. BABIES HAVE CELLULITE! If that’s not a sign that it is natural, something we’re BORN with, something NOT to be shamed, then I don’t know what is. She has made me feel so much better about my cottage cheese-y bumps!

  • As a mum I do of course have days when I eat just as fuel to survive because I don’t have an appetite or simply don’t have time to make a proper meal… and I also have days where I eat too many dark chocolate digestives- my biscuit of choice at the moment), but its about balance. 

  • I have days when I look at myself with a critical eye and think that I don’t look good enough, but F and my friends and family are so quick to remind me that that’s bollocks, and to remember how proud I was of my body after giving birth. 

  • I’ve also got Instagram to help. Interesting, I know that social media platforms such as Insta are linked to a lot of mental illness, and perhaps in the past, they contributed to my own mental illness, but I’ve tailored who I follow and now the images that I see really uplift me and are so positive, especially in the ‘mum community’. Right on sisters!unnamed-17