Thursday, 14 March 2019

What's really in our control?

Do I allow myself to recognise what I have been through, still going through and how that impacts on me now. People feel this journey has ended for us, because we are now pregnant, I am a Mum now and Sam a Dad so why would we worry, haven't we got what we wanted? 

What I have to come to realise is with pregnancy there comes a whole host of worries and I think at this stage I feel more anxious now then I ever have. Of course there are days of pure magic and enjoyment but reality can really hit at times and until this baby is in my arms will I ever fully believe that I am a Mum.

I work in mental health, I know anxiety, I have always suffered with low mood off and on through my 20's but anxiety didn't hit, it creeped in when IVF started and it's a monster hard to extinguish. This week has been incredibly difficult and I had the realisation on Tuesday afternoon (when my Mum told me I looked pale) that I was feeling pale, washed out and tired. 

Since IVF started in Oct 2017 it's been go go go, that's either the pressure  around a cycle, that two week wait to see if we had conceived or moving through the process of recovery after a failed cycle but also attempting to create a life that wasn't ruled by IVF. This week I suddenly realised life wasn't ruled by injections and fertility treatment, I was now a pregnant women, working, planning and taking on her final few months before motherhood arrived, however this then led me on the next worry path of labour and breastfeeding, two things people talk to me about so much however both being something I need to think about due to the possibility of early induction being advocated and the risk of not being able to breastfeed due to me having a breast reduction when I was in my early 20's. The internet is a beauty at times but also a total bitch, it has held both these elements for me this week and I have felt myself slowly sinking into a pit of worry and uncontrollable emotion. Sammy shared last night he could see I was worried but I had to remember this time last year we didn't think we would ever have a baby so whatever happens our baby will be loved and that's what's important, not if it breastfeeds or is born through medical intervention.

It made me think, what can I control and what can't I? Something I am sat heavily with today.

How I emotionally respond to our pregnancy.

People keep telling me how excited I should be, don't get me wrong I am excited, how could I not be. I do feel I can control what comes in and what goes out, therefore I feel I can control what I take on, if it doesn't feel helpful I may not respond but that's because I haven't found being told how I should feel is helpful.

How much internet use I take on board.

I think from today I am going to disable certain apps on my phone, I do this now and again but feel I am procrastinating a lot and getting involved in a lot of spaces that may not be useful for me or my mental health at this moment. So I can control what I allow myself to be involved in on the internet and social media.

An element of my birth.

With being an IVF pregnancy it is suggested your induced at 39wks due to the risk of still birth, the information around this isn't clear and my midwife hasn't pushed it so I have decided against it as I don't believe the evidence I have read and believe it's focused more on over 40's. However if I do need to be induced this maybe out of my control, however what I can control is the environment, I plan to have essential oil's in the room, to be moving and using yoga/active birth methods and hopefully using water, my birth is totally out of my control but the environment I am in can to the best of my ability be in my control.  


When I was younger I had boobs that were so big, my back hurt, my career was impacted and I was known as 'Claire with the massive tits'. I changed this when I had a breast reduction in my early 20's, breast feeding at the time was not on my radar and although I was told of the possible impact it wasn't important to me at this time.  I have read a lot around this on the internet and many women successfully breast feed in some way, this maybe combined feeding but they do manage to get some milk to feed. What I can't control is if I can breastfeed, I will only know this when my baby arrives, what I can control is what I do to attempt to support breast feeding, it will be hard, using expressing/pumping will become part of my daily routine after feeding (if possible) and continuous skin to skin for the first few days and holding babe to breast to help stimulate milk production (if any is coming through). It may look different to what I expected but it feels important for me and our baby and therefore I can't control what happens but can attempt to control how I support my body in enabling this happening.

How I look after myself.

I work as a Counsellor with young people impacted by domestic, sexual and historic abuse, I have realised I am taking on a lot and have plans to make some changes from the end of this month, freeing up another day a week for me, babe (and the dogs). I can look at what my weekends include and do what feels good for me, walking, resting, knitting, nature, being with good people. We have a few holidays planned which feels exciting and relaxing, I can control what I allow into my life to feel good for me and my soul.

This week has taken on a level of emotional tiredness and has hit my like a bolt out of the blue, as I write this the sun shines in through my bedroom window, women's hour plays in the background, my manager just told me to take the day to rest (when I rung into work) and my husband just text telling me he loves me. My head maybe a bit wobbly but how I move through this life is a lot in my control and writing helps me remember that.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

You won't be doing that?

Becoming pregnant has been an interesting transition for myself, how quickly others experiences of parenthood become your own (with or without choice) and how suddenly the life you once lived your told will change forever and you won't be able to do as you did before.

My first thought around this is, of course life is going to change, our life's changed 2yrs ago when daily injections, internal examinations, limited travel, timings of holidays and taking trigger shots in theatre toilets became our life. Our life has been limited to a lot of things since IVF started, it's not just changing as were now pregnant. I think sometimes people miss this point, my trying to conceive journey hasn't been like yours, life has been self limiting for some time now.

After another cancelled holiday, and missing out on a good friends wedding (zika virus country) we decided it was time a home on wheels entered our lives and we decided to purchase a campervan, Betty joined our lives, we cleared her, cleaned her and built her into a camper fit for 2 cosy people and a rather large dog. We knew a van was something we had wanted for some time and always knew camping and vanning would be part of our (hopefully kids life) so decided if IVF was stopping our adventures well at least with the van we could still be free just more UK based. We have had two wonderful Springs and Summers in the van and plan to fit another Spring time adventure before the babe is due. 

I have been informed i won't want to be away in my van when the babe comes, festivals are a thing of the past and being outdoors is so much harder that its not worth it. Maybe all these things are true for others but for us, it's part of who we are, does that just vanish when another life joins my world. I hope not as this identity thing is gonna crash again big time! 

Experience is interesting, valid at times but also self limiting, what's one person's experience doesn't have to be another's. I remember one year being away in our tent in Pembrokeshire and next to us were 3 families, NCT friends who all had come together with their babes, to camp/van out on the coast. As we spoke to one family she shared why would you not bring your little's here, if there crying inside they may as well be outside. That baby was teeny and since then we have met other families doing the same, isn't there an ingrained part of you that just attempts to carry on and show your babe the things you love?

I understand that's not easy for us all, post natal depression, baby blue's, single parenting, whatever the reason sometimes life does stop you enjoying the old part of you but for me, if i can, i hope i do as at times i can feel others opinions graining down on me and questioning is it okay to take my babe away in the van when there this little?

There are so many instagram accounts i follow, living this outdoor life with little's and they inspire me daily to do the same here are some of my favourites: Mamalina - ethical way of living and exploring, The Memory Collector - my wonderful friend Lauren, taking Europe by storm with her two wild and wonderful boys, Junkaholique - Armetis and her camper, caravan and bell tent, exploring the UK with her two babes, Solsearchers - a new find to me but a lovely family away with their new born babe exploring Spain. There are some of my very good friends also Nelli, Beth and Clare taking on camping holidays and festivals by storm. Clare is even taking her 2 boys to Glastonbury this year, so jealous! 

Were hoping when babe does arrive a 10 day trip around the lakes in Sept, meeting friends (Beth, Cian, Jacob and their new babe) and many small weekends more local in the wilds of Northumberland. 

So whatever your adventure (or not) maybe don't push what your experience of parenthood is, it maybe like that for you and others but the more you say it out loud the more it becomes the opinion of all. There's a number of parents out there living the adventurous life we wish for and maybe i will eat my words but for now it's keeping me going, making me excited and allowing motherhood not to seem so all consuming.