Motherhood- unfiltered!

It has been almost 10 months since I last wrote and what a rollercoaster 10 months it has been! I have been debating about writing a new blog for a while because some of what I am going to say may be controversial, but what the hell, I’m going to say it anyway!

This has been my last week of maternity leave and it has been a week of mixed emotions. The reality that I’ll be at work on Monday and leaving my baby has set in along with the realisation that I won’t be doing this again.

Maternity leave certainly has not been what I expected it to be- I imagined a much more fairy tale version than what I got!  I wonder how many other new mums find that the reality of motherhood is different to what they expected? My husband and I aren’t naïve, we knew there would be lack of sleep, our relationship would be challenged and our lives would never be the same again! However, it was the monotony of the daily routine and the sense of isolation and hopelessness I wasn’t prepared for.

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Postnatal depression creeps in almost unnoticed at first and you tell yourself to get a grip and get on with the job of looking after this precious little person. But gradually, you feel yourself sinking, each day is a struggle and you wonder if you will ever get out of the never ending cycle of cleaning nappies, sterilising bottles and nursing your new-born, all while walking around like a zombie on minimal sleep. I was lucky in the fact that I had family to call upon to help me but then comes the feeling of being a failure- you’re on maternity leave and you have one job of looking after your beautiful baby girl and you can’t do it. From speaking to other women, I realise that I am not alone in how I felt and yet it is something we don’t really talk about. On social media, we portray our lives with our children as non stop fun! Maybe we feel that it is socially unacceptable to post a status about how life really can be?

Shit day! My baby screamed most of the day! I’m exhausted and I need a shower! Please can someone take over so that I can go to the pub or to bed or anywhere that there isn’t a screaming child!!

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I wonder how the above potential quote would be received? With sympathy and offers or help or with people being somewhat judgemental that a new mum is not coping with her child and moaning about it on Facebook? I’m sure most of my friends and family would offer to help but it still leaves the question of why we put pressure on ourselves to be the ideal mother and why issues about postnatal depression are not discussed without feeling some level of shame.

To avoid any misunderstanding, I adore Emily- she is my miracle baby I thought I would never have and my love for her is obviously unconditional. That doesn’t change the fact that there were times during the past 10 months that I wanted to go back to work early because of the overwhelming feeling of being a failure and not coping. It also doesn’t change the paranoid feeling that I thought she was being a bit of an arsehole on purpose! Yes I know she is just a baby but doesn’t she know that I have had four hours sleep and I’m slowly going insane?!

This blog is not me being self-indulgent and wanting sympathy, I got the help I needed and now I fully appreciate how amazing it is to be a mummy 🙂 This is me trying to say to other mums and potential mums, let’s be a little bit more honest about what it’s like to be a mother and if you are struggling, please get help.

Like I said earlier, I’ve being feeling pangs of guilt about going back to work but why? I’m pretty sure my husband didn’t feel guilty and he’s right because I want Emily to see that mummy works too- that’s life. So although there were days that I thought I was going mad(!) I feel like I’ve done a good job- Emily is happy and healthy and I know I did (and continue to do) my best. At the end of the day I suppose that’s what we all do even if sometimes you end your day collapsed in a chair clutching a glass of gin and what feels like the last of your sanity! 😉

not just me

brill

 

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What a difference a year makes…

Friday 4th November 2016

Wow, it’s been so long since I last wrote! So much has happened since March and I can happily tell you that my round of IVF worked and we’re expecting a baby girl in December!! 🙂

I have found pregnancy surprisingly hard- I don’t know who all these women are who are walking around ‘glowing’ but I’ve not been one of them! At first, I felt guilty when people would ask if I was enjoying pregnancy and I know some people seemed surprised that I wasn’t more excited. But the truth is that even now, when I’m sat here on maternity leave at 34 weeks, with her little body digging into my ribs, it still doesn’t feel real. In fact, I don’t think it will feel real until I’m holding her in my arms. It has taken us almost 4 years, countless hospital appointments, an operation and a round of IVF to get to this point so it’s no wonder that I find it hard to believe this is really happening. It’s as if its too good to be true. Maybe that’s why it’s taken me so long to blog about it, I don’t think I could put my feelings into words and I didn’t want to tempt fate.

For anyone who has ever been though IVF, you’ll know what a hard process it is, both physically and emotionally. I still can’t believe I spent weeks injecting my own stomach! One of the hardest things was the two week wait after the embryo transfer- it was the longest two weeks of my life. I just kept hoping that the strange 7 cell embryo that we had seen on the screen would keep growing and become a healthy baby, all the time secretly thinking we didn’t really have much chance. I’ll never forget going for our first scan and seeing this tiny little person on the screen! From then on (being the worrier and sceptic that I am), it was a case of getting to each new milestone, hoping I wouldn’t miscarry. Luckily, our little lady seems to be a tough cookie who wants to stay and here we are today, 34 weeks and 238 days later!

As most women who have ever been pregnant will tell you, nothing prepares you for it. Naively, I always imagined that being pregnant would feel so nice and yes, I’d be sick and feel tired but otherwise it would be like being me but with a bump- How wrong I was!! I certainly have a new found respect for pregnant women! But despite all of the horrible side effects of being pregnant, I am truly grateful that I am.

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This time last year, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis and was recovering from my operation. I was in pain and I was coming to terms with the fact that I might not be able to have children at all. I understand that not everyone with this condition is as lucky as me and there are lots of couples out there who can’t have children- my heart really does go out to you. I just hope that my story has given hope to those of you who aren’t at that point and I wish you all the luck in the world. Keep pestering your doctors if you think you have this condition, if I hadn’t then I might still be in the dark. The amount of doctors who sent me away telling me that my pain was normal and to try and change my diet still amazes me. If you think there’s something not right, keep going back until you get answers.

I’d also like to point out that I still have endometriosis- pregnancy is not a cure so I don’t know what will happen on the other side of my pregnancy journey. What I do know is that the journey will be easier to travel with our new addition by our side 🙂

x M x

Baby Smith, 6 weeks old

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Here comes the sun…

Tuesday 8th March 2016

Hello everyone and happy International Women’s Day! I haven’t written for a while so I thought that tonight would be a good time (and also football is on so it’s a good reason so leave the room!)

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I’m pleased to see the early signs of Spring, everything always seems a bit easier to cope with when the sun comes out 🙂 Turns out that the cause of my depression was the injections I’ve been on- they could have warned me about the side effects, a heads up would have been appreciated. Anyway, it was a dark time for me but thankfully the worst of it is over now (apparently the first 6 weeks are the worst). Although, the plus point is that it has stopped my endo from growing back (for now)- at least I didn’t go through turning into a miserable mess for nothing! Also, I take my hat (and coat and other remaining layers!) off to any menopausal women. The medication I’ve been on basically causes a short term menopause so I now understand the discomfort of hot sweats, or ‘power surges’ as I prefer to call them!

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Turning yellow

Those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter will no doubt have seen that it is Endometriosis Awareness Month. There are some things that you can do that can help raise awareness of this condition…

  1. Turn your profile picture on Facebook or Twitter yellow. It only takes a couple of minutes! Just follow the link below or through my profile page.
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2) Sign this petition if you haven’t already- come on, it only takes as long as it would to scroll randomly through your newsfeed and it can really make a difference (much more than reading about the Kardashians or watching a cat playing a piano although, I admit, the latter is quite amusing!)
3) Tell David Cameron to recognise Endo as a disability. Lots of women suffer much more than I do and have been suffering for years. This is not women moaning about period pain; as every woman will know, this is not pleasant but endo is much worse and this really needs to be acknowledged. Listen up David Cameron!
4) Finally, keep your eyes peeled for my #endogirl campaign. I mentioned it in my last blog but I will get round to starting it very soon, I just need to dust off my cape! Until then, I’ll leave you on a humorous note…
x M x
dr

 

January blues/endofighters!

January, sick and tired, you’ve been hanging on me…

Sunday 31st January 2016

Well what a truly depressing month January has been! Constant rain, cold and darkness, I’m so glad it’s February tomorrow!

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So, as you might have guessed I’m not in a great place right now, in fact I’m starting to feel like Eeyore! Aside from the weather and it being my least favourite time of year, I’ve just been really run down, going back to work tomorrow after being off with flu. On the plus side, I’ve not been in pain since having my first injection, so, every cloud… My new medication has been messing with my moods though, so on the whole, I’m a right bag of laughs at the moment! My poor lovely husband never knows which Mel he’s going to come home to! 🙂 But, joking aside, I knew that tonight was the right time to write again because I could feel my bad mood taking over and that is not the person I want to be. So, I’m not ignoring or belittling my own problems, I’m just putting them into some perspective…

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Endo fighters= inspirational women

I recently came across an article from The Guardian Newspaper and then today I read a tweet covering the same issue-quotes from women about how Endometriosis has affected them- in comparison, I’m ok.

“The pain is 24/7. Endometriosis has become my other half… That scares me…”

“My was medically put through menopause at the age of 15.”

“Everyone asks when I’m going to get pregnant, but I don’t know if I can even have kids.”

“I would have one ‘good’ week a month”

“I assumed my pain was ‘normal’ for years”

This is just a very small selection of the quotes I could have used (remember, there’s approx. 176 Million women with this condition). Everyday I speak to women on Twitter and #endo support forums. Lovely ladies who just want to lead normal pain-free lives, they want the choice to have children, they don’t want to cancel plans because they’re too ill to go out and, in the words of Cyndi Lauper, “they wanna have fun!”

Unfortunately, this bloody awful condition is stopping women from doing exactly this. So, taking this into consideration, I’m sure you’ll imagine that we’re all very depressed and sit around moaning, feeling sorry for ourselves everyday right?? WRONG! In actual fact, what you find is that these women are strong, courageous, funny and supportive. Yes, of course it’s tough and there are days when you have to wave a white flag and stay in bed, but the women I speak to are fighters. Rarely, if ever, have I seen a community of females that are so supportive of one another and it is truly humbling to be a part of 🙂

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This got me thinking…thinking

Aren’t we all fighters? We all have our own battles that we’re dealing with everyday, whether that be chronic pain, body issues, illness, fertility issues, family dynamics, addiction problems, whatever the case may be, I think we’re all fighters! So doesn’t that deserve a CAPE??! Yes, I did just say cape! (Bloody hell, how strong is this flu medicine?!) My idea is this: a viral campaign on social media where women (or men, I’m not sexist!)  share a picture of themselves as their own hero and make a donation to the Endometriosis UK charity, which I will set up a page for. They could hold an optional sign with the superhero they are and the battle they are fighting. Good idea??! I REALLY need your feedback on this one! 😉

x M x

Coming soon, #endogirl??!

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Making progress!

ENDO MARCH

Friday 8th January 2016

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well 🙂 I’ve had a tiring but pretty much pain free first week back at work. I had my first injection last week which is supposed to slow down my endometriosis and hopefully ease my symptoms. It was the first of three injections, it goes into your stomach so wasn’t particularly pleasant but, to be fair, it wasn’t as bad as I thought- I’m certainly facing my fear of injections/needles head on!

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Watching this made me cry on the bus…

#TooLong

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How brave is she?? I know that I complain about how this condition affects me but comparatively, I’m very lucky. There are women who have suffered longer and in more ways than me. There is something seriously wrong that 176 MILLION women around the world are suffering and it is taking so long for them to be diagnosed. It’s 2016 ffs! (sorry mum!) but really, it’s an injustice to women so…

Raising awareness!

Since I started this blog just 19 days ago, it is going from strength to strength; it has been read by 460 people from countries across the world (I’ve now reached Italy, Netherlands, Canada, America and Thailand), I now have 64 lovely followers on Twitter and I’m interacting with new people everyday. I have had a reply to my email from Endometriosis UK who have read my blog and liked it! 🙂 (More about this in a minute…). I have also agreed to take part in an interview for a lady who is doing a documentary on Endometriosis for her final Film Studies project at university (although I’m emailing my answers to her because I’m a bit shy to be on camera!). I truly can’t believe that all of these things are happening when here I am, just a girl from Leeds, sitting in my koala(!) onesie with my laptop! The power of the internet eh?!

endo UK

So, as I said, I had a reply to my email and they told me how their funding is spent and how I can help further. Endometriosis UK have links to online forums on their website, which, over the past few months, I have found greatly helpful. It’s a fantastic support network and we all help each other out my sharing experiences and advice. This is one of the ways that funds are used but here are the other ways the charity helps women with this condition:

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They also told me that their #TooLong campaign is gaining attention now, you can follow this on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so share and follow these posts-we need as many voices as possible! Unfortunately, due to limited funding, it is hard for them to run too many campaigns at once.

Endometriosis UK

If you are friends with me on Facebook or Twitter, I know I share quite a bit of endo related stuff, thank you for sharing, signing or liking my posts, it really does help 😉  I feel as if I should be standing on a chair and starting a revolution!! In seriousness though, people really can make things happen, especially when we do it together. I would love to start some kind of viral campaign, I’m thinking along the lines of the no make-up selfie (you all looked beautiful by the way!). Any ideas on this would be greatly received but watch this space 😉 Until then, please keep reading and supporting.

x M x

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New Year Wishes

Friday 1st January 2016

Happy New Year to you all! I hope you celebrated with the important people in your life and had fun 🙂 2015 was not a great year for my husband and I so we were glad to see the back of it to be honest. It’s strange how just a simple date on the calendar can stir so many emotions. It’s nice to see it as a clean slate though, especially if, like me, you’re looking forward to a year of change…

 

dear self

Unfortunately, today hasn’t been the best start to 2016 because my endo is bad today. I was supposed to be going to see Star Wars for my niece’s birthday but once again, I’ve had to surrender to this shitty condition. The usual symptoms- nausea, stomach pain, fatigue etc., I won’t bore you with the details. I wish I could put across to you how frustrating it is- yesterday I felt fine, drinking my orange truffle Baileys and playing party games and today it’s as if I have been replaced with someone else! When this happens, I feel as though I have let myself down because it has got the better of me. I know that I’m being hard on myself but it’s a feeling that’s hard to shake off.

I read an interesting article this morning on fatigue and endometriosis by a fellow blogger:

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The blog also describes how this feels and believe me, these descriptions are spot on:

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So in a nutshell, today is not a good day but I am hopeful that tomorrow will be better 🙂

Consultant update…

I said a few days ago that I would be having my follow up appointment, I’m sure that you’ll understand that some of what they said is confidential and private but they said I have moderate endometriosis- stage 2-3 (there are 4 stages). I don’t have to have a second operation (yet) which is a relief but this depends on if I get any worse. I’m starting some new medication tomorrow- it’s an injection so I’m quite nervous, also hoping there’s no negative side effects. On the up side, it’s suppose to improve my symptoms so I’ll wait and see.

Take care,

x M x

Laparoscopy part 2-Merry Christmas!

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Monday 28th December 2015

Firstly, Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all had lots of fun and Santa visited you all! I also hope that all of you endo sufferers had a pain- free Christmas. I was very lucky and I had a lovely Christmas with my family and no pains over Christmas 🙂 (I must have definitely been a good girl this year!)

I’ve now reached nearly 300 views on my blog, so thank you to each and every one of you who has taken the time to read it. I’m also still receiving comments and questions from women asking about the condition and its symptoms. Women have even messaged me to say that they like reading my blog because it makes them feel they are not alone. It’s great that people feel like I’m helping them and I will keep this going as long as people keep reading 🙂

My Laparoscopy story continued…

So, the last time I wrote, I had explained that I had my laparoscopy in October and found out that I had Endometriosis removed as well as a cyst on my ovary.

Following the operation, one of the things that was most painful/uncomfortable was the pain in my shoulder. Yes, I did say shoulder-very random when the operation was on my stomach area! The reason for this is that the air they use to expand your stomach and have a good poke around inside, travels up to your shoulder and causes the pain and discomfort. I’ve added a link below which gives an expert explanation of this. Apparently, drinking peppermint tea helps this as well as walking around. However, this in itself is a bit of a catch 22 because for the first few days I could not stand up unaided so I didn’t really fancy walking around for long.

Shoulder pain following laparoscopy

The feeling of helplessness in those first few days really overwhelmed me to be honest. I’m an independent and usually busy person so it was a big shock to suddenly find myself unable to do things for myself. If you are  due to have this operation, I would definitely advise you to have friends or family around so that they can help you- I don’t know what I would have done without mine.

The other thing that took me my surprise was how overwhelmed with emotion I was following the op. anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am a big softy anyway, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I find it very hard to hide my emotions but this was on a whole new level! I was just crying at everything! My poor other half is used to me tearing up at adverts for animal charities, children’s charities, Age Concern, UP (seriously, I now refuse to watch the first 10 minutes of that film!) the list goes on but in the end we were actually laughing at the ludicrousy  of my tears!

I guess I was so upset because I didn’t realise until researching the condition myself, that endo does not have a cure. They couldn’t remove all of my endo during the op- there’s some on the tube between my kidney and bladder that is still there so if they decide to operate on that, it will be a 2 hour op- good times! My fear was (and still is) a future of endo symptoms, pain and operations and that is not what I want my future to be!

The best advice I had in the days following my op was to be kind to myself. Literally, there’s nothing else you can or want to do apart from rest, so do it. Take as long as you need of work and don’t go back too soon. I took two weeks off, I work in a school, so there’s no way that I could have gone back any sooner!

Over two months later and my scars (that resemble a diamond shaped treasure map) are almost healed. It’s finally judgement day tomorrow- my follow-up appointment with the consultant who did my operation. I have a list of questions as long as my arm and I’m not leaving until I get them all answered!

Apologies that this blog has not been as humorous as pervious ones so I’ll end on a light-hearted note.

x M x

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