Time for a change

 

I guess this is a bit of an update, a message to introduce the next chapter so here it is…

Today is the first day of the summer holidays and for those of you who have read the blog or know me well, you’ll know this is generally my least favourite time of year! Why? I hear all the non-teachers out there scream! Well because as I explained in Apparently times a healer, school holidays are usually the time when you’re home alone, with too much time on your hands and somehow those ‘black hole’ emotions find a way of creeping back into your life and take you back to a place you don’t want to go. But not this holiday. See I’ve made a conscious decision – one that I think needed to be made – I’ve said time and time again that aside from Mark and my need to lift heavy weights at the gym and punish my body with all sorts of physical workouts! The only other thing that truly got me through last year and mentally helped me to rebuild myself was this little blog. In a strange way, writing things down meant they were no longer floating around my head. As much as both Mark and I have an extremely supportive network of family and friends, sometimes, you can’t say things as well as you could if you were to write them down and if there’s any proof in that, it’s the number of people who have spoken to me after reading a post and said ‘I had no idea you felt like that’. But that’s the point, I didn’t want people to carry the burden of my emotions as well as their own, so Home of The Little Something carried them for me and together we’ve made it through this far.

But back to this year’s holiday plan – so I’ve got 6 empty weeks ahead of me, we’re not going away as we’ve got a few bits left to do with the house before the baby arrives in November, I didn’t want to fly or leave the country (yes I’m a crazy pregnant lady) plus Mark’s new job means annual leave is pretty much non-existent over the next couple of months. But for the first time in what feels like forever, I’m ok with that. The thought of being at home for 6 weeks is actually alright. I plan to write, finally launch The Little Something Company, write some more, eat carrot cake, meet up with friends and family, drink decaf coffee and make the most of what could be the last ever summer holiday on my own. And with this change of mindset comes a change of tone for Home of the Little Something too. Both Mark and I have come a long way since I started this blog, we’ve started our next chapter and with everything else in life, I think the blog needs to start the next chapter as well, evolve a bit and catch up with where life is at now. The story of the twins will still very much be a part of my writing – there’s still so much of their story to tell but so will this pregnancy, where we’re at now and what got us through.

If I were to update you with where things are as of today – mentally I still have my moments, only last weekend pregnancy anxiety crept in, negative thoughts and freaky dreams took up most of our Saturday! But Mark and I are the strongest we’ve been, we have more of an understanding of each other, we’re supporting each other through this pregnancy and we’re together, a team and whatever life intends to throw at us we’ll tackle it head on and work our way through it. We will forever be the twins parents and they will forever be a part of our family, our hearts and our story but it’s time to start focusing on what’s to come for our little family. The twins will have a baby brother in a matter of months and right now focusing on him and his pregnancy story feels like the right thing to do and I’ve already got the title of my next post ready to go.

Lots of love as always,

A xx

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, and honestly I never meant to but when I turned the page and saw the words ‘parents evening’ on the school calendar, I realised it has been almost a year since we went to THAT appointment.

The night before said appointment, I was sat in the school hall wearing the baggiest dress I could find trying to hide my growing bump. Even though we were well past the 12 week ‘danger zone’ I still didn’t want to share the news with everyone at school. The teachers and the school staff knew but the 200 children and their parents? Not yet. With the last appointment of the night done, I slid my parents evening notes into my mark book and headed for the door. When I left the building that night, it was the last time I would leave school pregnant with our twins, the last time I would set foot in the building for months and the last time I would feel like ‘me’ for almost a year.

Ok so THAT appointment – Thursday 9th March 2017. We’d spent 40 minutes in an ultrasound scan, the sonographer barely spoke, called in a second person and politely shut down just about every question Mark and I dared to ask. Actually there was one question she did answer – “Is everything ok?”… “We need to get the Consultant to speak to you”. With Mark and I sat one side of the bed, the Consultant and the sonographer on the other, the words that left her mouth went a bit like this…

“As you know with monochoronic twins* there is a risk of TTTS and today we have seen clear signs of severe TTTS. Twin 1 is significantly smaller than Twin 2, there is virtually no amniotic fluid surrounding Twin 1, there are signs of IUGR** and we can see from the scan that Twin 2 has a severe cleft lip and palate.”

While both of us sat there trying to digest the words that had just smacked us in the face, I realised she wasn’t quite finished – brace yourself…

“We can laser the placenta to try and save them although there is only a 10% chance Twin 1 will survive and 70% chance Twin 2 will survive. If we don’t do the surgery today, both your babies will die.”

Now you know when people talk about an out of body experience?  Well that is the only way I can describe what I felt at that precise moment in time. I felt like I was in the corner of the room looking at these 2 people sitting, holding hands, staring at a woman moving her lips and communicating something they couldn’t quite comprehend.  Who the bloody hell was she talking to? It was then I realised she was talking to us. Our babies were going to die, my body had failed them, the two little ones I should have been protecting were at the mercy of a deadly disease and my body had let it happen – what kind of Mother was I?

The surgery itself was horrific, seeing one of their tiny hands on the screen in front of us as they lasered the twins separate from one another was an image that will never escape my mind – no matter how hard I try. Maybe one day I’ll write about the surgery, maybe not, but either way the scars it left were more than physical.

With the surgery complete, we headed home hand in hand with an appointment to return the following week – Thursday 16th March, which just so happens to be my birthday. Then exactly one week after I turned 32, we delivered our twins.

As much as I used to dread parents evening, this year I’m dreading the month of March even more. As much as I’m trying not to make an anniversary out of everything, the next few weeks are going to be an achievement to get through. But if the last year has taught me anything, it’s that one step at a time, I can get through whatever the world throws at me – so come on March let’s do this.

As always thanks for sticking with another one of my offloads.

Love and hugs,

Amanda xx

* Identical twins who share one placenta.

**Intrauterine Growth Restriction

 

 

 

 

Dear Life…

I wasn’t sure whether to share this or not because looking back on it now I didn’t realise how bad things had become. However, on the flip side, looking back on it now makes me realise just how far I have come and actually it’s something which should be shared and I guess celebrated. So here goes…

“Dear Life,

I’m grateful for you, honestly I am but the thing is some days I wake up like my head has been rammed up the arse-end of a swamp. The air, the people, the daily tasks and life in general is totally suffocating, relentless and never seems to end. The thought of going to bed at the end of the day knowing the only thing I’ll have do the next morning is wake up and go through it all again, seems like a pointless and meaningless task. I don’t think I want to do it anymore.”

Can I just start by saying this is certainly not a reflection of how I feel now but rewind maybe even just 6 months ago and it was exactly how I felt…every…single…day. I was tired of just about everything and as clichéd as it sounds there was no light at the end of the tunnel.  I can tell you now from the day the twins were delivered to the end of 2017, I had exactly 3 occasions where I truly felt happy, felt like me and our babies weren’t at the forefront my mind – which was needed.

If I’m being honest I knew at the time I was in a self-destruct, ‘screw you world’ kinda mindset but the things I found in my diary this morning actually made me sad. I could relate to what was written on the page but not the person writing it and I think that was one of the biggest issues for me. For a while, I didn’t know who I was supposed to be – a grieving parent, a new Mum, a heartbroken woman, a supportive girlfriend? In a way I think I was maybe a combination of all of those rolled into one. Except for the last one, the ‘supportive girlfriend’ I didn’t do that very well. Looking back now I feel quite selfish, I was so obsessed with what had happened and how Mark and I had dealt with things so differently that I don’t think I once played the ‘supportive girlfriend’ role quite right. If I could say one thing to the person writing that diary 9 months ago it would be this…

“To whoever you are,

Yes things are bad, yes you’ve been hurt and yes things are going to get worse before they get better. However, you’re not going through this alone, you’re not alone and YOU need to stop pushing away the people who love and care about you. Most importantly, you have to stop shutting Mark out. You’re selfish. You started this journey together, you’ve been through it together and now you think you can do it all alone and leave him to do the same – you can’t. Quit obsessing about yourself and be there for the man who’s been there for you through it all.

Whoever you are, get your shit together.”

Sounds brutal but needed saying!

The fact is men and women deal with things differently and the fact that Mark and I dealt with things so differently became a real issue between us. I couldn’t understand how he could go back to work, leave the house without having some sort of complete internal meltdown and basically just appear to function. For some reason I didn’t expect us to be so different which was exceptionally hard to accept.

So if anyone reading this now has been through something similar and maybe you’re not quite mentally where you need to be, there are a few things that need to be said:

  • It’s ok that you feel like shit (and you will by the way, there’s no escaping that part) you’ll more than likely feel completely lost and that the world would be a better place if humans had the ability to just hibernate. All of that’s ok; don’t beat yourself up about it.
  • It’s normal (I hate that word but it’s true) for men and women to deal with things differently – I wish I’d actually listened to the midwife when she told me that, things would have made a lot more sense earlier on.
  • Now these are probably the most important words so read them, read them again and then stick them in a place in your brain where you can readily access them – be kind to yourself.

And there you have it, a one page explanation and my top 3 tips for getting your act together and learning to function like a human being once again. It will take time and there will be some really rubbish times but if you hold on to the good days or the occasions that make you feel a bit like you again, then my friend, you’re making progress.

Oh and remember my 3 good times? Well they happened in May, August and December and in between each of them I kept thinking back to the last one and holding on to the positives. You will get through it just let yourself be and remember to share, celebrate and treasure the good days.

Thanks for reading – off loading that little lot felt like online therapy! Remember if there’s anyone out there you think might benefit from my random writes then please feel free to share.

Love as always,

Amanda xx

Apparently times a healer

So I decided towards the end of 2017 to do something to fill my time. Working as a teacher, I have a chunk of time off about every 6 weeks, which I used to love – lunch with friends, go visit the parents, a chance to catch up on sleep and generally have some time to myself. But to be honest, it had started to become something I’d fear rather than look forward to – OK I can feel all the non-teachers out there glaring at their screens and seething at the fact I should be nothing but grateful for my hard earned 91 days off. But here’s the thing – they say times a healer but when you have too much time on your hands it does far from heal. Let me explain…

October half term started the same as any other half term, dinner and drinks with the girls, hangover the next day and a week to do whatever the hell I wanted. So what was the plan? I was going to go to the gym, cook great meals, finally get my haircut, catch up on some mind numbing TV and generally chill out in our newly decorated house. Perfect! What actually happened? Well, on the Monday, being in the house by myself triggered all sorts of emotions and anxiety and melted just about every last functioning brain cell I had left. I wasn’t expecting it. I distinctively remember sitting on the sofa and looking out of the living room window, a magpie* was sitting on the roof opposite and that was it my brain decided to rewind 6 months previous and I was back in the ‘black hole’. The thought of leaving the house, getting up in the morning or just having to do anything, felt like an impossible task all over again. I was back to a place I couldn’t handle. The pins and needles in my hands and fingers started again, my extreme tiredness, my racing heart and my overwhelming desire to hibernate for the rest of the year kicked in once again. It wasn’t good.

When we lost the twins I took a few months off work, I didn’t necessarily want to but I literally couldn’t function. I didn’t sleep, I had an immense fear of leaving the house and the idea of having to be around people or interact with anyone filled with me with dread – try teaching a class whilst balancing that little combination! Throughout that period of time, the hardest day of the week was a Monday, it was the realisation that there was another whole week to get through, another whole week of not being pregnant, another whole week of watching everyone around me going back to their normal lives and then there was me. I was ‘stuck’ in this spiraling, bottomless pit of…actually I don’t even know how to describe it…But I was definitely stuck both mentally and emotionally, I had no idea how to go back to normal and to be honest I didn’t even know what normal was anymore. I was supposed to be a Mum to identical twins but I wasn’t, I was this mess of a human being just trying to get through each day 10 to 15 minutes at a time and 6 months later, October half term took me back to that place.

After several conversations with my Mum where the words depression, postnatal depression, anxiety and counselling were thrown into the mix, I decided to give in and pay the GP a visit. It was the conversation with the GP that triggered something and I realised I had a choice – I could either dwell and obsess on the past or distract and refocus on the future. I chose future. So in October 2017 I decided to find a new focus, a something to get me back on track and weeks later I found myself setting up an online babygrow boutique otherwise known as The Little Something Company. It’s still in its very early stages but I’m pleased to report that February half term consisted of nothing more than sourcing stock, building a website, writing for my blog and planning a fundraiser for the Tamba TTTS Appeal.

So back to my original muse – the whole ‘time’s a healer’ thing.  As much as it may help some people, for me I’ve found time alone can be a lonely and self-destructive place. It’s not time that’s the healer, it’s what you do with your time that heals so spend it wisely, focus on something that you love and slowly but surely,  in one way or another, time well spent will start to heal.

 

*I developed an obsession with magpies by the way – story for another time!

When you’re having one of THOSE days

You know the one, the one where you feel like you’ve had 15 minutes of sleep but you spent your 15 minutes of sleep in some crazy arse dream and you wake up feeling like you need to go back to bed?  You know, the kinda day where no matter how much time you left yourself to get ready this morning, you still find yourself sitting in traffic trying to get to work an hour later than planned? Or you get to work and someones jammed the photocopier and you spend 20 minutes of your precious time trying to retrieve the crumpled bit of paper wedged down the back of the only draw you can’t remove? Or one of those days where you simply find yourself not wanting to talk to a single person because actually all you want to do is be at home, in bed, eating sushi (actually maybe a bargain bucket) and drinking organic herbal tea (I mean wine, definitely wine). Well today has been one of those days.

What started out as a “how the bloody hell is it Monday again?!” kinda morning turned into a “right I can do this” kinda day. I think it would be fair to say that if the last year has taught me anything – I’m speaking with my reflective teacher head on here! Then actually, the whole positive ‘I can do this’ attitude really does exist, it truly makes a difference and mind over matter is far more powerful than you think.

If someone had sat me down this time last year (I was still pregnant by the way) and told me what the future had in store for me, then first of all I would have thought they were insane, second of all I would have probably ran away but more than anything, I would have told myself “I can’t do this”. But guess what? I did, I’m here and I’m now having more good days than bad. The key to it is the strategy I’ve developed (although I’m yet to name it) and the fact I force myself to use it whenever a ‘screw this’ day rears its ugly head. And here it is – if it’s a dreaming of a bargain bucket, wine drinking, lounging in bed kind of day, then I break it down into manageable chunks – a bit like I do when my PT says we’re holding the plank for 2 minutes! And the best thing about it is; it works. So this morning at 7.30, post photocopier wrestling session, I set myself the task of just getting to 8.30. 8.30 comes, I know I have 15 minutes until the morning meeting and then at 9am an hour and a half lesson to get through…and so the day continues until I arrive at my favourite time of day – home time!

I’m not saying my strategy will work for everyone, in fact it might not work for anyone else in the world but it works for me, gets me through and turns my THOSE days into “I’ve got this” kind of day. Try it, it might just get you through tomorrow.

P.S. I’ve never actually had a day of feasting on a Bargain Bucket, downing wine and generally just lounging around in bed but maybe it’s now something for the to do list…