Learn to love the dandelions (BPD)

A man bought a new house and decided that he was going to have a very beautiful lawn. He worked on it every week, doing everything the gardening books told him to do. His biggest problem was that the lawn always seemed to have dandelions growing where he didn’t want them. The first time he found dandelions he pulled them out. But, alas, they grew back. He went to his local gardening store and bought weed killer. This worked for some time, but after the summer rains, alas, he found dandelions again. He worked and pulled and killed dandelions all summer. The next summer he thought he would have no dandelions at all, since none grew over the winter. But, then, all of a sudden, he had dandelions all over again. This time he decided the problem was with the type of grass. So he spent a fortune and had all new sod put down. This worked for some time and he was very happy. Just as he started to relax, a dandelion came up. A friend told him it was due to the dandelions in the lawns of his neighbors. So he went on a campaign to get all his neighbors to kill all their dandelions. By the third year, he was exasperated. He still had dandelions. So, after consulting every local expert and garden book, he decided to write the U.S. Department of Agriculture for advice. Surely the government could help. After waiting several months, he finally got a letter back. He was so excited. Help at last! He tore open the letter and read the following: “Dear Sir: We have considered your problem and have consulted all of our experts. After careful consideration, we think we can give you very good advice. Sir, our advice is that you learn to love those dandelions.” ~ Marsha Linehan’s Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder (adapted from Anthony de Mello’s The Song of the Bird)

In this instance, the dandelions represent the intense emotions of the borderline personality.  We spend our lives trying to escape feeling, whether through dissociation or impulsive behaviours, both of which create more problems in our lives, and at some point we have to know when enough is enough.

Self harm, suicidal ideation, promiscuity and other risky behaviours are only ever a short fix, like drinking and taking drugs.  So how do you move past this?  You need to learn to love the emotions, bad or good.

Your pendulum of feelings are what make you so special and needed in this world, your motivation, enthusiasm, passion, let every emotion drive you to achieve.  You don’t need to hurt yourself.

I was told that anger is only a surface emotion hiding the pain and sadness beneath.

Observe and learn to recognise what you’re really feeling, do not be afraid to go beneath the surface, to your most vulnerable place.  Feel the sadness, the pain, it’s ok.  Recognise where it came from and validate it, nurture it.  You’re pain is valid, it is not an over reaction, you feel how you feel.  Sit with it, cry, scream, talk, write it down, describe it.

Notice how the pain affects you physically, mentally, don’t try to change it.  Breathe.

As long as you are breathing, you are alive and it’s ok.  Just keep breathing.

Eventually, when you have given the pain all it needs, let it go, let it drift away, say farewell.  You may revisit it later and that’s ok, but right now in this moment, it’s gone and you’re ok.

Remind yourself that you are an amazing person, you are unique and you bring so much to the universe, you wake us all up, you invite us into your sanctuary, into your deepest feelings and the depths of your soul.  We are honoured.

 

Home ed a year in

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I spent four years thinking about home educating, joining groups, procrastinating.

What if I failed?  What if I couldn’t give the education my children need?  What if my house isn’t big enough?  I don’t have a set work space they can sit and study, like at school, what if I couldn’t afford it? I’m only on benefits, what if I couldn’t get up in the morning or couldn’t motivate myself to teach them every day?

I had so many questions, so many doubts and so many things in my head, stopping me from just taking a leap of faith and doing this thing my heart ached to do, my instincts felt was right to do, but my head kept telling me no.

There’s a lot of things that finally tipped the scales for me into finally making the decision to just do it, take that risk and if the worst happens, school isn’t going anywhere.

My eldest had been plagued with bullying and suffered years of distress caused by undiagnosed dyslexia.  She had felt inadequate and gone off the rails, but eventually, without much help from the schools, and at great cost and sacrifice, she pulled through, gained her qualifications and escaped the institution she’d attended only because she felt she had no choice.

My 14 (12/13 then in year 8 at school) on the other hand was identified as a gifted and talented student, she was popular, described as a key student, a leader, confident but yet, again she struggled, not fitting into the average expectations, not challenged within the classroom, she became disruptive, the joker of the class.  Buckling under the pressure of class restraints.  She started lacking socially where before she was popular, now she was the weirdo, the geek.  Oh gosh her interests were many, she wanted to attend every after school club and extra curricular activity, she couldn’t spread herself enough.  She wanted to swim, play hockey, rugby, play musical instruments, drama, dancing, army cadets, roller skating, rock climbing…we couldn’t keep up and meanwhile her grades were diminishing in school where she wasn’t challenged and was forced to take subjects she had no interest in.

My 9 yo (then 7/8 year old) was an average child, nobody gushed over her like they had her sisters who’d had special needs in one way or another.  But, she was treated differently instead, because her family came from a background of benefits and a history of domestic violence.  Violet was poor, sweet Violet, who needed a special school mummy, someone she could confide in, who could sit in assembly in front of the school and nitcomb her hair, who the school could regularly send home for having nits that she was getting from her upper class – class mates, whose parents weren’t patronized and told their children had nits, because their precious children couldn’t possibly be the root problem, it had to be my child, the deprived child.  One day she had a red mark on her arm and assuming it to be a burn (no longer in an abusive environment) they pulled her out of class, scaring and embarrassing her, and stripped her without my knowledge and without her permission, to check the rest of her body.  She was distressed when I collected her, still unaware of what had happened, and when they went to show me this ‘burn’ there was nothing to see, no pink or red mark, nothing, perfect skin…oh..a heat rash they declared it must have been!

They used to call social services over nits and lost shoes my daughter hid to get out of going to school, and we spent years hounded with a constant sense of threat hanging over us.

And 2015 was the year my youngest at the time was meant to start school, she was my precious miracle special care baby unit child, the one who had delayed development and was still the size of a 2-year-old and she just didn’t look ready to go to school.

As the new school year approached, so did the feeling of dread, the years of being let down, of fighting a system I felt I couldn’t beat, of my children being failed and an awakening of what the system was really all about.  Of a sense that the system creates perfect parcels to fit their agenda, 9-5 robots who’ll not question anything, but blindly follow and who lose their individuality, the weird that makes them…them

And it suddenly dawned on me…I don’t need a government led curriculum, we don’t need to sit around a table with workbooks, we didn’t even need to spend lots of money, and in fact would save money on uniforms, shoes, school trips that were always sprung on us last-minute, transport costs, all the latest charity fundraising days and discos and dress up days…

And here I am, a year on…And we’ve never sat at a table with workbooks, we’re free!

We get up when we want to, we decide day-to-day what we want to do, with only a limited number of events and activities planned in advance, and we jump in the car, the rabble, and we drive off into the mystery adventure that is now our lives.

We can point a finger at a map and let it take us where it will, we can see something in a book, magazine, online and go discover more, they can tell me something they would like to do.

My children have travelled the country, been to castles, museums, zoos, country parks, rivers, mountains, high and low.

My children have been on treasure hunts, explorations, volunteered, won scholarships, entered competitions, they’ve had poetry published and been taken on a university internship based on their artwork, the eldest in what would be year 9 achieved a city and guilds diploma and has been offered her first paid employment age 14.

We are closer as a family, with tight healthy bonds and boundaries, we know one another far better than ever before, and I thought I knew them so well.

We get to enjoy life, enjoy their childhoods, build memories, have quality time…

They are only children once, and finally, at long last, I can sit and really truly appreciate that sentiment, and watch them grow up, knowing I’m their main influence, my values, my beliefs…not being steered off course by trying to impress their peers, or by bullies, or judgements and expectations from outside forces, but instead, the freedom to mould themselves, to create themselves naturally and follow their own dreams, their own interests, not compared to their peers, not in competition, no end date or deadlines…learning is for life…We don’t stop learning at 16 or 18…We have the rest of our lives to learn what we want and need.

Don’t stop yourself, don’t hold back, don’t worry they won’t learn, or won’t want to learn…human nature is a thirst for knowledge, children have natural curiosity.  They may not learn in the styles you want them to, or what you want them to…but trust them…because they will learn.

Our milk sharing story update

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Just found my old post, to update Mitchell went back to 8oz about a week later and is still on 8 now, so perhaps a growth spurt, anyway, he’s still on the 75th percentile and still growing perfectly.

He’s now weaning but with advice he’s on mash and bits rather than puree, he’s doing fantastic, loves his food except carrot, he seems to have an aversion to carrot even though he loves all green vegetables…I thought babies were more likely to dislike the bitter taste of greens (my others were).

Anyway we’ve been told to stick to just one meal a day for now so he doesn’t drop any of his bottles so that’s what we’re sticking too although he can put away quite a bit in one meal, again something I’m not used to with my others.

He it’s definitely proving to be a hungry baby, although I don’t know if it’s more because he’s a sensory baby so enjoys the tastes for enjoyment rather than hunger?
He’s been diagnosed partially sighted and EVERYTHING goes straight into his mouth, toys, clothes, blanket lol

He’s still got his reflux but, touch wood, it seems to be heading toward settling down, don’t want to speak too soon though.

He had a little rash and tummy upset after trying strawberries a few days ago, rushed him to doctors in a panic and she said was a feeding rash and its trial and error but nothing to worry about.

Our latest project with friends and family is making sensory toys for him, so bright, reflective, noisy, different textures etc…

He really is the most delightful little boy, he’s always smiling and actually laughs at us when we say yuck and clean up his reflux lol.

Again thank you everyone who’s either donated to us or another family in need or offered advice and support and well wishes.

I originally said we would stop breast milk when he started weaning at 6 months but seeing him so healthy and content on real human milk is enough motivation to keep going as long as we can. It’s a hard journey but so rewarding.

I’ve been asked if it’s cheaper than formula and easier as you don’t have to make bottles up in the same way but I will say it hasn’t been easier but more worthwhile.

We always try out of courtesy to replace storage bags (one lady I need to still return bottles), and bags are £7+ a time. Normally one average collection lasts 3-4 days, so often we’ll set aside a weekend about one a fortnight to do several collections, that’s 4-6 boxes of replacement bags every two weeks approximately at £7 a box.

Then we travel anything from 40 minutes away to what turns into a 9 hour drive and possibly an overnight stay somewhere.

We’ve driven to Stamford, Kettering, Daventry, Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Bedford, Buckingham, Milton Keynes, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridge, Norwich, Oxford, Gloucestershire and the Wye Valley and more!

Fuel costs ranging from £20-90 a fortnight, hotel stays, food costs as not at home to cook, childcare arrangements when we can’t take them with us and the storage bags. With Mitchell’s reflux we have to pack enough clothes for a week even for one of the shorter journeys lol, we have to take cooler bags with ice blocks to keep the milk frozen on long journeys, and of course once home we still have to sterilise bottles and equipment, defrost frozen milk for feeds etc…

There are times I’ve thought it might be easier to quit and just give him formula, but I just have to look at him to know I can’t do that yet.

Thank you, thank you and thank you again to all those who’ve been a part of our journey with our little miracle rainbow baby. Xxx

A special thank you and big shout out to human milk 4 human babies uk who can be found on Facebook.

 

Milk Sharing and our Journey

IMG-20160220-WA0002I’m 38 years old and have had 5 living children, my eldest being 18 and my youngest just 4 months old.  In all those years being a mum and struggling with tongue tie, latching problems and failure to thrive babies, even my youngest daughter who was NG tube fed for 16 months, until I had my youngest child, I had never heard of milk sharing.  I had heard stories of old about wet nursing, something I thought was no longer done unless from a third world under developed country, like a backward practice.  I had heard, when my daughter was in the special care baby unit, about breast milk banks and their purpose, but even this was something unheard of until my daughter was in special care.

Why is it that despite statements from the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), that breast milk is the safest and healthiest way to feed a baby, that in the event of being unable to breastfeed a baby with mothers own milk – having a healthy wet nurse is the next best recommended option, we still know so little about milk sharing?  And to many, it’s still a taboo or something to evoke strong negative reactions?

In the western world, how many mothers and fathers are aware of the high death toll in formula fed babies?  The death toll that is not only reflective of unsanitary conditions in third world countries or water conditions there, but a very real statistic that affects millions every year all over the world and is a direct result of feeding babies formula/artificial milk?  That these organisations state that 1.5 million babies die avoidable deaths each year if only they had access to human milk!

Not one baby’s death or serious illness has been linked to milk sharing, in either tested or untested, treated or untreated, pasteurized or raw human donated milk!  The CDC has a reason they haven’t investigated concerns raised about the increasing trend to milk share, and have a statement about that too.  They said that there were not enough risks posed, not cases brought to their attention, that would cause them a significant enough concern, to instigate any investigation.

Yet they do investigate formula milk, regularly.  They do research and log statistics on rates of illness, disease and death caused by formula feeding.  They give guidelines and rules and regulations about formula feeding and despite the worrying statistics, both the medical profession and the manufacturing companies ignore and break the guidelines, rules and regulations surrounding formula milk!

So, when it comes to being informed about the safest and healthiest way to feed the most precious and important thing in our life, the baby we would lay down our very lives for, most of us are left completely in the dark.

After losing 8 babies and risking my life to have my son, I was so determined to breastfeed.  I had failed with my other living children, I never got the chance with my dead babies, and I was not going to fail with Mitchell!

It was so hard from the beginning, with his tongue tie and I had an emergency c section.  Neither of us were comfortable or finding it easy, but I refused to give up.  My poor baby also suffered severe reflux, colic and stubborn wind on bottles and formula. Mitchell finally had his tongue tie cut at 6/7 weeks old and finally we were starting to get somewhere.  My supply was low, but I bought an Ameda double electric breast pump, lactation tea and fenugreek supplements and was feeling positive.  Then, just 2 weeks after Mitchell had his tongue tie cut, I had my second heart attack and my breastfeeding journey was over.  I felt destroyed, I grieved the loss, am still grieving, it’s so hard to accept I can’t do the one thing a mother normally, naturally, does for her child.  I can’t do the very basic job of feeding my own child.  My miracle baby who I was told I would never get, who I was advised to terminate, my world.

So at this time, a friend shared a link with me on Facebook for the page Human Milk 4 Human Babies UK and straight away it appealed to me.  I just needed to read their guidelines and FAQ, do some of my own independent research, decide how far to travel, look into correct handling, the risks and benefits, decide on pasteurization or raw etc…and then…anxiously make my first post.

At first I was fearful of what my friends and family would think of me, would they think I was weird?  Judge me? Tell me I’m putting my child at risk, would they think that I was disgusting? But I have received such a positive response from nearly everyone.  I think I had about 4 negative responses from strangers on my last post, but over 100 likes, hundreds of shares and I’ve lost count of the offers of support and donations.  Those who couldn’t help have reached out to me with their shared stories and comfort.  I have been inundated with private messages offering me milk for Mitchell by hundreds of women, and we’ve managed to maintain a constant supply of milk.  One woman even wet nursed Mitchell, something I certainly would be happy to continue if we found someone local to us who was willing.

The most important thing I’ve learned, is that all of us are different, both us and our children have different needs, and if I make an informed decision to do what I feel is best for my son, with the least risks, then I’m not doing anything wrong.  There is full, open and honest disclosure between ourselves and the ladies that donate milk to Mitchell. The best indication that the risks are minimal, is that as a mother we would never want to put our own child at risk, and the milk we collect is the same milk our donors are feeding their own babies, making them far more trust worthy, and secondly that the milk is free so they have no vested or financially driven interest to gain from what we are doing.  When we meet, talk to and see in the eyes the care, love and compassion from those who donate, we know in our hearts that they are giving generously from their hearts too.

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My story

I wouldn’t even know where to begin telling you everything, so I’ll start by just giving some background.  It’s going to sound tragic and full of doom and gloom, but I want to assure you that I’m a fighter, a survivor and a strong person, although admittedly, like most of us, I sometimes don’t see that.  in fact if you read the events that happen in my life, out of context, it might appear my life is awful.  It’s not.  Yes I have had to overcome struggles and obstacles and trauma, and many crisis, but of anything I cope better during the storm than after it.  Perhaps this is because when it’s happening I’m too busy solving, resolving, fixing and looking for solutions to really feel it at the time.  I mean for example, if a car is heading toward you at 90 mph, would you stand in the middle of the road, trying to think about how awful a situation your in?  Or would you simply jump out the way? If tied to a train track, would you waste time feeling sorry for yourself or focus on figuring out how to escape?  Later, when you’re safe, you might have a cry, the trauma might lead you to jump at fast movements, loud noises and you might get nightmares and other side effects of what you have been through, but those don’t happen until afterward.

Also, despite things that have happened in my life I am blessed with so much, far more than I deserve and far more than I have earned.

I have a husband that tolerates my crazy (he might even love me for it or despite it) and five beautiful and simply put, amazing children who so far have managed to turn out pretty well.  Ok I might be biased, but I’m not alone in thinking they are amazing, everyone that meets them enjoys their company and their personalities and wants to spend more time with them.  They have the usual moments of sibling conflict, delay tactics at bedtime and tantrums, but overall they are well mannered, compassionate, intelligent (including socially and emotionally), loving and affectionate, honest and a good moral compass.  They’ve all been described as tenacious, responsible and determined.  (Except the youngest, he’s only 15 weeks old).

I am financially secure although admittedly terrible with saving our money and do often pay bills late or borrow.  However we always have enough food in the house to feed an army (or to survive in the event of a natural disaster), appropriate clothes and fitting shoes, a warm and welcoming home, decorated to my taste and homely, electric, gas and all the appliances we could need.  I also have great friends and family, I feel well loved, cared about and respected, wanted and sometimes needed.  Really, what more could I ask for?  I’m happy.

The downside?  I suffer with both physical and mental health problems.  This means that despite my happiness with the life I have, sometimes I find it hard to enjoy those things, sometimes I can’t feel the happy, my emotional sensitivities can mean that I can have a negative reaction to even positive events and feelings.  Imagine an allergy to intense emotions.  If things are going really well I become overly anxious and fearful of what might go wrong to ruin it (and in being so fearful, interfere with my own ability to relax and enjoy the positive situation).  I can’t say I’m an optimist or a pessamist, in bad situations I am aware that things can only get better and I can look for solutions and improve the situation, which could be considered optimistic.  In really good situations, I’m aware that things rarely ever stay so good and so I feel it’s important to remain on guard, cautious in the hope that I can somehow foresee anything bad that might happen and prevent it.  I over think everything, my brain is so busy all the time analysing and assessing, so much so, that I tire easily.  Despite tiredness, my thoughts make it difficult to switch off and sleep.  Again, the busy brain syndrome as I like to call it, can be positive too.  I often find myself coming up with all sorts of ideas, to develop myself, to help others with problem solving, to build positive events as a family and for my children, fundraising ideas for charity, creative and crafting projects and many other lovely enjoyable thoughts.  Of course my mind being so busy is still tiring whether the thoughts are of a negative nature or positive nature, and being tired but restless or wired most of the time, isn’t conducive to good health.

As a result (I think) of the trauma I’ve experienced in my life, I suffer with social phobia.  Some use the term social anxiety, but when the level of fear is so great that the thought of talking about gong out alone causes panic attack….I can’t even continue this line of thought now…so we’ll leave that subject for another time when I feel better able.

Hah, I’m thinking, I bet you all want to know what happened that was so bad?  (And then my brain says…Really? You think you’re that important anyone cares?  My answer being that if I were the reader, I would want you to hurry up and get to the juicy bits – urgh I’m such a terrible person for considering someone’s misfortunes ‘juicy bits’, and also just felt a little disgust you might be thinking that about my misfortunes)

Have you figured out yet, why the url to my page is demented ramblings of a mad woman?

Anyway…My background now you have a little insight into why my life is not as bad as my background might have led you to believe.

My writing style might change now as I don’t want to get into an emotional monologue of every last detail (I’m tired and can fill in details of individual events in separate posts another time)

Parents divorced when I was young.  Back and forth between mum and dad until dad got custody. At some point (recently informed) abused (I’m not divulging by who yet – and I was too young to remember myself), then at an age I do remember, abused by someone else (again don’t wish to divulge this information as yet). Had live in nannies (3 over the years).  Dad remarried. Becomes Jehovah’s witness and raises us in the ‘troof’ – sorry I can’t use the word they use as I think it’s a load of bull and that they are a cult that made my childhood miserable, abuse continues through childhood. Bullied at school, miserable at home, life was crap. Still feel unable to go public on here with all that happened and too scared of repercussions if I say anything bad about anyone involved, but when I told about abuse, both parents insisted I said nothing to anyone. I got very angry, hurt and went off the rails when I had always been the well behaved child.

Anyway, I left home young age, worked with horses, ran away to London, bad shit happened, called mum who not seen for ages, she calls police and then they pick me up…get new jobs, get a boyfriend, fall pregnant, run a mile, quit jobs, dump boyfriend, get kicked out, in emergency accommodation, go out and got raped, drop charges before even investigated, self blame, still pregnant, have first child.

Suffer post natal psychosis, severely depressed and suicidal. Can’t tell anyone, end up on drugs, beaten, threatened and forced to commit first ever crime, get caught and eventually ask for help and sort myself out.  (Few gaps but that’s the essence)

Years of hell and frustration with daughters behavioural problems, get help, turns out I was just a really shit mum, sort myself out which had positive impact on daughter.  Daughter diagnosed with duplex kidney and refluxing uretur and has surgery. (I took her doctors for years being called neurotic mother when I was right all along)

Relationship with mum – on and off, turbulent and very painful.  Relationship with dad – very controlling and demoralizing.

Have an affair with the fiance of the lady (friend) who’s children I’m babysitting (lots more beating myself up on what an evil person I am) increase self harm (forgot to mention did that since age 15) as punishment (someone has to) until eventual suicide attempt.  Eventually all comes out, shit hits the fan.

Date a smack addict then another guy.  The new guy beats me up in front of daughter when she’s 3 and leaves me for dead, he then dates the lady (friend) I betrayed.  (Karma for me) he smashed up the car belonging to a gangster I once knew and in fear I’ll be blamed I start selling everything I own so I can run away.  Mum finds out, sends me to aunt in Yorkshire for 3 weeks then aunt in Norway for 5 weeks.  I find out from my dad on my return my mum had said she was going to try to get custody of my daughter whilst I was out the country (he advised get against it and she took the advice)

By this point you can imagine I feel completely alone.  Bleak.  Abused, raped, beaten, abandoned….alone

Desperate.

Anyway long story short (I’m tired now – 3:22 am here)

I had 4 more children, things were easier with them and I made many good friends on my journey who I would without hesitation trust with my life.

Eldest daughter has dyslexia and dyspraxia and a floating lower moiety (half a kidney detatched and floating not being used as too badly damaged), second and third daughters healthy, youngest daughter had problems in pregnancy and birth which I’ve talked about in another post (summed up, difficult pregnancy, failed placenta, feral hypoxia, died during birth, resuscitated, svt after birth, shocked and treated, 3 months in scbu, (during this partner removed from family home for domestic violence toward me for 6 years that spoiled over onto children the end of my pregnancy), ng tube fed for 16 months, hypotonia, hypermobility, severe oro motor dyspraxia, glue ear that cause severe hearing impairment, learnt bsl family sign, gromits) after lots of hard work with her she beat prognosis and wouldn’t even know there was ever anything wrong, youngest son awful pregnancy, they wanted me to terminate, specialist pregnancy care, fetal distress, emergency c section, tongue tie and Nystagmus.

Childhood abuser admits the abuse toward me from childhood when my son is a week old, moving toward closure, peaceful resolution and forgiveness.

Lost 8 babies after my youngest daughter and before my youngest son, recurrent. Poppy’s story is in another post and the poem I wrote for my triplets is in another post. No mother should have to bury her own children, this brings me so much sadness and I don’t think I can ever get over it or stop grieving.  I have to live with that always tainting moments of happiness.

Dotted in my story are fundraising for charities when I could and felt well enough.

2 heart attacks in one day that the hospital refused me pain relief then gave me gaviscon and tried to discharge me (2014) luckily I refused so was still there when I had second heart attack and was blue lighted to another hospital for emergency surgery.  A stroke February 2015 just a month before I fell pregnant with my son, a small heart attack Xmas day last year when my son was just a month old, heart failure after I had him, gall bladder stones, a leaky valve, arrhythmia, tachcardia, hypotension, left ventricular diastolic dysfunction, right ventricular abnormalities, enlarged left atrium, vit b12 deficiency, vit d deficiency, diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, suspected rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, spd even when not pregnant, and a whole host of physical symptoms (pain).

Mum died jan 2014 just 6 months after I reconnected with her.

Oh and social services involvement on and off over the years but once lied to try to put the children in care, not during the times where that would have been appropriate possibly, but after I had my life together!!!!!

Luckily I keep evidence of everything and the social worker got caught out in the web of lies he created.

I now home educate my children.

My eldest is now 18 and never ceases to amaze me, she passed all her gcse’s grade c, achieved 2 diplomas before leaving school at 16, another diplomas on leaving school and now doing level 3 childcare and education apprenticeship, volunteering for young carers and idid charity, has st John’s ambulance first aid, safeguarding certificate and is so well balanced. My 14 year old is identified as a gifted and talented child, goes to college one day a week to study small animal care, heading toward level one diploma, received distinctions in complete work to date, been offered a fill time course next year and hopes to be a vet. She also volunteers at stables, sent a poem into a competition and received a certificate and offer to be published and been offered a part in a play she auditioned for, she’s also in army cadets.

My 8 year old is amazing me with her reading comprehension and spelling as well as her creativity and my 5 year old who would be in reception now, astonishes me with her math skill, she can add, subtract, multiply, read and understand math symbol and sums and both of them just show so much enthusiasm for learning (8 yr old says she’d like to be a teacher and 5 yr old says she wants to be a doctor)

I’m absolutely confident that my children will be whatever they decide to be.

Me?  I have some resentment at not being able to work, I get sorry for myself, beat myself up, punish myself…but I’m working on learning to accept the way things are and I have a new dream to one day live off grid and self sufficient, where I no longer have to rely on others or feel like a burden to society.

Time is so short and fast

So in my last update I had reconnected with my mum who was going through chemotherapy, lost my triplets, Rebecca had started secondary school and Tiegan college.

So much has happened since then, I separated from my husband for 8 months, Tiegan started her childcare course and then was rejected for her second year so is now doing a level 3 apprenticeship in childcare and has been doing week she’s already got a guaranteed permanent job at the nursery where she’s working after she finishes her apprenticeship.

I have taken all the children out of school to home educate them which we are all really enjoying and feel as though we are living life instead of just existing day to day.

I also have some amazing news, just after me and Barry got back together,I fell almost immediately pregnant and after losing 6 babies together we finally have a beautiful baby boy.

It was a rough pregnancy as I had a major heart attack in the November before I fell pregnant as well as a stroke in the February.  Since having him I’ve also suffered heart failure and a minor heart attack.  I am now struggling with many health issues including bone pain throughout my body.  This is being investigated but is suspected neuropathy or rheumatoid arthritis.

I have had to rely a lot on friends and family for help lately.  I have also reconnected with my brother and despite the past, this is going well.   I have had to spend a lot of time using mindfulness to make this possible and it hasn’t been easy.  I have had many demons to battle have felt very raw with a lot of triggers.

I hope my efforts will be worthwhile as I have yearned for a family I did not have for a long time.  Sadly mum died in the January after I reconnected but I have built a strong relationship with my stepdad since.

Unfortunately things with my dad went downhill and we are no longer on talking terms, I am handling this as well as I can however and have managed for the most part to maintain stability.  

Things with my husband are up and down although certainly improving.  I do fear that I will never be able to maintain a normal or at least stable relationship with a man.  I can’t really expand on that as even the thought of the subject upsets me so much.

I really feel I need to repeat dbt therapy and have a strong desire to do so, whether that will happen is to be seen.

I have made some strong friendships through therapy and particularly significant are Hayley and Ann who I feel are very much my chosen family.

Poem for the loss of triplets

For The Loss Of Triplets

Silently we sat beneath the nurses gaze,
as news of expectancy was given on that day,
eyes glanced at the nurse and back to one another,
a precious life created from our love for each other.
The weeks passed by in anxious anticipation
appointments, tests, scans all repetition,
reminders of our losses that came before you
filled us with fear that we’d lose you too
But in amongst the fear of all we had to lose
was hopes and dreams and names we began to choose
and then we heard about a miracle inside me
two sacs, possible twins, a multiple pregnancy!
And so home we came in awe of what we’d heard
afraid to share this awesome news, afraid to spread the word
because if losing one was scary, the thought of losing two was worse
and so I searched for information, so my fear, it would disperse
And again, our minds raced with hopes and dreams
of juggling our twins and all their joint schemes
as stories abounded of little ones
who share their mothers wombs
We scoured the internet and of course ebay
for double pushchairs, cots and things for play
and if we’d been shocked by twins at all
discovering triplets left us speechless I recall
And oh my we did believe that we were truly blessed
three babes alive inside this body would surely be a test
but visualised we did of the day you would be here
to share our lives and love and happiness and cheer
We talked about the day trips that we could have
all nine of us in the car following instructions on the sat nav
two adults in the front, six children in the back
or maybe we could put some on the roof rack!
Yes we joked how little room our seven seat MPV had
and talked about how a bigger car wouldn’t be so bad
We pictured building sandcastles on a sunny beach
and paddling in the shallows making sure you were in reach
we dreamt of many things throughout the pregnancy
and if only we had the chance I know we’d come to see
all those dreams fulfilled and more and more besides
of play and school, and daddy’s piggy back rides
but we’ll never know all the things that you’d enjoy
because before we held you in our arms or bought one single toy
we heard the dreaded words and knew you’d gone away
to some far off place instead of home to play
The hurt we felt deep in our hearts and tears we cried
but we’d done all we could and everything we tried
we may have only known you for a short while
but you were here, with purpose, for you did make us smile
And more than anything I know, our love for you is strong
not beaten down by death, nor time no matter how long
we’ll meet you one day, kiss sweet baby lips, smell your precious hair
I’ll hold you in my arms as close as I can and stroke your skin so fair
I’ll listen to all your stories of life in some other distant realm
of flying on the backs of birds and other things that could overwhelm
like fairies and pixies and other magical things where you reside
and still you’ll say, you were all, both here and there, both places you abide
Because our love was strong enough to keep our bond alive
so much love we have for you, that surely you will thrive
and then once again we’ll meet and I will hold your hands
when I come to find you over rainbows, in faraway lands
And until that day, we stand here by your grave
in our sorrow and our grief with trinkets that we save
and hold you in our memories as we try to say goodbye
but we’ll be back tomorrow, for this is where you lie.

An Update On Family Life

Since last posting I have split with my ex and married my current husband Barry.  My children are now 16, 12, 6 and 3 (next week).  

My eldest is now in college doing a floristry course after losing her job as a apprentice hairdresser and is hoping to do childcare next year so she can become a child play specialist in a hospital environment.  

My 12 year old is now in secondary school where she has settled well, she is described as a key girl in her class and a good leader.  She is achieving well academically and above average in most subjects.

My 6 year old is doing well in school too and also has made lots of good friends.She’s frequently invited to parties and really enjoys all her subjects and comes home excited about school.

I started talking to my mum in June after not talking to her in nearly 6 years, and just as I felt things were improving, she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  She’s undergoing Chemotherapy and will be in hospital over Christmas so we’ll be having an early Christmas with her this weekend whilst she’s out for a few days.  It will be my daughters 3rd birthday next Wednesday too.

My youngest is having surgery tomorrow to have grommets inserted, I’m extremely nervous after all our bad luck lately but it’s minor surgery and all should be fine.

Since last writing, I’ve lost 4 more babies, triplets in May – Jasper, Harry and Frøja and Pea-Bee in October.  The triplets were buried in front of Poppy and the council were wonderful and donated a plot free of charge so that we’d have somewhere to put our picnic blanket near my babies and spend time with them.

I’ve been diagnosed with Left Ventricular Diastolic Dysfunction, Right Ventricular Abnormalities, Enlarged Left Atrium, suspected SVT and have another Echo-cardiogram next week following a CT scan and 24 hour ecg tape that I’ve not yet had results for.  I have also been diagnosed with gall bladder stones after suffering Cholestitus and have to have surgery to remove my gall bladder.  I continue to have ongoing back and pelvis/hip pain and worse so since falling down the stairs at the weekend.

I’ve spent a lot of time doing arts and crafts, including making memory boxes for the local emergency gynecology unit and have a regular supply of shoe boxes to make these with from another lady that is a trustee at Daddys With Angels where myself and my husband are also trustees.

I gave up my group Snowdrop Babies but continue to do things for the group, my friend Gemma now runs the group and continues to support grieving families who have lost a baby or child of any gestation or age.

I also held a family fun day to raise money for Northampton Special Care Baby Unit and raised £400 and continue to run the website for it.  

I’m now currently in DBT therapy with individual therapy once a week and group therapy once a week as well as homework and phone support in between therapy days.  I really like my therapist and the other group facilitator as well as having a friend I already knew who attends making it a little easier for me with regards to my social anxiety.

This week I set myself homework to recognise and let go of judgement although that hadn’t been the initial homework I set myself but a more achievable target.

Why me? Mental Illness

I’m sure this is a question most people with any illness,  disability or problem in life asks themselves.  Often the question will go unanswered and the questioner lives with confusion, frustration and a sense of unfairness.   Many issues over time will be resolved or simply pass.   A common phrase is that all things pass.   But some problems are life long and can’t be fixed.   In those circumstances some kind of acceptance is necessary. Acceptance of your problems,  acceptance of your limits and acceptance that you must forge your own version of ‘normal’

I’ve suffered from mental illness most of my adult life and am still attempting to find acceptance.  At times I feel as though I have found it but then it quickly slips away.  Acceptance feels like trying to catch a slippery eel with my bare hands.  Success being only short-lived.

I wish the answer to why acceptance is so difficult was a simple subject but instead it is complex.  There are lots of reasons that is hard to hold on to.   One reason is that when mentally unwell all rationality flies out of the window and so all the reasoning behind my recently acquired acceptance becomes quickly invalid.  And partly because it’s near impossible to accept and welcome intolerable mental and emotional pain in to your life when it’s present in that same moment!

Imagine for a moment feeling as though electricity is running through your veins or worms crawling through your brain.  Imagine feeling as though your skin is covered in cobwebs and the noise in your brain is so loud that it overwhelms your senses.  Imagine feeling that you are covered in thick dirty slime just under your skin and that the only way to get rid of all the dirt and noise and putrid feelings inside is to bathe in boiling water and scrub yourself clean with a scourer and bleach or to cut it away.   How do you learn to live with that?  How do you learn to accept?

Then imagine that no one knows how to help you and that most people turn away repulsed by even the mention of ‘mental illness’.  Try to remember that having mental illness often makes a person find socialising difficult anyway.   It’s hard enough trying to maintain your own self care and daily routines without the pressures of trying to communicate efficiently,  hold small chat,  enquire about how others are keeping;  show care and concern,  try to maintain etiquette and boundaries.   Socialising becomes a juggling act with knives.  The pressure to fit in or face rejection,  disappointment and judgement and in turn more hurt.  Remember also that often a person with mental illness may already feel emotionally overwhelmed and hyper sensitive and so even a small slight or joke attack their expense could be internalised and increase a feeling of shame, self hatred,  sense of unworthiness.   Take in to account also that many diagnosis often come hand in hand with anxiety related issues that also aggravate the difficulties in social situations.   Sometimes the person can be over sensitive to sensory stimulation too – lights,  movement, noise etc..

I think taking all these factors in to consideration and more besides,  you might theorise that such a fragile and vulnerable person might need a good support system around them?   But what if now we factor in the stigma of mental illness?   What if most people feel fear, repulsion or helplessness about mental illness?   They don’t wish to approach a person with mental illness or be around them or spend any significant time with them and the few who do feel uncomfortable discussing mental illness,  don’t want to ask how you are,  don’t want to offer help because it’s too big for them to deal with.

Now imagine again that horrid feeling when you’re unwell,  add the shame and guilt, add the stigma you face from others and the difficult to think rationally and ask yourself how you accept this life?  How do you function each day?  Who can you ask for help?   How and what words can you use to ask for help and describe what you need?  How do you maintain relationships?

Now lastly do not ever think that mental illness is simple,  that a person can just think their way out of it,  think positive,  distract and it all goes away,  or that this post even comes close to describing its nature.  This post is a mere snippet of insight into living with mental illness.   It’s far too complex for me to put in one post and would take a lifetime to explain fully.

E-Harmony Personality Profile

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