The final piece for some peace

We’ve had what feels like a long and arduous journey towards 2019 but now we’re here I for one and feeling more hopeful. One of the reasons is the arrival of this ⬆️, doesn’t look like much eh? Well to us it’s the penultimate piece of our puzzle, the feeling that the end is nigh. This is the second part of the research study we’re involved in.

When I was pregnant I was asked if I wanted an amniocentesis to rule out 22q11.2 deletion syndrome or DiGeorges, we turned it down as we didn’t feel it would change our minds about the pregnancy if he did have it. Instead we opted to be part of a international research study, the first stage being a blood test when I was approx. 26 weeks pregnant. The second stage is to get a dna sample from Bertie and yesterday this finally arrived. Even though we aren’t particularly concerned about DiGeorge syndrome as our blood results showed low risk it’s still something that I think about from time to time and feel like this will be the confirmation we need to move on from that part of Bertie’s diagnosis.

This morning we took a swab from inside Bertie’s cheek, he was most perturbed that it wasn’t something he could chew on but managed to contain his disappointment during the 10 second procedure 🙄. It was really simple to do, probably helped that Lorna used to be a police officer and I’m a nurse so we’re not strangers to doing swabs.

Here it is, all bagged up and ready to go! We’re hoping the results are slightly quicker than it took for the test to get to us, I think it was supposed to be sooner than 7 months but who knows. All we have to do now is cross our fingers and hope for the best, but this time we definitely feel more positive and are really pleased to be able to help in such an important piece of research, let’s hope it helps lots of people in the future and gives them the peace of mind that we have been awarded.

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Let’s raise a glass to 2018 🍸

Today is New Years Eve so I guess it’s time to round up this year, tomorrow it will be 2019 and we’ll all be new people 🙄! This has been one of the hardest years for us as a family but thankfully we’re going into 2019 feeling a little less raw and a little less worried. Bertie finally had his cardiology appointment before Christmas and he doesn’t need to be seen for a year. The last line in the letter from his consultant really resonated with us “Albert can lead a normal life”. Even though we knew that, we really needed to be told.

We’ve had the best and worst of times, Ted turned 4, Grace turned 17 and Bertie was born. At the beginning of this year we had received the shock news that there was something wrong with Bertie’s heart and that was really hard for us to deal with. Those who have read my blog before know that this left me anxious all the time and I eventually got diagnosed with post natal depression and anxiety. It’s been tough to say the least and I’ve experienced some of the darkest moments and most frightening, intrusive thoughts but it’s also shown me the strength and kindness of my wife and some of my friends.

So what have I learnt? I’ve learnt that I can go a really long time without showering and washing my hair, that dry shampoo really can make you look almost presentable even when you haven’t washed your hair for a week (or brushed it for that matter). I’ve also learnt that I’m incredibly good at hiding my feelings, I’m verging on expert level. No one knew how I was feeling, I felt like I could barely function and everyone must see how bad things were for me but the only person who noticed was Lorna, not because they weren’t paying attention but because I’m so bloody good at hiding it. I’ve discovered that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve known someone for them to be there for you. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without my friend Jill. She checked in on me, met up with me and talked to me about how I was feeling. Between Jill, Lorna and my mum (and a bit of medication) I feel like I’ve been dragged back to some form of normality.

This year has also been so special for us too, we welcomed baby Bertie into our family and he has brought such joy to us. He is the easiest baby to love and we all do fiercely. I finally feel able to enjoy him without worrying that something awful will happen to him if I dare to relax, even for a second. Unfortunately I am ending 2018 on a bit of a low point, I’m worrying about money and it’s made my mood plummet. My mental health is still fairly fragile and it doesn’t take much for me to fall over the edge.

So what have I got planned for 2019? I’m hoping that my mental health continues to improve, I need to see days like today as a blip. I also need to remember that lots of people worry about money and we will be ok, I’ve survived much worse. I’m due back to work I’m just over 4 months so I’m starting to gear up for that, I’ve got some KIT days planned and we’re desperately trying to get Bertie to take milk from anything that isn’t my boob (spoiler alert, it’s not bloody working). I have really mixed feeling about going back to work, I love being a nurse and have missed those interactions and feeling like I’m helping people and then money will be very handy. On the other hand I don’t want to leave Bertie, I’ve only left him once with my mum so I need to feel better about not being there all the time. The good thing is I am looking forward to 2019 as there was a time I couldn’t think past a couple of hours let alone look forward a whole year. For now I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope to connect with more people in 2019 x

When do you know who you are?

Before I start I want to make it clear that I don’t want to offend anyone and if I do I sincerely apologise. It may be that I am just ill informed and I would welcome others views on this.

So here it is……

A post recently came up on a lesbian Facebook group about what age did people know they were gay. Obviously there were lots of varying answers but there were a few that really stuck out to me, one woman simply “when I was 3”. Maybe it’s just me, as you all know it took me a long time to accept my sexuality, but I found this a little incredulous. I don’t know about anyone else but I have no memories of when I was 3, in fact my first memory is from when I was 5 and I only know that I was 5 because I’ve been told.

The other thing is that I don’t believe we are conscious sexual beings at 3, in fact I don’t really think we are until much later around 10 onwards. We could go into the whole Freudian thing but frankly I’m not clever enough and really don’t want to make myself look stupid! The first time I really think I liked someone was in secondary school. I did really want a boyfriend when I was at the end of primary school but more because I thought that would make me fit in more.

I understand that everyone’s experiences are different and of course there are different factors that come into play (life experiences, age of puberty etc..) but honestly I just can’t fathom that my 4 year old child would know his sexual orientation by now, I can’t even get him to commit to what he wants for dinner let alone whether he’s going to spend his life liking girls or boys or both. I also believe for a lot of people sexuality is fluid and how we feel at one point in our life is not necessarily how we will always feel.

I don’t know, maybe I just struggle to understand because I didn’t completely realise I was gay until I was 29 and others are much more in touch with themselves. I spoke to my wife about it and she said she was probably around 14/15 years old and before that she just thought she was idolising other girls. I guess I felt the same at school but it took me a lot longer to understand my own sexuality. For now I think I will stay curious to other people’s experiences and keep an open mind and as I’ve said before if you think I’m wrong please educate me!

Do you want to be in our gang (or group??)

I’ve written before about finding your mummy tribe but I’m going to write about it again because I really don’t think people realise how important it is.

As I’ve said in previous posts I’ve got an amazing group of friends that I met when I was having (or just had) Ted, we’ve been through so much together and I really can’t imagine my life without them, but understandably we’re all at different stages in our mothering journeys now. Some have had more babies, Bertie is the youngest member of the group at the moment but won’t be for long. Between us we have 14 children and by early next year it will be 15. We still try to meet fairly regularly but it’s hard to organise so I knew I would need to try and meet people with children of a similar age to Bertie.

I attended some baby groups and there were some nice women there but no one I really connected with. I also attended a meet up of mums and babies, they were nice enough and I even met them a second time but there were a few things that put me off, firstly they kept starting messages “hi mummies”, I have a huge issue with this as I think it strips women of their identity once they’ve had a baby but I also I’m not not your bloody mummy you weirdos! There was also the incident on the first meet up where they all said they’d given up caffeine, I admitted that I was on about my 6th coffee already that day (it was 11am) and they honestly looked at me like I’d said I was smoking crack! And lastly they’re all just a bit too nice and I’m not. An example of how my friends and I speak to each other, we had a night out last week and I sent a message to our what’s app group saying I was home and I’d had a lovely chat with our Uber driver. My friend, in fact my best friend, responded “I’ve been charged an extra £10 for him having to listen to your incessant drivel” (thanks for that Jill). Maybe this is something that comes over time but I pretty much think you have to click with people.

One day when I was having a look through Facebook I came across someone’s post about a LGBTQ+ group that was fairly local to me so I thought I would give it a go. After a couple of get togethers I realised that these were my type of people. Conversations are so easy with them, we talk about anything and everything. It’s so nice to be able to talk to people about things that other people just don’t understand, like how did you chose your donor and reactions when people find out that your children have 2 mums. I love this group of women and am so thankful to have found them. I’m not sure they’ll ever know what they’ve done for me and mental health because at a time where I thought I didn’t have a place and was unlikeable they gave me belonging and friendship.

We’re still a small group, but we’re growing and we hold out hope that more people will get involved. It’s so important to find people that get you and that you share more in common than just trying to keep little humans alive. We’ve set up a Facebook group, a twitter account and an instagram page but pretty much it’s still just the 4 families that meet up. It’s scary to meet new people and understandably a lot of people are reluctant to put themselves out there but all I can say is if you do you really won’t regret it.

Things you probably shouldn’t ask a lesbian

1) You can’t be a lesbian because you’ve had boyfriends – I’ve had this quite a bit, people suggesting that I must be bi-sexual because I used to date men. How I identify is nobodies business but mine. I’m also 37 years old and I’m pretty sure I know myself.

2) How do you know you’re gay if you’ve never slept with a man – this one doesn’t apply to me but for all you gold stars out there (including my wife), I bet you hear this one an awful lot! My wife’s response is “how do you know you’re not gay if you haven’t tried it?” That generally shuts them up!

3) You clearly haven’t found the right man yet – You’re right I haven’t found the right man, because there will never be a right man. I have, however, found the right woman.

4) Who’s the man in the relationship? Neither of us, that’s kind of the point. What annoys me even more is that people presume Lorna is the “man” in our relationship just because I wear dresses occasionally (very rarely in fact), have long hair and slap a bit of make up on to stop me looking 57 rather than 37. In fact we are both feminine but just in different ways.

5) Oh you’re a lesbian, my friend Kate at works also a lesbian, do you know her? Why yes I do!! I know all lesbians on the planet! No of course I don’t know her, do you know every straight person???

6) How do you have sex? See previous blog for this one if you don’t believe we get asked this! It really is shocking when people ask, you would not get away asking a straight couple this.

7) Can I watch? Yuck no!! I believe there are special car parks for that sort of thing!

8) Do you want a threesome? Again nope, you would not think to ask a straight couple that and it’s not ok to ask a lesbian couple that either.

9) Why do lesbians hate men? Because they’re hairy and smelly! Ok thats not true we don’t hate men at all, in fact we are attempting to raise 2 boys who I’m presuming will grow up to be men (of course my presumptions may be wrong and that’s ok too).

10) Wont your children grow up to be gay is they don’t have any men in their life? Maybe they will, maybe they won’t be gay but it definitely won’t be anything to do with our sexuality. Also our children do have men in their life but most importantly our children have love and the knowledge that however they identify is fine with us (unless they’re Conservative or UKIP voter, then they’re on their own).

Although some of the above seem quite funny and a bit of a joke that people ask them, it invalidates our relationship, it reduces it to someone’s smutty fantasy. It questions the legitimacy of our partnership and tries to let us know that our love is unimportant because it doesn’t fit the conventional framework.

I read a post on Facebook recently about someone being irritated with their husband and it must be so easy being a lesbian….ummm no we have the same issues in our relationships as any other couple. There’s no need to idolise our relationship as much as people shouldn’t condemn it. We are normal, we argue over who’s going to take the bins out (obviously not me) and what’s for dinner! I guess it’s about thinking “hmmm would I say this to a straight couple” and if you wouldn’t then you shouldn’t be asking a same sex couple! And if you would ask then it’s probably fine or you’re wildly inappropriate, but be prepared if you do ask you may not like the answer you get!

10 things my anxiety makes me do

1) I constantly clench my jaw, day and night. I end up with a headache and I get a lot of pressure in my jaw because of it.

2) I question everything that I think and do. I don’t trust myself, even with simple things like cooking dinner.

3) stops me taking care of myself. At its worst I stopped showering and eating. I’m still not great with eating and will often go all day without having anything.

4) It makes me question all my relationships. I constantly worry that Lorna will leave me, the kids don’t need me and I’m my mum’s least favourite child.

5) It makes me ask for a lot of reassurance, mainly from Lorna. I ask her a lot if she loves me and if she thinks about leaving me. It must be very frustrating for her but she never shows it.

6) It stops me sleeping properly. At its worst I was waking constantly to check the Bertie was still breathing and panicking that something would happen if I went back to sleep.

7) Stops me having any motivation. I don’t feel able to clean the house or go out, it makes me want to hide away.

8) Prevents me from enjoying anything, not much else to say about this one.

9) Makes me feel sick and hot and like I can’t breath. I’m normally very good at hiding the physical side of my anxiety but there have been times I’ve got so overwhelmed by it I’ve had to leave where I am.

10) It makes me feel like I’m not myself anymore. This is the worst thing about my anxiety, not feeling like I’m the same person I was before. I doubt I’ll ever be completely the same person as experiences like this change you, but maybe there’s positives to take. I probably know myself better and I’ve probably admitted that there are certain things that I need to deal with.

The one thing I won’t let my anxiety do is take over my life. I will get better and I will move forward, I just need time and to be patient with myself.

My wife

To my darling Lorna,

It’s your birthday today, the 7th one we’ve spent together. Birthdays have changed quite a lot over the years, we used to go out drinking and birthdays were a day to get spoilt. Not today though, we have the school run, I then have my medication review and then it’s baby group for Bertie. You’ve said you’ll do the food shopping because I get anxious when I have to do it myself. Even on a day that’s supposed to be all about you, you’re thinking about me.

I really don’t think you’ll ever know what you’ve done for me, when I was at my worst you made me wash and you put food in front of me so I would eat. On the days you were home, I would just want to lie in bed but you wouldn’t let me. You knew what I needed even when I didn’t have a clue. Even after working 14 hour shifts you would stay awake at night holding my hand so I didn’t feel so alone.

I must have been so difficult to live with over the past few months, I stopped finding things funny and we’ve always been able to laugh together. I cried all the time and I worried that our baby would die. Who wants to hear on a daily basis about the different ways their baby could get hurt. I questioned everything you did, your driving, your parenting, everything. You responded to the million times I said “careful” with a smile, you didn’t make me feel stupid and you didn’t get offended by it.

You work so hard and even if you’re busy you always have time for others. You take a lot on, people speak to you when they’re struggling and I know from first hand experience why. You listen, too often people want to jump in with advice, but you don’t. You listen and then if you have something to say you do, but sometimes you just listen.

You deserve so much more for your birthday than I can give you this year. I’m determined to keep a lid on my ridiculous behaviour although I’m now feeling anxious about being anxious and ruining your day. I want today to be about you because it feels like it’s been about me for the last 5 months and that feels selfish.

I told you recently that I love you so much more now than the day we got married and I’ll probably love you next year more than this year. I learn new things about you everyday which makes me love you more.

Today will be a good day and it will be the start of lots more good days, I promise you that my love.

All my love G xxxxxx