Becoming a mum….

My beautiful baby girl is 4 months old.  Every day with her is an adventure and I’m enjoying the new challenge in my life of learning how to be a mum.  Chloe is a beautiful distraction to my often cluttered, overburdened and stressed out mind.  She has become a wonderful daily focus in my life, a tunnel of clarity to tend to her every need that has broken through the fog of my dark head.  I am so lucky to have maternity leave to spend with her, and for the first time in my life something other than work is my focus.  She has been a constant by my side for over 15 weeks, my right hand lady, my cheeky smiley little girl that never fails to make me beam every day!

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Until I became a mum myself I don’t think I ever really understood the bond of a mother and child.  Of course I knew that mums love their children, but now that I have my own I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of love I feel for daughter.  I have a new found respect for my own mother, and now understand that link and bond she has with me. My mum and my mother in law have supported Chloe and I so much during our 4 month journey so far, in fact I’ve had many mums offer advice along the way, family, friends and most importantly my amazing NCT group mummies!  I now know how challenging it is to be a mum, juggling the challenges of life while caring and looking after a tiny life of your own that needs your constant care and love.  Mums ROCK, they are amazing, and being Chloes mum is turning out to be one of the greatest adventures of my life, I’m so much looking forward to life with my curious smiley and wiggly little girl!

If you even know me a little bit you will know the true extent of my lack of knowledge on all aspects of babies, I knew sod all!  I’m 36 years old and until Chloe was born had only held 2 babies!  Both of which were held under duress and for no longer than a couple of minutes.  To say I wasn’t maternal was a complete understatement.  With that in mind I had a lot of learning to do fast before I became a mum myself.  At this point I would love to say I did lots of planning and research before Chloe came along, however because I had suffered a miscarriage before this pregnancy my mind couldn’t cope with planning for a baby in case I suffered a loss again.  It was with the help of my mum, mother in law and 2 amazing best friends that I was even remotely ready for Chloe’s arrival, and to them all I am so grateful.

I am a first time mum, and more than that a blunt say it as it is, tom boy, likes it simple kind of gal.  There are a hundred top tips, you tube videos, online pregnancy advice and lists to read through (only some of which I perused!)  But for what its worth from this blunt simple no nonsense lady here are mine.

  1. Rest up in those last few weeks of pregnancy.  I’m an over active likes to keep busy kind of girl, and in those last 4 weeks of pregnancy I was like everyone huge, achy and tired.  I felt guilty if I wasn’t doing things, but in retrospect I wish I had just chilled out more!!  I wish I had slept whenever my body wanted too, and simply sat down more and relaxed. Nothing anyone said prepared me for the roller coaster ride of labour and the fatigue of those first 8 weeks of Chloes life.

 

  1. Listen to the midwife in the labour room: My labour was 3 and a half hours long (the longest 3.5 hours of my life!)  This I have been told is quite short for labour?  Lots of people have asked how I managed it in 3.5 hours.  I focused on the task at hand and zoned everything else out until the point I was asked to push, everything the midwives my husband the lot.  I put on head phones and went deep within myself, I concentrated on being calm and settled in knowing I was going to be at this for a long while.  By the way I didn’t do hyno birthing ( not my kind of thing I’m afraid) although I would imagine what I did was very similar just in my own way.  After I was fully dilated at the point they wanted me push I picked the midwife that was calm and clear in her instructions and focussed on her voice and commands only.  Doctors and other midwives came and went but I only took my instructions from 1 lady, Katie, she was amazing.  I was lucky she told me clearly what I had to do, her instructions on where to push from and how were clear.  They were also horrifically painful!  But I knew that I had to make the pushes count on every contraction, or I would be at it all day!  It was easy to not push as much as I could as it was less painful, but I worked out that doing that would only prolong the experience and I wanted it over!  So it was a close my eyes, grunt like Stephy Graff and give in to the fact it was going to hurt like a bitch!

 

  1. If you want pain relief tell them early! I went through labour with only gas and air.  Not because I’m martyr, but because I had no birth plan really.  There is no shame in using the fab things they offer to make labour easy, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!  If you know you’re not good with pain use the options available to you, but make sure you tell them early.  I didn’t get pethidine as I was 2 dilated to have it when they offered, and the epidural option simply every materialised.  I think I asked too late?  I was on a list apparently, if I ever meet the doctor that was supposed to come and administer it I would slap him!  As it turns out I was ok.   It was as expected a new level of pain, but I’m lucky that I’m a sadistic hard core lady that made it through with gas and air (which by the way does sod all towards the end, but I was still sucking on the dam thing for dear life till the bitter end!)

 

  1. Communication with your birthing partner: I think I treated the labour room much like my approach to managing a lighting fit up at work.  I used the people around me to get what I needed to get through it.  I found it quite natural to bark orders as I do it for a living.  I can imagine it’s difficult for some.  Remember everyone in that room is there for you, and are dedicated to what you need and what makes you feel better, so don’t be shy in talking and telling them what you want and what you need.  Burge was an amazing birth partner and fair play to him as I’m not sure I could watch someone I love endure hours of pain and know I can’t really do much to help.  I talked and he listened and together we got through it till the end when we were rewarded with our beautiful daughter.

 

  1. To Breast feed or not too Breast feed?……..If you want to breast feed just know it isn’t easy!  It’s a lot of hard work and perseverance at the beginning.  I think I thought it was all be very natural and because it was natural it would all fall into place.   Well I was wrong!  It is really tricky to master, and is quite painful at the beginning.  Now as mothers we have a new bench mark level of pain which is labour, and on that scale it isn’t that bad.  But bear in mind we have just endured labour for hours, we are now subjected to nipple squeezing like you have never known.  I don’t mean the erotic type you might be lucky to experience from your other half! I’m talking violent squeezing from a sturn looking midwife to get a piss dibble of yellow sticky colostrum into a test tube thing!  Then came cracked nipples as Chloe and I were learning how to latch and master this breast feeding.  (Cut kitchen roll into small nipple sized squares and pop in the freezer.  Get them out and place on sore nips!  Trust me it feels so good!!!)  Breast feeding means long sleepless nights feeding to demand.  I had no idea what I was letting myself in for so mentally prepare yourself for this.  You need to feed to demand and let them feed lots as its this stimulation that brings the milk supply in and gives your baby the right amount.  Work out how your partner can help you best?  They say not to express to early but quite frankly if I didn’t I would never have got any sleep!  Try the “nature bond” suction cup that goes on the other breast while your breast feeding and collects milk.  You should be able to get enough to let your other half do a feed so you can get some shut eye.  Having said that I am so glad I persevered with breast feeding, for me it’s a lovely way of bonding with Chloe, it’s such a close bond, and it feels great to be that close to her on a daily basis.  I’ve mastered it now and there is nothing organised about remembering to bring your breasts out with you!  That being said DON’T BE BULLIED into breast feeding!  I did feel very pressured into breast feeding.  Only you know if it’s for you or not?  Ultimately you have to be happy in order to look after your baby and if it’s making you miserable don’t feel bad in taking the formula option.  Personally I went through a really tough few weeks where it was making me very upset breast feeding I was so close to quitting, however stopping would have left me feeling defeated and make me feel worse, I’m such a stubborn cow I simply had to master it!  That being said do what’s right for you, as long as your baby is fed that’s all that matters!  In my NCT group we have some breast fed babies and some formula fed, all are healthy and happy.  Both methods have pros and cons, work out what’s best for you, your partner your lifestyle.

 

  1. Scratch mitts SUCK! Scratch mitts are on every hospital bag list, and I dutifully brought them.  Don’t bother they suck.  They don’t stay on! Chloe is such a wiggly baby they lasted all of about 10 seconds.  Just get the baby grows which have inverted bits that fold over the hands at the ends.

 

  1. Beware of the black tar like poo: When they are first born they poo this horrid thick black tar like substance.  Its rank and really disconcerting and I wish someone had given me a heads up on it.

 

  1. The best gift for a new mum is food! Without my family bringing me prepared food in those first 6 weeks I would never have made it through…..simple.  When you turn up bring a Tupperware with a nice dinner in it!

 

  1. Be prepared because everyone has an opinion: Since having Chloe I have never been so confused by opinions and advise.  Like I said I am a first time mum, with zero baby experience so was more than happy to hear advice and opinions, but dear god I wasn’t prepared for the sheer volume!  “You have to wake them up every 3 hours”, “Don’t ever wake a sleeping baby!”  “ You must wrap babies up warm” “Don’t over heat a new born baby its dangerous better to have them a little cold” The list goes on.  If I heard one piece of advice I heard 3 or 4 opposing views.  I didn’t know if I was coming or going.  In the end I stopped worrying, I always listened but concentrated on Chloe and made my own judgement.  After all I spend all day with her, I’m not a baby master, but I am the master of Chloe I know her like no other.  When I stopped listening to others and started trusting myself Chloe and I found a nice groove.

 

  1. When all else fails there is a You Tube video for everything: When I didn’t know how to use the wrap sling?   When I wasn’t sure which of the million first toys to get her?  When I struggled to cut her tiny finger nails and figured there had to be a better way?  When I wanted to know how long they should sleep as Chloe simply wasn’t!  When someone gave me a weird cushion thing and I didn’t know what it was?  There is literally a million videos for everything, god bless the internet!

There are a heap of other things, but half the fun is working them out on your own 😉 Anyway I hate people that preach, each person is different and what works for one doesn’t work for all.  I’ve learnt over the last 4 months to try and not over think it, and above all enjoy each and every minute; ( even the tired stressed out 3am night feed ones).  I’m blessed to have a beautiful baby girl and I fully intend to make the most of my time with her in our mother daughter day to day bubble.  As before I know it the pull of work will drag me back to the land of employment.

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I hope Government read this….

 

I like so many over the past weeks have listened with often confused dismay on the conflicting arguments of the EU referendum.  I have heard valid arguments for and against, I have also heard fallacies, made up and exaggerated fabrications to further the leave or remain campaigns.  I have watched the silly “Brexit” and Bremain” slogan words develop and get banded around proudly like some funky trendy fashionable brand.  I have also seen a vast array of famous people forge a link with either side in the hope that the celeb status will somehow sway our minds.

I have watched as people who are undecided slowly get bored with the forceful nature both campaigns inflict on us day to day.  In alliance with the media there is little respite from this constant bickering and demanding we understand their point and vote their way.  So much so that I should imagine that the humble undecided person is probably sick to death of the entire subject and probably justified in deciding to avoid the whole sodding thing all together.

I am the daughter of parents who were both very active local councillors.  I was brought up with politics, and taught the importance of my right to vote.  I was encouraged to read up on parties and MP’s values, and with this information make up my own mind on how to cast my vote.  Even with this nurtured up bringing I’m finding that I am becoming more and more disillusioned with government, with political parties, and how our MP’s behave.  As a lady that was taught to stay informed about politics I often watched prime ministers question time, this is something I no longer do.  I simply cannot tolerate watching the behaviour of these elected grown adults on my TV anymore. I have witnessed incessant interruptions when people are trying to speak.  Watched copious amounts of varied ways to insult fellow MP’s, anything from picking on a person’s outfit, to insulting family members.  Not to mention that you’re in danger of not hearing anything at all because in the background you have back benchers jeering, booing, and making noise like petulant school children.  I watched on one occasion the Speaker of the House – the person charged with bringing some sort of order and decorum to proceedings – reprimanded a high ranking MP for fiddling with his mobile phone and not concentrating.  I was fascinated as I watched a grown man be told off like a child for something that we all know is simply common courtesy.  I’m pretty sure we would be able to put our phones away in an important meeting, I’m sure if the meeting was televised in front of a nation of people who elected us it would be incentive enough to behave like an adult….surely?  So does that make Mr Speaker the voice of reason you may ask?  The man tasked with managing this seemingly raucous gaggle of infantile adults.  I would love to confidently say this is so, however I have witnessed some glaring inconsistencies while watching these procedures.  I watched a MP be evicted from the house for using an insulting term to the prime minister.  A valid and mature response to childish behaviour, and a great precedent to set for others to behave better in the future.  Much like a referee in a football game one can only hope for some consistency in using this discipline in order to promote the desire to behave better or reap the consequences of being sent out like a naughty school child.  I would love to say this is so, however I watched in dismay as this same Mr Speaker sat quietly as the two party leaders went on a tirade of insults to one another one insulting their opponents clothing and in retaliation the other went on to question if their mother would be proud of their actions.  Yes people our party leaders stooped to the ever childish “your mum” retorts!  Did the gentleman who was fiddling with his phone get sent out I hear you say?  No he did not.  He didn’t get sent out the first time he did it, neither did he get sent out the second time he re offended fiddling with the same phone.  I am literally flabbergasted with this behaviour, jaw droppingly amazed at what I was watching week after week._87238388_pmqs

This led me to thinking about why I was so annoyed at this behaviour.  Most of us go out to work.  Before this we went to school. In both places we have be taught to conform to rules of behaviour.  We grow up with these social conformities in order attain good grades and work in a pleasant productive and respectful environment.  We learn from work, school and our parents to not interrupt people when they are trying to speak, to listen, to concentrate when people are talking to us, to not insult others.  Basic normal human social behaviour.  Why then is it acceptable for the people who run our country to behave like small children?  With a blatant disregard for the social education we all diligently adhere to?  Many people have told me that what I witness on Prime Ministers Question Time is the house of parliament’s way of working, its normal and standard to behave in this manner.  To them I ask WHY?  Why is it ok to disregard what the rest of the nation so diligently adheres to?  If I insulted someone at work I would be disciplined, a grievance would be filed against me.  If my child insulted someone at school I would be notified and asked to help teach and discipline my child. If I “jeered” and “booed” people in a meeting I can’t imagine I would last long before I was asked to leave, and if I insisted in this behaviour I should, after my disciplinary’ and grievances, be fired for my quite frankly childish and stupid behaviour. Why oh why then is it ok for these so called highly skilled, highly paid MP’s who we elected to behave any differently?

Now before I go on it would be wrong of me to tar every MP and political person with the same brush.  I can proudly report that I have watched many MP’s act like the groomed members of society that the rest of us are pushed to be in the outside world.  Certain members of parliament shone through the sea of old fashioned antiquated values of interrupting and jeering.  They were a beacon of refreshing behaviour acting with honour and with decorum.  Now I didn’t want to name people or parties in this blog, this is not about what side of the fence you sit on.  Regardless of what colour you vote for this blog is not to push my ideas or values or sway your opinion in any way.  That would make me as bad as them.  However while writing this blog I have read of the sad passing of Jo Cox MP for Batley and Spen, and in honour of her I feel it’s only right to go against my rule of not mentioning people or parties and proudly name her has one of the good guys.  In stark contrast to the loud and raucous people who shout and interrupt, I watched her talk articulately with grace and heart.  Her passing is sad and tragic and parliament has lost a rising star.

There are a few more like Jo that I have watched and possibly more that I have not.  I ask them to battle on, to not be swayed or turned by the quite frankly old, dated and childish ways of the rest of the house.  I ask them to stick to their principals, to continue to act in the controlled manner we as the public are asked to behave as members of society.  Carry on rising above the bullying and mumbling over people talking, stand tall and know you are above and beyond such childish behaviour.  You are our rays of hope for change, you are new blood in a sea of career lead MP’s who are so quick to adopt the quite frankly stupid and childish behaviours that I see in parliament.  I can only hope one day for change.  That one day I can turn on my telly and watch the leaders of our country talk intelligently and listen to one another, discussing things like adults, debating with honour, and working together to find the best solutions for our country.  To those MP’s that behave in the childish manner I have talked of, GROW UP.  Look at how your constituents are asked to behave at work and try to emulate that in the place you work, the place we elected you to work for us.  Maybe then we the fine people of this country can begin to start to engage again with politics, when we see the people in it behave as we do.

The EU referendum debate rages on, and me, a home grown political enthusiast, can’t wait for it to be over.  I’m sick to death of it.  I’m sick of the stupid posters, the scare tactics, the contradicting arguments that render both sides arguments utterly pointless and all of these from the childish politicians I have just spent time chastising.  I need a political rest!  Just recently it feels relentless,  it only feels like yesterday we voted in the general election, more recently we had the Scottish referendum,  London Mayor, and now the EU debate.  I’m tired of it.  One can only hope for a well-earned rest from hearing from these inflated pushy members of parliament.

Now I know many of you may be wandering how I will vote?  Will I vote when I’m so disheartened with politics right now?  It would go against my values to not.  However on this one I won’t be swayed by either sides’ quite frankly bullish, scary, over inflated, media driven, in your face tactics.  On this one I will look to my heart and seek deep inside for my own values.  In this current climate of terrorism I think it would be better for us to stick together.  I think it’s sad that in this modern era we are all seeking to separate and divide.  I was saddened to watch the referendum in Scotland and equally saddened to hear of more attempts to divide us in this EU debate.  At the end of the day we are all human beings no matter what country we live in and in life I know it’s easier and nicer if we stick together, especially now with so many nasty people who seem to insist on bringing terror to our world.  That’s my thought process, not forged from MP’s complex economic reports, leaflets, facebook posts or celebrities backing campaigns.  Just human instinct and perhaps a naïve desire for the people of Europe to just stick together.  It’s only my opinion. Yours is your own, and because it is yours it is right.  I just ask that you have made your own mind up and not been swayed by the sea of other people’s ideas and media driven opinions.

When this EU referendum is all over, hopefully we will have all earned a well-deserved break from pushy politics.  I look forward to this day when the papers and media go back to the mundane celeb non news, and it is safe to look at the letter box free from scary leaflets about Europe.  That day can’t come soon enough for me.  Perhaps while we take that break, the politicians of this country can take the time to reflect on their behaviour.  Change can happen.  You don’t have to behave like children in parliament.  In the unlikely event any one of the MP’s reads this blog I beg of you to evoke change.  I know it’s hard to make these changes, but it can be done.  Please try, from a lady that grew up with active political parents, try to restore my faith in politics.

A word from Paul….

A word from Paul

Mig persuaded me to speak about my experience of what happened. I didn’t want to at first. It feels like I am winging in comparisons to Mig’s distress and pain, but she made me realise that although my experience was less painful, it was still there.

I was working on Tuesday afternoon. My mind completely engaged on a task. I knew Mig had popped in to the local hospital where we were because she was a little concerned about some blood and as we were 80 miles away from home the hospital was the only place she could think of to go. She told me to stay and finish my work. A little later she called to tell me that they hadn’t shown much of an interest, blood is a common occurrence. In a truly male fashion, I took this as fact and thought nothing of it. Mig was on her way back so I carried on working.

The next thing I knew Mig was calling me from the disabled toilet in the building I was in. She was crying and told me there was blood, a lot of blood. I excused myself and ran to her.  As she stated it was like a scene from a film, I will never forget that image; my beautiful wife in tears and blood everywhere. Like her I felt utterly helpless! I didn’t know what to do, we hadn’t been told about this eventuality. So I called 111. They took details and I stayed calm. I tried to keep Mig calm as best I could while answering questions. Soon the paramedics arrived. While we had been waiting I had been fielding questions from staff and passers-by: “Can I help?”, No. “Can you explain to me what’s happening… its for my accident report?”, er… I think it’s a miscarriage… now please leave us alone! “Do you need anything?”, Professionals! People who know what they are doing, reassurances, answers, a fucking hug! Ultimately the paramedics took control, I tried to stay out of the way, while giving Mig reassuring smiles or squeezes of the hand all the while getting more and more afraid. Afraid of the reality that was dawning on me as the blood kept coming. A reality that Mig and the paramedics had already guessed at. The worst had happened. I continued to help as best I could,; I found some sanitary towles in the car as the paramedics didn’t carry them, fielded more questions from the staff and general public, smiled at people as if they need reassuring!

Finally they put Mig in the ambulance. I didn’t want to get in the way so I went and got in the car and waited for them to leave. I cried like a baby; snot, tears, whimpering, the lot. Then I took a few deep breathes told myself to man up and followed the ambulance.

I cried because I had lost something. It had always been intangible up until this point. Something not quite real until the first scan could prove it to me, but the reality of the situation made it very tangible indeed. I realised at that point that I had been excited. I had been looking forward to it. And now it was gone.

Following that ambulance was stressful. I was still crying on and off, shouting at the world at points or staring without looking. All of this made following the ambulance difficult. It was a busy afternoon, I didn’t know where it was heading and due to traffic lights, pedestrians and my lapses in concentration it was getting further away. I kept imagining rounding a corner and finding it gone. Then I could see myself dashing between hospitals in search of my wife only to be told that no one had seen her! (I suffer from anxiety and the situation had set it off.) Fortunately I found them, I took another deep breath and headed in.

From then on I was in control as best I could be. I was the man looking after his wife. I fought for her to get things she needed, made sure she was comfortable. I didn’t cry or get upset, I told her it would all be fine and that although we both agreed she had lost the pregnancy, we would get through this. And we did. It still hurts, but we are through it.

I would like to finish by saying that through all of this, like Mig, I felt alone. It’s a solitary experience. Even though I was beside my wife from start to finish we were both alone. No one can explain anything to you properly for fear of litigation, no one just gives you a straight answer. I know that this must be so, but it makes it very hard to stay in control. I do not want to make comparisons to my wife’s pain, only to say that it hurt like hell and I hope we never have to go through it again.

The Walsh Moto…to over come great adversities….

As far as weeks go this one sucks in a BIG way.  Easily the worst week of my life, and trust me I’ve had some especially crap ones.

You see on Monday I was pregnant.  Just hit 10 weeks.  It’s now Saturday and I’m no longer pregnant.  Oh how so much can change in just a few days.  Miscarriage, is such a horrible word, and I can now happily confirm it’s also the most horrifying, draining, and soul destroying thing that any lady can ever have to endure.

You see at the point you know it’s happening you are powerless to do anything about it.  Without getting too graphic your hopes and dreams are literally pouring out of you like a scene from a horror movie.  You reach a point you know you have lost the life inside of you and your heart is broken, yet the process still carries on.  A torturous bloody graphic mess that for me went on for days, giving me no rest bite to recoup, no rest bite to begin to understand and deal with the loss.  The scene plays out, your husband is watching the life falling out of you, and you are powerless to do anything to change the outcome.  You have to watch him watching you in pain, and that in itself is painful.  It’s a horrific viscous circle, you can’t help the guilt that you feel that this hadn’t worked out better for you both.  I do know we must be strong together, as I couldn’t have imagined getting through it without him by my side.  It’s an experience we shared, one we wish we hadn’t, but we did.  It’s over, and we are still together, and I love him more than ever.

They call the baby you lose “product”.  You are treated and dealt with in the same unit as the other pregnant mums to be, a cruel reminder of what you will never have.  I had to repeat what had happened to me to about 7 different medical professionals.  “So your 10 weeks pregnant Mrs Burgess”.  “Not any bloody more I’m not!!!”

So it’s Saturday.  I’m home.  4 days, 2 hospitals, surgery and so much blood I have no idea how I’m still alive, yet I am.  Alive at home, and wandering how on earth I go about carrying on.

On Monday I had a plan.  A timeline.  On Monday I was planning for a family.  There were rules.  No drinking, no runny eggs, no blue cheese, no coffee, folic Acid.  I could have a beer now, only it wouldn’t taste the same as drinking it highlights what I no longer have.  These rules will be hard to not follow any more.  I really wish I could be following them again.

The pain and loss is like a hot knife through my heart.  A searing pain that pulses, leaving a raw wound that you can’t ever see any way to relieve.  How on earth do I get up and carry on having experienced this?

I hadn’t told anyone I was pregnant.  Only my husband and few close friends.  My reason….incase I miscarried.  In case the worst happened.  Well the worst has happened, my planned baby has gone, yet I surprisingly don’t feel the need to be quite about it.  I told everyone, all my family.  I wanted people to know.  Its important people know I’m not ill, or having a bi polar low.  This is different.

Apparently miscarriage is very common, which is odd as no one talks about it.  It’s only when it happens that you start to hear the stories.  I know why people would not want to talk about it.  You blame yourself.  You can give a lady a million pamphlets on how miscarriage is natural thing, chromosomes not moulding properly blab bla bla.  It’s never going to stop that lady from hyper analysing every tiny thing she did?  Should I have stopped running? Was it that box I lifted?

Why am I writing this?  I have no idea really.  It’s so deeply personal I never thought I would open up about it.  Only I felt someone should.  It happens, miscarriages happen, and apparently they happen to a lot more people than we realise.  It happened to me, and I’m gutted, heartbroken, and lost.  There is nothing anyone can do.  It’s done.

My brother came over to see me and in our true 90’s child up bringing wanted to “neuralise” me Men in black Style, make me forget, oh how I wish that could happen.  How I wish I could forget the last few days of my life.  “Draw a line under it Mig, brush yourself off and carry on.  Try again” It’s going to be hard.  If it happens again I should imagine the journey will be filled with fraught from start to finish, forever wandering which day it all comes to an end.

So it begins.  The first day without the plan of pregnancy, rewinding the clock to 10 weeks ago before my life and plans changed.  The prospect of having to go through it all again.  It’s going to be so hard. I get up and walk around, everything looks the same, yet it all feels different.  Why am I telling the world about this?  Cause I’m sad.  Sad for me, and sad for all the other ladies that have been through this or will in the future.  If you see me out and about, just know I am a little bit broken.  I don’t want to talk about it.  You don’t have to say you’re sorry, or even bring it up.  Just know that my heart is broken, and I’m trying my best to carry on.  Take it easy on me, as I’m going to struggle to resume as normal.  Give your kids a big hug, smile at them and appreciate them, and spare a thought for those that have been through this.  For those that keep trying.  For those that can’t have kids my heart goes out to you.  My only hope is that one day my husband and I have a better outcome in the future.

I leave you with the ever wise words of my baby brother.  I may now be a Burgess, but I will always be a Walsh.  He sent me our Walsh family moto.

“Transfixus sed non Mortus”

walsh

This is Gaelic for “transfixed/ pierced but not dead.  The swan is pierced with an arrow, the Walsh family can overcome great adversities.  We are stubborn and strong.  Here’s hoping I can.  Here’s hoping I can brush myself off and try again.

It’s over, it was so sad, I will talk of it no more….time to move on.

Your employee’s make your business…..

Tonight I had the pleasure of being invited to the Whitelight New Year’s Party. To those that don’t know, Whitelight are Production Company that supply lighting, sound, and AV to TV, theatre and corporate events.  Now my aim in this blog is not to market this company they don’t need me to do that. However this evening left me inspired and uplifted, with a renewed faith in employers.

For this blog to work you must have some background information.  I don’t offer my loyalty and praise to a company likely.  In fact over the years some of the companies I have worked for and with have left me deflated and unmotivated.  Many years ago I worked for Whitelight in the offices. For a brief spell of only 6 months.  Unfortunately the office life at that time didn’t suit me, I wanted to be out up ladders and man handling lights.  So my time was short lived.  However I cherished my time there with affection, and still to this day link myself closely with Whitelight, not only for the services they provide me, but with the many great friends I have built over the years.

So for 12 years I have worked for a number of other companies as well as Whitelight, and most have left me feeling undervalued and unappreciated.  I don’t work for Whitelight full time. I’m not contracted, however I do work as a freelancer on the many events they service, and because of this I feel a sense of belonging and affiliation with the company. None the less I was in effect gate crashing the full time party as a plus one to a friend and project manager that I work for.

The party found me in great company, from friends so close they were invited to my wedding,  work colleges, people that employ me, peers, and the fantastic event techs that made the party happen, and I’m proud to say I have worked alongside in the past.

I was amazed to see that the event was treated like any of the high profile corporate events I work on for that company.  So much so that it was weird to be considered a guest at an event sipping fizzy wine, surrounded by the lights that I would normally be the one rigging and setting up.  I felt I was the wrong side of the production, it was lovely to be spoilt on this occasion.  I was allowed to be the one sitting back watching and appreciating the effort around me, effort I normally put into a Whitelight Events for others.

 

At the beginning of the night one of the company directors made a speech. A pretty standard affair at a company event, believe me I have worked on enough of them to know.  It wasn’t a short speech, neither was it so long that it detracted from the party.  It was long enough to savour meaning, and cover the company’s achievements throughout the year.  I was near to the front of the room, and during the speech I took the time to turn around to gage the reaction of the guests.  Everyone was captivated, from the older veteran members of the company, to the young lads and ladies that work in the warehouse, everyone was quiet and focused on what was being said.  This to me was so lovely and a breath of fresh air to see.  No one was chatting, or playing with their phones (as I have witnessed at a great many other corporate events I have worked on), they were quietly intent to listen to the company director talk to them about what they have helped to achieve throughout the year.  I had worked on enough of the events to make the speech poignant to me, and I know I felt the same pride that the rest of people in the company felt in the room.

The rest of the evening was filled with catching up with many different people, some I see all the time, and others in the company that I don’t often get the chance to see in such a relaxed environment.

It wasn’t until my journey home, when I had a chance to reflect on how lovely my evening had been that I was over whelmed with pride at being a part of such a people orientated company.  I really felt like they appreciated their employees, and felt they were what made the company the success it is.

 

“Clients do not come first, employees come first.  If you look after your employee’s they will look after your clients”

 

Richard Branson

I am a very lucky lady, as I happen to thoroughly enjoy the job I do, I work hard, and push myself to produce good work.  I take great pride in the things I work on, and like to think I have great end results.  It saddens me when an employee doesn’t appreciate the epic amounts of time and effort I take to make sure I do a job to the best of my capability.

It’s a human complaint that we don’t like to be taken advantage of, we like to be applauded for the good things we do, appreciated and valued for the work we put into something, and acknowledged for the part we play in making something successful.  Its human nature to want recognition, and thanks, it’s what we are taught to do to others from a young age.  Why then is it sometimes forgotten in business?

It’s been a while since I have felt truly appreciated for the efforts I have made to help a company achieve its goals.  Yet I sit on my train home happy at having spent a delightful evening with a family of co-workers I am proud to work alongside, we all share the common goal to achieve excellence in the field we all work in, and we all do this while proudly adorning our WL polo shirts.

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So thank you Whitelight for a great evening, thank you for restoring my faith in employers.  Thanks for appreciating the people that work for you, and the great work that they do.  I only wish more businesses could take a leaf out of your book and realise what is behind the profit and loss account.   Its more than the directors, shareholders, and owners that make a successful business, you would have no profit without the hard working people of your company, so take the time to appreciate and thank them.  If they feel valued they will work harder, cherish your brand more, and believe in your business, and that can only improve your market share.

Don’t be embarrassed any more Mig

I’m just over a week into my festive holidays, and am very sad to report that I am struggling with the battle against my mind.

I am not writing to seek sympathy, in fact with me there is very little anyone can do for me when I’m in this state.  I wish I could say that hugs and kind words from friends make me feel better, but I’m afraid it’s the polar opposite.  I won’t even let my husband hug me when I’m this low, probably because part of me is so ashamed at feeling this way,  and sad that I am not managing to control it.

I have never tried to write when I feel this down, and I thought the exercise may do me good, so here it goes….

The only thing I can use to explain the transition in my brain is likening it to a switch going off in my head.  One minute the lights are on and I’m fine and can see clearly, the next they go off and it’s dark.  I can no longer cope with anything.  My mind is like a delicate eco system, one that I spend inordinate amounts of time trying to keep balanced and running smoothly.  I manage it quite well most of the time now, however sometimes there are things that threaten the environment of my healthy brain.  Some things are small and chip away at the environment, like pollution they build up and ruin the healthy eco system over time.  Some things are big and catastrophic, like a natural disaster that whirls in and changes the landscape of my healthy eco system of a brain.

Most of the time I am managing the small things.  Trying to not let them fester and accumulate and become over bearing to a point where I can’t manage them anymore and they win.  This however is incredibly tiring and requires so much mental hard work that’s sometimes its draining.  Like running a 5k race everyday!

I guess this week is me losing that battle and I pretty pissed with myself to say the least!

I’ve worked so hard and it makes it so much more crushing to admit that I’ve not managed it, and it’s all got on top of me.  I’m tired, drained, I’m not managing or coping I’m simply broken.

Now this is unfortunate at this time of year as society has certain expectations of you, especially if you have a husband, 6 year old step daughter, and crap loads of family and friends to go and see.  Imagine for a minute that your light has gone out, you can’t see properly, and the delicate balance of the eco system of your head has been polluted with thick black smog.  Imagine it consuming your brain and your thoughts, now try and fulfil your Christmas social schedule and see if you can do it with a smile on your face.  Anyone that knows me will know I hate acting, I work backstage for a reason, however thinking about it I at times can be the greatest actor worthy of an award.  This week has been one great big exercise in slapping on a smile, gritting my teeth and trying to get through.  I wish I could say I have managed it, however at times I’ve not even managed to hide my inner despair.

Sometimes my head feels like it’s going to explode.  My brain is a complete mess, my eco system is in disarray, and inside my head is chaos.  I have found this week that if the chaos is amplified outside my brain it all becomes too much and I can physically feel my head and body wanting to shut down.  The noise of people, the need to have to listen and engage and think, the mess around me, it all gets too much to handle and I want to run away, no I correct that I NEED to get away and find a dark cocoon to go and hide in.

On many an occasion this week, (too many for my liking) I have felt the need to do this, and it breaks my heart that I have not fought harder and won.  I am sometimes my own worst critic and I beat myself up over the fact I can’t cope, it makes me so angry that I can’t overcome this bloody cruel illness. I loose days, and weeks to this horrible dark despairing mood.  It ruins planned days, and always seems to come at the most inconvenient times.  Although I have long learnt that there is never a convenient time to feel like you no longer want to carry on.  I have found since I have been managing better that the lows are that much harder when you have spent so long feeling ok.  It’s like a nasty punch in the face, a swift blow to remind you that you are still plagued by this illness.

It changes who I am, so much so that you start to question if this is the real you, and whether you will ever return to feeling better?  I start to retreat into my mind, consumed by the despair and disruption.  It’s over whelming, and so over bearing that you just want it all to go away and end.  Dealing with all of this is such hard work that the thought of seeing friends or family is simply overbearing.  I can’t cope with the expectation to chat, to laugh, to drink coffee or make small talk.  It’s all too much.

This thought simply crushes my soul and breaks my heart.  Writing it, and re-reading it makes me cry, because I am so lucky, and so blessed to have a loving husband, and amazing family and friends.  This condition is not rational at all.  When I was alone I thought I would get better if I had someone to love me.  I have that now and I still suffer these attacks, it’s an illness, a chemical imbalance inside my brain. The people I love don’t deserve me ignoring them, ducking out of gatherings and events, and acting all weird, yet I have no control over the fact this happens.  I don’t want to be this person that flips and changes sometimes.  I wish this didn’t happen to me.  My brain doesn’t function properly and from time to time it likes to remind me that I have an illness.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t embarrassed by my condition, although there is so much more awareness around mental health problems than ever before I am scared people just think I’m antisocial and rude sometimes.  I promise you I am not.  Nothing would make me happier than to function like the normal person I am most of the time.  To not have these episodes of life where my light goes out and I spend weeks trying to regain the balance and calm inside my head.  It’s cruel how the switch to darkness can go out so suddenly, yet it can take me weeks to slowly start to light torches and adjust to the light.

it’s New Years eve and I leave you with what I have learnt this year from both group therapy and self-analysis…… I am Mig, I suffer with mental health issues, and my brain doesn’t work properly.  I am aware of this, and do my best to manage it.  It means sometimes I act weird and can’t see people, and for that I am very sorry.  I don’t do it on purpose and it’s cripplingly painful for me.  When I feel better and can see you again I promise to make it up to you ten fold.

To all those fellow sufferers…I know you are the strongest people I know.  You battle every day.  If you’re losing at the moment, get up tomorrow and fight that bit harder.  My sorry ass is going to run my 5k park run at bushy park, I will spend the time trying to switch back on the light in my brain.  If I can do that I can defeat this illness, and you can too.  Be strong.

Why I think running 5k is like battling mental illness….

 

Now I am aware this is an odd statement, but bear with me, allow me to expand and I will explain.

It’s probably pertinent to explain that I’ve been battling mental illness problems since I was 17.  Back then it was called manic depression, now someone thought to re-brand
it with a much more fashionable name, bipolar II disorder.  Either way, whatever you call it, it’s been a struggle my whole life and provided me with a constant daily battle, and no fancy words can explain how much it SUCKS!

Rather than spend an inordinate amount of time detailing some of the unpleasant events in the timeline of my battle with depression (of which there are many), it’s much easier to report that I’m currently stable, coping, and I now understand my condition more than I ever did in the past.  It has taken many years, medication, therapy, lots of talking, analysing, reflection and sheer determination to get to this balanced point in my life.  (I’m currently touching wood and crossing all fingers that it stays this way)

About 5 years ago I decided to try this thing they call running.  As a chronic asthmatic this was no easy task, however over the course of the years I built myself up to manage a steady 5k run.  I went from running for 1 minute on a treadmill, to managing an entire song on my ipod.  Then came the horrible transition of running outside where it felt like I had to learn it all again, and finally it ended in completing a charity run.  I got a medal for my achievement raised money for cancer research and was thoroughly chuffed with myself.

It was only a couple of years back I discovered and linked the benefit of physical exercise in my battle with mental illness, with its release of endorphins it’s a natural medicinal way to tackle the chemical imbalance of depression.  In short, the running was a killer, but at the end of it I had a smile on my face and was chuffed with my achievement.  Now-a-days we have the brilliance of “Parkrun” a national event in locations all over the country allowing us to join together to run a 5k event and get a recorded time.  Parkrun for me is a “must” in my weekly calendar.  For me it’s as important as medicine, without it both my husband and I can see the difference in my mood.  Missing a week can make a huge difference in how I behave and cope with life during the coming week.  It’s so important for me to do physical exercise in my week, without it my mood would decline rapidly.

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After such a lengthy explanation advocating how much running benefits me, it’s going to come as a shock to tell you that I don’t really enjoy running!!  It’s not something that has come naturally to me, I don’t have that magical moment people claim to have while running.   I am NOT at one with the road, I don’t have that feeling of just me my trainers and the open highway.  Quite the reverse…I overheat and my face adopts the colour of a beetroot!  The 5k run still feels like my own mini marathon every week, my time isn’t improving (however it does seem to remain consistent), and I have no aspiration to move on to a 10k run never mind a half marathon.  Yet I still participate, I try to run every week, and still feel the sense of achievement when I cross the finish line.  If you suffer from depression your drive to do anything never mind a 5k run is zero.  Simply getting up and brushing your teeth seems as challenging as a 5k run.  So if I can do a 5k run, I can bloody find the drive and grit determination to drag my butt out of bed and face the day.  The two things are very similar.

Imagine getting up every day and the first thing you had to do was a 5k run.  Imagine the sheer mental determination you would need to win the battle in your head, just to get up and do that every day, then how much will power you would need to do the run day after day.  It’s exactly how repetitive it is battling a mental illness, day after day.  The chances are you would do a few days and then loose the drive and will to carry on.  To start with you might not make it the full 5k.  You might only manage half of it, you might skip a day or two, but in time if you persevere you will get used to it and it will become easier.

On Saturday I had an epiphany, a moment of clarity.  It was around 3k into my 5k run.  It was 3 degrees, the ground was muddy and slippery, I was beginning to strip off the many layers I had on to keep warm as I began to transform into overheated beetroot lady!  All this while trotting along a tree lined root on the Bushy Park run.  I wanted to stop running, I was having an internal battle; my mind was telling me to stop running, but my body was determined to persevere.  I am told by veteran runners that the art to running is winning the mental battle.  At 3k into my run I was having a really heated battle with my head, and it occurred to me that I am well-rehearsed with this kind of inner dispute.

The battle with the choice to carry on running is much the same as the battle to dig yourself out of a depressive low.  You have to fight hard to choose and carry on running, you also have to fight hard and choose to get up and carry on when you feel like the world is against you.  I may not be running when I battle with my head to conquer the dark depths of depression, but it’s just as physically demanding, and it leaves me just as exhausted.  So as I was running along trying to get to the finish line I realised I was having the same mind battle with my depression.  It would be easy to stop running and just give up, it’s much harder mentally to decide to carry on pushing and do the final 2k of the run.  It’s easy to just give in and settle in your depressive low state, it’s much harder to decide to fight and work to drag yourself up and out of the low.

My husband often asks me what depression feels like, and I quite often can’t find the words to give the utter despair a description.  Often people ask me how I have overcome my battle with my mental health.  So on this occasion it’s nice to have finally found something tangible to use in my explanation of the inner battle with my mind.  Have you ever done a long run and felt like giving up half way through?  Well imagine feeling like that all the time, and imagine trying to find that drive to carry on every day, and you might be close to understanding depression.

Firstly I’m under no illusion that I’ve beaten my demons.  I am blissfully aware that they are with me for life, and the battle is ongoing, however I am armed with many tools to fend of the depths of despair that have pulled me down at various points in my life.  Unlike my running at the moment I have plenty of stamina to continue fighting this nasty illness and I will beat it, of this I am determined!  I have the inherent drive to persevere with this, so surely I have the drive and stamina to run 5k.  It’s that motivation that drags my beetroot red ass the final 2k to the finish line every Saturday morning!  I’m a practised lady in the art of the mind battle, I’m strong, stubborn and determined, and because of this I can run 5k, I can also beat away the mental health issues that plague my life.

Why Halloween is my favourite holiday….

Its that time of year when everything drops really…. light levels drop,  leaves drop, the temperature drops.  Most people are battening down the hatches and getting themselves ready for the winter, and a few nutty bastards are even planning for Christmas!!…NOT ME!

I can try be eloquent and say that I find this time of year truly vibrant, full of changes and exciting colours.  I could twattle on about the magical way that mother nature takes her summer colour palette and washes it with autumn hues of terracotta and yellow ochre.  It would also be important to tell you that these tepid months blesses us with not only Halloween, but fireworks night, and I’m also happy to report my birthday.  I could go on explaining how I fail to see how the flickering candles glowing through vibrant orange pumpkins, with their spooky engravings doesn’t warm your chilly heart.  Or the shrieks of “Oooooo” and “Aaaahh” at colourful explosions in the sky doesn’t bring a smile to your face.  I can recall to you the vivid memories of playing in huge mounds of fallen leaves, and beating my brother at a intense game of conkers; ending his long reign of victory with his “9er” smashed to the floor with only the string left dangling in his hand.  All of those are valid reasons why I love this time of year.  However nothing can reflect my epic sense of excitement like the sentence…….

I fricking love it!!!!!!

No sooner are we in October and I’m the first out in the shops looking for this years tacky Halloween investments! I like to make a few key purchases every year.  Some sort of dancing novelty item, or a rather fetching spooky decoration.  This year its a rather endearing ghost chap that gets his funky dance on to the tune of ghost busters.  I picked up that fella in Tesco of all places, and had hours of fun wandering to the check out dancing along with him.  What can I say, I went in for coffee and soya milk, and his white complexion and 80’s retro tunes sang out to me and he ended up in the basket!

My other Halloween indulgence is a rather in your face skeleton dude wrapped around a bowl that gets the hump with you if you take the sweets within.  Words can not express how happy this seemingly meaningless piece of plastic tat makes me. Its compelling awful, and because of this I fail to see how it can never bring a smile to your face.  It also reminds me of the evil skeletor from He-man, both my brother and I’s favourite cartoon from our youth.

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Now that I have shared some simple tacky Halloween joy I implore you not dwell on the nights drawing in and the chill. Think of treat or treat, sparklers and toffee apples, toasted marshmallows, catherine wheels, and bobbing apples; and for those commercially driven people in the world, even Starbucks has a pumpkin spiced latte!  So don’t dwell on the winter months approaching, embrace the beautiful changes in season this country has to offer, and the blissfully crass yet endearing holidays we celebrate.

I fully intend to get my Halloween groove on with my Spotify spooky playlist,  I like to bob along to monster mash at this time of year!  My humble abode will be clad with bat bunting, skeletons, and an array of carved pumpkins for your delight.  Me and my family posse will be dragged to the awesome Shockober fright fest at Tulleys farm for some Halloween festivities, all the local fire works displays, and my beautiful step daughter will be clad in the finest spooky devil outfit enjoying pumpkin carving, sparklers and toffee apples!

Happy Halloween people, and have a sparkly but safe fire works night.