Saturday, 27 September 2014

What a huge relief

Last Thursday, I had an appointment at my local breast clinic.

I had waited several months for it, and was aware of when it was.

It was routine, a doctors referral following a visit, where I complained of increased pain and general discomfort in my left breast, spreading into my armpit, at different times of the month.

I have to admit, and I am ashamed about this, I am scared to examine my own breasts. So I asked my doctor to do it for me, which she did, and she found nothing. But she referred me anyway, for my peace of mind.

So, I found myself in the waiting room, which was jam packed full, it was a warm day, and I had left KP with my mum at the nearby retail park.

As I tried to read a magazine on my phone, I couldn't help overhear other ladies conversations, which consisted of them discussing their varying stages of breast cancer, recovery, the operation, the treatment after.

It dawned on me very slowly that this was not just a general wellbeing clinic, I was surrounded by woman who were actually in the midst of breast cancer, and I suddenly felt sick.

This was real. Although I was sure that my breasts were fine and healthy, suddenly I doubted everything. What if..?
My mind would not let me go there.

I am healthy, I repeated in my head, over and over.

The clinic was running over an hour late, so I had plenty of unwanted time to conjure up unwanted thoughts.

When my name was finally called, I felt almost too weak and wobbly to stand.

But I did, and I went into the consultant's room, with a bed, a scanning machine, and a consultant. And I swear I almost vomited.

He asked lots of questions, I heard myself answering, but it didn't sound like my voice.

The consultant said he would examine me, and I felt another wave of nausea.

I stripped off my upper body (there was a nurse present, who I happened to know through school) and I felt no embarrassment or awkwardness, my breasts were just another part of my body.

As I lay on the bed I silently, hurriedly prayed to everything and anything that I was ok. The consultant examined my breasts, and the left one felt tender and slightly uncomfortable. I heard the consultant say that he could feel nothing, but he would scan my left breast anyway.

And he did. It felt very uncomfortable, but he was very thorough.

He then told me everything was fine. He could not feel, or see anything wrong at all. My breasts were fine.

Only then, when relief flooded through me, washed over me, and filled every inch of me, did I fully realise just how worried I actually was.

I could have hugged the man.
I just managed to restrain myself, and shook his hand instead. Thanking and thanking him.

I almost ran out of the room whooping with joy.
But I walked - very quickly - with a huge grin on my face. Outside, everything seemed brighter, clearer. I swear I could feel more, sense more. Nothing mattered except seeing my mum and my baby boy.

I hugged and hugged them, and cried. I told my mum and she cried too.

Thank God for my health, any other problems are solvable,
Nothing else matters but having good health.

Binky Linky

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

No I didn't breastfeed!

This is a post I have been wanting to write for a while, and it seems more fitting to write it here, rather than on my other blog.

There! Said it! Got it out!

I read every day how breast is best (which, I am sure, it is), and how, above anything else, you MUST breastfeed your baby.
Well, I didn't.
Not one of them.
And I am going to, at last, make no apologies for it!

I had an emergency caesarian section with my eldest, and was put to sleep for it. It was very panicked and very scary.
I came round from the procedure feeling very disorientated, very confused, I couldn't actually work out for a few minutes whether I had had the baby or not!
Then, my beautiful baby girl was thrust onto my breast, the midwife telling me that she was hungry and needed feeding. And OMG it HURT like crazy! REALLY hurt. It was unpleasant, painful, awful.
I cried and cried. I tried again. It hurt. Like crazy. It HURT. I cried and cried.

Later that day, amongst disapproving tuts and glances from the various midwives and nurses who were in and out of my room, I made the decision to give my baby a bottle.

Following the overwhelming feeling of failure of not being able to give birth naturally, was now the horrible feeling that I couldn't feed her either.

The best support I had, was from a male midwife! He sat with me, listened to me, let me cry, he didn't tut, or judge or chastise me. He simply said, I have to do what feels right for me. If I breastfed and hated it, I would become stressed, which would affect my milk flow, and my baby would pick up on that too. It would be far from a positive experience.

I chose to bottle feed.
I made that decision, as the best one for me and my daughter.
And it was the best decision. I could see, at every feed, exactly what she had drunk, I could, before too long, plan her feeds, and let my then husband, and my mum feed her too. 
I used to watch my then sister-in-law having her son (three days older than my daughter) constantly 'on the boob.' Never knowing how much milk he had had, at every squeak he made, thrusting a boob into his mouth, assuming he was hungry.

Now, please don't get me wrong, breast feeding is wonderful, a beautiful thing, very special, an amazing time.

But not for everyone.

I chose to bottle feed my other three from birth, MY CHOICE! I didn't have any problem with it at all, but others did.

As much as breast feeding in public receives (sadly) mixed views, so does bottle feeding!

I was constantly frowned upon - especially when my babies were newborn, and during their first months of life.
Disapproving looks and comments and even questions as to why I wasn't feeding? Surely I was missing out - as was my baby? 

I did feel more guilty with my last baby, who is now almost two. I cried and cried with guilt at not feeding him, especially when I felt my milk coming in. My midwife was actually very understanding, and talked it through with me. As a virtual single parent, with a very busy household and three other children, I knew in my heart that, again, bottle feeding was the right choice for us. My midwife agreed.

I LIKED seeing exactly what he had drunk.
I LIKED my other children being able to feed him, easily, and have that wonderful experience with him.

All my children have slept through the night from 12 weeks old. I have had at least 8 hours sleep a night, every night with all of them (except for things like illness.) I needed that! 
All my children are bright, healthy, well developed beings.

The main thing I want to say though, is that EVERY mother has the right to feed her baby however she wants! Breast or bottle, it is up to the mum! NO ONE has the right to judge, comment, or make that mum feel awful.

Zena's Suitcase

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

52 Weeks of Gratitude #1

I love the idea of this linky from the Enchanted Pixie and with everything that I am going through right now, I think this will be good for me. This is my first week.

I am grateful this week for.....

1. Diva settling into her Uni accommodation and her new life so well, and so happily.
2. Littlest KP loving his first musical toddler session.
3. The strength and love of my other two children.
4. My parents. They are away all this week, and boy am I missing them.
5. My surrogate mum and dad who are also away this week, but who gave me some money before they went to help me through this awful time. (They are very, very good friends who feel like my second set of parents)
6. Good friends, I have met up with several, and am amazed by their support.
7. The beautiful hot, sunny weather being here all week.
8. My simply getting through this very difficult week
9. My other blog gaining a couple of new review opportunities and sponsored posts
10. My mystery shop work providing some additional income

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Friday, 5 September 2014

Its not goodbye

I cannot believe that this time next week, Diva will be all set up in her uni accommodation. It's only 2 and a half hours from here, not too far. Yes, too far.

I left her father when she was 2 and a half. And I moved in virtually straight away with Jon and went on to have three more children with him.
I always thought he treated her as his own, until now, looking back. He did, materially, financially and practically, and he did love her, we did the best we could for her. But it wasn't quite the same as if we were her mum and dad. He was having terrible contact problems with his own daughter, being taken to court all the time, and that had an effect on us all. Things were strained a lot of the time, and we clashed and bickered a lot. What I didn't realise was that she was listening to us rowing, to him calling me names, putting me down, and hating him inside a little more each day that we fought. You think little children don't hear or see what goes on, but they do. And they store it all inside, because they don't really know what else to do.

I was always used to sharing her with her dad and his family. Not 50% of the time, but most weekends she spent with him. A lot of memories of weekend events exclude Diva, because she wasn't with us. She was, though for all important events, like birthdays, trips, holidays and Christmas.
Thank god I have spent every Christmas Eve with her, because her dad's partner is German and they celebrate slightly differently. But, she has never been with us for Christmas night, and Christmas dinner is always slightly rushed because he insists on collecting her no later than 2pm.

I have been used to her living with Oz, her boyfriend and his family, it has happened gradually over the last 12-18 months or so, and was never an official moving in. No date was set, or announcement made, or a planned moving of her stuff, it just gradually happened so that one day, I thought 'oh, she's not stayed for the night in a while.' I am glad she had him. And them. They are lovely, we are all quite close.
If she hadn't, she was heading down the 'vodka on the beach' road, which quite a few of her friends went down, and worse.

So I thought that her going to Uni was basically an extension of that. The next step. That it was little more than when she sort of moved out. How wrong I was. The last few days it has hit me. Slowly, but hard, like a slow motion car crash in a movie. This is nothing like that. This hurts. It feels like a pain around my heart, almost a gentle pain, but it's constant, which peaks and stabs when I think about it too hard, or it's mentioned. It rears up to my throat, threatening to vomit out everywhere, but then it pulls back to its retreat in my chest, sitting there, quietly squeezing my heart.

I will miss her so very much. My girl. Yes. As in the song, which her daddy had playing full blast for us when we arrived home from hospital. My beautiful girl, my first born, my much wanted baby following a miscarriage I had six months earlier.

Jon first started properly against Diva following the birth of KP, they rowed, he shouted at her that she was lazy, and why wasn't she helping more with KP, why was she at Oz's a lot (Diva was 16 at the time), Diva replied that KP wasn't her baby or her responsibility. Jon called her gobby, cheeky, rude, disrespectful. Jon and I didn't live together at this point, I had moved out three years before, but we were still 'together'. Things did seam to heal between Jon and her, or so i thought, until the recent awful rows this summer, that ended my relationship with Jon. This summer has been literally a roller coaster ride. Her father threw out his long term partner the week before Diva's A Level exams, then proceeded to have a loud, prolonged breakdown, choosing Diva as his life support. The worry for her that he was actually in such a dark place one night, he was apparently contemplating ending it all (not at all, he is a weak attention seeking excuse of a man, but, he is her father, and of course, she took his lame threat seriously, as any daughter would) was a very real, deep worry for her. He offloaded big time to her. His then 17 year old daughter. With potentially life changing exams looming. It nearly broke her, god bless her. She couldn't revise, or barely leave his side. I was deeply worried about how it could affect her exams, and was very, very angry with her father. Two weeks later, she was battling a tirade of abuse, name calling, horrific verbal attack from Jon. It almost ruined our holiday, and our summer. She took off, in Menorca, threatening never to return. I told Jon to leave, to go back to the UK, otherwise I would call the police. He did, eventually, after a parting wish that he hoped I got cancer. She did return - thank goodness - then told me, in an emotional, painful, harrowing way, what she remembers, has heard, has seen over the last 15 years of her life. How, she has had such dark depressive thoughts, and been in such an awful, lonely place that she has actually, seriously, contemplated ending it all. And that Oz had wanted to call me several times, he was so worried about her. What a shock to me. What had Jon done to her? To me? To us all. I had to, I CHOSE to support, protect and stand by my beautiful Diva. We continued our holiday, me and the children, and build some amazing memories that will last a lifetime. With Jon gone, I have been able, finally to praise her endlessly. To celebrate her 18th birthday over several days, making her feel so special, and loved. To write on her card exactly what my heart says. Not having to censor my gushing love and pride for her. To woop with delight and burst with pride over her fantastic A Level results, again, and again. To spend as much time as possible loving her and being with her.

I then realised how censored I had been. How restrained. I couldn't fully show my feelings to her, or express them in writing, in cards, because he'd always point out the other children - which of course, I know, I love them all equally. But he was never quite as full on with Divas achievements as he was with his own children's. Whereas I burst and cried with pride and love at every single one of them.
And now,this week, I can just be with her. With the others in school, except KP, we are spending time together, cherishing this last week, guilt free, happily, free of any black clouds.
I hope I have healed her enough to make a new start. I hope I have filled her with enough love to mend her broken heart, for it must have broken at some point, when the man you live with and have in your life for 15 years as your step father turns so viciously, nastily, and with no reason against you.
I know I have done all I can this summer to show her how much I love her, how proud I am of her, how special she is to us all.
I hope that my cramming this into a few weeks will be enough.
Only time will tell ......

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