Lets Talk About Sex…..

Or rather the lack of sex. There’s an opener for you (no pun intended). Its been 45 days since I pushed Edward out into the world. As I’ve said before, life will never be the same again. Neither I fear, will my vagina.

At a time when I couldn’t feel less attractive, I count my lucky stars that my husband still does. Perhaps its the bigger (soon to be gone) boobs? Anyway, he does, and when I’m still walking about in maternity clothes because I’m carrying a lot of baby weight, alright, alright its excess food weight, its a big boost to me to know that he still thinks I’m sexy. Or perhaps he’s been that deprived for so long he’s slightly delusional? I’ll go with option 1!

Thing is, I feel completely weirded out by my body. Yes, its a thing of total awe and wonder when I think about how it grew, nurtured and kept our baby safe for 9 months. Thats a given, and I hope all Mums feel that way. However, underneath that, all I see is something thats ruined, something that will never be as it was, and more than anything, something that is now functional and not sexual.

I’m not breastfeeding (waits for backlash)…. Thats a topic for another day, but seeing as i’ve mentioned it, he had a poor latch and my supply wasn’t good at all. Moving swiftly on…. So Edward is formula fed, but for the first couple of weeks he did use my milk as food, as a result of that my nipples have had a meltdown and are no longer sure who they are supposed to please! My lovely flat (complete with abs) tummy now feels and looks like a pillow of marshmallow, its former incarnation buried deep under the layers on extra insulation. Generally my frame looks different, the curves are all in the wrong places. My posture is complete shite after lugging around a rather large bump in the last two months of my pregnancy. With a destroyed core, that makes walking tall with a straight back somewhat of a challenge.

Last, but by no means least, we come to the crux, or should that be crotch of the matter? I am terrified of having sex again. I really REALLY want to, but something that I can’t quite pin down is stopping me. At a time when my body doesn’t really feel like mine anymore, that’s the ultimate loss. I go over and over this in my head every day. What’s bothering me? I guess I’m worried about two things in particular….

  1. Will it hurt? I had a second degree tear which resulted in stitches, apparently its all healed, but surely its going to be painful now?
  2. Will it feel awful? I once read an analogy of it being like ‘throwing a sausage down a well’. At the time I thought that was hilarious, now it just perturbs me.

The only way to find out is to bite the bullet and do it, but the thought of it makes me tense up with fear. I know if either of my two concerns are realised, I am going to be heartbroken…particularly number 2. The idea of a ruined sex life is one that horrifies me. It opens up a whole world of worry about what could happen to us as a result.

Maybe I am being dramatic about all of this, maybe I have nothing to fear, but finding out that my worries are real is the scariest thing of all. Plus, how do I get in the mood? Despite hubby’s assurances that he still thinks I’m hot, I don’t see it, and feel nothing but self conscious. What if he’s really looking at me thinking ‘bollocks, thats who I have to sleep with forever’? It may sound mental, but I do think those things, how could I not? I am different after all. I felt like I had achieved something the other day simply by putting a watch on….hardly dressing up is it? Plus, he’s seen the damage, he looked as I was being sewn up, and whats that saying about a mans favourite pub burning down? Never the same again right? He’s off out tomorrow night, and while I sit at home in my dressing gown, he’ll be surrounded by lots of lovely young ladies who haven’t had a baby, and don’t look like death warmed up, with fully functioning vaginas….its not just the physical changes i’ve had, its my mind that feels completely fucked too….at least thats one part of me thats getting some action – even if it is rubbish

x

 

 

 

 

Money Talks


So today is pay day. my first pay day that incorporates an element of SMP. Crux of it, it was less than I thought, less than I had planned for. Result = anxiety.

For me, my relationship with money has been very difficult. When I was born my Mum knew she wanted to be there to raise me as much as possible, she therefore didn’t work until I was 3. Now, despite the fact that she was looking after me and running the house, she was seen as less of a person because she didn’t financially contribute.

I’m going no further down that path, but needless to say, I noticed certain behaviours and actions, and from a very young age took on the belief that relying on anyone else for money was a bad thing to do. As far back as I can actually remember, I have thought that it isn’t right to have someone look after you when it comes to finances. This belief was reinforced at various points because of ‘other’ incidents. This has been a huge issue for me and one that I have been coached on successfully.

You might be thinking “can’t have been that successful if you’re harping on about it now”. Its really not that simple though. Believe me, I have made huge strides in this area. Lack of earning power was the only mind block I had when it came to starting a family, because I couldn’t face up to not having a regular wage each month, and we are now a month away from our baby being born.

Sorry, I’m going to sing the husbands praises again at this point, but its my blog, so my rules. Chris is my teammate, always has been, always will be. I know that he would look after me forever if thats he route we decided to go down, I know that if the roles were reversed and he needed looking after, I would do it gladly and without question. However, the reality of losing my London wage is still unsettling.

I can pin it down to one thing……I don’t want to be a burden to him. I don’t want to be a reason he is stressed about having to find more money to support the three of us. He works so hard already, and I can’t/wont put that on him. I’ve made a concerted effort to save as much as possible, in doing that I know that I can be off for a year and still make the same financial contribution to the household expenses, plus have money for myself. This in itself is something I am both hugely proud of, and also pretty sad.

I genuinely take my hat off to women that are comfortable in this situation, that must be a totally liberating feeling. I just cant get there. Even though I fully appreciate that staying at home and raising a family is a huge job, and certainly isn’t a case of putting your feet up while your other half busts his balls every day. Plus I’m not actually there yet, so I have no idea how hard/demanding its going to be. However, the idea of having to go to him and ASK FOR MONEY makes me feel physically sick. The mere notion of it actually upsets me, I just fly straight back to my early years and I can see all that shit unfolding all over again. Clearly there is still work to do around this, and I am committed to doing it.

The amount of time I spend with my head in my trusty spreadsheet is fucking ridiculous. Rows and columns full of formulas, that have ‘kept me safe’ until now. I have always had a year planned out, every penny is accounted for. How much can I save? How much can I spend on ‘fun stuff’, how much needs to go to the house, and where does that leave me? Somehow Excel has provided me with the illusion of a safety net. But thats all it is, an illusion. This is a situation that I can’t control, and in reality, I never could.

All I can do going forward is wait until the middle of each month and see how much plonks itself into my bank account, my vision to predict my financial future has gone. Its scary, very scary. However, the more I think about it, the more i find it quite freeing. I don’t want to live my life like this anymore. I don’t want our child to pick up on this odd behaviour, I don’t want this little niggle in my head to hold me back in any way.  Its toxic and it has to go.

So whats the answer? Looks like its time to have some faith. Time to believe that I’ll be okay without a salary, time to really let go and trust that I have nothing to fear. I have to believe that the dots will connect going forward, there is no other way. Ready, set, go……….

x

 

 

Body Swap

Not so long ago, I wrote a post shouting cheerfully about how I was sailing through my pregnancy. No horrible sickness, not looking like a marshmallow etc etc.

However in recent weeks I’ve felt a shift. Actually its more to do with what I see than a feeling, and that vision is bewildering.

Before getting pregnant I was, without question in the best shape of my life. I was lean, strong, had actual abs (there’s even a picture to prove it) and felt pretty fucking good in my own skin. It was hugely empowering for me, because I had grafted for months and sacrificed a lot to get to that point. Never in my life had I particularly liked my reflection, but for a brief period in time, I really really did.

In a way it made me feel like I had won out over the bullies I had previously encountered. Those people that had told me I was ugly, fat, useless and far far worse. Those that had harmed my self belief and self worth in ways I still can’t explain. In the process of physically transforming, my mind had transformed too. I liked having my photo taken, the family chins and pudgy edges of my face had gone. The long curly hair I had sported for 20 years was chopped off into a bob, the hemlines got shorter, and the clothes more figure hugging. Honestly I felt like I was totally rocking it.

My husband and I had decided last Christmas (no singing) that we would start trying for a family. After suffering our own heartbreak in that area in April when we miscarried, we had a time out and then tried again. I’m now 24 weeks, and everything so far is going well.

The thing is, lately I’ve been feeling odd about my figure, that’s probably as good a word as any to use. When I look in the mirror I feel super proud of my bump, I absolutely adore it, knowing that my body is providing a healthy, safe space to grow our baby is a wonderful privilege, and I wouldn’t change where I am now for anything. However, there are down sides.

Those have been showing themselves to me in the last 3 weeks in particular. It’s very hard to describe, but I am sure that millions of women out there will resonate with some, if not all of this.

My body is no longer my own, it isn’t something I can train hard 6 times a week, it isn’t something that slides into a size 8 with ease, right now it is entirely functional, and it’s functioning for another human being. I am expanding, the abs disappeared weeks ago, my hips are widening, my face is fuller (damn & blast) so once again anyone wielding a camera can fuck right off, and I look shitting knackered most of the time.

I remember seeing Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity fair when she was pregnant with her daughter and thinking that if ever I was pregnant, that’s the way I’d want to do it. I’d revel in my amazing body, embrace all my new curves and feel totally sexy. When the reality couldn’t be further from that. I don’t feel sexy, I feel frumpy. I’m not embracing my new curves, I’m feeling bloody awkward about them, and with 16 weeks still to go, I know those changes are only going to become more and more apparent.

There’s something else too, my reflection and my perception of that image are playing tricks on my mind. I’m anxious, that’s nothing new, but there is a new fearfulness about it that I can’t shake. It’s no secret to those that know me that I think my husband is a grade A hottie. Many times I’ve wondered how he chose me, when, to my mind, he could have had his pick of the ladies.

That little niggle that I had put to bed years ago now, has decided it’s time to get up and get busy. It’s official, I feel insecure.

Last Friday we went to the pub, there’s a new barmaid there. A younger than me and very attractive barmaid….and she noticed him, and quickly too. To be fair he’s 6ft 4 so he does stand out, but as soon as I clocked her clocking him I felt sick to my stomach. For the record, I trust my husband implicitly, and if it was 12 months ago she wouldn’t have even been a blip on the radar. Now though, I feel threatened, like he could be taken away, because I’m the frumpy and emotional wife right now, not the fun loving & ballsy one he fell for.

In many ways I feel our union is stronger than ever, we are happy, we love each other and we’ve created life, the majority of the time those thoughts make me feel invincible. Sometimes though, the devil on my shoulder whispers to me that he’ll get fed up of this and go after something freer, someone that doesn’t cry every day and look like they need a weeks worth of sleep, someone that doesn’t leave things half done because they forget about them, and someone that can go past 9pm without falling asleep on the sofa.

I guess that one positive I can take from this is that I am aware of how I’m feeling, I also know that it’s all down to hormones, and that hopefully in another few months, I’ll start to feel back to my old self. I do wonder about my post baby body. I’m not niaive enough to think it’ll ever be as it was before, but what will it be like? Will I have those infamous Tiger Stripes you hear so many women talking about, will I ever have a flat stomach again? What about the old pelvic floor, will I ever be able to laugh without fear of an accident? Am I going to find it a nightmare to shed the baby weight…for anyone’s that cares I’m up 17lbs already. All very real fears for me right now. Perhaps one day I’ll look back at this and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. But in this moment, it’s a scary unknown quantity, and I’m not a fan.

I guess I’m writing all this down so it’s not in my head, but also to be honest about what this process is like, that whilst on the outside you might look and sound like you are winning at bump life, in truth you are floundering a little bit. Caught somewhere between the woman you were and the mother you are becoming.

X

My Fragile Mind

A chilly Tuesday morning, East Croydon station. A platform rammed with commuters and me, having what felt like a breakdown.

The day had started off well enough, I knew there was a train strike so the going would be slow, but there had been strikes before and I’d been fine.

On Tuesday I was definitely not fine. It was the last leg of my journey to London, I’d been on the platform for about 20 minutes, watching train after train come and go, people pushed off and people pushed on, not seeing anything else around them, too consumed with getting to their goal destination.

The platform was overcrowded, and  I felt like I could barely see the sky above the shoulders of the suits that stood around me in all directions. The small amount of personal space I’d first secured was diminishing rapidly and I started to feel odd.

Couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but something was amiss. I guess the first thing I noticed was a knot in my stomach, a warning that all was not right in that moment, this was followed by my breathing going completely awol. I mean, air was going in, but it wasn’t doing anything. As the next train approached I knew I needed to move, for a moment I thought I might be able to board, but no, it wasn’t happening. What was happening was that I was being moved by the crowds towards the carriage and not by my own feet. Enough! I had to get out of there, I felt stricken with fear, all rational thought had gone.

I turned and pushed against the throng of people who did nothing but tut and sigh heavily as I was clearly disrupting their path towards the carriage doors.

I started to sob, and I didn’t care who was watching, I felt scared and alone in one of the busiest stations in greater London. My hearing was distorted, kind of like I was underwater, and my head felt like it was being squeezed. There was no room for anything, and I was totally disorientated.

Then from nowhere, rescue. I suddenly felt a protective arm around my shoulder accompanied by a warm voice softly telling me that I was “okay” and to “just breathe”. I didn’t know her, our paths had never crossed before. all I knew was that this person had seen me through the masses, seen me despite of the pressing matters no doubt occupying her own mind, and had come to help me. I didn’t get her name,  but I can still see her face. She was, and is a Good Samaritan. A person who doesn’t just look, but really sees what’s going on. She sat with me for a while, and every time I looked up at her she smiled, open and without agenda. She was guiding me through this and I knew I would always be grateful for that.

In a week where we’ve had World Mental Health Day, the events of Tuesday morning have been at the forefront of my mind. I had a panic attack, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. I’m also not ashamed to admit that my anxiety is on fine form. My mental health is walking a fine line at the moment, and that can be pretty bewildering.

I think that was my first panic attack, brought on I guess by my newly found maternal instinct. I just didn’t feel safe. Will it be my last attack? I have no idea. I also don’t know how to deal with it in a better way, because I’m pretty sure that my guardian angel won’t appear by my side each time it does happen. I’ll be on my own and drowning in it. Quite frankly that’s not a thought I am relishing in the slightest.

If I can take anything positive from that experience then it’s these things.

1. It’s made me think much more about my view on seeing people in distress, no longer will I shy away (hey, not proud of that). Instead I’ll be the shoulder of comfort wherever I can.

2. We shouldn’t be afraid to show our weakness and vulnerability, being stoic and keeping everything inside isn’t always the best course of action. To stand up and say “YES, I’m struggling, I’m unravelling and I need help” is a hugely powerful and brave thing to do.

3. Finally, the good eggs are still out there, in a world seemingly riddled with war, corruption, racism and hatred, the angels do still exist. They might not have wings and a halo, but they are there, and their eyes and hearts are always open, ready to help a stranger in need.

X

Out of control

So I’m on my train home, and I’m delayed, it’s Friday and this is pretty typical of my commute.

It really used to wind me up, as in, I’d be absolutely raging about it. But what a waste of time and energy. What can I do about it? Nothing…so I’ve learned to let it go (no singing please)

This hasn’t been an easy process at all, in fact it’s been a real effort, but one I’m glad I’ve made. A while ago, the husband and I went to see Derren Brown in London, and one of the stand out things he said, whilst cleverly mind shafting us, was this. “You can only control your thoughts and your actions, so stop trying to control everything else”. That was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me. I am such a control freak, and in the days that followed I couldn’t get what he had said out of my mind.

I am by nature, a planner. I like to know what’s happening when as much as possible. I’m not a fan of surprises, they’re too much of an unknown quantity. An unplanned visit from the mother in law on a Sunday afternoon will have me breaking out in a cold sweat. Do we have milk & tea? Is the bathroom clean? Oh shit I’m not even dressed yet! Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of spontaneity, but in general, I’d like to call the shots on my own life thank you very much.

Doesn’t happen though does it? The trains always late, the restaurant lets you down, people drop by unexpectedly, you get a huge spot before a date, that parcel never arrived. All these things, plus hundreds of others will scupper us whenever possible.

So what’s the point in trying to stop stuff from happening? None whatsoever! We have no say in what outside forces impact on our lives. We spend so much time worrying about big stuff, that’ll probably never happen, but will always be totally unprepared for that last minute presentation for the boss, or the car breaking down when we’re on our way to a wedding/birthday party/funeral *delete as applicable*

We just have to learn, somehow, to roll with the punches, and have a bit of faith that everything will be okay, because it will be. I’m learning, all the time, and some days I’m better at this life malarkey than others. Speaking for myself, I’m so used to forward planning that letting go of my controlling tendencies is a huge deal, but it is healthy.

How many times has something turned out as badly as you feared? I’m betting not many. I could count those really awful things on one hand, and I’m closer to 40 than 30 now, so I’ve done pretty well. A lot of the time control is borne out of fear, if we can stop things from happening then we’ll be safe. But safe isn’t always a good thing, playing it safe is not how I want to live my life.

Sometimes the unexpected things turn out to be the best things, and, more often than  not, those awful things that stop you in your tracks and leave you emotionally and/or physically exhausted, lead you to the most wonderful places imaginable. If I think back to a specific point in my life a few years ago, I was faced with a choice, stay where I was,  safe but desperately unhappy, or leave that place of familiarity and be exposed and vulnerable in the world. I’m so glad I chose the latter. I wouldn’t be the person I am now and have the life that I do if I’d not taken that leap.

I’m going to try my best to remember that, to not give in to fear, but to boldly push it aside and jump into new challenges and situations.

It would be such a shame to get to the end  of all this and know that I’d kept myself that safe, that I’d missed out on so much

X

Little Miss Doubtful (LMD)

Her skills are outstanding, if I had a hat (don’t wear them, they really don’t suit me) then I would take it off to her. She is like my mind ninja, stealthily sneaking in unawares and routing around in my head until she finds something to pick a fight with me on. We’ve had many many fights, and she usually wins, but not this time lady, this time I am coming out on top.

I feel like up until fairly recently, as in 3-4 months ago, my life was fairly small. Small is not meant to mean bad, I have a wonderful life, but in terms of who I was, I had pretty much packaged myself up in a nice little box with a very self-explanatory label on the front of it.

That label went something like this…….

37, very happily married, doesn’t like coriander, works in Finance.

I know, I know – great label right? Or perhaps not. All those things are true, and that felt like that’s all I had to say for myself, that’s all I was. Whenever I met new people I knew it was coming, we’d exchange the basic pleasantries and I would feel the tight knot in my stomach, sure enough at some point in those first couple of minutes they would say “so what do you do”……panic stations, I’d know that the conversation was going to end any second and then they’d walk away and find someone else more interesting to talk to. I could always sense the old familiar grimace spread across my face and then IT would be out there. “I work in Finance”. I’d see it straight away; the off sign had come on in the face of the person I was talking to. “Oh that’s nice” they’d say, and then they’d be gone.

I never blamed them of course, and I’m also not saying that everything Finance related is dull. Some people love their careers in the world of money, but not me. However, I seemed to have got to a point where Little Miss Doubtful had made me believe that’s all I was capable of. I couldn’t see beyond the boundaries of the box I had put myself in.

Over the past few months however, work has been done to try and change all of that. Trying to break through an iron clad mind-set that is years old is a tricky business, but it is possible, if you just open yourself up to it.

For instance, I have known for a long time that there must be ‘something else’ it’s just that little voice couldn’t or wouldn’t speak up and be brave about it. I’d sit on the train thinking how lovely it would be to do something creative, to do something that meant something, that might even help someone. I’d think this and then like always my friend LMD would waltz in, laugh in my face, and send me hurtling back to furious FB scrolling to distract myself from my own misery. This happened for a long time. But then, I started doing the work, started to really explore my mind and where it wanted to take me, and slowly but surely, I starting to ignore my little doubting ninja, she started to lose her grip on me.

You are reading this because I finally started my blog, the desire to write was greater than the need to hide away. Everyone has a tipping point, and I had well and truly reached mine. I’m also retraining to become a Life Coach, because I know I want to do something that makes a difference. I don’t believe that I was made to sit at a desk and toe the line, I was made for more than that, maybe I’ve been made for greater things than I can imagine, who knows. When my first post went out I received some really great feedback. The standout comment to me was from a lady I have never met, and probably never will meet. She was a pair of eyes on that page and she was moved by what she read. I had helped her, for five years she had struggled with a similar issue, and my honest, unedited post had helped her, and it felt wonderful. I had no agenda, I just wrote from the heart and that was her reaction. I felt like I had made a contribution.

I’ll continue to blog, I love it so much. I know it takes time to get traction on these things but I will keep going, who knows what a few ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on social media will do? I believe in what I’m writing and I believe there is an audience for it. So now my label has an add-on ‘Blog Writer, and Star Changer’ because that’s who I am, and that’s what I am going to do. LMD isn’t going to stop me ever again, although I shall continue to respect her. Little Miss Braveheart is here now instead, and she is mighty.