The annual (or maybe even less frequent) blog post.

I don’t really know why I am here writing this down.

It’s 10pm. I’m in bed and I’m incredibly tired. Astrid is snoring softly beside me after her bedtime story and some tears for the butterflies we raised and released today. She misses them. She named them all ‘Flower’ which is what she names everything including a flame haired merman with curly chest hair.

She’s shed rather a lot of tears today. Beginning with my refusal to cook pasta for breakfast, to me insisting she washes her hands after using the toilet. Anger tears. Sad tears because Iris has started full time school and Astrid isn’t sure how to get through a whole day without her. She’s the sidekick and you can’t be the sidekick without the other character.

Iris has shed tears today too, although only a few and only when Astrid ate all of the cucumber. Iris doesn’t cry much. Iris is brave and wise.

I haven’t cried today although I felt like it when Astrid cried after the butterflies flew away. I wondered why I had put her through it. I know she gets very attached to things and creatures and people, but none of this had crossed my mind when I ordered a pot of tiny caterpillars on the internet.

I didn’t cry and I didn’t run today, although I should have. I have an imaginary training plan that isn’t a plan at all. I conjure it up day by day and it’s basically meaningless. But it says I should have ran today. Cardiff half marathon seems to be closing in on me and I know I can do it because I casually ran 13 miles on a Monday evening just a couple of weeks ago, and I ran from Caerphilly Castle to Cardiff Castle on the weekend. Those big epic runs make me feel like a superhero but that feeling slips away and I doubt my ability to run to the end of the street.

My house is quite clean, which is a surprise to me more than anybody else. Nobody else seems to notice when it’s all falling apart around our ears and clutter covers every surface. It turns out that things do get easier, even though I couldn’t believe it in the days when the house was dreadful and the babies were tiny and my despair at living like it was a big black cloak that I couldn’t take off. There’s still clutter and piles of stuff, but the dust on the skirting boards isn’t so thick and we never run out of clean clothes anymore.

Yes, the children growing has made everything easier. Of course. But I credit running and only running with the big changes in my life.

Nothing, apart from the obvious things like kids and love, has been so life changing for me ever before. My mental health was a huge wall I couldn’t climb over. A barrier between me and life. My anxiety kept me prisoner, trapped inside the body I hated and didn’t look after.

Physical health came second to the huge benefits to the ways that I think and feel. I have lost weight and I don’t ache anymore. I can chase my kids and I can play and dance and I don’t feel sluggish anymore. But better still, my mind is mostly clear and if it does fog up again I only have to put my trainers on and head out into the weather and I know I’ll feel better. Even the stupid angry hateful runs where half a mile in I’m already walking and cursing my legs because they are being useless help me. Even the runs where I set out and before I reach the end of my street my head is telling me that I’m no runner and this is just a waste of energy. All I need to do is ignore it for just a moment or so and keep going. Keep pushing. Turn the music up. The superhero feeling always returns in the end.


Embracing Christmas in November 

Around this time last year I wrote this old post about Christmas in November. It’s grumpy. I’m my defence I was very very very pregnant. 

Actually, I still agree with some of it. I hate that it’s just a big push to get us to spend more and more money. Toy adverts are the worst! And don’t even get me started on Black Friday. Bleaugh! 

I do feel quite differently this year though. Maybe because I’m not pregnant and uncomfortable, but also because Iris is really getting into to. For the first time, she’s old enough to have an understanding of it all. We’ve not talked much about presents, but she’s been chatting about Christmas trees and sparkly lights and Santa for a couple of weeks now. She’s even got a part in her nursery show. She’s going to be a star! 

Astrid will turn one just after Christmas, so she’s not a teeny baby anymore either. She obviously has no idea what Christmas is, but she’s definitely old enough to really enjoy it. She’s much more sociable than Iris was as a baby, and loves being surrounded by people. I’m a bit scared she’s going to pull the Christmas tree over, but I think Christmas with her around is going to be a lot of fun! 

I’m not even slightly miffed by the two houses in our street that already have decorations up, and I’ve already bought some presents! I might even let the kids put the tree up early! This picture is from last Christmas, and that is water in Iris’s glass! 

Thank you 

I just wanted to say thank you to everybody who has wished Iris well. She’s off the oxygen and nebulisers, and the antibiotics seem to be working. She’s been running around the ward playing tonight and feels much much better. If all goes well overnight we should be going home tomorrow. 

Not a normal Thursday evening 

I can’t sleep. 

Sharing a narrow single bed with a toddler is never easy. It’s even harder when there’s a machine next to the bed that beeps every time your toddler struggles to breathe. Which is quite a lot. 

There’s also another parent behind the curtain opposite ours that is snoring loudly. I am both jealous of their ability to sleep and cross because I’d have a better chance if they shut the hell up. 

Iris is asleep. Sort of. She’s coughing and wheezing and struggling for breath, but she’s so tired that it can’t keep her awake. 

The ‘cold’ Iris developed on Tuesday evening isn’t actually a cold. It’s some sort of respitory infection. 

She’s been lying on the sofa for two whole days watching various films and getting herself into a state every time there’s a sad bit. I’ve been trying to convince her that the mammoth in Ice Age 4 does find her daddy mammoth in the end, and Elsa and Anna make up and nobody melts, Woody and Buzz become friends, and they definitely do find Nemo. She doesn’t believe me until she sees it for herself. 

Usually I can’t get her to stay still long enough to watch a whole episode of Octonauts, let alone a film. 

Her high temperature stopped dipping after Calpol, and as the second day of her bug went on she just got worse. She didn’t eat a thing all day and barely drank either. She had two long naps and then asked to go to bed at 6:30. With an empty belly. 

She wasn’t right. 

Then her breathing got faster, and shallower, and it was clear she was struggling to breathe. But I couldn’t wake her. She was too sleepy. 

Time to make the call. 

We came to hospital in an ambulance. Had Iris not been so sleepy she’d have loved that. She loves an ambulance. When they go by with lights flashing she cheers and I feel guilty about her finding joy in somebody else’s misery. 

A chest X-ray thankfully revealed that the doctor was wrong about pneumonia. Phew. 

But she was still struggling, and was still pretty lifeless. So off we went to a ward. 

After a nebuliser, she perked up a bit and even asked for food. She wolfed down half a sandwich and some crisps before her monitors started beeping again. After another nebuliser she’s now on oxygen for the night. 

It’s so weird seeing tubes taped to her face. She’s such a healthy, energetic girl. She’s never ill, and even when she is it never holds her back. 

I can’t sleep. 

Every now and then she wakes up slightly and tries to pull the tubes from her nose. Every hour all night long she’ll need a nebuliser. 

We could go home tomorrow morning or we could be here for days. Nobody can tell. 

It’s not meningitis or pneumonia or any number of other scary things. It’s just a chest infection, probably. But oh my goodness I was so scared there for a bit. 

Rhossili. No, you’re silly. 

It’s seems that even though I suddenly declared I was back, my blogging ‘mojo’ isn’t. I haven’t written a thing since, despite having stuff to say. I’m just out of the habit, I guess. 

I’m not in the mood, right this moment, to talk about my mental health. But talk about I will, at some point. Because I really need to. 

It’s been a tough week. I’ve barely slept, and I definitely haven’t looked after myself. My mouth is full of ulcers so big and sore that I can barely eat or talk, and I have a constant headache. 

Instead of dwelling on the aches and pains of right now, I’ve been looking back to this time last weekend when we were frolicking on the beach in the sun. I felt good then. It was a good day. 

We did really have a wonderful day. Iris was a brave explorer and even insisted on kissing the crabs. There’s a cute little video here.

I love Rhossili. It’s definitely my favourite beach. I love a beach without arcades and funfair rides! 

Hopefully I’ll soon have a clearer head and the motivation to write. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, here’s some happy sunny pictures from our day at the beach. 

Catching up 

I feel like I ought to write a little update as I’ve been away a little while. It’s been a busy couple of months, but sort of quiet at the same time. I feel like every day has been a battle, a competition between the me that is capable and functioning, and the black hole I’m trying not to fall into. 

Wow, that sounds so miserable. It’s not as bad as it sounds, I don’t think. I don’t feel down all of the time. Most of the days are great. I feel fine. Happy. Satisfied. Even like a supermum sometimes! On these days I cannot relate at all to the other me. It’s like there are two of us.Then there are the other days, where the world feels so heavy and I can’t carry it. I want to quit. Take a day out. Go back to bed. But that isn’t a possibility. Two small people rely solely on me during the long days when Trevor is at work. I battle on, put a brave face on and out we go. 

The return of the migraines is what triggered all of this, I think. I thought I’d left them behind in the time before I was a parent. I was so relieved to be free of the pain that haunted my twenties. 

I’m back on a low dose of amitriptyline to prevent them, and it’s helping. They still creep through occasionally, but not so often and not so intensely. I was walking around every day with that weird pre-migraine foggy feeling, knowing the pain would hit soon. That’s stopped. Most days I can’t see the flashes of light or the blurry edges that signal the beginning of the pain to come. 

I haven’t yet talked to the doctor about the physical pain. I’ve been in denial, trying to blame it on recovering from pregnancy and childbirth. 

Deep down I know it’s not that. I know it was there before I had kids. I’m sure carrying and birthing my little ones has made things worse, but it definitely wasn’t the start. 

Right now I’ve got such a sore neck that I can barely move it, accompanied by achey shoulders and upper back, and a sharp shooting pain behind my right ear. My left knee is throbbing, and hurts like crazy when I get up from sitting on the floor. My feet are achey and throbbing too. It can’t be normal. This can’t be how everybody is. There has to be something wrong with me. 

It’s not new. It’s worse than ever but it isn’t new. I’ve always had random pain. Pain in joints and muscles I’ve not particularly used. Weird throbbing that happens in odd places, like a thumb, or just one toe, or my wrists. 

I’ve never ever talked about it. I don’t know why. Because I’m afraid of being weird, I guess. Or at least I was, before I had kids. I’m not so afraid of being unusual anymore. There are bigger worries. Like being a good mum. 

So I’ll see a GP. But I don’t feel positive that I’ll be listened to or understood. We’ll see. I’ll try to see the same doctor I talked about my migraines with. She seemed nice. Kind and understanding. She spent ages working out what I could safely take while breastfeeding, when I was scared she’d just tell me to stop. 

In other, unrelated, news, Astrid is now 4 months old. How did that happen? She’s so chubby and jolly, and has a smile for everybody. I had no idea there was an Astrid-shaped hole in our family but it’s clear now that there was. She’s just slotted right in and it’s like she was always here. 

Iris turns two next month. She’s such a wonder. I still watch her play and can’t believe that she’s mine. I made her. She’s such a little person now. She holds conversations and speaks in full sentences, and learnt most of the colours from a book about a cat that she chose from the library. She loves to kick balls, to dance, to run as fast as she can. She adores art, especially the messy kind, and becomes so engaged in creating her creations. 

The big two seem so grown up. They seem unfazed by the arrival of yet another baby, and I’m so proud of them. I’ve been finding being a stepparent so hard lately. Not because of them. Not because of what they do or how they are. They’re great kids. It’s just so exhausting to go from being a tired parent of two to an exhausted parent of four at the weekends. They want to do fun stuff all weekend from start to finish, and I’m totally with them. I want the weekends to be crammed with fun too, but I’m so very tired. 

I have so much more I want to say. A hundred things in my head that need putting into words. But not today. Today I need to shake it all off because we’re heading to the beach. The sun is shining and the kids are all smiling. Let’s do this.