For the first time it occurred to me this morning as I scrolled through instagram and saw lots of posts from Mums who are celebrating their children’s Father today., that Father’s Day will never be relevant to Scout. Even Pampers have got on board spamming my insta with (actually a really sweet ad) claiming that every time a baby is born a Dad is born too… hmmm, in our case – no.
Scout doesn’t have a Dad and she never will. She may one day want to get in touch with her sperm donor (we will let her make that decision herself when she is old enough) but even then that man won’t be her Dad – biologically maybe, but that’s where it ends.
Kate and I try to make sure Scout has plenty of close male role models in her life (between us we have 4 brothers as well as Grandads, a Godfather, cousins etc) and that she spends time with each of them. However, I’m not completely living on a cloud I know that probably in 3 years time when Scout is in reception and they are making Father’s Day cards that our little girl will come home with some big questions. I mean, perhaps she won’t and she won’t be fussed that she doesn’t have a Dad and instead has two very hands on Mums who love her more than anything but I’m sure she will have some questions. Until then I can relax… I think.
Happy Father’s Day to all the single Mums and lesbian Mums – you’re doing a marvellous job!
Thanks to everyone who reached out to me (and Holly) after my last blog about my anxiety. Even though I was not in a place where I could reply to people (sorry about that!) I read every text, email and Facebook message and in one way or another they all really helped me. Even the ones that were just saying they were sorry I was going through this helped.
Things were feeling bleak for a while when I was at my lowest, and I feel like it was made worse by the fact that I would look at Scout’s beautiful little face and wonder what I had to make me feel like this when I have the most incredible and amazing daughter in the world. I also felt guilty that I wasn’t being the best version of myself for her and that she needed a mum who was well, not one who has a disability and a problem with their mental health.
But then I put things into place to start to help myself -and below I’ve listed some of what I did that helped me. These are all very much what helped ME and they may or may not be the same experience that other people have had.
Things that helped me:
- My mum and dad came to see me and to help me. This was amazing – I finally told them how I was feeling and they came up the next day. They managed to help me unravel a bit about why I was feeling the way I was, but more importantly they made me feel supported and that I had options ahead of me. They also looked after Scout and gave Holly and I a bit of space together which was really good
- I saw my doctor and my doctor took me seriously and he also gave me a plan for how I could move forward. He increased my medication and he gave me some other meds (like tablets to relax me and sleeping tablets) for the short term. He also put a plan in place for what help could be available to me longer-term if I needed it.
- I cancelled my work plans. This one was a lot harder because in my job you can’t just cancel plans, phone in sick or ask someone to cover your work. As a business owner and the one earning the money at the moment with Holly on Maternity Leave, this was a huge amount of pressure. But on the other side of that coin is what happens if I am completely unable to work if this escalates? Well this was the question I was posed by my doctor and I guess it made me think. So, I did the difficult thing and asked for help from my colleagues and they stepped up and made sure that the weekend shoot I was supposed to be doing would go ahead without me. This meant I had a whole weekend that I didn’t have to worry about work which was a massive weight off my mind.
- I got back into a routine. A friend texted me after reading the blog to suggest this and I thought I couldn’t do it because the way my work is means that I don’t really have much of a routine throughout the week – some days will be off filming, some days will be editing, some will be working from home and some will be working from our shared work space. And a few weeks ago I was all over the place with this and that did make things harder. So as much as I wasn’t looking forward to getting into a long edit (think long days, lots of stress, no sunshine etc etc) in fact the routine of it was actually quite good for me. And so was seeing people regularly every day.
- I slept. This one is a biggie because this is a vicious circle. For me, anxiety makes it much harder to sleep and then bad sleep leads to feeling more anxious. So in order to break the cycle I took some sleeping tablets. Only for a couple of nights, but it was enough to make me feel a bit more human again and able to cope with the world.
- I ate better food. Again, this was quite a big one for me because I am intolerant to two quite big food groups (lactose and gluten) and yet I still often eat them and make myself feel bad. Or I skip meals and eat junk instead. So Holly and I made a real effort to eat good food that wouldn’t make me ill and that seemed to help my health generally as well as my mental health.
So, doing all of these things I have started, gradually, to feel a bit better. I know my anxiety isn’t going to disappear overnight. And, most likely, it’s never going to disappear. But it’s getting back to where it was before this last dip. I mean, I’m taking each day as it comes and some days are better than others, but in general things are gradually getting better.
In the little world of Instagram there’s been lots of posts from Mums about body positivity. Following Clemmie (@mother_of_daughters) who first posted a swimsuit photo of herself after having four children and stated that she was proud of her body – stretch marks and all – many other women have followed suit sharing their photos and stated that MOD’s post made themselves realise they are not alone with c-section scars, stretch marks, loose skin and the dreaded c-section pouch and that they too should be proud of their body. After all, it’s grown and pushed out a tiny human in to the world.
Body positivity is something I too have always struggled with. Growing up I didn’t have any major issues – but when I was diagnosed with end stage renal failure a few days after my nineteenth birthday I was horrified when I had to first have a neckline inserted by my collar bone to attach me to a dialysis machine and then shortly after a tube put in my stomach to attach me to a home dialysis machine which pumped my stomach full of fluid making me look 6 months pregnant at all times. Just bloody great at 19! I managed to hide the tubes skilfully inside my bra and tucked under vests most of the time but that didn’t stop me being really self conscious about them. Never mind the dialysis, the fear of lifting my arms up too much and the tube popping out lived inside me constantly. Bikinis were a big no-no as were tight tops and skimpy dresses too, all things I was wanting to wear when I was in my early twenties.
Fast forward 8 years after my kidney transplant which I had when I was 24 and I now sport an excellent collection of scars and of course added a c-section scar to that last year. Clemmie and other women’s posts reminded me that Kate and I (Kate has also been through a lot of operations and has the marks to show for them) should be proud of our scars and bodies. They represent battles which we have won – illnesses and operations that we have got through and of course babies we’ve made! Thank you to all the ladies that have shared their photos – it’s great not to feel alone with a post baby body and I’m proud to say that I feel great in my swimsuit on the beach this year, yeah I’m still working on slimming down and getting rid of the excess baby weight but I’m not going to let that get me down and I’ll stand proud instead.
What a day – such horrible and worrying news to wake up to. Being out of the country at the moment and reading the news bleary eyed on my phone this morning it felt like a bad dream.
It feels strange not to be in our city rallying together, knowing that the incident happened in one of my favourite spots – a couple of miles from our home. But we don’t let these people win… All of our instincts are to hold our loved ones tighter, but we decided not to change our plans and to leave Scout with her Grandparents today whilst Kate and I popped over to Barcelona on the train for some much-needed couple time. I didn’t feel quite right without her, but we knew she was safe and loved and fear is not going to hold us back.
Pic: Scout in one of favourite London spots – Dalston Curve Garden.