This is 40…

Fuck. This is it; the big 4-0. I am definitely not ready. Up until now I haven’t worried all that much about the number on my card. This year it all feels rather scary.

Pink birthday cake with sprinkles & 40

Forty is different. It’s just so huge. I have this sense of it being a before & after year. There’s the obvious sinking of youth. I’ve noticed a few changes on my face. In themselves they aren’t a problem, what they signify certainly gives me pause. I’m beginning to wonder how my body will stack up against the ageing process. Are my dodgy joints going to pack in altogether? Will my hair go white? Is menopause on the way?

ly is standing against a sandstone building arms stretched out wearing rainbow fringed top & blue velvet skirt

40 feels like the nail in the coffin of fertility. I know that hope is already all but extinguished. Hitting my fifth decade seems symbolic; a final snuffing. There are so many unattained goals. I expected to be living a different life by now. Time is whizzing by faster than ever. Getting through the ultimate to do list is increasingly daunting.

It’s not all black. I have built a life I’m proud of. I’ve filled it with bloody lovely buggers. All my people have made beautiful babies for me to adore. I’m doing the work I’ve always wanted to do. I feel loved. So, this is 40. Terrifying, but I’ve conquered the fear before. Why stop now?

ly is wearing a t skirt with the slogan ‘thou shalt never fuck a tory’ and blowing out candles on birthday cake

We can be richer than industry…

When I first heard about second hand September it seemed like an excellent idea. However after listening to some small businesses I have realised it’s not so simple. With the covid pandemic already putting a massive strain on independent makers a whole month of reduced sales could be the final straw for many.

Obviously reducing waste & our reliance on fast fashion is an excellent goal. Buying second hand is not the only way to go about reaching it. By shopping with small businesses we can minimise support for damaging practices whilst boosting ethical traders. If you’re looking for some excellent places to spend your money I have some suggestions for you.

Grlclb create clothing & accessories with a radical message. They’re size inclusive and offer a pay it forward scheme to help folks with less spending power. Stock is handmade to order meaning no waste. I’ve been after some of their gear for ages, but could never decide which design to opt for. I finally took the plunge and am eagerly awaiting my purchase.

Three models wearing grlclb tees

Fuck the Tories are an old fav of my mine. Their name sums up the company’s mission. The jewellery they create is beautiful & makes one hell of a statement. These guys support lots of charities. They even offer freebies to customers short on funds who need a lift. Isn’t that the kind of business you want to give your money to?

Fuck the Tories hoop earrings and fuck the daily mail necklace

Rosana Exposito designs gorgeous and extremely wearable clothing. All handmade in limited numbers from natural fibres and deadstock. These pieces are timeless. Rosana is another supporter of good causes including donating profits from her face masks to Glasgow Night Shelter. From stunning silks to quirky metal accessories every piece is a dream.

Orange linen trs,  linen face masks  grey & black skirt all by rosana exposito

Lucky Sew and Sew are a mother & daughter team crafting stunning lingerie. They are completely body positive, with each piece bring custom made. These beautiful pieces are created from surplus stock & fast fashion left overs. I am desperate for a set of earth friendly undies. These are next on my buy list.

Leopard print and galaxy print bras by lucky sew and sew

There are so many fabulous independent makers pursuing ethical production. You will be thrilled to discover what treasure you can find whilst also supporting amazing people.

Nothing is like it was…

This month’s insomnia has been sponsored by infertility. My inability to reproduce occupies far to much space in my head & life. A big problem with healing from pregnancy loss is how taboo the topic remains. Things have improved a little, but on the whole I still feel like most people do not want to hear about it. Some have very valid reasons to shy away from those conversations. Others merely feel uncomfortable. Rightly or wrongly that leads me (& others) to feel we must keep it to ourselves.

Obviously I have attempted to combat the silence both in my writing & my life. I know it helps those who have lost & those around us to be more open. My own attempts to get on with it quietly were incredibly harmful to me. Still, there is so much that I have not shared. There are important people in my life that I’ve never spoken about my miscarriages or infertility with. It’s not a secret, but many things have prevented me from feeling able to discuss how I have felt.

Beyond emotion there are so many details that aren’t revealed. Common place aspects of miscarriage that are only ever referred to in hushed tones by those who have been there. There are various behaviours that I kept to myself because I feared they veered towards crazy. I’ve subsequently discovered they’re common rituals. Humans find comfort where they can, it would have been less frightening to know I was normal.

Most of all, the secrets are weighty. I feel laden with the obligation to keep the unmentionables shrouded. I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I definitely don’t want others strapping on this load. I need to let some of it go.

I say some, because, there are people & realities I cannot change. Crashing against solid stone will bring me no comfort. Thus, I want to reveal the parts that I can with this kind & ultimately faceless audience. Hopefully it can help others who feel burdened by conventional decorum. At the very least I may finally feel lighter.

I fear you’ll judge the box I’ve kept for 20 years. Adding items that others have hinted should not have been saved. Very few know it exists, the suggestion that it shouldn’t have has always hurt. I don’t think the positive tests from each pregnancy are gross. I’ve still felt the needed to hide them. Saving hospital bands & paperwork makes sense to me. I don’t understand why wanting to hold onto something (anything) connected to my children is morbid. I’ve been assured it is.

Positive pregnancy tests
Document requesting blood pregnancy test

I’m embarrassed of the few new born pieces I dared to purchase. So often I’ve seen childless women with tiny socks stashed in a drawer portrayed as lunatics. Dangerous, even. The type who might steal your baby. I hide the pregnancy, early years & baby names book. They’re packed away with the baby grow I saved from my niece’s early days. I thought one day I could frame pictures of them both babies identically clothed. Yes, the frame that would have housed those photos remains box fresh alongside. I have no need for this paraphernalia, I just can’t bear to throw them away. I worry this will be viewed as pathetic. Another crazy lady whose biological clock went bang. They were logical purchases when I made them. I was pregnant. When those pregnancies failed I was certain the next one wouldn’t.

I’ve never shared the pictures I took when my stomach started to change shape during my last pregnancy. I wanted to show off that development, but I didn’t think I was allowed. At the time it would have been tempting fate. Afterwards, there is instant unease if the subject is approached.

ly is wearing a red dress and taking a side on mirror selfie

Then there are the memories that will never leave and are never uttered. Unpleasant shards of the mess no one wants to witness. The exact tone a nurse used when she told me it was for the best because I was so young. Or the ice cold that runs through me everytime I see an examination table with stirrups. The fact that a miscarriage is more than blood and that more must be dealt with. I don’t talk about sitting alone in my bathroom trying to decide what to do with the bloody fragments of the child that will never be. Or the torture of bleeding a little & then having to wait. Clinging to hope through blood tests and scans. Only to be told you’re technically still pregnant, but it’s no longer viable.

Risk of infection, prolonged bleeding, the extent of the pain are all things I only become aware of through experience or via other women in private groups. We’re all so squeamish about the reality of pregnancy loss. I think it’s entwined with the patriarchal disgust of ‘female’ bodily functions. The same whiff of shame hangs over the process. I have felt I must not reveal anything too corporeal. Almost as though declaring the facts of my physical condition is gratuitous. Likewise, I have restrained aspects of emotional responses for the comfort others. It simply isn’t sensible to treat such a traumatic event with polite moderation. The inhibition has damaged me.

The older I get the more I seek clarity. Much of the pressure that society brings to bear obscures my view. I don’t want to submit to it anymore.

Pale white feet standing in Loch with pebbles

Tuesday’s child…

Routine is hard to establish routine during a pandemic, but the last few weeks Tuesday adventures have returned. I am delighted.

For this week’s adventure I even managed to put together a cute ootd. I’m doubly impressed with myself as I uncovered a forgotten wardrobe gem. I have no idea when I bought this dress. I’m not sure if I’ve ever worn it before, but I bloody love it. I couldn’t find my footless tights, so I just cut the feet off these lovelies. Worked a treat.

ly stands on pier in brightly coloured dress.  Loch Lomond is behind her and she has a walking stick

Dress – Primark
Kimono – Boohoo
Tights – Asos Curve
Glasses – Where Light
Jelly Shoes – Primark

As usual I went for all the colour because why not? I added my very favourite brooch for added fat posi vibes and my look was complete. My sister’s take was ‘it’s very you’, which means I hit the mark.

Pink felt brooch with ‘thunder thighs are go’ embroidered
Brooch – Poise Grenadine

My sis only had a little work to do. After, which, we all headed to the Bonnie banks. Luss is one of my very favourite places. My thoughtful wee sis had noticed I’d talked about being sad at not visiting this year and suggested we take a trip. The boy loved it as much as we do. With ducks, a chance to build sandcastles & a a sneaky ice cream before home he was a satisfied rascal.

Two adult sizes feet & two toddler feet in water on pebble beach.
Views of Loch Lomond & Luss village
Ly sitting on rocks laughing with a toddler on her knee

The best of me…

Dear Baby,

Today would be your 20th birthday. I’ve had the time it would have taken for you to become a man & still the wound is raw. It seems that a certain amount of pain will always be part of being an invisible Mum. I miss you and all your siblings. Even though I never got to make real memories, I hold our phantom family in my imagination.

My life will always be less for your absence, but I’d never forgo the time that I carried you. You will forever be the very best part of me.

Love always,

Mum.

Pigs in zen…

I turn 40 this month, which means I have to accept that I‘m definitely an adult. Thus I realise that I will not achieve some the things I wanted to when I was grew up. One such thing being, rescuing animals from slaughter.

I’m not fit enough to care for farm animals, so my dreams of saving livestock & showering them with love will not be realised. The next best thing is to visit & support sanctuaries who can do just that. Which brings me to September’s Charity of month. Tribe Sanctuary does exactly what I dreamed of; they rescue and care for animals that might otherwise end up on someone’s plate.

Tribe sanctuary logo

You can visit this gorgeous brood, gift items from their amazon wish list or make a simple cash donation. I have always been passionate about animal rights. I believe all creatures should be respected and cared for. Look at these wee faces & tell me they don’t deserve all the love.

Orange and black highland cows eating straw
Moorag & Lachlan
Piglet in front of fireplace
Huxley
White ram with black spots on face eating grass
Rooster on grass with chickens in background
Rudy

The September Issue…

Autumn has always been my favourite season. The drawing in of the nights & cooling of the air used to be welcome. These days this time of year is more complicated.

All of my babies were due in August or September. As the weather changes I am beset with anniversaries and reminders. People who were pregnant with me throw birthday parties. I quietly mark dates I had hoped to celebrate.

This year my orbit is congested with pregnancy announcements creating a perfect storm of emotion. All are depressingly familiar. I’m sad and lost. I don’t know how to find a purpose big enough to fill up my life. Each time I begin to believe I’m approaching acceptance I’m overtaken with this stale grief.

It’s so heavy and I’m so tired of dragging it around. I want to be able to move past this, but there are too many ghosts. A million tiny pricks. Triggers lurk everywhere; always something to yearn for. Even in my happiest moments I’m aware of what’s missing.

I can’t comprehend ever making this ok. Yet, I don’t wan’t to be this tragic old bitch. I’d like to stick all my consolation prizes together & collage myself a happy enough ending. I’m scared I’m not sufficiently good/strong/grateful to make do & mend.