I give up…

The universe is determined to give me opportunities to discover social faux pas. The events of the last weeks have revealed to me a host of new things that lots of people say when one talks about miscarriage. The vast majority of these comments are very well meant, but nonetheless, have considerably missed the mark.

Being open about having had multiple miscarriages seems to unfurl two main threads of conversation. The most prolific being enquiries as to why it keeps happening and what I have done about it. I think I know why people ask these questions. Partly fear, no one wants this to happen to them. I suppose people think if they know the whys they can avoid it or fix the problem. The other side being an assumption that everything can be fixed. I understand that, we are so used to living in a world where things can be cured or treated. I know from having chronic conditions that people are often confused to learn that some things can not be corrected. In the case or recurrent miscarriage this enquiry is unhelpful for variety of reasons. Firstly miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage and infertility often fall into the category of ‘don’t know’. About half of those who suffer recurrent miscarriage are unable to find a reason after testing. I am one of those people. I have had all the standard tests and investigations to little avail. I did have some adhesions that were successfully removed and I have PCOS, but no Dr I have consulted believes that to be the cause. The short answer is, no one knows. Asking this question isn’t helpful. If a person doesn’t know, you’re just underling that difficult fact by making them explain it again. If they do, they may not want to discuss such private and sensitive information with you or anyone else.

Offshoots of this such as, Have you seen a Dr about this? You should get another opinion, My friend did such & such or surely there must be something they can do, are unwelcome. I have had four miscarriages. I have lost four children that I desperately wanted. Of course I have done everything within my power to find out why and prevent it from happening again. The suggestion that I haven’t offends me. It indicates that you think I am either stupid or careless. I understand that wasn’t the intention, but please, think before you speak. It’s also important to be aware that the NHS usually won’t begin these investigations until after a third miscarriage. Not everyone has the resources to seek private medical treatment. Anyone in that situation doesn’t need nosey salt in their wounds.

The other comments this loss has garnered are of the don’t give up variety. A lot of people have reached out to tell me there’s always hope. The have shared their own experiences of loss or struggles to conceive and assured me that miracles happens. That they eventually had their baby and it was all worth it. I know you think you are helping. I know you are trying to be kind. Let me just say this, not everyone gets a miracle. We are not all able to try again. There are limits to what the body can do, physically & emotionally. There are time constraints. Relationship constraints. Financial constraints. At this moment I don’t feel like I have another try in me. Losing another baby would destroy me. Maybe I will feel differently in the future (it would have to be the fairly near future), but I don’t think so. Facing the reality of my limitations is not weak. Recognising that I can not square this circle is not giving up.

I don’t intend this as an attack. I realise these aren’t purposeful attempts to hurt. I just want to have an open discourse. I think these confusions arise because we don’t talk about this topic enough. If you want to offer support to someone who has suffered this kind of loss it will be appreciated. Simply offering your condolences and assurances that you are available is enough. Respect that everyone grieves differently and your kindness will cherished.

 

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The Spoonie Guide to Xmas…

Christmas is joyous and lovely and incredibly hard for the chronically ill. On top of keeping up with every day life there are a million other tasks to contend with. Not only is there shopping, wrapping & cooking, but there are a multitude of festive social events. Oh & the expectation that we’ll all be merry and bright.

When you’re chronically ill you don’t get time off for Christmas. Keeping up with seasonal demands when you’re in pain & exhausted can be impossible. Here’s my spoonie guide to surviving Xmas. Plus a little advice for friends of family of the chronically ill.

Make a list, check it twice.

The only way I can keep track of what needs to be done is making a multitude of lists. Lists help combat so many issues. If you’re dealing with brain fog, anxiety, impaired cognitive function, fatigue and so on, lists are life savers. I usually break things down into categories and try to assign a time scale to each list. The trick is to be realistic about how much you can do each day and not freak out if you don’t complete your list. Simply roll over outstanding items. Accept that some times you will have to make cuts. You can’t do everything. The world will not end if you don’t post the Xmas cards this year.

Start early & manage expectations.

I always start Xmas prep super early. The longer you have to get organised the more you can spread the work load. Getting a jump on the shopping also really helps if you have a tight budget. It is much easier to find smaller amounts of energy & money.

Be honest with yourself and others about what you can manage. If you have to trim the gift list or swap a phone call for a meet up, do so. I believe Christmas is about embracing the ones we love. Try to work out in advance which parties/get togethers you comfortably manage and communicate that. Float the idea of secret Santa style gift giving rather than buying everyone in your group an individual present. Expensive presents don’t matter. An enjoyable phone call or grabbing a quick coffee is much nicer than forcing yourself to suffer through social engagements that cause you distress.

If you have to cancel, make your apologies, but be firm. You didn’t choose to be ill. You are not intentionally disappointing. Remind yourself of this and try your hardest not to feel guilty.

The internet is your friend.

I do the majority of my Xmas shopping online. It is much less stressful and physically taxing to order from the sofa. The shops are crazy at this time of year. Not to mention the weather is awful. Stay warm & rested and get your festive haul delivered. This goes for food too. You can order in advance and have the Christmas groceries delivered as and when you need them.

Allow yourself to enjoy what works for you.

Christmas comes with a variety of traditions. Everyone has their own variations and seasonal essentials. It’s lovely to uphold family traditions, but only if they work for you. This is your life and your Christmas, you are entitled to enjoy the festivities. If something will negatively impact your health, don’t do it. There is no joy in activities that hurt you.

Establish your own Christmas customs. Whether that is embracing existing rituals or just making up them up from scratch. Deck the halls, wear an ugly jumper, stick cinnamon on everything or don’t. Suit yourself. Celebrate in style, but make it your style.

Don’t be a dick.

This is for the loved ones. If someone in your life is dealing with chronic illness, be kind. We know we disappoint sometimes. We get that we’re not the easiest to accommodate, but please be patient. Cut us a little slack. As inconvenient as our symptoms can be for others, trust me dealing with them every single minute of our lives is harder.

For all your days & nights…

My niece will be 9 years old this week. My tiny muffin is growing at record speed. She is the oldest of my niblings. The first perfect little person one of my siblings created. The first mini Kerr to steal my heart. Our wee goddess is not so small anymore. She does however remain utterly incredible. Which is why I give you this Ode to Athena.

Athena is girl who wins gold medals in her very first Jui Jitsu competition. She speaks with that Aussie tone that makes almost everything a question, but always make her point clear. She can mimic a Glasgow accent expertly & she turns it on with perfect comic timing. My muffin has always been precocious. She walked & talked before most; her tongue has rarely been quiet nor her person still since.

Bias aside this child blows me away. Her vocabulary is impressive. Her creative talents prodigious. She excels in every subject, but more importantly, she’s kind. My Athena will brook no cruelty. Be it mean names or rough handling, tiny animal or a giant Daddy, no feelings shall be hurt. She cries foul. This Goddess rules her world with benevolence.

My baby girl now has longer legs than her Mama and as much sass as you’d expect from a kid who’s ancestry includes a Scot and a Zimbabwean. She can always come up with a game we can play via FaceTime and she still ends every call with beep, beep, beep, love you. At almost 9 she has already worked out that Disney love stories are bull & clocked it’s important to watch the news. So much of the baby Athena is gone. She now prefers jeans over party dresses and ipad games over my little ponies. My little one is big and brave and so so smart, but she’s not grown yet. She still wonders if maybe I should have married a dragon and to my utter relief she still has time for long running video calls with her old Auntie.

No matter how incomprehensible her text messages get, Athena will forever be my muffin. I’ll always know where her select freckles lie. I’ll never forget the days she fell asleep in my arms. I will always love her more than my heart can handle. She has been wowing the world since even before her first breath. I’m certain she has many more wondrous feats in store for us. She hardly needs to be told, but,

Baby be a giant,

Let the world be small.

Woman of the week…

This week’s celebrated woman is someone I have the pleasure of knowing. She is a bopo goddess, a thrifting maven, accomplished public speaker & possibly the bubbliest person I’ve ever met. Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you Hayley Angell.

I met Hayley at a blogger event in Glasgow & was instantly impressed by her vintage look. I was also a little intimated by her polished confidence. I don’t find these events very easy. I have a lot of anxiety around new people & situations. I have even more anxiety about hiding my discomfort. The moment I spoke to Hayley I felt more at ease. Her sincere warmth allowed me to collect myself & have a good time.

Taking Shape blogger event, Glasgow

I obviously immediately commenced following her on social media and have done so since. Hayley’s accounts are bursting with life affirming energy. Her honesty about her body positive journey; discarding control garments, trying new activities & generally enjoying her body is inspiring. She recently discussed her experiences as a plus size women taking burlesque classes. Despite outward proclamations of inclusivity she still felt it was assumed that fat women would be less assured. She got the sense that fatter folk were quietly ushered into the background. It takes guts to be open about this stuff. Even more to be honest about how often we convince ourselves that we belong at the back of class. Thus, she used her Instagram account to launch #stepforward a reminder to all plus size people that we are worthy of taking up space & being seen.

The Body Positive community has given me so much. I always want to say thank you to those who inspire me. I also want to spread their work because I know it can bring others happiness. Hayley is one of those fabulous women who can help you change how you see yourself. She is an insta must follow.

Hayley Angell

*

Bopo aside Hayley is, as I mentioned, a thrifting magician. Her Instagram is worth following for her second hand style alone. If you need tips on trawling the charity shops for fashion gold, Hayley is your woman. If you simply enjoy seeing a person enjoy themselves & clothes, she is still your gal.

I’ve only met Hayley in person once, but I would not be without her online presence in my life. For a shot of genuine self love, go press those follow buttons.

* Photo credit : Hayley Angell

For your babies…

I’m sitting on the sofa trying to be still because my baby nephew is asleep on my shoulder. He just shifted a little, gave a big sigh & squeezed my arm with his chubby fingers. I can feel his breath on my neck & smell his milky breath. I’m in heaven. This is as close to complete contentment as I get.

I’m exhausted. My back hurts. My knee is throbbing. Yet, I feel happy & at peace. Soon he’ll wake. At first he’ll be confused. He always wakes up suspicious, checking all around him. I think he forgets where he was when he fell asleep. Once he has his bearings his face will break into a big smile. He’ll look at me like he is utterly delighted to discover I am here & I’ll melt for the millionth time.

I feel the same swell of love with all niblings. At the weekend I listened in wonder as my 2yr old nephew sang me the whole alphabet. My heart almost burst as these two beautiful boys played together. Bigger cousin being so gentle with his smaller counterpart. Baba giggling & crawling, so eager to play with his best friend. Every new skill he masters is wonder. I still relish every time he says Auntie Lynsey. The pride & excitement never wears off.

Earlier I FaceTimed his big cousin. She’s 8 yrs old & nearly as tall as her Mum. I remember her being this size like it was yesterday. I’ve watched her grow & learn, loving every single stage. Gone is our baby girl. My Muffin now wants to share her thoughts on cubism & send me animated gifs representing how her day went. Her report card not only applauded her academic achievements, but noted how she goes out of her way to be kind. She’s incredible. They all are. My siblings make good babies.

I am so honoured to have the to opportunity to help mould these precious little lives. They bring me a joy that cannot be replicated. Every smile & giggle & kiss & ‘I love you’ make all my struggles seem void. It is easy to be overwhelmed by what I don’t have. Life is bloody hard, but it feels ridiculously easy when I cause a smile to light up their faces.

Perhaps the next best thing can be enough. You have to take your wins wherever you can find them.

My body, my choice…

I spent my Saturday shouting at holy people in rain. Not just for kicks, but because the religious anti-abortion group 40 Days of Light are again spending lent protesting choice outside a Glasgow hospital. As you can imagine, I find such actions repugnant & wanted to join the counter demo. 


4o Days of light began their Lenten campaign with a sparsely attended event in George sq. They sought to attribute their protests to a desire to spread truth & offer choice. Yes, they’re actually trying to sell their aggressive tactics as supporting of choice. The little of the speeches that could be heard above the chanting of my fellow pro choice protesters consisted of lies, religious indoctrination & the kind of emotional manipulation expected from such groups. 


Glasgow is a progressive city & it disturbs me to see these extreme conservative tactics taking hold here. This is 4o Days’seconds year protesting outside the new southern general hospital in govan. They plan to hold 8hr ‘vigils’ on each day of lent. The hospital has no power to prevent the protest as they will happen directly outside hospital grounds. They will however no doubt add distress to those attending the hospital as well as generally interfering with the daily business of the enormous hospital. 

On Saturday I was sickened to hear a speaker talk of her fond memories of last year’s protest. Apparently, she delighted in harassing vulnerable people in a difficult situation. This revelation was followed by woman railing against a ‘pro abortion society that coerces woman into terminating pregnancies’ before moving onto tired and irrelevant tales of how she felt whilst pregnant. The event ended with an attempt to say a decade of the rosary, which I am pleased to say was drowned out by chants of my body, my choice. 


I can’t state strongly enough how much we must fight this move towards a campaign of lies & shame. The only humane & just option is choice. Pregnant individuals must be allowed safe & legal abortions. They must also be offered support to access such services. Please join me in letting 40 days of light know that there is no place for their harassment or lies in our civilised society. 

Check for details here.