My goodness, what a year (and a bit)!
In 2018 I intended to write on my blog a lot more, and I set myself a little target of 4 blog posts a month (or something like that). It worked for a little while but then life got in the way. My goodness, what a year (and a bit)! I honestly feel like it has been the toughest ever on a personal level. We have just experienced it all really; life, death, just struggling to get through some days. But there have been some amazing things happening too, and clinging onto these things has just been so important for us as we get through the difficult times. This post reflects the ups and downs, so you might feel like it goes from something really sad to really amazing without much pause for thought, but that’s basically reflective of how this period of time has been.
This post is a bit more personal than the ones I usually write, but I have found that during this time, talking has helped so much and I want to reflect that more on my blog too. I have been using my Instagram as a micro blog over the past few months, mainly because it is often easier to write a caption than a full post. Here, I can write in a bit more detail about things that I want to share. I won’t be sharing all the things, but I hope that what I do share will be helpful to others. The support from people I know well, people I know a little and also from complete strangers has been amazing! Thank you so much to everyone who has contacted me. So if you want to get in touch about anything, do just drop me a message in the comments or email me if you’d rather.
Coping with miscarriage
It was the Friday of the late May Bank Holiday in 2018 and I knew that something wasn’t quite right. I had felt a bit weird all week, but I had just kept going. We walked along the river to the park that day and Little One had the best time! It’s a good 30 minute walk and I remember at the time thinking that I had overdone it, but looking back I don’t think it was that. I had a phone appointment with the GP later that afternoon, having rung in tears when we got back. He told me what to expect, noting that as a middle-aged man he couldn’t explain exactly because he obviously didn’t have first-hand experience (which stuck with me as he was just so kind when he was explaining), but that I could go to A&E if I felt worried over the weekend. I didn’t end up going because I knew.
I had a midwife appointment booked for the following Tuesday. When I arrived, I could see what would have been my book of notes on the desk – as I explained what had happened, the midwife moved it away and took my hands before giving me the biggest hug. I asked what I thought were ridiculous questions, and she very kindly talked me through everything. The thing is, nobody really talks about miscarriage, so you have absolutely no idea what to expect. You feel so alone, so helpless, like your world has stopped when everyone else’s is carrying on around you. It’s a bit like with pregnancy, in the sense that everyone has a different experience for something that has a general term. I had extremely painful contractions later in the week – having given birth before, I knew exactly what they were once they had started. I felt like I had all of the pregnancy symptoms, with nothing left to show for it at the end. We were heartbroken.
I was on holiday when it happened, and went back to the day job the following week. With hindsight this was not a good idea, but hindsight is a wonderful thing! I think I just felt a pressure to get back, to try to get into normal routine even though nothing felt normal. I knew that going back was going to be really hard, and I just wanted to go back and get it over with. But it was hard, and looking back I realize that I could hardly concentrate, so it’s a wonder anything got done anyway.
To anyone experiencing miscarriage, please give yourself the space and time that you need. I wish I had done this. Be kind to yourself and know that you will get through it, even though it is one of the most painful experiences both physically and mentally. Talk about it if you can. I had the support of Tom and my family and that really got me through. Little One was amazing too – she was two at the time, and kept asking why I felt sad and giving me cuddles. We hadn’t worked out what the due date would have been, and in many ways I’m glad that we don’t know. But late January/early February will always be a sad time now, as will that second May Bank Holiday. I found it really hard this year, but maybe next year will be a little easier. The letter board quote in the photo above is something I reposted on Instagram this year to mark the first anniversary, and you can read that post here if you like.
I’ve written a book!
In case you missed it, last year I wrote a book! At the start of 2018, I was contacted by someone who is working with my publisher to discover work by new crafts people, and I was one of them. I was just so thrilled! After that there was a lot of working on top secret stuff, and it has been really really hard not to share. My book will feature lots of colourful embroidery projects, and I’m so immensely proud of it. It still feels a little bit surreal talking about it to be honest, even though I have written it – this is really the stuff of dreams and I can’t believe it’s happening to me! The photos are being taken by an amazing team, and I can’t wait to see them. It won’t be coming out until August 2020 so there’s a little while to wait yet, but it will be worth it! I’ll be keeping you updated here and on Instagram as I find out more, and you can also sign up to my newsletter too.
Let’s talk about mental health
In September last year, I decided to take some time out from the day job because of my mental heatlh. I have really struggled there for years for various reasons, and basically there was a big thing that happened and it was the tipping point really. Admitting that you need to take time out is really hard, and being more open about it to more people has been hard too. But it is the best thing I could have done. I kept thinking that I needed to keep powering on through, but that was making everything worse – especially when it started to affect my home and family life more significantly than it had done previously. I realised that I needed to put myself first and took myself out of that situation. I had some CBT counselling at the start of the year, and it has helped enormously, and I feel like the practical tools that I’ve been given are really helpful. There’s still a way for me to go, but I have come such a long way and I feel so proud of that. Here’s me in my amazing tee by Kayley Mills, which I absolutely love!
A new addition to our family
When we found out we were expecting again after my miscarriage last year, I couldn’t believe it! We were so lucky that it happened so quickly, as this doesn’t happen for lots of families and it’s such a tough time. The pregnancy felt a lot different this time around. We didn’t tell people until much later this time just to be sure, and I felt really nervous the whole time. It just changes your perspective on pregnancy once you’ve lost one, and it’s a very strange mix of excitement and fear. I was also worried that people at work would just think that I was taking time off because of my pregnancy, but the majority of people have been so supportive and I’m so grateful for that.
We found out that we were having a boy and were just so excited. We didn’t find out when I was pregnant with Little One, but this way it meant that we could prepare her for his arrival. She kept kissing my bump and talking to him and it was just amazing. Our little rainbow arrived in March – yay! He is such a poppet and he adores his big sister, which is wonderful to see. He is a very long baby and has inherited our big feet (!!), loves cuddles, singing and gets very excited about reading books!
I had such a terrible time with breastfeeding this time around, which I wrote a lot about on Instagram at the time (see this post). It just completely took me by surprise because I fully expected it to be like riding a bike and it really wasn’t. I’m intending to write a blog post about our journey this time around as I ended up exclusively pumping for a while, and I thought it would be helpful to share my experience. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to include in that post in the comments or by email.
Conversations I didn’t expect to have with a 3-year-old
When Littlest One was only 3 weeks old, Tom’s mum was diagnosed with cancer. It was a huge shock and an absolutely devastating blow for our family, especially after just bringing a new life into the world. Experiencing the beginning and the end of life simultaneously is a very overwhelming thing, but it makes you realise that there are significant parallels between the two stages. One brings you unbounded joy; the other brings an overwhelming sense of sadness and helplessness. At the time I was struggling with feeding and my hormones were all over the place, and it was a particularly difficult few weeks. I really wanted to support Tom and his family the very best that I could, but I just felt so frustrated because I didn’t feel like I was in a position to do a lot. That feeling of helplessness is so, so hard.
We were open and honest with Little One about Grandma Helen being poorly. Little One visited her a couple of times, but not towards the end as we want her to remember her how she knew her. Little One is 3 now and is inquisitive, so she asked lots of questions. We were amazed by her resilience and compassion; she knew that something wasn’t right, and she was kind and caring. When we told her that Grandma Helen had died, we all cried and held each other tightly. She was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing, as only a 3-year-old can be, but the way that she processed the situation is just amazing. I’ll never forget having a conversation with her where I explained what the word ‘grief’meant and how it made us feel at different times. This was prompted by her saying that she was “frustressed about Grandma Helen”, and I think that is just the most amazing word to describe how we all felt! She still talks about these feelings now, but also about the things that she did with Grandma Helen too. I feel so sad that Helen and Littlest One won’t get to know each other, but so very happy that they did meet. Those precious moments will stay with me always.
So what’s coming next?
During the past few weeks, we’ve had a bit of time to settle into a new routine and work out what new normal is for us (on so many levels). The kids are doing great, and now that Littlest One is 3 months old he’s a bit more settled. We’re getting to the point of predicting feed times, which is super helpful for planning time and activities! As Tom and I are both creatives, we need to make sure that we’re both getting time to work on our things. I feel really strongly that just because we’ve got a bigger family now, it doesn’t mean that we should stop following our own interests or doing things that make us happy. So Tom is finding time to compose music again, which I am thrilled about. I am working on my blog again, and stitching and designing embroideries for my shop. I’m currently working on developing my website shop too, which is really exciting! I have kind of half done this in the past and taken it down, so to get it up and running on a small amount of time will feel like a HUGE achievement. We’re taking each day as it comes, being thankful for our time together as a family and the time spent following our creative dreams.
If you’ve read this far, thank you for staying with me! I hope to post again really soon 🙂
Find all of the blog posts from The Happy Stitch Project here! 👇🏻
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