Mother’s Day and difficult times

As I write the I’m sitting in bed with the baby asleep on my chest and I’m managing to sip luke warm tea without dripping it on his little white best. I’m not sure what parental skill level that is but I am grateful for being able to do it at all. Yesterday was my first ever Mother’s Day. It feels a bit strange to me, like I can’t quite own that title yet. I’m not sure if that relates to having an IVF pregnancy, or if it’s because the world feels a bit upside down at the moment.

I have been writing a novel over the last year in which one of the main characters goes through a psychological/ physical change which involves becoming more aware of their physical body. When I became pregnant it didn’t occur to me that this experience would help me get under the skin of that character, but having a baby has turned out to be a profoundly physical, almost animal experience.

I was always a bit suspicious of the pastel coloured, sugary depiction of mother hood that seems to predominate in our culture. So far motherhood for me has not been particularly picturesque. I’ve been strongly reminded that however much I may like to live in my head, I’m very much a biological being. I had a cesarian section and have been limited in what I can do as I recover. I’m only just able to lift things again, and still get very tired when I walk for more than half an hour. My body automatically produces milk to sustain my baby, who decides when he wants to feed whether it is convenient or not.

It’s also been a bit difficult to get ‘back to normal’. We have been hibernating as a little family for almost 3 weeks as the coronovius upends normal life outside. We are just getting to the point where we are ready for little trips out if the house, but everything has closed and all of the little social groups and things like that for new parents are on hold. My body begins to look like it did before I was pregnant, but I can’t swim because the pool is closed, or walk far because we are social distancing. It will probably never quite be the same again.

Even against that background I think we are very lucky. We delivered the baby and came home before the hospital was full of people with the virus. Inside my partner makes me tea and does the washing while I cuddle the baby. We are happy and warm together, and have enough food for a few weeks. I have much to be greatful for.

I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Reasons to be grateful – the NHS

The only place to be at 5 o’clock in the morning.

I had an emergency C section 2 days ago on the NHS after a pretty long, fairly painful. Many of the careful and skilled hands that looked after me and baby magpie belonged to an immigrant. We are both doing well as a result.

Under the new points based system proposed by the UK government many of these people would not be considered skilled at all. I’m not sure what is going on, but I’m pretty sure stripping the NHS of essential staff is not what most people voted for. Just putting that put there.

2019: Thinking about Now or Never Times (part two)

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In my last blog I wrote a bit about what I had been doing last year, which apart from being pregnant and moving house twice, turned out not to amount to much. However in this past year, where I’ve been feeling a new person grow and develop inside me I have noticed that I have felt differently, or at least more strongly about things than I had before. I have been thinking a lot about how, in a number of ways, this time of my life feels like a kind of ‘Now or Never’ time. The new year is always a good time for reflection so I wanted to put some of these thoughts out there – I’m very interested to know if other people have reached similar moments in their lives.

  1. Having a baby at all – Over the last few years I became increasingly conscious of my biological reality. My time was running out, egg wise. So from that point of view it really felt like ‘now or never’. We have been immensely lucky to have been able to access IVF on the NHS and appear to be having a healthy pregnancy. So in some ways this issue now feels like it’s almost past, although I won’t feel properly comfortable with that until he’s safely out in a few weeks time.
  2. Living a creative life – I will go on maternity leave in a few weeks time and everything will change for me. I’ll not be doing the day job for about a year, and may find that I can squeeze in enough scraps of creative time to build a different kind of career. I do very much like my day job, which is in mental health research, and think it is important. But it’s emotionally very tiring work and my heart does pull me towards something more creative. Maybe with all the change that will be happening in the coming year, this could be a good time to try to change that too. However, everyone I have spoken to who actually has a baby has said to me not to make any plans, at all, so I may be thinking well beyond my actual capacity to do stuff here.
  3. Reproductive rights – In my last post I talked about the tiredness I have been experiencing and how rubbish that has left me feeling. In many ways I have not felt myself. My pregnancy was very much a wanted pregnancy, and I have been fortunate never to experience an unwanted one. However, I have watched repeated assaults on women’s reproductive rights in the US this year with an increasing sense of dread. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be forced to go through an unwanted pregnancy. My very wanted pregnancy has really taken a toll on me physically and psychologically. I am completely in awe of what women can do when it comes to bringing new life into the world, and now I have experienced it cannot understand why it is not written or talked about more. But that superpower should be under the control of the women it is happening to, not a bunch of grumpy wealthy old white men.
  4. The climate – This is the one is the most profound ‘now or never’ moment in my list, not just for me, but for humanity. As I write this Australia is on fire. Homes, precious wilderness and entire towns are being lost. People and animals are dying. In London in the spring and summer this year I saw a number of Extinction Rebellion Protests and was very much on side with them. One evening my partner and I walked out onto Southwark Bridge, which had been closed by the protesters. There was a carnival atmosphere on the bridge and many of the protesters had bought art work, food and set up impromptu talks and musical events. The sun was setting and the air was hazy and warm. We walked, hand in hand, down the centre of a road that is normally reserved for cars. The effect was very romantic, but the air was hazy because it was full of pollution, and the protesters were there because we are at the vital tipping point now. We don’t have time to waste. I see a deep political cowardice on this issue running through governments across the world. Many of our politicians were happy to talk about having to make ‘difficult choices’ when they were merrily imposing austerity on the people least able to pay for it in the UK over that last ten years. But now, presented with an existential threat, they appear to wring their hands and say ‘oh but it’s too hard’. I’ve yet to hear the rhetoric of ‘difficult choices’ being applied to the petrochemical industry, or to our consumer culture. But now this is where the action needs to be taken, this is where those difficult choices need to be made. I wasn’t pregnant when my partner and I walked over the bridge that evening. But I have since thought about it a number of times and have felt guilty about having a baby. What kind of life will he have if we don’t act seriously now?

I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

2019: Thinking about Now or Never Times (Part one)

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Lots of people over the last few days have done a kind of ’round up’ of 2019 in which they talk about highlights and low lights. I didn’t actually blog for the majority of 2019, taking an unplanned break due to personal circumstances which I will explain. For that reason I don’t really have a blogging round up to do, but I do have some thoughts about 2019 I’d like to share.

What I did in 2019

In early 2019 I moved house and started my first round of IFV. Those of you who were (probably quite disappointed by now) followers of this blog will know that I had struggled with treatment for infertility for over a year before this. To be honest I did not expect it to work for me, but I was entering the final few years of my 4th decade and was very aware that it was a ‘now or never time’ for something like IVF to work, so we went for it. In May this year we became pregnant on our first go, and we have stayed pregnant. I am now seven months pregnant, my belly is large and I can feel my baby squirming about inside me through out the day, which is pretty amazing. Having managed to get pregnant, my partner and I decided to move closer to my sister, who has also had a baby this year. So we bought a house and moved again just before Christmas. It has been an eventful year.

What I actually did in 2019, instead of blogging

Since becoming pregnant I have experienced quite severe tiredness. I thought that it would be something like anxiety that got me, but actually I have been in a good place, mental health wise, for most of the year. I was also worried that something would go wrong with the pregnancy, but so far we have been very lucky. However, I have been incredibly tired throughout the whole of my pregnancy, and the IVF beforehand. So tired t that most of the year has passed in a daze. I have managed to keep up the day job, and have taken very little time off sick. However I have struggle to keep up the kind of thinking, and creative stuff I was doing, often losing many extra hours a week to napping. I have managed to write quite a chunk of my novel here and there, but it will need significant re-writes at some point. I have also been watching a lot of crime dramas in a kind of mindless daze.

It has left me feeling rather rubbish, because, apart from the amazing feeling of him moving about inside me, I cannot claim to have enjoyed this much wanted pregnancy that a team of scientists and clinicians helped me and my partner to create. I have a number of friends who have not found IFV successful for them, and so I feel very guilty about actually complaining, but let’s say I have not felt myself. Last year I was swimming 5KM swims, and at times this year I have barely made it up the stairs. I’ve not really been able to help my partner much with the logistics of moving house, again, although I was able to unpack a lot of boxes when they arrived. I don’t know if this level tiredness is normal, but I have to say if it is then frankly I don’t know how women with large families do this over and over again. Still, not long to go now, and hopefully it will all be worth it.

So that’s mostly what I’ve been doing this year: lying about, watching telly, or sleeping.

I also make art. You can things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Thinking about next year

I have been a bit quiet of late. I’ve been really tired and had to concentrate my energies of doing just a few things rather than the usual broader scope of stuff I get involved in. However I’ve not been sitting around doing nothing. I have begun to write a novel that has been hanging around in my head for several years now, and am not so far off finishing my film now. I’ve also enjoyed seeing some art recently, and particularly enjoyed the chunks of arctic ice that were outside of the Tate Modern for a short while (see photos here).

I’m hoping with the coming of the new year I’ll be feeling a bit more like myself again. Keeping that in mind I’ve been thinking a bit about when next year has in store. We’ll be moving house in February, to be closer to work. The rationale is that this will cut down on travel time and be a bit less stressful, although more expensive. It looks very likely that we’ll also be starting IVF later in the year so that is something to get mentally and physically prepared for. With that in mind I have more swimming, climbing and walking planned, and maybe a bit of running too. How about you?

Creatively I have quite a few things planning. I’m hoping to wrap up my film this year and get a draft done of my novel (or novella, I’m not sure how long it will be). I’m thinking about publishing some short sections here – is that something you would like to read? I’m also planning more art and the beginnings of an animated story. So that’s plenty to be getting on with.

I hope you have all had a good festive break and are looking forwards to the new year.