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You’d be surprised at how strong you really are

I don’t mean this with any ungratefulness or ignorance or malice; we’ve been told we’re strong so many times since Lauren came along I couldn’t keep count. This week especially I’ve been thinking about what strong is, and what it looks like and what it feels like.

It might sound arrogant but I do think I’m strong. It’s not something that has 1 dimension to it though. And it’s not something you feel all the time.

The strength I see in others is in so many different forms and I watch and try and learn from others..

The strength in watching a loved one battle illness and instead of breaking down and becoming consumed by fear, just doing what you can to be there for them whilst inside trying to deal with it- that blows my mind in others. Yet I do it every day and forget it’s being strong.

I can’t even imagine the hurt and pain of losing a loved one if that someone is a child, sibling, spouse, best friend. It was heartbreaking enough losing Nanna. Just trying to live each day one foot in front of the other as you adjust and miss them greatly- it’s a strength so many I know have.

Being strong mentally and emotionally whilst battling infertility is a strength I don’t think I’d handle, yet I watch others give of themselves to their extended families and friends and open up their heart in a way I admire so much.

Being strong whilst battling cancer, knowing your limits, knowing what bit of joy you can schedule in before the next round of chemo has me looking on in complete admiration.

Finding strength whilst overcoming the remnants of abuse in any form, so that each day you keep living and fighting to love and live life, those people deserve every happiness. Yet often the results of what’s happened leaves them only on survival mode. That is sheer strength.

Trying your best to be strong when you don’t like your job, or the path you’re on and you decide to do something about it. Acting instead of just sitting. I love watching that mental strength.

If you’ve divorced or split from a long term partner, finding a strength within to be kind through the very real hurt and pain is an admiral gift. It doesn’t look weak. Keeping character is a strength.

And if you find yourself at rock bottom from choices that have made you miserable (I’ve been here), deciding you will keep trying each day to make small changes to be better even when you keep failing, is strong.

Crying and feeling and being vulnerable and real with your emotions is a strength I wish more people had. And while I like to keep my composure I have learned to feel deeply.

Being a mother is challenging in different ways for each single one. Keep trying, keep loving, finding a strength when you thought there was none left- that’s inspiring!

I’m not scared to change and I try to roll with the punches, but when things hurt and pull on your heart strings it’s hard. I’m not strong all the time, re grouping is a must.

I feel really blessed this week. I feel calmer and more peaceful than I have before. I’m desperately missing Wyatt and Lauren equally and it’s testing me every day, but prayers are being answered and my soul feels soothed- like 90%, annoyed the other 10% 😉

If you look at those you love- you’d find strength whenever you needed to, to help them, because I genuinely feel like each of us have it within. So much more than you imagine.

Some days you won’t feel strong or you’ll be baffled at what others see in you enough to say it- usually it means they admire the way you’re just keeping on going regardless of what life throws at you.

I would rather have my challenges and struggles than many others I see, we learn to adapt a strength to conquer our issues, if we dig deep (I know that’s not always the case with mental illness etc I don’t mean to be insensitive).

Dig deep, find strength, keep swimming and take 1 day at a time, you really are stronger than you’ll likely ever know xx

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Being aware of others whilst being kind to ourselves

We’re prepping over here for Laurens gastrostomy on Monday coming. And by prepping I mean mentally. I’m sad that it’s happening. I’m sad that I won’t fully be with both my children all week. Other than school we barely spend time apart and I hate night times when we’re all in different places. I like my babies in bed, monitors on so I can see them and to go to bed knowing we’re all here safe.

Mental health awareness… I saw a lot of posts about it. I feel blessed that a lot of the posts weren’t new information to me. I’m a listening ear and I’m always here. Because I understand what it’s like to need someone to say- this is so crap, I’m sorry, I’m here.

I most certainly have a harder exterior than what’s going on inside. I’m working on that. Underneath it all I’ve always got a sad undertone to life. I’m learning that that’s ok. It’s because I truly love so deeply when I love people. So when those people are my children, and they’re hurting or in pain or going through things I’m of course going to be sad because great love can cause great sorrow. Opposition in all things.

I’m learning that mental health is as important as physical.

I’m not always kind. I get angry. I suck as a neighbour, daughter, sister, wife, friend and mother- some of the time.

Time to do better. We all need to be better and hopefully taking care of ourselves helps us be better at helping others. So be kind to yourself.

Time to try to follow the teachings that I’ve been taught all my life…

‘I’m trying to be like Jesus,

I’m following in his ways,

I’m trying to love as he did,

In all that I do and say,

At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,

But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,

Love one another

As Jesus loves you,

Try to show kindness in all that you do,

Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,

For these are the things Jesus taught’

Time to be better.

April x

It’s so easy to forget about new mums or mums of little ones

This post isn’t a feel sorry for me post- in fact it’s a grateful post. Inspired by something I read recently about new mums helping each other, Supporting each other and just being there to help. It was a lovely read.

It’s lovely at first when everyone wants to see you, visit, get cuddles etc. That stage definitely dies down quickly. That’s ok that it does, I’m not a huge baby baby coo coo kinda person. I get it. The novelty wears off.

I think the way society has changed, there’s not only more and more awareness of danger out there but lots of judgment if you do 1 little thing wrong as a parent. There’s no village taking time to help, there’s no village aware of struggles and helping, there’s no village surrounding us because that became the danger, the problem in many cases and the thing we avoid now.

So what about new mums (first or tenth time round)? Do you know one? It’s so tiring some days that getting chance to pee without being cried at or shouted is the most sanity you feel that day. You can end up on eggshells just hoping the little one doesn’t see you’ve nipped into the kitchen without them to eat your eating breakfast at 11am because you’ve not had chance before. The whining whinge or cry just goes right through you. And if you eat in front of them because lunch became a 4pm snack, they climb up and over everything humanly possible to get to your food. It’s soul destroying some days that you see no one, hear off no one and are utterly alone.

We’re just human beings trying to figure out how to be a parent, and then try and teach good things to tiny humans whilst trying to keep it all together. It’s so hard!

If you’re a partner- make sure contact them like you did when you were dating. You can’t just stop caring because ‘you have them’. You should be checking on their well-being even more- because they’re raising your offspring- largely on their own.

Some families have super close relationships. I had one sibling that would ask me if I was ok. Because he was something more than a superficial relationship- he was a friend too. He doesn’t speak to me at all now (long story) but he knew me the best. It was nice to know he could tell when I was struggling.

On the surface families can seem like they’re close, please don’t let that stop you offering help. I’ve come to realise something over the last few years and I steal this quote from someone I know- many families operate on a ‘dishonest harmony over honest conflict’ plane of existence. So don’t be shy at asking your friends if you can help! They’ll probably need it.

If you have siblings and they’re raising little ones- be a sounding ear. Help if you can and don’t just throw out statements to make others believe you help if you don’t. It might stop people offering.

Mum has been amazing, especially at the beginning when she dropped literally everything including work to help when I needed it so much. She still does whenever she can. If you have that option use it.

If you’re friends with a new mum or mum of a little one then check in on them. I have some really and truly treasured friends who are sisters I’ve been blessed with- just not biologically. To name some who I can guarantee will text me from time to time to see how I or the kids are; Victoria, Debra, Julie, Catherine, Ruth, Katrina, Lorraine, they’re the ones who spring to mind. I do have others and in different seasons they are there and they care. I am so utterly grateful that I have some of the most amazing friends. Life as a new mum and not very much help is lonely, and scary at times, and exhausting and can be the hardest job.

I do not know how working mums accomplish tasks like morning routine etc and then get everyone to jobs/work! Massive high fives- you’re killin it!

I’m so grateful for people who have offered help and actually care far more than I thought. My lovely cleaner posting things for me, Laurens PA having Lauren for her first ever sleep over which actually made me cry because a family were excited to have her sleep over. She’s had my mum offer but my older sister can’t be trusted(she’s special needs and a bit of a bag!), otherwise she’d have slept there- but this was her first one at the end of summer and she loved it. My friend Debra has had Wyatt over night, and been sleep deprived for me! That’s love!!

I’ve asked for help and had some help, sometimes that’s been willing and Uncle Ant and Aunty Becky loved taking a screaming Wyatt and the magic of Uncle Ant got him to sleep every time!!!

Sometimes that help has been given reluctantly and I’ve known that they think I’m a burden so I’ll no longer ask.

It’s easy to be selfish and justify it that it’s not your problem, it’s easy to dismiss others needs. It’s easy to throw out statements of ‘they had the kid, they knew what they signed up for’. We as a society judge far too often don’t we. Just because you know somethings going to be hard doesn’t stop us from struggling whilst we go through it.

Just try not to forget how hard it can be for mums all round, but new mums and mums (I should put parents as some dads do this job role too) of little ones sometimes just need a tiny bit of help to reboot and keep going. If you love them- help them.

So thankful to have people who love and care for us. So thankful for knowing who is definitely in my corner rooting for us! It’s made me realise how I should help others so I hope I can fulfil that role, and pay the kindness forward.

I think it’s time we created our own villages and had a network around us to help. I suppose that reaches far beyond just parenting- it encompasses all problems really.

A xx

My Wyatt, when you turned 1!

A whole year with this handsome little one. I’ve had some seriously up and down moments. It’s been hard. The truth is this past year I’ve spent a long time of it grieving. On reflection, I’m the first to say that I’ve spent too long in this place. A grief so hard that it catches me at the most inappropriate moments and makes me cry and my heart hurt so much. I remember 1 year ago with a wish so bad that my little precious new baby would not have cystic fibrosis like his sister. The kind of crying where it physically hurts because for a brief moment you wish you could still change reality. It hurts. As much now as it did then.

For a while I thought that my lack of faith was the reason he had to have it. Crazy right? I’ve hated myself. I’ve gotten angry, I’ve been depressed, I’ve been so stuck in a sad place because I wish I understood it all. it hasn’t been pleasant and sometimes neither have I!

I’m so thankful that over this time I’ve been sent some angelic reminders that life isn’t supposed to go as planned or perfect as we think. How would we grow and learn and change? Without the greatest sadnesses we feel how could we feel the total opposite of complete love and joy?

Someone sent me a talk recently, a little answer to my prayers and some questions that I’ve been stuck on for some time. The talk is called ‘Thy troubles to bless’ (Jeffrey S. McClellan).

There is too much in it to pick a quote, but over the last few months I’ve tried to remember that what I believe is still the same in the hard times and the joyous times.

This talk talks through a lot of my pains as a mother and articulates answers to questions I’ve been pondering. Isn’t it a lovely thing when others can help us without really knowing to what extent!?!

I’ve been reminded that I am loved, and that I have faith because of what I’ve felt and learned. That doesn’t disappear because we have struggles. It’s what helps me not feel so much pain when going through hard times.

We’ve been so very blessed this past year. Yes Wyatt has not loved sleep like his genetic predisposition should have coded him to (we ALL LOVE sleep here!) but his health has been stable with some minor tummy issues in the grand scheme of things. We have worried and worried some more on occasion but he has conquered the couple of minor illnesses that have appeared. He has developed into the most confident assured and beautiful little boy that he is. He progressed quickly to crawling and walking which was such a great blessing to me. I needed that small Silver lining.

I love this stage of his life. I just about survived the first year, largely struggling because of my own demons, only slightly because of the lack of sleep he gave us! I’m so ready to keep enjoying this stage and getting to know him better. To learn who he is and keep growing with him.

I’ve learned many things over the last 12 months. I’m sure I haven’t stopped learning. Mostly and above all I’m learning to love here and now and try to worry only when things really need me to.

Who knew I needed this handsome little devil as much as I needed his sister. A great healing can come to the soul through children and what we learn as we love them. It’s painful but it’s more beautiful. I love him more than words could ever say. He knows I’m there when he needs me, I’m his confidence as is Jonnie. I hope he truly knows that through the dark days as well as the best days that we’re right here cheering him on to conquer the storms of life and be his best self.

Happy 1st birthday Wyatt.

My boy, my love, my Wyatt 💚💚💚

Love Mummy, and Daddy too and not to forget Lauren who just loves her ‘Iya’ (how she says his name) 💚💚💚

xxxxxx

She ain’t heavy, she’s my Lauren 💜

The thought of something is more often in my experience way worse than the actual thing. Unless that thing is tasting mushrooms onions or tomatoes 😄

We convince our minds that something is so hard it’s too much and bigger than it actually is. If we changed our mindset then I assure you that you’d try more things (not necessarily foods!) and accomplish far more than you think is possible.

When I look back on our life with Lauren so far I think of how low I have felt at times and how much I have missed out on because of it. I’m not saying there’s not good reason. I can reason away most things with how difficult things are, and sometimes I just can’t/couldn’t do some of the things I’ve shy-ed away from.

Looking back though I can totally see how I’ve let fear consume my thoughts and create a mindset of ‘I can’t’, and it has stopped me enjoying life. Jonnie has pushed me through many of barriers that I wouldn’t have attempted without him. I’m grateful for that. Yet I’ve still not lived how I should.

I was so annoyed when I saw the weather forecast for our recent holiday to Arran. I immediately went to that place of how we’d be stuck inside, and it’s not the most wheelchair friendly place as it is. The kids wouldn’t like it and they’d drive me more insane than normal. I can’t tell you how badly I’d let myself talk me into the mindset of I’m not going to get to relax or enjoy it at all, I wish I wasn’t going. Selfish miserable trout!!!

Soooo negative. I’ve become a lot like that lately.

Jonnie and I talked quite a lot whilst there on different topics and enjoying the small simple things was one of those topics. Isn’t that what life’s about?

It’s about my family. So how do we enjoy it even though it’s rainy windy and wet mostly? Well, I’ve discovered lately, we just DO!

So I forced myself to play in the garden, actually play. And I’ve loved it. I forced myself to make Lauren engage and spend some time with me and just me. It’s hard but I loved it. I decided even in the rain that we would go out walking. Lauren cried and threw a tantrum. Jonnie hiked her over his shoulder until she shut up. We all loved it. We loved spending time outside, in our waterproofs getting wet and walking, laughing, sightseeing, singing together.

So what about when it’s not wheelchair friendly? And Lauren can’t walk too far. We Flippin pick her up and carry her. She won’t miss out if it’s within our power to get her there and back. She isn’t too light but it’s doable. She doesn’t hold on. She drives me mad pulling my hair whilst I do it, but we carry her. Piggy back, shoulder ride, fireman’s lift. The thought of doing those things with a nearly 11yr old is exhausting right? But in the moment- I tell myself I want her to see those things and Jonnie wants her to be involved, we want pictures for her to remember things by.

She has super-humans as parents (not really but it makes me feel better thinking of myself as such) that go beyond the normal realm of duty so that she gets the most out of life. Wyatt also benefits from this. And I’m going to stop saying no to things- we will be doing things more and more no matter how hard they seem- it’s all about these 2 beautiful babies that we brought into this world to experience it in its fullest.

Life is hard. We are ALL asked to do hard things, but with a little change in your attitude and a little more positive thinking – you get the blessings that come from serving and blessing another’s life. I would do anything for Lauren. I would also do anything for Wyatt. As long as I think it will benefit their lives for the better.

She ain’t heavy, she’s my Lauren 💜💜

Mummy Birch 😘💛💛

A little bit of a lighter post..

Holidays!!

It’s so much more hard work going than it is staying at home hahaha!!

Is that the same for everyone? And perhaps just worse for those of us who needs a freakin’ meds suitcase 😂😂 seriously- mammoth task!

Things you cannot forget when taking Lauren on holiday- oh and now Wyatt

Meds’ And all that that encompasses: creon, fluclox, vitamins a, a&d, e, d, k, iron, zinc, ursodeoxycholic acid, co trimox, laxatives, nebuliser 😰 Wyatt’s salt, vitamins e and abidec, lactulose and shrynges for all meds!

Physio vest

NAPPIES 😳😂

A gazillion wipes

The toilet rim to help her sit is the next best thing to her toilet system and foot stool

Magazines galore- to bribe her to shut up and behave (chocolate lost its effect!)

Those Flippin ribbons

Her barriers on her bed, her pillow

Her bath toys and bath jug

Her bath cloth

Extra sheets and quilt so we can round Robbin as we wash them 8/10 days

Her dvds

Her board games

Her tab – OH WAIT…… 😠

Her iPad

Her beads

Her pens and books

At this point of writing I’m wishing I pulled a sicky and stayed home haha!!!

Then there’s her foods that we can’t forget in case we can’t get them there- that’s quite a list.

Wyatt’s not quite so complicated thankfully but needs foods in case he’s not quite up to the chewing of our food.

I once went away by myself and when I was on my way I had totally forgotten my case and bag and got so excited that I didn’t need all their crap that I forgot the few tiny bits I needed for myself haha

I just went and bought clothes and totally winged it, felt quite exhilarating to be honest.

Travelling with little people is not for the faint of heart and should be banned for all.

No holiday feels like a holiday at all when you have kids. It is for them and it is what it’s about but it is hard work…. worth it for the adventures for the kids 🥴😄

Reluctant travelling mum of two ✌️

Just lately

Just lately I have been dealing with some demon feelings, feelings I’m all too familiar with. Worried and fear and ‘why us’. You know something? It’s ok to feel all the stuff that comes your way. I don’t know if there will be a time when I can rest knowing that whatever comes my way will be ok because my brain goes straight into how on earth can I fix it. I do have to work on my faith and knowledge that I’m really not in charge of much. But the bit I am in control of, I like to try and control to perfection. It actually sends me insane trying to do that but my muscle memory if you will, takes me straight there.

I will never be past the feelings of how I wish so bad it was different for my children. I will never wake up thinking that this is ok. It will never be ok. I’m not ever going to stop grieving for a life without cf. I will never wake up thinking that this was the best thing that could have happened. Because they are my children. I will never have a day when I’m not worried sick. I never do have a day when I am not scared for their futures. And I don’t want to because I want to always love them like this.

What I do want is to do is train myself to channel my anger, at their misfortune, to somewhere more positive of doing and learning and conquering our challenges. I want to train myself that when all is said and done, I leave the rest up to my Father in Heaven because I need to train myself that I’m not in control of very much. That in itself is just terrifying.

Lauren has some issues lately, some of which cross over, some separate from cf. It’s hard graft. It’s a scary unknown journey and we’re just trying to survive day to day most of the time.

The choice to have a peg feed is because she lost 1.1kg in the last 8 weeks. She’s not even on the weight centile chart now. We gave her 2 years to prove she could do it herself but she can’t. So I will have no regrets. But I will be sad. I will cry and I will wish it could be different.

Her cough hasn’t gone. We’re giving her medicine that we don’t know works. We’re hoping it does.

Her infection hasn’t gone and we’re gambling that she needs a break from meds. We’re hanging on by a thread that this is the best action right now and we need to let her get strong to see if she can fight it.

Her iron stores are so low they’re practically none existent, she’s on horrid but oh so necessary iron to get them back up. Her laxatives will increase no doubt. We’ll have more accidents and she’ll feel worse during the course of those accidents. I will need to change more nappies. She will fight on each one.

This is her life- complicated and full of challenges. And I’m ok being sad about those things.

The great thing about being in a family is that you’re not alone, all the time, in those feelings. Jonnie feels those things too. Quietly most of the time, but he feels them. And he walks by my side daily as we do what we do and get on with it. We try to live and give our children the best experiences available. It is hard work. Exhausting in fact. But when Lauren brightens someone’s day by waving at them, or showing them her coloured ribbons, I remember that life is so simple to her, love and be loved.

I know that physically life is hard for her- but her need to interact and love others is so much more than wallowing or self pity. Puts me to shame most days. She is a sunshine that this world needs. And she thrives off the smiles and interaction that she gets back. I’ve forgotten that for a while but over the last few weeks I’ve noticed more and more that she’s still as beautiful as ever. Probably even more so considering she should just want to be in bed all the time!! And in no way will it ever define her how people treat her back- it will only ever define them.

It’s hard work spending time with her a lot of the time but when people do- their lives are blessed.

Im not sure life will ever be easy. I probably am- it won’t be easy will it. As long as both my children are here for a very long time, that’s ok with me. I’ll live it, sometimes be angry with it, but be grateful I have them. So very very grateful.

💚💜💛💙

April