My 100,000 Miles to Geriatric Mummahood

Last week, my car’s mileage reached 100,000 miles & I realised that I’ve actually driven all of them, but three. I bought my car brand new & I loved it then & still do now. I also realised that this milestone (& my car itself) represents my long journey to motherhood rather well. I bought my trusty Suzuki Swift eleven years ago, I was 28, almost 29. I was newly married to my first husband. If truth be told, we’d never really spoken about having children; it wasn’t on my agenda during my 20s: I was busy teaching other people’s children & I was more than happy with that arrangement. That was until one month in 2008 I missed my period. I was terrified, but part of me was excited at the thought of being a Mumma. I duly bought a pregnancy test (the first of many over the years) & waited what seemed like forever, for just one pesky line to appear. It was negative & I felt sad. It was at that precise moment, whilst sat sobbing on the loo; that I knew I wanted & thought I was ready for a baby, but didn’t realise I’d have to wait ten more years: get diagnosed with PCOS, go through a divorce, marry my soulmate, lose over three stone in weight & suffer a fair bit of heartbreak in between before I got to hold my bundle of joy.

I met Tim back in 2003 & I was instantly attracted to him. There was something about him that I was drawn to: he was (& still is) fun, techie(!), driven, successful & passionate in his career. He always inspired me with so many things & we talked for hours & continue to now – providing we can both stay awake long enough (ahh, the joys of late parenthood hey!) But the time we met was not the right one. We had our own partners & families & so I put it out of my mind that we would ever be together. To cut a very long story short; after a lot of courage to vocalise our thoughts we discovered that neither of us were happy in our current lives. We met up to talk about things, knew we were attracted to each other & wanted to be together & the rest, as they say, is history. I’m secretly hoping that Tim wanted to be with me all along too, but I’ll never know for certain! We’ve been together ever since. Who would have thought that a chance meeting all those years ago would lead to this? Our paths would never have crossed & I think it proves that if you’re meant to be with someone, then the universe has a way of making things happen & at exactly the right time. It hasn’t all been straightforward by any means, but we firmly believe that you shouldn’t stay in a situation that makes you unhappy. Yes, it’s selfish, but life is painfully too short. My favourite film quote (from ‘Steel Magnolias’) is, “I would rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special” & it’s so true. We had no idea how our relationship would go; whether we could even live together, but we were prepared to take the chance & I don’t regret a single day. Tim might though?!

Tim knew from the beginning of our relationship that I wanted a child. He already had two of his own, so this was a big thing for both of us in different ways. I knew my fertility was dwindling so we tried quite soon into our relationship & during 2014 – the year we got married, we thought our prayers had been answered. I had been having a lot of pain in my side for a few days & after a lot of paracetamol not having any effect & not being able to sleep for a couple of nights because of the agony, we went to A&E. It was like something out of a film. They did all my stats & then asked for a urine sample. I waited ages in a cubicle worrying what they might find, then a Doctor came in to tell me that I was ‘strongly’ pregnant & the pain could just be muscular as my body adapted. I was in absolute shock & over the moon all at the same time, but unfortunately, I was already bleeding heavily & miscarried a couple of days later. I was distraught, although had a little hope that we might conceive again soon as the Doctor said I was at my most fertile. We were pregnant within the next month & ecstatic, but terrified. I bled again, so we went to a private clinic for a scan. The sonographer said everything looked fine & it was a healthy pregnancy. Unfortunately a week later I miscarried; literally at the hospital during my first scan. The sonographer couldn’t find the foetus because of all the blood. Looking back, I don’t know how I got through this dark time if truth be told. My heart was literally broken into a million pieces, I could feel it. Then, in 2016 I lost my wonderful Mum & couldn’t cope with anything in that whole year. I had no focus, no goals, I was just trying to get through one day at a time. It wasn’t until 2017, when I’d pretty much given up all hope that I’d ever be a Mumma, that Tim suggested one rainy October morning that he thought I should take a pregnancy test. We had just received a letter from the fertility clinic & ready to try other alternatives, again. I remember we sat on the landing together, waiting for the result. After a few minutes, the annoyingly familiar single control line appeared, a few more minutes & I gingerly looked again. Nothing. I was absolutely distraught, as I felt this was our last chance. I was just about to throw it in the bin when I glanced again, just to be sure. When I did, I saw the faintest of lines in the test window! Could this actually be real? I immediately showed Tim & he thought there was something there too. We quickly went to the supermarket to get some digital tests & there it was on the LCD screen: I was 2-3 weeks pregnant. But this was just the start of my journey. Despite my terror in the early days & my almost PTSD terror at each scan appointment, I had a fairly straight forward pregnancy. This changed towards the end as my darling boy was measuring quite large (well Tim is 6’1”!) & they had to keep an extra eye on me. Then I developed pre-eclampsia, so couldn’t have the water birth I so dearly wanted. I also have a negative blood group & Benjamin’s is positive, so had to have injections & more obs. But, in the grand scheme of things all went well. I think I held things together, until the ‘final push’ when I lost it a bit. I remember thinking afterwards, “I’ve done it, I’ve actually done it, but now what do I do?!” I still have these thoughts now! Every stage of having a baby brings its own magic & wonder & I genuinely love it. I look forward to Benjamin’s next milestone, I cherish it. I do get sad sometimes that I won’t be having any more babies, but I honestly don’t think my body could do it again. And Tim keeps telling me that he is only meant to have three children in this lifetime! So I count my blessings daily: my very special little boy that I was never sure I could have.

So, going back to my blog title, I guess my little car has been a constant companion; through my marriages, house move: it literally drove me out of my old life & into my new one, my miscarriages, many road trips, a few different jobs, lots of trips with friends & family (some of whom are sadly no longer with us), throughout my pregnancy, transporting Benjamin, through my maternity leave & into a completely new career. And now here I am, a nearly forty year old Mumma of a 1 year old, still with the same car! I don’t think I could have ever believed or even imagined all that would happen in the decade to come; as I drove off the forecourt on that June Saturday morning back in 2008. We spend such a lot of time in our cars, that they become part of us. I have so many happy thoughts & memories that come flooding back to me whilst driving. It’s my bubble, my safe-haven, my thinking space & I’m not ready to part with it just yet, unless of course I’m offered a Mercedes SLK & then I might reconsider?..

NB. This has been a difficult post to write, I’ve not talked about this as openly as I have now & I apologise if there’s too much information. I hope that by writing about my experiences, it may help someone in some way; offering hope to never give up on your dreams; they just might take a little longer than you’d originally planned.

Thank you if you’re still reading!

The milestone…

My boys 💙

The Highs & Lows of My Geriatric Mummahood…

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Easy like Sunday Mornings…a rare ‘lie in’ until 7am!

So twice last week, two of the lovely ladies I’ve been working with recently were surprised to hear that I’m turning 40 in just under six months. I was shocked that they were shocked to be honest; maybe it was my hormonal breakout that fooled them or maybe they were just being kind. It certainly made my day, as since going back to work, I’ve certainly felt my age more than ever (it’s only been two weeks!) & it’s made me think about all that geriatric mummahood actually entails for me.

I guess it made me realise that older, doesn’t necessarily mean wiser. Well certainly not in my experience. I’m not naturally maternal & I know I never have been. Even as an early years teacher, I loved my job, adored the children, but was more ‘Mary Poppins’ than ‘Molly Wealsey’ about things – but certainly not, “practically perfect in every way” that’s for sure! It gave me a great insight into how I wanted to parent: I’ve been lucky to have known some absolutely inspirational Mummas in my career & this, combined with my own parents’ methods & reading the fantastic “French Children Don’t Throw Food” by Pamela Druckerman (www.pameladruckerman.com) have shaped my ‘style’ so to speak. We’re strict with Benjamin already; he’s beginning to learn his boundaries & he knows if he’s over-stepped them. This may sound harsh for an eight month old, but both Tim & I are firm believers in setting ground rules early on, then loosening up a little later. We’ve both found it successful with Tim’s other two children (for all involved) to do it this way, rather than allowing a ‘free for all’ to start with, then trying to rein things in later when it’s all gone a bit wahey! It’s harder than I thought it would be, but I keep having to tell myself that I’m not Benjamin’s friend, not just yet. For now at least, I’m just one of his guides & mentors in this crazy thing called ‘life’. What a responsibility!

For me, the lows of being ‘an older Mumma’ have to be the extreme tiredness, the complete achiness & the occasional overwhelming feelings of frustration. I’m sure this is no different from other Mummas, of all ages, but at times I’ve felt like my age has exacerbated these negatives. Looking back, I don’t think I fell into the complete depths of Post-Natal Depression, but on some days, back in the beginning, I was definitely paddling in the shallows. My emotions consumed me: I was angry with myself that I felt ‘trapped’ in this new role of motherhood; something that I had wanted so badly, for so long. I hated the fact this beautiful tiny human, that I had, in part created, was dependent upon me for everything. Literally everything. And part of me wanted to run far far away. I’d had 38 years of just thinking of myself, I was (& probably still am but to a lesser extent) a selfish person to a certain degree. I like my own time, company & space & always have. It’s taken a lot for me to write this, it’s not something I’ve really vocalised, let alone typed. I’m lucky in that I had Tim to talk to, to shout at even. He listened to me vent & talked some sense back into me. Thank goodness. But I can see how easy it would be to slip into the vicious cycle of depression. I found: http://www.mind.org.uk to be a fantastic source of information. My other main ‘low’ has been the intense physical pain. For the first three months, I felt brittle, like an old porcelain teacup. Every movement was agony & some days I was genuinely terrified that I would ‘shatter’. Then I developed ‘de Quervain’s tenosynovitis’ aka tendonitis of the wrist. My age, my gender & my recent motherhood were all contributing factors apparently. Joy. So after seeing two doctors, a physiotherapist, being given exercises & a sexy black splint that I’m meant to wear 24/7, but found that I’m allergic to, so can only bear wearing it at night time (along with my fluffly socks & dressing gown) Tim’s a lucky man! Haha! I feel that things are getting better. I don’t have to think about how to pick the boy up & everyday tasks are getting easier again thankfully. Thank you NHS. I could go on with other ailments: breakouts, hair issues (various!), dry skin etc. etc. but I’ll leave it here for now!

The highs of my late motherhood on the other hand, are that I know how I want to parent, as I explained earlier. I have high expectations of Benjamin. I am confident to correct him in public, if necessary. My patience for his learning is high, although my tolerance for his whinging is incredibly low(!) On particularly bad days I have to walk away, then come back a few minutes later: ready to start again. Most importantly though, I appreciate the ‘now.’ As clichéd as it sounds, I guess I’m more aware of ‘the moment’ than ever before. I’ve always been aware of poignant ‘now’ markers in my life, scenes/moments that I’m drawn back to time & again. Things that I knew were significant, but I was unaware as to why at the time. I spend a lot of my working life listening to people reminisce about their interesting lives & I genuinely love it. I’ve always been fascinated by people; hearing about their memories of loved ones & the special times they’ve shared, holidays, laughter & their ambitions. Sometimes, these wonderful people can’t remember what they ate for lunch, but can remember the most intricate detail of years gone by: of fleeting moments when they fell in love, or when their children were growing up & homes they’ve lived in. I’ve decided that ‘mindfulness’ is not really a new trend, people have always been aware of the ‘now’ but not really realised its significance: it’s equally important to remember those ‘now moments’. It’s proved in our older age, as these are the things that we hold onto. Essentially they get us through life: they help us to cope.

We’ve had a great few days; it started on Friday when Benjamin & I went on a ‘Spring Hunt’ – looking for signs of new life & longer, warmer days. And although the boy slept for most of it, I rediscovered my mojo for snapping things on my iPhone that caught my eye, mainly flowers & landscapes. Saturday & Sunday were spent with some of our fabulous friends & it was great to entertain & make dinner for everyone. It was lovely to be just us again & this was highlighted to me. We were even allowed to enjoy our bed until 7am on Sunday. What a treat! Time with Benjamin continues to be precious & I cherish the subtleties of his weekly developments. Nothing makes us happier than hearing the boy properly belly laugh & giggle when I pretend to “eat him up” at the end of the day or Tim tickles him. It’s truly heart-warming & the troubles of the day just melt away for both of us.

For the first time since giving birth, this weekend has shown me how to reconnect with just ‘being me’ & combining this with being a Mumma. I can do both. The ‘highest of highs’ for me though, is that I actually can’t wait to reminisce upon my own family memories: all whilst not forgetting to be mindful of being ‘in the moment’ of course!

Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear the highs & lows of your Mummahood…

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We’re Going on a Spring Hunt!..What a beautiful day…