Embracing the miscarriage

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Image ‘Krapfen mit Puderzucker’ from Marco Verch on Flickr via CC 2.0

At some point, when it’s all over, I will do an informative blog post about what happened and what to expect if you miscarry at this stage. At the moment, though, I’m 8 days in and it’s still happening. I think it has begun to tail off a bit… But then again, I thought that yesterday and then went and dropped Squidge off at nursery and had a blood-loss catastrophe that went through my night-time pad, trousers, towel I had put down to protect the car seat, and of course wrecked the car seat.

Should’ve sat on a bin bag. I see this in hindsight.

Anyway, thank the stars, I had a long coat with me, so was able to dash into the supermarket and load a basket with maternity pads, night-time pads, pregnancy tests (for checking that the pregnancy hormones are going down as they should), and a five-pack of jam doughnuts. Bless the lady on the till, who looked at this frankly weird array of items on the conveyor belt and said nothing.

Obviously bleeding copiously through several layers of fabric is not ideal. However, I do generally feel that I’m coping pretty well. You know, I went to that concert on my own, and I went to the aftershow party, and also I cooked dinner for seven people the other day after spending half the afternoon losing loads of blood and oogly looking tissue (don’t worry hygiene fans, I did wash my hands thoroughly before getting to that veg prep). Mind you, I do realise that I am lucky in that I’m not finding it particularly painful, and that so far there don’t seem to have been any complications.

I’m also lucky that I don’t feel too sad – somehow, I have accepted it and I am completely okay with it. I don’t know if this is my body’s self-defence mechanisms kicking in and detaching me from the experience so that I don’t totally crumble… But I don’t think that’s the case. I think that I have just genuinely got it all in good perspective. Firstly, and most importantly by a country mile, I’m already a mum, to a lovely little boy – lucky, lucky me! Secondly, I know I can get pregnant, and quickly at that, so this is very unlikely to have been my last pregnancy. Thirdly, I know of a lot of people to whom some horrendously crappy things have happened around babies, and none of those things are what is happening to me right now. Fourthly, there was clearly something wrong with the baby which has caused a spontaneous miscarriage, so that trite little phrase ‘it wasn’t meant to be’ truly does apply.

Also – and these might sound like awful things to say, but I’m thinking them, so I’m going to say them anyway – we have some renovation work happening on the house and it would be much less stressful to have a newborn after it is completed rather than in the middle of it all; and I am working on a novel and this will mean I have at least a few months more to finish it. OBVIOUSLY I would rather we had had a lovely healthy little baby in November, regardless of unfinished kitchens and unfinished novels, but that’s sadly not going to be the case, so I am searching for every shred of silver lining in this little cloud.

I feel so grateful for my gorgeous supportive friends who have all called and texted regularly the last few days to check in on me, my loving little boy who came and gave me kisses this morning when I was having bad cramps and had to lie down, and my husband, with whom I hope to make another beautiful baby before too long. And in a weird way, I’m grateful to be having the experience of miscarrying, because now I might be in a position to support other women I know who this might happen to in the future, and it also has made me sharply aware of what a bloody marvellous gift my son is. I’m sort of embracing the miscarriage. It’s working for me.

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Feeling the fear and doing it anyway… during a miscarriage!

So this week, I started experiencing some brown spotting at 9 weeks pregnant. I rang the midwife, who said to call back if it turned red. It turned a bit red. And there were a few small black clots. I called back, and she booked me in for a scan the next day.

The scan revealed a pregnancy of 6 weeks. There was no way that my dates were wrong, because of how long ago I took a pregnancy test, but unfortunately the hospital protocol meant that the nurse couldn’t confirm it was a pregnancy loss, and she booked me in for a scan the following week to check if there was any growth. She also wouldn’t discuss miscarriage management options with me, because that would happen at the next appointment.

I went home and started bleeding a bit more, and losing some (sorry) blackish gunky stuff.

And then I was in a quandary. My brother was playing in a big concert that evening, in a city an hour and a half away from us, and I was supposed to be going on my own (sort of – friends would be there, but not seated with me) to see him. I had planned to drive to my friend’s (an hour away in slightly the wrong direction) and then she was going to drive us both to the concert. I had planned to stay at hers that night and drive home in the morning – ironically, to a midwife appointment, which I now had to cancel.

But I was exhausted, and worried about the hour’s drive to my friend’s house. And then there was the not knowing what to expect – what if the miscarriage started properly and I ended up being at the concert in pain?

I dithered so much that I missed the window of opportunity to catch a lift with my friend. My only option now was to catch the train up to the city, and book a hotel for the night, as trains wouldn’t be running after the concert finished. This would be expensive, and I am not earning much money at the moment.  And how would I get to the hotel after the concert? I didn’t want to have to walk through the city at night alone – something bad might happen to me. So now I was worrying about pain and expense and tiredness and rapists and murderers and I couldn’t think straight and I couldn’t see what to do for the best, and I just wanted someone to tell me what to do!

I asked my husband, and he said to stay at home and look after myself. ‘But,’ I said, ‘I really want to go and see my brother play. This is a unique concert and I won’t see him do anything like this again.’ So my husband said to go. Just book a hotel and go.

I texted my brother (who knew about the miscarriage by now) and he said he would walk me to the hotel, so that was another worry cancelled out. So I got into a decent outfit and threw a bit of make-up on, packed a light bag (we’re talking T-shirt, knickers, toothbrush), kissed son and husband goodbye and rushed off to the train station.

It was amazing. It was so much the right choice for me. I got to see my brother doing his thing up on stage, and he looked so cool and relaxed and was so fantastic. He dedicated the last song of his set to me, which took me by surprise and made me a bit weepy, but also put an enormous grin on my face because I just felt so loved. I went to the aftershow party, and hung out with the other musicians… I did actively think, ‘This is a pretty weird thing to be doing while having a miscarriage.’ And it was weird. And kind of darkly funny.  And totally okay, because it was the right thing for me.

My brother walked me to my hotel (through a crowd of autograph hunters, just to add to the surrealness of the situation) as promised. I got to my room and sank into my beautifully clean white sheets. The cramps were ramping up a bit, and my belly was a little bloated and tender. I will admit to you now, I did consult Dr Google on whether or not a bloated belly during a miscarriage was normal (okay, so I had visions of me bleeding internally and dying alone in the hotel room overnight). Dr Google was semi-reassuring. I was still anxious about having some kind of medical emergency though. So here is what I did:

  • I moved the hotel phone as close as I could to me on the bedside table, and I checked which number I had to dial for reception (0), and I checked that I would know which button that was in the dark (bottom centre).
  • I texted my husband and told him the name of the hotel I was staying at, and the room number, and told him if he hadn’t heard from me by 9am the next day to get someone to check my room.
  • I set my phone alarm so that I wouldn’t accidentally sleep past 9am and freak my husband out.

Then I turned out the light and went to sleep.

I did not have a medical emergency. I did not bleed out in the night. I had a lovely, restful, uninterrupted sleep, and then I got up and had a lovely hot shower, and then I went into the city and had a lovely coffee and a pain aux raisins while I handwrote some thoughts and feelings about the experience of miscarrying.

I am so glad that I did not let my fear hold me back from seeing my brother. I am so glad that I did not let my fear stop me from enjoying a night in a hotel room all to myself. (I am also really glad that I did not properly google what to expect from a miscarriage before I decided to get on the train, because in all honesty if I had read some of those stories beforehand, I NEVER would have planned to stay in a hotel on my own!)

So far the miscarriage hasn’t been too bad. I was kind of prepared for it emotionally because I had felt so few symptoms of pregnancy that I felt in my bones something was wrong. And physically, thus far, it’s mostly been like a really weird period. I am aware that it is likely to get worse, and that there will be some horrid bits – but now that I’ve read up on it, I feel prepared for that. I also feel that I know what the difference is between a miscarriage bleed that can be dealt with at home and one that requires a trip to A&E. Obviously, Dr Google can be very bad for people with health anxiety, but used judiciously she does provide you with knowledge, and I find that for me, knowledge is usually power.

I feel like I understand my anxiety much better now, too. I know why I’m finding this miscarriage fairly easy (there will be a reason for why the baby didn’t grow that has NOTHING to do with me – I was not responsible, I was not in control, it could not have been my fault),  and I know what will be difficult for me in the future: if I get pregnant again, not spending every other second worrying that I’m going to miscarry again. But that’s okay; I will cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

Mostly I’m pretty proud that I’m handling this calmly and, although I am sad, I have the whole thing in good perspective.

Pregnancy update: 5 weeks

At the moment, I don’t really feel pregnant. I don’t feel sick, I don’t feel tired. I don’t have any physical evidence that I am ‘with child’ except for three peed-on sticks hidden in my dresser drawer. I have to get those sticks out and look at them every couple of days just to reassure myself that I am not making this whole thing up.

I’ve had a few symptoms. At about 4 weeks I had a few dizzy spells over a couple of days and felt really tired. At about 4.5 weeks my boobs felt weird and heavy for a day or two. I’ve been smelling stuff a lot more vividly than usual. I also went through a few days of experiencing desperate, insatiable hunger. But now I’m at 5.5 weeks, all those symptoms have gone! Poof! I think it’s quite common for women to feel totally normal at this point in pregnancy (and I didn’t throw up once when I was pregnant with my son) but it’s making me feel really fraudulent!

Unsurprisingly, I’m also already catastrophising. What if I have a missed miscarriage? What if the screening results are bad? What if I get cancer while I’m pregnant? (Yep, honestly, my brain went there already.) Now, I know these thoughts are likely to be because my hormones are out of whack and my anxiety is up and my brain’s trying to scramble for control over a situation I can’t really control. I also know that they’re not that crazy – lots of people have thoughts like this in early pregnancy. I was spiralling out of control worrying about things earlier today, and I just told myself: Stop. If something bad happens, you will deal with it. Until then, you don’t need to do anything at all.  Sounds obvious – to cross a bridge only when you come to it – but sometimes my overactive imagination needs reminding that it is only that: imagination. Not reality.

I’ve decided to have a Harmony test, which screens for Trisomy disorders (Downs, Edwards and Patau Syndrome), at around 10 or 11 weeks. Last pregnancy we had one at 14 weeks, after receiving ‘low risk’ odds on the NHS that didn’t actually seem all that low to us (about 1:1000). We found it extremely reassuring to have the more accurate screening test done, and we have decided that this time we would like it done as early as possible. My mind has obviously already gone to: What if it’s a positive result? But… Bridges. Cross when you come to them, yes?

Struggling to hide my pregnancy from the in-laws who I live with. For those who haven’t read earlier in the blog, my husband and I and our son have bought a house jointly with some of his relatives, so we are living in a four-generation household. At the moment we are all sharing a kitchen and meals together, which means I am frequently being offered wine that I have to turn down! It also means that my in-laws bore witness to my ravenous phase a few days ago, and are probably also noticing my heightened anxiety around kitchen cleanliness (I’ve got a bit of a fear of getting food poisoning while pregnant). I think my mother-in-law may already have guessed. We are considering telling them soon, just because trying to hide it from people we live with is an added stress. And also because I think it’s important not to keep the first trimester a total secret: if something went wrong I wouldn’t want to grieve in silence.

In between all the worries and the wonderings, though, it’s been magical to just take the odd minute to rest my hand low on my belly and think about all the amazing biology going on down there. To envisage the first scan in a few weeks’ time. To imagine being heavily pregnant again. To run baby names through my head, and to imagine my son’s face the first time he meets his baby sibling. I’ve been crying over pregnancy announcements on YouTube – such a good way to waste time on the internet! – and wondering how we might tell our loved ones about this burgeoning new life. Happy times to come – fingers crossed.

Here we go again…

On Friday morning last week, I took a pregnancy test. My husband and I had made the decision to try for a second baby in the middle of Feruary. My period was due either that day or the day before, and I’d had no sign of it.

I hadn’t told my husband that I’d bought a test. He is far more laid back about these things than I am (there’s a surprise!) and his opinion is that one should wait for one’s period to be a few days late before ‘wasting’ a test. COME ON, HUSBAND! Who has that kind of willpower?! (Clue: not me.) Anyway, to avoid arguments, I had smuggled the test into the house a couple of days before under my gym sweatshirt, and hidden it in the bathroom.

Thursday night, I slept badly. Although with my first child, I fell pregnant straight away,  I didn’t have a lot of hope that the test would be positive this time round, because we hadn’t managed to do an awful lot of the obvious at the right time that month. I woke up at 3 am and was tempted to test, but thought it would be too early and that the hormone in my urine wouldn’t be strong enough. I tossed and turned until 5 am, then crept out of bed, leaving my husband sleeping, and went to the bathroom.

I really surprised myself at this point by getting the shakes. You know when you’re really excited and you’re kind of trembling and your mind is pinging all over the place? I could barely open the pregnancy test! Anyway, I peed on the thing, and then watched as the colour washed over the test window and the control line showed up. The rest of the test window faded to white. Three minutes ticked by, and my excitement died down. Negative. Not pregnant.

However. I couldn’t help but remember that with my first pregnancy, I threw away the test after the three minute window because it was also negative. Only… It wasn’t. Something made me fish it out of the bin two days later, and now it showed a faint positive line. I tested again that day, and I was definitely pregnant.

Now, I know full well that you’re not supposed to look at the tests outside a certain time frame. This is because, I think, of something called an ‘evaporation line’ where, as the urine dries, you can get a greyish line where the positive test result would be. However, upon re-reading the pregnancy test instructions, I saw that you were supposed to throw the test away if nothing had shown up after 15 minutes. So I figured I might as well wait a little longer before going back to bed.

And at around seven or eight minutes, something started to appear. I spent a lot of time squinting – was that a line? Was my imagination playing tricks on me? I took a couple of photos on my phone, just to be sure… And in the meantime, the line kept becoming more obvious… It wasn’t a strong result, but the test was definitely positive.

I crept back into my bedroom, and my husband asked where I’d been. I fessed up, and he gave me a kiss. He’s not one to get excited before time, and he was very cautious with our first pregnancy, but it was lovely to share that happy moment in the dark of the early morning.

It’s a funny thing, knowing that you’re pregnant but not really feeling anything yet. I have had a couple of brief dizzy spells, which I experienced early on in my previous pregnancy. And yesterday my boobs started to feel a bit… I don’t know… heavy? I’ve been reading through the notes I made on my pregnancy last time, and I know that at 6 or 7 weeks the nausea was only barely present, and I still wasn’t feeling pregnant at all. So I guess I’ve got a few more weeks yet of wandering around feeling TOTALLY NORMAL yet with all this AMAZING STUFF (potentially!) (hopefully!) going on inside me!

One of the things that’s different this time round is that I know a lot of what I’ve got to come. I know about the way my body will grow and stretch and ache. I know how hard it will be to find a comfortable sleeping position. I know about that weird breathless feeling I’ll get when I bend to try to get my shoes on when I’m heavily pregnant. I know that the birth isn’t likely to be the beautiful, connected-to-nature, candlelit water birth that I dreamed of last time round. I also know that life with a newborn can be pretty fraught (although I don’t know what it’s like when you add a toddler into that mix…)!

I did lie in my bed the other night feeling a genuine sensation of vertigo. Like I was  stepping off a precipice, and there was nothing I could do about it. I’m more scared this time than I was last time round, because I’m going into it with my eyes wide open. Yet, strangely, I’m more calm, too, because I know more about pregnancy and babies. And knowledge gives me control. And control is extraordinarily helpful for my anxiety.

I didn’t keep a diary of my thoughts and feelings last time round. I think I was a little superstitious about it – afraid that if I committed my heart to paper, I would be tempting fate. All I have now are posts I made on an anonymous pregnancy forum. I’ve copied and pasted them into one document, and I’m so grateful for those written-down scraps of my pregnancy – but they’re not as honest or as thorough as a proper diary or blog would have been. So, this time round, I’m going to do my best to make the time and space to sit here and record my whole experience of pregnancy. And yes, it’s early days, and something might go wrong – but you know what, if it does, then I would probably benefit from having an outlet for that, too.

Wish me luck!

An anxiety victory!

IMG_4520Hello everyone,

It’s been yonks since I wrote, yet again! This is partly because I have had an awful lot of freelance writing work on – which always takes it out of me more than editing – and partly because we are gearing up for our Big House Move. There has been a lot of packing happening in Casa Squidge!

The house move happens to coincide with the end of my talking therapies sessions: my last one is next Tuesday. I’ve been working on an Exposure and Response Prevention hierarchy to try and reduce my anxious responses / rituals to certain situations. My goal for the end of the sessions was to be able to clean out the chickens on my own, without my husband helping me, and without having to strip off all my clothes as ‘contaminated’ and take a shower afterwards.

To be honest, when I set that goal, I felt like it was pretty unattainable. At that point I was freaking out about salmonella on a daily basis. It was occupying a lot of my thoughts. I didn’t like Squidge or other children being out in the garden – I was worried that the chickens might somehow infect them with something. I hated going in the chicken run. I felt so dirty afterwards. I felt like the soles of my shoes and the palms of my hands were sort of glowing in my mind with all the bacteria they might have on them. It’s a weird way to describe it, I know – glowing – but it’s the best approximation of how I felt.

As I worked on my anxiety, I got a bit better with going in the run. I was able to go in and check on their food and water without getting worked up about it. In fact, somewhere around August, I was doing so well, that I figured I could just have a go at cleaning them out by myself.

This was a very bad plan.

I tried to ‘protect’ myself with a dust mask, but it didn’t fit properly and kept falling down, and also made my glasses steam up so that I couldn’t see properly. I broke a couple of eggs accidentally while I was raking out the straw, leading to a horrid sloppy yolky mess. I ended up hyperventilating, crying, shaking – oh god, it was so bad.

I went back to a lower rung on my hierarchy – letting my husband doing all the cleaning out, while I put in the clean straw afterwards.

Some time after the failed attempt, I spoke to my father-in-law about how hard I was finding looking after the chickens. He suggested that I buy myself a boiler suit that would protect my clothing, that I could just take off when I was done and chuck in the washing machine. This was a bloody brilliant suggestion. I bought one. Now I just had to summon up the courage to use it.

Well, this morning, I did it. My husband was out. Squidge was asleep. I got into my boiler suit, my gloves and my welly shoes. I let the chickens out of their pen to roam free around the garden, and I then I went into the shed and I got out my garden fork, rake and brush.

I monitored my anxiety levels the whole time. And you know what? I didn’t actually feel anxious at all. I felt a bit excited, actually. I took all of the old straw out of the hutch, and then I swept it out thoroughly. I didn’t have a scarf over my hair and I didn’t feel worried that it wasn’t protected. I put in some fresh straw, I topped up their feed, I scrubbed out their water dispenser and refreshed the water. I raked over the wood chip in their run.

Just as I’d finished, Squidge had woken up and I could hear him crying in his cot upstairs. I stepped into the laundry room, peeled off my boiler suit and put it straight in the washing machine. Then I washed my hands and went upstairs in the exact same clothes I had been wearing under the boiler suit, picked Squidge up, snuggled him, and got on with our morning together.

It’s funny. I found it so easy to clean out the chickens today that I can’t really see why I was such an anxious, hyperventilating mess just a few weeks ago. I almost feel like I can’t possibly have felt so awful – which makes me see how hard it can be for people who don’t suffer from anxiety to understand the behaviour of people that do!  But that was me. I really did feel that horrendous. And I have worked really damn hard to feel as confident and as calm as I felt this morning.

I’m not saying I’m fixed! I’m still worrying about things. But I am noticing A LOT how things that would have bothered the hell out of me before, aren’t bothering me now. Things like – the other week, I found grit in my bottled water. Previously would have immediately panicked: What if it’s poisonous? I should stop breastfeeding Squidge until I am sure I’ve not had any ill effects. What I actually did was did a quick Google to see if anyone else had experienced the same thing, then emailed the company a week later for their thoughts on what it could be (OK, still maybe a bit more of a reaction than your average person, but not unreasonable). The company said it was just mineral precipitation. Problem solved; no sleep lost.

I feel really good about myself and I feel really proud that I will be able to go to my final counselling session next week and tell my lovely counsellor that I achieved my top goal in my ERP hierarchy. Go me!

Facing a fear

IMG_4425I am afraid of going for walks in the countryside on my own.

Does that sound strange?

Here’s the thing: I like the idea of walks in the countryside, very much. In fact, I imagined I would do a lot of this on maternity leave. Me, baby, sling, trees. Muddy boots. Breastfeeding in a glade. Birdsong. Fresh air. Goodness.

What actually happened, was every time I thought about going out on my own for a walk, I also thought… But what if someone attacks me? What would happen to Squidge? And so, rather than going for a romantic walk in the woods, I would take Squidge to the boring old reservoir where there are always loads of dog walkers and I would feel safe.

Yesterday, though, I decided to face my fear.

We’re right on the cusp of autumn here at the moment, and the weather was this invigorating mix of heavy rain and sudden sunshine. As one rainstorm eased, I bundled Squidge in the car and drove him to a local nature reserve. We parked up, I wrestled Squidge into his waterproof coverall, popped him in the pushchair, and set off into the woods.

It was really beautiful.

But.

I probably spent the first ten minutes worrying about being attacked, and what I would do, and how I would protect Squidge, and wishing that he was old enough to be able to understand that he needed to run away and hide if I was attacked. Then I worried about, if he was old enough to run away and hide, how he would know that it was safe to come out, and how anybody would find him. No, I’m not even kidding. I was walking through the woods on this stunning day, with dripping leaves and starbursts of sunshine overhead, and I was running through unbelievably unlikely and distressing scenarios that couldn’t even happen right now because Squidge isn’t old enough.

Then we came upon a glade with a load of little log stepping-stones, and some rather enticing-looking sticks, and I freed Squidge from his pushchair. He ran around brandishing sticks that were bigger than his own self, and I took a few photos, and then he put one of the sticks in his mouth and I worried about that.

I worried about quite a few things in the woods, truth be told. Fungi and bacteria and ticks and strangers. BUT. Here is the key thing. I did NOT let it stop me from enjoying my time with Squidge. We jumped across the log stepping stones (well, I ‘jumped’ Squidge on his behalf). We chased each other around the glade. I pretended to be a big flapping bird to make him giggle. We crossed a little bridge and back again. Squidge spotted hawthorn berries and got terribly excited because he thought they might possibly be something good to eat, and then terribly cross because I wouldn’t let him eat them. We (OK, I) imagined ancient people walking through here with their children. I worried some of the time, yes, but I also spent a good portion of the time feeling very at peace and happy.

We actually didn’t see another person the entire time we were in the reserve. This is partly why I was nervous about it, of course, because I know it’s quite isolated (no-one can hear you scream etc. etc.) – but there was literally NOBODY else there. It was just us. Me and Squidge. Nothing to fear but fear itself.

I felt really good after that walk. I pushed Squidge in his buggy for the last 40 minutes or so, and he fell asleep to the rumbling of the wheels on the woodland path. It was great exercise for me – I got up a really good pace – a good experience for Squidge, and a much-needed break from the house for both of us.

When I got home, I switched on the radio. The news headlines were all about the jailing of the murderer of Ellen Higginbottom, an A-level student who was killed in broad daylight at a nature reserve earlier this year.

I will be honest: this brought me up short. That poor girl. I felt like it was justifying all the fears I’d had to begin with. Yes: there are bad people in this world. Yes: sometimes they prey upon defenceless women in remote places. Yes: this could happen to me.

But, I don’t know. If I lived my life according to reducing all risk, I wouldn’t ever get in a car. I wouldn’t go to London, and I wouldn’t go on the tube. I would barely leave the house. Somewhere, at some point, you’ve got to draw a line and say: OK, so this has some risk attached to it, but the risk is low. Do I want to live my life without ever having this experience, just because I am afraid that something might happen? What kind of a life is that? What kind of a life is that for Squidge?

So, at some point soon, I will be going on another walk. I will probably worry about it. But I will do it. Because I don’t want to live my life in constant fear.

Rose-tinted glasses

fullsizeoutput_32fDue to my anxiety, I spend a lot of time focusing on worst-case-scenarios. You know: cancer, car accidents. Death and disaster. What if this happens? What if that happens? How will I protect myself / my loved ones? I’m constantly engaging in theoretical crisis management. It’s exhausting. And it makes me come off like a negative person.

Now, I don’t actually see myself as a negative person. I am always keen to see the good in others. I spend an awful lot of time appreciating tiny little moments – the cosy feeling you get when it’s hammering with rain outside; the sleepy sofa cuddles I have with Squidge when he’s woken at 4am and won’t go back to bed. But my husband, B, has said more than once that he thinks I’m a negative person. So obviously what I’m feeling inside isn’t shining through on the outside. I would like that to change.

Obviously, I can’t have a personality transplant – and I wouldn’t want to even if I could! My cautious personality is partly what makes me me. It’s in may nature to carefully weigh up risks. I’m never going to be the person at the front of the queue for the bungee jump! But I think that maybe, because I am naturally very good at working through all the possible negative outcomes of a situation, I need to put just as much effort into thinking about all the possible positives. You know, for balance. Because balance is good!

Here’s a scenario. My husband and I are in the process of buying a house and smallholding with my husband’s extended family. We are planning to build a small extension that will allow us to separate the house into two, so that B and Squidge and I live in one half, and the other four adults (my in-laws) will live in the other half. This is scaring the living crap out of me! My god, there are so many worst-case-scenarios to think through. The financial entanglement, the potential for disputes, the concerns I have that other people might try to parent Squidge instead of me…

I am really, really stressed about this move. Everyone else is excited though, and that’s makes the situation worse, because it makes me the party-pooper. I have some genuine concerns and I am finding it hard to raise them – one, because I am so worried about upsetting people, and two, because I am worried that I can’t distinguish between my own genuine concerns and the ones that are arising because of my anxiety. It’s a shitter, to put it bluntly.

I will be (and am in the process of) raising and talking through my concerns with the other adults involved in the move. I think that is important and necessary and my voice needs to be heard. However, what I would like to do for myself – and I’m going to do it right here, right now – is to visualise some positive scenarios, too! So here they are, the things I am looking forward to about our new living situation:

  1. Baking with Squidge and other family members in the kitchen (while we all have to share a kitchen still, that is!)
  2. Being able to take Squidge outside to look at the horses that are also moving in with us!
  3. Rambling around our land, picking blackberries in the autumn, making hedgerow jam back at the house.
  4. Making the most awesome treehouse ever for Squidge in one of the big trees in the garden.
  5. Ditto mud kitchen. (We could make one in our present house, but there will be so much more SPACE in the next house!)
  6. Being able to dump Squidge on an extended family member for ten minutes while I do an impromptu job that’s impossible to carry out with him around (i.e. unloading the dishwasher or cleaning the toilet!)
  7. HAVING A BATH. We only have a shower at the moment. I love the idea of being able to run a proper bath for Squidge. I also love the idea of being able to get in the bath myself with a book, and candles, and maybe a nice cold bottle of beer. And what will I be asking Father Christmas for this year? POSH BUBBLE BATH! Gallons of it.
  8. Having a decent guest room for people to come and stay. Currently B and I have to turf out of our room and bed down in my office. I love the idea of having a guest bedroom already made up, where all you need to do is put folded towels on the bed and fresh flowers in a vase on the bedside table! Mmm.
  9. Christmas. Christmas is going to be unbelievably good with lots of people around. B is VERY Scroogey about decorations, and doesn’t like me putting them up, but B’s family are much more into it. I’m imagining matching wreaths for our two front doors, a proper full-size Christmas tree in our lounge, homemade mince pies… and maybe even a family Christmas carol sing-song. People might feel a bit awkward about it, but if we’re going to be living like the Waltons we may as well get in character, right?!
  10. The space. B and I could never otherwise afford the amount of house-space that we are going to get with this place. Our bedroom is going to be ENORMOUS. So big that I will actually be able to put a sofa and a desk in there as well. So big that, for once, we won’t be tripping over the piles of crap we have everywhere because in our current house there is bog-all storage. I am so excited about the storage! (I must be a proper grown-up now.)

…There. I actually have wound up feeling more excited and less anxious about this move. I have donned my rose-tinted glasses, and you know what? My world looks a bit prettier in pink 🙂