Change (‘The Change’ and otherwise)

I’m not big on change. It’s scary and unsettling. The Bear’s not big on change either, and I suspect that’s partly down to me. Sorry, B.

I’ve never been madly impulsive, but I have gone out of my comfort zone now and then. I upped sticks and moved to Lithuania, for one. Started up an advertising agency. Chucked in my job to go freelance. So, I’m not a complete wuss. But I am getting more and more resistant to change. And there’s a lot of it about at the moment, so I’m feeling a little…unsettled.

I sold my house, and S and I bought a house together. Given we’ve been with each other for 10 years and have a child, it’s hardly spur of the moment but it’s a sea change nonetheless. We moved out of the city (OK, we were just within the city limits, but still) to the ‘Burbs. The new house is a collaboration, rather than a solo effort (although I’ve started calling S ‘The Client’). B has had to adjust to his new nursery. S has a longer commute, with 2 trains an hour rather than every 15 minutes, and a schlep to the airport.

Added to that, I’m not working at the moment. I know I have to get my finger out and hunt down some work, but I’m immersed in DIY and project managing trades. I underestimated the shock of moving from a home where everything was done to a house which is lovely but very much a project. Making some changes will make it feel more like ours.

Plus, it feels like the only thing within my control at the moment.

Today is my first day off for months, what with getting the old house ready to sell through to where we are now. I’m not working so it makes sense to get on with the house, although I know I’m delaying the inevitable search for work. And some of it is down to distraction. Focus on what you can change. Forget about what you can’t. Numerous people told me how good it was that I had the new house to focus on to get over the miscarriage. But, of course it’s not as easy as that. I try to forget about it, but it has a habit of creeping in. And there’s real life stuff to navigate, too.

A couple of months ago, I was out for a girls’ lunch. We’re all mothers. We’ve all had miscarriages. Some of them knew about mine, some didn’t. Someone asked me how I was, and I started crying. Not a surprise – I can bear most things until someone asks me how I’m doing, and then I dissolve into tears and snotters.

And then these younger woman started talking about being perimenopausal. I’m the oldest woman there. I’m trying to have a baby. I don’t want to think about the menopause. Not now.

It’s not a vanity thing. Trust me, I gave up on that a long time ago. I can go more than a week without shaving my legs, no problem. I’ve taken to leaving the house with frizzy hair and no make up. I’m not proud. But I am acutely aware of my age.

There’s been nothing picked up in my tests for the miscarriages so it’s a fair assumption that it’s down to age – and there’s fuck all I can do about that. So, I really don’t want to start thinking about menopause.

But, of course I am.

I have absolutely no idea of when to expect The Change. My mother had a hysterectomy after having my brother and me, so didn’t go through the menopause – so I can’t use that as a guide. A friend suggested I visit a fertility clinic to get a steer on my egg supply, but I’m caught in indecision – I can’t bear the thought of either knowing or not knowing. And we can’t afford IVF, and the success rate for women over 40 is pretty grim. I’m 42. So, I’m trying very hard not to think about it.

But I’m very much aware of my wrinkles and my body shape, the change in my skin, and the hairs sprouting out of my chin – I put those down to hormones after having B but finally I have to admit to myself that it’s down to age. I can’t hide from it any more. The hair colour I’m using is no longer hiding the greys. And I’ve started having to pluck great white wiry antennae from my eyebrows. Every time I pluck the bastards out I wince at the irony that this old bird is still hoping to have a baby.

So, I’m in a state of flux at the moment. Things are not quite as they should be. I feel out of control. And I know that I really ought to take a deep breath and just go with it. That change is good. That we cannot control everything, no matter how much we want to. That in the grand scheme of things, we’re doing pretty bloody well, actually.

And Carol Decker of T’Pau fame had a baby at 45. So, there.

Welcome to Suburbia

It’s been a while. But, there’s been a lot going on. Getting the house ready for selling. Putting the house on the market. Having a miscarriage. Selling the house. Viewing houses. Buying a house. Dealing with estate agents and lawyers. Moving. Settling in. Starting work on the new house. Starting the Bear at a new nursery. All the bloody paperwork.

You get the drift.

And in the middle of everything, despite the pernicketiness of it all, I kept thinking This is too easy. And, given the horror stories you hear, it was. It all went very smoothly, which – being the way I am – raised its own alarm bells. So, I thought, better not talk about it. You’ll jinx it, and something will go horribly wrong.

I’ve become ridiculously superstitious. Either that, or I’ve finally lost my marbles. To be fair, it has been threatening for some time.

So, here we are. We’re in a new house in a new (for us, but not for me) town. We’re definitely suburban now. We’re so suburban, in fact, that the removers took one look at our new road and christened it Ramsay Street. Our next door neighbour’s even called Harold. We’re the youngest people on the street by at least 25 years. I believe that some of the neighbours have lived here for the same amount of time. It’s a bit of an adjustment, for them as well as us.

A month in, and everything’s new. Except for the house, which is very brown and 1970s – and will be lovely once we rip everything out and re-do it. I’ve made a start with electricians and plumbers, and have stripped the hallway and 2 rooms so far, which has robbed me of the will to live. And my fingernails.

And that’s before tackling what looks (and smells like) the original kitchen, and a fabulous faux stone feature wall and fake wooden beams in the living room.

It’s going to be fun. Eventually, I’ll calm down enough to enjoy it.

And there’s a lot to enjoy. We moved for the Bear and for a better quality of life, as wanky as that sounds. So rather than listening to traffic and chucking out time at the pub down the road, we’re at the seaside next to expansive woods, and within walking distance of things we needed the car or train for before. Which is lovely, and I need to remember every time I walk into a house which doesn’t yet feel like ours.


Customer service

Today’s rant is about customer service. And, unsurprisingly, I’ve a very specific example in mind.

I’ve been getting quotes from removal firms to help us move house. I’ve approached three companies. Two of them know what they’re doing, and have been absolutely no problem. The third, and ironically the first ones to come out and see me, still haven’t bothered to send through their quote over a week later. Rather than just forgetting about them, I’ve even called them to chase it up. To be told there was a problem with my email address, and it’ll be sent through in half an hour. That was two days ago. And they had my phone number.

The thing is, good customer service isn’t difficult. You just need to give a shit.

I did a presentation on client expectations and service standards a couple of months ago to some marketing agency staff. The presentation content was great, although I fucked up the delivery. Not great. But, good customer service can be distilled down to 10 things. I’m not going to spell it out here – you never know, I might be able to sell it to someone, and god knows I need the money – but it boils down to this:

Don’t be a dick.

If you don’t want my business, then tell me. Don’t waste my time. Don’t tell me half truths. Grow a pair of balls, and tell me the truth. If you tell me you’re going to do something, then do it. Do your job. If you’re not happy in your job, then I’m sad for you – but it’s not my problem. I have quite enough problems of my own as it is, one of which is a to-do list that’s two pages long and includes organising a removal firm so that we can move house.

Rant over.


So, here’s a thing. I don’t want to become ‘the miscarriage woman’, and be defined by what’s happened. But at the same time, for me, it’s a big deal. It’s changed me and our family’s future, and I can’t pretend it’s not happened. I need to talk about it and process it, and get through it. I’ll never forget, and I don’t know if I’ll ever fully get over it, but I want to get back to a sense of normal.

This is who I am now. Pregnant four times, and mother to one.

But I’ve been feeling like I’m boring people. By being sad. By wanting to talk about it, wanting people to acknowledge it. Boring in my grief. So, it’s become something else to beat myself up about. I’ve even been contemplating going to the doctor to talk about depression, until I realised:

It’s been four weeks. Four bloody weeks. Four weeks is nothing.

I’m grieving and in mourning, and it’d be odd if I wasn’t feeling sad.  That the baby was still in my womb doesn’t somehow nullify the loss. This has been the most significant loss I’ve experienced, and that includes the death of my mother. And I don’t imagine anyone would expect me to get over the death of my mother in three or four weeks.

So, I’m no longer beating myself up about what other people think about it. I’m still sad and I still cry sometimes, especially when I talk about it or see baby announcements or happy family photos on Facebook, but I’m feeling better than I was. And tomorrow I’ll feel better still.

For me, the biggest comfort has come from friends who have acknowledged what’s happened, told me it’s shit, and just been there for me. Some of the (lack of) responses have been surprising. At least, on a personal level. Because, in the bigger picture, the fact that people don’t want to acknowledge it isn’t a surprise at all. And that’s the problem with all of this – the don’t-tell-anyone-until-12 weeks nonsense, so that at a time when you’re going through a horrible, heartbreaking experience, no one knows. Unless you tell them. Which is difficult in the circumstances. How do you start that conversation? “Sorry I’m not myself. I was pregnant, but now I’m not”? I had that very conversation this morning with the receptionist at my dentist’s – a virtual stranger – and that was hard enough.

So, I’ve said it before and I need to keep saying it – if you know someone’s had a miscarriage, please acknowledge it. Say, I’m sorry for your loss. Or, It’s shit. Or, I don’t know what to say, it must be horrible for you. Or even, Can I help? Do you want to talk about it? Everyone’s different, but there’s nothing quite as painful as bearing that loss alone. Knowing that people are there for you makes it a little easier to cope with.

And on that note, Stylist magazine recently released this video, called ‘Let’s Talk About Miscarriage’. I think it’s worth sharing.


Today, I don’t know whether I’m up or down. I spent this afternoon in company pretending everything is OK, but I’ve chewed my finger nails so much they’re bleeding and sore. We’ve sold the house, which is good, but I’m frustrated after waiting all day for a call back about the house we want to buy. And I came home to find a stray dog in the garden which couldn’t work out how to get out the way it come in.

It wasn’t an especially bad day, but I’m angry, sad and anxious, and don’t know whether to weep, kick the furniture or get completely leathered. So I’m going to get a drink. Cheers.

Day 10 and counting

It’s Day 10 of my third miscarriage. Physically, the worst of it is over now. Day 2 was the most difficult, and worse than I remember either of the previous two. I spent the afternoon crying in the shower, because I was bleeding through pads and jeans faster than I could change them. That afternoon will stay with me for a long time. The clots. The blood. Trying to prepare myself for seeing the baby. Gathering samples for the hospital. And on day 3 delivering bits of bloody innards to the EPAU, walking past pregnant women and smiling couples.

If I’d thought about miscarriage at all before all of this, I’d assumed it was just over and done with. Maybe not quite a snap of the fingers, but pretty much. If only it were as easy as that.

And now it’s day 10. It almost seems like a lifetime ago. I’m still bleeding, but it’s mostly spotting now – although one day it seems as if it’s almost finished, and the next day is a little heavier. I’ll be glad when it’s done, not to have that reminder every time I go to the loo. A mark of failure.

The cramps while they lasted were manageable with ibuprofen. Ironically, after months of abstinence, I’ve been necking ibuprofen and coffee. And comfort eating. But the cramps weren’t too bad, apart from the occasional sharp stabbing pain or twisting spasm. What did take my breath away pain-wise was 3 or 4 days of trapped wind and bowel spasms. Take-your-breath-away, stop what you’re doing, ‘What’s up, Mummy?’ pains. It sounds laughable, complaining about wind in the midst of all this, but it was bloody sore. A consultation with Dr Google came up with some similar complaints from women who’d had D&Cs, but blamed antibiotics and the body’s reaction to surgery. I didn’t have surgery, so I can only assume it’s down to hormone levels dropping, possibly the same one that made me constipated when I was pregnant. Progesterone? I don’t know. It hurt. But it’s stopped now. Now, I just have the final traces of blood, a scattering of spots, and handfuls of hair in the shower. And eventually that’ll stop, too.

Emotionally, I feel numb. At least, I think I feel numb until I think about it, and then I well up. I’ve had days of crying, but it doesn’t feel as if I’ve completely dealt with it. Maybe it’s having to manage estate agents and house viewings, maybe it’s trying to keep it together for B, maybe it’s a twisted form of self-protection. I don’t know. But it feels a bit like I’ve thrown a mess in a cupboard and pulled the door closed to hide it. One of these days I’m going to have to open it and deal with it. Just not today.

Today, I’m sitting in my bed, fully dressed, typing this. I can’t bring myself to do anything. S is in London for a couple of days for work. I need to go to the supermarket. And there’s a fridge full of rotting food from 10 days ago that I’m going to have to sort – because I can cope with this, I can cope with cleaning the house until it shines and putting on a bright face for strangers, but I can’t cope with everything. Not just now.

The pain of recurrent miscarriage

The day before yesterday, on Easter Sunday, I started my third consecutive miscarriage.  As I drove home from the hospital, tears pouring down my face, I had the radio on in the background –  some programme about religious art on Radio Scotland.  I wasn’t paying a huge amount of attention, but the recurring themes of birth, death, resurrection and new life filtered through. Typical Easter stuff. The irony wasn’t lost on me.

Always the practical one, I stopped at a supermarket to buy sanitary towels, bread and a chicken for dinner. Keeping my head down so that no one would see my tearstained face, I managed to hold it together until the car park, when I was almost at the car. Then, I just couldn’t help myself.

For the past 11 weeks I’ve been keeping my head down.  Difficult to do – I was pregnant, hugely excited about it and wanted to shout it from the roof tops. Every conversation left me on the verge of blurting it out, so that I could share the good news. I told strangers, just so that I could tell someone. It seemed to take so long to get pregnant this time, and we were a little anxious because of the previous two miscarriages. But it felt different this time. It felt safe. I’d been for an early scan at eight weeks. I’d taken a pregnancy test 3 times. I’d had my booking appointment. There was just the dating scan in 10 days, and all would be good. Continue reading The pain of recurrent miscarriage

Rustic wooden candle holders

Last year I saw some rustic wooden votive candle holders online, which I fancied the look of, but couldn’t justify buying, especially in the middle of the Bear household birthday and Christmas season. November-January is a bit of a financial stretch as it is, without buying myself just-because presents.  The candle holders are basically just a slice of tree, with the bark still intact, and a hole of a tea light candle. Lovely, natural, touchy-feeling things – but at £30+, they’re not quite so lovely.

But I DIYed some. Actually, that’s a slight fib. I had a lovely assistant (= my Dad) to do the cutting and drilling for me, and as a result have ended up with about 30 of the blessed things.  Some of which I added to Christmas presents as stocking fillers.  I like them, I’m not so sure what the recipients thought…

In case you think I’m a bit delusional, here’s one of the votives I saw (the screen grab was taken after I’d made mine):

wooden votive

And here’s some of mine:



Mine are made from birch.  Some are smooth, with the wispy, papery bark you get with those trees, but I prefer the chunkier ones with the rougher bark.  I grouped three of them for the Christmas table this year, with some German silver gilded pine cones*, and it looked lovely.

*Rub some gilder’s paste on your finger to pick up the highlights and edges of some pinecones.  Sounds fancier than it actually is, but looks nice – especially in candle light.

How to make : Relaxing bath tea bags

Relaxing bath tea bags. It sounds a wee bit odd, but stick with it.  Chamomile tea bags with essential oils. In your bath.

It works, honest.

I’d bought some chamomile tea bags for something, didn’t get round to it, and didn’t use them. I can’t stand the taste of the stuff, so I wasn’t going to drink it. And while messing around with blends for bath salts, I came across a couple of interesting sounding combinations which involved chamomile oil – which I didn’t have. But I did have those chamomile tea bags.

Ta da.

I’ve heard of bath bags, with herbs in muslin bags, so it’s not that much of a stretch. And although these tea bags aren’t especially pretty looking (they started off as potential Christmas presents, and then got dropped because the bath salts looked nicer), they work well. If you wanted to make them nicer, it would be easy enough to cover them in muslin or linen, adding ribbons or printed tags, and packaging them in jars or cellophane…

Bath tea bags

How to make relaxing bath tea bags

These use a lot of oil, because I like a good, unapologetic fragrant bath.  You could always try reducing the amount of oil used (in ratio) if you prefer. Continue reading How to make : Relaxing bath tea bags

The Gratitude Project : Losing the plot

Not really feeling much in the way of gratitude at the moment. I’ve had an extended hiatus over Christmas and New Year, followed by an early New Year slump, and topped this weekend with yet another am-I-pregnant-no-I’m-not scenario.  And in all the chaos and madness I’m finding it really difficult to stop, breathe and take stock.

I know deep down I’ve got loads to be grateful for, both little things and big things, but at the moment my head’s well and truly down, and everything is black.

In the course of 3 days I’ve gone from daydreaming about The Baby, to sobbing inconsolably, drinking the best part (ok, all of) a bottle of wine, kicking the furniture and cursing the universe. Rather than focusing on the here and now, I’m a scary 3 or 4 steps ahead, second-guessing the future, and not in a good way. It’s not a good state of mind to be Googling in.

But it all pales into insignificance when I’ve got a small, sticky hand in mine, or I’m giving consoling kisses and cuddles to the Boy Wonder after he’s run into yet another obstacle.

Today is about licking my wounds.  Tomorrow is the start of something new.

3 things come to mind:

  1. Fuck this shit.
  2. “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” Kurt Vonnegut.
  3. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Neil Gaiman, Coraline

I’m away to eat apple pie and drink limoncello, and watch crap TV.

This post is part of The Gratitude Project – my plan to blog every week about things I’m grateful for in my life.  

Suburban earth mother and opinionated besom