Running and Me

Great South, 2004.

My relationship with running has never really reached its full potential. I’ve had an on-off thing with it since I was a teenager, and we’ve never really, properly, committed to each other.

The Early Days

Back in the late 80s running was called jogging, and it was still dusting off its reputation as a sport that only very thin, sightly weird people participated in. But even back then, there was something about it that I loved. Cross country at school was torture to some of the girls in our class. They shuffled along, squealing at the mud and complaining at the exertion. I rather liked cross country – it was something I felt I inherently knew how to do – but I felt uneasy about admitting it.

I ran now and again during my A-levels, and on and off at university. I had no idea what training was, and would literally go full pelt out the front door until I ran out of muscle and air, which normally took about 10 minutes.

It frustrated me. I could never get any better, and I was always so sore and tired after a run which meant days of recovery and then a reluctance to go again because it meant suffering the same. Looking back I can see that I was almost sprinting every run I did. Because of this, I fell into a pattern that repeated for years – a few months sprint-running a couple of times a week, and then giving up because I just couldn’t increase the time beyond 10-15 minutes. Months would pass and then I’d get antsy again about not running, so I’d start from the beginning. I probably had the heart of an ox.

Going a bit further

In 2004 I bought my first ever book on running and learnt about combining running and walking. This was great – I could train for longer and I could recover between the sprints. I was living in Portsmouth so I ambitiously signed up for the Great South Run, which is ten miles. I started a training plan, but walk-run became run-run in the book after a few weeks and my sprinting left me exhausted. I thought I must just be very unfit, or a crap runner.

I ran the (untimed) Basingstoke Race for Life that year (5k) in June and timed myself at 28:59. I could tell by the number of people in front and behind me that I finished slap bang in the middle. To this day, that is still my unofficial PB for a 5k. However, by the end of the summer, with a heavy travel schedule at work, my enthusiasm amd training had dropped right off. I ran the Great South in 1:56, a pace of 7.25min/km, or 11.6min/mile. I was utterly exhausted afterwards and every step of the walk home hurt.

At work on the Monday one of the senior managers asked me how the run had gone as we passed each other in the entranceway. I told him my time and he said:

“That’s not very fast, is it?” and walked off saying something about having to train harder and Jane in accounts finishing in 1:25 (I can’t remember the actual name or time of the person he mentioned, but it was something like that).

Yeah, he was a bit of an arse. But it still stung.

Post-baby running

My running dropped back to occasional runs here and there for the next few years. I wanted to be a runner, but I couldn’t keep it up. Something would inevitably interfere with my exercise plans – usually illness after the first few weeks of starting (again, with hindsight I can see that I was going all-out for each run, destroying my immune system and I needed to reign it in). I was working endless hours, then buying a house, then planning a wedding and then having a baby, so running was neglected and mostly ignored.

I put on three stone during my first pregnancy, and almost died after haemorrhaging severely following an extensive labour and birth. I had never been so physically weak, but something about it fired up my desire to run again. Three months after bringing my new baby boy home, I set out on a 16 minute plan: walk 3, run 1, x4. I felt like my lungs were turning inside out and my body was covered in a bag of jelly. I signed up for the Great South Run again. I wanted to beat my previous time.

I’ve never liked running really early in the morning, or really late in the day, so I ran once a week, when my husband or my mum could look after Lucas. It was obviously not enough, but it was all I could fit in. I ran through sleep deprivation, horrible weather, teething and weaning. Slowly, oh-so-slowly, my weight came back down. I ran 5k in 30 minutes at the Southsea Race for Life. I was still 5kg over my pre-baby weight when race day arrived. I finished in 1:52, pleased to have beaten my old time, but sorely disappointed not to get under 1:45, which is what I was secretly hoping for.

Falling out of love

Straight after the Great South, I immediately got pregnant and nine months later Christopher arrived. Things were not easy with a toddler and a baby. The opportunities for running were even more limited and I struggled through each day in a fog of tending to the needs of two tiny people who needed me for everything.

When Christopher was 9 months old, we decided to try for the third baby we wanted, assuming it would happen straightaway. I wanted to get the pregnancy and birth out of the way and then I could move on, focus on myself, get my body back in shape. However, the universe had other plans. It took three and a half years of heartache before I finally carried a baby to term. During that time, you would think that running would have been my salvation. My escape. But it wasn’t.

I couldn’t focus on it (or anything really). I longed for the feeling of freedom that running brings, but no matter what I did I could never escape the misery in my own body and mind. I signed up for races to motivate myself. I ran the Hursley multi-terrain 5k in September 2013 in 33:22. Before I lined up to start, I nipped for a wee in a portaloo and my period had arrived. I had been desperately hoping for pregnancy. I ran, and I wanted to cry the whole way around.

I ran the Great South 5k the following month (the ten miler was way out of my league). It rained buckets. My shoes were full of water. I hated it. I wondered why on earth I was doing something so fucking stupid as to go running in the freezing cold and wind and rain. My time was 34:16. Then in December, I ran a Lakeside series 5k in 30:54. That’s my official 5k PB. If I’d known I was so close to sub-30 I would have pushed harder. After that I got pregnant and miscarried yet again, this time losing a baby boy at 11.5 weeks. I was done with running.

And back in again

In 2015, pregnant again, it started to look like we might actually bring a live baby home. I felt happier than I had in literally years. I started running again. Very, very gently. At 27 weeks I had to stop due to severe SPD. The last couple of months of my pregnancy were absolute agony. When Francesca was born, I’d planned to do the same as I’d done with Lucas – get back to it after around three months. However, baby F was The Worst Sleeper In The World. Maybe it was because I’d been so anxious during the pregnancy, but she screamed every time I put her down. Even if she was asleep, and I waited until she was totally limp, and took minutes to lay her down, her eyes would spring open and she would howl the house down. She slept on my chest, day and night, for four and a half months. At five months, delirious from lack of sleep, I couldn’t take any more and I put her in a cot in her own room. She woke every 90 minutes for the next few months. We hired a sleep consultant which helped a little.

But running couldn’t wait. I was desperate to get back to it. I started out by going to a local parkrun and trying a slow and easy 5k. For the first time in my life, I ran slowly. I pottered along at the back, being overtaken by sprightly pensioners and people twice my size. But I did it, and I loved it.

I ran parkrun every Saturday that summer for 9 weeks and my time went from 37:21 to 32:12. But the lack of sleep combined with the junk I was eating (I was living on chocolate and takeaways because cooking was impossible with the world’s screamiest baby), took its toll on my body. A niggly foot injury I’d ignored for ages started playing up badly and my joints were so stiff and sore. I stopped running.

Osteoarthritis

My joint pain got worse and worse. I still wasn’t really sleeping, and was refereed to a consultant in September of 2016. I had osteoarthritis. He suggested a surgery – a cheilectomy to remove the osteophytes that had grown around my joint (little lumps of bone that stop the joint moving so much). He said a bone fusion was probably my only long-term option, necessary within two years. The cartilage in my right toe was ruined. I went home and brooded.

My joints got worse and worse. At Christmas I went back to the doctor because everything hurt. Getting up off the sofa was painful and my thumbs were so bad I couldn’t do normal things like open jars any longer. They did a blood test to rule out rheumatoid arthritis and said I was deficient in vitamin D.

I sat at home and brooded some more. Every time I was out in the car, I saw runners. Happily running along. How lucky they were, to be able to run! I had a combination of depression and denial. It didn’t seem possible that for the rest of my life I couldn’t run. How could that be taken away from me? I hadn’t even really gotten started.

In March this year (2017), I started researching arthritis. I read dozens of medical studies and ordered a book called “Say No To Arthritis” by Patrick Holford. I ordered a ridiculous amount of supplements. I stopped breastfeeding my daughter at night in an attempt to get more sleep. I cut down sugar (which was so hard). And slowly, after around three weeks, there was a definite improvement. I was no longer limping.

Running again

I braved my first run on April 18th this year. A very gentle, very slow jog, with lots of walking. My foot did not get worse, fall off, swell up or explode. I took that as a positive sign and for the last six weeks I’ve run at least once a week, sometimes four times a week. My toe aches now and again, and the pain is still very much there if I prod around and look for it, but it’s subsided enough to allow me to walk normally and run carefully. I am grateful for every pain-free step. For a few dark months, I thought my running days were over.

And being a lot older and wiser, I have done a lot of reading about training. About overtraining specifically. I know about slow runs, about recovery, about consistency. I just need to put it into practice.

I’ve signed up for the Great South this year. Overly ambitious, as always, but a girl’s gotta have a goal. And if I can run that race it will be a victory not just over the general lethargy that we all have to battle, but over arthritis, which threatens every day to flare up and take away my love of movement.

Back together

Running has always been my ‘thing’. Running and me – we’ve always been together, we’ve just spent a lot of time apart. But now we are partners more than ever before. Each time I get ready for a run, all I feel is joy at being lucky enough to be doing it. I wish I’d been more consistent, and more gentle with myself in the past. I’d love to have years and years of solid training behind me instead of years and years of crazy sprinting and then stopping. But I’ll work with what I’ve got and this time I know for sure, as long as I am able, that I’m in it for the long haul.

Emotional Fallout

Sigh. I’ll try not to make this post too rambling and all over the place.

This is a long post – 3,400 words.

I’d suggest that you avoid it if you’re not feeling up to a journey through someone else’s messed up head!

I am suffering from an extreme case of self-loathing at the moment. My head is like a bubbling cauldron, full of a million and one things, mostly from the past, but also anxieties about the future, and I’m having a really hard time maintaining a ‘stable’ outlook.

Okay, so to try and break down what’s going on, I’ll try and lay out what’s bothering me (again, please don’t feel you have to read – simply the act of writing this out will help me get my thoughts clearer in my head).

1. Self-loathing

This is the big theme, and I think it’s a side effect of the other things I’ll talk about below. I am eating junk, every day. I’m not cooking proper meals for my family, we’re eating too much takeaway food, and instead of lunches, I just pick all day long at stuff that is no good for me. It is like an addiction, and I hate it. I think eating crap all day every day is also affecting my mood (loads of studies about sugar and depression). I don’t seem to be able to get control of this at all. And I think the reason for it is the comfort that it provides me while I’m eating. That nice feeling that sugar/fat gives you when you eat it (oh so brief, sadly). I seem to be hanging onto those pleasurable moments of actually eating bad stuff as some kind of crutch to get me through all the other stuff that’s going on in my head.

But then of course, because I’m aware of how important diet is, and how important it is especially now, I literally can’t bear myself for eating this way. It’s a horrible cycle of desire, brief happiness and then self-hatred. I know this is edging towards the emotions of a genuine eating disorder, and that scares me. My diet right now is the worst it’s ever been in my life.

There is a part of me, as well I think, that is rebelling for having spent three years obsessing over everything I eat in case it was affecting my fertility. The irony of it is that now I’ve actually got a baby to support, I’m eating the absolute worst ever. Yesterday for example, I had cereal and milk and a hot chocolate for breakfast. Then I ate food in the canteen at Ikea (chips and cake). I had an ice-cream in the afternoon, and egg fried rice and a glass of wine for dinner. I mean – practically ZERO nutritional value in that lot, and that’s just about a typical day.

Sigh. Anyway, as I said, looking at it objectively, this is in large part a crutch for my other emotions and in smaller part a rebellion of three years of being on the straight and narrow. Phew. So now I’ve quantified that issue, let’s look at all the other shit.

2. Parental angst

By this I mean angst about my own parents (primarily). In particular my mother. Becoming a mother for the first time resulted in such incredible feelings of love and protection that very slowly I drifted into total disbelief at the way my parents looked after me and my brother. Becoming a mother focused the reality of my own childhood and in a way, it took it away from me. I knew that my upbringing was different – I was aware of that even at the time, but it wasn’t until I knew how it felt to be a mother that I realised the enormity of the responsibility and how immensely my own parents failed to take that on board.

I’ve done a bit of work over the years, trying to move to a place of acceptance about my parents, and I think with my father I have finally got there.

He was overly critical of me and my brother (criticism was pretty much all he said while we were growing up), and very judgemental of us, but knowing him as an adult I get the sense that a) he is aware of this on some level because he always makes a point of encouraging my boys and telling them well done – words I never, ever heard as a child, and b) I can see other traits in him that I misinterpreted at the time, but that I can now see as a deep caring for my and my brother’s wellbeing. For example, my Dad is nervous of everything that could cause an accident. He’s the same with the boys – he tells them don’t touch this, stay away from that. And it’s because he fears for them. He was exactly the same when I was a child (and I have picked up this trait with gusto, inadvertently). But it comes from a caring place – a fear, as a parent, that a child could get hurt. I understand that now. When I was growing up, being told that everything I did was never good enough, and being told to stay away from everything that could cause me any danger at all made me  rebellious and angry, and sowed a deep inner feeling of low self-worth. I understand all of that now.

My mother on the other hand.

This is a relationship that I didn’t even realise had hurt me until I had children of my own. It will take too long to go into detail over this, but to summarise:

  • My mother is the daughter of an abusive parent. She had an alcoholic father and a mother who beat her (and did other things – locking in cupboards, force-feeding until sick, just horrible stuff), for 17 years until she left home and married my Dad. She’s tried to commit suicide several times and been in and out of mental hospitals.
  • My mother hardly ever hit me – I literally remember one or two occasions where she lashed out.
  • She was so depressed throughout the majority of my childhood that she mostly slept on the sofa, watched the washing machine, stared out of the window and generally did not interact with me very much at all.
  • She had pets – birds, dogs, fish, tortoises – and they all got as much, if not more attention than me and my brother.
  • She avoided any kind of public encounter and pretty much hid herself away if my friends ever came to play. I walked to school by myself from age 5/6 and on one notable occasion aged about 10 I spent an hour waiting on a platform 3 miles from home, for a train, in the worst snow the UK had seen in ages. I was so numb and cold that I cried with pain when I finally got back from school after a near two hour journey, door-to-door. My mum was sat at home the whole time. With her car on the drive. I don’t know how long it would have been before it occurred to her that I might need help. Personally, if my 10 year old was two hours late coming home from school in a snow-storm, I’d be concerned enough to go looking. I have hundreds of stories like this.
  • She did the absolute minimum for me and my brother as kids. We didn’t get trips to the hairdresser or dentist. We didn’t go anywhere with her at all. I started cutting my own hair at age 10, and I was buying my own clothes in jumble sales at age 11 with my pocket money because my mother had stopped clothing us. I did 5 years at school wearing the same shirts I was bought when I was 11 (yep, they were miles too small).
  • She laughed at me for my entire childhood. I don’t really know how to explain this, but my mother’s emotional abilities were (I can see now), severely damaged by her upbringing. She has three main moods. Vacant (where she is going over the past, which she could do for hours at a time), angry (where everything is an annoyance, including me when I was a kid), and amused. She never really displayed love. She laughed at me all the time. It was her way. I see it now with the boys. One of them needs sincere attention over something, or the two of them are trying to explain something to her in earnest, and she laughs at them. She laughs in that “oh aren’t they funny” way, but she applies it to everything. She just laughs at you. Have you any idea what it is like to grow up with a mother who laughs at everything? Who laughs at your first period (and then sends you to the shops with your Dad to buy sanitary towels)? At your first bra? Jokes about your small breasts? Who laughs at your prettiest clothes? At presents people buy you? She simultaneously made me terrified of upsetting others and saying the wrong thing, and yet ridiculed almost everything I said and did by laughing about it. It wasn’t nasty laughter, it was just that she seemed to find everything inconsequentially amusing. I had clothes I couldn’t bear to wear because she’d laughed when I’d tried them on. I detested pink, and make-up, because she laughed at my attempts to be a woman. You can imagine that, combined with my father’s constant criticism. Fertile ground for a fucked up child, huh?

Anyway, I could go on and on and on about my mother. The facts today are that I love her, in some way, because she is my mother. I mean, I’d be sad if she died (possibly more for what never was than for what we had). But I do not really like her. And I am angry that I missed out on a decent mother. I have no idea what people are thinking when they post mothers day tributes to their own hard-working mums on Facebook. What a nice feeling that must be, to have a mum that cares for you and looked after you.

Hah. Anyway. The whole point of this is as follows:

1. I still have a lot of unresolved anger and self-pity for what I didn’t even know was wrong at the time.
2. I am absolutely terrified that this baby will be a girl and how the fuck will I know how to be a good mother and a good role model??

So there, I’ve said it. I was so relieved, SO relieved, when I gave birth to two boys. But this time around – this pregnancy has been different… I just think it might be a girl… but then it might not. I don’t know. If it isn’t, then that’s fine, I can do boys, I looked after my brother to a certain extent as a kid. Boys and mums – a bond that is unassailable.

Girls? Jeez. How can I ever be good enough for a daughter? How can I teach her self-respect, to stand up for herself, to look after herself, to make the most of herself, and to be a kind person?

I am terrified.

When I was 5 my Dad took me to the hospital to visit my mum after she gave birth to my brother. Back then, having a baby was a several day hospital stay, so Mum hadn’t been home for a while. I remember Dad gave me a drawing to give to Mum of her and the new baby, which he’d done himself. He told me to tell her that it was from me. I was embarrassed because I knew that she’d know I hadn’t drawn it, and it seemed silly for me to pretend. But most importantly of all, I wasn’t even missing her. As a 5 year old, I didn’t miss her when she wasn’t there. Because when she was there, she wasn’t really there either, she was off with the ghosts from her past.

And I am terrified that my children might feel the same way about me.

So yeah. That’s a lot of parental angst floating around in my head at the moment.

3. Getting older

My god, I think often about the fact that I am forty. Forty!! And here I am with a big pregnant belly… I see other girls half my age carrying bumps and I feel… embarrassed. A kind of niggling embarrassment that “at my age” I am having a baby. I never gave age a second thought with the boys. I felt a LOT younger at 36, when I had my youngest, than I do now. And I looked younger. 5 years of parenting two boys, many miscarriages and a whole pile of emotional stress has left me looking older, and more importantly feeling older. I know now that people look at me and can tell I am older. It’s a hard thing to deal with, ageing. Especially for women – you lose your looks, your figure, your hair greys, the end of your reproductive years looms… For men (if they look after themselves), they become distinguished, wise, mature. A mature man is a good thing. A mature woman? Not as good as a supple and fecund young woman, eh?

Sigh.

So, I know in part this is all about self-perception, but dammit, I just feel OLD some days. It’s not a lack of energy, or physical problems (thankfully), it’s just that I know I don’t look as fresh as I used to. The plumpness of youth has vanished. My cheeks are more hollow. I have the beginning of jowls (they run on both sides of my family). My eyes have clear wrinkles when I smile. My legs are developing thread veins at an alarming rate, like old lady legs I used to stare at when I was small. I wonder if the boys look at me and think I’m a pretty mummy or not. If I have a girl… (back to the girl thing again), she’ll only ever see me as way past my best. I would never want a daughter of mine to grow up afraid to make the most of herself (like I was), covering herself in ridiculously baggy clothes and hiding her youth and beauty. I have mum friends who manage to be super-glamourous and their daughters follow their lead, with an interest in clothes and make up and fashion. I wish I could be more like that. How can I teach a daughter about dress-sense and fashion, when I have so little of my own? I still cringe at the idea of painted nails (there’s my mum laughing again), but I know mums who paint their own nails and their daughters nails to match. What a wonderful thing to do – how I would have loved that when I was a child! To be initiated into the grown-up world of beauty instead of being laughed at for my attempts (from a woman who wore neither make-up, nor nail varnish, nor perfume, nor much in the way of jewellery).

This might seem a highly superficial concern, but the fact is, our outward appearance, whether we like it or not, has an impact on the way we are treated all through our lives. So I have a double issue here – my own ageing process, which is alarmingly rapid these days, and the fact that I want to be a mum that my kids are proud of – not a baggage lady!

You might say kids don’t notice these things – but my Dad admitted to me once that he was embarrassed by the way his mum used to hide at the back of the crowd on the school run, with no make up on, while all the other mums were dressed up and looked so pretty to him. He used to wonder why she wouldn’t just wear some make-up and dress like everyone else did. How awful would she have felt, if she’d known that’s what her little boy was thinking?

4. Expectations and Anxiety About The Future

Now’s not the time to get into my whole breastfeeding saga – I’ve written more than enough already – but this, among other things, is weighing heavily on my mind. The birth, the aftermath, feeding, how we’ll manage… how it will all go down. Will I be as broken as the previous times?

And then – family. VISITS.

I’m pissed off already that everyone will want to visit. People will want to congratulate. Hold the baby. Sit in our house and expect tea, and nobody will bring food or anything to help. I’m angry about how everyone imposed themselves on us before, spending hours and hours here, expecting tea and lunch and more, when all I wanted to do was cry over my bleeding nipples and have a house that wasn’t full of other bodies, upsetting my newborn with all the passing around. A week after giving birth to my second, I still hadn’t made it into the shower (yeah, gross I know, but I had a toddler to look after and was sleeping maybe three hours a night), and my in-laws were here for HOURS. In the end, the husband had to ask them to leave. It was awful. I just wanted a wash, and to be left alone. Awful.

I’m already angry about what hasn’t happened yet! I’m fantasising about booking myself into a birth centre for days after the birth so people can visit only between certain hours.

With my first baby, I was in the kitchen making lunch and my mother in law (who is a smoker) sat with my brand new, perfect baby on her lap and put her finger in his mouth for him to suck on. She got my father in law to take photos and I missed it all – I was in the kitchen.

When I later saw the pictures I was absolutely livid. I was trying to breastfeed and was paranoid about “nipple confusion” (bloody midwives – don’t listen to them, babies never get confused about what a nipple is), I hated the fact that she ‘tricked’ him into sucking her finger, not to mention I freaked out about the idea of nicotine residue making into my son’s system… I was so ANGRY and felt like he’d been violated while I wasn’t there.

And of course, because my mother never taught me how to set boundaries and be assertive, none of this was ever confronted, or assertively mentioned. We just let it all go, swept along on a tide of crippling exhaustion, desperate to make it to some kind of shore of stability as soon as possible.

And as if all that isn’t enough, I’m still carrying a lot of anger and resentment over how everyone has dealt with our miscarriages. Fuckers!! Seriously – the thought of them being all happy and wanting to get involved in holding the baby and cooing over the baby… eugh!!! The same people who told us it wasn’t meant to be, that a third child wasn’t a good idea, that things happen for the best. FUCK all that. Hypocrites.

So yeah, I’m pretty much dreading all the excitement and cooing that will happen when this baby is born.

(Hey, maybe it won’t. Maybe everyone will leave us alone! Then I’ll really have something to complain about, lol! I wonder if I can arrange emmigration to a warmer country before the birth? Might be a bit optimistic. Perhaps book an extended holiday in New Zealand for the 5 of us? Hmm. Possible. If I win the lottery. Ha! How AWESOME would that be??)

Anyway, I’m feeling tons better already having written all this out. I sure have a lot of shit swirling around in my head, and I need to get it all straightened out before my due date. Clearing my todo list right down has given me more time to think about things, which is good – I need to get them sorted. And partly this is, I suspect, the aftermath of three very stressful years with zero support from our real life folks.

I know I need to be more assertive, and clearer about my boundaries and what I will and won’t accept. I know I need to reach some kind of peace over my mother. I know I need to lay to rest these thoughts of not being a good enough parent.

I’ve just got to work out how.

The Right Book At The Right Time

waw

I’ve just finished a book that has been sat on my bookshelf since June 2008 (I looked it up in my Amazon history, cool huh?).

It’s 160 pages long and it took me three days to read it, with copious amounts of highlighting. And it is such a brilliant book, I wanted to share some of it with you.

The title doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s called Women At Work, by Anne Dickson.

In a nutshell it’s a book about being more assertive in the workplace. But it is so much more than that. The advice in this book can apply to everyone you have to deal with – from family and friends, to neighbours and shop assistants. It’s a blueprint for dealing directly, openly and clearly with people and for always respecting your personal boundaries.

Reading this has cleared up such a lot of confusion for me. My mother, who was abused as a child, is a very timid, submissive person (which was her survival strategy). As a result, I grew up thinking you always had to be nice to others, never let anyone think you disagree with them and never do anything to hurt someone else’s feelings.

I’ve allowed people, on some occasions, to walk all over me. And more frequently I’ve ended up wound-up and upset by things people say and do. I thought maybe this was a problem with the people that I chose to spend my time with, but this book has allowed me to see that it’s primarily a problem with setting my own boundaries, retaining my own sense of personal power and taking myself seriously enough that other people will take me seriously too.

A revelation!

All those horrible comments that I should have challenged. All the times when people have been too busy, or too dismissive to talk through my concerns. All the times I’ve felt that people just didn’t understand me, when I was giving them NO clue at all as to what I wanted or expected from them.

All that time I’ve been allowing people to (unknowingly) chip away at my own sense of who I am and what is acceptable. By never challenging anything (or occasionally just having a tearful/angry meltdown), my sense of self, my sense of personal power has just diminished.

Here is a quote from the book:

Consistent failure to make requests, express feelings, say ‘No’, and set limits leaves our personal boundaries indistinct under a haze of confusion and resentment. We end up experiencing our boundaries only when other people clumsily, repetitively and habitually invade them.

Anne talks about how it is okay to be anxious, even at the very moment when you are trying to be clear about your preferences and feelings. She talks about starting difficult conversations from a position of what you want to achieve, not by worrying about what the other person is thinking or is in the middle of doing. She tells you to give yourself the importance you deserve.

So, after finishing this book, I looked Anne up online and she has a website! And one of her other books, which is also sitting on my bookshelf (as yet unread), has a 30th year anniversary edition: A Woman in Your Own Right. I can’t wait to read my copy of this.

I had a quick look through the reviews on Amazon for and I found this:

5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a must for you if you’re feeling overwhelmed about anything.

…I must have bought at least 20 copies since, but I’ve given them all away during my practice as a volunteer in miscarriage support. Grief and bereavement can cause serious breakdown in clear conversation. Everybody thinks they know what you are going through and how you should act, but they don’t as “they” are not you. Being able to tell your truth in a clear, consistent and honest way literally does save relationships at these overwhelming times and allows the right things to be said and understood and for grief to flow fluently.

The fact that a miscarriage support worker was recommending her book for the exact thing that I have been struggling with over the last few years was amazing.

It was like a message from the universe :-).

The point of this post was going to be that you should read your books, not let them gather dust on the shelf.

But actually, I think this was the exact right time for me to take it off the shelf and give it my undivided attention.

So I only have one other thing to say: read this book if you are a woman of any age. I wish someone had handed me a copy when I turned 16.

Juice Fast

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Well, it was only a matter of time, right?

The husband bought this book almost a year ago after we stumbled across Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead on Netflix. It has sat on the bookshelf, unread, since then.

Today, prowling around the house like a caged animal after all the form filling, I picked it up and started reading. And then I spoke to the husband, and he said he’s up for it and why didn’t we buy a juicer tonight.

Wow.

OK, that sounds more spontaneous than it actually was. As you know we’ve both modified our lifestyles and eating habits a lot, and we’ve talked about juicers several times but weren’t quite ready to take the plunge.

In fact, I think if we’d tried to do this before now we would have failed almost immediately.

And we still might!!

But we’re both a lot closer to being able to do a juice fast now. We have very little caffeine and a lot more fruit and veg in our diet. We’re both ex-vegetarian (so no meat is no issue) and we did an experimental month as vegans in April last year.

And we’ve been bandying the juice-fast idea around in conjunction with possibly doing IVF as it seems like a good way to cleanse and detox before starting the process.

I like the idea of giving my 40 year old body a rest, a holiday, a nutrition-packed break from all the crazy different foods we eat. And I’ve been fascinated with the idea of an all-raw diet for years.

So we’ve made a plan. We have a delivery on Sunday for the normal week’s food, which we’ll leave as is. We’ll also try to use up, and run down, all the odds and ends in our cupboards, between now and the end of next week, allowing us to start afresh and with no temptation.

We’re planning a 5 day juice-fast, starting Sunday 25th January.

No supplements, no meat, no dairy, no anything except glorious fruit and veg.

Maybe I’ll finally drop the last few kilos I’ve been carrying for years. Maybe I’ll sleep through the night without waking up at all. Maybe I’ll discover a true love of beetroot (I have been trying but progress is slow).

And just maybe it will give my poorly eggs the boost they need.

Day 38 – An Ominous Sign

I started spotting today.

Not much. I may have even missed it if I wasn’t checking religiously every time I went to the bathroom. The last couple of times (spanning 4 hours), there have been faint streaks of red. Hardly anything.

But enough for me to know this isn’t good.

I’ve miscarried at 6.5 weeks twice in the past, and on those occasions spotting started on day 33 and day 41, so I’m in the red zone as far as spotting goes.

However, for a fair comparison, I also spotted pretty much through the first 8 weeks of my good pregnancies.

So in actual fact, spotting tells me nothing.

I had a distinctive stretching feeling in my uterus last night at bedtime. I was lying in bed just absorbing the sensation and it wasn’t pain – it was actually a stretching feeling (if that makes any sense). I went to sleep certain that all was well.

And maybe it is – maybe (since I’ve always been prone to bleeding), it really is just my uterus accommodating the growing pregnancy sac.

But I’m also a serial miscarrier, so maybe it’s my body getting ready to get rid of what’s inside.

Probably because it isn’t chromosomally up to the job.

Where was I when I discovered this?

At a soft play centre with the boys.

And who did I bump into?

A friend from NCT classes, who I haven’t seen for around two years. She had a surprise 4 month old with her, born one week before she turned 40. She asked me if we were planning a third… I’d literally just got back from the bathroom where I’d discovered the bleeding…

I said we weren’t really committed either way.

So I’m feeling pretty emotionally guarded at the moment. Reactions have been postponed until more definitive information arrives.

Right now, I’d do pretty much anything for wine, chocolate, and pizza.

But I’ll save the indulgence for conclusive evidence of the end of pregnancy #9.

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