Motherhood Unplugged – Swimming Against The Tide of Normal.

Motherhood Unplugged –
Swimming Against The Tide of Normal.

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel as though you are the only one swimming against the tide of normal?

Maybe you’re the mum who doesn’t let her children have sleepovers or the mum who wants her daughter to wear a dress that covers her shoulders as well as her tummy. Or you desire to simplify your days but feel pressured to say “yes” instead of “no”.

This was me a few years ago. I was swimming pretty hard against the undercurrent of normal and the following scenario was a day where the tide and swell were so strong I thought I may be swept downriver with the rest of the parents. All of whom seemed happy to stay together, as a group, collectively secure in the direction of that sloshing water.
All except me- it appeared.

I walked into the meeting room, full of mummy’s who were animatedly chatting in groups of three’s and four’s.
Most of the seats were taken, except for one random spot right at the back, squeezed between Debra (not real names here!) who chaired the school’s Parent’s and Children’s Association and Susan, whose child had sworn at mine a few weeks ago in the playground, calling her, amongst other things, the ugliest thing he had ever seen in his whole (short) existence.

Decisions, decisions……

Should I pole vault into the only available uncomfortable space or stand awkwardly to the side and not join in the fervently hushed chitter chatter?
I mean, I was late anyway, making a pretty ungracious entrance, my hopes of sneaking in obscurely not panning out quite how I would have liked. The door handle that I had concentrated on opening as quietly as possible, was stuck hard and I ended up shoving it open with my shoulder and muddy wellie boots.
More like stumbled into the meeting, caught the disapproving glance of the teacher in the middle of her intro, felt about 35 pairs of eyes upon me and tried to shush my two still-sleepy and rudely woken, napping twin’s grizzles.

I chose to stand against the wall with a twin on each hip, thinking how awesome my upper body strength must look, balancing two increasingly heavy dead-weight humans on my hips. Also contemplating how long I could hold that pose – before my trembling abs gave way.
I shoved a Chubba-Chub in each of their mouths, took a deep breath and attempted to look calm and composed. But of course, inside my swirling tummy, I was anything but.


We were here to discuss expectations. Homework expectations. For my 8-year-old daughter.
Her poor reading abilities had been highlighted a few weeks earlier. A concentrated/intensive programme of getting her ‘up to speed’ with the rest of the class, clearly outlined to me. In fact, on the first day of her attending Year 3, the Headteacher asked for “a word”. Then spent the next 30 minutes explaining to me why we needed to be vigilant and swift in our actions because “we didn’t want any lagging behind the rest of the pupils.”

And that was when that small nugget of, call it rebelliousness, or alternative thinking, or quite simply swimming against the tide of normal, began to form. But that day and for many days afterwards, I began the slow and steady strokes of moving against the tide of normal.
And you know what, it didn’t really bode well with others to swim in the opposite direction.

“Just because we appear to be swimming against the tide of normal,
normal isn’t a collective movement.
Normal is normal for me and normal is normal for you”.

The school didn’t much care for me quietly expressing my desires for my children to learn at their own pace, which I do understand when teachers have large groups of children to educate. It’s a difficult task anyway, without parents questioning other routes.

I, quietly but consistently enquired if we could possibly not have to complete “that amount of homework in the evenings” and instead spend it together as a family unit? Was it really necessary for my children to learn these spelling words when they struggled to read them first? No, I didn’t really think it was imperative that we keep a log of reading times and pages.
And heck no, I didn’t want to sell that book of fundraising tickets that Debra thrust into my full hands to enable the school to purchase new sets of play equipment in order to combat childhood obesity.
Walking is wonderful too. And free.

It took me about 18 months to realise that my swimming against the tide was ok. It was the right thing to do. For our family.
Different isn’t bad, it’s just not the same.

“For mothers are the ones who gently make room for fledging spirits to blossom.
Who tenderly nurture wandering souls and who offer the safest space
for hearts to dig roots and take flight”.

I slowly came to understand that learning for our family was going to look different from the next family. And that was ok.
It didn’t mean that we weren’t fully committed to the learning process.
It just meant that we were taking a different path. That path didn’t necessarily include signing reading books, completing homework or standardised tests.
That path for us was more of a gentle meander. An unfolding of learning journeys that took us to different places each week.
An individual approach to understanding how my children ticked and what came naturally for them to explore and understand in this world. That learning was learning outside of the classroom as well as in.
Mine just happened to be generally outside of four walls.

“And just because it’s different doesn’t make it wrong.
It just makes it different”.

I realised that society saw one thing and we saw another.

When my children were playing at the park in the middle of a school day, instead of learning, society saw kids that were bunking off. Wagging school.
What they didn’t see was how my children learn best. That last night they volunteered in a community event. We had music lessons an hour ago, my eldest twin has just joined a theatre group. Our rich learning environment was walking in nature, talking about tree canopies and discovering a baby deer feeding from its mother.
That we create a life-long love of learning, without the regulation of tests.
We are pressing into exploring basic life skills, how to socialise with all ages, how to cook a meal, what it means to keep to a budget. We regularly make trips to the library and come home with a bulging sack full of rich literature and living information.
Our minds alive with content spanning from the history of Britain to the amazing women who have forged a pathway of different from their own minds and unique steps.
Women like you and me.

That learning is more than being in a classroom. So much more.

“Give them a thumbs up and tell them that they are amazing.
Truly and utterly amazing”.

But beyond that, our learning journey is this way – and yours is another.

Only you know what suits your child or children best.

Yours may be via traditional school, which is completely right for you and your family. But mine isn’t that route.
And just because we appear to be swimming against the tide of normal, normal isn’t a collective movement. Normal is normal for me and normal is normal for you.

So whether you decide to world-school whilst living in an RV, send your child/children to boarding school because that is their heart’s desire to be in that environment. Whether you live inner city or country isolation, just know mama, that swimming against the tide of normal may well be just taking a different route towards your unique destination.

And just because its different doesn’t make it wrong.
It just makes it different.

So this week if you see a mama who has her children with her during school hours, or the mama who works and is juggling everything and everyone, or the ones that are fully committed to their own unique cause, don’t judge, just give them a thumbs up and tell them that they are amazing. Truly and utterly amazing.

Let’s be part of the movement of encouraging women who want to swim against the tide of normal and be the ones cheering them onwards.
For mothers are the ones who gently make room for fledging spirits to blossom. Who tenderly nurture wandering souls and who offer the safest space for hearts to dig roots and take flight.

In your weariness, shortcomings, doubts, misgivings, failures, struggles, loneliness and fears.
You are their home.


Continue Reading

Motherhood Unplugged – Let’s Talk About Worry

Motherhood Unplugged – Let’s Talk About Worry

Emma Bombeck says that “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”.

I can’t remember the first time I ever worried but I suspect I was really young, like still-in-nappies-kind-of-young.
And I believe this to be the case because my mum always told me I was a born worrier.
As a little girl, I would follow her around the house, with a pacifier in my mouth and beloved, dirty, spit-filled rug in my hands. Wherever my mum stopped to work in the house, I would drop my rug on the floor and lay down, waiting for her to finish up and move to another room. I was so anxious that she would leave me, hence my constant game of follow-the-leader.
As such a small person, it sounded like I had a lot of worries on my tiny shoulders.

I think in total I have spent many, many years worrying. About everything and nothing and all the useless stuff and only a tiny portion of the noteworthy stuff.

My mind had tricked me into thinking
that if I didn’t think about it
and be acutely aware of it, it would happen.

Then I became a mother and my worrying took on epic proportions.
Holding those tiny humans and realising they relied on me for their everything, utterly terrified me. I well remember literally being paralysed with fear that I would drop my newborns in my sleep-deprived fog that lasted months.
It was all in graphic detail, played over and over in my head.
I would be holding them, trip up on something and those small, fragile bundles would fly out of my arms and crash onto the floor. I would see myself screaming, hands over my mouth, too scared to check if they had sustained massive damage to their delicate skulls.

In reality, the actual statistics of parents tripping and dropping their newborns is very small (yes I actually Googled it). One article published on this subject says that “In the end, the parent might suffer more than the baby does if dropped. The overall outcome is generally that the parents are damaged for life from worry, and the babies are fine”.
That’s if you do drop your baby and guess, what? I didn’t. Ever. 
Sooooo much worry over something that never happened.

This was my absolute nightmare and it taunted me day and night. Not just for the first few children but with all of my six babies. And I foolishly believed that because my fear of dropping my babies was so strong and so real, it was actually going to happen.
My mind had tricked me into thinking that if I didn’t think about it and be acutely aware of it, it would happen.

Now I am older (cough-cough) and hopefully slightly wiser, I realise that those thoughts were a complete lie.
Read that again, my thoughts were a complete lie.

Worrying about the future doesn’t
make your future more secure.

In fact, they were, what I now term, ‘The Worry Lies’.
It’s something I talk about a lot with my older children, which is just because they think it might happen doesn’t make it fact.
To put it more simply, worrying about the future doesn’t make your future more secure. Worrying steals your joy in the present and places a cloud over your future anything because you are so concerned that something bad will happen.

I personally found my 40’s (so far) to be the most wonderful and freeing time of my life and the main reason for that is because I finally shed ‘The Worry Lies’.
My motto in the family is ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff”.
Talk to me about the important stuff, the big stuff, the things that need my attention today, but worrying, about something that could/would/ should/maybe happen?
I don’t have time for that.
Or more importantly, I don’t have mental space for that.

This doesn’t mean I don’t worry ever because that’s not true. My mind will always revert to worry mode if I let it.
What it does mean is that I am aware of my thoughts and realise pretty quickly when I am in a worry spiral.

The fact is that there are some things we should worry about. The important things. The ones that require our careful thoughts.
But the big problem is when you worry about everything and your brain is so full of concern over all the stuff, it’s truly hard to recognise those things that do need considered attention.

What to do then?

I find it useful to write my worries down. The ones that I have zero control over, I cross out and then erase from my mind. When I find myself straying back to those concerns, I picture the ‘worry words’ on the page and the red line drawn through them and say to myself, “There is nothing you can do about that”.
And I let it go.

You may be surprised, like I was, that close to 95% of my worries, never actually happened. They were fictional.
The remaining small 5% did need my attention and after a few small tweaks and changes positively, those worries were no more.

Which means, basically, I spent the majority of my life worrying for nothing. Zip. Zilch. Total time-waster.

I believed for so many years, that nobody else would understand how strong my thoughts were and actually, I felt a little silly even talking about them. But that’s part of ‘The Worry Lies’, they paralyse us on the spot. They make us feel frightened and inadequate and really dumb – all at the same time.

I would love to hear your stories of worry and fears in the comments section.
Maybe beginning a conversation today and releasing even one of those worries will be the first step for you to take control of ‘The Worry Lies’.
A near worry-free existence is possible. Believe me, if I can do it, you definitely can.


Continue Reading

Starting Over Again.

Starting Over Again

“For though I fall, I will rise again.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light”.

Starting Over Again.

When we moved from Australia to the UK we knew in our hearts that there was unfinished business here in this glorious, lush island of rolling green hills and abundant history. This beautiful British country that was to become our forever home.

“Until we realised that the jacket we had been
trying to pass off as a good fit,
felt truly uncomfortable and awkward”.

And in many ways we were the misfits, the renegades, the square pegs in round holes. The Australians who felt out of place in their home country.

A bit like wearing a jacket that needed re-sizing. No matter how much we tried to make that jacket fit – take it in here, add some pleats there, fancy it up a bit. It just never sat properly across our shoulders. It was too baggy under the arms, sat heavy on our chests and scratchy to wear for long periods of time.

We knew that we weren’t planted in Australia for long seasons, as much as we tried and tried to force those roots, deep down in the dry Australian soil.
They just didn’t grow, didn’t stick and most certainly didn’t thrive.

We tried moving, hoping that the ground was more fertile in other places, prettier suburbs, better schools, even better paid jobs. And that did work for a while, until we realised that the jacket we had been trying to pass off as a good fit, felt truly uncomfortable and awkward.


So we did it.
We upended our entire family, our lives, home, nearly all of our worldly possessions.
Sold everything and with our most precious cargo, our six children, we relocated.
To England.

We broke hearts, friendships and fractured family relations, through this move to the other side of the world.
It hurt us and it hurt others. So much confusion as to why living in the great south-land of promise and opportunity, just wasn’t enough.
Wasn’t us. If it ever was in the first-place.

“It took much longer than we ever anticipated”

And for some, the thought of making a new life in a cold climate, grey, drab and wet, was unfathomable. But I guess that depends on which side of the coin you look at it. Like everything and everywhere, there are pros and cons.
We decided to look at the pros.

You would think that once we had made the momentous decision to move, it would be all smooth sailing.
I sure did.

But that was far from the way it panned out.
Our new jobs were challenging, making connections, time-consuming and exhausting. Everything was a starting block.
We felt lonely at times and displaced. Setting up home all over again was expensive. Heck even getting a mobile phone contract was nearly impossible.

“I eventually realised that I was here all along”

However, just because something is right, doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult.
To adjust, settle, face reality.
Like the couple who long to have a child without success and finally, their dream has come to fruition.
Except being a parent is hard but that doesn’t mean their child wasn’t meant to be or they truly didn’t deserve to be parents.
It just means that ‘right’ can also be challenging.
Or the couple who are perfectly suited for each other and marry. Do they never face hardship or sadness? Of course not. Marriage is hard work. For all of us.
Even for the most loved-up, cute couples you see on social media.
Happiness isn’t without struggle.

We knew it would take time. To settle, find friends, breathe a little easier.
But it took much longer than we ever anticipated.
Five years much longer.
And there were many, many times throughout those years that I couldn’t find myself anymore.
Where had I left me? Where was I to be found? Was I to be found?

And I eventually realised that I was here all along. That our new path was really a journey that was to twist and turn, like all other life journeys.
Some points would be magical and others devastating but we are building a life based on purpose, not perfection.

Of course there will be ups and downs, sickness and trials, hardship and rejection. For this is life, despite what country you live in.


However, the one thing we do know, is that our jacket now fits.
Snug in all the right places, with space to move and freedom to stretch out our arms and fly.

In this new place that isn’t so new anymore and one we call home.

Continue Reading

Are Your Kid’s Weird?

Are Your Kid’s Weird?

Are your kid’s weird? 

Nobody has ever asked me that question to my face but that doesn’t mean they haven’t thought it. It’s certainly a phrase I have heard thrown around the internet and home-school groups.

We home-school four of our six children and have done so for a few years now. Not only do I hear these words but also, the inevitable, “Is your child socialised?” query.

Ok, so let’s talk about home-schooling, socialisation and weird kids.

For sure, socialisation is the ONE question that home-schoolers will be asked time and time again. And whilst I do inwardly sigh when I hear these imminent words, having been asked it at least 3457 times over the past few years, I do understand the genuine reasons behind the concern, from someone who chooses mainstream education.
Because to be honest, I was one of those people who asked that very question before I home-schooled my children.
Nothing to hide here.

Interestingly, in the UK, the number of children being homeschooled has risen by about 40% over three yearsAcross the UK 48,000 children were being home-educated in 2016-17, which was up from about 34,000 in 2014-15. The main reasons cited were mental health issues and avoiding exclusion.
These figures are staggering and more than a little sad for the mainstream education system in England but a win for home-schooling groups.

But firstly, are home-schoolers weird?
Maybe, I don’t know.
There are weird kids and adults in the world right?
I guess it depends how you define weird. I think weird is quirky, individual, sassy, unique, stand-apart, butt-kicking, non-conforming awesomeness.
All of the former, or just one. Weird is cool.

Are my kids weird? They might be. Because I am their mother.
But as weird is cool, who really cares?

I remember when I was in high school in Australia, there was a ‘weird girl’, who wore only black, including black lipstick and blue-black hair – all matted and wild, with (gasp!) a tongue pierce, very edgy in those days.
I thought she was soooooooo weird and for years I solely judged her on her outward appearance – simply because she was different.
But the truth was, I was afraid of her, because she wasn’t like any of my friends or myself.
I didn’t realise at the time, that different was ok.
And she turned out to be a gorgeous-hearted, beautiful soul. A dear friend to me in the latter years of my schooling.
And I felt so ashamed for my judgemental heart towards her all those years prior, even before I had bothered to open my mouth and make any effort towards getting to know her.

However, the biggie, the glaringly obvious, huge elephant-in-the-room constant question for home-schoolers is, of course, “whether daily interaction with peers is necessary for a child’s positive social and emotional development”?

Some, many, would argue, yes. Absolutely, categorically a huge, big, fat, yes.
With the absence of a large group of peers, many believe it would be a challenge for their children to develop essential social skills. Some of these may include working together as a team, listening to other people’s opinions, learning to compromise, fostering compassion, problem-solving when faced with a difficult situation such as a fall-out of a friendship group, disagreeing respectfully and understanding appropriate ways to communicate with others – to name a few.

And all of this does happen in a school environment.
It has to really because when you place 20-30 children together in the one class, this different mix of personalities, emotions and characters will teach your children these skills, whether it is a positive or negative environment.
They will learn in a group-based situation. Which is totally ok.

Let’s face it, a large percentage of society choose to educate their children in main-stream schools and many, many children leave school very well-adjusted and educated individuals.
But also, many don’t.

Whilst for us, teaching at home, we obviously don’t have that constant mass environment for the children to learn these skills, they do however, learn in other unique ways.
And different isn’t wrong, as I have said above, it’s just different.

Take my 17 year old son for example, who is in Sixth Form. He makes decisions every day in a social setting, some which he would rather not face.
No, he doesn’t want to walk near the oval where some of his peers are smoking weed. And thanks for the offer to attend a rave and sneak in a six pack of beer but that’s just not his scene.
However, yes, he would love to go to the movies and a pizza with his crew of homies.
So many choices, every single day.

We find our rhythm in other ways, which may slide against the social-grain. But guess what? We still have happy, healthy and well-adjusted, social children.
At home the kids won’t have to make a call as to whether they will join their peers on the oval for a few drags of hash, but they face other situations that many schooled children won’t.

Such as they are on first-name basis with at least five homeless people in Norwich. They have worked alongside them in the community.
They have witnessed first-hand how dangerous drink and drugs can be, how damaging to the body and soul. They know how to keep safe and personal boundaries. To not reveal where they live, play, work. And they sure know how to show love, compassion and acceptance.
They sit with the guy who lives under the same bridge in the city and has a heart of gold but nowhere else to call home.

They have learnt to share what they have, with each other. We are a large family and sharing is as necessary as breathing and they do so without missing a beat.
Daily, our lifestyle is a learning curve of developing hearts. Maybe it is ingrained within them because they have not known any different, but they haven’t learnt this in a classroom.
They live it each day and don’t view it as a sacrifice, rather a lifestyle.

These sorts of things can be learnt in other ways, outside of school and peers. Sometimes it is stepping into the grimy, hidden places in society and being church to the un-churched.
It can be uncomfortable but it sure teaches the children how to relate, communicate and be kind, which they own – in spades.

The children have friends their ages whom they catch up with in the school holidays, meet at the movies or for a meal. They chat over Skype or Facetime and some of them still keep in touch with pals from early school days in Australia. They share their hearts with friends of all ages, all places and all over the world.
And whilst the internet can be a scary forum, it’s also a brilliant way to connect and we do so, often, forging new connections and embracing friendships of old.

We love because we are loved and that’s all that matters in this crazy hectic world of normal, which isn’t at all normal really, but what you can mould and shape into normal.
And remember, my normal isn’t yours.
Embrace your path of normal, with great confidence.

Continue Reading

Go Easy On Yourself and Breathe, My Friend.

Go Easy On Yourself and Breathe, My Friend

“Breathe, my friend.
You are not old, you are young.
You are not a mess, you are normal.
Extraordinary, perhaps.
In the blink of an eye your life will change.
And it will continue to change for decades to come.
Enjoy it. Embrace it…Be grateful for the ride.
You are not old, you are young.
And faith will get you everywhere.
Just you wait”.

Hmmmmm these words. So very soothing. 

Like a gentle balm on sunburnt shoulders after a long day in the sun.
That first cup of coffee in the morning when you are woolly-headed and can’t quite wrap your brain around what lies ahead for the day.
Jumping into a cool shower and wetting your hair, immersing yourself in the rush of the water, blocking out the world – just for a moment.

This is how I feel when I read this lovely quote. As though I have been given permission to breathe in the busyness and frantic spaces that is our world.
I am as young as I feel, not middle-aged, as my son politely informed me the other day.
There will be some days that I barely feel as though I have left my teenage years and yet others – I will feel every bit the 44 years I have lived on this earth.
My bones will ache and my movements labour.
And that is ok.

I am not a mess. I am a beautiful creation. One worthy of kindness and love and mercy.
Some days I will feel like I have smashed the day like a boss and excelled every single time, with every single thing. Other times I will fail.
My house will be a mess, my clothes crumpled and I will feel incapable of caring for myself, let alone others.
And that is ok.

There will be times that I feel utterly, extraordinary and precious. I will see my gifting’s and thank the Father for making me a perfect creation in His eyes.
I will create and nurture and show gentleness, compassion and tenderness.
Yet again, I can be scratchy and overtly sensitive and critical. I can be so quick to condemn. Yelling at a slow driver, clicking my tongue when someone is being difficult, quick to judge and even quicker to be unkind.
And I swear a lot in my head. Some days.
And that is ok.

I know that in the blink of an eye – mere seconds even – my life can change direction.
I may move house, move countries, lose friends, make mistakes, regret my actions. Deeply.
My husband may lose his job. I may lose mine.
My beloved family may suffer. Cancer may become our norm. Life will spin on its axis and I will feel like a stranger in my skin.
I will find a new normal again.
And that is ok.

There will be moments of pure joy. When my heart feels so full of happiness that I could burst.
I will look at my life and genuinely feel frightened at the perfectness of it. Afraid it will shatter into a thousand pieces.
I will want to hold on to happiness like a small child holds onto their parent’s hand. But as much as I tighten my grip, that feeling will disappear and I will feel sad at its departure.
But then I will embrace happy and smile at those golden moments.
I will be thankful for the wild ride that is life. And when the cloudy days threaten to spill over and stay awhile, I will know that this too will pass.
And it does. Just as I always knew it would.
And that is ok

I am as young as I choose.
And faith will always be my friend. My constant, my solid ground and measuring stick. I will return again and again and again to the truthful words of the Father.
And I will know that I am loved. Despite everything.
And that makes everything ok.

And I will wait. Because most of life feels like a wait sometimes.
Waiting for something to happen, waiting for something to change, waiting to be loved, waiting for the sunshine, for my children to be grown-ups, independent, happy and settled with a life of their own.
Waiting for my life to be a little easier.
And that, also, is ok.

Because, I am a work in progress. And guess what?
So are you.

Continue Reading

Miscarriage – When Your Baby’s Heartbeat Stops – Part Two

miscarriage pt 2

Guest Post – Emily O’Malley
Miscarriage – When Your Baby’s Heartbeat Stops – Part Two – Angel Babies

Angel Babies

Dear sweet reader,

When my soul sister Catherine asked how I would feel if she wrote a blog post about miscarriage and if I would like to add my story, I jumped at the opportunity.  Yet now as I sit here at 12:45am, having a glass of milk after re-settling my eldest, my story suddenly feels overwhelming.  You see I should be unable to balance my laptop as I do right now, as I should have a 7 month baby bump.  But alas, all I have is post-baby belly.

My story is a common one.  According to the March of Dimes, as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage – most often before a woman misses a menstrual period or even knows she is pregnant.  About 15-25% of recognised pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. Doctors will quite happily tell you this as they go about the seemingly routine process of telling you that you are pregnant no more.
Some doctors may even refer to it as a ‘natural abortion.’   The amount of times when doctors have asked me how many abortions I have had, just astounds me.  Somewhere along the road these medical practitioners have lost compassion for women in their care. 

My most recent miscarriage was in November 2017.
We had finished our family and had all birth control methods in place.  I just happened to be in the 0.3% of women who fell pregnant on our particular birth control.  As you can imagine it was a H U G E shock to my husband and myself.  But we started to get our heads around it after a couple of days.  We talked logistics of where we would place this baby in our home, we laughed about the fact that we had just finished selling the last of the baby clothes and equipment, and we marvelled at the fact I fell pregnant, despite all birth control measures being in place.

But then the moment came….. it was a moment that had happened three times prior.  I wasn’t shocked, I took a deep breath…. And I flushed that blood soaked piece of toilet paper away.  I called my husband to come home from work so I could go to the hospital.  I felt calm…yet sick.  I got in the car and drove to the Emergency Department, calling a friend along the way, who insisted on coming and being with me, despite my claims that I was “fine” (and I am ever so grateful she did come!)

Once at the ED, I sat for several hours waiting to be processed and seen by the doctor.  And the bleeding slowed, thus my hope started to grow again.  However, when the doctor came and told me my HCG levels (pregnancy hormone) was not doubling as it should and he believed I was having a miscarriage, it felt all too real and very familiar.  Through tightly held lips and watery eyes, I said thank you and simply walked out of the room.

I held my game face on for a little bit…but then it started to crack.  And I sobbed.  Over the coming days and weeks I got so angry at God for allowing this to happen to me.  A baby we had never planned for, but loved SO deeply after such a short period of time, had been ripped away from us.  I think the worst part was having to continue on with life like everything was normal….but life wasn’t normal…and that baby will forever be on my mind and in my heart.

You see I’ve had four miscarriages.  Three of them were prior to having my eldest and then this last, most recent one.  My husband and I have been blessed with two beautiful earth babies.  The youngest one who is soon to turn five!  But my heart can’t help but long for our angel babies as well.  I once read a book about asking God to reveal the gender of your child, so that you can name them.
My husband and I did this and so we have Noah, Jesse, Lucy and most recently Rose, in heaven.

It has amazed me how many other women say they’ve had a miscarriage, when I start sharing my story with them.  Society tells us to keep quiet about miscarriage and has made it out to be an unspoken topic, but the more we talk and share, the more we can journey together and get rid of this stigma surrounding miscarriage.

I’m sad to say not a day goes by that I don’t think about my angel babies.
At times sweet reader, you won’t even realise you are thinking about your loss, until it hits you right in the face and you feel overwhelmed with grief and sorrow.  Or you may feel you’re ok, but then you see someone with a baby bump that would have been the same size as yours and it hits you.  All over again.

My message is simply this … mama you are not alone.  Let us band together as mothers…as women….and share our stories of joy and hope, as well as those of sorrow and pain.  We crave community and most of us are well aware of the concept ‘it takes a village to raise a family’ – so let us actually do that.  The conversations may feel difficult to initially start, but from a mama that’s been there….please go there.  Ask me how I feel, ask what you can pray about for me, refer to my angel babies by name.
And most of all….please love on me.

Because even though we might say we don’t blame ourselves for having a miscarriage.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t.

Continue Reading

Miscarriage – When Your Baby’s Heartbeat Stops – Part One

miscarriage pt 1

When Your Baby’s Heartbeat Stops
Part One

On behalf of all the mother’s who have been through the trauma
of miscarriage and have angel babies in heaven.
This is their story.

We all know the fear.
Every-time we go to the toilet, we pray that there won’t be a blood stain on the paper.  We pray like mad it will be clear.  And we wait and wait, until we can’t wait any longer.

We wake, early, its 5am and still pitch dark outside. But morning urine is stronger and maybe, just maybe there will be two lines.
Our legs shake, heck our hands shake and we pee on our fingers, as well as the stick.  We are so nervous and worry we haven’t done it correctly.  Will the test be a waste?
We tell ourselves not to worry.  There is a box of pregnancy sticks waiting for just this moment.  If this doesn’t work, we will try a fresh one.

Then we sit and wait.  We set the timer and tell ourselves not to look until the buzzer has gone off.  But impatience sets in and we take a peek.
We squint and check the picture on the box.  Could this be true?  Two lines?
There are two red lines!!!!  We are pregnant!!!!
We shriek and run into the bedroom, jumping on our husband’s sleeping form.
It has worked!  We made a baby.  We are having a baby!!

We try to hide the euphoric feelings that are buzzing around our body.  Calm down we say.  Can’t be good for the baby.
The baby!  There is a baby in there.
We place our hand over our stomach and shake our head.  What a miracle.  How we want to protect this tiny new life so very much.

Two weeks pass, the doctor has confirmed the pregnancy and done the bloods.  The HCG levels (pregnancy hormones) are a little lower than he would ideally like, but don’t lose heart, he says.

We go to work or look after other children, have coffee with friends, care for our families, all the while thinking and praying for our little bean to be safe.
We continually check for positive signs.  Are our breasts tender?  Has morning sickness kicked in?  We hope morning sickness will begin soon – a sign of strong hormones.  Do we have any cravings?
We can’t be sure.

Then one night a few weeks later, when we drag ourselves to the toilet for the hundredth time, we see it.
Bright red blood on our knickers.  And a whole lot of blood on the toilet paper.
In that instant our heart drops, right down to our feet.
We feel sick, we shake, we keep saying, “no, no, no, no, not again, please not again”.

We crawl back into bed, trying to ignore the ache in our pelvic area that rises to a painful crescendo, dipping and diving and taunting us within our bodies, of which we have no control.
We tell ourselves that if we can sleep, the blood may be gone by morning.  It could just be break-through bleeding.  It’s common.  It happens – heck some women bleed the whole way through their pregnancy.
We start to Google ‘bleeding when pregnant’ and choose to read only the positive outcomes.
This for now is enough. There is still hope.

We call work and tell them we can’t make it in, we organise a sitter for the kids, we don’t tell a soul or we tell everyone and ask them to pray.  For the life of our child.  The child that we love with an everlasting fierceness that pierces our soul.  We want this baby so very much.
We have waited for this baby for such a long time.

We put off going to the toilet and the potential find of fresh blood.  We clench our legs together, willing that little seed to hang in there.
“Mummy is here. You are not alone little love.  You are so loved already.  So precious”.
We say this over and over like a chant.
We will all of our strength onto the baby.  Our hands don’t stop caressing our still-flat stomach.
“Please be ok baby.  Please be ok baby.  Please be ok baby”.
Over and over and over again.

Our name is called and we walk slowly into the radiographer’s dark room.  We lay down onto the crisp white paper, lining  the skinny bed with the squeaky rubber mattress.  We stare at the mattress.  Always the same colour.  Dark blue, like the ocean deep, matching the frightened blackness of our souls.

The nurse is so lovely and speaks very quietly and slowly.  We are asked to confirm the reason for the visit.
Yes it is bleeding we are experiencing.  Our voice is raspy and strained.  Our throats ache with the pressure of holding back the wall of emotions that threaten to explode.  Everywhere.
All over this tiny cubicle space and all over the people inhabiting it.  The dark corners of the room appear to sneer and beckon to us, a reminder that in a few short minutes, our whole world will shatter, all over again, just like before.

Again, very gently, we are told, this could be the start of our beloved baby miscarrying.  Our chin wobbles and our eyes fill with hot tears ready to spill any minute.
“Are we having any pain down below”?  Again, a nod, ever so slightly, “yes, yes we are”.
“Let’s have a little look at you and baby” she whispers.
The jelly will be cold we are told.
The screen is turned away from us.

There is silence.
The nurse’s face gives nothing away.  One minute, two minutes pass.
We don’t hear a thump, thump, thumpity-thump of a heartbeat. We think we may be sick.

Then our little bellies are wiped clean and we are asked to sit up when we are ready.
And it comes, the words we have been dreading ever since we fell pregnant,
“I am terribly sorry but it appears your baby has no heartbeat and the pregnancy is not viable.  The symptoms you are experiencing are consistent with a miscarriage”.
There are more words of condolence but we don’t hear them in the fog of grief, shock and overwhelming sadness.

The dam bursts and we sob and sob. Between gulps we manage to ask if it was anything we did wrong.
“Could it have been the sushi consumed whilst unaware of the pregnancy?  Or the glass of wine a few weeks ago”?

But her kind eyes says it all.
As many as 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
There is nothing that has made this happen.  It is an act of nature that baby just wasn’t ready for this world.
Empty words which feel so painful to hear.

Our bleak minds compute the fact that we could neither protect our baby or sustain life.  We are powerless in a way.
And that is the hardest pill to swallow.  This being outside of our control.  We feel so very broken.
But how we want this child!!!  So very much and it seems so unfair all at the same time.

This story literally describes millions and millions of women all over the world in this exact situation.  Miscarriage has been described as the silent grief.

These precious women warriors are unable to ever meet their children, the ones that were formed in their womb and grew as much as they possibly could.  And worst still, oftentimes there isn’t a solid reason as to why the miscarriage occurred.
It is an ending of confusion and grief, which is tragically all too common.
Empty comfort for those, whose pregnancies never have the opportunity to continue.


Here are a few things that can help a grieving mummy friend or yourself:

-1  Stop and acknowledge the existence of your child.

You have been a mother since your baby was conceived and the loss of your little one doesn’t make you any less of a mother.  It makes you a mother who grieves your child.  Have a thanksgiving service with close family.  Say a prayer, make a plaque and name your baby.  Say goodbye in a way that acknowledges life.

-2  Share with your trusted tribe that you are hurting. 

These need to be women you can cry with, who will sit with you whilst you talk (or not), ones who can hold you during your most difficult stages.
Part of the healing lies in fully comprehending the loss.

-3  Try not to alienate your partner because you were the one it happened to.

You are both parents and the loss is the same for mum and dad.  Even though your partner may be grieving in a different way than you, he is still grieving.  Give each other a double portion of grace and kindness and journey this painful path together.

-4  Take all the time you need to recover.

Don’t rush yourself back to normal.  If you need a period of time to reflect and heal, take it.  Believe me, you will be a much healthier and stronger person if you do give yourself some grace to work through the trauma of losing your child.
Seek professional help if you are struggling to let go.

-5  Take care of yourself.

Don’t allow grief to swallow you whole because it is so vile and will do so if you don’t try and build back into yourself.   Look after yourself with good food, have long soothing baths, read feel-good books, take walks outside, buy yourself a new outfit or some great shoes. Whatever it is that feeds back into your heart – go do it.  And do it often.  It will make an enormous difference to your healthy recovery.

-6  Lastly, expect for something to trigger the hurt and grief all over again.

It could be something quite innocent said to you by someone in passing, which hits right at the heart of your sorrow all over again.
Ride with it and tell someone what has happened.  Talk about it and before you know it, you will be back on your feet again.  You will find that these lows won’t occur quite so much and you can look back and recognise how far you have come in your grief and journey loss.

And finally, don’t lose hope because hope anchors the soul to keep believing for the one thing that you desire.  And absolutely, don’t give up.  Not on your body, nor your future little love.

‘Hope can feel a bit like a gentle breeze that ruffles your hair.
It is not always loud or courageous, swirling madly about your feet.

It is often swinging your legs out of bed in the morning and starting your day,
despite feeling so very sad and really quite unable.

Hope is whispering, “yes”, when you want to scream, “no”.
Hope is believing that the gentle breeze will be there tomorrow
and acknowledging its presence beside you.

And one day, when the sun shines warm on your face and you smile more than cry,
and that breeze caresses your face once again,
you will realise how far you have come in this difficult and beautiful thing we call life.

Hope is trusting all over again that life will begin and flourish once more’.
-C Irwin-©



Continue Reading

When You Can’t Stay.

Baby Turtle You Must Go.

Hey there little baby turtle. Look’s like you have quite the journey ahead of you.
I know the path before you looks scary. So many bumps and turns, as far as you can see.

And you are so little!
It doesn’t seem fair to struggle out of your warm nest, buffeted by the security of your siblings and the earth that is your home. Your haven.

I know the future is a scary unknown.
But it is most impossible for you to consider staying.
You can’t remain, yet leaving is utterly terrifying.

What if you don’t make it, you think?
What if you are swooped upon by those huge creatures that fly above you? Their fierce talon’s and black eyes, piercing your newly born form?

I know you are frightened – but the thing is – you can’t stay here.
You need moving tides and challenging waves, currents that will push you on new sea adventures.
There are others who are a part of your story, who you are yet to meet. Who will colour and enrich your journey in ways you don’t understand right now.
But you will.

Your mama has already returned to her watery home, little one.
She had to go. It was her time. She is free now and waiting for you to take that first tentative step.

So, look for the cues little one. The signposts that will guide you. They are here to be found.
The slope of the beach, the white crests of the waves, the natural light of the ocean horizon.

You really do have to do this all on your own.
The deep scary ocean that sits before you – is also going to keep you alive.
It’s waiting just for you.

You only know this tiny portion of life now – but – oh there is so much else!
The joy of reaching your destination, the lure, the promise and the hope.
It is enough little one. Enough for you to want to try. To make that leap from your nest to forever home.
For when you do reach the sea, you will swim. Instinctively you will know how.
And swim you must!

Away from the dangerous near shore-waters and those predators that seek to destroy you.

Swim to the sweet place little one, and lose yourself in those hidden crevices.
The secret homes that are ready, waiting just for you.
Beyond the horizon that you stare at in awe each day.

Your new home. It’s there. You just have to find it.
And summon all of that courage inside you – to make that first step.
Big deep breath – and – GO!


Continue Reading