A Little Intro….

I am who I am. Not who you think I am. Not who you want me to be. I am me.”

Brigitte nicole

Who is the Introverted Mama?

What a question. Who am I?

A mum of 3 kids and 2 angels, a daughter, wife and sister. Someone who has been caring for others my whole life, who loves to be there but is finally realising I need to look after me too……. My kids are growing, my life is changing and this quiet, naturally introverted, mama has decided to pursue some of the things shes always wanted too.

I’ve wanted to write since I was a child. Me and my best friend would spend hours, with a notebook and pen, coming up with ideas and stories. We both loved to read too: Victoria Plum, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Famous Five…. So often we’d be scolded for sitting inside when the sun was shining. Grabbing our pads, the garden would provide another sanctuary instead, to chat, dream, write and laugh…..

I’m so far from a great or even mediocre writer and feel very insecure about putting anything out in cyberspace for others to read but I’ve learnt that if you enjoy something, you just gotta do it. Life is short and whats the worse that can happen? You all hate it. I can deal with that now.

So here i am………

Kaz xx

“This is me” – The Greatest Showman

Can a friendship last a lifetime?

Ladies, do you have a friend that has just always been there? Or maybe your lucky enough to have more than one? If you have that kindred soul who knows you inside out, who has seen you at your best, worst, happiest, saddest and knows all your weird quirks and is still around then thank your lucky stars. If they’ve stuck around this long, your probably never gonna get rid of them, right? Psychologists have said that if you have had a friendship which has lasted longer than 7 years, then it will last a lifetime.

Picture a 3 year old in her house on a council estate in London in the late 70’s. I’m picturing it too as I have no recollection of it but from what I’m told the older girl that lived down the road came and knocked on my door as she’d seen me with my mum and asked if i could come out to play. Our mums became great friends and so did we. Forty two years later, we are still friends (and so are our mums) and we have travelled through every step of our lives together so far- from both being teen mums, to marrying brothers to now when we are both of an age where our parents are becoming frailer and needing more support.

How did we stay so close? Well Suzanne is kinda like me in many ways. We were both quite quiet (although me more so), we both liked to write stories and play with our girls worlds (remember them?). More importantly though as we grew older we both were forever looking for a purpose, a meaning to life and would always and still do work on bettering ourselves and having the attitude of “Life is short”. We are quite upbeat and positive people and always up for in depth meaning of life discussions but we both have had times where we just want to stay on the surface, be shallow and talk about absolute shite but that’s ok, cos a great friend will adapt to how you are feeling and brings just the right things to the table when you need them.

We are both open to new ideas and ways of life, try not to judge others and try and support our circle as best we can. I can honestly say she is probably the only person in my life I’ve told my deepest darkest secrets too as i know she will listen and give her opinion but wont judge. Suzanne is an incredible person in that sense. She always thinks of others too, reaches out when she thinks someone is not doing well or just because she wants too. She carries out little acts of kindness often and has a huge heart!

The memories we have are so vast now and they help keep us close despite any distance we now have. When you have those shared experiences it doesn’t matter how long its been since you’ve spoken, there is always something to talk about from our childhood: adventures, plans to run away as kids, Victoria plumb stories we wrote, British Bulldog on the green, staying out until dusk, sneaking into the house for biscuits or ice lollies, staying up and watching horror films, holidays together to Blackpool, games of monopoly, learning sign language from my mum, I could go on and on and on……..

They seem like small things but we’ve been friends through every major event in my life too and as we got older there were: break ups, dates, our kids being born, getting married, illness, house moves, losing loved ones – absolutely everything. Her family feels like mine and I couldn’t imagine life without her input.

We have both always enjoyed talking about our “purpose” in life and the book that we both read “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch as teenagers (i think, or young adults) is what begun many long and deep discussions about the people in our lives and our path, followed by many other books and discussions. I have grown to believe that there are people in our lives that have travelled many lifetimes with us and that will be with us for many more in some sense, helping us to learn and grow each time and I think Suzanne is one of those people for me.

Life is better with a friend beside you and one good friend is so much better than 10 aquaintances. Friendship grows with time and memories made, so no matter how old you are remember to enjoy those girly chats, nights out and pamper sessions because they are where the magic happens, where women come into their own, show their vulnerability and support each other and where friendship that last a lifetime blossom.

Do you have a lifelong friend?

How did you meet?

Share your story in the comments and lets celebrate women’s frienships together…….

Kaz x

Shift Your Perspective….

Perspective……. it is key to how your life manifests itself and how you experience the ups and downs along the way. You may not be able to control many things that are going on in your life at the moment.

✔️ You may be self employed and concerned about not having work and being able to pay bills.

✔️ You maybe a nurse who is working on the frontline in an ICU at a hospital and seeing so many sick people.

✔️ You may be pregnant and worried about giving birth in these uncertain times.

There are so many uncertainties at the moment. I recently listened to a talk by Rachel Hollis and she was discussing the topic of perspective and one of the things she emphasised was that in any situation there are 2 things we have complete control over: Attitude and Effort.

You can decide how you are going to live in this time in your life. Are you going to stay in bed and block out the outside world until it’s all over? Or are you going to have your moment of hibernating but then get up, dressed and face it head on?

If you let it, life will happen TO you. You will be like a leaf in the wind being blown here and there with no control or plan as to where your going.

What you want Is to make life happen FOR you. Write down goals and action steps towards them. It doesn’t matter how big or small those goals are. You may have HUGE expectations of where you want to be or you may simply want get out of bed on time, exercise each day and eat healthy. It doesn’t matter. Either way, be flexible and adaptable when challenges crop up (which they will) but remember it’s ok to have a plot twist, just take another route, stay focused and keep your head in the game.

If your struggling to shift your perspective think about whether how your feeling about a situation is real or is it a made up story in your head? Have you created fear around an event because you are thinking of the what ifs, your overthinking how it’s going to play out and not living in the present.

Try and look at your situation from an outsiders pair of eyes. Would someone else who had a lot less than you, be feeling the fear you are? This creates an attitude of gratitude. Your fear of the “what ifs” is a privilege. There are many whose fear is not of a made up story but that have already lost their homes or don’t have the money to pay for food. There is always someone who wishes they could be where you are, so focus on being grateful.

You are in control of the way you view every situation. At any point in a day, how tired you are, if your hungry, the conversation you’ve just had can have an impact on the way you react and view a situation. When your day comes to a close, review it, think about how you felt at different points and anything that happened around it and be mindful of how things affect you.

Lastly surround yourself with people who have a great mindset and perspective. Being around people who are positive and upbeat will help you stay in the same vibration. We are a culmination of the 5 people we spend the most time with, so choose those people wisely.

How you view a situation is a choice. Always look for the positives. You may not believe things happen for a reason but you can usually find meaning if you look hard enough.

Kaz 💕

Look for the helpers….

This is a quote that I have always loved as I totally believe it’s true. It’s really easy to look at the negatives in a challenging situation. Many of the time we find ourselves looking at the worse case scenario, sometimes it’s our way of dealing with things. We think the worse, as then we will be prepared for it and pleasantly surprised if it’s not that bad.

When you tap into the media around you, when life gets difficult for our societies it’s the drama, problems, pain, nastiness and injustice by others that you’ll find being reported the most. You’ll hear about people being selfish and unkind and how hard life is for many.

You may have to look a little harder but the positive stories are also out there. They may not be as widely reported but that doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. Everyday kindness is happening but it doesn’t sell as many papers, it doesn’t bring the drama and shock value.

Trust me, they are there.

There’s a chef down the road making up meals and delivering them to those that need some support and are self isolating.

Mums at the local school are helping each other out with childcare if their children’s school is closed.

Businesses are coming up with ideas and ways to help like supermarkets opening just for the elderly for the first few hours so they can come and purchase items that are being sold out quickly because of others stockpiling.

Health professionals on the frontline are being given free massages, complimentary treatments etc… by businesses that want do something for what must be an incredibly difficult time for these carers.

Families are putting notes through vulnerable peoples doors in their communities with their phone number on, offering any help or support they can give. That could be in a practical sense, like getting them supplies or just a friendly ear for a chat so they don’t feel so isolated.

Children are writing to elderly people self isolating in care homes who are allowed no outside contact. Creating inter generational friendships and bringing a smile to each other’s faces.

So why not be one of those helpers. A simple act of kindness will mean so much to others and give a positive to focus on when bombarded with the harsh realities of our current challenges. Lead by example and show your children how wonderful it is to bring a little cheer and relief to someone’s life.

Be creative. If your children at home you will have time with them to cook, write and get your creativity flowing, in the process make someone else smile and teach your children a much more valuable life lesson than they will learn in their maths class at school.

So maybe my message really is not LOOK for the helpers but rather BE one of those helpers…..

Kaz 💕

A Very Very Mad World…….

So we are in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic sweeping the world. Schools are closing, people are self isolating, businesses are suffering, people are stock piling, information seems very unclear at times and our communities are anxious and concerned for what is to come.

It feels like a movie, right? I feel like it’s time to take a step back. Use the time we are forced to be at home to enjoy the moment with our kids, hunker down and reconnect with each other. Do the things that make your souls happy. Long country walks, read the books you haven’t got round to picking up, teach your kids to cook, grow some vegetables, sing, dance, talk to each other, find each other again.

If you can’t visit your loved ones, we are lucky in this current climate to have skype, email, social media and phone calls. Use them. Check in, support anyone who is on their own to protect their physical and mental health. Isolation and loneliness can be crippling for some.

For many of us who struggle with anxiety or depression this time of uncertainty fuels those feelings. Having to self isolate and being alone with your own thoughts can exasperate those emotions.

If your feeling overwhelmed with the situation avoid too much exposure to the unfolding events. Check in daily with the news but limit it to a set time once a day to keep those feelings in check. It can become a constant stream of negativity if you let it. Using a gratitude journal can help with this. Write down everyday 5-10 things you are thankful for, no matter how simple or small. Feel that gratitude and embrace the positivity into your life.

Practice self care, whatever that means for you. Prioritise activities that help you clear your mind and relax, such as meditation, long hot bubble bath, mindfulness, relaxing music etc….

If your stuck at home keep to a routine and stay busy. It will give you a focus and a sense of achievement as you work through your day.

Eat well. Plenty of fruit and vegetables, this not only helps you fight any viruses but can also keep you on top form mentally and increase your energy. Being stuck within four walls for a lengthy period may leave you feeling lethargic and tired – do your best to combat this.

And one of the biggest things I’d make a priority is find a way to move your body, everyday. Go for a long walk in a quiet place, do a home workout: yoga, weights, cardio, HIIT. Make exercise a daily event, but keep switching it up so you don’t get bored. Exercise will lift your mood more than anything and increase your energy as well as keep your mind in a better place.

I’m currently home from work for the rest of the week as I work with vulnerable children and a sore throat and a cough means I need to self isolate to protect them. The government advice seems quite unclear in the UK in many areas and that in itself is creating more stress and anxiety for people. This will pass though and remember everyone is in the same position.

We are all facing the same struggles but some in certain jobs more than others. Not everyone can work from home. Tradesmen, the hospitality industry, carers etc…. all have to go out to work and many are self employed so will be significantly put of pocket if they stay home.

Shop local, support your small businesses now more than ever, however you can. But from them, share what you love about them, recommend the ones you love and engage with them, these small things can raise their profile on social media and hopefully stop them from going under. Most of all though, remember:

Be kind…..

Kaz 💕

Is attraction just physical?

I was asked what 5 things attract me to a man this week and when I really thought about it I realised my list of attributes had nothing to do with looks. Ok my initial impulse was to think about a David Beckham lookalike but there will always be people we have an instant physical attraction too but that rarely lasts and when you get past the physical and talk, you may find them boring and that you have nothing in common.

What is it that really attracts you to a partner? Sense of humour? Intelligence? Kindness? Good looks? Well groomed? Tattoos? Good communicator? Do you even have a type?

April Masini is the author of books like Date Out of Your League and suggests that women are naturally attracted to men who are confident, passionate and seem to lead exciting lives. Physical attraction it seems is an instinct. Heterosexual women seem to be physically or sexually attracted to men with traditionally masculine features such as a muscular frame, a square jaw, big nose and small eyes. These physical traits often signify higher levels of testosterone.

For me attraction is far more than physical and the list I came up with of “5 things that would really make someone attractive to me” had nothing to do with how they look:

  • Communication: The number one characteristic that would attract me to a guy has to be someone who can talk openly. Not just about how their day has been but a man who is able to be open and vulnerable and allow me to find out more about who he really is. Communication is key to connecting with someone and the way I see it, there’s no point someone being attractive physically but when they open their mouth not much of any interest comes out.
  • Sense of humour: Someone who can make me laugh. If a guy has a similar sense of humour and I can have fun with them then that is a massive bonus. Laughter and smiling creates memories and happiness. If your partner can make you laugh it will help you both through more difficult times
  • Self development: When someone is working on themselves, looking at how they can achieve what they want and be a better person, as well as working on how to achieve the best relationship possible, that for me is something worth it’s weight in gold. I don’t wanna be with someone who is just cruising along with no desire to try new things and improve themselves , our lives, our relationship and supporting me in doing the same.
  • Great Listener: Showing a real interest in each other’s lives and actively listening to each other is so important. Someone that genuinely wants to hear about my day, worries, achievements and annoyances so I can do the same for them.
  • Kindness: I just couldn’t be with someone who wasn’t caring and kind. I enjoy the company of people who have empathy for others and want to help where they are able. Kindness is a non negotiable in my eyes.

Lastly in terms of physical appearance I suppose if I was to have a “type” it would be someone who was quite masculine, not well groomed, maybe some tattoos, so maybe that’s my instinct kicking in. Thing is though, if a guy talks to me and we connect, he becomes so much more attractive, so the physical is kind of not the most important part.

What do you look for in a partner? What else would you add to your list?

Kaz 💕

Have you lost your voice?

What does being introverted mean to you? The definition of Introvert in the Oxford Learners Dictionary is:

Introvert: A quiet person who is more interested in their own thoughts and feelings than in spending time with other people.

Can you relate to that? I would definitely describe myself as an introvert and by that I mean, I much prefer a calm environment. When I socialise a lot I crave time on my own to reset. Apparently this Is largely because introverts’ brains respond to dopamine differently than extroverts’ brains. In other words, if you’re an introvert, you were likely born that way.

Many consider introverts to be shy which I don’t think is necessarily true. Being shy comes from a nervousness and embarrassment of meeting or talking to others. Introverts will not necessarily feel nervous or shy in social situations they are just naturally quiet and need to have time on their own to recharge.

I come from a family of shy and more anxious ladies, some who I would say are introverts, some not so much. We were all pretty quiet and shy kids but as with many, age and experience gives you ways to deal with social situations and gain more confidence.

Of my 3 children, my daughter has been blessed more than the others with introversion but is also very shy. I worry that because I am also quite socially awkward that I exasperate this shyness for her. Kids learn from their parents, right?

I’ve spoken to my eldest son about this. He finds social situations difficult and we have both had comments made like “lost your voice?”, “Do you ever talk?” and I’ve heard similar comments made to my daughter too. In my experience highlighting that someone is quiet is a perfect way to prevent them from opening up at all. Give them time and when they are comfortable they will join in or maybe they won’t and they would feel better in a one to one situation where if you really wanted to get to know them, you’d be able to.

I remember as a child (and even very occasionally now) I would go bright red when I was embarrassed or put on the spot in a large group of people, such as at school. The pressure of everyone looking at me was horrible. I would feel the heat rise in my face and then panic because I was sure everyone could see how uncomfortable I was. Then if someone commented at how red I was, I’d pray for the ground to open up and swallow me, right there and then. Now with years of experience I know that a lot of it plays out in my head and if I stay calm, take deep breaths and manage to control those panicky feelings, it all just fades away and I’m fine.

My daughter has the same shyness and social anxiety and she probably struggles more than I ever did. It’s heart wrenching as a mum because I can see how much she wants to join in, I know those feelings of thinking no one will want her to play with them so never pushing herself forward to join in and standing on the sidelines, that when she’s coughing in class she feels like everyone is looking at her and hates the attention or when she’s asked a question in class, feeling so worried she’s going to say something completely wrong and be laughed at.

Thalia Eley, professor of developmental behavioural genetics at Kings College London has looked at many studies on shyness mainly using dentical twins and says that only about 30% of shyness as a trait is down to genetics and the rest comes about as a response to the environment. Growing up around me and the females in my family has probably had an influence on how my daughter deals with social situations I’m sure.

Shyness can become debilitating if it escalates into an anxiety that means you are avoiding situations. No matter what happens, I try and Instil in my kids the belief that they should face their fears, as it will always get easier that way. Avoidance will make the problem much bigger than it needs to be. It’s not easy but essential in order to live a full life.

Society teaches us that out going people do better in life: in jobs, when dating, socially etc…. they are team players, leaders and better communicators and being someone who likes their own company or doesn’t need to be the centre of attention means your a loner and is not a trait that is seen as beneficial.

There are many benefits of being an introvert that many don’t consider or celebrate. Society needs all kinds of people with their own individual characteristics to work well and introverts skills are just as valid and useful but in a different way.

  • Introverts are low maintenance.
  • Introverts tend to be creative and original.
  • Introverts are generally better listeners.
  • Introverts are able to really focus.
  • Introverts cultivate deep connections with people.
  • Introverts are more independent

So look after the introverts in your life, support those who are shy and anxious in social situations but don’t make the mistake of thinking quietness means people are shy. They may just choose to spend time alone because they enjoy it. Everyone should be ok with spending time with themselves now and again, right? Even extroverts! Give it a go it’s empowering.

Kaz 💕

20 random facts about The Introverted Mama…..

So I figured some of you might be interested to learn a little more about the person behind “The Introverted Mama” and what makes her tick 😉 We all have experiences, family and little nuances in our personality that make us unique. Our children old experiences, family, where we grew up etc……

So here’s 20 facts about me and what makes me, me!

  1. My mum is deaf. As far as we know she lost most of her hearing during the 2nd world war. The story is that she was a toddler and a bomb went off very close to her in London which caused the damage. She can use sign language fluently so I spent a lot of time in the deaf community growing up. I have passed level 1 British SignLanguage but rarely use it as my mum lip reads very well and my dad was hearing.
  2. My dad passed away when I was 8 years old due to bowel cancer.
  3. I had my first child at age 18 and due to a difficult and not very well monitored birth he was born with brain damage (spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy).
  4. I made a medical negligence claim against the hospital for the way the birth was handled and we won which enabled me to give my son a better life than he would have had otherwise.
  5. My first son lived until he was 13 years of age. He had numerous difficulties as a result of his brain damage. He was blind, could not walk or talk, he was tube fed, he had epilepsy and reflux. I do though believe he was one of the best things to ever come into my life.
  6. I started a yahoo support group which soon became a Facebook group called “Special Kids in the U.K.” when he was alive to help me and others in my situation to find friendship and support. I won an award that I collected from Ed Balls at 11 Downing Street for starting that group up.
  7. I had a 2nd son and then a daughter who was born prematurely at 25 weeks after numerous health worries in pregnancy. She was called Bethany and lived for 2 weeks. She never made it home.
  8. I completed my first year of a midwifery degree and delivered a number of babies in that year. It was an amazing experience.
  9. I left the midwifery course as we decided to move away to put our eldest son into a better school. So off we headed to Cambridgeshire.
  10. My hubby adopted my eldest son (who had a different dad to my other kids). It was one of the best days of my life as he was such a fabulous dad to our boy and it meant so much to them both, fb and me.
  11. I have 2 tattoos so one is one the lower right hand side of my stomach and is a pink and blue butterfly with my angels names. The second is a moon on my back with one pink and two blue stars to represent my kids and to signify the phrase “I love you to the moon and back”
  12. I ran the London Marathon (well run/ walked) in 2017. It was the hottest London marathon ever and was REALLY tough, but I did it! I hope to do it again some day.
  13. The place I most want to go to right now is Rome in Italy and the Amalfi Coast. I plan on ticking at least one of them off my list of “to dos” soon.
  14. I had meningitis when I was a young child. I fell off a climbing frame onto concrete. It cracked my skull and I ended up seriously ill in Great Ormond Street Hospital. My mum says it’s the only time she ever saw my dad cry.
  15. I am a carer now for children and young adults with quite complex disabilities and medical needs. I love my job but it can be heart wrenching sometimes.
  16. I really don’t like it when people whistle. It’s ok if I do it but hearing other people whistle really grinds on me.
  17. I have been vegan for almost 3 months. I’ve had a few mini slip ups but overall I am enjoying it. It’s helping me cook more and more creatively and I’m pretty late at 43 but I’m realising how much we really need to focus on our environment for our kids and their future.
  18. Socially I’m very awkward and anxious. That anxiety seems to show a lot in my children too, which I hate.
  19. I love to spend time alone, with a good book or a pad and paper. It’s my idea of heaven. If it’s by the sea, even better.
  20. I want to write a book at some point in my life. Used to dream about it as a kid and then it went by the wayside. I’ve decided now though I will do it before I die!

So how about you, tell me 5 facts (or 20 if you prefer!) about yourself below 👇🏻 Things that make you the totally one off individual you are because NOBODY else has walked in your shoes and lived YOUR life.

Let’s get to know each other….

Kaz 💕

💚💛🧡 Love is love 💙❤️💜

When I was growing up I knew no one at my school that “came out” as gay. There was so much prejudice out there and being ”gay” was used as an insult so it would have been a very brave thing to do, to live openly as a young gay man. I know many parents weren’t as open minded as maybe they could be today. It was not accepted so readily and you would hear of family’s that outcast their sons or daughters for their sexuality and it was often seen in tv storylines too.

As parents, myself and my husband have always tried to talk openly to our kids about accepting people for who they are, whatever their sexuality, abilities, race etc…I hope this has helped our kids be open with us about themselves and situations they find themselves in and when my son was 15 he told me he was gay.

I’m gonna be honest, I was shocked. I didn’t expect it but my gut was worried for him. My experiences of how society treated anyone from the LGBTQ community made me anxious for the reaction he would get from others. I felt a fierce protectiveness of him.

Life though it seems has changed more than I thought since I was a teenager, many many moons ago! My son has the best friends, all of who love him for him. He is becoming more authentically himself each day and I am so proud of him for it! He attended his school prom with 4 of his girl friends, has great mates and now tutors, all of whom he can be openly himself with. Is he just lucky or is society changing?

I have told him how proud I am of him but it’s not cool as a mum to be expressing that kind of stuff to your teenage son (in his eyes anyway) so I show him my support in other ways such as attending London Pride together last year as a family. We all went and wow, it was a fantastic day. We dressed in our rainbow of colours, painted our faces and embraced the experience. We have plans to go again this year together – and I can’t wait!!

The recent news about Philip Schofield coming out as gay at age 57 after being married 27 years and having two children is an indication of how hard it has been in the past to speak openly about sexuality. No one really knows the ins and outs of Philips story but he has clearly struggled with his mental health due to the turmoil of not being able to express who he really is.

A survey commissioned by NHS Digital (published in 2018) into the mental health of children and young people in England showed that LGBT teens are much more likely to be struggling with their mental health. Among teenagers aged 14 to 19, those who aren’t heterosexual are more than 2.5 times as likely to have some kind of mental illness. So clearly there are still real struggles for young people who are LGBTQ over those who are heterosexual.

A survey into Mental Health of children and young people in England in U.K. 2017 published in 2018 by NHS Digital

Today though we did something so simple together but that for me felt “big”. Me and my son and daughter went to the nail salon together and all had our nails done. A fun pampering afternoon for me and my kids but something that maybe isn’t the “norm” with your son. I hope for him it wasn’t a big deal but for a mum in her 40’s who has grown up seeing a lot of homophobic attitudes around her it was another step to showing my son in my way to embrace who he is completely.

Don’t get me wrong I know there are still prejudices out there but I can see a positive change in how my son is able to express himself and my hope is that is something that will only continue to improve and the statistics like those above for young adults and children who are not heterosexual begin to improve even more as there is more acceptance and support.

Love is love, right?

Kaz 💕

More than a teenage mum….

Mamas, how old were you when you had your first child? My journey to motherhood begun at the tender age of 18. The experience of having a child when I had only just entered into the realm of adulthood but still classed as a teenager and the turn of events after changed me and my life dramatically.

It starts unsurprisingly with girl meets boy. I met my first ever serious boyfriend at age 17 through a friend. He was what many would have seen as a “bad boy” and I was an incredibly shy and naive young girl who wanted to be loved and to “fit in”. I suppose I thought he was kinda cool. He had dark brown skin, had such confidence and I felt protected but a little nervous when I was with him.

I wanted him to like me and because of that I lied to him about my age and told him I was 18 initially when actually I was 17. He seemed keen and this guy who was in his 20’s and had his own flat, wanted to spend time with me. I was flattered.

My family didn’t like him. They saw a guy who was friendly but looked kinda ‘gangsta’. I enjoyed shocking everyone, if I’m honest. He was the first guy I ever slept with and yep I fell pregnant! We used no protection because, he didn’t like it and I was too in love to care (I thought!)

Telling my mum and sister was really tough. My sister told me she’d pay for me to have an abortion after some very choice words and my mum was just plain disappointed. Being a stubborn young lady I wouldn’t be told what to do and I decided to continue with the pregnancy. I can look back now and realise many of the healthcare professionals treated me pretty shoddy at some of my hospital appointments. It seems teenage mums were generally looked down upon… maybe they were seen as easy? Lacking morals? Using the system? Stupid? Who knows? But that was a continuing theme through my pregnancy and the birth.

I muddled through my pregnancy. Although I had no clue what to expect, I loved every minute of it. My growing belly, feeling this little guy inside me kicking and the connection I felt to him. My due date eventually came and went but my little man was far to comfy to make an appearance. Eventually 12 days late, I was taken into hospital feeling tired and ready to burst,to be induced. I arrived at the hospital scared of what lay ahead. ‘My mum and boyfriend were with me and I was given a pessary to try and kickstart my labour. Once visiting hours were over they left and I was completely alone just anxiously waiting for something to happen. Another pessary later that evening and I started to have some niggles and that night contractions started with a vengeance, which I quietly made the nurses aware of as I didn’t like to make a fuss.

I paced up and down that ward all night with those contractions. I didn’t scream or shout and wasn’t monitored at all. I dealt with them by quietly shutting everything out. Around 7am I felt I just couldn’t cope anymore and I headed to the nurses station to get some help. They told me the drs come round at 9am, to take a hot bath and it should relax me but leave the door open and they will make sure I’m seen as soon as they arrive. I was in agony but I figured they knew best.

9am came around very slowly and the drs arrived. I had never been so thankful to be examined. They checked me over and told me I was 9cm dialated and there was a mad rush to get me to the delivery suite. My son was born, not too long after that with forceps as I was finally being monitored and he was clearly distressed as his heart rate kept falling. He was born, blue and struggling to breathe and I was in total shock!!! My boyfriend and mum had made it in time for the birth. He was there for my sons arrival but my mum was on edge waiting outside.

My boyfriend didn’t stay long, he was excited to go tell his family and I was left lying on bloody sheets for what felt like forever not sure what was going on,with my mum by my side. My son had been whisked off to the special care baby unit very quickly and I felt confused and helpless. Eventually my mum got me up and helped me into the shower so I could get cleaned up as there seemed no other option.

Later I was wheeled onto a ward. I had no information about my son and was in a room with 3 other mums who had their babies with them. I felt totally empty.

That night I had a visit from friends and the nurses said we could finally go up and see my son. It felt so strange to be there as his mum. I didn’t feel like a mum. He was 8lb 9ozs. The biggest baby in the room but so poorly. I couldn’t hold him and just looked at him through the glass. Everything felt very surreal.

My son stayed in hospital 2 weeks. I was sent home before and travelled to see him daily. Before I left on one of my last evenings at the hospital the midwife who was at the delivery came to see me. She sat on my bed and held my hand and said she was so sorry and prayed for me and my son. To be honest I wasn’t sure what to make of it but it later it became clear that she knew how poorly he was.

Those early days when I visited the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) I wanted to get in and out as soon as possible. I felt inadequate, like I was being judged and watched by the nurses and generally just scared for what the future would bring. Many of the staff were amazing and helped me to feed him and hold him but my insecurities and a select few staff meant that I didn’t feel able to relax and spend time with my son and it took me a while to really bond with him.

One night before I brought my son home me and his birth father were asked to attend a meeting with the drs. That night I was told that he had some brain damage but as there was swelling until that settled they would not know the extent of the damage and the full effect that would likely have on him. That’s when my world begun to crash around me. From that moment on, the next 13 years were spent caring for my son “Jermaine” fighting for the best care, education, support for him and doing the best we could.

Once we were home my bond with my boy was cemented and although life was hard at times he was worth every second. He was an amazing little man. What he went through daily with physio, epilepsy, reflux, tube feeding etc.. was relentless some days but he kept fighting and smiling when he was able but that’s another story.

Being a teenage mum can be hard but being a teenage mum with a disabled child was incredibly challenging but the support from family and many amazing health professionals that touched our lives and that to this day I will never forget really were the difference between Jermaine and I making it through the tough times or not.

What was your birth experience like with your first child and how old were you?
Do you think your age influenced how you were treated?

Marriage: a work in progress

Do you use Valentine’s Day as a day to show your partner how much you love them? Will you be spending money on a card? Gifts? A meal? A night out?

You know there’s nothing wrong with making a special effort one day of the year to show your partner how special they are as long as you don’t make it the ONLY time in the year that you do that.

Relationships require effort. Listening to your partner, making time for them, showing them with action and affection how important they are.

I started a relationship with my husband when I was around 20 and at 22 we were married. He has been a rock for me and the kids in many tough times. He is kind, generous and will go the extra mile to be sure the kids are safe and well.

We have had so many happy times but we have also had many really tough times. Being together for so many years means that you both grow up together. You change with life’s experiences and sometimes as the years pass your roles in the family and relationship alter. All of that can have a huge impact on how you get on, your expectations of each other and for your future together. I’m definitely not the same person I was when we started dating at 20, I’m also no longer a carer or stay at home mum. My roles have completely changed.

Remember to keep talking and listening to each other. Flowers and gifts are lovely but what’s better? To feel like your partner is supporting you and interested in your life or a bunch of red roses? Those small everyday acts of love such as: sorting the kids so you can have an extra hour in bed, having dinner ready for you after a long day at work, clearing up your mess, giving you a foot massage, listening to you tell them about your tough day at work, organising a childminder and taking you out, running you a hot bath for when you get in from work……

Those daily acts of love are the things that will keep you together as a couple. Checking in with each other and taking steps to improve things when you need to. Don’t get complacent and comfortable. Marriage isn’t meant to be easy but when it’s a partnership witness both partners equally committed to working through problems it’s so worth it.

Not everyone is gonna make it with the same person forever but if you’ve given it your all. You wont have regrets. You’ll know that you worked at it and you just weren’t right for one another.

So spoil your partners today, please. Remember though that your marriage is a constant work in progress, so treat it as such. Everyday is a day to show each other your love. If you can do that you will go from strength to strength.

❤️ Happy Valentines Day All ❤️

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