Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The Birth of my Son and Daughter

Considering how eventful my health can be, my pregnancy was reasonably uneventful. This was a huge relief, however when labour finally arrived I did end up having too have a Cesarean section as my baby was getting distressed and I was just not dilating! It seems that my pelvis was just too stiff, those ligaments just were not prepared to give! Si was born 10 days earlier than my due date in the autumn. I cherish those early memories of him so tiny, born just over 7lbs, he stayed small for a long time, I'm pleased to say he has more than made up for it since! I didn't really have much chance to be shell shocked by his arrival. Six weeks after he was born my sister was taken very poorly, she was eventually diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and ended up in hospital for a year, her marriage broke up and her 3 year old daughter went to live with my mum and dad. By the time Si was 3 months, my husbands dad died very suddenly.

Si a few hours old.

So I do have some quite strange memories of my sons early days! Driving over to Lincoln and Sheffield and Derby to see my sister in various hospitals. Organising a 3 year olds birthday party for my niece! Fetching all my sisters belongings from her home in Lincoln and taking them to my mums house in Nottingham (little did I know then that I would be clearing her home again 9 years later). Viewing potential housing association houses for my sister for when she was discharged. I was also having to regularly go to hospital as had been put on Warfarin because of the risk of blood clots following surgery because of past medical history!

I do also have lots of beautiful memories, sitting on the sofa watching my baby for hours on end. Having no stress about needing to return to work as many of my ante-natal group were doing. Making some new friends who now feel very much a part of my family.

Because of having to stop all my medication during the last trimester of my pregnancy and not being able to return to it while I was breastfeeding, I stopped feeding at 7 months. I obviously was physically feeling much better once on medication as I got pregnant again very soon! This was a little bit of a surprise but an extremely good one!

Within 17 months of Si being born, little miss Belle arrived, almost the same weight as her brother! Also 10 days early as he had been! I had tried for a 'normal' delivery but this time made my own decision to go for a C section as it was progressing in the same very slow manner of my first. Within 5 years of marriage we had been blessed with two absolutely gorgeous children.

Belle a few hours old.

Friday, 27 March 2009

From the First to the Second.

Our First Home after we got married.

I thought today a little more reminiscing was required by me for me! I last wrote about getting to the point in life where I got pregnant. This was early Spring 1999. At this time both my husband and I felt the prompting to do another great change. We both agreed that ideally I should stop working when I had my first baby. The problem with this was that we could not imagine being able to manage on one wage, living in outer London. So tentative enquiries were made to see if there were any jobs available for my husband back in his home-town of Outer Manchester. My family were in the Midlands and my husbands mum and dad were still living (in separate places) near where he had grown up.

The long and short of the enquiries was that a job came up, he got it and therefore we were going to make a 200 mile move! I will never forget the day we left our first home, neither of us could talk, neither of us wanted to go, I don't even remember closing the front door, though I do remember handing the keys in to the estate agent. We felt as though we had made a big mistake. I was six months pregnant, just left a job I loved, moving to an area where I knew very few people - to a house I had only seen once.

My faithful Father in Heaven though, provided lots of lovely god-incidences to reassure us that we had done the right thing. When I look back on this time now, I no without any shadow of doubt that we were in the right place at the right time, even if the events that unfolded were not all very good ones!

By far the most precious god-incidence that occurred was when we went to church in our new village. We had prior to moving already signed ourselves up for some National Childbirth Trust Ante-natal classes - we had actually signed up in two areas, not knowing exactly where we might end up living! We went to church that first time only to discover that our ante-natal teacher was a member of the church and in fact lived 2 minutes walk around the corner from us! Sue immediately became a great friend. So much so that by the time I had my second child, she was a birthing partner along with my husband and became my daughters God-mother.

Our Second Home with me (six months pregnant) and my gorgeous husband.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A Handfull of Issues that I am dealing with.

I have alluded to having 'issues' at the moment, I have decided to get some of them out in print to try and stop myself from blowing them out of proportion. So please excuse me while I indulge:

Issue no 1. My 12 year old niece (who lost her single parent mummy back in November) is very unhappy living with her Grandma and Grandpa (my mum and dad), however she is grieving and therefore is probably going to be unhappy where ever she is.
Having my niece come and join our family - but not immediately so that she can think it through properly. This requires patience and a lot of work by the whole family to come to terms with this.
Continuing to support my niece to stay with her Grandparents and support them by having her to stay during school holidays (she lives 140 miles away from us).

Issue no 2. My mother is seriously depressed which is affecting the possible out comes to issue no 1.
Continue to encourage my mum to get professional help to try and alleviate her symptoms. To remove her main stress (my niece) and let her take the path that she decides to take.

Issue no 3. My health - I need to lose weight and get fitter and am facing surgery on both of my knees.
Surgery - putting up with it.

Issue no 4. The loss of my best friend. I cannot go in to detail about this but the person who has been my very best friend and prayer partner for the last 6 years is no longer around in my life.
Grieve, find support from others, pray for her.

How silly to get right to the end of that list before I think of Prayer!!!!!!! Of course I can hand all these things over, they are all far to big for me to make decisions on by myself.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Getting into a Positive Frame of Mind

Do you believe in 'self-fulfilling prophecies'? I do very very much. I am presently having a bit of a clash with my son. He has to write a 100 word story using lots of its and it's in it! He was supposed to do it yesterday, we had already sat down together and came up with a story plan as I know he finds it difficult to get started. He had requested that he go upstairs to his room to do it where it was quiet. I consented and called him down 30 minutes later to discover he had written nothing. So he has come in from school this afternoon and still has to do it. He has already been sat at the dining room table for 20 minutes staring in to space so have just had a conversation with him about his thoughts. He is sitting there saying - 'don't want to do this', 'can't do this' to himself. I have tried to explain to him that by sitting there saying that - there is no way he can get his brain to produce something - he needs to turn his thoughts around. I have suggested that he tries to set himself a more positive goal - like, ' if I write 10 sentences in 10 minutes, I will be finished'. He is not quite working to that pace - but he does have some words and sentences completed in the time I have written this.

I am now trying to think where I need to apply this to my life at the moment. I have had a really busy day at work. I have been in meetings and doing admin all morning and spent this afternoon with 20 or so toddlers and their carers talking and playing around the Easter story. I am so tired I am finding it very difficult to think that I can do anything else this evening. However I know the truth is that I don't really want to do anything this evening. On one hand this is fine, I do need to rest - though I do need to feed my family and be mum at least until the children go to bed.

So - I will cook a lovely tea for us in 20 minutes time, we will then sit together and watch something nice on the TV. The children are perfectly able to do their own baths and my husband usually does bedtime stories when he is around and he is around this evening. Then I can rest and relax and not expect myself to do anything more. Great - I feel better already!

Now my gorgeous hubby has said he is going to help out with tea as well smashing! My son has finished his homework, so a bit of snuggle time is required I think!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Psalm 77

1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted.
3 I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;
I mused, and my spirit grew faint.
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart mused and my spirit inquired:
7 "Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"
10 Then I thought, "To this I will appeal:
the years of the right hand of the Most High."
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.
13 Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 The waters saw you, O God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the skies resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

I read this, this morning and thought - this is it, this is what I mean when I talk about hindsight. For me especially when times are real tough like they are at the moment, I need to look back on what God has done for me and for those before me. I need to remember that He has been good and faithful in order to remember that He will continue to be good and faithful to those who love Him.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Hindsight is a Wonderful Thing!

It is you know - in my opinion anyway!!

I am so enjoying looking back on my life story, it's something I have always done to one extent - but mostly just in the odd snippets of remembering events. The disadvantage of relying on this has been that you forget areas or developments in life that when they were happening were really a big deal.

At the end of writing about an event that has happened in my life I often discover whenever I think about it through the day that there are other little side stories that come into view which have been totally forgotten about. I am having to be really patient with myself while I wait to see what event turns up next for me to blog about. One of the biggest difficulties for me seems to be to not rush to write an outline of all the big events, whilst being kind to myself and allowing some things to not be written about in a chronological order when I am not yet ready to write about them.

This has got me pondering about the Bible - though please be assured I am in nooooo way suggesting that my writing is like that in the Bible!!!!! However when the books in the Bible were written they are all looking at events that have, are or will be happening. There is lots of jumping about, lots of little side stories. I find this so comforting. Though we are all uniquely made we all have the same Father and he has invested in us qualities of himself. So when I sit and reminisce about times in my life, it's good to know that He is there listening and reminiscing with me. Just like when I sit down with my children and watch videos of their early years and tell them stories about things that they did when they were younger.

I know that it is very hard (if not near impossible) to cherish hard times when you are going through them. The gift of hindsight that we have means that we can be sure that in the future we will be able to look back on these hard times and see developments in ourselves - things that have changed. It might take a long time before we can see the developments turn into good ones
however we can hold on in faith to believe that all things will turn for the good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8 verse 28.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Things That Make You Stop and Think

After being married for a couple of years, having started to come to terms with my rheumatoid arthritis, life was good. My husband had had a bit of a difficult time at work which had resulted in him having to accept a lower position than he had been hoping for (and less money). However everything seemed to be ticking along okay.

Because of all the discussions that we had had before we got married about my husband not wanting children, we were both quite clear before we married that it was something we would not rush into. I had gone onto the contraceptive pill just before we were married to ensure that we were taking all the precautions that we could.

In 1998 we had a lovely holiday in Florida where we spent a week in a villa with friends doing Disney, then had a week driving down to Miami and the Keys before flying back up to Disney to spend another week at Disney before flying home. I had, had to use a wheelchair while at Disney as my walking was still not great. About 2 weeks after we got back I started to get a great deal of discomfort in one of my legs. After a couple of days I asked the charge nurse on the ward where I worked to take a look at a discoloured area that had developed where the pain was - it was quite swollen. He immediately sent me down to A & E, and within a couple of hours I was on a drip taking blood thinning drugs as a scan had shown a blood clot in my leg. That was incredibly scary. I was immediately taken of the pill as this and the flight (although the time delay was strange) were the only predisposing factors towards why it had happened. So all of a sudden we felt thrown into a conundrum about when we wanted to start a family.

In the end we decided that if I was going to get pregnant then health wise it might be worth getting on with it. We had no way of knowing whether my arthritis would get worse, but as I was already over 30 it just seemed sensible to get on with trying. I fell pregnant almost immediately!! Now we had some more decisions that we were going to have to make.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a right Pain!

Don't know what else I can say about it really. I have now had it for 12 1/2 years. In many ways it is better than it sometimes has been. I no longer seems to have 'episodes' where it gets worse than other times. However I find exercising difficult have got osteoarthritis in my ankles and knees which means I am now VERY overweight. I am seeing an orthopaedic surgeon next week to see if anything can be done about myknee. I know he is going to not like my weight! He's not alone, I don't like it either.

I am in an amount of pain all the time, on a 1 - 10 scale, I would probably score it around a 5 most of the time. I am sure it is kept reasonably controlled by my drug regime - this means I take between 13 and 17 tablets a day - yes I do rattle considerably. I can sometimes trust that the pain is there as a reminder to not overdo stuff - I know that when I am feeling good, I generally tend to overdo it.

It was very difficult in the later stages of my pregnancies and when I was trying to breastfeed. However I have always had my sister in the background, she went on to be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and was hospitalised for the first year of my sons life. So God has always given me the resources to cope with a load of stuff going on, but I do sometimes get weary.

I am weary at the moment. I am concerned about what, if anything will be done to my knee. I would love a magic wand to be waved. Years of praying over an issue of healing is tiring in it's self. I have been through periods of time when I have suddenly been aware that I haven't prayed for healing in a while. Then I feel guilty that I haven't been praying! Other times I can feel so frustrated and feel that God is just not listening - or even worse - telling me to shut up and stop moaning about it - there are worse things!!! There is also that frustrating thing about having to listen to peoples remedies ( I plead guilty as charged for the times I know I have done this). I then feel my intelligence is being insulted as well as my body.

When I am feeling low about all this, I cling on to my vision of Heaven from the Bible..... no more pain, no more tears, a new body!!! Bring that on!!!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Autumn of 1996

Married life was great. New job was great. My health - mmm, not so great.

It was just months after getting my new job that I first had 'flu', well that's what I though it was and maybe it was just that. I was in bed for 48 hours or so. Once my head had started to clear, I was left with very painful wrists and ankles. This immediately worried me. My sister some 3 years younger had been unwell for some years with ME following 2 bouts of glandular fever in her teens. This had left her with very painful wrists, so much so that she was struggling to keep her job (she was also an occupational therapist), for her they were now querying whether she had rheumatoid arthritis. I tried very hard not to think about this and got my home group of plenty of friends praying for me to be made well again.

I had a couple of weeks off work and was well enough to go back, though I knew I wasn't quite right. My GP was great and I started taking anti-inflammatory pills I was also referred on to a rheumatologist. The pain didn't get any worse and it seemed that as long as I didn't do too much I was okay. However by the Summer of '97, still no diagnosis had been made, I had changed consultants as the first one I felt really didn't believe that there was anything wrong with me! I had splints to wear at work and they were very understanding about me not doing any heavy lifting, etc (this is what they would have told any of their patients!).

It must have been around August 97 that I had a major problem, fortunately I had started seeing a fab consultant who immediately diagnosed me with serum negative rheumatoid arthritis (RA)(basically means the rheumatoid factor in your blood does not show up!). I got very low and all my joints became affected, walking round the supermarket was too much too do. I was off work for around 3 months. The silly thing about this horrible disease is that if I just rest and stay still, I get relief from pain, however it makes my joints seize up even more and therefore makes any movement even more painful. Learning how to cope with this was horrible. I felt that I couldn't talk to my mum about it as she was very concerned about my sister who was by this time living in Cyprus and pregnant with their first grandchild.

I eventually got onto a drug regime that seemed to have some effect on me and got back to work, though it has to be said the NHS was awful when it came to agreeing with stuff through occupational health. I was very depressed - one unfortunate side effect from my job was that I only saw people with RA that had produced awful disfigurements and most of them were very elderly.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Life the great learning curve.

I'm glad some readers have enjoyed reading the 'love story', however it has just occurred to me that actually during the middle 90's there was at least one other steep learning curve occurring in my life.

I qualified as an Occupational Therapist http://http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupational_therapy in 1995 after receiving a 2:1 degree in the subject. Applying for my first job was a bit scary. I had been going out with Bri for some time but we had not made any firm plans for the future. So it was a giant leap of faith that made me apply for a basic grade post at a local hospital, rather than applying for jobs that would enable me to start to pursue my interest in children more. I really enjoyed working again (and earning money!). I was working with a reasonably nice bunch of people. I was the first mature basic grade they had ever had and so it took them some getting used to the idea that I was able to take on responsibilities that my predecessors hadn't wanted or hadn't been able to take on.

After less than a year it became apparent that I was outgrowing the post. I also had a bit of an issue with my boss, he had left his wife and children and remarried one of the other OT's in the department - this always felt a bit awkward. However the biggest problem I had was that he was practising clinical kineseology in the OT department. Clinical kineseology is an alternative treatment which draws on several ancient traditions of energy release, acupuncture along with more current biology. One thing it most definitely is not is Occupational Therapy. I was particularly concerned with the way it was being offered to elderly patients as OT, on making enquiries with our regulatory body, I finally decided that I had to speak up. Obviously this didn't go down to well. I was also not getting the regular supervision that I should have been receiving as a Basic Grade. I asked my Senior whether she thought it was time for me to apply for a senior post because of this, but she did not think that I was ready.

I had by this time also got married, this did give me a very different view on my work life. Work really was never going to be the be all and end all of my life. Call me old fashioned if you need to, I knew that I hoped to have children and that if able I wouldn't want to work while they were young.

I saw a job advertised for a senior 2 post (the next step up), it was only 4 days a week (this would help out at home with my husband working shifts getting a weekend together was rare). It was at a rehabilitation unit about 12 miles from my first job, I had experience of the unit as I had already had patients go there as out-patients or transferred there. It was a specialist unit for amputees and limb deficient children. It felt like yet another clear opportunity given to me by God, though my work with children would be small compared to the time I would spend with adults - it was there nevertheless. So yet again I was having experience of my God giving me immeasurably more than I could have imagined and maybe I can even say he was granting my hearts desire (even if I wasn't so sure what my hearts desires were!). I applied for the job and got it - this was the start of another great learning curve.

'Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.' Psalm 37 :1-4 NIV

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Taking a step back.

Okay, okay - Gaynor reminded me that I had skirted over my husbands wonderful proposal. I didn't purposefully do this, however I am now thinking that maybe I was skirting it because it reminds me of my not so good side!

I have mentioned that it had been quite a trying time coming to terms with stuff before we got engaged. Well on the day, Bri had phoned to ask if he could take me out as he had some stuff he wanted to talk about. I remember so clearly rolling my eyes and thinking 'not again', presuming we were going to have to have yet more musing on the topic and having not resolution. Reluctantly I agreed to go out with him, he came and picked me up and took me to Richmond Hill very near to where we went to Church. I think I might even have said to him at some point that I didn't want to go over the same old stuff over again. My shock (and mild embarrassment) when he got down on one knee just after Concorde had gone over us, was very very real. I hadn't guessed it was coming at all. Richmond Hill continues to hold a very special place in our hearts and I hope always will.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The God who gives Immeasurably More.

My wedding day finally arrived. My husband to be proposed in December 1995 and we married in May 1996. One thing that I haven't mentioned with regards to my husband - he was brand new and all mine. After becoming a Christian it took quite a while for me to shake off the feeling of being 'soiled' goods. With our wedding finally in view it quite took my breath away to see that God had not only made me 'new' again, as if to underline it he gave me a husband who had never had a girlfriend - he was all mine! That made me feel incredibly special.

The photo is of me with a friends little boy - he's 6' 5 " these days - and does not fit on my lap anymore!

Friday, 6 March 2009


I have a confession to make. I am absolutely useless on the whole at admitting defeat. I like to succeed. I like to finish what I have started.

But the last few weeks have been a steep learning curve. I have reached my limits. I no longer have any reserves left, physically, emotionally or spiritually.

I feel extremely vulnerable. It is very scary. However I do believe that God is going to continue sustaining me. He has never let me down in the past and therefore I have absolutely no excuse to stop trusting him now. I am preparing a Junior Church lesson about the patience that Abraham and Sarah had to learn before having their much longed for baby for this Sunday. I have been blogging this week about the patience I learnt in waiting for my husband. I will wait patiently for God to help me in the situation that I am now in .

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

All Plain Sailing?

You would think that after meeting my husband to be, knowing for sure he was the one for me, it really should have been plain sailing from then on - shouldn't it?

The first slight spanner that I had constructed was my sisters wedding. Not wanting to go alone I had requested the company of my last boyfriend (before becoming a Christian). That was fine at the time - now though I had a BOYFRIEND! I didn't feel I had any right to not take the first person I had asked, but definitely did not want to leave the REAL one behind. So the first not taking the hint - I ended up taking both!! They were both in the know about each other, I hid nothing, and spent the whole day trying not to make either feel uncomfortable, therein giving myself plenty of unnecessary stress.

The second slightly bigger spanner that emerged was that my boyfriend, could not ever imagine himself getting married and definitely not having children (there were a lot of very good reasons for this, but that is his story to tell not mine). Boy that was tough, I could never imagine my life without these things. I will be eternally grateful to some wise mentors who helped us both through this period. It lasted almost a year with no visible (I know realise there was plenty of invisible) movement in each others desires - that was very hard going. Trusting God through this time was sooooo difficult, it was the first time that I really felt under pressure to keep trusting. His Grace though gave me the strength.

Peer pressure was also prevalent at this time. Not that my peers were putting pressure on me, I realise that I was actually putting the pressure on myself. Watching friends getting married just made me feel as though I was getting left behind - how positively silly this sounds now. It was also around this time that some friends were starting to have babies - and I wanted one!!!

Strange when you look back on incidences like this, I can still feel some of the pain that I was feeling then. If only I was perfect then I wouldn't still have to go through experiences to learn how to trust my God more than I do already.

Monday, 2 March 2009

1994 The Summer of Love

At some point after I had that first meeting with my husband to be, we must have discussed house plants - riveting stuff, hey! We would sometimes bump into each other at church, but no further steps were made, until I approached him and told him that I had a plant for him - having taken a cutting from one I had.

This was obviously the sign that he needed, I must have given him my telephone number as the next thing I knew he phoned and arranged to come and pick it up. Things were still very polite and guarded, we must at this point of discussed the fact that my 2nd Christian (born again) birthday was coming up in a few days . He left with the plant and that was that.

The next day however another phone call this time he wanted to take me out on a date - scarey!! My Christian birthday was an appropriate occasion he felt and so that was set. We had a brilliant evening, they even sang happy birthday to me in TGI Fridays! There was a quick peck on the cheek on being dropped home - but no kissing (I had made that deal with God, no kissing another man until I found the one that would be my husband!).

I was already hooked by this point, despite the not kissing! I made an excuse to go round and check that the plant was okay!!!! The plant had been named Audrey, and remains with us till this day.

We saw each other every day, except for a weekend when he flew to New York on Concorde! and a few days in the summer holidays when I went off on a childrens Christian camp as a volunteer.

I won't bore you with anymore details, but the kiss finally took place in the most romantic of places and I knew it - THIS WAS THE GUY THAT I (AND GOD) WANTED TO MARRY.