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When I Found My Fierce…

When I Found My Fierce…

I don’t know when it was that I found my fierce but it’s a question I ask myself often. Are we all born with it or does it appear from some other place when we need it most. Courage is often found in the strangest of places, isn’t it and often spotted from afar rather than identified from within. I suspect though, that it’s hidden in the depths of all of us, dormant, just waiting for a moment or opportunity to reveal it’s power.

Growing up I was certainly a force to be reckoned with. I grew from a toddler who knew her mind to a teenager who spoke it. Perhaps my fierce is my mum’s fault. She’s certainly a determined woman with her own brand of fierce. Not in the all singing, all dancing, jazz hands kind of way but in that stoic, unassuming, quiet, immovable kind of way. She’s a woman who, against the grain, went to university at the other end of the country to educate herself in the way she wanted. She’s a woman that knows loss, having lost her dad and her sister far too soon. A woman who knows a battle, having fought and won her own fight with cancer too. She also had two children and yet still dedicated much of her life to educating the children of others. She’s pretty amazing. I only realised just how amazing she was when I tried to emulate her and found it impossible. Perhaps by modelling fierce, she handed some to me.

I’ve always been accident prone. Clumsy some say. From going over the handlebars of my bluebird bike and skinning one side of my face as a youngster to finding myself alone and flying over the handlebars of a scooter in Mykonos 15 years later, I’ve often ended up in emergency departments being sewn back together. Perhaps consistently crashing, dusting myself off and carrying the scars onto the next adventure helped build my inner fierce. Perhaps being knocked down and rising again has steadily become part of who I am.

There’s been many moments in my life that have required grit and determination but did they create the fierce or was it there all along? There are many times where fierce also seems to have forgotten me. Where was it hiding then and why could I not summon it from it’s depths? Who is there to help when our confidence falters? How can we feel less alone?

Perhaps, moving on from a heart-breaking loss, helped me to find my fierce. Through our experience of losing an unborn baby due to an antenatal diagnosis and subsequent ‘termination for medical reasons’, I met a community of fearless women, who, despite their own grief and loss manage to reach out and support the women around them. Here I think I found my fierce by osmosis. It is definitely contagious.  Without those women, I could not have gone in search of my rainbow baby. Although the relentless vomiting of two hyperemesis gravidarium pregnancies does not a fierce feeling give, determination to see it through to the birth of a child deserves more credit than it gets!

And so does becoming a mum. All mothers should be celebrated. The yummy ones, the scummy ones. The cool ones and the old school ones. The mumsy ones and the clumsy ones. It’s a bloody hard job.  I couldn’t do it without the support of all of my fabulous fierce female friends. Most but not all are mothers themselves. They are my team. But that got me thinking. What would I do without my tribe, my family, my support network?

I’m lucky. I’m privileged. I get it. I’m in a position where my life has allowed me many opportunities that others simply do not have access to. There are many people who would love to be able to access their fierce but it isn’t as simple as reading an inspirational quote in fancy lettering, or taking a hash tagged selfie. So, the fierce sweatshirts and tees were born. My aim? To help support other people, less fortunate than myself to find their fierce. To help be their support network, their tribe, their family. By donating a small amount to charity from the sale of each of these sweatshirts, I hope to help other women unleash their hidden power. I’m pretty sure its waiting inside of all of us.

And so this blog marks the beginning of the #WhenIFoundMyFierce Blog Series. What will follow will be a collection of very special and inspirational people who have found their fierce in very different ways. Fierce can be big and it can be small; there’s room for everyone.

#TeamFierce, I salute you all!

 

What to get involved?

You can help support our charities by shopping our sweats and tees here.

If you’d like to write a piece for the blog series and tell us your story, please do get in touch here.

If you’d like to be one of our charities of the month and benefit from our fundraising, please get in touch and tell us all about you and your charity.

A less lonely place to be…

Photo by Jian Xhin on Unsplash

 

In May 2014, we had to say goodbye to the little girl that we had, but never had. We had received the heart breaking news that our unborn baby was unwell and very unlikely to survive to term. We were given the burden of choice. We ‘chose’ to ‘interrupt’ our pregnancy and met our girl too soon. She was the tiniest thing. My little butterfly.

Here’s 8 things you won’t know about what happens when you ‘interrupt a pregnancy’ at 15 weeks unless it’s happened to you and I hope it hasn’t.

  1. You’ll have your tiny baby sitting on a toilet using a recyclable bed pan in a hospital labour ward with no one else there. You baby will be tiny but will be capable of leaving footprints and not just on your heart.
  2. It will be long and painful. Just like a real labour with real contractions but no pushing.
  3. Professionals will use strange words to describe your baby like ‘products of conception’ and ‘incompatible with life’ and will describe what is happening as ‘interrupting the pregnancy’, ‘inducing a miscarriage’ and ‘terminating for medical reasons’.
  4. You’ll be allowed to have drugs that you wouldn’t normally be allowed in labour because… well… your baby has already gone.
  5. Within minutes of ‘giving birth’, high on the above mentioned drugs, you’ll be asked to ‘make arrangements’ for the ‘products of conception’. To you and I, that means cremation or burial.
  6. People will not know what to say to you and so they will say at least. A lot. At least you know you can get pregnant. At least you found out sooner rather than later. At least you can try again.
  7. At some point you won’t feel entitled to be sad because ‘it wasn’t a real baby’, you made ‘the decision’ and others have been through much worse.
  8. At some point you will think you’ll never be really happy ever again. But at some point you will find happy again.

There are 17 stillbirths every day in the UK and 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage but there are also many more women who share my own experience.

Since experiencing my ‘termination for medical reasons’, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a beautiful daughter but I’ve also experienced 1 of the 4 ending in miscarriage and I know that the loss was just as heartbreaking. It’s the loss of a dream. A future. A plan. Also, its the loss of innocence and joy that is taken from many brave women on their journey to motherhood.

The loss of a baby, whatever the circumstances, is completely devastating and is made all the more so by society’s inability to acknowledge and discuss any type of loss. It’s too unspeakable to contemplate or too terrifying to understand. Chances are you know someone who carries this unbearable sadness everyday yet the chances are they are shouldering this sadness in silence.

In the aftermath of such a devastating loss you scrabble around trying to piece life back together but life has been blown apart and the pieces no longer fit evenly. Some of the pieces are missing. Everything has changed and you must adjust to a new ‘normal’. Life doesn’t stop and if you are lucky, like me, many of your friends, family and colleagues will adjust with you. Some will not. Life becomes heavier, weighed down by a genuine hopelessness for the future and exhaustingly endless cycles of ‘what ifs’ and ‘what could have beens’.Most people want to have children and as your friends and family prepare for and announce their new pregnancies they understandably delight in the prospect of a new life; you are the reminder that sometimes the worst can happen, that sometimes babies die. Frightened to steal their joyful naivety, you stay silent. You lock away your grief, uncontrollable bitterness and unbearable sadness, and paint on your face, each and every day.

Society’s general reticence to speak about baby loss means that an underground world exists. In this world people befriend complete strangers to share their darkest, saddest moments and daily struggles. I have been so lucky to find that world and have the support of those who understand the sadness of my own story and as more and more people open up it becomes a less lonely place to be.

Be a Fierce Mother

This single word (or Mum, mummy, mama etc) is enough to strike all of the fear into me. It’s also the single biggest fear I am facing everyday.

Well before being a mum was a reality, when it was only a speck of dust on a tiny idea in my young twenty-something brain, I feared the very thought of motherhood, believing it was something I couldn’t be good at and could never be ‘ready’ for.

Regardless of the parents you’ve been lucky or unlucky enough to have grown up with, its very likely that you will fear the parent you’ll become. You’ll either fear that you’ll be just like your parents or fear that you won’t be anything like them. Either way, it is a terrifying thought.

If you do happen to fall pregnant quickly and easily, its possible you’ll be fearful that it’s all happening too soon. If you don’t have it easy and it takes a long time, chances are you’ll feel the fear that it will never happen for you. You’ll consider all of the possible reasons why and you’ll fear simple things as well as the big things. If you’ve struggled and/or lost a baby you’ll always fight the fear that something will go wrong. It’s likely that this fear will carry itself into other parts of your life too.

It’s all terrifying, whichever way your journey leads you.

As a new Mum, you might fear that you aren’t good enough but also fear that you’re too much of a Mum. You’ll find a reason to fear that you’ve become too ‘mumsy’ overnight and left the old you behind. You might be afraid of the times you still want to be yourself, like it’s some kind of betrayal to your child and the rest of the motherhood. Conversely, you might feel fear that you don’t miss your previous life and feel like your betraying the old you when you sit amongst those that do. You’ll fear losing your old friends and worry that you won’t make new ones. Becoming a mum might turn you into someone you never knew you were or it might turn you into someone you always knew you could be. It might make you embrace a life you sneered at before or it might solidify what you already knew to be true. Either way, it’s terrifying.

As your child grows you’ll fear what life holds for them. You’ll fear that you can’t protect them enough yet worry if you protect them too much, they’ll never be able to protect themselves. You’ll be fearful that you’re not teaching them enough but also be fearful of all the things they’re learning from you when you’re not paying attention. You’ll worry that if you work, you’re not a good enough Mum and if you don’t work you’re not leading a good enough example. Perhaps as a Mum of a daughter this fear will be amplified. But if you are a mum of a son you’ll undoubtedly worry about what you are teaching your son about women.

As you watch them grow, you’ll hope that the times you were busy, stressed and tired are not the ones that they remember and as time passes you’ll worry whether you laughed, danced and cherished it all enough. When you look around and see everyone else cherishing every moment you’ll fear that there is something wrong with you. There isn’t.

As you nurture your child, you’ll be fearful they won’t have the confidence to explore the world and find all of the very best adventures it can offer. You’ll hope they will fly the nest and carve out their own passage all the while feeling the fear that they will fly too far to navigate back home.

When you reflect on yourself as a parent, you might find time to be fearful that you didn’t appreciate your own parents enough. You might apologise to them, all the while being terrified that your own child might treat you the same way you treated you treated them. They probably will.

You might be afraid that you don’t remember enough of your childhood and that you didn’t ask enough questions when you had the opportunity. You might look at the memories that you create for your own children and be full of fear that you didn’t cherish your own childhood keepsakes and memories enough.

Through all of your parenting adventures you will fear the judgement of others. The midwife, the health visitor, your own parents, the nursery staff, your child’s teachers, people in the supermarket, people in the cinema, people in the next house, mums at the park, mums at the swimming pool, mums at the dance class, mums in the cafe, the old people in the cafe, the young couple with no children, the lady with all the children who looks fearless, the glamorous mum who looks amazing, the confident mum who doesn’t care how she looks and every other single person in the universe. When you are around all of these people you might also find the time to fear that they thought you might have been judging them too.

The journey to motherhood from dream to reality and beyond is terrifying. You might even find yourself being afraid that you are too afraid. But you will face it and you will fight it. Each and every day. That’s what mothers do.

Dear Husband…

 

Dear Husband

Sorry.

Sorry if yours is the plate that is always smashing down. I know you pretend it doesn’t matter and that you’ll always be here but sometimes your eyes betray you. I don’t know why I always drop this plate. I don’t choose it; it kind of chooses me. Maybe it is because you don’t shout the loudest, maybe it’s because you’re made of the toughest porcelain, maybe it’s because I trust that this plate always bounces but it definitely isn’t a judgement of the value of the china. This ones made of the good stuff. The kind your parents save for Christmas dinners.

I’m really sorry that I never cook. I know I should. I expect you would like me to sometimes. It’s just that after I’ve made and cleaned up several meals for the little one in a day, I’m not that bothered about eating myself. It doesn’t occur to me that you need to eat too or that you won’t be as happy with a packet of popcorn and a loaf of malt loaf.

I’m really sorry that I am not a clean freak. Of all the plates that I am spinning, I couldn’t even be bothered to set this one into orbit. I’ve never liked cleaning. Except for pocket money dusting, listening to Dire Straits in my parents living room, when I was fiver years old. I think that was more about the dancing. I like dancing. Maybe we should get a cleaner.

I’m really sorry you only feel like I only want you sometimes. It’s not you. It’s not even me. It’s the exhaustion. The all consuming desire to ‘get the timing right’ is equally as exhausting as the circus clown spinning. It’s another plate. It’s up there and you can choose to smash that one. Sometimes that makes me mad. Sometimes it makes me act like an unromantic, desperate. Soz.

I’m sorry we don’t go on many dates anymore. I miss them too. Especially the ones with the dancing! Truth is, for the first solid year of our baby’s life, I couldn’t bear to leave her with anyone but you. Doesn’t really work for a date. Leaving her with anyone else felt terrifying; it meant I’d think all the bad thoughts. Doesn’t really work for a date.

I’m sorry I’m not as ‘wild’ as I was. I want to be wild and free too. But only if I’m back in bed by midnight and you are looking after HQ. One day we’ll be wild again together. One day we’ll be free.

I’m sorry if I suggest I’m more tired, more ill, and more unhappy than you. I know that’s not necessarily true but I am louder, more emotional and more needy than you. Please don’t stop hugging me; there’s a hug in there for you too.

I’m sorry if you think I’ve made my career more important than yours. It’s not. You count and you are truly amazing at what you do. I just want our daughter to know mummy had a job too and she made the most of the choices that some women don’t ever get the opportunity to make.

I’m sorry you keep slipping. You’re the bloody Royal Daulton of men. I want to be an amazing wife but I’m also busy trying to be a shining example of what it means to be an amazing mum, woman, sister, daughter, teacher, friend, and human being too.

Love you lots

xxx

P.S Can you catch a plate?

P.P.S I know I eat all the cake and chocolate too. That aint ever gonna change.

When I became a mother…

When I became a mother, I developed a wonky smile. A smile that encapsulates the all consuming love and extreme fear that now coexist inside my heart. The heart that now wanders around on the outside of my body.

 

The wonky smile that hides the sadness that our first baby didn’t make it and often wonders, at each milestone, what she might have been. How life might have been different. The furrowed lip that hides the guilt of wondering how a different path might have meant a different future.

I found a painted side smile that hid the anxious, non-perfect glassy eyed mum within me at every early parent group, doctors appointment and health visit. A nervous giggle adding weight to a wonky heart, needing to prove to the world it was winning at life.

I grew a half-smile of a wonky woman desperately protecting her child from the massive unknown while tentatively nodding softly spoken encouragement on the precipice of every huge leap.

I’ve got a caffeine induced smile of a woman delirious on zero sleep but fuelled by the determination to keep life real. To spin the plates like a crazed, circus clown, occasionally allowing one to smash dramatically on the floor before glueing it back together and sending it back in the air again.

I’ve got a trembling, weighty smile of responsibility for the quality of life ahead. The smile of contentment for the life I already have gently cradling the sadness that our family is yet to grow in the way it was promised. The promise of hope battling the sadness of loss.

I’ve got a sighing, gritted smile of an occasionally admitted defeat. Yes, I’m sometimes sad but I am also lucky. I sometimes feel fed up but I’m always in love. A smile that so often says, I have no idea what I am doing but I will always manage somehow.

There’s also a smile that lights up a room. It’s one that’s sometimes uncaged. Its wild and untamed and it takes my breath away. It’s pure happiness and it’s found in the reflection of all the people I love.

It’s my wonky smile and I wear it with pride. It sums up all that I became when I became a Mum. This post was written to enter a competition being held by @dontbuyherflowers