Being a mum is hard

Now before you jump on me I’ve already written a post about being a dad being hard so you’ll have to scroll and find it, but it’s true that being a mum is hard.

Being a mum has probably always been hard. Let’s face it the physically hard part hasn’t got harder, maybe it’s actually got easier with all the gadgets we have to help us. But maybe, just maybe the mental side has got harder. Bare with me…

Physically, carrying a baby often sucks. Sickness, nausea, heartburn, sore back, sore hips, sore tummy, sore boobs, needing to go to the toilet all the time….I don’t think I need to go much further!

THEN there’s HAVING a baby. I only did labour to a certain point. Admittedly that certain point took 37 but both boys were csections so the pain I recognise to do with child birth is probably quite different to others BUT it still physically hurt!

THEN there’s breastfeeding. Anyone who tells you it’ll only hurt if you’re doing it wrong is lying to you. Nipples suddenly being used to feed for almost 180hours in 30 days are going to hurt. The most important thing you need to know is if you keep going chances are it won’t hurt as much or at all!

But all those things will always have hurt. What I’m contemplating is whether being a mum has maybe got more mentally and emotionally hard?

Mentally and emotionally mum’s face a world that is bigger and more in your face than ever before because of the internet and social media. Now don’t me wrong this has MASSIVE benefits. We ask google for advice (Top tip: never google medical problems! Dr Google is unlikely to ever be right!!), we can join forums with mum’s who are due at the same time or have children same age or who wean in the same way or who are as ecologically minded as we are and we find ideas for activities for our kids (read put on iplayer/netflix/amazon video).

BUT this often comes at an emotional or mental price. You browse facebook and see all these mum’s who’ve done crazy crafts, baked cakes with children who are still smiling (because when you bake either you or the toddler end up crying), built towers, had lovely days out or whose houses/children/cars look immaculate and if you’re not careful you are lead to compare, to feel guilty or to feel like you *should* be able to be doing the same.

Firstly there’s the matter of *should* to be dealt with. Should creates instant pressure and instant guilt. It makes many people feel like a failure before they’ve even climbed out of bed because they *should* be happy, they *should* go out or they *should achieve something because Jane Smith on Facebook managed it and she’s got THREE children and her youngest is only 1 month old whilst you’ve *only* got 2 children and your youngest is 5 month. As an aside as Christian mothers the bible tells us there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and so therefore *should* is actually quite a distructive thought process and one we *should* probably be handing over to God regularly.  I think *should* often stops us from asking for help because we *should* be able to cope, we *should* be enjoying being a mum and we *should* be able because every other mother on Facebook seems to be able to.

The key word in that sentence is SEEMS. On Facebook we create a different reality. I don’t think we do it on purpose but it certainly happens. No one really wants to see my toddler and baby screaming but the true reality, particularly with the smallest one, is that often what he’s doing. I post pictures of them smiling and cheerful and often want to write a “by  the way most of my day they’ve cried but they’re so cute when they smile”

In a world of Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram it’s incredibly easy to be overcome with inadequacies but worse than that we create the notion for parents, and particularly mums to be, that this parenthood thing is easy and clean and predictable and pain free and something we all take in our stride. Of course no mum to be really wants to know what’s really coming and actually often you don’t really understand what it’s like till you’re actually in depth of it but maybe its worth a little more reality, a little more of an accurate perspective with those we know how are having children and with those mum’s we spend the most time with.

Perhaps that extra honesty will relieve one mum’s feeling of being overwhelmed, of being a failure, of not being as good as the person next door and allow them to better enjoy the reality of this challenging but oh so rewarding, messy but oh so worth it experience.

I also think that sometimes we take being a mum for granted in those moments of despair. There have been many times, as a direct result of having struggled with infertility I suspect, that in my lowest and most frustrating times I have turned to these little people who cause my world to run in chaos and been overwhelmed with gratitude that they are here to cause my chaos. Being a mum is hard. Wanting to be a mum when it isn’t happen is just as hard, if not harder and to anyone in that situation reading this I sending you such a huge love and grieve with you your monthly disappointment at not being the mum you long to be. xx


Post infertility – reflecting on the journey

This was written around October 2014 when Zac was almost 1 year old and i thought I’d post it here to share. It covers some of our infertility journey and Zac’s initial craziness!

I’m packing a box of the things I want to keep for Zac, a special box of his first baby grows, his “Welcome to the world” cards and Dedication cards too. As I think about what I want to put in it I’m to the box, I’m overwhelmed by the journey that has come before this day. 

Five years is a fairly large portion of your life when you’re only 27. Five years is an even larger portion of the eight years we’ve been married, but that’s how long this part of the journey took! 

In November 2009, we thought it would be nice to have a baby, thought it was a good next step after 3 years of marriage, felt it was the right thing to do. Now, when I was growing up, if you asked me what I want to be when I grew up, I’d always say “I want to be a mum”. After we were married, I would say ‘IF we can have children….’ but I’m pretty sure I never really meant the “if” even though I was aware it doesn’t always happen! So really, I’d been kinda ready to be a mum for a long time! 

Things didn’t go to plan and we spent the next 3 years and 3 months dealing with infertility. Dealing with heartbreak, shaken faith, grieving what could have been, dealing with the comments of acquaintances, friends and family, watching others have babies easily, watching others have second babies easily, losing hope, battling fears, asking “why us?”, feeling like a failure as a woman/ a wife/ a person in society, running from family events, watching from the sidelines, answering stupid questions, listening to some awful advice, crying in dedication services and about baby showers and all the other things that go with experiencing infertility. It affects your day to day life (not helped when you work with children!) and even your sleep and dreams. 

A nice little tip here for those who haven’t experienced infertility – don’t ask a married couple, of child bearing age, why they haven’t had kids, or even if they’d like them!! Chances are they either aren’t interested in having them, in which case they owe you no explanation, OR they can’t have them and desperately want them and you are sticking a sharp knife into a painful hole in their hearts! Asking when they are going to provide grandchildren or nieces and nephews is also probably not going to go down all that well, although they probably won’t say anything to you. Advice such as “just stop trying so hard” is also unwelcome, as are stories of your best friend’s cousin’s daughter’s dog walking buddy who was trying for 6 months but now has twins.

Infertility is such a taboo subject. This is partially because it’s such a personal thing and some people would genuinely rather not share, and partially because people feel uncomfortable talking about it. It’s a subject that involves sex and we all know you shouldn’t talk about sex. Unless of course it’s in a book, in a film, on an advert, in songs, in a magazine, workplace banter, or down the pub as a crude joke. No, no, sex in terms of serious, procreation, married couple sex is not a topic of normal conversation. 

But talk about we did! Well, more “I” than “we”! 

I initially told my closest friends, we told our church small group after a year, our families around the same time, and after about 2 years, if you’d asked about my personal life I would have told you without really thinking anything of it. Infertility was a part of my (our) life and if you wanted to know how I was, you’d hear the shitty bit of my life too! 

With a lot of people, telling them was the best thing I ever did. They understood a bit more about my reactions, prayed for us and with us, supported us, loved us, encouraged us and loved us. With others, they were just as insensitive and hurtful but the support gained by telling more often than not out-weighed the option to bottle up, especially as they’d have said the hurtful things anyway! We had a lot of support from people, but some people went out of their way to make us feel loved. I can’t imagine what I would have done without my friends Carol, Ali and Ellie and without the love of my sister in law, Kirsty! They were there, they listened, they encouraged, they prayed, they wiped tears and they cared. Ali even lent me her child for days out!

We were blessed and unfortunate in equal measures to not have to go through too much medical intervention. We had initial tests but due to my weight we couldn’t go any further. My weight wasn’t a problem with fertility for us but the NHS hoops to jump through include weight!  Now the logical answer to this problem would have been to lose weight. Logical – yes; realistic for me – no! I am a comfort eater, about 3 weeks a month I could eat well and lose weight. But then there was the one week a month, possibly even 2 or 3 days where the heartbreak was all too much. Feeling like a failure month after month is a hard burden to carry and a much easier one to eat through! Another tip for those parents of young children, especially girls. If your child is sad, don’t give them food to cheer them up, or just after they’ve been upset – it teaches them to look to food for comfort. (Pretty sure that’s not what happened with me, but I see it happening and fear for the outcome!) 

Anyway, during those years I never understood how having a baby could feel like the right thing to happen but that it didn’t happen. I had many arguments about it with God and it definitely shook my faith and trust in Him. While this was going on we also had encouragement. This came through things like books (I HIGHLY recommend both Hannah’s Hope and Baby Hunger), songs, quotes and prophecies (where people heard from God about our lives and shared it with us). The biggest one of these was back in October 2011 when our friends Gav and Ali felt that God was highlighting the date 5th November when they prayed for us. There were also prophecies we never heard at the time but have done since such as our friend Stephanie telling our friend Anna to give us a children’s craft that said “God gave Sarah a baby” on it and our friend Charlotte feeling that February 2013 was important. There’s so many bible verses and encouragements and quotes I could list here but it would be crazy long on top of an already crazy long story! (If you want to hear more of them get in touch!) 

In February 2013 we made the decision to use the money we had been saving to pay for baby items (pushchairs, cots etc) to pay for private medical investigations in March 2013 – after all, what was the point in the money sitting there when we didn’t have a baby to buy things for? We never had to use those savings, as on 22nd February 2013, we found out I was pregnant. I cried, Ross read the pregnancy test leaflet several times and then we went to work. So many times I had taken pregnancy tests and watched them be as white as snow (negative). The deep joy and disbelief of the red line appearing on that test that morning will never leave me. 

Now logically this would be the end of a story about infertility, but the journey we’ve been on only seems to be coming to a bit of close as our little bear is about to turn one! 

Pregnancy was hard. I had a few bleeds, I had few times where I couldn’t feel the baby moving, one time when even the hospital struggled to get the baby to move. I spent the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (as most mums to be do) fearing my baby wouldn’t make it, maybe I’d imagined it, maybe something would be wrong. Actually I think I spent 41 weeks thinking maybe I’d made it up, maybe I’d wake up from this dream at some point! It was only when I went into labour on November 5th (see prophecy above!!) that I realised this was really happening. 

My labour was hard, a total of 37 hours! He was back to back and face first and after 17 hours at 5cm Zac was delivered by emergency csection. He was HUGE, amazing but huge – 10lb8oz of lovely squidginess! I was unwell after he was born and just as I was reaching being well enough to go home little bear got jaundice and was put on a sun bed. I was so frustrated that I was stuck in the hospital and not at home with my husband and baby living the newborn dream! 

Day 5 of Zac’s life and we got to go home! It was such a surreal experience. I remember almost panicking that this little baby was depending on us and we couldn’t just send him back – what had I been thinking!?!

Zac had lost 10% of his body weight in 5 days – 1lb – but it was within the allowed amount. We were bombarded with midwives for 2 weeks seeing 8 different women in that time, each giving different advice, wanting me to do different things and prodding and poking me. After 2 weeks the health visitor instructed the midwives to hand us over to them. I cried with joy that I would be dealing with one person who would be consistent! Zac didn’t gain weight for weeks. He fed and fed, baffled medical professionals, didn’t have any allergies, and no tongue tie to prevent him from feeding. Adding in expressed or forumla bottles didn’t make any difference, he just wouldn’t grow. He was content, healthy and developing perfectly in every other area apart from his weight.

We headed to America for 3 weeks when he was 6 weeks old. Two days before we left he gained 2oz, and so a referral to the hospital was put on hold! For 3 weeks we had fun, we rested, we explored, we ate and we spent time with Kirsty and Seth who looked after us and loved us! It was the best thing we could have done after the stress of the 4 years before! We escaped everyday life and enjoyed just being a family of three and with spending time with loved ones! 

When we returned, despite having fed for 1 hour every 3 hours every day, Zac had not gained weight and a referral was made to the hospital. He was still a content and well developing baby. The hospital could see no problems with him and Zac started to gain tiny amounts of weight each week. At 16 weeks old Zac hit birth weight again. I sobbed! Another visit to the hospital confirmed our baby was probably fine and as we weaned him at 5 months old he suddenly gained weight. I’m fact, in 9 weeks, Zac gained a crazy 7lb! 

While all this was going on, the same people who had supported us through our infertility were there beside us supporting us and loving us. But in the background of all of this we had people telling me to stop breast feeing, contrary to doctors’ advice, and comparing our son to other children around us! To be built up by some but pulled down by others was heart breaking! Your words have the power to build up or break down and you choose how you use them – do it wisely! Finally in May, I could start enjoying my 6 month old without weekly weigh ins and the stress of his weight! 

The past 6 months have had their ups and downs. Dedicating our little boy at church was such a special emotional day with so many friends and family coming to join us to celebrate him . The next day, I returned to work 3 days a week for 13 weeks. I desperately missed my little boy, felt I’d been robbed of 6 months of my maternity leave with all the stress, and was sure that leaving was the right thing to do so it was hard to go back to leave! I was blessed by working with some people who kept me going, and by friends and family who took time out of their lives to look after Zac on those days! Leaving work was a sad but exciting day. Starting a new job nannying for Ali’s two lovely children and taking Zac with me has been a joy and seeing how God has worked his timings to be perfect – faith affirming! 

Zac continues to grow well (he’s gone from being born on the 99.6th centile, dropping to below the 0.4th centile back up to the 98th centile!) He is developing in his abilities and strengths, and his character and facial expressions bring us joy. We thank God for him daily, sometimes several times a day! We cherish the moments we have with him and are in awe of this child of God we are responsible for!

Infertility – in the trenches

I thought I’d share an email we sent to family 3 years into trying for a baby. Miraculously just 1 week later we found out we were expecting our little bear. I share this to hopefully encourage others and to share the resources we shared with family.

Hello all

Apologies for the mass email; we wanted to update you with where we’re at in our attempts to start a (or more accurately, to grow our) family, and an email was the easiest way to get everyone up to speed. Obviously, this is not something we wanted to include in the Christmas letter!

We’ve now been trying to conceive without success for over 3 years, and in that time we’ve really valued your prayers and your support. We understand that it’s impossible to know how to support us fully without you having been through the same situation, and we find this with our close friends as well.

Since we started trying, we have been to the doctors twice about the issue: first to have some initial tests, which showed no obvious issues, and the second time they said they wouldn’t be able to treat due to Sarah’s weight. We’ve since spoken to friends who are medical professionals who have assured us that this is a formality (bureaucracy) and not a medical reason. Sarah has obviously been trying to lose weight, and at times has done quite well, but infertility is an emotional roller coaster which doesn’t help the process of weight loss, and so she hasn’t been as successful as she would have liked. She has recently started trying to stick to Slimming World more seriously and with more fervour, and she always appreciates your support in helping her to eat well (Slimming World isn’t always obvious in what ‘eating well’ means as it’s different in different circumstances, so please ask if we’re eating with you and you’re not sure – she/we won’t be offended!)

Since the end of last year we have been thinking about going private for further tests, and have decided to pursue that this year. We still need a referral from the GP for this but the weight loss requirements are less when you go private. Sarah still has a few more pounds to lose before this bar is met, but it is much more achievable, given the circumstances. Obviously there are costs involved in this which start off quite piecemeal, so we will see how it goes and whether it’s something God wants us to pursue all the way. Thankfully, we have been saving for when we have a baby, and after praying, talking with friends, and discussing it between us, we feel this is an appropriate use of the money. (There’s certainly no point in storing up the money without the baby!) Although our savings aren’t much, it’s enough to get started. We have faith that if this is God’s path, he will provide the money when we need it.

We’re grateful that we’re able to talk about this openly with you and that you are all understanding and considerate people. We want to let you know that we do find life hard because of all of the above, and sometimes it can be particularly bad around special occasions where the absence of a child in our family is all-the-more obvious to us, or when we have recently had another negative result. Consequently, sometimes we may withdraw from situations or conversations, or even decline invitations to events that might rub salt in an open wound. We appreciate your sensitivity in these situations. Also, there are some topics of conversation that could provoke an emotional response internally (which may or may not become external!). We don’t expect you to know what these are, as sometimes we don’t even know what they are ourselves, but this is just to give an explanation in advance if we come across as short, withdrawn, or just a bit ‘off’!

All that said, we honestly don’t mind talking about our infertility journey, and if you ever think of questions, we’re more than happy to answer them. It’s rare that you would upset us by bringing it up, as chances are, it’s already on our minds.

We could carry on giving advice on how to support us, but there’s a website that has it pretty well pegged, by the author of a book called ‘Hannah’s Hope’ that we’ve read. (If you’d like to read it to gain a greater insight in to what we’re going through, we can lend it to you, or it’s available on the Kindle at a reasonable price.)

Look for the section titled ‘HOW TO ENCOURAGE YOUR INFERTILE OR BEREAVED FRIENDS’ roughly two thirds of the way down. There’s a little bit to read; we’d be very grateful if you were able to spare a few minutes to read it all, as it really is very good advice.

There’s also a video linked from that page: (can be watched without audio)

It’s a smidgen cheesy but conveys pretty much where we’re at, although the suggestions for support don’t go into as much useful detail as the website.

We’ve seen God do a lot in us in the last 3 years, and we still have hope in Him for what the future holds. We’ve had words, pictures, and Bible verses from God through friends and strangers, so despite wobbles in our faith at times, we still know that God has us in his hands, and that he has his best for us in store.

Anyway, sorry this has been so long; thank you for reading this far (if you skipped to the end, shame on you! ;-D), and thank you for your thoughts, prayers and love, both in the past and the future.


R&S x

Being a Dad is hard

I really think that we don’t give Dad’s enough credit for how hard being a Dad is. In fact most of what we hear about Dad’s is about how so and so walked away from their family, or how little this Dad does. Dad are often referred to as babysitters, secondary carers instead of primary carers and for the vast majority of Dad’s this does them a MASSIVE disservice.

From the get go of parenting it’s all focused on the Mum. SHE gets pregnant, SHE is tired, SHE has morning sickness, SHE has all the appointments, SHE is asked how she’s feeling, SHE feels those kicks, SHE gives birth (although I suspect many Dad’s are quite grateful that one’s not on their heads!!). Then as you move into actual parenting chances are SHE is breastfeeding, SHE is recovering from birth either natural or csection, SHE gets time off with the baby, SHE gets to go and eat cake and drink tea with her friends. SHE also has the weight to lose, most of the sleepless nights and the pressure of feeding a baby all on her shoulders (if she’s breastfeeding) but that’s an aside note!!

Dad’s cant make their wives sickness and tiredness go away, Dad’s miss so many firsts, Dad’s go back to work whilst still get disturbed sleep, Dad’s watch on as breastfeeding wives struggle with the pain and frustration of feeding, Dad’s see how tired their wives are getting and can’t do much to help. For the first 6 months much of their wives attention and energy is focussed on this little alien who has burst into family life and destroyed all you thought you knew about parenting.

All a Dad can often do at first is just support his wife. I say ‘all’ as if that’s not much but actually to an exhausted and emotional mum, support is EVERYTHING.

Both our boys were born by csection. Zac an emergency after a long labour that had awake for a whole night and saw me in hospital for 5 days partially due to Zac having jaundice, and Sully a planned calm csection which I was home from after 26 hours. Both required me being looked after and supported and particularly after Sully this is exactly what Ross did. He looked after Zac, he made me drinks and meals, he passed me Sully in the middle of the night, changed all of the nappies and basically worked his bum off to look after me and the boys, he certainly did not get a holiday for his paternity leave!

He supported me with breastfeeding even when i was in pain and frustrated. He never suggested I should give up and even told the midwife off for not listening to me when I said I wasn’t willing to give a bottle yet.

Then when dealing with a toddler he often misses the calm and content morning Zac and gets to deal with tired, fiesty, shouting, grumpy, volatile Zac having done a long and exhasting day at work. I’m also incredibly blessed that he comes home and cooks dinner for his family. He does amazes me.

Sully is still in that under 6 month phase when its limited what a Dad can do, especially with a breastfed baby (I know I keep saying it but that’s the only first hand experience I have) but his face lights up and beams when he sees his Dad and he definitely loves Daddy kisses!!

Zac is all about his daddy. In my opinion that is testament to the present and active role that Ross has chosen to take in Zac’s life.

So yeah, being a Dad is hard but I’m proud of the Dad of my boys, even if i do lots of moaning… sorry Ross!




I lead small group this week on gratitude. The discipline of being grateful, especial grateful to God.

We’ve looked at a whole of load of spiritual disciplines but there’s something about gratitude that makes it very accessible and very uplifting to practice both for yourself and for the people around you.

Gratitude is best practiced not just in our time with God but in our every day lives. It’s about taking an attitude of wanting more and turning it into an attitude of abundance. When we look on what we have with an attitude of abundance we take away room for jealousy and bitterness and comparison. Living with an attitude of abundance allows us to see just how very much we have.

I know it’s easy to look at hard times in life and think well what do I have? I suspect there is a part of me that does this when I think about missing my mum. God did something very wise in me when he blessed us with Sully just two weeks after mum died. It stopped me from constantly dwelling on what I did not have. To be grateful and excited for a little baby on the way at the time was incredibly hard. How can you mourn and be excited at the same time? You can’t really. You bounce from one emotion to another, feeling guilty about both emotions because you feel you should feel sad but feel guilty because you should also be happy. But as I look back on it now I see that the blessing of Sully, and Zac, and Ross and all of my precious friends, stopped me from dwelling too hard and too long on what I did not have.

God has a generous heart. By sending Jesus he gave us more than we ever deserved. When we are at rock bottom our gratitude remains because our gratitude is not based on our circumstances but on a person, Jesus Christ.

When we give God the praise and thanks that he deserves for everything from running water to new jobs, from growing flowers to financial provision, from roofs over heads to clothes on our back, we live knowing that God has given us SUPERABUNDANTLY more than we deserve.

How great He is and how remiss I am in recognising just how much He provides.

Gratitude needs a response. Without a response gratitude is like wrapping a present but never giving it! 

Who goes with you?

IMG_2454Community is a beautiful thing. Real community is there in good times and in bad. They stretch us and encourage us to grow and become better versions of us. They keep us accountable and they hit us with spoons when we do stupid things – normally metaphorically not literally!

I’ve found myself pondering my small group of friends and I found myself feeling sad that I have so few friends in recent days and weeks. I know a lot of people but I’m not sure I have that many friends.

I know this sounds like a sob story and truth be told for much of the time I’ve been pondering my friendships and community I probably have been looking at it as more of a sob story.

However, there’s a but, a big BUT. The friendships that I have, the people who I spend my time with, the people who spend their precious time with me and invest in me are precious and amazing friends.

They are the types of people who I want to help, invest in, build up, encourage but also to challenge to do more, different, less, change and just generally be the best that they can be. I want that because whether verbally or through their actions that what they do for me.

Who goes with you? Who challenges you to be the best person you can be? Who really wants a bunch of yes men around them who pay lip service but not heart service.

Yes my group of friends is small. Yes there are times when I wish I had a bigger pool to pull from (to be less of a burden more than anything) but this group are friends are the perfect group of friends for who I am now and where God would have me go.

I am BEYOND grateful.

Bottom of the pile or worth the effort?

Do you see yourself as worth it?
For years I, without knowing it, did not believe I was worth it. Now by it I mean the effort from myself or from others.
For years I tried to lose weight using weight watchers, tesco diets and slimming world. For years I would lose a bit of weight and then stop and start putting it back on.
For years I put myself at the bottom of the pile thinking that everyone else’s needs were more important and needed to be met before my own.
For years I put myself down and thought negatively about everything I did and everything that was said to me as a compliment.
Then after a life changing moment of heartbreak and the encouragement of a friend I started to realise that I was worth effort. I was valuable and mattered. My feelings didn’t always have to be compromised for the sake of others. My losing weight was important and worth putting effort into because I was worth putting effort into and it mattered to me.
The key phrases from the course Freedom in Christ ;
“I am accepted
I am secure
I am significant”
I began, with a whole lot of help from God, to change a mindset that which had been so deeply instilled in me from so many sources which should have been instilling the complete opposite that I had not spent any of my adult life believing any differently. In conversation that made me feel down and insignificant I would repeat in my head the three phrases above. When a negative thought came into head I would remind myself of those phrases.
I also had prayer and that opened the freedom from negative thoughts using what I now know to be God’s whisper to correct thoughts of maybe even 15 years history. Whispers from God about being worth time, him seeing me as beautiful, wanting the best for me, looking after my heart and building me up those helped to change my mindset!
So having had my mindset changed and having found a way of losing weight which worked for my personality type I started to see progress in something that meant so much to me. I invested time in myself and what I needed to do to stay on track and I was proud and encouraged by those around me.
Do you believe that you are worth the effort? Chances are if you consistently put yourself right at the bottom of giant pile telling yourself you do because you are called to serve others that you don’t recognise your need to made to feel worth it. It’s exhausting to love from a tank that is empty.