The Unmarked Road

Life On The Other Side Of Mental Illness

Nap Time Intentions

Every day while I wait for my son to go down for his one and only nap, I contemplate all the things I can do in that precious 1.5 – 2 hours of time. These I call my Nap Time Intentions.

For those that may not have children of their own, let me tell you now that the most precious thing in the world is not money or jewels or beauty. It is time. And as a mother of a young child, there is a distinct lack of it. Because every single thing I try and do while Ethan is awake, involves him clinging to my trousers for dear life as though he is going to be swallowed up by the floor, looking up with those puppy dog eyes and whinging at me at a pitch I’m sure only the dogs and I can hear. I assume he is wanting to help me in whatever endeavour I am attempting, however cooking on a hot hob or making coffee isn’t necessarily always doable with one hand.

So instead I spend my toddler-awake-time, playing with him (Facebook), coming up with creative ways to change a nappy without poo flying across the new carpet and trying to coax him to eat something other than crisps, an orange peel or the insides of blueberries (following Ethan around picking up blueberry skins is not my idea of a good time).

As Ethan starts the inevitable eye rubbing and quiet contemplation (I’m sure he’s plotting something evil), I begin to plan what I will do with my time. Here’s my list of things I wanted to achieve today:

  • Clear my parent’s spare room
  • Bake carrot muffins (that will probably end up being fed to the cats)
  • Properly start my novel

Here’s what I’ve achieved:

  • Eaten an extra large bowl of soup while watching some murder program on tv…

Ok so I’m winning today because I’ve also written a blog post and I’ve managed to eat something without it ending up all down my white jumper, but it’s not quite the efficient use of time I had envisaged.

And the problem is, it rarely ever is.

Because come that time, I relish being able to sit and eat without being whinged at or pulled at or sharing MY food. I love sitting at my laptop without those little grubby fingers grabbing at its keys making my computer do weird things that I can’t undo. I love being able to watch something on tv without being terrified of scarring my child!

Oh well, there’s always tomorrow right?

Are You ‘Just’ A Mum?

When I was pregnant I was determined I wasn’t going to become ‘just a mum’. That having a baby wasn’t going to change me as a person. I didn’t want to be one of those simpering idiots who only talked about her baby and had a Pinterest board full of baby led weaning recipes and creative messy play ideas.  I wasn’t going to show off every picture of bath time or video of my precious bundle eating broccoli for the first time. I didn’t really like children anyway (in fact I believe my ‘about’ page still states I am more excited about having kittens than kids!) so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to become the quintessential earth mother anyway.

Fast forward a year and here I am sitting with my 14 months old hanging off my breast, while I research gentle sleep techniques (because the little shit still wakes every 2 hours, but I won’t let him cry!) and come up with inventive ways to nurture his highly demanding and precious temper tantrums into something positive (call me naive).

You see, the joke of it is that becoming a mother does change you. You can’t help it. Having a child isn’t like having a pet you really really love. Having a child is like ripping out the heart in your chest and letting it go out into the world trying desperately to protect (but not too much!) it from every hurt. Having a child makes you so vulnerable that you can no longer watch or read anything about children that come to harm, because your mind is already a black hole of ‘what ifs’ when it comes to the safety of your child.

So what does that mean for my identity. Who and what am I now?

Identity of self changes over time, of course it does. And with that, so does our voice and the story we’re telling about our lives. Those of you who have been with me since the start, have probably got whiplash from the changes in direction the site has gone under; from business starter, to anxiety sufferer, to mental health survivor, to mother.

To deny that becoming a mother has not only changed me, but also for the better, would be to deny a huge part of me. The part of me that loves to write. Because I can only write what I know, and what I know is that I love being a mum. More than I have ever loved anything.

So what does that mean for the Unmarked Road? Only time will tell whether the site gets a facelift or if I start again completely from scratch. A clean slate (probably the only clean thing for a long time).

But for now I must go and make three different lunches for when the little monster wakes up, because feeding him something other than pickles has become more important than I could have every imagined.

Oh and that Pinterest board? Yes, it has a load of home-sensory ideas. But there are one or two items that hint at an all together different woman. One who still likes to change her hair a few times a year or is a hippy traveller looking for her next adventure.

Because our identity isn’t just one thing, but a puzzle of colourful life experiences that continue to shape who we are.

When The Natural Doesn’t Come Naturally: My Breastfeeding Journey

When I became pregnant, there was no question in my mind on how I wanted to feed my baby. I knew I would breastfeed. I’d heard about sore cracked nipples, mastitis, blocked ducts, cluster feeding, engorgement, leaking, milk spraying everywhere… safe to say I knew it would be hard at times.

What I didn’t know was that it might not happen at all.

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Why Having A Baby Is Not Always An Easy Decision

We all know this scene: a pregnant woman crying over an advert on TV or threatening murder because she has run out of her favourite pickle and jelly flavoured ice cream. Every media outlet we come across shows a scenario in which the pregnant woman behaves in a ‘crazy’ and unstable way due to the hormones raging through her body and we all laugh because it’s just a small snippet in a woman’s life where she can truly become unhinged and no one will say anything.

Everyone but me. Having gone through hormonal imbalances in the past that ended with me taking an overdose, I was terrified of being pregnant. If women with no history of anxiety and depression went ‘nuts’ during pregnancy, what hope was there for me?

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Disconnecting Realities

I feel things. Deeply. When something happens to me or someone I love, I have an immediate reaction. I cry, I scream, I laugh. I’m a wear your heart on your sleeve kind of girl.

But now I feel numb. I have no reaction. I’m floating between disconnecting realities and on the surface it seems like I am coping. What does that even mean? To cope?

Something happened to someone I love. Something I don’t want to put into words. People ask if I’m ok and I tell them that I’m fine.

The truth is, I’m scared to fall apart in case I cannot put myself back together. 

Hello Old Friend

It’s been a while since I have posted anything, and more than anything, it’s been a while since I have wanted to. Not only am I completely physically and emotionally shattered from my now nearly 6 month old baby boy, but I haven’t had any real inspiration. That’s not to say my life right now doesn’t inspire me. It does, on so many levels that I can’t quite comprehend myself yet.

But for reasons I can’t quite fathom myself, my inner voice – the one from which I write – abandoned me. Be it pregnancy hormones and then baby hormones; even when the desire to write may have struck, the ability was somehow lacking to it’s usual standard. I felt like whatever I wrote was, for lack of a better word, crap.

I have read old articles and posts of mine and am amazed I had the ability to be so articulate, so insightful. But if it was there once it will be there again, or so I hope!

And it appears that the light switch has suddenly been turned back on. A couple of days ago, the thought of coming on here and writing didn’t fill me with fear and guilt of having not written for so long. The feeling I have now is motivation and a desire to do it again.

As you may know if you have followed me for over a year, there is a book in the pipeline. This is a book that will potentially take years due to the amount of research that will need to go into it. Think Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games.

But there is a second book. A story that I should have been telling all along, right from the start. A story of loss, fear, adventure, love, and a happily ever after. A story that’s true. A journey that’s my own.

All of a sudden it is this story I want to sit down and write. It’s this story I want to tell more than any other and that has got the creative juices flowing once more. Like an old friend getting in touch after years apart, I feel the inspiration seep back into my being and for the first time in a long time I’m excited by the concept of writing again.

There is one other thing that has become an important part of my journey as a mother. This is something that will be separate to my blog but feel important to mention, because life is like that isn’t it? It throws you curve balls that you can either put away in the back of your mind as a bad experience, or you can use as a way of helping others in shining  a bright light on to it. And that’s what I want to do, so watch this space.

To all my loyal followers, thank you for sticking with me. I promise the ride is going to get more exciting and fun 😉

What Do You Mean It’s November!?!

I have completely forgone my site. Please forgive me! I have not forgotten any of you but my newborn son has been taking up every ounce of time and energy I have! 

I have been updated my Facebook page more if you are keen to see updates on the unmarked road of being a new parent! 

It’s safe to say that this journey is the most exciting and challenging one to date! 

The road wouldn’t be unmarked if it didn’t throw in some surprises here and there 😉

Anniversary And Birthday – Photos

The last week has been absolutely wonderful! Not only did Mr J and I celebrate our very first wedding anniversary, we hit full term in our pregnancy (37 weeks) and it was also my birthday weekend!

Wedding Anniversary – Monday 4th July

Being very close to popping out our mini Batman, Mr J and I didn’t want to go too far away from home or the hospital. Also these days emptying the dishwasher feels like running a marathon so our usual adventure plans were impossible, and so we decided instead to go punting down the River Cam in Cambridge, eat lots of ice cream and generally look around a beautiful city. We were lucky with some gorgeous warm weather,  and learned a bit about the history of some of the incredible buildings.

Here are some pictures:

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I didn’t last more than 3 hours! And on our return home we ordered too much takeaway and watched Lord of The Rings – since Hobbiton, New Zealand was our first date 3 and a half years ago. Perfect day. <3

37 Weeks

My hands and feet are swollen and I’m well and truly carrying a watermelon under this shirt! My lower back is almost constantly achy and broken sleep through needing to pee has become the norm. But I can honestly say I will miss being pregnant. I’ve enjoyed many parts of it and as I prepare for the final few weeks before labour, I am anxious about the next stage; a new phase of my life that will change it more than anything else before!

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I AM looking forward to steak, pate and Brie!!

My Birthday

This Saturday was my 31st birthday. While originally I’d had planned a BBQ for family and some friends, the weather had other ideas so I booked a table at our local family-friendly restaurant.

Apart from hubby telling me the night before that we would probably not make it in time as he’d messed up the timings  with picking up his best friend from the airport (dog-house!), and my poor sister getting food poising the night before, it was a truly wonderful day; low key and chilled out. Exactly what I wanted.

No photo’s I’m afraid because I’m actually a bit rubbish at taking pictures when i’m organising something, but I couldn’t have asked for any more this weekend. I even got cheesecake!

I did spend all of yesterday eating leftover pizza and cake and nothing else, so I saw am extra few length this morning,

I hope everyone else has had a great weekend and has as many wonderful people around them as I do. I have felt truly blessed for a while now and can never quite believe how lucky I am, made evident again this week.

Dani xx

White Privilege And The EU Referendum

Yesterday one of the most historic events of our lives took place. The UK left the EU. The referendum’s fall out has torn a once multicultural united country in two.

White privileged britons were being called racist, morons, xenophobic. It’s horrible to watch unfold as friends and families are being torn apart. But to be honest my sympathies are reserved for those minority Britons who have had vitriol, xenophobia and racial slurs aimed at them on a near weekly basis.

Non-white British citizens being chased down the street told they would be chucked out after the referendum (because apparently we were voting to leave the world), EU national friends being told that if they don’t like it, then go home. I’ve been told (as a German) that ‘I’m alright, we don’t mean you’. I even know someone who was told to vote leave at the polling station because her baby would otherwise be a victim of muslim rape.

These aren’t things happening somewhere else. They are happening here, to people I know and love! To me!

So I feel little sympathy for those who have had just one day of hate thrown at them. Maybe you got a taste of what it’s been like for minorities for quite a long time now. Minorities, who woke up yesterday to find that the people who had thrown hate at them for so long were validated in that hate.

It’s time to get realistic and realise how fortunate you are to have been born white.

As someone who’s travelled the World and lived in many different parts of it, I have realised how lucky I am to have been born a white European. People complaining about being called racist seem to live largely in predominantly white towns and don’t realise the true extent of what some people go through. That isn’t meant to be an insult, just a fact that those people genuinely don’t understand the power of white privilege.

I don’t condone any kind of discrimination and hate generalisations. The undertones of the leave campaign, however, were full of xenophobic motivation. That too is a fact. MOST people I, my friends and family spoke to, gave reasons of immigration as their main reason to vote out.

I have seen racist comments from family and friends nearly every day that have made me want to cry and made me feel unwelcome in a country I’ve called home for 24 years.

I am truly sorry to those who actually had valid arguments for leaving, that you have been tarred with the racist brush. I actually enjoyed reading the more intelligently put reasons for a vote to leave and have always said that there are good reasons on both sides.

But you won. You get to keep leaving the house without anyone taking aim at you simply for the colour of your skin or the accent of your language.

Do you know how scary it is to wake up to a country where the majority of people no longer accept that this is your home because you’re an immigrant? How scared people with mixed-race children must be right now? That the constant barrage of ‘Get Out’ is still being spouted at us, now even more loudly because all those actual racists feel validated in their beliefs?

You had one day of hate thrown at you and I’m sorry, that isn’t ok either. But be grateful it was just one day.

Are You Living In The Moment?

Are you living in the moment or are you waiting for something? A holiday, the weekend, or in my case a baby? I tend to find I am always looking forward to something, wishing the time I have right now away. I don’t think this is generally always a bad thing, but sometimes we are so focused on the future that we are completely missing out on the beauty or the positives of the present moment.

In 5 weeks my due date for having our first baby arrives. If I go overdue, which as a first time mother is statistically more likely , I could be pregnant for another 7 weeks. It’s gotten to a point where I’m just ready. The nursery is done, we have bought clothes for the next 6 months and actually, I’d quite like to stop feeling 90 years old! Women all around me are having their babies (I have joined a July birth board online and my NCT new mummy friends are all due within the next few weeks) and I am getting impatient and jealous!

I want to meet this incredible little human being I’ve made!

I would go as far as saying I’ve become a bit blinkered in my wish for time to go quicker and all I can see is that date: 29th July.

But then during my morning swim, a thought occurred to me. Last month together with my husband, brother-in-law and his girlfriend, I had one of those really enjoyable spontaneous evenings out. Nothing special, just a meal and the cinema but it was great! I thought about how nice it would be to maybe go again this month and then it hit me:

This might be the last month I can do anything ‘spontaneous’ again. It might be the last time for a while I get to go to the cinema even!

This is also the last time in my life that I will have time to just chill out have some me time AND eat whatever I want without feeling too guilty!!

Be it watching the box set of Girls on NowTV or putting together photo albums, baking cakes and even my swimming; once our little angel/devil is here, EVERYTHING we do will involve pre-planning and there will be no time for selfish endeavours. Sleeping all day on the sofa, which has started to occur more often, is also something I can kiss goodbye.

Also, pregnancy has been pretty good to me. Certainly the second half of it. I’ve been the most happy and chilled out I have ever been. Truly content and at peace with myself. This is not something to just wish away! Not for someone who usually suffers from anxiety and intrusive thoughts.

And so I have decided to try and see the positives in the present moment. Because you will never get this time back. I’ve made a list of things I should be enjoying right now:

  • Food
  • Sleep
  • Spontaneous outings with friends and family
  • Peace and quiet – both inside and outside of my head!
  • Food (again)
  • Swimming
  • Selfish me time
  • Time for my marriage
  • Non-sore boobs due to breastfeeding!

So go on. What is it you’re currently unable to stop thinking about? Make a list of pros as to what is good in your life RIGHT NOW and share it with me, I’d love to know what everyone has going on! Might make the wait more bearable 😉

cookie-monster-wisdom

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