Are you married? Do you have kids?

Questions, questions, questions…

I’d never encountered so many personal questions from a stranger until I moved from the UK to Sri Lanka what seems like an eternity ago. From new colleagues to tuk tuk drivers the questions were the same and went something like this:

Where are you from?

How old are you?

Are you married ?

Initially my answer to the latter was no as it was in the days before I’d met Mr M (he’s the reason I stayed), so the next question that undoubtedly came was

Why not? What’s wrong with you?   

For the record – NOTHING – is WRONG with me I’m JUST CHOOSY and after the disastrous relationships I’ve had I’ve learned not to settle or be second best.

After meeting Mr M, discovering he is THE ONE and getting married this next question turned to

Do you have kids?

My answer to this back then was no and it remained no until recently. Giving the answer no led to the question

Why not? Do you not want kids?

I can hear you shouting “Why are you answering these, just ignore”,  well unless you’ve ever been in this situation you cannot imagine how difficult it is not to answer these questions being asked by curious, friendly Sri Lankans (they really are a very friendly nation) who with twinkling eyes make you feel guilty for even thinking about being rude to them.

This is a question that I now dread. As do so many women. There is nothing I want more than to be a mummy, which leads to the change in answer to yes.

In my heart I am a mummy. I’m a mummy to three angel babies.

Not long after we got married we wasted no time in trying to fall pregnant as I was at the grand old age of 36. Surprisingly 6 months later I was expecting. It was amazing to go along to the scan and see the little heart beat on the monitor. To know that we had been blessed in creating a little person and the responsibility that had been put on me to carry our little bundle carefully until it was time for them to appear into this crazy world.  We waited until 12 weeks before letting family and close friends know, little did we know our world would turn upside down just a few weeks later.

I woke up to find I had been bleeding through the night. By the time we got to the hospital it was too late… It was suggested that I went home and waited. We did just that. I had a complete miscarriage at home with the help of Mr. M and somehow we survived the most traumatic time we’ve ever had. Little did we know we would be repeating it again.

We were advised not to wait too long before trying again and almost straight away I fell pregnant again. But it wasn’t to be: I suffered a blighted ovum. I had no idea what this was. I had pregnancy symptoms and a positive test – but the embryo just doesn’t develop. The sac was there and growing. It was difficult for both of us to get our head round it and I think the realisation of what was happen hit me before it hit Mr. M. We then had a choice – wait for nature to take its course or help it along the way. As I had already miscarried at home I opted for staying at home, and this experience was more like I had expected the first one to be like – just a really heavy period.

Once again we wasted no time and fell pregnant quickly once again. This time we only told our mums (and that was only because we live with Mr. M’s mum (amma in sinhala). The Doctor congratulated us and sent us home with some pessaries to help me keep baby in place. Meanwhile I was filled with apprehension. A few days after my 12 week scan we said goodby once again. This time I opted for a ERPC as we decided we would send our baby for chromosome testing to see if there was a matching problem causing miscarriage. I still can’t put into words how this experience made me feel. The nurses and doctor were professional and caring but just having people see me like that…

The result came back and all was fine – no chromosome issues. It was decided that blood clotting was the issue and an action plan of daily heparin injections drawn up to start immediately I fell pregnant next.  This hasn’t happened. I’ve had IUI, and IVF (stories for another day). I’m taking a concoction of vitamins and minerals and having acupuncture as well as trying to loose weight. But at 42 my ship is sailing out to sea.

So when you ask me

Do you have kids?

My answer is yes I have three angel babies. I’m not going to apologise to you for making you feel uncomfortable. By asking the question, I’m flooded with bitter-sweet memories that are constantly ebbing in the back of my mind and a sharp reminder that my ship might have sailed. But a the moment I still live with hope that my ship might get caught on a wave and be pushed back to shore.

 

 

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The scales don’t lie…

Using the same scales each weigh-in is just as important as the time of day and the clothes I wear…

… Or do they?

I know different scales weigh differently. I don’t get this as surely it’s a scale. It’s standardised. A kilo is a kilo, a pound is a pound… That’s what I teach in my primary maths class.

Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago I was round at my mum’s and I hopped on the scales cautiously stepped on the scales. I’d not looked at where the needle was pointing before I got on so was horrified to see I weighed heavier than I had done at the start of January. My scales at home had been telling me I was steadily shredding the pounds. How could this be? I know we had just had a supper for Burns Night but to put on over 6lb and then some… Nope, the scales must be wrong.

Off I get. The needle is pointing to 7lbs. Knowing my mum, there is a reason for this so off I trundle to ask. Yep 7lb out because the scales are wrong (?). For them to be accurate they need to be set at 7lb. “Don’t change it!” I was warned.

Off I trundled back to the bedroom. On I get. It’s the same. I decide to ignore them and use my scales at home.

The following day (Monday) is my normal weigh-in day and I climb on my scales back in the safety of my room. Fantastic, I’ve shed another 1.5lb. A total of 7.5lb in 4 weeks. I’m happy with that. 7.5lb I no longer own. 7.5lb I don’t want back. Feeling chuffed, I showered, dressed and set off for work.

I’ve started a slimming support group at work and we meet on Mondays. A couple of the people who come don’t own scales so we decided that we would borrow the scales from the nurse. When I decided to check my weight on them, it was not what I was expecting. These scales were in KG but a quick conversion told me I was substantially heavier than I had been in the morning. Again I chose to ignore this putting it down to the clothes I was wearing even the floor/carpet the scales were on. That was Monday, a week has almost passed and it’s almost time for weigh-in again.

My hubby has been away this week with work and he arrived back last night bringing with him gifts. I like gifts. He usually brings duty free chocolates, wine, spirits (I know – don’t judge) or perfume. But this time he told me it was a gadget. I froze. His gadgets are usually expensive and not for me. It was for me. A new sparkling digital weighing scale. It weighs muscle and fat and sings and dances.

It’s a thoughtful present as he has been listening to me winge about the scales, at Mum’s and at work, not being right. They are as much for him as they are for me, as he is nearly at the weight he wanted to be when playing high level rugby – but he’s swapped the muscle for fat!

I decided to christen them first and tried them out this morning. A difference of 7lb compared to my old scales. I was hopping between the two sets like the floor was made of hot coals, but no… the difference remains.

        
I’m taking it on the chin(s) and am accepting that my starting weight was 7lb more than I thought it was, but it doesn’t matter which scales I use as I have lost 7.5lb the important thing is to stick to the same scales and for that I’m choosing the no-good, liar liar pants on fire scales until I reach my target weight on them and then I’ll start with the shiny singing and dancing scales.

So here’s to weigh-in on Monday.

A change in thinking

January 2015 found me unexpectedly back in the UK. My dad had taken ill and was in hospital. A back problem he’d been having was a tumor pushing on the base of his spine and the recurring cough was cancer in his lung. In short, he didn’t have long.

He was staying with his brother and family at their home in the Lake District and this is where he wanted to die. It was hard on us all . My dad showed great strength as he bossed me around from his hospital at home bed to help him get his affairs in order.

He spent a lot of time  sleeping and whilst he wanted me to keep him company he felt that I should be doing something, that he was keeping me away from Mr M. (who couldn’t come on the trip with me) and from work. Mr M was a huge support through the power of face-time he was there. Work was understanding and told me to take as much time as was needed (I suppose there would have come a limit to this).

I’d been taught to crochet as a child by my gran and had picked it up again to help me combat stress. I’d read here that the counting of the stitches calms the mind and helps breathing regulate by calming the body. I put this to the test and found that I did switch off – if only for a while. It seemed like the natural choice to start a project whilst sitting with my dad. He decided he wanted a blanket. He chose the colours and left it to me. I started it…

Six weeks later I’d made good progress. Dad was pushing me to go home. He would be ok. I refused to go until he spoke to my mum (they divorced when I was 6) and she also told me to go home. I did as I was told *stamps feet*. I packed my bag and the blanket and headed home to Mr. M with the promise of ‘I’ll be back – don’t go anywhere’. Dad promised. There were six weeks until the Easter hoildays and I could fly back to the UK.

When I got back my colleagues commented on how much weight I had lost. Sri Lankan’s are not shy in making comments about things like this, even from people you have only just met! In my first job here every start of term was greeted by ‘ you must have had a good holiday *pause but not long enough to reply* you’ve put on – no?’. questions were asked and I was pushed to share the secret. What had I done? what was the secret? I seemed to spend the whole time eating. Maybe it was stress…  or the shivering (just you try moving from Sri Lanka to the Lake District in January. I had lost nearly a stone!

As I needed to lose weight I though about it A LOT. I wanted to continue with whatever it was that had helped the pounds come off. Then the switch was flicked… regular eating and portion control.

My Uncle and Aunt are very traditional in eating habits and I had experienced lunches and dinners with them at special times of the year but didn’t realise that that was typical of meal times. A day looked something like this:

8am Breakfast – juice, cereal and half a banana (I’ve never seen so many cereals in one house!), one slice of wholemeal toast with butter and marmalade and a cup of tea.

10am Coffee and a biscuit

12.30pm Lunch – Soup (Homemade) and a sandwich – the sandwiches were cut into quarters and there were usually 2 or 3 quarters per person, fruit, cake and a cup of tea.

3pm Coffee and a biscuit

6pm Dinner – meat or fish served with potato/rice/pasta and two veg (served to the plate), followed by a pudding. After dinner – coffee and chocolates *heaven* (they own a sweet shop – no really they do!)

10 pm  A hot drink and biscuit.

That’s an awful lot of food I hear you say! It is. But the portions were tightly controlled by my aunt. There were never any left overs. She cooked just enough to go on the plates. To seven bellies me the portions looked tiny but they were enough. In fact I skipped a few of the coffee sessions as I was still full (I always have room for a chocolate though!). All that time I also recorded my food on the my fitness pal app (more out of boredom than anything else). 

That was it the secret to my success. This is what I needed to do. 

So I pulled out the laminated sheets, the non-permanent projector pens and got to work making a weekly plan to keep me on track. 

 And there we have it…

I’ve been doing this for 3 weeks now. It helps with the weekly food shop and has stopped (well almost) the ‘it’s late, I can’t be bothered to cook – let’s eat chinese’ as we can plan for who is at home and the time we have to make it. Oh, I’ve reduced my weight by 7lb too! 

 

 

New Years Resolutions

New Year brings with it a barrage of resolutions, of promises and pacts and I’m pretty sure it’s the same for most people across towns, countries and continents.

Looking back on the resolutions I’ve made some have lasted all of five minutes such as giving up chocolate *absentmindedly reaches for the last item in the selection box* (I know what WAS I thinking making that one!) to ones that last a few months such as becoming fitter and healthier than I was the previous year *rushes out to get a 6 month membership at the nearest gym, then back home to research the latest diet with a coffee and a custard cream in hand*. But just like so many of you out there I start with great gusto and then my good intentions slip quietly away.

So here I am once again making a pact with myself and my husband (and you) to get fitter and healthier this year.

But…

This year is different.

We are missing a family member that we had with us this time last year. The loss of my brother-in-law, who was on the outside fit and healthy, died suddenly from a heart attack aged 37. It was a jolt through our family. A wake up call for many of us. Health checks were followed up on and medicines given. As the shockwaves began to ripple away and the void that was left engulfed us, we began to reflect on what is important to us and was it worth putting our health on the line for the other stuff? It’s the dust under the bed stuff.

Around the same time, some friends posted pictures of themselves on social media of their weight-loss journeys. These hit me HARD. My friends look AMAZING. One of the ladies had been on her weight loss journey  for as long as I had known her (it’s how we connected) and that’s at least 4 years now and I still have the same weight to lose as I did back then.

All of this together made me realise that life is short. The only thing stopping me from achieving my health goals is me. Over all I need to lose 25kg to bring me to the upper band of a healthy BMI for my height.

 Me now  *cringes* – I’m planning on seeing a difference this year  

So back in September of 2016 my husband joined a yoga class with me to encourage me to exercise and I joined him in exploring  his beautiful country (and now my home) with Ceylon Adventures and Tours.  We plan to continue with both of these this year.

In the the past I have joined slimming groups and tried many different diets, but this time I’m sticking to good old healthy eating, portion control and exercise to help me change my relationship with food and myself. I’ve decided to take a daily photo of me * cautiously steps out of comfort zone* to remind me why I’m doing this and to document my journey which I’ll compile at the end of the year to see just how the journey is panning out.

I’ve started…

As a princess of procrastination it’s time to finish what I started.

So as the sun goes down and new year dawns tomorrow, there seems like no better time to start this new journey to a healthier, fitter and happier me.

I’m happy, don’t get me wrong. But looking around my home and getting things ready for Christmas, I saw all the bits and pieces of projects unfinished, it dawned on me that I’ve become a bit rubbish at completing things. It wasn’t a sudden epiphany. It’s been more like that slow collection of dust under the bed: you know it’s collecting, but if you can’t see it it’s not happening, until the point where you’ve lost everything under it and  really should do something about it so go and get the vacuum cleaner. This is my vacuum cleaner moment.

I would say I’ve become a habitual starter. I love to start new things from crochet and sewing to healthy eating plans and exercise. I love to be doing things. But do I complete them? The short answer is NO (I could give a barrage of excuses but I’ll leave that for a late date – see there I go again!).  My home life seems to be a constant WIP (work in progress).

So the first step to completing the multitude of WIP’s going on in my life is starting this blog to keep me motivated and hopefully help others on completing their WIP tasks – whatever they maybe.

Grab a seat and settle down for my ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’ WIP journey. I’m determined to finish things I’ve started and am looking forward to seeing what I complete (and start *yikes*) during 2017.