Body Image – One Step At A Time

Anyone who knows me, whether through my blog, on Twitter or ‘in real life’ will know that I have body image issues.  The way I see myself does have a certain impact on my everyday life, however, I don’t often show the outside world; I’m very good at hiding my feelings.

However, having said all of the above, I am a MASSIVE hypocrite and am always totally baffled and really saddened when I see another person (male or female) suffering from having a poor opinion of their self-image.  I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen/heard women saying they feel ugly or inadequate and I’m taken aback and shocked at how they could feel this way when I don’t see what they do.

Unfortunately, with the way the world is, I don’t see this improving; in fact, I can only see it getting worse.  Every magazine, television programme, film etc these days shows celebrities looking perfect and, although we know that as normal human beings, without access to personal trainers, hairdressers, professional make-up artists, expensive designer clothes and Photoshop, for us to look so amazing is unachievable, we are still left feeling that somehow, we just don’t compare.

This is what upsets me the most.

I look at the children of my friend’s and family and wonder how old they will be before they start looking the mirror and mentally tearing themselves apart bit by bit.  How old will they be before they decide they’re too fat/too thin/too short/too tall?  How old will they be before they get called a nasty name by another person and believe that those words and that description of them is true?  I look at these children with their openness and innocence, and I worry for their future.

For me, I think I know where my body image issues come from – I’ll give a brief outline below:

I dropped out of school when I was 13.  I was a lot smaller than the other children in my year, I was pale skinned, I was ginger and I was a book-worm.  I was an easy target for bullies and they took the bait.  At the age of 13, I ended up with depression.  I left school one afternoon, told my parents I wasn’t going back and never did.  I’m very lucky – I have an amazing, understanding family and they accepted I’d tried with all my strength to make it through school, but I just couldn’t do it anymore.  The bullies had won.

At the age of 15 I had my first boyfriend.  He was 24.  At the time I thought I was really cool for going out with someone that much older than me, but looking back on it now, it seems really odd.  I wasn’t street-wise and I looked a lot younger than my age.  I’m sure he decided to date me because I was easy prey for him.  Being my first boyfriend I had no idea what to expect from a relationship.  I won’t go into huge detail here as it’s not really what this post is about, but he used to leave me terrified and covered in bruises, he would tell me I was ugly, that no other man would want me and he’d point at women in the street or celebrities on television/in magazines and ask me why I wasn’t them.

Even now, to this day, every single time I see a pretty female on television or in the street, I feel sick.  It’s insane and I know it is, but I can’t help it.  I’m nearly 27 – it’s 12 years later and I still bear the scars of that first relationship.  I’ve learnt to keep these feelings to myself, but to know that my boyfriend finds another woman attractive, thinks she’s pretty or has a nice figure provokes a reaction in me that is hard to describe – I get red hot, my heart starts pounding and I feel physically sick.  I also get an overwhelming feeling of wanting to run.  Quite often I have to take myself out of the situation as it’s the only way I can cope – I’ll walk out of the room on the premise that I need a drink, or if we’re out then I’ll say I’m going to the toilet.  I just have to take myself away from the situation.

(Thankfully, I’m a pro at hiding my feelings and my boyfriend has zero interest in my blog, so he will remain unaware of the above!)

As I said, I’m sure this must sound insane to some people, but I’ve lived with that every single day of my life since I was 15.  It’s never gone away and I’m not sure it ever will, but it’s something I’ve had to adapt to live with.

Despite all of the above, I am absolutely 100% not happy for anyone to feel like this.  I don’t want one single other person in the world to feel the same feelings as I do.  I’ve had plenty of years of practice to be able to look cool, calm and collected on the outside whilst my stomach is flipping in somersaults of panic on the inside; but somebody else may not be able to do that, somebody else may not be able to cope.

So, although I’m just one person and I can’t change the world, I will be posting about body image issues in the future and linking them under the tag ‘Body Image’.

I may not be able to solve everyone’s problems, I may not be able to even solve my own, but they say “a problem shared is a problem halved” and, if nothing else, it may help some people to know they’re not alone.

LilliesandLove xx
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Tick, Tock – Do You Hear Your Biological Clock?

 
 
Yesterday I was browsing Twitter when somebody posted a link to a website.  Being the nosey kind of person I am I decided to take a look and, although the website is simple and brief, the content of it was enough to hit me hard.
 
I’m not here to name and shame, so I won’t be linking to the website (I don’t think it’s necessary), but the message it conveyed made me rage inside.
 
Basically, a lady has created a website showing a countdown clock – years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds.  It sounds harmless enough until you read the text that accompanies it.  The lady in question has created a website showing a countdown for her biological clock.
 
The write-up states that as time goes on the ticking of her ‘clock’ is getting louder and she feels she is failing, wondering if she will reach a point where she is no longer able to have her own children. She created this clock to face her fears and open a dialogue with other women about fertility.
 
I appreciate that having found out just 15-days ago that it’s unlikely I’ll be able to have children, this probably wasn’t the best time for me to discover this website.  In fact, it was probably the worst possible time.  However, as I read it, I felt the anger building up inside my chest and every part of me wanted to send her an email telling her that, yes, she is female, but having a child DOESN’T define her as a woman.
 
I appreciate, as the female of the species it is our ‘job’ to carry a child, keep it safe for 9-months and then pop it out, but it isn’t a necessity.  I mean, as a female of the species who probably can’t drop a sprog, does it make me a failure?  Am I less of a woman because my womb is broken?
 
WHY is it considered such a major flaw if a woman doesn’t have a child?
 
I’ve reached an age now (26) where my friend’s are all starting to have children.  I seem to be surrounded with growing bellies, morning sickness and stories about cravings. I’ve given more baby shower presents than I care to remember and my Facebook feed is a nearly constant stream of pictures of offspring and updates telling me their child has eaten/drunk/pooped/spoken/walked.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking these people. I have two cats that I love and I load photos of them on Facebook – I’d say it’s pretty normal to want to show off something/someone you’re proud of (yeh, I’m a crazy cat lady).  But, what I do ask is, why is there such a pressure on women to have children?
 
I was brought up by my parent’s being told that everybody is different, you should never judge anybody on their life decisions and we’re all equal as human beings.  As a result of this, all my life I’ve believed that women have a choice whether or not to have children.  In fact, I know several women who CHOSE not to have children and have happy, fully functioning relationships and don’t feel they’re missing out.
 
There’s so much stigma around the choice of a woman to have a family.  Women who decide not to have children are often questioned about why they don’t want them, considered strange and told “You’ll change your mind one day”.  But, why would they change their mind?  You don’t ever see someone showing off their baby and being told “Ooh you’ll regret that!”  It’s rude, heartless and totally unnecessary, so what makes it ok when the situation is reversed?
 
Please don’t think I’m writing this post as a knee-jerk reaction to my diagnosis – I’ll admit, it’s been made worse because of that, but I’ve always felt the same way.  Some women have a career, some don’t.  Some women have children, some don’t.  By not having a child, does a woman somehow become useless?  Does their existence on the planet become less important because they aren’t going to be continuing the blood-line?  I certainly don’t think so.
 
I’d be interested to hear from others what their opinions are on this.
 
Do you think producing a variety of little’uns is important for a woman to do, or do you believe every woman has a choice?
Do you, or have you ever, felt pressure to have a child or have you made a life choice not to have them?
And, for my male readers, if you were dating someone and they told you they couldn’t/wouldn’t have children, would it make you reconsider your relationship?



 

LilliesandLovexx

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Enough Tears, From Now On I’m Smiling

 
So, this past week or so has been a little rough and I won’t lie, there have been quite a few tears.
 
I’m not really that open with showing my emotions (I’ve been the same for years) and I almost feel guilty when I’m upset over something.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I know that what’s happened to me is a pretty hefty thing, but still, I don’t like to make a fuss!
 
So, this is just to say, I know I’m going to have down days and this is always going to be something that hurts, but I’m not allowing myself to dwell on it.
 
I have two arms, two legs and I’m lucky enough to have good health (aside from the dodgy womb, obvs!)
 
I have a great family, brilliant friends, and a boyfriend who makes me smile every single day.
 
So, from here on in, I’m smiling all the way, because as much as this breaks my heart, I don’t want to be sad.
 
 
 
 
LilliesandLove xx
 
 
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So Here Is Where I’m At

So Here Is Where I’m At

** Firstly, apologies for the poor formatting or any mistakes – I wrote this on my phone as I don’t have an Internet connection at home at the moment **

Ok, so, here it is. The update I promised earlier in the week.

As you know, I went for my scan on Tuesday. I was massively nervous and spent the whole day at work with my heart in my throat and a serious case of nervous butterflies.

For those of you that don’t know, when you have an ultrasound scan you have to have a full bladder, so they ask you to drink a pint of water an hour before your appointment, which I did. Now, this is modern science and I understand that, but I can’t help but think there must be a better way of doing this – I was nervous, sat in the waiting room shaking like a leaf, and a full bladder which was desperate to empty itself. Not a great combination.

After spending a good 20-minutes staring at the toilet across the waiting room and pleading with myself inside my head not to wet myself in public, the nurse called me in. I hopped on the bed, told her I was desperate for the toilet and asked her not to press too hard with the scanner as there was a risk it would make me pee all over the bed.

As you can probably tell, although I was nervous, I had absolutely no expectation of being told there was anything wrong with me. Although I’d sat there thinking of loads of different things that could be wrong, in my heart of hearts I thought I’d go in there, have a scan and be told there was nothing wrong and the weirdness of my body was just “one of those things”.

The nurse rubbed the gel on my stomach and started running her scanner over me. She was a lovely lady, probably in her late 30s or early 40s and she was laughing and joking with me. Then it all changed. She looked up from my stomach and at the screen and the only way I can describe it was to say the smile literally dropped off her face. Suddenly the cheery nurse had gone and instead there was one frowning, staring at the screen and asking me to stop talking as she needed to concentrate.

At this point I thought maybe she could see my coil was in the wrong place, or there had been some damage caused by the Endometrosis that the specialist last week told me she thought I had. A short while more of silence and then the nurse said “Sorry, sorry I’m not talking to you, but I need to concentrate on this as it’s not that common.”

I looked up to the ceiling and said “Ok, no worries!” when in fact, inside my head I was screaming “What? What’s wrong with me?”

It probably wasn’t even 30-seconds, but after what felt like a long time the nurse explained I have a Bicornuate Uterus. I asked to look at the screen and she showed me what she meant. The best way to describe it is to say that when I was a foetus, my womb didn’t form as it should and it’s split in half down the middle, so I have two separate womb areas, each with ovaries coming off of them. (My ovaries are fine though).

I told her I couldn’t understand what I was seeing on the screen (I can never see babies in those ultrasound images – it’s all just a lot of fuzziness to me) so she went and got a book for me.

Being me and awkward as I like to be, I haven’t got the most common kind of Bicornuate womb. Oh no, I have the uncommon version and the version that causes the most issues.

The most common kind of Bicornuate means the womb has a split at the top making the womb into a heart shape. This affects the ability to have children but it’s still possible.

The kind I have is known as a ‘complete split’ which basically means what it says – the split is complete rather than just slight, meaning the womb is split in half all the way down.

With my ovaries being fine, I shouldn’t have any issue actually falling pregnant, it’s do-able. The issue I will have is keeping any baby alive long enough to give birth to it. With the womb being split in half, the baby won’t have the amount of room it normally has to grow, therefore, it will get to as big as it can in the half it’s locked in to and then it’ll decide to come out – making it premature. There’s a higher risk of any baby I do conceive having something wrong with it. And miscarrying is very likely. Any pregnancy I had would be considered high risk and would have to be monitored closely by doctors.

So, although it’s not completely IMPOSSIBLE for me to have a child, it is UNLIKELY. As I said, getting pregnant shouldn’t be too hard, but it’s quite likely that I won’t be able to keep it alive.

All my life, even when I was a little girl, I said I didn’t think I’d be able to have children. I had a feeling that I wasn’t able to – which sounds weird now and I sort of feeling guilty, like I deserve it for saying those things, but it’s just how I’ve always felt in my heart of hearts. However, hearing those words and now knowing for a fact that it’s unlikely has torn me apart. I’m absolutely devastated. I can’t explain the pain I’m feeling, I can’t get the words out. I don’t like showing emotion at the best of times, but to be dealing with a grief that I can’t even comprehend makes it all the more impossible to talk about it. People have told me to talk to them – my family, Kris, my best friends – but even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. I don’t have the words to describe how I feel. There are no words.

I’ve sat down a few times to write down what’s happening in my head, but without the words to describe it, it’s impossible, so instead of trying to form a cohesive, understandable document, I’ve just been writing down the thoughts in my head as I’ve had them. It’s been pretty therapeutic. Writing has always been my escape and my vent, it’s always been easier for me to write what I feel rather than say it out loud, but even that isn’t enough now.

So, I think the only way I can explain it is to write my thoughts as bullet points. I know some of them probably look crazy and melodramatic from the outside, but this blog has always been open, honest and transparent and as this is one of the most major things that has ever and will ever happen to me, it’s important (for me) that I cover it here.

And sure, crazy and melodramatic may be what you think when you read this, you may think I’m making a huge fuss and that there are people worse off in the world than me – I know there are, I’m lucky to have the life I have, I know that – but, my heart hurts at the moment, my brain can’t cope with the information and emotion it’s got to take on board, and so those thoughts aren’t perhaps understandable, but I’m just being honest.

Inside the mind of a woman with a broken womb and a broken heart…

• The sole purpose of a female in any species on this planet is to make a baby, keep it safe and give birth to it. • The fact that I may not be able to do that makes me feel like a failure.
• Kris told me once that he would love to have twins. Sure, twins are rare and never a ‘given’, but now I know that if I did fall pregnant with twins then it would certainly be impossible for me to bring them into this world alive.
• How can I expect any man to want to be with me when I may not be able to give him children? How can Kris want to be with me? It’s not the man’s fault that I’m broken, but they’ll be ‘punished’ by possibly not having children because of my fault.
• I understand there are options for women that can’t have children, surrogacy for example, but how can I watch another woman carry my child? • A couple should go through the pregnancy experience together – I’ll be taking that opportunity away from any man I’m with.
• I may never have a baby bump to look down at or mad cravings I can tell everybody about. I may never feel a baby move or kick inside me.
• I feel like I’m not a proper woman. I feel unfeminine, unsexy.
• I feel useless – my womb is broken.
• I may not be able to give my parent’s the gift of grandchildren. After all they’ve done for me through my life and grandchildren would be the ultimate gift.
• I had a sister, Katy, who died when she was 2½ years old. She died, but I’m alive and I’m broken inside. It seems so unfair.
• The whole point of life is to procreate – without that ability, I’m pointless.
• Why do I have stomach pains? I know my womb isn’t formed properly, but why does it hurt me?
• Every twinge I have is a reminder that I’m not right.
• All of my friends are at an age now where they’re having children. I’m seeing announcements on Facebook of new pregnancies, photos of babies being uploaded. Of course I’ll be happy for them all, it’s a fantastic thing, but will I always feel jealousy and sadness when I see another person doing what I possibly can’t?
• How will any man I’m with feel when his friends are taking their children down the park or to a football game and he’s without a child?
• Kris’ brother and sister-in-law found out the sex of their baby yesterday. There’s so much excitement and happiness – what if I can never give Kris that joy?
• I’m ashamed and embarrassed.
• I’m being totally selfish and unreasonable – I’m annoyed at the people who haven’t contacted me to see if I’m ok but when people ask if I’m ok I just say “Yes” rather than admitting that I’m really not ok.
• I want to talk about it constantly to anyone that will listen, but I also don’t want to talk about it to anybody, I don’t want to acknowledge it.
• I want to run and run and run to somewhere where I don’t know anybody, but that won’t change what’s wrong inside me.
• I want to sleep all the time. When I’m asleep, if I dream of this then it’s a nightmare – it’s when I wake up I have to accept this is my reality.
• Why me?

So, there you go, that’s just some of the thoughts flying around my brain. Dis-jointed, un-related, confusing and perhaps (some of you may feel) completely ridiculous. But, that’s what’s happening. That’s how I feel.

LilliesandLove xx

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It’s Scan Day – Eeeeeeek!

 
In 15 minutes I’m going to be leaving my office to drive to the doctor’s surgery for an ultrasound scan to see what’s happening inside me.
 
Obviously I hope there’s nothing wrong with me, but if they do the scan and can’t find anything wrong, I’m still going to be left wondering why I get the pains in my stomach.
 
Tomorrow I get the results from the other tests I had last week, including the diabetes test.
 
To say I’m feeling delicate today is a bit of an understatement.  I’ve had butterflies in my stomach all day and my heart seems to have taken up residence in my throat.
 
 
Oh, and on top of all that, I may have accidentally said ‘those three little words’ to Kris and got nothing in return.
 
Stupid emotions making me look like a fool!
 
 
I’ll update you when I have my results… fingers crossed we get to the bottom of the issue and it’s nothing too sinister.
 
 
LilliesandLove xx
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