Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

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Baby Orchid has been ex utero for nine months, which is a milestone in my book.

Nine months ago I was enjoying newborn snuggles and the sunrise making the bricks outside my window a glorious colour and the painkillers post c section.

I’ve lost most of the baby weight, mental and physical. It was a difficult pregnancy for myriad reasons. It was worth it.

It is amazing. What’s also amazing is that since Baby Orchid made his entrance into the world abortion has become a normal part of antenatal health care.

Knowing that women who face what we might have faced had the worst happened now have options makes me happy. Every single day.

Our family is complete.

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Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

Reeling in Repeal

 

It’s been a whole year since we repealed the eighth. This week last year, I was very, very worried. And nervous. And hopeful. And anxious. I was uplifted by my journey home from work the day before the vote, being handed a leaflet by canvassers who lifted my spirits. A leaflet I stuck up on the door before we rushed off to school and which is now in a box, along with a copy of the Irish Times from the Monday after the referendum and our repeal sweatshirts and badges.

I don’t think I’ve fully grasped what the campaign and vote and result really meant to me until quite recently. I needed a break from all things repeal, so while I followed the passage of the legislation and the implementation of services very closely, I listened to little analysis and read even less about what was going on. Some distance was necessary.

I’ve slowly started listening to some podcasts from around this time last year, featuring those I cheered and those I loathed. It’s been somewhat cathartic and frustrating. The same arguments come up, the same lies are repeated and the same frank and brutal truths cut through the nonsense.

Something I’ve watched many times is this short video. It was hard to watch, but covered so many of the emotions I felt. I don’t think I will ever forget 10.01pm on 25th May 2018, when I couldn’t believe that exit poll, until I did and it was all real.

Reeling in Repeal

The Worst Boss I Ever Had…

…was, in a way, the best.

When I left college in 2004, I didn’t really have a plan. I was working in retail at the time, mainly because I had a great part-time job throughout college in a large department store. I had a lot of experience under my belt in retail, but a strange lack of confidence in my ability to break into another sector. I don’t know why, because more than one person told me I appeared to have buckets of self belief. At the time I remember feeling annoyed with myself that everyone else seemed to have things sorted and knew where they were going and what they were doing.

With the benefit of hindsight, I know many of my college peers were just as all-at-sea as I was but from my perspective the fact they had office jobs for Major Accounting/Banking/Finance Firm gave them a veneer of success of which I was secretly very envious. I didn’t really want a job in that area, but nonetheless I wanted to appear as though I knew where I was going in life.

I wanted to earn more money and I wanted to progress towards something, so I applied for and got a job in retail management in a smaller store. I didn’t really have a long-term goal in mind so I figured this would do until I had a bit more clarity about my life. I can’t remember what I expected to get out of the job, but I gave myself a year or two in the role to see what would happen.

While I’d worked under what I thought was a reasonably personable boss all the way through college, this was not the case in my first Real Job After College. My boss turned out to be a complete nightmare. She engaged in what I’ve since learned is common, namely, information hoarding. Everything she touched caused stress. I walked on eggshells around her and put up with a lot of what I would tackle head-on these days.

I never knew if taking the initiative was the right thing or would result in a Serious Conversation about how she knew best. I couldn’t change even minor things without her changing them back or having a Serious Conversation about how she knew best. She was demotivating for other staff and I slowly started to plan my exit.

At the time I was conflicted because I enjoyed the role and many of the people I worked with. It wasn’t a dream job – is there ever such a thing, really?! – but it was a step forward in my working life and I learned a lot about what was important to me personally and professionally and what I was able to tolerate and what wasn’t acceptable to me in any way. I grew up and grew into myself quite a lot.

After nearly two years I had gained enough experience to allow me to move on and upwards a little and I thanked my boss in my head for teaching me more lessons during that time than I ever thought I would learn. She was a terrible boss, had no management skills and was entirely unsuited for her role, but in some ways she was the best boss I ever had.

The Worst Boss I Ever Had…

Reflecting on Repeal

imag0887I took this photo a year ago. I clearly quite like it, because I’ve posted it before.

It was a time that will always be a weird mix of fuzziness and absolute clarity. I was pregnant, I had complications, I was emotional, I was tired, I was restless, I was nervous. I didn’t know how the vote was going to go and I had passed by some pretty obnoxious posters and people on a near daily basis.

I’ve only just started processing the past year properly. I’ve been listening to some podcasts about the campaign and the result and it feels like the campaign only happened a short time ago, but also like I’m hearing analysis of another time and place entirely.

I’m still elated about the result and I’m still really angry that we had to go through this at all. I’m angry that the legislation isn’t perfect but elated that people are getting the healthcare they need. I’m angry that a local election candidate who left his political party because the absolutely minimal legislation in 2013 was too extreme for him sidles past our repeal bumper stickers to look for our vote in a constituency which voted yes by a landslide.

I feel guilty that I didn’t do more and wonder if I was too lazy, and then I wonder if I needed to do more given the result. Then I feel guilty for trying to absolve myself of my guilty feelings. I’m not sure if feeling this guilt is good or bad at this point.

I look at my children and  that makes me happiest of all. All the marches and the chats and the donations and the support and the GIFs and the funny moments and the sad moments and the whole of the 25th of May 2018 when I barely functioned because of the knots in my stomach and the all over shaking when I thought about what might happen. I don’t want to say it was all worth it, but it happened and I can look back on it all in a slightly less garbled way than I would have even a few months ago.

I’m glad I have these memories; they’re part of me now. I’m equally glad that this morning when I moved my box of repeal stuff aside to get at something else in the attic I was able to tell myself that the box is a relic of another time already.

Reflecting on Repeal

Minimalism, When You Love All The Things.

img_20190424_115835We’re out of the hellishness that can be the newborn to sixth month baby stage. I’ve been sorting and packing and bagging all the equipment we no longer need so it can go to a new home, back from whence it came or into what I’m calling a “memory box” but in reality is an old storage box that is stuffed to the brim and which will require editing at some point. The nice thing about getting stuff on loan is that you can send it back with no guilt whatsoever. There’s no thought process telling me I should sell it and recoup some of the cost or serious, deep rooted emotional attachment because in the back of my head it was never really “mine” in the first place.

I do, however, love ALL THE THINGS. I struggle with what my head tells me I want, namely an organised, minimalist home free from all the crap that comes with children clutter, where every single thing is useful and beautiful and can be returned to its assigned place with ease, and the reality of my life right now.

img_20190424_115830Above are two bag of baby clothes and a breastfeeding pillow. If I wasn’t being strict with myself I would keep all of it, every single scrap. And I can’t really explain why. I didn’t have a breastfeeding pillow with my other children, but this one was offered free via a Facebook group while I was pregnant last summer so I picked it up, washed it and stashed it with my “going to the hospital stuff”. I love this pillow. It has a lovely tactile, neutral cover, it is soft yet firm and it was bliss to use in the early days. It has a lot of memories wrapped up in it, but I no longer need it and my conscience is telling me to send it off to another home seeing as I got it free in the first place.

Some of the babygros have been worn by all my children, others were bought new for this arrival because I felt he should have something new, regardless of the fact that we had everything a new baby would need and a lot he wouldn’t but we kept anyway. I’ve kept a few favourites and the rest have been folded and packed into bags for a new baby.

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I don’t know why, but the moses basket my baby was too big for at four months is the hardest thing to let go. I picked it up in a charity shop for very little money and told myself I could just donate it once I was finished with it. I know we won’t use it again. I know someone else will. I know I don’t need the stuff around to keep the memories. I’m telling myself I’m a minimalist, even though I love ALL THE THINGS.

I’ve realised the enjoyment I get from a home with less stuff is greater than the joy, and, to honest, work of keeping ALL THE THINGS. Therefore, it is better to let most of these things go. I don’t really have an emotional tie to this stuff. It’s all been part of the baby stage, so I’ve thanked it and I’m ready to release it and embrace the next phase of life.

Minimalism, When You Love All The Things.

Mixed Emotions

img_20190408_180321This pile of stuff has very little that I bought new. The moses basket and stand was a charity shop find, the co-sleeper came on loan from a friend and a lot of the babygros came from our attic and were worn by other babies. I’ve packed up a lot of stuff in recent days, now that we’ve reclaimed our room and don’t need a lot of what I call the baby-baby stuff. We didn’t even have a lot of the stuff on the lists of baby ‘essentials’, knowing as we did what we needed and what we didn’t.

Our family is most definitely complete. This stuff is all going to a new home and that makes me very happy. I’m looking forward to the next stage of life and having a little more freedom and a lot less stuff. It’s still a little emotional packing up the stuff and knowing this is it for us.

I still love a good night’s sleep though.

Mixed Emotions

Heavyweight

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately, as I find I’m more productive with something interesting to listen to in the background. Following a recommendation in a newspaper, I started listening to Heavyweight, and Julia’s episode struck many chords with me for many reasons. While it’s not always comfortable to think about the past and how moments have shaped who you are and what choices you’ve made in life, it is very comforting to hear someone else talk about their discomforting moments and have it dawn on you that your big positive and negative moments are very similar to other people’s ones and that it’s ok to be a little kinder and more forgiving to yourself and other people.

Heavyweight