I’m Still Here!

It’s been I don’t know how many months now since I left twitter. Nine? Ten? Something like that. I am so sorry that it has taken me this long to get to doing a proper update. And to those of you I promised letters – I’m still working on them, so please don’t think I’ve forgotten you. Finding a few minutes to myself is possible these days, but finding enough time where I feel rested and mentally & physically capable is a whole other matter.

It has been an incredibly tough year so far in actual fact, but I’m still standing, and more importantly, I’m still smiling. Becoming a mum has been everything I dreamed it would be, but not having full familial support or home help has been absolutely crippling. Having a baby was always based on the premise that I would have all the support I needed, and for one reason or another that just hasn’t happened. The lack of home help has been the biggest strain. We investigated it all long before I fell pregnant and were happy to see a service was provided, but when we went to avail of it we were told that there’s not enough funding to actually run it other than for a handful of elderly folk. Now if we weren’t having to use all our savings to fund a roof over our head, we’d have the money to pay for someone privately, but as our landlords have refused to let us apply for rent allowance we’ve had no other choice. We’re now about to move again, to the other side of the country, because the pot has run dry so we have to move somewhere that we can afford the rent. We’re sad to leave where we are because the property itself is lovely, but I for one am glad to be moving out of the area – I don’t like the stress of urban life; always rushing and traffic, and nightmare parking. I haven’t driven again in yonks because I just don’t like the pressure from other drivers on the road; I don’t feel safe or comfortable. Where we’re moving to is really rural, so it will be wonderful for me to be able to breathe again.

Having a baby naturally changes the dynamics of a relationship, but it’s had a far greater impact on me and N than I thought it would. Due to our fatigue levels with mostly become passing ships – one looking after the baby and doing housework, while the other conks out, and then we swap. Furthermore, all my mental and physical energy goes into the baby which means I barely have any left for N, which breaks my heart. The love is still there, and whenever we do get a moment together it’s back to messing around and giggling, but those moments are so few and far between now which makes me so sad. I’m hoping that now the baby is a little bit older (13 months!!!) and N has finished their DBT course, that we can move, get settled, and that life will be a little calmer and we’ll have the time and energy to focus on reconnecting. I hate the phrase, but hopefully there might be some much needed Date Nights on the horizon. Well, Date Days, more likely.

Things are more good than bad though. And waking up everyday knowing I have the family I always dreamed of makes all the hard stuff completely worth it. Mentally and emotionally I’m the best I’ve ever been. As I expected, being a mum has been the making of me – I feel so much more grounded and sure of myself. I still struggle with anxiety, but even that’s a lot better than it was. I have to speak to strangers far more than I used to because everyone (and I mean, EVERYONE) wants to come up and coo at the baby, so I’ve been forced to talk, but having the focus on the baby makes it that much easier to handle. I also want to be as much of a positive role model for her as I can be, so even if on the inside I’m in a mad flap and panic, on the outside I try my hardest to remain calm and composed. I’ve mostly succeeded in this, except for Gigantor Arachnids. Then it’s back to screaming, crying, flapping, and flailing!

On the matter of being a positive role model, I have also been trying to be more body positive and self accepting. As part of this I have been pursuing my pipe dream of being a plus size model, and it’s really taken off. So much so, in fact, that I’ve just been signed by a modelling agency! I’m also a body confidence spokeswoman for a plus size clothing store! It’s been so empowering, and it’s been really freeing to not give a damn about what people think of me. It’s also been an incredible confidence boost to be taken as a serious model – I’ve had so many compliments and made strong impressions. If you’d like to see what I’ve been doing you can ‘Like’ my Facebook page: Curvaceous And Bodacious

I do miss twitter sometimes, there’s no denying that. I have moments when I feel overwhelmed with my thoughts and need a good old twitter rant but can’t do it. It once took me two hours to turn a would-be twitter rant into a friendly, positive FB post, just so I could express it outwardly! It’s just still strange having thoughts and not sharing them with the internet! I also really miss seeing and knowing how all of you are doing. I am in touch with some of you, but y’know, it’s just not the same. Sniff.

As ever in my life, there have been incredibly tough times, stress, trauma and emotional upheaval, but at least now there is happiness, love, and even success to balance that all out. Not so long ago I used to go to bed wishing I wouldn’t wake up, now I go to bed smiling about the day I’ve just had.

Thoughts – Sexual Assault

Please read with care, and take steps to keep yourself feeling safe and secure, if reading about sexual assault and associated topics are triggering for you.
Whenever you see or read things about sexual assault and rape, the focal point is almost always about the sexual act itself. But what most people don’t seem to realise (other than the poor souls who’ve experienced it), is that the violation begins long before the forced sex/sexual act.
RAPE HAPPENS THE INSTANT OUR VOICE IS IGNORED AND WE GO UNHEARD. That is what leaves us feeling violated and insignificant. That is what leaves us feeling unworthy and inhuman. That is what leaves us feeling disrespected and degraded. Men argue ‘oh but she wanted it’ as if that’s justification. No. Even if she did encourage it, the instant a woman says ‘no’ it’s down to the perpetrator to take responsibility and RESPECT the woman. Ignoring a woman’s wishes and proceeding to have your way with her regardless, is the ultimate insult.
The onus is put on the woman to dress ‘correctly’ and behave ‘correctly’, but why should any of it be down to the woman, when it is the man behaving incorrectly? Instead, why are we not teaching our sons to learn to control their primal urges. We are too quick to say, ‘men will be men’, but that just encourages them, and lets them off the hook from taking responsibility for their actions. That said, Girl Crush Culture doesn’t help either, it simply reinforces to men that we are merely objects to be sexualised and lusted after.
So much in life has progressed and evolved, except men, it would seem. No more excuses, it’s time to teach men to treat women right. Women’s voices need to matter to men, and ultimately, women need to be respected by all men, in all circumstances. When a woman says ‘no’, it needs to have the same impact as when a man says ‘no’.

Thoughts – Sexuality

It frustrates me that when people think about same sex persons, that they almost always think about it in relation to sex. The people who are repulsed by LGBT people is because they are thinking about the physicality. I recently saw a mother on a tv programme who was disgusted by their daughter being bi. All the mother could think about was “titties bumping against titties”, and that made her sick to her stomach.
Being gay IS NOT ABOUT SEX. Some of us may have a preference for male bits or female bits, but that’s not why we’re gay. I can’t speak for everyone, so I will only speak for myself. For me, I don’t see male or female, I don’t see penis or vagina; I see people, I see hearts and souls. If it was just about sex then there probably wouldn’t be gay people. Good sex is about having a connection with someone, not about what is between their legs. When you’re in love with someone, you enjoy being intimate with them because of who they are, not because of what genitalia they have. It seems ridiculous to me to suggest that people put themselves in a particularly dangerous situation, open to hate and discrimination, all because they can’t get enough cock/pussy.
Another thing that frustrates me is that people’s attitudes change when they find out you’re gay. Even if it’s not a bad reaction, they still treat you slightly differently. Especially if, because they’ve seen you alone, or maybe with a child, that they’ve assumed you’re straight and are ‘shocked’ to learn otherwise. To me that’s silly because I haven’t changed. All that’s changed is that you’ve learned something new about me. My sexuality remains the same regardless of whether I’m single or in a relationship. My sexuality remains the same whether I have a child or not. My sexuality remains the same whether you know about it or not.
I am glad that marriage equality is starting to be recognised around the world (nod to Ireland and USA in particular there), and that people are understanding that love is love. It’s not a gender, it’s not a type, it’s not a genital; it’s just love.

Thoughts – Breastfeeding

Growing up, whenever I thought about having a baby and how I’d feed them, I always envisaged bottle feeding. It was just what people did. It’s always the image you saw in conjunction with babies – both in media and real life. In fact, for a long time, I don’t think I even knew that breastfeeding existed.
Over the years I grew more aware of breastfeeding, but remained adamant that I’d never do it. There were two main reasons why I was convinced it wasn’t for me:
1. The thing I heard mentioned most in relation to breastfeeding was that it made your boobs saggy and that they’d permanently change shape/size. Well I loved my boobs, LOVED them. I loved them exactly as they were, and to me it wasn’t worth the risk of them changing, when I could just bottle feed instead
2. MASTITIS. Oh my god, I remember watching a documentary about a young mum who had mastitis and it struck fear in me. I have a very low pain threshold, so it really was a scary prospect to think I could end up in agonising pain and have no choice but to ride it out. Again, to me, it wasn’t worth the risk
Even when I fell pregnant, I was still adamant that I would bottle feed. I no longer cared about my boobs changing, but I was still scared of mastitis. I was also worried that breastfeeding really wouldn’t be compatible with having M.E – it didn’t seem sensible for me to be solely responsible for the feeds as it would be a toll on my body, and I wouldn’t be able to ask other people to do feeds for me.
However, during my pregnancy I learned a lot more about breastfeeding. I was educated. And that made me do a U-turn on my decision. For starters I learned that breastfeeding had a whole host of health benefits, both for baby and mum. Knowing that even breastfeeding for two weeks could potentially make a difference long-term to my baby was incredibly powerful and persuasive. I have such a crappy immune system and had always worried about any child of mine ending up with the same allergies, illnesses, and conditions as me because of that. So if I breastfed I gave my child the best chance at having a strong immune system. That alone was enough to make me change my mind, but the more I read, the more evidence I found that, for me, breastfeeding was the only option.
I was still worried about the physical demand, but I decided to start with just doing two weeks and seeing how I went. If I continued past the two week mark, I would express so that I could still share the feeds.
Well, in the end I breastfed for SIX AND A HALF MONTHS!!!
It was hard and it was demanding, but it was incredible.
There were times, especially in the beginning, when I would be in tears from the pain. Fortunately not from mastitis, but because of muscle weakness, every position I tried was unbearably painful. Also I tried feeding to a schedule as dictated to me by every midwife and health visitor, but it just didn’t work for me and my baby. So I breastfed on demand. Demand being the operative word there. Oh my. Of all the things they tell you about breastfeeding, they don’t mention the intensity of being a 24hr feeding station.
I would come >this< close to giving up, but every time I would find renewed energy and keep going. It was addictive. I felt like Forrest Gump when he goes on his epic run – I’ve come this far, so I might as well keep going! And more to the point, it felt so much easier than swapping to bottles. Bottle feeding now seemed like a real rigmarole, what with washing, and sterilising, and having to make them up, and get them to the right temperature. That now seemed so much more energy than just flopping a boob out.
But at 6.5 months I had to stop. It worked well to coincide it with weaning, but it was mainly because I could no longer keep up with the baby’s demands, especially at night time. 6.5 months of, on average, feeding every 90mins was just too much to maintain. I knew eventually it would lessen, but I physically couldn’t hold out until that point. I’m proud of myself for breastfeeding for that long. I still consider it quite a feat.
I felt quite bereft to begin with though. Even now, three months on from stopping, I still miss it. And in contrast, bottle feeding seems so cold and detached. It felt really alien and natural to begin with, I didn’t like it at all. But luckily it’s still very much a love-in for the two of us. We snuggle and make eyes at each other over the bottle. I still gaze at her the entire time, kiss her tenderly, and tell her I love her; just as I did when I breastfed.
I know there are people, for various reasons, who CAN’T breastfeed, but now I’ve had the experience, I can’t understand why anyone would choose NOT to breastfeed. I can’t fathom why breastfeeding isn’t the norm. How and why has bottle feeding prevailed? Breastfeeding is so natural and precious. Exhausting and demanding as it can be, they really are sacred moments you’re spending with your child. Why wouldn’t more people want that?
Those are largely rhetorical questions, but I do think the answer lies in the over-sexualisation of breasts. Boobs have become such objects of sexual desire, that it feels strange, wrong even, to then have an innocent baby suckling from them. Isn’t that why so many people are still uncomfortable with seeing people breastfeed in public? To them they are seeing innocence and something sensual at once. It’s too conflicting. But rather than challenge that conflict, it’s easier to have it out of sight all together. I was scared at the beginning to breastfeed in public in case I was told to leave, but I became unruffled by any glances, and had a passionate rant saved in my head in case I was questioned. But for 99% of the time, people were too engrossed in their own self-absorbed world to even notice.
I am by no means enforcing breastfeeding on anyone, because it is a personal choice, but it had such a powerful impact on me. I couldn’t believe how tender and magical and wonderful it was. I miss that.

Brief Update

I am sorry not have updated this sooner. I have lots of blogposts buzzing around in my head, but if I even attempt to get the laptop out during the day there’s constantly a baby on it it, or baby paws batting at it; and by evening I’m too zonked.

Things have been mostly very good, but due to lack of support I have been dipping in and out of flare territory the whole time and having moments of feeling incredibly overwhelmed.

The biggest news is that I’m starting to get really stuck in to the plus size modelling. I honestly thought it would just be a whim, but I make my catwalk debut next month, and I have a few photoshoots lined up too! I’m hoping to inspire body confidence at all sizes by showing that even a short, fat, eejit like me can succeed!

On that note, I have set up a new blog, which I would love for you to follow and share the f*ck out of. Please head over to chocolatecurvesmodel.wordpress.com and have a little nosey.

I hope to find some time this weekend to do some more posts here too.

Mwah xxxxxx