In Memory of my Nephew

On the 24th of February 2014, my nephew Tyler was stillborn. The awful news tore through the family, grinding us all to a halt & filling us with utter sadness. Our happiness & joy of a new baby coming into to the family quickly turned sour to heartache & pain.

Not only did it affect my brother & his wife but the wider family were devastated. As an Auntie, I felt lost & heartbroken & I turned to online resources to help me through this.

The Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Charity Sands provided me with much comfort & support through this experience. The group meetings provided great support & comfort to both my Brother & Sister in Law. Peer support & a safe place to talk helped them through their most challenging point in their lives.

In Memory of Tyler’s 4 year Anniversary I have donated money to the charity Sands & to raise awareness of the great work they do to support families who are affected by stillbirths & neonatal deaths.

For further information & support please visit: https://www.sands.org.uk/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9arqhey02QIVBomyCh3OjQuBEAAYASAAEgIrq_D_BwE

A Valentine’s Night Like No Other

I’m not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day & it’s took me 7 years of celebrating it with my husband to finally enjoy it. I was reluctant to spend it in a overcrowded restaurant with the added pressure of eating dinner in under an hour, before the Waiter gently pushed you out the door for the next set of love birds to arrive. I was reminded of this mayhem as we drove past my favourite Italian Restaurant in Glasgow to see it queued out the door and onto the street!

Instead,we booked a private baby scan at Baby Scanning, Glasgow. I was a little disheartened after my 20 week scan as my little one was lying in an awkward position & we didn’t get any clear scan photos. More than that, I wanted to know my baby was healthy & doing well.

It’s only natural to feel anxious as a first time expectant mum & to put my mind at ease I opted for the 4d scan. The scan was 45minutes & it was great to lie back & watch it on the screen. Our little baby is 24+5 weeks now & our active little one was kicking about with their legs over their head. Time seemed to stop as I was lost in the moment of watching my little bundle of joy move around & was lucky enough to catch them yawn – it’s a hard life.

Not only did we get to see our baby but we heard their heartbeat & got a lovely little keepsake which was the heartbeat inside a teddy bear.

Perfect way to spend our 7th Valentine’s Day together ❤️.

Fertility Support: How to Plan & Prepare

My husband & I went down this route after two years of trying & struggling to conceive. My periods were irregular because of medication I was on for my Arthritis & Fibromyalgia. So it was difficult to track when I was ovulating & we were very much in need of the support from the infertility service.

I had to get a referral from my GP to the consultant at the hospital but this wasn’t a straight forward process. I was 25 at the time & I remember vividly the GP commenting on my age & how I had the rest of my life in front of me. She uttered the words “You’re 25, not 35.. plenty of time for a family” & I quickly chipped in to remind her that it was my choice. I never did get a referral from that GP but that didn’t stop me. I went to another GP, explained my circumstances & the referral was made.

After a 6 months wait, I was seen by a Gynaecologist who examined me & discussed the issues I had been having. I remember telling her the main reason I was there was because I was looking for answers. Her response stays with me to this day & at the time I didn’t understand what she meant. She told me not to look for answers because they might not be there, I might never get the answers I need. It soon made sense to me that this would be the case.

The first appointment with the infertility service was with a Nurse who took our medical history, performed blood tests, ultrasound & a further appointment was arranged. The appointment focussed on do you drink alcohol? Do you smoke? Do you take drugs? The line of questioning changed to weight & the dreaded Body Mass Index (BMI). I’ll be honest my weight and BMI fluctuates; managing chronic conditions & trying to be active is difficult & this was reflected by my weight.

Don’t search for those answers; what if they do remain unanswered. Most couples who receive fertility support are classed as “unexplained fertility” & we fell into this bracket. I hated that it was out-with my control but so many things remained in my control. I stopped drinking alcohol & I altered my diet for it to be more healthy & found a meat free diet was much more beneficial for me.

The best advice I would give you if you are about to embark on your journey is to prepare, support each other & aim for a healthy lifestyle. If you get the opportunity I would recommend pre pregnancy counselling, it’s especially useful if you have chronic conditions & are on medication.

Still to this day, I remain in the unexplained category but with changes made to my lifestyle I’ve been lucky enough to conceive without any support. Those questions still remain unanswered and I feel very lucky to have conceived before starting the IVF journey.

Time To Talk

Having a mental health issue can make you feel lonely, isolated & worthless but Time To Talk encourages everyone to have those conversations about mental health & to open up about it.

I think back to this time last year when I was stuck in a bad place physically & mentally. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia alongside my Arthritis & medication was the first port of call. I didn’t realise the impact the medication would have on me & before I knew it I had spiralled out of control into a depression.

Living my life in constant pain was telling on me, I was exhausted & I felt trapped. Trapped in my body of pain & misery. Everything was out with my control, the pain, the low mood & anxiety. I didn’t talk to my husband about how I really felt & instead I turned to painkillers.

The telling point for me was when I was driving & the thoughts of not being here whizzed through my head & ways of ending it would become more vivid & harder to suppress.

I didn’t feel like Leann anymore, I was no longer a supportive wife, a daughter or friend. I was hiding things from my husband, I was storing painkillers everywhere for the just in case moments & I hated myself.

I finally plucked up the courage to say to my husband, I think I have a problem. Saying it out loud I knew I had a problem & I couldn’t hide from it anymore. My husband encouraged me to go to the GP & I shared my cocktail of meds with him & the harsh reality of the situation smacked me in the face. If you continue like this Leann, you will harm yourself. Right up to that point, that’s what I wanted, or at least I thought I did.

I had so many reasons to stay alive, my husband, Puppy, my family, my future. I had a future. Reaching out, opening up & talking about how I really felt was a big leap for me but it saved me from the depression.

My relationship with medication & painkillers was a toxic combination & I decided to come off everything. It was difficult, I couldn’t see the immediate benefit but I kept going & I looked for other ways to manage my pain & mental health.

The most helpful book I read was Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive. His words rang true with me & his experience helped me to see that I wasn’t alone & it also helped me to open about my mental health.

A year on, I’m more open about how I feel & I openly share my journey. I have a future. A second chance of life with my husband & our new beginnings with baby Kelly due to arrive in June ❤️.

As much as it was difficult for me to reach out, it saved me & I hope you can reach out too if you are struggling. You are worth it. You do have a future. Keep going.

#TimeToTalk

We’re Having A Baby!

I’m delighted to share with you our fantastic news & our little bundle of joy is due in June. The past few months have been overwhelming yet they’ve flown in. I’m almost 22 weeks & recently had our 20 week scan which showed a healthy baby wriggling away & hiding from the camera.

We were due to start the next stage of the infertility process & suddenly, out of the blue, this little miracle happens. Feeling content & blessed & taking each day as it comes.

Our family of 3 with our Chewie the Collie is about to become a 4 ❤️.

*Of course our baby reveal photo would be of a Celtic top 🍀*

Self Care Sunday

Self care is something that goes out the window for me when my physical & mental health dips. I’ve struggled over the past week with Arthritis & Fibromyalgia flare ups which has resulted in time off work & I’ve spent most of my time at home resting. The time off work & rest has helped massively & I am now managing much better.

I decided to take some time out today for some self care tasks & to spend some time relaxing, away from my phone & switching off from the world. I took a hot bath with a Soap & Glory Bath bomb & face mask. The Greatest Showman soundtrack played on Spotify & I lay there feeling content.

I went on to have a pretty chilled day listening to music & preparing food for the week ahead. I’m planning on having more self care Sunday’s to help me recover from the working week & to prepare for the week ahead.

It’s true what they say, A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.

New Year Goals

As much as I had my health struggles in 2017 & was challenged by them, I did manage to have a good year & achieve my goals. I done things my anxiety told me that I could never do such as going on my friends hen do to Liverpool, travelled to New York & Philadelphia & completed & passed my masters dissertation.

When I think back to this time last year I was filled with self doubt & riddled with anxiety. My mind would remind me of all the things I couldn’t do but I challenged this thought process & achieved my goals which I am incredibly proud of.

My goals achieved in 2017

1. I became Vegan in January.

2. Completed & passed my dissertation.

3. Went to Liverpool on my friends Hen Weekend.

4. Graduated from Uni with a Masters in Career Guidance & Development.

5. Gained confidence to write & started blogging.

Goals don’t have to start at the beginning of the New Year & throughout the year I set new goals & took a little longer to achieve some of them than expected but I done it. I had a great sense of achievement & goal setting helps me stay focussed throughout the year.

My goals for 2018

1. Complete another Veganuary & follow a vegan lifestyle.

2. Continue to write & share my health journey.

3. Learn mindfulness techniques.

4. Be more active.

5. Read more books.

Looking forward to 2018 & I am ready for the next chapter in my life.

The Puppy that changed our lives

This time last year my husband & I drove to Perthshire to collect our little fluffy bundle of joy. When we arrived we were greeted by a lovely family who welcomed us into their home to meet 3 gorgeous Border Collie Puppies. They were the cutest yet tiniest little things I have ever seen. As soon as I seen them, I knew it was a Border Collie I wanted & we were lucky enough to get one of the pups.

You couldn’t take the smile off my face as I cuddled our precious little puppy that we named Chewie. I was bursting with happiness & couldn’t wait to get him home & settled into his new home.

Chewie has brought so much love & happiness into both our lives & I couldn’t imagine life without him. My anxiety had a grip of me last year & I was constantly anxious, experiencing panic attacks & having night terrors. Chewie brought a happiness & comfort into my life that eased my anxiety immediately. On my worst days, he comforts me with cuddles & knows when I’m having an off day. There’s no better feeling than Chewie welcoming us home with sheer excitement & cuddles.

I am so grateful, thankful & happy to have Chewie in my life.

First Christmas Anxiety Free

On the run up to Christmas I get myself into such a state worrying about Christmas Day & having family over sends my anxiety through the roof. Anxious thoughts creep in of how the day will go, how will I feel, how will I cope & the what if scenarios spiral out of control. Exchanging gifts & receiving gifts are a big trigger for my anxiety & I find it very challenging. To add to the pressure this year my Dad spent the day with us which is the first time in 10 years that I’ve spent Christmas with him.

It came as a surprise yesterday that I managed to do everything we had planned; Morning Mass, paid a visit to my nieces & nephews & had family round for Christmas dinner. Not only did I manage but I got through the day without feeling anxious with no intrusive thoughts or panic attacks.

This came as a surprise that I not only managed to survive Christmas Day but I was anxiety free. I didn’t take that for granted & very much enjoyed the day. For once, my anxiety didn’t have a hold of me & my thoughts & I made the most of an anxiety free day.

I’ve had a relaxing Boxing Day in my pj’s watching Beauty & the Beast, Friends & some football. It’s exactly what I was needing & a self care day is a great way to come down after Christmas.

Feels good having another little win over Anxiety. First Christmas Anxiety Free in 14 years!

Merry Christmas

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas & I hope you have a peaceful day.

It can be a difficult time of the year for many but it doesn’t have to be a lonely time & staying connected can help. Comedian Sarah Millican will be on Twitter for anyone feeling lonely & wanting to chat. Many people will be getting involved with #joinin & it has gathered a great support on Twitter with many planning on using the hash tag.

The Samaritans are also offering a vital life link & you can make contact by phone or email & speak to a trained volunteer.

I wanted to share the support that is out there & I am also available on twitter for anyone who wants to chat. (@arthritisfightr).

Have a lovely Christmas & take care.