I know life has been kinda mad this year so far because I’ve been living it, but when I looked at the date I last updated I couldn’t quite believe it! So so much has happened both good and bad that it’s actually quite challenging to know where to start and what to share!
My biggest challenge has been Miss 2 (who is now Miss 3). Miss 3 has had issues with her tummy etc for a long long time but it had been steadily getting worse over the weeks and months leading up to her birthday in January. Trips back and forth to the doctors, blood test, urine tests, every other test you can think of all revealed nothing, so the conclusion was some kind of acid reflux and she was put on gaviscon and away we went. Well nothing changed. I was still sharing my bed with her at least 4 times a week and spending so many hours rubbing her tummy and heating our ‘hot penguin’ in the microwave, trying to help with her discomfort. It was heartbreaking and if I’m honest there were times I wondered if I was ever gonna get another full nights sleep or actually feel like a human being again!
It all came to a head the week of her birthday. We had a little party for her on the Saturday before her birthday and everyone had so much fun. Friends gathered to celebrate, I’d made the cake (frozen themed obviously) and we had all the foods she loved. Sausages, cheese, sandwiches, quiche, pizza etc etc. Once everyone had gone and we were calming down, Miss 3 complained of tummy ache, as she did after everything she ate but as it was now part of daily life I thought nothing of it and after rubbing her tummy I went back to clearing up. We had friends staying so Miss 3 was in bed with me anyway and she was really not well over night. When she woke up in the morning she was sick. Only the once and had no other symptoms so we all packed up and pottered off the church. Miss 3 sat on my knee for the whole service and slept, even during the kids worship! She didn’t move. Didn’t go to her group. She just sat cuddled into my chest. She was as white as a sheet and holding her tummy. Once we got home We fed her what we could (which was yoghurt) and just made sure we had a quiet day. But obviously I was getting slightly worried, as was the friend who was here but I just figured she’d picked up a bug and she’d be fine…. How wrong was I!
By the Monday my little girl was really really sick. So once I had done the Monday mums bible study (through which Miss 3 lay on the church coffee shop floor and didn’t move) I took her round to the doctors. 2 hours later I was sat in the children’s ward of the hospital while they tried to work out what was wrong with my daughter. Once things settled down and we were left a bit more to ourselves, for me the internal battle started. Do I or do I not let her father know what was going on? The part of me that is a rational human being knew I had too but there was such a big part of me (the grumpy, sleep deprived, hurt bit) that just thought he’s not interested in her day to day life, he didn’t want her in the first place so I will deal with this on my own and not tell him! But I did text and he briefly came through and called to see what the situation was. The love and concern though was seriously lacking. I may as well have been discussing a business contract or meeting agenda rather than our sick daughter! I couldn’t help comparing the reactions I was getting from friends all around the world who I’d asked to pray, to the reaction I got from her own father! For once though it didn’t hurt as I’d expected nothing less, so I just shrugged it off, answered the people who love my daughter, here and around the world, and went back to cuddling the poorly lump that was snuggled on my lap. It was a very long day but I will forever be grateful to the wonderful friends who stepped in to look after the boys without a second thought and the friends who kept me going on both Twitter and text. You’re endless love, prayers and your presence in all our lives is a daily blessing and one I thank God for.
Thankfully we didn’t have to stay overnight as spending her actual birthday in hospital would have been a bit sad. After loads of tests, discussions, different doctors etc it was decided that it may be a diary allergy and the advice we left the hospital with was to cut dairy from her diet completely for a month and then introduce a small amount and see what happened. Apparently that is the best way to establish a dairy allergy / intolerance. So that’s what we did…. And we haven’t looked back! It did mean she couldn’t eat her own birthday cake but Within 2 weeks she was a different child. She was sleeping, eating better and putting on weight. She was laughing more and although still complained of the odd tummy ache she was a happy little girl who was beginning to enjoy eating! When I did reintroduce the dairy it took such a small amount to set her back that I took her straight back off it again! Since then she’s been seen at Bristol Children’s hospital and diagnosed with IBS as well so is on medication. Since starting the IBS medication coupled with being on a completely dairy free diet we have had no tummy aches. We still get the odd broken night but that is more to do with her waking herself up shouting at her brothers in her sleep!
The journey was a long one but it could have been a whole heap longer and throughout the whole thing we were surrounded by the love and prayers of people who care about us and that made a huge difference, especially to me. Unlike when I was fighting for Mr 7 (Mr 6 had a birthday) and his ears, this time I knew I was the only parent who was gonna do anything so embraced the challenge and found my support from God, my family and friends rather than believing that support should have come from her father! He has done what he needs to do when it comes to Miss 3 and her new diet, and to quote him he’ll “tow the line” but he never asks, never checks in to see how she’s doing or follows up after any doctors appointments. I have come to the conclusion this is how it’s gonna be for the rest of their lives. He will do what he is required to do but nothing more. Unfortunately for him by doing that he misses out on experiencing the truly funny, wonderful children we have created in all their glory. He sees a small snapshot in the 28hrs a fortnight he has them to whatever level he is actually investing in them. The rest of it he is completely unaware of.
The other challenge that has been plodding on for what feels like forever is the divorce process. I knew right from the beginning this process would be tough as it goes against everything I believe in and everything I believe marriage stands for. When I first started the paperwork I still believed wholeheartedly that we would work it out but over the last 2 years God has given me a real peace with the decision I made to start this process and draw a line under my marriage. This decision has been compounded by R’s behaviour over the whole thing. From returning the paperwork regarding the children by return of post (which really really hurt) to drawing out the financial ‘discussions’ for over 16 months! Everything about the way he has dealt with this whole process has made me realise how good he is at keeping the truth hidden and acting like everything is completely normal and happy. I can have discussions with my solicitor about issues his side is bringing up that could destroy the settled nature of my little family but yet he’ll turn up, say all the right things and act like the perfect father all the while trying to put clauses in place that could take away the children’s home. He gets under my skin. I think he always will do as I just keep asking how much of my marriage was a front like the one he’s showing me now! He is so unbelievably convincing even with me. I find myself questioning what I know is fact because he seems so plausible. I KNOW what he’s capable of and he still manages it!! We will get there in the end and hopefully the end is in sight but I didn’t expect the end to hurt as much as it is. I don’t want to stay married to him and there is no piece of me that can even imagine going back to the life we had but every so often, for maybe a moment, I will see a glimpse of the man I married, the man I fell in love with and those are the moments that hurt. In all honesty for 99.9% of the time I hardly recognise him as the man he was. Whatever is going on in his heart is making him hard and not a very pleasant person to be around. The children sense it too. They love him because he’s their father but get confused by the lack of feelings they are shown.
Someone asked me recently if I’d prefer it if he just walked away and I have to say, for me, it would be easier but not for the children. I have worked REALLY hard over the last however many years, even before R walked, to make sure they have as much of a relationship with their father as he wants and I will continue to do that. In the end my children are surrounded by family and friends who love them. They know they have a God who loves them and will be with them always but there is nothing that can replace, or should replace, a relationship with their own father. What that relationship will look like is not my responsibility but I will do everything within my power to ensure that they have something, until either R walks away or the children are old enough to make their own decisions. My only prayer is that I can surround them with enough love to overcome any negative parenting they experience and to conquer the many hurts that I’m sure will come their way at the hands of their father and his side of the family, all be it unintentionally.