Infertility is usually a surprise initially and so many of assume becoming a parent will be straightforward and absolutely possible. Today I am sharing an interview with Berenice Smith who set up a website called Walk in our Shoes utilising  her own experiences to help others feeling the isolation of infertility and the mental health issues that can follow.

Infertility

Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years.

I was brought up in a sleepy village in Cambridgeshire and couldn’t wait to escape! I have a big, wider family with lots of cousins and now second cousins. It was a loving family but depression affected my mum, as it has me.

What was your first job?

My first job was cleaning cars for my grandparents business. They ran a limousine and private hire car company and I would vacuum up the confetti in the wedding cars! Inside was an artist trying to escape!

Tell us about infertility and how you feel you have handled that life change

I always wanted to be a mum. I had series of terrible relationships and finally met the man who would be my husband. He’s a bit older than me and we were friends for months before we went on a date. We just clicked. I’d already had problems in the past but not long into our relationship I was pregnant. I miscarried a few weeks later and though we were sad about it, we felt we had time. Fast forward five years and we were married. I had another miscarriage and went onto have more, mostly early but a few later ones. We were referred to investigations that ironically took place in the maternity ward of our hospital. They couldn’t find anything wrong. Finally after a few months of monitoring and blood tests we were told IVF was the answer. Only to find there wasn’t any funding in our area. We ended up going privately but this cost thousands and we were doing up our house at the time. Ultimately it meant a lot of the appointments which I went to alone because my husband worked overtime to pay for it My employers at the time were not very supportive either and it was a lonely time. The first cycle resulted in 36 eggs and 27 embryos so I had no problem there but I did suffered with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (where my body was still responding to drugs). Because of the number of embryos that we had frozen, we had 6 cycles and one pregnancy over ten years. Sadly the pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage. It’s actually impossible to articulate how that felt or the grief. By the time we realised IVF wasn’t going to work, we’d left it too late for adoption because of my husband’s age.

I don’t know that I handled the life change very well. I really did hate my body a lot for letting me down and went through a long time of having a bad body image. My weight has yo-yoed from steroids and all the other medication one has to take for IVF (about 5 types of tablets and 3 injections). I generally get the impression from many that I should be over it, but it never leaves me.

What are you spending your time doing these daysAfter IVF, I studied for a postgraduate degree in graphic design and typography having worked all my life as a graphic designer. I’m working part-time now, running Walk In Our Shoes which was researched and designed during the degree which I speak about. I’m actually presenting at Fertility Fest in May. I also have a design practice called Hello Lovely.

What was the reason you started to blog?

I wanted to address the fear that many men and women have in speaking out. Lots are put off by trolls or less than sympathetic responses. I’ve been told children are not all they are cracked up to be by a relative and that nobody died from not having kids with scant awareness of the mental health problem around infertility. Walk In Our Shoes is a safe space where people can share their stories and to bridge the gap between those who are involuntary childless and those who are parents or chose to be childfree.

How does blogging help you when you are struggling?

If I hadn’t been though all this and had a child, I’d be struggling to say the right words. I hope that I can bust some myths and in doing so it helps to know others have benefitted. I have no doubt it’s hard being a mum but infertility also brings struggles of a different kind and I strongly believe in listening and gaining respect on all sides.

Are you a fan of collaboration with other bloggers and if so, why?

Yes, very much so. I was involved in World Childless Week last year, am a huge fan of Gateway Women and run a Twitter chat called Childless Hour which has many brilliant bloggers in the conversation.

Who has supported you in life?

My husband. I always say that men are the unsung heroes of infertility and IVF because regardless of whether they themselves are infertile or not, they have to sit on the sidelines watching all this. He is my absolute hero, overcoming needle phobia to help me with injections to happily adopting our dog who has also helped me so much. She’s a rescue who was days away from being put to sleep on a council pound so I like to think we saved each other.

What are your words of wisdom to someone who is struggling emotionally?

Control social media not the other way around. I talk a lot about this on Walk In Our Shoes, from encouraging better use of Facebook friend lists to protect involuntary childless friends to having two accounts, not being afraid to remove friends if you’ve drifted apart. Seeking out support groups on Twitter and Facebook can result in a different and more supportive friendship circle. Sometimes it’s easier to have face to face friendships with mums because honest conversations in person can be more emotive and restorative, free from predictive text!

If you could recommend ONE book to a woman what would it be and why?

Dear You: A Letter to My Unborn Children by Tessa Broad. I met Tessa through her blog tour and was lucky to get an advance of this book. I strongly recommend it to every woman, to get  a brave andhonest account of life with infertility. It’ll help anyone who wants to know how to help a friend or relative coming going through IVF or coming to terms with childlessness.

If you could recommend ONE website other than your own to a woman what would it be and why?

Gateway Women. Jody Day is a friend and inspirational woman who has spoken extensively about her experiences and paved the way for the likes of me and many others to go public.

Is there anything else you would like to say about struggling with infertility?

Infertility can feel incredibly lonely because it’s not talked about enough but online you can find your tribe. There are some great support groups out there, many are listed on Walk In Our Shoes. Most of all, if you are a mum, then let your friend lead the way. Grief is so fickle. There are days when I adore having children round and other days when it may be an anniversary (and there are many) when I can’t. Many of us feel this way. Trust that your friend needs space and be careful about not letting each others struggles become a competition.

Sharing so openly takes a huge amount of courage so please do consider sharing this post by clicking one or more of the buttons below.

If you would like to share your story on this blog please get in touch.

 

My Random Musings
Winnettes

From our lift passes and snow park, to our ski lessons and snowboard courses; Chill Factore has a range of activities and facilities to help you get into snow sports. But what are our top recommendations when it comes to hitting the mountains for real?

 

If you fancy a ski holiday and want to stay relatively nearby, Europe is home to some of the world’s most amazing runs. Whether you’re into stunning landscapes and gentle descents, or rapid drops and adrenaline-pumping speeds, we’ve found the best European ski runs to inspire your next holiday.

Switzerland: Parsenn

To get to what is believed to be the ‘birthplace’ of Alpine skiing, you take the funicular railway, which was built in 1931. From here, you go up to the 2,662-metre Weissfluhjoch and begin your amazing descent past forests and quaint huts before reaching the valley in Kublis again for the train home.

This run is a classic in Swiss skiing and offers you a great mix of sights, landscapes and gentle terrain, with a maximum gradient of 26%.

Sweden: Piste 4

Scandinavia offers some amazing ski opportunities. Piste 4 at the Riksgränsen ski resort is a top run found in the Swedish Arctic Circle — visiting in spring means you get to experience long days, midnight sun and a top terrain for freestyling! Skiers love launching off the natural bumps of the Riksgränsen slopes. But head to Piste 4 — the most famous here — and you’ll glide into Norway before looping back around during your descent!

France: Sarenne

Apparently the longest black run in the Alps is ten miles in length, you get around 90 minutes of intense and continuous skiing starting from the 3,330-metre Pic Blanc. Before you begin your descent, make sure to check out the stunning peaks of the Parc National des Ecrins.

This is an exhilarating run where you’ll have the chance to take on a drop of 2,000 metres. However, watch out for the launch — it’s very steep!

Austria: The Streif

A word of caution, don’t try this if you’re a beginner! The Streif is found on the Hahenkamm mountain and hosts one of the most hazardous races in the World Cup — essentially, this is one of the world’s most feared runs!

At the starting gate, get ready to nearly freefall as you begin your 3,300-metre descent at the top of the Streif. In an instant, you’ll have 85% gradients to contend with at a speed of around 84mph! Overall, the course is about 3,312 metres in length with an average gradient of 27% — so perhaps consider some private lessons before you take on this mammoth challenge! The Streif is so famous that a documentary film was made about it in 2015 — Streif: One Hell of a Ride.

Switzerland: Mont Fort

At 3,329 metres, Mont Fort in Verbier is a tough challenge for any skier. This run provides a 1,300-metre descent and is generally considered the most challenging of Verbier’s pistes. Unmaintained by machinery, Mont Fort has many bumps and is extremely steep — fitness and experience are essentials.

If you can handle it, Mont Fort is breath-taking and offers an exhilarating experience that you won’t get on many other runs in the world — try it at dawn for spectacular views of the sunrise over the nearby mountains and glaciers. Another advantage of Mont Fort? Its location. Verbier is probably one of the world’s most luxurious and party-centric resort — ideal if you want to make this a rue skiing holiday with a mix of activity and relaxation!

France: Aiguille Rouge

France is home to some amazing ski runs, one of which is Aiguille Rouge — the tallest peak in the Les Arcs resort. At 3,226 metres in height and with a vertical descent of over 2,000 metres, this run is classified as black at the top and red a third of the way down.

You get extraordinary panoramic views of the Italian Alps here. Although, it’s best to take on Aiguille Rouge at the very start of the day, as cable car queues get busy quickly! Luckily there’s good quality snow everywhere on the Aiguille Rouge.

Italy: Sella Ronda

Found in the Dolomites and offering potentially the very best views of the Alps, this long-distance circuit is a breath-taking experience for beginner and season skiers.

View limestone cliffs and open pastures as you make your descent. Essentially, the Sella Ronda run is made up of around 14 miles of runs looping around a huge crag that are linked by lifts. It’s the ideal spot if you want to catch a glimpse of several villages along the way, and you can do the run easily in a single day — although, it’s recommended that you try it in both directions!

Switzerland: Lauberhorn

Maybe adrenaline-pumping runs are your thing and you’re looking for a challenge with your next ski holiday. If so, test your skills on the Lauberhorn. Here, you’ll begin from the 2,500-metre apex and descend 4,500 metres in just 150 seconds! Supposedly, the Lauberhorn is the fastest run in the World Cup. However, there’s much more to contend with than steepness — there’ll also be a 130-foot jump that catapults you into the air and speeds of nearly 100mph — enough for g-forces to come into play.

Austria: Harakiri

Anything that’s named after a samurai ritual for suicide must be approached with caution. At 1,500m in length, the Harakiri run in Austria is found in the resort of Mayrhofen and usually has an icy centre with more easy-to-grip snow at the edge. This Austrian run is supposedly the steepest groomed slope in the world with an average gradient of almost 80%!

Similar to many other runs, the beginning is the scariest — experts say keep your weight on your outer ski and try to decrease your speed whenever possible to reach the bottom in a vertical stance. In other words, plenty of specialist ski lessons are essential!

France: Pas de Chavanette

Can’t choose between Switzerland and France? Why not get the best of both worlds by visiting Pas de Chavanette — also called the ‘Swiss Wall’ — on the French-Swiss border? This popular 200-metre ski run is based at the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski area and features swift drops and steep angles — so much so, your vision might be slightly obscured at times!

This run is an ungroomed run and its difficulty level relies on the season. Ski on a decent layer of snow and you will glide effortlessly — but beware when the run is icier and bumpier, as only experienced skiers will be able to hold themselves upright and make the necessary emergency stops when required.

There’s a decent mix of runs that are perfect for beginner, intermediate and experienced skiers here. However, there are plenty more European runs you can visit if you look around. Why not plan a visit to Chill Factore prior to your departure to make sure you have the necessary skills to make the most of your ski holiday adventure?

 

 

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/4444186/The-worlds-scariest-ski-runs-terror-at-the-top.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ski/articles/The-Streif-how-the-story-of-the-famous-ski-race-was-captured-on-film/

http://www.ultimate-ski.com/ski-resorts/switzerland/valais/verbier/advanced.aspx

https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/mont-fort-part-of-the-high-route.html

https://www.mayrhofner-bergbahnen.com/en/mountain-experience-winter/highlights/harakiri/

https://theskisafari.com/best-pistes-hidden-valley-dolomites/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/picture-galleries/10675161/The-worlds-best-ski-runs-in-pictures.html?frame=2841520

http://www.ultimate-ski.com/ski-resorts/france/savoie/les-arcs/ski-area.aspx

https://www.onthesnow.co.uk/news/a/107281/the-longest-ski-runs-in-the-alps

https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2013/09/17/the-top-5-terrifying-ski-runs-in-europe/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/4444186/The-worlds-scariest-ski-runs-terror-at-the-top.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/729189/Skiing-Over-the-edge.html

http://momentumski.com/8-runs-expert-skiers-europe/

https://www.investorsinproperty.com/news/2015-11-27/europes-top-nine-scary-ski-runs

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ski/galleries/the-worlds-best-ski-runs/combe-de-la-saulire/

Post Comment Love

Baby safe jewellery is of not interest to you as a woman until you become a mum and suddenly you realise that wearing jewellery is now a luxury which you can’t indulge in easily. Put simply, babies love pulling at sparkly things! Today I am delighted to share my interview with Sarah who set up Halia Rose to tackle this very issue.

Baby Safe Jewellery

Where did you spend your childhood and teenage years? Was this a happy time?

I grew up in Hertfordshire and after many years of living in different parts of the UK and abroad, I’m back in the town I grew up in – apprarently I’m a boomerang kid!

What led to you living overseas?

My husband’s job originally took us out to Singapore for a year and as I was working for the same company at the time, I was able to transfer too. His project was extended and as we were enjoying living and travelling in Asia we decided to stay on – this turned into a 7 year stint!

Please tell us about your decision to become a mum.

I’ve always wanted to have children and as we were abroad it seemed like a perfect opportunity to show them another part of the world coupled with the fact we’d been married for 5 years by then, it seemed like a good time!

What was your first labour like?

It was tough! I know everyone has different experiences with their labour and no two labours are the same and I felt ready when the first contractions came a couple of days before my due date. I’d done some hypno-birthing preparations, was looking forward to a natural birth and meeting my son. However, I wasn’t expecting to be in labour for 54 hours! I was so exhausted after 24hours that my contractions pretty much stopped and I needed 3 lots of epidural to relax my body and kick-start the contractions. I was being quite sick at this time too so my body was struggling. Long story, short and after a serious 3rd degree tear my baby boy was delivered but he wasn’t breathing – after some quick-thinking by the hospital staff, oxygen was applied and we finally heard him crying. My husband and I were over the moon but shattered – physically and emotionally, it was a tough time.

How did you feel as a new mum living overseas?

I didn’t have my family around me as we were living abroad so it was tough. I had met some lovely ladies in our antenatal classes – but we all seemed to want to portray a feeling of “we’re doing ok” as we didn’t really know each other all that well. Some of them are now my closest friends though and it made such a difference having mums going through exactly the same thing at the same time, being able to meet up with them and have some adult conversation!

Who supported you through these challenging times?

My husband was amazing but he returned to work after his paternity leave and I felt pretty alone. The ladies I met during my antenatal classes went on to become some of my closest friends – I think that bond of going through things at exactly the same time really helps, and it’s a great way of getting out of the house and meeting for a playdate or coffee!

When did you realise you felt a little better about things?

Having always been a pretty resourceful and independent person, I hadn’t expected the mental and emotional changes within me. I had a turning point when my baby was around 3 or 4 months and we were in some sort of routine.

Why did you start a business?

Like all good ideas, they come from a need…after the difficult birth of my son and being exhausted constantly (like all new mums right?!) I wanted to feel like “me” again and being able to wear something designed for me was part of this. My body hadn’t popped back to its pre-pregnancy shape so buying clothes was not something I enjoyed doing at the time but wearing gorgeous jewellery was something I could do, however, I couldn’t find anything that I liked to wear that was also safe for me to wear around my baby. I also noticed that colour really affected my mood and I recognised other mums were in the same boat. The idea for Halia Rose jewellery was born!

Tell us about your products?

I wanted to create a gorgeous collection of jewellery for mums to wear so they could feel good about themselves as well as look good… they needed to be pretty and practical!

Halia Rose is a baby-safe ethical jewellery collection that is stylish but also practical and durable for busy mums. Made of 100% non-toxic and BPA free silicone it can be tugged, pulled, chewed etc and won’t break (the jewellery is also dishwasher proof so you can keep them clean and as good as new every time you wear them!) Not only gorgeous as a statement piece day or night, they are ideal as teething accessories or fiddle beads when breastfeeding.

I also have a range of baby teethers and children’s accessories to cater for all ages.

The name Halia Rose comes from a mix of my inspiration and roots…both my children were born in Singapore and I wanted something to reflect this as they were (and continue to be!) my inspiration plus also my English roots. Halia is the Malay translation for Ginger and Rose is the flower of England…my daughter also has ginger hair and her middle name is Rose!

What tip or words of wisdom would you share with a mum who is feeling very isolated?

Your way is the right way. You will receive lots of opinions on what is the right or wrong way of doing things but listen to your gut and remember your family and baby is unique so there isn’t a one way that fits all!

Look after yourself too – do something every day that makes you feel good. You can’t pour from an empty cup and making time for you is also important. For me, it really helped meeting other mums and sharing experiences – you do need a “tribe” of those you can call on when you’re feeling low to help support each other.

What tip or words of wisdom would you share with a mum who has a business idea but lacks self-confidence?

If you have an idea and a passion for something, then you’re half way there. If you have the opportunity to follow your dream, then go for it! You’ll never know what may happen if you take that first step but you’ll always wonder “what if?” if you don’t. Of course it can be challenging at times but nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy! Keep going! There will always be negative people (including family and friends!) out there who criticise what you are doing. If you believe in your business then you can make it happen.

If you could recommend ONE book to a woman, what would it be and why?

Anything that is light-hearted and you don’t have to think too much to read it. As a new mum, I found a Kindle a life-saver, I could hold it with one-hand so when baby was feeding or sleeping I could still read without disturbing baby!

From a business perspective I love Carrie Green’s “She Means Business” for its inspiration and positivity.

If you could recommend ONE website other than your own to a woman, what would it be and why?

Local community websites and facebook groups are great in finding out what’s going on near you – you’ll be surprised how much is out there and it’s so important to get out (when you’re ready!) and meet other mums going through the same as you are.

There’s a great new platform called Mummylinksapp which aims to connect mums in your local area which is great if you’re new to an area or looking for new mum friends.

 

www.haliarose.co.uk

 

Sharing so openly takes a huge amount of courage so please do consider sharing this post by clicking one or more of the buttons below.

If you would like to share your story on this blog please get in touch.

 

 

My Random Musings
clairejustine

Mum Muddling Through

There are many adventurous ways to explore the UK that are well known, and there are less well-known ways too. How you see a country shapes your perception of it, and so this is something worth thinking about when next embarking on an adventure. There are many gems outside of London waiting for you to find them and here are just a few suggested to you. Britain has so much to offer in the way of natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes, so make sure you put it on your adventure list.

Kayaking

There are many canals and rivers that meander all throughout the UK. Exploring a place on the surface of the water is an amazing way to see things that few people get to see, and to get off the beaten track. One of the many ways to do this is to go on a kayaking trip. This is quite a physical option so it might not be for everyone, although you are guaranteed to have a strong core and ripped shoulders by the end of it! Trapping your pack to your kayak and going off to explore what this country has to offer so much freedom and exploration to satisfy anyone’s wanderlust. If you are new to the UK companies like G Adventures could be of use to you. Combined with wild camping, this could be a trip that knows no bounds. Scotland is a hotspot for kayaking trips, and if you plan your journey right it could be all down river for you as well.

 

Exploring The UK

Source.

Long Boating

If you prefer something a bit more relaxed and comfortable, then longboating could be right up your street. Hiring a longboat is pretty simple and often all you need is a driving licence to drive one. There are many longboats throughout the UK travelling around the river systems so you will be in good company. Some people live on them full-time, but many people hire and rent them out to enjoy the summer months. If relaxing by the river on a warm summer evening sounds like your kind of adventure, then longboating is probably for you. Many people pub hop each day as there are so many by the riverside, you could find a new one each night. The Norfolk broads in the East of England is a popular choice for longboaters, but it can be done pretty much anywhere in the UK. The flatter the land the better, but if you are hiring out a longboat in that area then it is good to boat in! This can be such an amazing way to explore, and from the water, you can see an entirely different view of an amazing travel destination.

Here are just a few ways you can explore Britain by water. Travelling on the roads is a popular option, but exploring somewhere by water is a much more relaxing and enriching adventure. Try some of these great travel ideas out and see what hidden gems you can uncover.

Winnettes

When you’re planning a ski trip there’s one place that immediately comes to mind; the French Alps. There are ski resorts all around the world that are great but the French Alps are by far the best place to go. You’ve got a huge choice of resorts and some of the best ski trails in the entire world. You can find some great, traditional family resorts, as well as modern ski resorts high in the mountains. Whatever you want out of a ski holiday, you can find it there.

Skiing

Stock Vault

The problem is, there is so much choice in the French Alps it can be difficult to decide which resort is best for you. The way to work out where you should go is to look at your priorities. If you’re looking for a fast paced party atmosphere, you’ll want to go for some of the apres ski resorts around. But that’s not suitable for a family trip so if you’re taking the kids along, look at some of the more traditional village resorts instead. These are some of the best options to help you decide.

Chamonix

Chamonix has some of the best trails in the world but if you’re a novice, it might not be the best place for you. It’s famous for its huge descents and extreme trails that are great fun for an advanced skier. It’s also the site of the largest vertical ski lift in the world. However, if you’ve only been once or twice, or it’s your first time, you’ll struggle on some of those descents and risk injuring yourself. There are some novice areas but they’re often a bus ride away which can be a bit of a pain. The traditional town at the foot of the mountain is beautiful but if you aren’t that experienced, you might want to consider going somewhere else.

Meribel

When you’re on a ski holiday, the slopes aren’t your only concern. The surroundings and facilities in your accommodation are also important. If you’re looking for a relaxing week away so you can put your feet up after a day on the slopes, Meribel is one of the best places to go. The luxury catered Chalet Foinsbois comes complete with a sauna, games room, gym and a hot tub. It still has all of the charms of a traditional ski chalet but with some great added extras. It’s the ideal choice for somebody that wants an indulgent ski holiday that maintains some of the magic of an old log cabin. The ski routes around Meribel are also more suited to beginners than the ones at Chamonix.

Avoriaz

If you aren’t too bothered about staying in a traditional ski chalet, you should think about visiting Avoriaz. The ski resort, built in the 1960’s inspires a lot of different reactions from people. The buildings look like big apartment blocks, built from cedar wood. From a distance, they blend into the mountain but up close they’re a bit odd. However, Avoriaz is the perfect resort for skiers that aren’t that experienced. There is a ski lift straight from the village up to the surrounding slopes. Most people say that those slopes are enough to keep you entertained for a week but if you want to venture outside and find something more advanced, you can. You’re very close to a lot of the surrounding resorts so if you stay in Avoriaz, you’ve got plenty of choice for slopes at all skill levels.

Alpe-d’Huez

When you’re going with a group that is mixed skill, there might be a lot of dispute on where you should go. The more experienced skiers won’t want to go to a beginners area where they’re going to be bored, but the novice skiers won’t be able to handle the difficult slopes that you find in resorts like Chamonix. Luckily, there’s a simple solution to that problem, head to Alpe-d’Huez. You’ll find a huge range of slopes for all skill levels, from beginners right up to the black runs that are reserved for experts. The beauty of going somewhere like that is that, even if you’re a beginner, you can move up to the harder slopes later in the week when you’re more confident, and nobody will ever get bored of the slopes.

Choosing the right ski resort for a winter holiday all depends on what you want out of your trip. If you’re an advanced skier, head to some of the more serious resorts where you’ll find the rest of the experts. If you’re a novice, you’ll want to go somewhere with plenty of slopes that you can manage.  

The Pramshed