Emma contacted me as she felt that stories of women struggling to conceive are still a little taboo and she wants to break the silence about an issue that is actually quite common. As always, I like to get a rounded view of a woman so I asked Emma questions about her life generally as well as her journey whilst struggling to conceive.

Struggling To Conceive

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

I had a great childhood! I have two younger sisters and I grew up in a tiny village in Fife in the East of Scotland. I spent most of my younger years outdoors, either playing hide and seek in the woods or going for cycles runs around the local countryside. It was the kind of place where everyone knew each other and families got together for bbqs and parties. As a teenager, I had a big group of friends and we spent a lot of our time going swimming in our nearest town and our summers where spent camping in each other’s back gardens. Sadly, when I was 16 I lost my best friend in an accident. She was the heart of our group and we all started to drift apart. That’s when I left school and went to college and started my first job.

What was your first job/career?

My first job was in my local hospital. Everyone in my village had a relative or a friend who worked there as it was just a couple miles away. My neighbour had always told me as soon as I was 16 she would help me get a job and sure enough just a couple of months after my 16th birthday I started my first job as a General Assistant. I was basically just a cleaner, but I was so happy to be earning some money and felt so grown up. The hospital is primarily for people with mental illness so it was daunting for a young girl who knew nothing about this subject at all. However after just my first day there I loved it. I ended up spending just over four years in the post and I sometimes wish I could go back and work there.

Please tell us a little about your relationship.

I met Dougie nearly 3 years ago, through ice hockey which is a sport that we both love to watch. We met on the supporters’ bus to Nottingham, where our team was heading to play in the Playoff Finals and because he was friends with my younger sister we spent a lot of time with each other over the weekend. I had not long gotten out of a long relationship and he sat and spoke to me about it over a cup of tea in McDonald’s at 2am. Once we got home he texted me to say he had a great weekend and to ask if he could take me out for tea. Two days later he picked me up and we have been together ever since.

When did you decide, you wanted to be a mum and what appealed to you about that?

I think I always wanted to be mum. At parties and family gatherings I was always the one crawling around on the floor, playing and entertaining the children. I’ve always been very maternal. Even as a child I was always carrying around a doll and looking after people. I spent a year and half as a nanny and knew then that being a mum was what I was supposed to do. When I met Dougie I knew he really wanted children someday and we decided about a year ago that we wanted to try properly.

Please tell us a little about your issues with fertility and the treatment you have received.

I had always had problems with my period from when I was younger but never really thought much of it and went on the pill. I had to come off it around April 2016 and my cycle never came back. When we decided last year that we wanted to have a baby I made an appointment with my GP and they referred me to the Gynaecologist. I was told by my GP that most likely I would have to be trying properly for a year before I got any treatment. However I was referred straight away as they saw no point in me trying if I hadn’t had a cycle in over a year. On my first appointment, last year I was prescribed a pill called Provera which is a form of progesterone that will cause you to have a period. Once we knew that this would work I had a Laparoscopy and Dye Test to check for Polycystic Ovaries or endometriosis and to ensure my fallopian tubes where clear. Although I had been told a couple of times that I had PCOS they confirmed that there was no sign of this and that there was no sign of any problems so I have been given the green light to start Clomid, which is a drug used to stimulate ovulation. I have my next appointment in March to hopefully get this started.

Who is supporting you at this challenging time?

I have a lot of people supporting me through this. Both mine and Dougie’s family both know as well as some of our friends. I have also told my work collagues as I often leave work for appointments and I hate having to lie about where I am going and I just like having someone to talk to about things. I have felt it is very important to be transparent about my fertility issues as it is such taboo subject and I feel it shouldn’t be. I want to be able to help others and raise awareness so I don’t want to keep it a secret. Social media has also been very helpful. I got a lot of information from people online for example when I had my laparoscopy I got a lot of information and advice. It is great knowing there is others going through the same as me at the same time.

Do you have any tips/wise words for someone struggling to conceive?

My most helpful advice would be to just stay positive or it will be a lot harder and put stress on your body when trying to conceive. I struggled a lot with the initial fact I was having to be referred to the fertility clinic. I had always just thought I would get pregnant quickly so I spent countless times asking myself, why me? The best piece of advice I saw was from Izzy Judd who went through IVF to have her daughter. I seem to be more aware now of people posting pregnancy announcements or noticing someone with their newborn. Izzy’s advice is to always be happy for them as we don’t know their journey. They may have waited years for that baby and here we are being jealous of them. I know see it in a positive light and when I see a new baby or an announcement I smile and think that will be me soon.

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

It wasn’t until I started reading about infertility that I came across Izzy Judd, the wife of Mcfly drummer Harry Judd. She had written a book all about her struggle to get pregnant and how she had her baby girl through IVF. This book is so helpful. It is full of advice about dealing with the emotions of fertility issues and how to remain positive. I have this book by my bedside and whenever I feel a little down about things I pick it up and read a little bit.

If you could recommend one website to a woman what would it be and why?

Fertility Network UK has been a website I’ve used a lot. They’re a charity organisation that works to raise awareness and provides support for the 3.5 million people affected by fertility issues. There is lots of interesting information on their website from the latest news in research to sharing other people’s journeys to become parents.

Have you considered other ways to become a mum such as fostering, adoption or something else?

This is something me and Dougie have yet to discuss. I think we want to wait and see what happens and will think about these things when we need to. I would consider adopting if I could not have my own child and I have always like the idea of being a foster parent when I am a little older.

Do you feel fertility issues should be spoken about more?

I 100% think that fertility issues should be spoken about more in society, especially in high schools. I went on the pill at around 18 and spent my early 20s desperately trying to not get pregnant. I didn’t know any better and never in a million years thought that I would be going through a struggle to have a baby. Until my first appointment I never knew what treatments were available, how common fertility issues really are or knew of anyone who had been through it. I see so many young girls on social media or in public complaining about having a period or messing around with their pill so they stop periods. It’s not until you go through something like this that you release how important all these things are.

Do you have experience of struggling to conceive? Do you have any advice for Emma and women like her?

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.

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Mummy in a Tutu

 

Great dresses for Spring are on my mind for two reasons. Firstly, we are getting occasional sunny days with blue skies so I do feel the new season might be here soon. It is long overdue if you ask me after cold and rainy days for months. Secondly, I have more of a social life this year and want to look good when out and about.

Dresses For Spring

 

So if it is time to get the legs out, what are the best dresses for a curvy woman like me.

Maxi dress

I am a big fan of the maxi dress as I think these dresses are always head-turners and by using different prints, you can really express your personality in a big way. I like to pair a maxi dress with a short denim jacket.

Knitted dress

At the start of the Spring, cold days still happen so a lovely compromise is to wear a knitted dress perhaps in a bright colour or with a fun slogan. Knitted dresses come in a variety of lengths depending on how much of those legs you want to show. If you don’t want your flesh on show, you can always team with some colourful opaque tights.

Skater dress

I am always tempted by skater dresses as they do seem to skim the tummy area and this may be the year I try one. After all, it would be a fashion statement about my blog! My issue is that they often are very short-skirted so I think it is about doing research and finding exactly the right one for me.

Wrap dress

Wrap dresses are so clever and suit just about any body shape whilst showing off your bust to great effect. If you are pregnant go for a wrap dress as it will adapt as your bump grows and also be practical for breast-feeding after your baby one is born.

Party dress

Now as I am invited out more these days, what type of dress should I choose for a party or even a wedding? There are so many choices but I think I might try something that has a vintage feel as I always think they look so good on other women and often have really colourful and exciting prints.

So tell me! When it comes to dresses for Spring, what do you choose?

Great Dresses For Spring

 

My Random Musings

Dear Kate

You have set others the challenge of writing a love letter to themselves so you should give it a go. After years of not rating or valuing yourself enough/at all, it is time to redress the balance.

So I look at you and I see a good-looking woman who rocks her Irish heritage with beautiful skin and those wild waves in the hair. You have that cute dimple because you like to laugh and be mischievous. You have curves and when the weight falls off quite the hourglass figure although having said that your bum is a sight to behold and should quite possibly have its own Twitter account!

You are super intelligent and analyse things which means people sit up and take notice of what you have to say. You combine that with a really strong work ethic and determination. You are also very creative and very much the ideas person.

You have a wicked sense of humour which people would like to see more of so overcome that introversion and shy nature more often please.

Your values are strong and you have passed these on to your amazing children. These will serve them and the world well in the years ahead.

You have faced many forms of rejection and adversity but you kept on keeping on and now you have had the confidence to create and relish your dream life.

Your bring your humour, passion and creativity to your love life.

Your heart is warm and you really do want to help individuals and the world generally. You have had the sense to balance that with looking after yourself more too.

You are lovely and loveable and it just took you a while to wake up to that.

Keep on being you – you are a one-off and deserve your place in this world.

With love from me to you x

 

clairejustine

Lucy At Home

You force yourself to wake up early, get washed up and dressed in record breaking time. You rush yourself to the airport all while biting your nails because you think you’ve forgotten something. You push through your self-doubt and needless worry and board your plane with time to spare. Once you land, that holiday vibe hits you like a cool breeze. You’re in a foreign land that is new to your senses, fresh with exciting experiences and a culture to understand. So, why is it that so many people who do make all this effort, all this trouble, to go and then only eat what they already know? What’s the point of traveling halfway across the world, only to stick to the tourist side of restaurant menus? Maybe it’s because some people allow the fear of the unknown to take over them. However, when you’ve spent your hard earned money to come so far, there’s no time for being closed minded.

Food

Taco Bar Tortilla Mexican Eating Food

Source Max Pixel

Stepping out, ever so slightly

When looking at the philosophy of trying new things, a very basic conundrum will confront you. Do you want to really explore new things, or just surround yourself with new things? There comes a point where you have to step out of your comfort zone. What could very well encourage you to do this is to think of it as one small step. Think about what type of ingredients your palate likes, and then step over the line just a little. For example, if you know you like a bit of mild spice such a nutmeg, black pepper, or cinnamon, go one level higher. This could be something like roasted red chilli without the seeds, cumin, paprika, cayenne powder etc. Look for something that has one main ingredient that you like, then allow the garnishings to bring you out of your shell.

Food

Traditional Dishes Ramadan Dish Drink Arabic Food

Image by Max Pixel

Familiar but higher quality

Don’t be so hard on yourself if you do try food of the foreign nation you’re visiting, and it just doesn’t gel with you. Sometimes you can’t help it, and some foods will biologically be intolerable to your palate. However, you can attempt to fool your tongue by eating familiar foods but to a much higher standard. Look at the plethora of options for brunch in Dubai on a Saturday. There are Asian seafood restaurants, Italian bakeries, delicate French breakfasts and so on. They’re exhibit cuisines that many Westerns are familiar with, but they have their own twist on things. They are situated in a country that is open to many different styles of food, but some kind of Islamic cuisine influence goes into the creation of the menus. A great example of this is the Al Bahou restaurant that has Italian, Indian and Moroccan food that is tempered in a way to not overpower you.

It’s okay if you don’t want to push yourself too far by eating food that you cannot stomach. However, the philosophy of trying new things is to not conform to one dimension. Eating foreign foods in a watered down manner can allow your palate to adjust to their flavors and textures. Finding traditional food that has been slightly changed for holiday goers won’t be difficult in capital cities.

 

Today I bring you an interview with happiness coach Nicola Arnold. Nicola has overcome her own insecurities and vulnerabilities to enhance her wellbeing. She now helps others to do the same in her work, her business and her community work.

Coach

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

I had a very happy childhood in terms of being supported to chase my dreams, try out hobbies and explore what career I wanted. However I never really felt I fitted in at school. I was bullied at secondary school and despite having a small group of friends couldn’t bring myself to confide in them, often finding it easier to conform to the fashion and music choices of others even though it didn’t sit comfortably with me.

What was your first job/career?

I knew from an early age that I wanted to work within the pharmacy field and was passionate about helping others. I started training as a pharmacy technician when I was 17 and still remain within this profession for my day job now.

I am the Pharmacy Education and Development Manager for an NHS Trust. I am responsible for the strategic planning and governance of education and training of all pharmacy staff, and have implemented an internal coaching programme.

I pride myself on the holistic approach I apply, to harness and empower individuals to strive for excellence, maximizing their potential and supporting the wider values of the organisation.

I am also a registered coach with the NHS Kent, Surrey and Sussex Leadership Collaborative supporting the growth of managers and leaders within the NHS.

What led you to doing what you do now? What is that and what does it entail?

I have always had a keen passion in developing the potential in individuals. Four years ago I embarked on learning more about coaching so I could use it at work. I enjoyed the initial course so much that I personally financed further training to certification level and again last November achieved my Professional Certified Coach Status (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Achieving credentials through ICF signifies a coach’s commitment to integrity, understanding and mastery of coaching skills and dedication to clients. Reaching PCC status is a fantastic milestone which demonstrates I have completed over 500 coaching hours.

In order to finance my qualifications I started my own coaching business ‘Enkindle’ which means to ‘make luminous and glowing’ and captures the essence of what I believe. It’s about putting yourself first, discovering your true potential and self-purpose and enabling you to stand tall. As a coach I illuminate the path of possibilities for individuals ready to overcome self-doubt and connect with their real values. I nurture and champion them to connect with their inner confidence and stand in their own spotlight to feel happy in their own skin. I’m a huge gratitude champion and I regularly write for Thrive Global on self worth, wellbeing, gratitude and positive mindsets.

In 2016 I launched the Happy to be ME hub, an online community where people can share what’s made them smile and how they have connected with gratitude. It has fostered a culture where everyone supports and champions each other to be their authentic selves and be happy to be in their own skin. At the end of last year I was shortlisted for an ‘exceptional service award’ for my work in creating the hub.

Have you experienced self-doubt yourself?

My own coaching journey is marked with a sense of achievement as I realized how much I had grown as a person. I uncovered insecurities and vulnerability lifting them to the surface so I could face the demons I had carried along with me for such a long time. We’ve all been there right? Overcome by feelings of self doubt, a lack of confidence to believe in ourselves and what we’re really capable of. I know – that sounds so easy doesn’t it? Just ‘let it go’ and move on. If only life was that simple – or is it? You see everything we do in life is about ‘choice’. Choice to feel fulfilled, living our lives on purpose.

What I’ve learnt is that self-doubt is also a choice – we can either choose to wallow in these feelings or let them go. My friends commenting how much I had blossomed, even wearing colour – a big thing for me. Black had always been my colour, I felt safe in it and blended into the background. I found myself starting to connect more with people and I could walk down the corridor looking around rather than with my eyes focused on the ground. I felt confident. It was quite a transition. I’ve realised that for a long time I was holding back doing the things I wanted to do for fear of them not being enough – when I let go of the comparison gremlin in my head I realised that I was an individual – I could run my business my way, create my own brand and not worry about following what others were doing or the milestones they had reached. When I let go of this I started to enjoy and embrace my own journey – it felt quite empowering.

 

What first baby step would you advise for a woman who is wracked with lack of self-worth?

Ask yourself ‘what’s the truth in the story you are telling yourself?’ So often we allow the negative committee inside our heads to take over and fuel our fears. What would it be like to give yourself permission to really explore what’s going on and consider the choices you really want to make? So I invite you to start 2018 with choice, self love and courage. (Oh and join my Happy to be ME hub along the way so you realise that there is a whole support network out there and you are certainly not alone in feeling this way).

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

Brene Brown’s – The gifts of imperfection – it changed my life! I know that sounds such a bold statement and yet for me it was the first time I gave myself permission to be really honest about who I was and what I really wanted in life.

What daily practice do you engage in that helps you?

Saying and connecting with a positive affirmation every morning. I set my intentions for the day and the mind set I want to be with.

Research suggests that even just 2 minutes a day spent in a positive state can make a difference to our longer term happiness – which supports our mental and physical wellbeing.

I’ve just started a 40 day positive affirmation challenge in my hub. For many people Lent is a time where people give something up for 40 days – I’d love to flip that around and consider what would it be like to ditch negative speak and encourage you all to say out loud a positive affirmation each day for 40 days. Each day a new affirmation will be posted in the hub for you to say out loud and write down – there is much to be said for connecting with what you want from the day.

Please tell us about any volunteering or charity work you do.

Volunteering and supporting charities is an important part of who I am. As a Brownie guider, having received my 20 year service award in 2016, I’m no stranger to hard work, dedication and putting in the hours. For me it’s about making a positive impact on other people’s lives and encouraging community spirit.

In 2016 I completed the Action for Happiness (AfH) ‘Explore what matters’ course and found it gave me new perspectives, time for myself and a new outlook on life. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I am currently running my fourth course as a volunteer course facilitator on behalf of AfH running a course in Farnborough, Hampshire.

In September 2016 along with some of the graduates from the course, we launched the Hampshire Happiness Hub to create a longer lasting impact on the community. It provides those that have attended the course an opportunity to continue their mind set work and meet up with likeminded people to support each other.

So far we have held four stand alone evenings to build up the Hampshire Hub community. These have focussed on channelling gratitude, introducing mindfulness, building resilience and building a kinder society. The community is growing by the month and other members are now contributing to the evenings which really strengthens the bond of the forty strong group.

Who has supported you to live positively?

I am very lucky to be supported by a very understanding husband who sees how happy my work makes me – especially with the long hours I can sometimes work. Alongside my family and friends they all champion and encourage me to strive to chase my dreams. Right from an early age my grandparents instilled a fantastic energising work ethic in me to be the best I could be – they have been a huge inspiration for me.

Who is your role model?

Brene Brown is a huge hero of mine. Her work on vulnerability and courage speaks to my heart and has helped shape the person I am today. It’s amazing how self doubt can have such a hold on us isn’t it? It makes us feel low or worthless, like we’re under achieving and just stuck. What I have learnt is that ultimately thoughts are not facts! I’ve learnt how to shrink and mute my self-doubt gremlins and channel my confidence. Now I listen to my inner champion instead. The stronger me who is capable of everything I want and more.  

What are your plans for the future?

A key element of my face to face workshops and speaking events involves the promise box challenge. I invite participants to sign up to a one month promise to do something for them e.g. channel self care and compassion. To date over 450 people have signed up to the challenge. The promise box has travelled around the UK: The cities of London and Birmingham; The counties of Berkshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey. I would love to extend this and take it on an extended tour up and down the country. My dream would be to speak at a TedX event about my promise box work too.

I would also love to be invited into schools to talk to children about self worth and resilience – the earlier we can learn these life skills, the sooner we will build communities who support each other rather than compare.

For me comparison breeds a society where material objects are still markers for success. If we don’t act now to counteract the isolation that the constant craving to compete with each other has manifested, we risk expanding the already increasing gap that is more and more apparent in communities. It’s time to take responsibility for our behaviours and model a culture of connection and compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twin Mummy and Daddy
My Random Musings