It’s new years eve, i’ve just re-surfaced from under my duvet at 2.30 in the afternoon having left three empty packets of Cadbury snowballs behind me. * Another Aldi special buy.
‘What a strange activity for one to partake in on a New Years eve’ some may wonder. Come this way, allow me to enlighten you;
We went on a walk
That’s not even the shit part.
We went on a walk, I wanted to get out in the frost as a family, take some cute pics do that whole ” We be walking outta 2020 like …..” Nemo, NFD and I were all going to hold hands walking through the woods when out of nowhere a tripod and iphone was going to spring out and document the moment in all its naturalness.
Have you ever tried to reason with a three year old?
WAIT . I . HAVEN’T . FINISHED.
Have you ever tried to reason with a three year old suffering with early attachment trauma which has consequently resulted in anxiety and the overpowering need to assert control?
Not quite so many hands going up now is there.
Nemo didn’t want to walk, he wanted to be carried, when he was carried he wanted to sit down, when he sat he wanted the seat all to himself, Mummy and Daddy had to stand, they also weren’t allowed to talk or look at him. * That’s the shame factor kicking in right there, just typical of an adopted child. How dare he feel embarrassed about displaying such complex behaviours and having absolutely no understanding of what they even mean.
He wanted to paddle in his wellies, yes its December, yea I know it’s a stupid idea given the Arctic temperatures *Not Arctic enough actually, a snow day could have fixed this! We could have thrown snowballs at each-other, to the outside world we would have have passed off as that chocolate box family with our devilishly good looks and matching Hunter Wellies. When really me and NFD would have been trying to knock one another out. * That’s a joke . . .just incase any of our old social workers are having a gander.
Back to the Wellies; You’ve guessed it, his feet got wet! He didn’t want to wear his socks or wellies any longer. I offer him my boot liners, he kicks them off. He didn’t want ANYTHING on his feet, including my hands. Now THIS is the cryptic part; He also didn’t want his feet to be cold. . . . *£50,0000 to the first person who’s able to point out what practical resolution I missed here?
Why am I telling you this?
Well for a start it’s NYE have you ever tried trying to get hold of someone on NYE? Phone lines are rammed, there’s a very good chance of a crossed line resulting in an accidental order of a new crockery set from Japan. I’ve had no option then to dust off the old keys and let it all out. It’s also free, we all know free therapy has the highest success rates *Absolutely NOT true.
Actually sorry, I’ve just decided i’m telling myself this;
My new years resolution?
To keep flying the flag for my family, for my Son and his needs, with no comparison to how others might be flying theirs.
There’s far too much pressure this time of year to capture that perfect photo in the perfect moment along with some sodding magnificent caption.
Picture this; A Mum who’s just finished eating three bags of snot covered chocolate balls sat next to a Dad who’ s recently discovered his first grey hair. The head of hair itself is now also on the move. In between them both sits a beautiful little boy clutching onto his feelings cards trying to make sense of it all.
“Adopting a child is never a second choice, it’s just a choice. It doesn’t matter in what order you have this epiphany, I just hope you have it because it really is beautiful. “
So when did I have mine? What was my; ‘moment of sudden and great revelation or realization’? I can’t pinpoint it entirely to one specific moment, but the day we were politely escorted into that blindingly bright, white room (you know the one that feels like you’ve stepped onto a commercial set while being asked what date your last period was) to listen to the intricate details of what our infertility treatment would involve comes to mind.
When the price list pamphlet was delicately but most definitely slid across the table along with the words “womb scrape, general anaesthetic, and egg collection,” that was the start of my epiphany.
In my heart of hearts, I thought about adoption right there and then. I knew how potentially dangerous fertility treatments could be for my state of mind and my marriage. I knew once we pulled that trigger, once we stepped onto the fertility merry-go-round we would struggle to get off of it. Those are the type of people we are. If we want something we will go hammer and nail until we get it.
We stepped right on. Destination, five years of heartbreak.
We didn’t want to feel like we didn’t fight. We stepped right on because, if we hadn’t, when I looked at my husband I would naturally wonder how our child might look. Would they have my hair, his eyes? Or his teeth with my jaw. These days I’m thankful this didn’t work out, not just because I never would have met my beautiful so, but If you’ve seen my husband’s walrus teeth and my ant jaw, you’d understand.
Five years, two womb scrapes, a miscarriage, £25,000, and half a head of hair late, and I was ready to stop.
My final epiphany moment; the morning we arrived at the fertility clinic for our embryo transfer, only to be told that we had just one low-grade blastocyst to transfer (from a potential nine). My husband was sat on a chair beside my bed with his shades on (big-time gangster). Except, big-time gangsters don’t utilize their shades to disguise the tears they have streaming down their faces, do they? I couldn’t move. I couldn’t find the strength to move across the bed to even reach my hand out to him. I knew it was over; we both knew. Our previous high-grade blastocysts had failed, so we didn’t pin much hope on this little fella.
I sat on the bed, lay back, watched the 5-day old blastocyst on the screen, and then my heart, soul, and mind broke. I sobbed; I was inconsolable. Our doctor turned to my husband and said, “I think we should do this another day.”
“I can’t do any more days, I need this to be over.” As they transferred our blastocyst we both cried because we knew; we just knew. Someone who hasn’t lived this life would probably say ‘how pessimistic’ or ” it’s not over until it’s over.” But then again, it’s likely they’re from the “have you tried relaxing and then doing a headstand while eating pineapple?” mob.
THE. WORST. KIND. OF. MOB.
Let’s just get one thing straight. It’s not a crime to want a biological child. To lay everything on the line. It should be the most natural thing in the world, right? You go out, have a couple of glasses of wine, stagger home, and bobs your uncle.
For some of us, there’s a strict no vino policy, no staggering home, and no Bobs. After taking a very long time to grieve for the life I thought I would have, I was ready to pick up the phone and start the adoption process. It was the most rewarding phone call I’ve ever made.
It doesn’t matter how you find yourself at the door to adoption. Having tried naturally, through fertility treatment, having a biological child first, or simply because you always knew you would. None of it matters; it certainly doesn’t make it a second choice.
Nemo, I had to fight to get to you and you to me.
It was the greatest battle I ever won.
@notafictionalmum is a mother, wife, adoption, and infertility blogger, inclusive shop owner, and self-confessed perfectionist. Her journey to parenthood was, ironically, anything less than perfect. She writes to stand with all of the warriors still fighting their battles, to raise awareness, and to offer honest insight for those who don’t have the strength to do this themselves right now. She stands with every woman who has chosen to get up and face another day while silently fighting to become a mother.
you’re such a brilliant, special boy in each and every way. ”
I’ve waited years for these moments. We’re still going to have them. I’m just leaving the shaming aspect at the North pole. Eddie the elf has been sent to remind Nemo every day in December of all his wonderful ways.
Aint no spying, sneaky little bribing elves welcome in this house.
After just three months of campaigning, on world adoption day 2020 I was able to wake up knowing that finding an adoption card on a mainstream platform was now an option.
In October 2020 we were approached by a desperate mum who, after searching nationwide retailers couldn’t find a card to symbolise her adoption journey, she came to thortful with boxes of cards to sell that had been rejected by three different high street card retailers. We listened and we’re delighted to say that just in time for World Adoption Day she has become one of our community of creators and we are selling her heartfelt cards on thortful, this is her story:
Nothing can prepare you for ‘the hug.’ If you’ve dealt with the pain of infertility you will be well acquainted with ‘the hug.’ It’s the one you turn and give to your significant other when you realise it’s over. You had a few throws of the dice, your numbers didn’t come in, it’s time to step off the merry-go-round of infertility and grieve for the life you’d imagined you would have.
We arrived at the door to adoption through our chosen charity Barnardo’s UK in September 2018, completed all the paperwork, medicals, consumed 1,56098 cups of tea with our social workers, discussed in great detail our life history, were approved and after what felt like an eternity, matched with our beautiful little boy *Nemo in July 2020.
After five years, £25,000, two womb scrapes, a miscarriage, and the completion of the arduous adoption process I wanted to step out onto the high street and treat myself to a spot of shopping. This was it! I could actually step inside a shop; I could go beyond the window and not feel like I didn’t belong. I stepped into a department store to look at the prams, the shop assistant was great, lovely in fact. Had that quintessential British retail smile about her asked me; “When is the mother due? “
I dusted myself off; I‘ll come back to that one. Start small, get my little boy a card. Something for him to keep, look back on, a simple message of love. A keepsake to welcome him into his new home. That’s what a greeting card is all about right? A small, accessible token of love?
On an entirely selfish level, I wanted my moment, my Beyonce at the VMA’s moment, (you know the one, dropped the Mic, announced to the world she was going to become a mother)
You can’t replace the loss of a biological child ; Double nod.
It’s irrelevant how old the child is at the point of adoption, they have all suffered attachment trauma; Even bigger nod, slight widening of the eyes also by this point, shows committed engagement.
I understood attachment trauma, school of life and hard knocks had taught me that one; YOLO. I understood anger through fear, I’ve lived with anxiety most of my life. Planned my funeral multiple times, convinced myself I’m dying, lived with intrusive thought and battled with infertility.
Enter NFM; If theres one person who can really understand what these children need NFD, it’s going to be me. *Flicks hair, songs of praise esq saviour complex music starts to play.
Let me tell you something now; You could have personally written books on this shiz, share the same bloodline with Steiner, Piaget and Ainsworth; (They’re big time psycologists, google just told me) Nothing can prepare you for when you are emotionally involved with, love, someone with early attachment trauma. A child. When you’ve fallen in love with a child, your child and they are suffering, No amount of text books, advice, seminars or nodding prepared me for that.
Strip the formalities away, the (mostly unasked for) complimentary advice, *I have always loved a freebie, lost count on the amount of chilli cheese cubes i’ve sampled at a deli. literature, podcasts and documentaries you understand all of that, you’ve done the training, (thats right, i’m a fully fledge trained parent. No mention of the green shit that comes out of them though was there?I defiantly do not remember nodding to that)
Strip all of that away and you’re left with a very fragile human element to this;
A little boy unable to play for fear of abandonment.
A beautiful room full of beautiful toys, but his porcelain mind won’t let him believe
We live in the #bekind era, we’ve all learnt from the devastating effects negative social media can have on people’s well -being haven’t we?
Unless of course, someone decides to post a picture of something we cant comprehend. Or makes us feel uncomfortable, then it suddenly falls into the realms of ‘inappropriate.’
Chrissy Teign and John legend bravely shared a picture of their beautiful son Jack this month after their tragic loss. Rightfully, they were met with a wealth of solidarity, support and respect in their decision to share. But there’s still a few that just aren’t quite getting it.
That’s a few too many by my book.
Allow me to explain; Pregnancy loss, miscarriage, still birth and early infant loss is tragic enough without feeling society’s pressures to silence your grief. On the 1st of October they shared their photographs, their story, they paid tribute to their son and gave a voice to thousands of other parents who’ve had to say goodbye too soon.
There’s nothing ‘inappropriate’ or ‘odd’ about that. In fact, I’d like to think if we looked up the definition of ‘hero’ from now on, their names would be listed.
I’ll talk to you about odd; On the evening of my miscarriage, I got in the car, drove to Morrisons and bought myself a massive tub of ‘pic n mix’. I turned the radio up so loud the door speaker blew .
I wanted to feel alive, I wanted to taste and hear life.
Odd. Really fucking odd. But that’s what I did in my moment of grief. That’s how I wanted to comfort myself, that’s what I chose to do. I can only hazard a guess at the type of comments I might have received if I’d shared a picture of me doing that.
It’s not even a human instinct. It’ s a grief instinct, do you remember that whale?J35 they called her, made her sound like an FBI agent.
17 days I think it was, 17 days and 1,000 miles of the pacific coast she’d pushed the body of her calf. National Geographic wrote; “she had likely bonded closely with her calf during her 17 month gestation period before it died.”
Was this her photograph?
Was this the way she chose to remember?
Her moment of grief.
“Tour of Grief” was the headline, J35 changed the world for a split second. Her heartbreaking show of mourning taught us all the power of grief. We were suddenly able to connect with a mammal, we couldrecognise this emotion.
Most of us could.
Not long after I read;
“She’s abandoned the calf and has been seen back frolicking with the pod.”
“Be it to another human being or a mammal. we’re living in a very sad society if we feel it appropriate to pass judgement on instinctive decisions to aid pain. ” Notafictionalmum
In support of pregnancy and baby loss awareness week 9-6th October 2020
Not a Fictional Mum is a breath of fresh air in the adoption community on Instagram. Her honest posts that put into words exactly how a lot of us have been feeling, are brilliant. And she’s opened a shop which stocks gorgeous clothing and jewellery to reflect the whole host of emotions involved in becoming an adoptive family. She’s written this post all about why she felt moved into action to create her lovely products.
“Dear Mr Department store, I came in today, headed straight for the nursery department. I’m an expectant mum you see. He’s due home any day now but you didn’t see me.” *blog excerpt.
After stuffing my face with a ‘salted tears & snotted caramel Krispy cream’ (it’s a limited edition flavour) directly after this retail experience, I dusted myself off and strutted out of the mall to Destiny’s Child’s ‘Survivor’. This wasn’t the first time. I’ve treated myself to many a pot of ‘pic n mix’ after trying to find a suitable card. I mean, I can get my dog a birthday card which he’s obviously ecstatic about. Try to find a card for an adoptive parent. Go on, I dare you.
I started blogging, thought it better to take my frustrations out on the keyboard, hold on to the old marriage. Enter ‘Dear Mr Department Store’, one of my first ever blogs. I assumed I was special, could potentially get a lot of sympathy over this. (Encourage me to cut back on the weekend Percy Pig consumptions.) Nope, I wasn’t quite as unique as I’d hoped. My inbox was inundated daily with other parents, prospective adopters, single adopters, same sex adopters who shared exactly the same frustrations. Not one ounce of sympathy for yours truly.
It really grated on me! It grated on my husband too, purely because he was having to listen to outbursts of “It’s outrageous isn’t it! This is the 21st century” and “It’s about recognition NFD” followed by my all-time favourite crisis outburst “what would Beyonce do?!”
She would get up off that wonderful posterior of hers, set up her own online store. No. Her own brand! It would be stylish but powerful. It would mean something. She would donate to charity. It would be inclusive and the packaging would be eco-friendly. ( I would hazard a guess that she’s up for saving the planet as well as ruling the world.”)
I digress. Cut a long story short. This is what I’ve done. I’m still working on the wonderful posterior bit (I’m actually squatting as I type this) but I’ve done the rest.
Shopnotafictionalmum is an Inclusive retail environment for all types of families. Currently offering hand stamped clothing and accessories. 10% of all sales profits go directly to Barnardo’s UK, the charity that helped me fulfil my dream of becoming a mother.
You’re all so very welcome to step inside. If there’s something I’ve missed or you would love to see up there please let me know.
One of our Barnardo’s adopters – blogger and mother, notafictionalmum – writes about her journey through adoption, how their lives changed and the challenges and privileges of being a mum.
Hi, I’m notafictionalmum.
I’m a perfectionist, a planner. I like to plan most aspects of my life, I would love to plan most aspects of someone else’s life if they would let me. They don’t. I’m an introverted extrovert. By that I mean I’m an absolute show off, but when it comes to actually talking about my private life, it’s more like, “oooh look over there, a dancing swan!”
So, I had a life plan:
Meet a sporty hunk, get married – check
Live in a semi-detached with garden front and rear – double check
Obtain a career that involves you needing a very expensive business bag – I’ve actually just handed my notice in, it’s currently for sale if anyone’s interested?
Have a baby before 30 – big negative
Initially, this situation had the potential to be salvageable. I’d factored in some potential ‘off piste’ time, ideally for holidays or house renovations. So, providing myself and Non Fictional Dad (NFD) just stuck to the sex schedule we could be back on track. But then:
Five years, two womb scrapes, a miscarriage, £25,000 and half a head of hair later…we were no closer. Having taken the time to grieve for the life I thought I would have, I can reflect on the irony of it all:
You cannot plan your life. I’m sorry if I’m crushing dreams, but you just can’t. Granted, you can make some good decisions: green tea, sleep – all the boring stuff. I learnt a tough lesson. I realise now it was the best lesson, because I never would have become a mother to the most inspirational little boy whose start in life was anything less than planned.
People say, “Oh he’s so lucky to have you as his parents.”
Whilst a small, teeny-tiny part of me would absolutely love to bask in this angel Gabriel-type glory, I’m always quick to reply: “We’re the lucky ones, we needed him just as much as he needed us.”
Adoption isn’t an act of charity; this kid is an absolute legend and I’m privileged to have him in my life.
Adopting through Barnardo’s
On the subject of good decisions, choosing to adopt with Barnardo’s was definitely one of those. I won’t lie, free lifetime support deemed very attractive to a couple that just love a good therapy session (think of the money to be saved!). Barnardo’s resonated with NFD through his late father, who was a long-term donator to the charity. I guess that’s the thing about Barnardo’s, it’s a charity that connects with so many people.
Before our initial visit, I remember bleaching the toilet to excess, bribing the dog with cheese and giving NFD a full debrief of what not to say. Along the lines of, but not limited to, “don’t swear, don’t say anything that isn’t pro-social, and don’t talk about my family.” You soon reach the comforting realisation, however, that none of this is necessary. No one is trying to catch you out; they want this to work. There was something very human and personable about the team.
We never felt like a number in a large organisation. In fact, it felt like you’d suddenly gained an extended family of experts that were rooting for you and fighting your corner. In our case we needed that; after being initially overlooked for our little boy, the Barnardo’s team stepped in to help us bring him home. I can only compare the support from Barnardo’s to that of an Alexa, always on hand with a quick response.
There are a lot of preconceptions and assumptions when it comes to adoption, and people come out with some absolute corkers. My particular favourite was when someone asked me if I would share an ice-lolly with him because we weren’t biologically related. What are you on about? I love ice-cream.
You may be nervous, at times frightened, as you embark on this journey. Ironically, as the adult, you will draw strength from the absolute bravery and courage that these children own. I never expected to respect a toddler quite as much as I do. In those early moments of natural self-doubt I would look at him, unable to even string a sentence together and think, “if he can wake up today, willing to try and love again, then I’m right behind him.”
In fact, I’m more than just behind him. I’m going to be a tighter security network for this boy then the whole of Jay z’s and Beyonce’s entourage put together.
Adoption is never a second choice. It’s just a choice. It really doesn’t matter in what order you have this epiphany, I just hope you have it because it really is beautiful.