Pressing pause on life


I haven’t posted in a while and I wasn’t intending on writing about this, I hadn’t really told that many people but then I thought why? Why don’t we talk about these things more. Maybe if we talked about it more it would help. I mean there should be no stigma, it’s no ones fault, it wasn’t something I did. So why keep it quiet?

A few months ago, in the early hours of a Monday morning as I rolled over to feed the tiddler I felt a lump on my breast. Or well I thought I did. I spent a few minutes trying to decide whether I did or didn’t and promptly fell back to sleep. When I woke that morning I didn’t even remember. It was the next day I remembered and I spent the next 48 hours trying to work out if I could feel it sitting up, lying down, standing? If I put my arm behind my back and twist round was it still there? Could I see it?  The only thing left to check was to see if someone else could feel it. My husband thinks I am the biggest hypochondriac in the world, if I have a red raw sore throat – it looks normal to him, glands the size of golf balls – feel no different to him. So I knew he wouldn’t feel anything when I asked him. I knew he was going to tell me it was all in my head.

He didn’t.

He could feel it.

In that moment every thing changed. You can’t help play it forward. What would happen? Would I still be able to feed tiddler? Would I be able to keep working? How would hubby cope? What would we tell the kids? What if…what if it spread? What if it couldn’t be treated? What if it didn’t work? In that moment my life went on pause.

I went to the doctor that morning again fully expecting to be told it’s nothing but she felt it and made a referral. I would have an appointment within two weeks. Two weeks came and went. Nothing. My fault. We had moved address and I forgot to update it. Called and called and called the unit. Got through after 4 days of trying. They would send me out a new appointment. Got it. Same day and time as biggies Montessori graduation. Seriously?? Rescheduled again. It was 6 weeks by the time I had my appointment and it was a lonely 6 weeks.

Of the few people I told one or two had been through it before and that helped. They were able to tell you what to expect and take the unknown out of it. But when you live away from home you are always loneliest during a crisis. No family close by, friends too far away to grab a coffee with. Of course hubby was there but remember I’m the biggest hypochondriac. He doesn’t get the worry. Plus you tell people you aren’t thinking about it. That you can only deal with what you know now. No point in worrying. You don’t talk about it.

The day of the appointment I went to the hospital by myself. I sat in the waiting room  watching everyone come and go waiting for my turn. I knew one of three things would happen –

  1. The consultant would say it’s nothing and send me away
  2. I would have a mammogram and ultrasound
  3. All the above plus a biopsy

By now I was hoping she wouldn’t just send me away as the lump was very definitely still there and I wanted the relief the mammogram would give me. Although it’s not the most dignified experience. Your breast is compressed between two slides, pretty hard. I was told some milk might squirt out as I’m a breastfeeder and that the technician might not like it but sure it’s all natural. There is nothing natural about standing half naked in front of a stranger who draws on you then pushes, pulls and prods at your breast to squeeze it into the biggest machine you can imagine. After that the ultrasound was a breeze. And great news no need for a biopsy. Phew.

But then the consultant says that she is suspicious of the lump. Please come back in six weeks. The hoped for relief didn’t happen. In fact this was almost worse than before I had the tests. You know when you decide to buy a particular car and then everywhere you go there it is? That’s what it was like. Signs for mammograms, mum’s tragically leaving young families behind, even Ray Donovan had it! And the checking continued. I would go to the bathroom during work just to check if it was still there. In the car I would have a check. I’m sure I was becoming that weird lady who constantly stuck her hand up her top.

And then the 6 weeks had passed and again I was sitting by myself waiting to see the consultant. By this stage I convinced myself that what was going to happen would be she would say it seems ok but come back in 6 months. But she didn’t, she wanted to do a biopsy. I was so not prepared for this. They numb the area and then use a gun like when you are getting your ears pierced except it takes something out instead of putting in. 5 samples they took and each one makes a loud click. After I looked at the needle and was so glad I hadn’t before! When I was telling hubby about it he was getting more and more horrified at how they would take a biopsy from a testicle 😱 It wasn’t sore at the time just a lot of pressure but it was pretty sore after! And then there I was back waiting…

I would lie awake at night and try to make plans. The night before the results was probably my lowest. I literally could not think of one thing else. This time I was not going alone. When we were called into the room I could see a big post it on the file with talk to consultant on it and they insisted on getting my other half a chair. In that moment for that couple of minutes I thought my fears were coming true (and talking after, my husband said he thought the exact same for the first time). Benign. And no chance of changing.

Benign. What a strange word. What a nothing word. Benign.

As we walked out of the unit hubby was chatting away about going to the shops but I just wanted to go home. I was exhausted. Bone wearily exhausted. I thought I would feel this immediate massive release and joy. But all I felt was the need to sleep. I didn’t understand it. Why was I not jumping for joy?? We ‘celebrated’ that night with a glass of wine and takeaway. And then I went to bed early. And I slept. (Well as much as tiddler allows, see my other post). A dreamless, restful sleep. When I woke the next morning I felt lighter. Brighter. I realised I had been almost holding my breath for 14 weeks. My brain had been in overdrive and my body tense for 14 weeks. I hadn’t had that immediate moment of elation because my body and mind were too tired. They couldn’t process it. I had spent 14 weeks not really living. I had pressed pause on life and it just took a little while for my brain to sync up after pressing play.

And then I got to thinking about why I didn’t talk about it. Now that it was no longer happening to me. Was it the word breast? The people I did tell I said I found I lump, you know, here.” Me. The loud and proud breastfeeding for almost 5 years mama, the whip them out anywhere to feed the baby type. I couldn’t say “I found a lump in my breast”. Why??? Society teaches us breasts are private, to be covered up (unless you wear a low cut dress, bikini, model etc), they are inextricably linked to sex so we cannot talk about them (Don’t get me started on what they are actually designed for)! Is it the same for men? Is it hard to say I found a lump in a testicle? Is it easier to say if you found a lump somewhere else??

Or is it the C word? The fact that it might be cancer? In the 14 weeks I’m not sure if either myself or my husband said it once. It’s a scary word and most people know someone who has been affected by it.

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Survival rates are 9 in 10. This depends on when it’s found. But 33% of all women do not regularly check. And here comes the point of this post. While this may seem like a self indulgent, woe is me post. The point is to say, check. Talk about it. Ask your mum, sister, aunt, best friend if she has checked. Ask your husband, brother, dad, uncle has he checked.

The people in the unit were amazing, everything was calm and quick but until I accidentally found that lump I wouldn’t have even thought of checking. I wouldn’t have know what to feel for. They explained it –

  • a change in size or shape
  • a lump that feels thicker
  • orange peel skin
  • redness or rash
  • Inverted or moved nipple
  • liquid leaking
  • constant pain in breast or armpit
  • a swelling in your armpit

Basically any change, get it checked. Don’t wait until it’s too late to unpause your life.


Check out Breastcancercare.org to learn how to check yourself.

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In the middle of the night…

My child doesn’t sleep. Ever.

When I was about 14 we had a whole social life that went on when our parents went to bed. We would come home at whatever respectable hour we were told, get in to bed and wait. Wait for the parents to go to bed, wait for the house to go quiet. I knew every single floorboard that made any sort of noise in that house. Most nights I would be fighting sleep, going to the bathroom to get cold wet clothes to dab my eyes with and then when all was quiet it was straight out the window.


That little window on the right.

There was a whole community of teenagers hanging out from 2am to 5am every night. God it was cold! There were people who we hung out with in the dark hours who we never saw during the day. Weird. 

The drill was I would get up first and go to my friends house up the road. She would not have been able to stay awake and would have left a whole host of items for me to throw at her, usually shoes 😂😂. We would then meet up with whoever was out that night, call to other people’s windows, potentially go to some of the older teens houses if their parents were away or just wander the streets or sit by the river watching the stars – the amount of shooting stars you see in the dead of night is amazing. I don’t think I’ve seen shooting stars since. We didn’t do anything particularly awful, just silly things – moving a bench from one house to their neighbours, removing all the chains from a fence (they just linked on and off we didn’t actually break anything) or, our main purpose, to steal some milk. Milk?? Really?? Why?? One of my best friends has a brother who was a milk man and of all the milk men we were terrified of him catching us. But the thrill of finding a carton of orange, or the holy grail, a yogurt was enough to keep us going out. Night after night. I almost got caught twice. Once by my mum but only because I was sharing a room this particular night and we were hyper from all the milk and orange and woke her up. The other by my brother in law who was going out to work as I was sneaking back in. That was enough to put me off for a while. But not that long.

Getting in to bed after being out in the cold was the most amazing feeling ever. Like that straight out of the bath, newly shaved legs in freshly changed sheets feeling. Bliss. But I couldn’t actually sleep in because then my mum would know something was up so I had to get up at a reasonable hour. Which was ok in the summer, I could watch eerie Indiana or the secret world of Alex Mack or just good old saved by the bell while waiting to feel human.

Now after a night of not sleeping I have to get up and be a grown up. I have to get the kids and myself ready, get out of the house, go to work, come home, make the dinner, get ready for bed and start it all over again.

My child, does, not, sleep. Ever. 

The dark blue bits are when we sleep. For 20 months, every night, we sleep in bursts the longest being an hour. My husband has recently been researching severe sleep deprivation and is convinced I’m one night away from going insane (I sometimes think I already am). We have tried everything, is he too hot, too cold, hungry, does he need to go to bed earlier /later. Everything! Well of course not everything as we won’t leave him to cry. Every night I say tonight is the night he is going to sleep but it never is. And every night as his little hand reaches out to mine I know that in years to come I will remember these times just as fondly as the nights sneaking out the window as a teen. 

I recently told my mum, in between tears of laughter, about our nightly escapades, she could not believe it. Believe me, my boys windows will be alarmed!

Lists, lists and more lists

Like most things I start I haven’t really gotten very far with my list. I have a thing about lists.

I LOVE THEM.

I spend a lot of my day making lists. Lists of tasks I have to do in work, lists of groceries, lists of rooms in my house that need tidied (all of them), lists of birthday presents, lists of Christmas presents (have written that twice already so far. It’s June), lists of the things in the rooms in my house that need tidied, lists of clothes I have (or don’t have), lists of family appointments, lists of our monthly spend

  • and on
  • and on
  • and on.

A lot of the time I write out my list and then think that it needs to be in a different order so I immediately write it out again and potentially again if maybe I feel it’s not neat enough. I put so much work into writing my lists that by the time I’m finished I’m usually exhausted from all the planning and there is no time left to do any of it and more often than not the list will be written in the back of a book which I won’t be able to find when I actually go to do something from it and so I have to start all over again.

This list will be different. This list will be finished.

So what have I done since my first post? In two months I have managed to do exactly 1 thing – run a 5K – to be honest this was a biggy for me and I didn’t expect it to be done so quickly. I started off thinking I would do couch to 5k which conveniently follows a list of runs outlining how long to run or walk with the thoughts that I would do a 5k around October.  A friend said she was entering the Shannon Airport Midnight Run and I thought well, why not.  So I entered. With 4 weeks to go.  As it came up to it I couldn’t stop wondering what on earth I had been thinking?  I’m the person who always says if I was in a horror movie the bad guy could just get me because I wouldn’t be able to run away. But I did it. I didn’t break any records but I ran the whole thing. And what’s more I have kept running and completed it 2 minutes faster.
Here is a picture of the warm up, I can just about make myself out down by one of the posts 😂

So, there you have it, one thing off my list.

40 before 40

In 229 days I will turn 40. How?? I still feel as if I should be in uni. A friend told me once that she asked her gran when you know you are old and her 90something granny told her she still felt like a schoolgirl. I hope I always feel young (helps that my other half is 5 years younger 😜).

Anyway, 40? I’ve agonised over how to celebrate and I have half a plan so far but what I do know is that there are certain things I want to do before the big day. I’m not talking helicopter rides over the Grand Canyon, see the Pyramids, swim the Amazon river type things but those things that someone mentions and I say ‘oh, I’ve always wanted to watch/see/do that’. Plus I have to be realistic, we live in Ireland on a very, very low budget! So when a much (much) younger friend posted about her 40 before 40 list I knew that’s what I wanted to do but while she has a few more years to go I have 229 days.

The plan

So I started writing my list and quickly wrote 28 items then I told hubby about my plan and he immediately said one should be start a blog (he has always said I should write a blog – getting married, write a blog – pregnant, write a blog – baby, write a blog) and here it is, the first tick on my 40 before 40 list. So this blog will be my journey through the list.

The list

(I know there are only 39, I’m leaving a space incase anything amazing pops into my head!)

  1. Run a 5k
  2. Learn a new language
  3. Have a family photo shoot
  4. Have fancy afternoon tea
  5. Have a spa day
  6. Climb keeper hill
  7. Try craniosacral therapy
  8. Learn a new signature dish
  9. Go to a medieval fayre
  10. Decide and Make peace with where we will live
  11. Be credit card/overdraft free
  12. Have a personal shopper/stylist session
  13. Start regular savings for the boys
  14. Start regular personal savings
  15. Book a foreign summer holiday
  16. Try geocaching
  17. Have a proper family picnic (with a picnic basket and blanket)
  18. Master eye make up (as the least girlie girl in the world this is a proper challenge!)
  19. Implement a household routine
  20. Sort out old photos
  21. Make a wedding card keepsake
  22. Kick fizzy drinks
  23. Make photo collage per year for the boys
  24. Swim in the sea at sunrise
  25. KonMari the house
  26. Get a patchwork quilt of baby clothes (and donate the rest!)
  27. Sleep in a castle
  28. Have an official house buying plan
  29. Get sproglet2 his teddy made
  30. Write a will (now that’s really old!)
  31. Watch leaving Las Vegas
  32. Start regular date nights
  33. Recreate hot n fierce chicken (favourite takeaway ever from a now closed restaurant)
  34. Get a breastmilk keepsake made
  35. Properly start using my Filofax
  36. Get a permanent job
  37. Reach my weight goal
  38. Make peace with sproglet2’s birth
  39. Start a blog ✅
  40. ??

Some of the list is boring and everyday and I probably won’t write about them all, some of them are personal challenges that will probably interest no one but here it is.

229 days!! What have a let myself in for??

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