Way back in January I guest posted on Chosen Chaos with a letter to my 18 year old self. Now Jamie has got together everyone that did the same in one awesome party. Click on the link to come and join in. Bring a bottle!
Before you go, have a read of what I would say to my 18 year old self and have a think what you would say to yours...
There are a few things that I would like you to figure out sooner than you end up doing so listen hard please.
No seriously, put the beer down, pay attention.
Your body is amazing. It is going to build actual people. Actual, living, thinking, feeling, wonderful people. And then it is going to feed them so they grow big and strong and loved. AM-AZ-ING. Sure it doesn’t do the best job in the world, it misses some bits off but that makes those people more special, not you any less special, although it will take you a while to figure that out too. My point is don’t give it such a hard time because it isn’t exactly how you would like it to be. Your thighs are not the size of a rhinos and the size of your boobs is not as important as you think right now. The fact that they can sustain life - that is what is important. In about 2 years time your obsession with your weight and dieting and trying to look like what really would only resemble a stick is going to come to a head. It’s going to be messy. There are going to be tears and drama and drugs and professionals and relationship breakdowns that will never recover. Physically you will get over it but emotionally not so much. So how about we just skip that bit and start appreciating your body now? Yeah? Cool, OK.
Men. They won’t make you feel better about yourself. Stop picking ones you know you can’t have. I know that you think it is easier to be in these casual, fleeting relationships. But you are wrong friend, wrong. Have some respect for yourself please and move on when you realise they are no good, don’t try and change them or help them, or worse, persuade them that they are interested. They are not worth your time, energy and tears.
One day, when you think you will be left on the shelf forever (ridiculous at 24!) you will meet someone that won’t let you off with a casual relationship. Someone who stalks you until you agree to go on a date (sounds scarier than it is, there is this website called Facebook that has somehow made stalking not only OK, but pretty standard — weird I know, but what can I say, the world changes in the next 10 years). Someone that genuinely likes you for who you are. Someone who can see all the things you can’t. Someone whose favourite thing about you is how much you can make him laugh, not how skinny or successful or drunk you are. Someone that will turn out to be your soul mate. Yes, yes, I know you don’t believe in all that ‘the one’ nonsense, I am still sceptical myself but honestly — you are wonderful together, I don’t see how anyone else could fit so perfectly with you. So now you know he’s coming, just wait patiently right? Avoid all those other jokers and in turn avoid all that heartache.
So that’s what you do wrong but now we have sorted those let’s talk about what you did right.
Travel. Do it. Leave home, go to the other side of the world. Then go back and then go away again. The experiences you will have won’t all be good but the lessons you learn will be and the friendships you make, even the ones that don’t last will stay with you forever. And it comes in handy when you meet that man we were talking about — he’s not exactly a small town guy. Or a one town guy. You’ll see.
Go to school, to 6th form and to university and get yourself an education. The qualifications themselves will mean little in the end mainly because you make a terrible choice of what to study for your degree but you know what? You get that 2:1 so it’s not all bad. And as you always said, it was too much to ask you to make that decision at 18. The people you meet and the experiences you have make it all worthwhile. Friends for life everyone said before you went and they were right.
Love, laugh, drink and be merry. Cry, learn, grow. Be strong, be weak. Be a good friend. Be yourself. Don’t be ashamed or afraid.
So there you go. In the next 10 years you are going to experience highs higher than you ever knew possible and lows like you would not believe but that’s adulthood for you. You are going to learn some hard lessons so it would make life easier if you just got those first two I mentioned out the way. But remember this — you are lucky. You are lucky to have a body that works and is healthy. You are lucky to be able to travel around half the world and see the things you get to see. You are lucky to have the opportunities you have had and will have. You are lucky to fall in love with someone so amazing and be able to have children. Sometimes you lose sight of this, try not to.
One last thing — when you go out tonight, how about doing just the one shot of sambucca instead of 6? No? OK, well don’t say I didn’t warn you, tomorrow is going to hurt.
Saturday, 4 August 2012
Harriet's birth, however, was a glorious experience for both of us. It could not have been more different to Will's and I am certain it is because we did a course in Hypnobirthing. Hynpobirthing meant that we worked as a couple throughout the pregnancy to connect with each other and the baby. We dealt with our anxieties about the birth and felt like a team going in to it. Contractions started at 5.30am on a Wednesday. I had had some contractions on the Monday that had disappeared after a few hours, was expecting the same to happen again and so sent Shaun off to work and went about our normal day. When Will went down for his midday nap I settled into bed to do the same. I listened to my hypnobirthing and managed to drift off. After 20 minutes my contractions woke me up and I knew if I couldn't sleep through them then things must be progressing. I called Shaun and told him not to rush home but not to be home late. We spent the afternoon at the Banc with some Mums who were due around the same time as me. Having Will to chase after was a welcome distraction! When we were putting Will to bed at around 7.30pm I was having to hold onto the new babies cot to steady myself through the contractions but was still managing the pain well. I cooked and ate a massive roast dinner and sat down to watch One Born Every Minute! I very soon realised that I couldn't concentrate on TV and went and ran a bath. In the bath I read my affirmations and tried to concentrate on the breathing techniques we had learnt. I was in the bath an hour or so and Shaun was keen for us to get to the hospital. I was coping well with the pain and was so desperate to avoid being told I was only a few centimetres dilated again, I wanted to stay at home. Shaun was reading the Hypnobirthing book and said that I would know when the time to go to hospital was. I scoffed at this because I had got it so wrong last time and didn't understand how I would know. Then something happened. All of a sudden I knew. I had to get out the bath and we had to get to the hospital. The breathing techniques and affirmations were no longer working. We called a friend to come and stay to watch Will and then called a taxi. The poor taxi driver. I had my head out the window like a puppy and was screaming profanities with every contraction. Between them I kept reminding myself to apologise to him but then another one would come and I would be off again. He wouldn't drive through the barrier at The Whittington and so I had to walk through the car park. It took me 4 contractions and then another 3 to get down to the birth centre. By chance the midwife on duty was the same one that had delivered Will. She rushed us into a room and said she needed to examine me before I could have any of the drugs I was begging her for. I had an overwhelming urge to hold onto Shaun's shoulders and sort of hang off him and as I did my waters broke. The midwife managed to get me onto the bed, examined me and said "Alison, you are fully dilated, all you need to do is push". They are the best words I have ever heard. I wanted her to say it over and over again! I had some gas and air to help with the contractions but it meant I no longer had the urge to push and so after a minute or two they took it off me. It took four pushes to get her head out and just one to get out her body. She was 10lbs and I gave birth with no drugs and no stitches. It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced but the most exhilarating and wonderful too. I have nothing but positive memories from it.