At 5.30am on a Monday morning, three weeks ago, I awoke in active labour. The contractions were approximately four minutes apart and were rapidly increasing in severity. I turned towards the S.O, shook his shoulder gently (nearly dislocated it) and whispered (the whole village heard)…
He turned towards me wide eyed, hair on end (obviously after a hot date with the hairy fairy) and lovingly said,
‘What the f*** are you talking about?’
Shaking myself back to reality, I concluded that I am of course not expecting a baby, but something was most definitely amiss. I wracked my brain through the rollerdex of items I had consumed the day before, no, nothing unusual in there. Contemplated that the crippling pains may have been due to returning to school following a two week blissful (never jaysus stopped raining, everyone is driving me nuts) midterm break, nope, the return to school was a wonderful gift. But I was without a doubt experiencing contractions that felt as if I was about to deliver something much larger than a baby.
Nonplussed and determined to get the kids to school at whatever cost, I got up and showered, but no sooner did I have my legs inside my skinny jeans (ever so slightly tighter after consummation of multiple chocolate eggs), I commenced vomiting and I did not stop for many, many, many hours.
The S.O jumped into action and ensured safe deposit of kids to school, while I set about a morning that involved lying on the bathroom floor, enduring horrific internal pains and trying to remember if I was or wasn’t able to hop on one foot did that or did that not mean that I had appendicitis? By 11am and Google doc having provided with as inconclusive diagnosis, (it may be appendicitis, it may be severe wind, it may be gastro, it may be cysts wrapped around my ovaries, it may be fatal…), The Mothership arrived, hero like, after her bi-weekly aquafit and brandishing twelve litres of Lucozade Sport, to hydrate and save me.
She took one look at me, grabbed some clothes out of Wardrobe B, dressed me, (not forgetting to mention that the last time she did this I was maybe three) and bundled me into the car where she insisted I visit the doctor. I tried to kick her away but my limbs were weak and though she is but tiny, she is fierce. Resistance was futile. She had selected the following items for me to wear.
- My fat jeans, which would not close over my distended abdomen.
- A pale pink t-shirt (a colour not to be attempted sans fake tan) with the words ‘Fashion Emergency’ emblazoned across the front.
- An Olive mohair cardigan which was as that moment the exact colour of my face.
- Pink runners. (In fairness, she was attempting ‘a look’, I’m just not entirely sure what it was; giant baby in granny cardigan perhaps.)
Upon reaching the surgery and being carried across the road by Supergran, I sat with my head between my knees, hair falling over my face, in an effort to prevent myself from fainting and to try and conceal my identity. Again this was futile. The Mothership would be a useless ally in The Witness Protection Programme as she just cannot help herself from talking to everyone!
And while I tried to remain anonymous, well as anonymous as you can while continually retching into a towel in a public waiting room, she managed to have two full blown conversations over my head. I managed to raise my head for a moment to whisper…
‘please stop talking to everyone mum, you are drawing attention to me.’
But I think even I can admit that the clearly contagious green person, announcing FASHION EMERGENCY and violently retching and writhing with pain was probably doing this all by herself and I concluded in that moment I would rather have been publicly giving birth than having everyone witness my pregnancy free labour.
The wonderful doc, also shocked by my pallor, said the words that frighten me most.. ‘off to A&E’. I tried to argue with her but she is terribly convincing and so I was shoved into the back seat of The Motherships Fiat 500, where I was instructed to lie down and shut up until we got to the hospital.
The Mothership and her makeshift teeny ambulance sped off down the road.
How I arrived in the hospital without a head injury, I have no idea as The Mothership (how can I say this politely) is bloody heavy on the brake and every time she pressed I was nearly catapulted off the 2” deep seat. With my foot wedged under the passenger seat to keep me in place and recognising that we were almost there when we hit the 500 speed bumps on Nutley Road, we jerked up outside the Hospital and I was transferred inside by a lovely porter. God help him. I was the colour of snot.
With little time to catch my breath, as I knew what was about to ensue (I have an irrational fear of needles, like pathetic), the nurse came at with her noisy trolley full of sharp objects and containers. My legs gave way, I started to blub like a baby and I reached my weak little paw towards my Mammy and she said exactly what I needed to hear in that moment…
‘Where is Judy in the Middle now, she is much braver than you?’
Oh…wasn’t expecting that!
I now had no choice but to the let the nurse capture the blood from my sad little veins and hook me up to a drip which actually pretty much instantaneously stopped my violent vomits and eased my pain. Hoorah for nurses! As some strength returned and I awaited my diagnosis I got back on my phone to obtain as much sympathy from anyone I could find. I managed to convince my friends that it was in fact NOT just wind and that I had NOT being delivering just a giant fart and it was actually a VERY SERIOUS helping of Gastroenteritis with a large dollop of hypochondria.
Nine hours, two drips and the silver lining of perhaps a few pounds of weight loss tucked inside my green cardigan I returned home to recover in bed. What an experience! I could talk for hours about all the marvellous people that traipse thought the Emergency Department. I could tell you all about the fabulous man with the shoulder to elbow oozing and clearly infected tattoo but I shan’t. Nor will I bother to reveal that my now Middle aged metabolism resulted in a zero pound weight loss. But I will say that what became truly apparent is that I am complete and utter WUSS. I have a friend (ex-nurse) who is tougher than nails. She can break her shoulder skiing and continue down the slopes, can suffer a vomiting bug and go about her daily business but not me…
I turn to mush.
I am a wimp, a sissy, a baby, a scaredy cat and it got me thinking, perhaps the image I am sharing of myself does not match who I actually am? Perhaps I am a keyboard warrior? Perhaps I am full of shit and don’t even live by the advice I throw out willie-nillie? Perhaps The Mothership is totally right and Judy in the Middle is far braver than I am and well…
it bothered me.
It bothered me because I don’t want anyone to have a false perception of me. I believe one of my greatest assets is honesty and the need I have to stay true to myself and to not put forward an image of these bloggers who are full of crap. (Well I am probably a small bit full of shit but I recognise it and that counts, right?!) We all know that most things we see online are bullshit, most of the images we throw up are of the great times and from the start I always wanted to make sure I didn’t do this.
Because life is hard enough without having another mindless ‘influencer’ showing you how frickin’ great their life is when you have just gone to the gym with your trousers on back to front and last night’s make up on and you maybe didn’t get to have a shower yesterday because the kids had another bloody project and we all know that no kid actually does their project themselves and…you get the idea.
I think there are two types of people in the world. Those that have no confidence but have great big balls and those that have oodles of confidence and no balls. I have no balls.
And while I am happy to be a lady with no balls…
I would like to perhaps grow a small set that won’t interfere with my fashions but would ensure that I am marginally braver because I’m a closet coward. So in the interest of honesty I took on the task of interviewing myself with some questions that people have sent me… so here it is Jimmy Rabitte style.
Why did you start oversharing?
I started the Blog because I decided that in the year I turn 40 (not ‘til October, I am still very much in my thirties), and after 13 years of raising kids and having various careers, none of which really suited me, that it was time I had a piece of the pie. It was time to do something that I loved and something that brings me joy and something that I am good at. That is writing.
So I started to tell my story. Everyone has one and mine is no greater than yours. Like the plumber with the thick North London accent, who I met today in my friend’s house, who told me how he ended up in Ireland and how he fell in love with a Line Dancing lovely called Gladys. He was just telling me facts, but I heard a love story in its truest form, told from the heart. I saw the look and quiet smile that crossed his face when he got to the part about seeing her and ensuring their introduction.
I bet if you told me your story, I could make it sound better than it actually is and put a funny slant on it. A friend once told me that I have the ‘eye of an eagle’ and as a result never miss a trick. I’m afraid it’s true and it’s probably what’s made me a bit of a story teller. I never miss a sideward glance or that ‘upey downy’ stare that women give each other when they are trying to quickly take in what the other person is wearing or the nudge a wife gives a husband to make him shut the hell up before he asks the not pregnant lady when she is due, or the nervous laugh someone gives when their kid is shouting ‘VAGINAS’ in Supervalu. I see it all and it makes me smile. I also regularly partake in putting my foot in it so I also create a lot of tales from the crypt and I see life in colour, great big bright dollops of colour.
Well if you are such a bleedin’ great scribbler why did you start sharing duck face pictures of yourself?
I think people are naturally nosy and love to take peek into other people’s lives and since I’m open as a book it seemed an obvious progression. I’m obsessed with fashion, love getting dressed up, putting things together and just in case the writing part didn’t take off, I wanted something to fall back on. I’ve also seen other bloggers get sent loads of free things and I was hoping that might happen to me. But alas no. So far I have received absolutely nothing! So to the person who wants to know if I buy all my clothes myself? Yes! This is the reason why I drive an awful banger of a car and have far less holidays than other people my age.
Why the yellow chair?
I have this architect friend who is obviously really artsy. She has no tattoos or even cartilage piercings so she doesn’t actually look artsy but I can assure you she is and actually incredibly supportive (aside from when she slags me for the duck face photos). She told me that no one could see my fashions as I was standing in front of the icky brown door. Taking on board her constructive criticism, I dragged the mirror to a different location but unfortunately there was another icky brown door behind me so I stuck the yellow chair there to break it up. It seemed to work.
I also take a lot of abuse mostly from Sister 2 about my mirror. She is convinced that it’s a ‘thinning’ mirror and that I’m not actually this size. Sister 1 recently started to partake in this slinging match. I then walked into my room to find them both standing in front of the yellow chair and looking into the mirror. Sister 1 is now on my side while Sister 2 continues her tirade. Perhaps Sister 1 just liked the way she looked in my mirror! I promise it’s not a skinnyfying mirror. I bought it many moon ago in Arnotts and I don’t think they were that ahead of themselves. I will leave you with this…I know my angles.
Do you stand in front of the yellow chair all day?
No. I now have the picture taking down to a fine art. I usually take the pictures before we are going out somewhere and while I actually look clean. Usually, either The SO or the entire family are waiting in the hall screaming at me and I am screaming back. ‘AM FAMOUS BLOGGER SHUT THE F*** UP!’ I have to stand a bit back from the yellow chair as the arms are a bit stained as Wilbur the dog is prone to curling up on it while I am on the school run. See, perceptions. You all thought my chair was perfect. Just like me, the chair is not always what it seems. (So so deep, perhaps I should return and study psychology).
Lately, I do put more effort into my appearance but to me this is like a kid dressing up at Halloween and is rarely a trial and I am very happy to report that since I started blogging I am actually making fewer purchases and trying to be creative with what I have. (Ok February was not a good month, but I have been much cheaper in both March and April!)
You are clearly not famous, yet, if ever (harsh) but what is your favourite part of blogging?
Well, it’s not the free things because there are none and it’s not all the launches I don’t get invited to, so I would have to say it is discovering that there are actually loads of people that enjoy reading it and that has been one of the greatest (for free) feelings of my life thus far. I’ve had messages from people saying that I have inspired them to buy various items of clothing, that their bank balance is suffering and their partners are really pissed off with them but that they have never felt happier in their utility jacket. I’ve also had messages about my articles to say that they are relatable, honest and that I have made people laugh and even more special, I have managed to make people cry without even being mean to them!
So in a nutshell, it’s the people I have encountered and the people I have reconnected with. It’s been darn special.
Does it require a lot of confidence to be so open with a bunch of strangers?
No. Nothing I share is above and beyond what I would tell someone in a conversation. Someone once pointed out that by oversharing I may be subjecting myself to ridicule. Whatever! If someone wants to ridicule me than I think that says more about them. I have a self-deprecating sense of humour which I’ve found to be a great tool in awkward situations. I believe being able to make people laugh is a great gift and I enjoy using my own experiences to do that. I also imagine myself talking to my friends when I’m writing. They are a good cross section of society so if I can reach them than perhaps I can reach further.
It seems to come easily to you…is it like that in your head or does it take days to put together? – (This is a question from Dr. Sue and she knows things!)
It does come easily enough but a lot of work goes into each blog after it is written, so I suppose what you all see if maybe a third draft. I wanted to make writing part of my routine so that when I actually get around to writing the book that I know how much I can churn out each week. The hardest bit is making my articles shorter. I often find myself deleting huge chunks that I feel are relevant but I’ve had a lot of comments about my blogs being too long so I’m trying not to anger my few fans! In a way I wish I had started writing ten years ago. The truth is, I didn’t really know I could even write. But I think that life has now deposited me into a place where I am ready.
Has blogging been helpful finding out who your people are?
Sadly yes. I always knew that complete and utter shit for brains existed. I mean we all know that and I’ve been lucky to have only encountered a few of them but I feel the blog has made certain people wary of me. Almost as if they are afraid to say something to me in case I write about it or in case I call out a poor outfit choice! I actually find it much more fun to take the piss out myself for your amusement so I’m not going to go there, ever. I’ve also had a fair few people just ignore it. This is a strange one to me as it like someone walking into your house in a red pleather catsuit with yellow knee high boots and being like…‘What?’
Perhaps it has also made me warier of people as I am ever so slightly afraid of criticism. I live in a village so it’s been a bit tricky to avoid it and I’m sure loads of people think I am a total dipshit. That’s ok. I never really need to fear what people think of me as I’ve probably already thought it about myself. I’ve refocused and become a little more insular with my core friends, who are so supportive and it’s been great. My family have been great too. Some of the stories / memories have been really cathartic for us as a family. It’s our story alone and I’m happy that they like being part of it.
What have you learnt about yourself?
So much. It has been really liberating writing all about my recent experiences, memories and feelings. I’m a lot deeper than I thought. I’ve also learnt that I’m really ambitious and ridiculously hard on myself. And while I can be a BIG FAT WUSS I’ve learnt I can also be strong and determined when I need to be. I find writing the odd offering of substance has given me more of a licence to faff about in front of the yellow chair and has provided proof that we can many different people rolled into one!
What have you learnt about others?
People are all kinds of crazy. But so am I.
People read very different things into the articles that I write. They put their own slant on it and relate it back to themselves and it sometimes surprises me what they come up with. I suppose just because I write it a certain way doesn’t mean it is always read that way. That’s the beauty of words but it also explains why so many disagreements start via texts interpreted arseways. People always surprise me, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. But all in all, I love people. I am a people! I don’t want to let the few negative souls I have encountered to define me, you know I think you only really need a one or two people in your life that think you are awesome and I’ve started to put time into those that put time into me. Sister 1 told me that. It is the wisest thing she has ever said!
What’s your favourite physical and personality attribute about yourself?
Well I have quite a stretchy face which enables me to be very expressive! I do a super Rat Face, which I learnt from Sister 2 and my eldest daughter can also do it. It’s now a family trait.
Personality wise, it’s my honesty and I’m learning to love my over sensitivity, it means I care!
Do you ever wear a tracksuit?
No. Does stylish active wear when not being active count?
What would you like to happen with the blog?
I’d like to get sent some free clothes first and foremost! Like anything. A poncho made from the fur of the Alpaca, a pair of mohair trousers…I will draw the line at a suit made of skin but I’m open to a lot.
I’d like to do Dr. Judy’s Style Labs but I don’t think I’m quite ready for that, unless someone would like to sponsor me…but I think it will come. I want to have a year of doing what I’m doing under my belt to decide what happens next.
I’d also like to make a small bit of money from the blog. I don’t want to be greedy but a little amount would someday be pleasant.
And I’d like to have a book published (or 20).
What are you most scared of?
Well every week when I put out a blog I instantly think, oh crap what if I run out of things to say. I’m also terrified of failure, although I’ve encountered it many times, but deeper still I am afraid of being in a good place. Traditionally whenever things are going well, someone or something comes out of left field to take me out. But I know every knock makes me stronger and every negativity drives me to succeed.
Do you believe all the rubbish you write?
Yes I do. I don’t always live by it of course but I am trying. I suppose when the BIG 40 finally happens in October and I realise that the world is not going to implode and I still have maybe another 40 years of living ahead I will relax a little. I had something to prove to myself and I went for it. I’m glad I did. If nothing ever happens with it, I will have memories and stories to hand down to my children.
What advice would you give someone about starting a blog or indeed any venture?
Feel the fear and do it anyway…people are going to think what they think and you can’t ever stop that. But believe in yourself and try and be brave.
And with life?
Just live. In the words of Eminem who inspired this entire piece…
‘Lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go, You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime…’
This blog is dedicated to my person – Mal, who thinks the sun shines out of my…