Mixed July

As always when July rolls around, I can’t think where the first half of the year went!

It’s been a tired and stressful month for me. We feel like we were stretching ourselves thin between the house, the garden, looking after Leona and worrying about my health and our precarious financial situation. After a bit of a crisis one day, we took stock, had a day off at the beach and regrouped. It was such a restorative day trip. Leona adored the sand and the sea and even Charlie went for a splash.

We decided on a routine of me spending the day with Leona whilst Dave works on the house. It took me a while to come to terms with this arrangement since it was never what I wanted before we had her. But whilst we’re breastfeeding it’s not very practical to share all types of work equally and we don’t want to give it up yet. My inner feminist was annoyed about this until a few people made me realise that ‘women’s work’ needs to be valued just as highly as ‘men’s work’ and that looking after Leona, cooking, shopping and clea- I was going to say cleaning but Dave does the cleaning! Still, what I mean to say is that the things I bring to the family are as important as building the house. And anyway, I’ve been enjoying myself enormously getting out and about with Leona. She is crawling, standing, starting to cruise, occasionally falling over, generally content exploring the world and loves interacting with other people. She’s been an absolute delight this month.

I’ve been meeting friends, taking short walks, chewing the fat with neighbours, enjoying watching Leona spend time with other people, and in my spare time I’ve been working on co-founding an unschooling playgroup with Signe and Noe. When things are good, they’re really good! I’ve also managed to finally convince Dave that we should have Sundays off! So that has been a lovely addition too.

We spent my birthday camping with friends, which was great! I was so excited to take Leona and Charlie on their first camping trip. It was a beautiful night, all went well and they loved it.

The garden is so overgrown but I haven’t been in except to pluck produce from the undergrowth. The courgettes have started and I’ve been collecting kale, herbs and nettles.

Up at the house, Dave has been busying away. He mounted the ledger on the opposite wall and has finished putting the joists on top which will support the bed. He spent his birthday getting the last joists in position and was very pleased with himself. Everything is of course perfectly level and beautifully finished. Very exciting progress – now the structure of the mezzanine floor is complete!

He has also been keeping the plant nursery watered and has scythed paths in the field and maintained the track up to the house, which is brilliant.

My parents were due to come out for four days at the end of the month and we were all so looking forward to seeing each other. But a stupid coronavirus resurge in the south of Spain led the British government to advise against all travel to the whole of mainland Spain and they cancelled at the last minute, which was very sad for all of us.

We haven’t been able to keep up our new routine all the time. I’ve been quite fatigued and my right eye started playing up intermittently. I finally decided I should go and see my neurologist, who of course wanted me to start another course of steroids right away. As much as I hate them, I’d hate to go blind more! So I’ve started them, knowing that the first half of August is going to be a write-off. We’ll be doing well if we manage to do nothing but the bare essentials for a few weeks, and even better if we don’t kill each other with frustration in the process.

The last few days of the month were busy. I got my steroids, I got a blocked duct for the first time and had to work pretty hard to prevent getting full blown mastitis. Leona entered her next developmental leap so she’s had a hard time sleeping and is more clingy. I finally got my paperwork though that puts me on the Spanish public health care system. I went to see the local GP, who referred me for an urgent neurologist appointment, which hopefully means once I’ve got over the steroids I can start on the immunosuppressants right away.

I feel like I’ve been putting on a brave face for the duration of this whole saga so far and now we’re (hopefully!) in the final stages, working towards our ‘new normal’ of life on immunosuppressants. But it’s tiring. I feel sad and worn out. We’re both stressed, which means we argue more than usual. It’s so exhausting, stressful and time-consuming being unhealthy. There are so many pending questions about the future and I feel like we’re in suspended animation. We don’t live in the house we want to live in, we don’t know when it will be ready enough to live in, we don’t know whether it will ever be sensible for us to have more kids, we don’t know whether my health is going to continue to deteriorate. I usually like to end on an upbeat note, even when there have been ups and downs throughout the month, but I’m afraid I don’t feel like it today. Although I have enjoyed reflecting for this month’s update that we have actually done a bit in spite of everything. I have two days coming of feeling good on the steroids, and we have our friend Jules coming to stay, so hopefully I can relax and enjoy myself before the lethargy kicks in, my milk supply runs out and all the stress begins anew.

Virtual hugs gratefully received.