Home & Lifestyle

The things no one tells you about being a first time buyer…

In May 2017 my partner and I set about looking for our first home together after 3 years of hard saving and scrimping and some help from a very wonderful Aunt.
We finally moved into our first home on Friday 13th October 2017 – yes, we are aware that we are nuts to choose to move house on Friday 13th but if you knew us as a couple, you probably wouldn’t be surprised!

Here are a few tips we picked up along the way – some obvious (now, in hindsight!) and some not so obvious…

ONE

Know thyself. 

When I say this, I mean know exactly what you want in a property before you set out – it really helps to have a firm idea of what you need vs what you want. We agreed very early on that we would never consider purchasing either a flat or a new build – a period property (Victorian, or Edwardian at a push) was the ONLY option for us and we stuck to that – even when offered to view affordable 1930s properties, we stuck to our guns because we knew in our heart of hearts what was right for us.

TWO

Know the Compromises

We knew we’d never be able to afford a ‘liveable-inable’ house straight off. We viewed some real shit holes to begin with then as we viewed more properties we learned what certain things mean in property listing on sites like Zoopla and Rightmove; such as a ‘manageable, low maintenance garden’ usually means a concreted or paved courtyard that you couldn’t swing a dick round.

There was one thing we were not prepared to compromise on, and that was the garden. We did however, fall in love with a property that had quite a tiny garden but we put an offer in anyway as the house itself was almost perfectly formed. Thankfully, we didn’t get that house – we found a house that was even better with a BIGGER garden in the end – so, perhaps ignore that bit of advice 😉

THREE

Know your limits

If you’re confident at haggling then this will definitely stand you in good stead for the ‘making an offer’ part. Be prepared to hear the ‘big sell’ – things like exaggerating how much interest they’ve had in the house, exaggerating how many offers they’ve had and even being asked after you’ve made an offer, if you can offer more. If you have trouble saying no, then try and get some help from friends or family to give you support while you make your negotiations. Don’t be fooled into thinking the estate agent is working on your behalf – they are not, they are working for the SELLER to sell the house at a price they want (and the estate agents really want to sell houses and get their commission!)

FOUR

Know your budget – and stick to it.

When we agreed on our budget, we decided on what we could afford to offer and we stuck to it. We stuck to our guns so that we didn’t break into our ‘renovation fund’ that we had running alongside our deposit fund. We sat down and agreed on the mortgage we could afford – we did not go for a huge mortgage, we saved for a bigger deposit instead. We agreed that being mortgaged up to the hilt is not for us and we want to have a good quality of life while we pay off our mortgage; so we worked out how much per month we could live comfortably on while paying the mortgage.

FIVE

Know your geography or at least learn it! 

We moved to a relatively new town – I’d been a frequent visitor to the town for years but have never really paid any attention to anything other than its shopping centre. We learned very very quickly from many many viewings which areas to avoid! There were around 6 areas of the town and we very quickly shaved 3 areas off the list simply by viewing houses in the area. The best piece of advice I can give you is ‘buy a not so great house in a great area, not the other way round’ because after all, LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. It’s a cliché  but it’s true.

SIX

NEVER Scrimp on a survey

I spent months reading and researching Victorian properties and quickly learned a few important differences between new builds and period properties. I phoned up innumerable surveyors and asked how they measure for damp – old houses are usually damp and I found a wonderful gentleman called Peter Ward (look him up on Youtube) who knows everything about period properties – from his site I learned that a decent surveyor won’t use damp meters. They will know that victorian properties need to breathe and will point out things that a not-so-knowledgeable surveyor may not notice. I can personally recommend 1st Associated surveyors – we had a full survey done and the report was over 100 pages in length and was incredibly detailed. Even our estate agent was impressed with it – it helped us to re-submit a lower offer taking into account the structural issues with the house that we wouldn’t have known about without the survey. It wasn’t cheap, but it was absolutely worth every penny (or pound!)

SEVEN

KNOW YOUR PROPERTY

LIME EVERY TIME

The most frustrating thing I found when viewing properties was how much damage people have inadvertently caused when ‘modernising’ period properties. Seemingly simple things like re-pointing brickwork with cement mortar instead of lime mortar can severely impact the level of damp in a house. Cement mortar creates a barrier that means that moisture in the house cannot escape the way it was designed to – through the bricks and mortar.

Another death to period properties is double glazing windows (and in lots of privately rent homes, we noticed very few extractor fans were in use) and no ventilation – and hence, damp and mould.

PERIOD PROPERTIES NEED TO BREATHE – That is the difference between new builds and period properties.

Also look out for modern plastered walls – always try to replaster period houses using lime based plaster, not gypsum plaster, so that the house can BREATHE.

A Final Word

For us, the biggest hurdle when buying a house, was the deposit. It took us years and years of living separately and saving. We lived within our means (and continue to do so) and saved as much as we could get away with, without leaving ourselves ridiculously poor. We went without – I didn’t fritter my money on clothes or shoes and when we did buy things, we bought things ‘for the house’ – like furniture (thank you to my Mum and Dad for allowing us the use of their loft as storage for the past 3 years!)

The hard save is worth it – that pair of shoes or latest games console, is not.

Your deposit is what gives you freedom – freedom to choose a decent mortgage, a decent property and gives you freedom to own more of your house from the outset. In my opinion, there is no point putting down a 5% deposit and paying a huge mortgage for 35 years and living hand to mouth. Live within your means. Good Luck!!!

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Victorian House Hunting!

I last wrote in March about how uneasy I was feeling about my life. It’s amazing how quickly things can change.

Tomorrow, I turn 31 and on Saturday I’m taking my other half to view a house that I’ve fallen in love with. It’s a beautiful (yet slightly dilapidated) Victorian Terrace in a village and is full of potential for our first home project.

I’ve written previously about my passion for history and my biggest obsession in life has been wanting to buy a Victorian house and restore its original features like fireplaces and open fires, sash windows and corbels etc.

Luckily for me, my partner in crime hates new build houses as much as I do, so we quickly agreed we wanted to buy a period property and do it up in the style we like. We settled on a Victorian terrace. My Grandparents owned a Victorian end-of-terrace in Liverpool and we visited them during my childhood. I can still remember the high ceilings, big rooms, beautiful wooden banister, the red carpet running up the stairs with stair rods, the stained glass porch and the bakelite light switches. From the age of around 8 I fell in love with that old, dilapidated house and I’ve been determined to own something so beautiful myself.

With that in mind, we started house hunting only a few months ago, and in the space of around 2 weeks we viewed 11 properties of varying states of undress (!). The first Victorian house we saw had a 200 foot garden, which had such amazing potential, especially for us, as we’re keen to get green fingered and I’m something of a Hedgewitch. Unfortunately, the house (or cottage!) itself was “compact and bijou”, in need of an awful lot of TLC and the kitchen was the smallest kitchen I’ve ever seen with the lowest ceiling I’ve ever seen! Suffice to say, we let someone else take a punt on that house!

Next came another Victorian terrace that had been refurbished upstairs but not downstairs so the 1970s kitchen was in desperate need of being ripped out and started again, with a more age-appropriate kitchen. The road it was on was unbelievably claustrophobic, so that was a no from me.

We then went to view 2 properties a few doors down from each other. Both were previous HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and were damp as f*ck. There’s no way we could afford to sort out the damp and have enough money to make the house liveable in. So they were instant nos.

It’s actually incredible how fast you learn when you’re thrown into the deep end of a project. I’ve never lived anywhere other than in my parents council house – it’s a terraced house built in the mid to late 70s and structurally, we don’t do any maintenance to it as it’s not our responsibility. So, looking at Victorian buildings with absolutely no experience in home owning/building has been a very steep learning curve already.
I’ve spent many hours researching how to renovate old buildings, and together, we have built quite an arsenal of knowledge over the past couple of months. I’m actually rather proud of myself – I’ve spoken to mortgage advisors, estate agents and the like, and I’d never done anything so grown up in my life. I definitely feel like I’ve achieved so much personally, already.

Knowing what we know, we’ve narrowed down our search radius to two areas of a town we want to live in. We’ve excluded ‘rougher’ areas from our search as we’re in the mind of buying a ‘shit house, in a decent area’ and making it nice. Postcode means a lot to us.

I have to say, I have, at this stage, fallen in love with a house. It’s everything I want (even if the garden is a little smaller than I’d like, it has potential to be really cute) and I can really imagine us living there together, as a family. I can already see what I could physically add to the house (stripping and painting architraves for example) and I can see the wallpaper I’ve chosen on the walls and the fireplaces opened up and restored with open fireplaces and wood burning stoves. It’s in a beautiful village on a beautiful street of Victorian terraces that all look loved and cared for…

The Big But…

Unfortunately for us, I can say with absolute certainty that this ‘dream house’ is also going to be the ‘dream house’ for many other house hunters. The house is for up for informal tender – this means that you view the house, then you write a ‘sealed bid’ – hand your sealed, secret offer into the estate agent for the vendor to then decide who they want to sell the house to. It’s a fair way of doing it, but still absolutely heartbreaking if our bid isn’t successful.

I know I shouldn’t put all my eggs into this one basket, but when you fall in love, you can’t stop it, you just have to go for it. So, we’re going for it. We have our deposit, our mortgage in principle and I’m so ready to start my new life with my incredible partner in crime.

I just hope with all I have, that this is the house for us. I’ll keep you posted x

*Disclaimer: Featured image subject to Copyright – the Victorian Emporium*

Childfree at 30; female sterilisation. 

Eighteen days ago, 30 year old childless me walked into the Day Surgery Unit at my local hospital, with my hand in my partner’s and my Mum on my other side. I was about to be admitted into hospital for an elective Laparoscopic Tubal Ligation – or to the layperson – to have female sterilisation.

I entered the unit with my long term partner (I would say boyfriend, but he’s more than a boyfriend but not quite a husband) and my Mum. Both of whom I couldn’t have done this without. My support network was exactly what I needed. I was so nervous and excited at the same time but having my loving partner holding my hand and my amazing (Nurse) Mum beside me made the whole procedure much easier to take.

The all important support network

If you’re considering having a Tubal Ligation, having a support network around you is extremely important. Making the decision to end your mothering capabilities forever is a huge decision and having family and friends around you, supporting you, makes all the difference.

The Surgery

At 11:15 I was admitted to the day surgery ward. There was quite a long wait but there were some lovely chatty ladies already in the beds around me, which made my stay a little bit more enjoyable.

I was told to take a urine sample with me on the day of surgery (I believe this was to confirm I wasn’t pregnant) so this was given to the nurse and I was told to wait for the Anaesthetist. As I have a rare illness (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) I made sure my Nurse Mum explained to my Anaesthetist that my illness causes me to be resistant to anaesthetic, so we made sure both the Anaesthetist and my surgeon both knew before I was put under general anaesthetic.

My Gynae consultant who was performing the surgery came to see me and to tell me about the procedure. He said it should only take him half an hour as it is a straightforward procedure and he’s done many many of them (admittedly, not to too many women my age) and he did ask me if I was one hundred percent sure I wanted to go through with it. He did say that he didn’t like performing this surgery on one so young. (I’ll get to that in a minute!)

Anyway, so the chat with the surgeon went well and I put my not-so-sexy compression socks on and my backless hospital gown and it hit me – I’m going to be put to sleep for the first time in my life and it started to feel real. I was really nervous.

My time came and I was wheeled off down to the Anaesthetic room to be put under. The porter commented on my long unpainted talons and that took my mind of the coming surgery, just for a moment.

The nurse started attaching the heart monitors to my chest and an IV line was put into the back of my left hand. The nurse was lovely and started asking me about my eyebrows (she was surprised to hear that they are naturally arched and I don’t shape them like that myself!) and again, this put me at ease. A mask of oxygen was put over my face as they put the general anaesthetic into my IV… and I was gone.

The next thing I know, I’m awake and I can hear lots of voices but I can’t see straight. I saw a man in glasses peering down at me and I had an oxygen mask over my face. I fell in and out of consciousness for around half an hour (or so I’m told)…

Paul, the man who was looking after me in the recovery room immediately after my surgery, was lovely. He chatted to me about my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (I felt a bit like a celebrity, as I seemed to be the talk of the town because it’s unusual to have a patient in surgery with a resistance to anaesthetic) and he gave me a very sugary cup of tea and not one, but TWO packets of biscuits – My mouth was incredibly dry from having a tube down my throat so I only managed a biscuit and a half so he gave me the other pack to take back to the ward with me.

I was in recovery for around 45 minutes. This is apparently unusual but because I’d had to have more anaesthetic and more painkillers (I’m on a morphine derivative permanently at home) so it took me longer to be brought back to the ward.

Oh Holy Oramorph!!

I must admit, I was surprised by how okay I felt having been wheeled back to the ward… and then the morphine wore off…

Holy mother of all things merciful I have never felt pain like it. The pain came from not only having my organs pushed and pulled around, but from the gas they pump inside your stomach so they can see what they’re doing in there. It’s this gas that made my stomach so painful. So, they gave me two lots of Tramadol and when that didn’t work, they offered me Oramorph. I drank it and within 10 minutes I was right as rain again.

Around 20 minutes after the morphine, I was wanting to get up and move around, so I went to the toilet for my first wee. It’s important that you wee after surgery, or they won’t let you go home. I was relieved that I’d peed and eaten so I was soon to be discharged.

I got myself dressed (they encourage you to do as much for yourself as possible) and the nurses all looked at me incredulously, like I’d made a miraculous recovery – I was writhing around in agony just 30 minutes before!

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Shortly after receiving 2 doses of Tramadol and 1 dose of Oramorph!

My Saviours are here!

I text my Mum and within 10 minutes I was walked down the corridor by a nurse and there I saw my Partner and Mum standing there, peering behind the door looking relieved to see me. I’ll never forget their faces in that moment.
We walked slowly and gently to the car (me wearing my pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers) and home to rest I went.

Post Surgery

I cautiously moved around my house for a few days after the surgery, careful not to lift anything heavy or reach upwards. I had a couple of dissolvable stitches inside my belly button and another stitched wound near my left ovary, just below my knicker-line.

Within a week, I started to feel much more like myself and I took a tentative trip outside with my Mum just to the shops for a little walk around. I’m now 18 days post-op and my belly button looks exactly as it did before the surgery. The wound on my left hip is healing more slowly, but it’s getting there.

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I received a pre-assessment information pack that I read cover to cover. It featured all the information about the surgery, the anaesthetic and the recovery.

 

Thoughts

Q: How do you feel now that you are permanently unable to bear children?

A: Exactly as I did before the surgery. I didn’t wake up and think ‘Oh God, what have I done?’ I felt no different whatsoever.

Q: What if you start to regret it?

A: I’m a firm believer in instinct. If my gut tells me something is right or wrong, I tend to listen. At the age of 30, if I wanted children, I would have had them by now. I do not see myself ever wanting children and that is why I made this permanent decision to be sterilised. If in ten years’ time I find my mind wondering about children, I’ll remind myself of all the reasons why I chose to be sterilised in the first place.

Q: …And what are those reasons?

A: One, lack of maternal instinct. I’m not going to wake up one day and feel broody. I have never felt broody.
Two, I don’t like children. There, I said it. They’re loud, they’re messy, they’re expensive, they’re needy, they’re tiring, they’re stressful.
Three, I am an introvert. I am sensitive to the energy of other people and my people-battery gets flat after a short while. Being around a baby or child runs that battery down twice as fast and I would definitely resent it. I need quiet, I need to be alone, in order to re-charge my batteries.
and finally, number four, the “big kahuna” – I am invisibly disabled. My health has been poor since my early twenties and I have several chronic illnesses; two of which, run in my family. I do not believe it is morally right to bring a child into the world if there is a known possibility of them inheriting a health condition.

Q: But what if you didn’t have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, do you think you would feel differently?

A: No. I do not believe I would. I listed my EDS as the last reason and there’s a reason for that – I am a woman, first and foremost. I am a woman who has never felt the urge to procreate. If everything in my life was perfect, if I had all the money in the world, If I had a large house, a garden, Nannies, and I wasn’t disabled, I still would choose not to have children. My own lack of maternal instinct is reason enough. I shouldn’t have to justify not wanting children and it shouldn’t rest on whether or not I was physically fit enough to bear a child. I don’t want children, period.

Q: Do you have any words of advice for other women out there who are contemplating Tubal Ligation?

A: Yes, think, think and think again. It is such a personal decision, no one can make it for you. You have to be absolutely sure that you never ever want a baby, because Tubal Ligation is non-reversible. It is a permanent solution.

Q: Okay, so I’ve decided I want to go through with it, where do I start and do you have any advice?

A: Yes; Stand. Your. Ground. Your first port of call (this is advice for ladies in England, I do not know the procedure for private health care or that of US health care) will be with your General Practitioner – they are the ones who refer you to the NHS for the procedure.

Even in 2017, Doctors are reluctant to refer women for sterilisation who are “young” and “childless” (and even in some cases, after having children they still are reluctant!)
You will need to assert yourself at every point, and make your argument clear. When approaching a Doctor, have your facts. Research the procedure, the success and failure rates, research other women’s successful cases and have every answer to their questions thoroughly thought out. I was asked about why I didn’t want to continue with the Mirena Coil and my own feeling is that my body does not react well to added hormones, so I wanted a permanent solution that didn’t involve hormones.
Unfortunately, you will come up against doctors who will refuse outright, either due to their own personal opinions or because they think they know best. My advice is to stand your ground and don’t take no for an answer. If you have no luck with your own GP, book an appointment with another GP at your surgery and ask them to refer you.
I was turned down by my own GP but when I saw another, after somewhat of a fight, I was referred on and then got to be assessed by the Gynae team (they are the ones who make the final decision).

Q: Do you have any other advice?

A: All I can say is, do what is right for you. I knew deep down I didn’t want children at a very young age. I did wait until I was 30 to broach the subject of sterilisation and I did try every available form of contraception before making the huge decision to be sterilised.
I won’t sit here and say it’ll be easy, or that you won’t regret it – the decision is 100% yours and you have to be prepared for the possibility of regret. If you can accept that, then good luck to you on your journey to being childfree.

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“Motherhood is not for every woman, and that’s okay.” – Beth Von Black

Millennials; Isn’t it time to grow up?

So, I was sat doing the usual daily scroll through Facebook this afternoon and it occurred to me how many memes there are making light of twenty-somethings and their failures…


But it wasn’t always like this. In the 1940s, at the age of twenty they were enlisted and sent off to war. They were MEN, fighting for this country, taking responsibility for their country and their family, often leaving their wives behind to work in the factories and fields.

In 2017, I am surrounded by men in their late twenties who simply refuse to grow up. They spend their wages on nights out, illicit substances, booze and then fall into their (private rented) bed with a takeaway. This happens regularly and they then sit down the pub and moan about how much debt they’re in, how awful their relationship is or how much they hate their job (in some cases, all three!)

And I’m sitting here thinking… Grow the fuck up! Take responsibility for the (terrible) choices you’ve made that have put you in the position you’re in now. If you hate your life so much, do something to make it better instead of burying your head in the sand (or by shoving coke up your nose) and hoping it’ll go away.

I’m no saint, of course. I’ve made some not-so-sensible decisions in my 30 years I’ve been alive, BUT I can say that I have made the best of a bad situation.

Through no fault of my own I still live with my parents. I was born with a disability that means I cannot support myself financially and as I live with my parents, I do have disposable income. However, I have not disposed of this income in the way I described above, for the main reason of knowing how hard my future will be when I can no longer rely on my parents.

At the age of 13 I was given £200 when my Grandma died. It went straight into a “car fund” that I set up for myself because I have always wanted to drive and be independent. The Car Fund grew, slowly and it has been used to buy myself a car.

I was in a nasty car accident at 19 and got a nice chunk of compensation. Of course I bought myself a new wardrobe, a flatscreen TV and a laptop. I went on to sell the TV and I still wear most of the clothes I bought back then (and they’re now falling apart!). I like to think that I’m careful with money and appreciate how lucky (or unlucky!) I have been to have what I have.

Others don’t seem so grateful. If anything, they appear like spoilt brats to me; they’re able bodied, able to earn thousands of pounds a year, yet due to bad decisions, they’re scraping by every month and continue to moan about it and posts memes on their Facebook making light of their seemingly miserable lives.

I am fully aware that I’m not perfect, but I can say I am an aware and authentic person who is trying to think about my future and plan for it.

I’ve been sensible with money and I have chosen a partner who is also good with money yet it wasn’t an accident – if I happened to get into a relationship with someone to find that they were terrible with money (like my own father is) I would run for the hills. According to an article in the Huffington Post money problems (and incompatible views on money) is one of the biggest factors in divorce in the modern age.

It’s not just about money though, I think it’s about maturity. It’s a known fact that men mature later than women, but I’ve also noticed the abundance of women in their twenties who still love Disney, still fantasize about finding their Disney Prince and refuse to grow up. It’s an epidemic. We are still behaving like children well into our twenties and thirties.

Millennials, isn’t it time you grew up?

Sterilised at 30 – part 3

On 28th October I sat in the waiting room of the Gynaecology department at my local hospital (alongside lots of pregnancy bellies) and I couldn’t sit still. I was incredibly nervous.I could feel my pulse pounding all over my body. My boyfriend of just over two years was sat next to me, holding my hand in one hand, and a book in another.

It didn’t take long for me to be called in for the initial weighing, height taking and blood pressure. All was normal (which is surprising, considering I normally have low blood pressure, but I put that down to the fact that I was feeling rather stressed in this instance!)

Then, I was ushered into another room. The lady asked me all sorts of personal questions about my menstrual cycle, my sex life and she asked me about the different contraception I’ve tried over the years.

I was quite surprised by the fact that she seemed shocked that my boyfriend of two years wasn’t keen on having a vasectomy – Apparently, when asking for a female sterilisation, the first thing they do is ask if your partner would be willing to undergo sterilisation instead (it’s less invasive than female sterilisation). The fact that he’s younger than me (only by 2 years, but still) and that we’re not yet married meant that I wasn’t willing to try and persuade my other half to make the life altering decision to undergo male sterilisation. After all, my quest to remain childfree has been MY quest since I was a young teenager. It’s not his responsibility or burden.

We moved on to discussing other reasons for sterilisation. As you are probably aware, I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type, which is a debilitating, degenerative and genetic connective tissue disorder. There have been reports (from specialists in the EDS field) that suggest a link between the Mirena Coil – which I currently have – and the worsening of EDS symptoms. I know for a fact that my EDS flares up during that time of the month and if I can have the option to go without any hormonal contraception, I would benefit from it; emotionally and physically. The lady doing my assessment was keen to refute the idea that the Coil could have any effect on my EDS but I held my ground. I made in clear that I wanted rid of all hormonal contraception, end of.

She then went to another room to discuss this with the Consultant. 5 minutes later, the consultant came in, shook my hand and said she understood that I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and asked me who else in my family has the condition. I explained that my sister and mother are both hypermobile, as were my Grandmas on both sides of my parents. She explained that she understood that EDS is an autosomal dominant condition and was happy to give me the go ahead for female sterilisation.

I couldn’t believe it, I grinned from ear to ear. I said thank you very much, and she left the room. It was then down to the other lady to go through all the paperwork with me and explain what’s going to happen next.

It was explained to me that there are some risks associated with a Tubal Occlusion and they are: possible perforating/damage to the inner organs during surgery, infection, failure rates and so on. I am due to undergo a Tubal Occlusion using the clipping method which has a failure rate of 1 in 200 which doesn’t sound too great, but as we all know, abstinence is the only way to stay 100% pregnancy free, unfortunately!

But, this was all worth it, to me. Knowing I won’t have any other hormones in my system other than my own, is worth the risk.

I signed the consent form there and then, and even underwent a surgical pre-assessment – bloods and a medical history were taken and I was told that as I don’t work, I may be asked to attend surgery at short notice, which is absolutely fine with me! The sooner the better really.

So that was my (surprisingly short and easy) experience with being referred to Gynaecology for female sterilisation.

I feel I must add my own thoughts.

Firstly, if there is anyone else out there that is young, childless and absolutely sure that they don’t want children and would like to be sterilised on the NHS, I would absolutely recommend talking to your GP about it. My own GP refused to refer me, so I got a second opinion from another GP who, when pressed, put me forward for it.

Unfortunately, with the country and the NHS in the state it’s in, we now have to fight for treatment. We have to put our case forward and fight to be taken seriously. But, the funding is out there for female sterilisation – you just have to make a case for yourself.

I went to my GP fully armed with information on the NICE guidelines for female sterilisation, articles on my genetic condition and articles on other young women being sterilised on the NHS. (If you’re not aware of a young woman named Holly Brockwell, look her up – she has been an inspiration to me, in my quest for sterilisation). Holly fought for four years to be sterilised on the NHS and she had never even had a coil fitted (unlike me, who had to undergo every type of contraception before being taken seriously!) so if Holly and I can be heard, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be heard too.

Being childfree is a choice that we all have a right to make. If you don’t want children, that’s entirely up to you and no one should make you feel bad for your own lifestyle choices. Be proud of the life you lead and stand by it. If you’re at all unsure and think you may want children someday…. sterilisation is definitely not for you. It’s a big decision that requires years of thought and you must be absolutely sure.

I’ve never been more sure.

Stay tuned; I will be updating this blog every step of the way and as soon as I get a surgery date, I will let you all know x

Student, once again!

I can’t believe I haven’t written a blog post about the fact that I’m now a student (again!)

I am 5 weeks into a BA (Honours) History degree with the Open University and so far, it’s been great! I’m ahead in my studies and handed my first assignment (on Cleopatra and Cézanne!) with 16 days to spare. I figure even if I’m way off the point, the second assignment is a second go at the first assignment so all’s not lost!

This is my desk at the moment (borrowed laptop, antique dining chair!) and it’s not overly comfortable. Having a condition like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome means sitting is difficult, typing is painful and so is holding a book open! Thankfully the Open University have a great support team for disabled students and they sent me ring bound copies of the course texts so I don’t have to hold them open!

I’m also in the middle of applying for Disabled Student Allowance to hopefully get some dictation software, an ergonomic chair and some other things that will help me study more successfully while being disabled. 

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the Day School as I haven’t been given any funding for travel yet (hoping that DSA will cover this) but I did make it to a local tutorial which was nerve wracking but really interesting. I actually found myself answering all the questions the other students directed at our Tutor so I’m feeling like I’ve absorbed all the necessary information!

I will be writing updates on my studies as this is something that may interest other disabled people who would like to study but don’t know where to start! 

If you have any questions about being a disabled student, please do feel free to get in touch, I’d be happy to answer your questions! 

She Said Yes; Part Two – Sterilised at 30. 

Earlier in the year my own GP said “no chance” when I first inquired about being sterilised. I left it a good few months, booked an appointment with a lady GP who dealt with my Mirena Coil and broached the question with her. She was resistant at first but relented when I pressed the issue – that was on 7th October.

Today, I received a call from the Gynaecology department at my local hospital asking if I can be available in 10 days time for an appointment regarding female sterilisation! I am over the moon!

Because this issue seems to be quite a taboo subject (and a growing number of women are choosing the childfree life) I have decided to document my experience of being sterilised at 30, so that it may give other young women the courage to stand up for what they want in life. It isn’t anyone else’s job to tell you whether or not you want kids, nor that you should live your life having to constantly worry about falling pregnant by accident because for people like me, who are sure about who they are and what they want, there ARE options to make sure we never get pregnant, full stop.

Follow me and follow my quest to be childfree and fabulous!

She said yes!!!

No, this isn’t an engagement announcement, before you get excited… This is a ‘my doctor said yes to putting me forward for female sterilisation’ announcement.

Let me start by explaining how much I do not want children…

I started life like a normal little girl; I loved playing with dolls and pushchairs, I loved playing family with my collection of Barbie and Ken dolls and I had already named my little girl ‘Pansy’ that I was going to have with my first boyfriend at the age of five –  Ryan Bass – Yes, Pansy Bass, that poor imaginary child, I am so sorry.

It wasn’t until after I hit puberty did I really consider having children. It wasn’t something I thought about at all, in any serious way. This carried on until I was around 23 and in my first sexual relationship. I have always been firmly on the ‘pro-choice’ camp but my boyfriend at the time was ‘pro-life’ which, now I look back, is another reason why I’m so thankful I didn’t have to deal with any pregnancies while with this Manchild.

My situation hasn’t altered much in the last 7 years since that relationship ended, in terms of where I live (still with my parents) and I’m no longer able to work, but I am in a long term relationship with a man; a man who teaches children for a living.

One of the first cards I threw on the table during our first date was that I didn’t want children and that it was non-negotiable. Thankfully for me, he was okay with that and he said he’s not fussed about having children either way.

In the back of my mind, I do worry sometimes that my complete lack of maternal instinct will someday impact on my partner’s ‘not so bothered’ status – I absolutely, utterly, do not want to force this lifestyle upon anyone and my choice not to have children is mine alone. I am unwilling to be responsible for any regret someone may have who ‘wasn’t quite sure’ later down the line if/when they then watch their friends have children and wish they had that too.  You simply cannot read people’s minds, no matter how hard you try, so a huge amount of faith and trust goes into a relationship, which isn’t easy!

You may have read previously that I have an inherited connective tissue disorder – possibly from both sides of my parents. It has impacted my life in a huge way and has changed my entire life’s plan more than once. The only time when me and my illness see eye to eye is when we talk about having children (or not!)

My body does not want to carry children, it has made that clear – it can barely carry itself, let alone an 8lb baby. I do not need to go into detail as to how my condition affects me, but I will say that I wouldn’t want to pass this condition on. It’s a horrible illness and I am not prepared to be responsible for a person with a lifelong illness, as horrible as that sounds.
I may get some responses of protest to that statement, but I honestly do not care what anyone else thinks about my view on disability. As someone who is herself disabled, I believe I am more than entitled to have this view on it.

I’ve written previously about my love of sex, travel and antiques and I stand by it. I am thirty years old. Next year, I plan to buy a house with my partner. We plan on travelling all over the world (if we can afford to save enough, whilst paying a mortgage on one salary!) and we like expensive furnishings. We can afford to be self-indulgent and selfish and I want to keep it that way. I love my life the way it is.

To me, having children is like a ball and chain. I personally don’t see any attraction in becoming a Mum. The lifestyle of parenting looks like hard work, that goes unpaid. I do not have a maternal instinct so the ‘love’ I’d feel wouldn’t outweigh all the negatives; the tiredness, the wailing new-born at 4 in the morning, the toilet training, the babyproofing… the list is endless.

My slightly older sister (by 3 years) has an 18 month old. I love him to bits; he’s hilarious and cute at the same time. I’m very much a proud aunt. But, I see what my sister has to go through every day and I thank my lucky stars I’m as free as a bird and I have no responsibilities other than washing my clothes and paying my £10 a month phone bill.

Earlier this year I spoke to my GP about being sterilised on the NHS and the first thing he said was ‘no chance’ because the CGC or whoever simply wouldn’t consider it; I’m too young blah blah blah. I went home with my tail between my legs and felt rather deflated.

I told myself, I’ll leave it for a few months, then try a different doctor; a lady one, hoping she’d understand more, being a woman herself.

As soon as we sat down, I started explaining about how my coil isn’t working for me and I’d like to explore more permanent options. I mentioned permanent sterilisation and she started talking about how often young women come and say they want to be sterilised and then they come back crying saying they want to be able to have a baby at 35.

I looked her in the eye and said I’m not one of those women. I haven’t wanted children since I was 16 and that hasn’t changed and it won’t ever change. She said to me that she could say yes on the spot… as if trying to call my bluff and I said ‘why don’t you?’, she looked at me blankly, paused, and then said ‘okay then, I will say yes, if that’s what you want’. I replied ‘Oh my God, really? Yes, please, I definitely want that’ and that was that. She briefly mentioned having to get funding for it, which I know will be the next hurdle.

But, in the end… she said yes and I couldn’t be happier.

Stuff… So much stuff!

I’ve previously posted about how my partner and I are currently saving for a deposit on a house. In the meantime, I’ve decided to rid myself of all the horrible, tacky Ikea furniture I have (tallboy chest of drawers and a wardrobe) in favour of some real, antique non-flat pack furniture.

We’ve decided on the Victorian era with regards to wardrobes and chests of drawers and gothic revival slash arts and crafts for our bed and other items of furniture (jardiniere stands and such) and we’re now scouring the country for bits of furniture we can actually afford.

Unfortunately for me, I currently live in a terraced 3 bed house built in the 1970s so it isn’t blessed with the Victorian treatment in ceiling height and room size. I’ve just found out that the tall boy chest of drawers I’ve fallen in love with won’t in fact,  fit up the stairs in my parents house where I’m currently residing (we can tell by looking, even without the Ross from Friends’ “PIVOT…. PIVOT…..”)

To say I’m gutted would be an understatement.

So, it’s back to the drawing board and I’m now left with a large hole where my hideous Ikea chest of drawers sat until 2 days ago when I sold them on a facebook group to a very happy lady. If I could find a Scottish Victorian chest of drawers that will fit up the stairs and round a corner, you’ll be the first to know!

Planning for the future also puts into question your past. At least, in my case, my past that is currently sat in multiple vintage suitcases on top of (previously stated) hideous Ikea wardrobe. I have collections of CDs from when I was 17 and a member of the band HIM’s street team; I have all the Ozzy and Sabbath CDs I collected in my youth, I have memories in the form of STUFF – so much stuff and so many memories.

But what do you do with all those memories? My loft (or rather, my parents’ loft, which I have temporarily commandeered) is chock full of memories too – my rail of 1940s and 1950s clothing that I will never get rid of, 1950s furniture that I loved and now hate and can’t shift, suitcases full of winter clothes/summer clothes depending on the season and even more mementos all tucked up in various sized boxes…

You know the things… the keyrings you bought on a trip to the seaside with your best mate from high school, and the coat you wore at your fattest (yes, I do still have my ‘fat coat’) and the clothing you used to wear but don’t so much any more, but still won’t throw out because you might some day…

I’m now facing a rather hard decision about what will go and what will stay. I simply cannot keep it all, I simply don’t have the room.

How do you know which mementos to keep and which ones to throw away?

 

 

Waiting, waiting, forever waiting

I feel like I’ve been waiting for something my entire life; waiting for an appointment, waiting for painkillers to kick in, waiting for the side effects to wear off…

We spend our whole lives waiting for things, but it never gets any easier, does it?

Some people are fantastic ‘waiters’ – they could wait patiently for hours, days, weeks or months for something they really want and are happy to wait. Others are impatient and they want it now. Instant gratification and all that.

What’s worse, is being one of those people who has waited, patiently, dutifully to oneself because they know the wait is worth it, but at the same time being one of those types of people who hates waiting and wants it  when they want it.

In this instance, I’m talking about waiting and love.

As a teenager, I was awkward, geeky and plump. I wasn’t holding the reins when it came to puberty and I wasn’t exactly admired (at least to my knowledge) by the boys. Everyone around me seemed to have a boyfriend or girlfriend or had at least, ‘snogged’ nearly everyone in our friendship group. I was always on the perimeter, watching, listening to their stories and the gossip about who snogged who at the last house party.

There, I remained on the outskirts of ‘love’ or at least, affection. I was waiting patiently for my turn – my turn to be admired by the opposite sex and waiting for someone to like me back. I spent most of my teenage years yearning for a male friend who I thought was beyond handsome and funny and so charismatic. If there was such a thing as the “friend zone” back then, I was definitely firmly in it. Every girlfriend he had, I hated. It tore me up. For years, I yearned for him, waiting for him to finally see me in the same way he saw the other girls in my year. It never happened.

I waited until I was nearly 17 for my first kiss. I won’t say much about it, other than it wasn’t with a particularly skilled gentleman and it was such a traumatic experience, I ended up waiting many years after to build up the courage to kiss another frog.

I’d gotten so used to waiting, that I made a name for myself. I entered college at 19 and became friends with a small group of girls a few years younger than me. I would be introduced on nights out to guys in the local nightclubs and bars as the Virgin of the group. Being known as a 23 year old virgin never bothered me, but I would cry myself to sleep every night feeling unloved and for being untouched by a man and the pain of having to wait for so long to have what everyone else was having.

My talent for waiting didn’t end there. I finally lost my virginal status at the ripe old age of 23 because I had stubbornly decided to wait for the right guy to be my first proper boyfriend. I was waiting for something that not many people I know had waited for – maturity, a sense of self worth and confidence. I wanted to be happy in myself before I gave myself to another and by then patience was definitely my forte. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be and a year later, absolutely heartbroken, I knew I needed to take the time to reacquaint myself yet again with patience.

Well, I’m definitely not 24 any more and interestingly, the older I get the more I lose my ability to wait; to be patient. I feel like I’ve spent so many years of my life waiting to be happy, or waiting for someone to love me… that now I have all that, I want to stop waiting and live my life. I put my love life on hold when I was younger because I wasn’t happy with myself… I changed what I wasn’t happy with and I no longer ‘had’ to wait.

The hardest lesson I’m learning right now, at the age of thirty, is yet again – patience.

Two years ago, I met a beautiful man with long blonde hair, a pretty face and a wonderful soul. Amazingly, he fell in love with me and I with him. Unfortunately for us (and unlike our peers) we don’t come from monied backgrounds and so we’re having to save up to move in together. We both decided after just 6 months or so of being together that we wanted to live with each other, and so we began collecting things for our house. We have tea towels and mugs. We have cutlery and pots and pans. We have a bed and a coffee table. We have lamps and light fittings. But we don’t have a home… yet.

It’s horrible isn’t it… the more you want something to happen, the harder it is to wait for it. I’m so tired of waiting. I feel like I’m being tested constantly and I don’t know why or by whom but I do. I feel like I became such an expert at being patient, that someone is now laughing at me, making me wait once more, purely for their amusement.

I don’t know how long it will be before we can move in together. I don’t know how many more Sunday nights I will cry myself to sleep because he’s not there. All I know is that I don’t want to wait any more. I am sick and tired of waiting, always waiting. I can see our life together in my mind and it looks wonderful. Just how long I’m going to have to wait, is yet another question that will remain unanswered. For now.

Yours Patiently,

Beth Von Black.