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Copyrig ht 0 2013 Miriam Connor The moral right of the author has been asserted.

Ap art from any fair de aling fo r the p urposes o f researc h o r p rivate s tud y, o r c ritic is m o r re view , as permitted under the Copyrig ht. Designs and Patents Act 198H. this publicatio n may only be reproduced, stored or transmit ted, in any form or by any means, with the prior permission in writing o f the p ub lis he rs, o r in the case o f rep rog rap hic rep rod uc tio n 1 1 1 acco rdance w ith the te rms ot lice nces issued b y the Cop yrig ht Lic e nsing Age nc y. Enq uiries conce rning rep rod uc tio n o utside those terms should be sent to the publishers.

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ISBN 978 1783060 382 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Typeset in Adobe Garamond Pro byTroub ado r Publishing Ltd Printe d and bound in the UK byTJ Internatio nal, Padstow, Cornwall

Matador is an imprint ofTroub ado r Publishing Ltd

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CO NT ENT S

1: Clean t rut h

1

2: The la st birt h day pa rty

6

3: Wh at does hope look like?

1 1

4 : Shay

17

5: Se cre ts kee p u s sick

22

6: The diagnosis — wha t it mea nt for u s a s a family

27

7: The dia gnosis — what it meant in te rms of t he kids

3 1

8: The diagnosis — wha t it meant t o drea m

3&

9: Th e dia gnosis - wha t it mea nt on t he me dica l side

42

10: Be ing human

48

UL; How close by is he ?

56

12: Single su rv iv ing

62

13: Shay -le ss

67

lAi A

gu ru a t my ta ble ________________________________ ________ 7 2

1 5: Wh at if the re is no righ t or wrong?

76

1 6: I nee d some wh e re ne w to sta rt from

8 1

17: Adam and Eve we re rav ing a lcoholics

87

18: A ma p of th e grey

93

19: TlieT word

96

2 0: T he T in fa rt

102

2 1: “No one e v e r got dru nk on a n int e llect ual u nde rstanding of wine” 2 2: Ou r ma p of the gre y

106 111

2 3: My ma p of a ny colou r

1 15

2 4: Bou nda ries... hmmm

1 19

2 5: Weight Loss Percentage Calculator and Coconut Oil Stretch Marks 14 2


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h ello. The joy of la nding in the a rms of someone who be lieve s you a re e nou gh . The only ‘ cha nge’ th ey want for y ou is a nyt h ing th at brings you h appiness. In th ose precious mome nt s, I a spire t o be ing t he be st t hat I can be. I t ru st t hat I ma ke good ch oice s. I belie ve tha t I can be more. Its t ime for me t o ma ke t h e some t hing 'more ' h a ppe n.

My first ste p is t o st op aut omat ica lly h iding w h en I me et pe ople. I not ice st range rs on a bu s or at a school meet ing, any whe re. It mat te rs t o me t hat we have more in common tha n we da re t o sh ow. Wh at stops u s gett ing to a pla ce of rea l frie ndsh ip from t he outset? For me it is fea r of humiliat ion. Ex pe rie nce ha s ma de me wa ry of showing too much of myself so I pre sume t o hold eve ry th ing in, unle ss I fee l exce pt iona lly safe. Blending in see ms t o ma ke bette r sense. So I sit on t he bu s looking like a middle a ge d Mu m. I a ppea r hou se t ra ine d, reasona bly sa ne. I ca re t hat we a re a ll pu tt ing ene rgy into h iding ou r less than pe rfect bits from e a ch ot h e r.

I don’t nee d anyone to ex pose the mse lv es but it wou ld be great if we cou ld re lax more. Its not a bou t some big reve al. Its a bou t fee ling sa fe, mak ing it safe for ea ch othe r. Hone st friendsh ip is not a bout say ing wha t we t hink is wrong a bou t anot he r pe rson. It’ s a bout da ring to sh ow u p in honesty a bou t ou rselves. I su spe ct I wou ld ge t th rown off t he bu s if I a pproa che d pa sse nge rs invit ing th em t o re lax, re minding t he m tha t we a ll ha ve bits we h ide. I figu re t he only way to find like -minde d pe ople is to risk be ing rea l my se lf. To see who ju mps up to ra ce off t he bu s or wh o da re s to stay. Tha t is wha t th is book is a bout : risking, rea ch ing out t o pote nt ia l friends or to old pa ls in a fre sh way. Sha ring insight s ba se d on ex pe rie nce rathe r tha n the ories or idea ls. It’ s le ss a bou t

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it wa s le ss th re ate ning for all of u s. Ou r st ory e nde d in a n u nha ppily ev e r afte r, but we ma de some fabulous memories by not sit t ing a rou nd wa it ing for t h a t e nd.

I love d hav ing the priv ile ge of lay ing h im out as he ha d died a t ho me. Cha tt ing my fa re we lls to h im, tende rly mov ing h is now pa in -free limbs. Dea th is a bru pt . Lay ing h im ou t fe lt like one la st gent le hu g. The next morning, Shay wa s re move d from th e h ou se for a fe w hou rs t o be e mba lme d. It was a re qu ire ment because h e’ d ha d che mothe ra py . The k ids presu me d that it wa s t ime to help make the pa rty ha ppen. We we nt t o the fu ne ra l home to pick t he coffin. Grace de spe rate ly wante d a pink coffin. She ke pt pulling at cu rta ins, looking be h ind corne rs, sea rch ing for t he pe rfect hu e. She wa s disgu ste d tha t the re wasn’t e ven a pu rple one

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u nde rstandably t hou ght th at he r t wo ye a r old st omping was a dist rau gh t ch ild picking u p on t he t ension. Gra ce wante d the ve ry be st for he r Da ddy; in he r world t hat was pink. She was fu rious a t the man for be ing so ina de quate ly pre pa re d. We se tt le d on the one su it able for cre mat ion. Brian like d h ow tha t wou ld be Da ddy’s fav ou rite one any way be ca u se it wa s t h e only one wit h woode n h a ndle s.

Gra ce wa s a ppease d t hat ou r ne xt t ask wa s t o find t he birth day cake. Brian a nd Gra ce ha d a gree d tha t it wou ld be a Twe enies ca ke. Gra ce ha d gra ciou sly conce de d t hat t he cake did not have t o be pink beca use Da ddy was a boy. Shay fe lt so close be cause h is cou ra ge t o d iscu ss the se t h ings meant tha t he was a pa rt of it. Using comple menta ry me dicines meant t hat Sh ay ha d ta ken minima l ana lge sia, a llowing him t o re ma in a le rt until the e nd. His fa vou rite way t o spend a ny spa re e nergy wa s to re a d wit h t h e ch ildre n or wa t ch a v ide o. In


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t e rror of ju mping, we fou nd ou rse lv es h olding th e kids h a nds in a circle , fly ing t h rou gh the a ir la u gh ing, e xh ila ra te d. It t ook cou ra ge to bre a k fre e of t he inconce iva bility of Sha y dy ing. Hope me ant looking at a ll possibilit ie s st ra igh t in th e fa ce. T he cha lle nge of h ope is t ha t t he re a re no gu a ra ntee s. Whe n Gra ce wa s a toddle r, he r tende ncy w a s t o gra b. We wou ld su gge st t ha t she ask nice ly if - she wante d somet h ing. She wou ld conce de , a sking “ma y I h av e.. . '’ but wou ld implode if t he answe r wa s no. For h e r it wa s enou gh t o ask th e que st ion. We wou ld t he n t ry t o e x pla in th at h e r ve rsion wa sn’ t as king, it wa s te lling. Hope mea ns da ring t o a sk , e v e n it t h e a nswe r is disa ppoint ing.

Sh ay s Da d ha d die d whe n h e wa s young. It ma tt e re d t o Sha y tha t h is ch ildre n ha ve a diffe re nt ex pe rience to t he one h e ha d wh en h is fa th e r die d. If he cou ldn’ t be t he re for th e kids, he wante d t o tea ch th e m not t o be afra id; t o da re t o ste p int o life, or e ve n de at h. We had le ctu re d Ala n as a te en th at it was a bout wa nt ing wh at y ou ha ve, ra th e r t ha n h a v ing wh a t y ou wa nt ’ .

Now we we re fa cing th is hea d on, it wa s difficu lt t o s wa llow. A post e r t ha t I ha d in th e sev ent ie s su ddenly h it home . “If y ou a re not busy be ing born y ou a re bu sy dy ing”.

D a ring t o hope ble w a h ole in ou r fea rs, it th re w ope n t he window for fre sh a ir t o come in. It ’s not a bou t be ing de lu de d; it is be ing open to a ll t he possibilit ie s. For me it is to resist de ciding th e ou t come , st ay ing wit h th e qu est ion. With so much at sta ke it wa s ha rd work. Ch ildren a re natu ra lly hopefu l, t ru st ing life u nt il prove n ot he rwise . Whe n somet h ing th at ca n fee l ‘ h ope le ss’ ha ppe ns, th ey look t o adu lt s for a ma p of t h is sca rie r v e rsion of t he world. Th ey ca n te ll wh en smile s of e ncou ra ge ment a re

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Th e su mme r a fte r Brian and Gra ce h a d ca lle d u p da ily to Shay in th e sky , t hey we re ou t pla ying on t he green in front of ou r house. Th ey ran in, gra bbing a h u g from me . “If D a ddy wa s h e re h e wou ld pla y wit h u s”. It ha ppene d t hat lots of the ir friends’ Da ds we re out , kicking foot ba ll, wa lk ing dogs. The ch ildren we re mise ra ble, la ment ing how diffe rent t he ir life wou ld be if the y only ha d th eir Da ddy. I ha d to e x pla in. “Da ddy only die d love. T he re’ s a Che lsea foot ba ll ma tch on TV . If Da ddy wa s he re now he would be wa tch ing the ga me, t he re is no way t h a t h e ’ d be ou t on t h e gre e n’. O fte n we pu t ou r dea d on pe desta ls. The ch ildren nee d t o grieve t he ir rea l Da d. Tha t way t hey ca n fee l his rea l love. And Sha y love d t h e m so mu ch .


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wou ld be th e re to su pport him t h rou gh it a ll. Th is ne w guilt, the possibility he would not be the re for h is kids, ha d the potent ia l t o drown him. Shay be gan liste ning to h is body , lea rning t o ju dge wh at he cou ld cope wit h. Any th ing spa re tha t he h a d, he wante d to kee p to sha re wit h t h e ch ildre n.

Before t he diagnosis, Sha y ha d ha d th ree weeks of exhau st iv e t est s, Th is meant fast ing a lmost eve ry day so he ha d ve ry litt le e ne rgy for the bat t le sta rt ing out. Fa cing th e possibilit y of deat h hea d -on was libe rat ing and te rrif ying a ll a t once. We h a d he a rd t hat people who ha d bea ten a prognosis ha d ma de th is a priorit y, a first ste p. Wit h ea ch sma ll v ictory we fe lt empowe re d. It was t ime to focu s on t he wisdom of cha nging what we could change, wh ile le tt ing go of wh ateve r we ha d no cont rol ove r. We committe d to doing ou r ve ry best, t rusting t hat ‘ we wou ld win’. For u s, winning wa s whate ve r t he ou tcome wa s; we cou ldn’t do more tha n ou r be st . It wa s su ch a ha rd roa d. We we re stre tche d all t h e t ime .

We didn’t hav e t he powe r t o stop Shay be ing phy sica lly taken from us. But, by work ing toget he r, he wra ppe d us in an e mot iona l bla nket tha t buffe re d ou r first fe w y ea rs wit hou t h im. Even now, whene ver the re is a specia l occasion, I organise a gift for the ch ildre n from Shay. I sign it with a ca rt oon of Shay wit h wings. In th e ea rly day s of dia gnosis, Shay a nd I h a d spent a da y window sh opping, ima gining what h e might buy for the k ids in a nt icipat ion of birt h day s t hat he migh t miss. It was ha rd t o do, but tha t mea ns I don’t fee l qu ite so a l one whe n I wra p the ir pre sents now. The pra ct ica l gifts t hat h ave meant the most to the m a re t he simple ones like the ir first ca rt ridge pe n. The ir Da d being pa rt of t h e mome nt me a ns t h a t h e fe e ls ne a rby a ll da y in sch ool.


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wind, be lch ing a nd fa rting re gula rly and she h a d nev e r a pologise d. Shay felt it was a te rrible insult to h is Mum who ca re d so we ll for th is pe rson. Th e look he shot in my dire ct ion was t he pent u p ange r at t h is aunt , not me. If only we could have lau ghe d t oget he r, na ming it on th e d rive h ome tha t day. Instea d, I u se d t o plan roa d t rips ide nt ifying loo breaks in a dva nce in case a groan came ou t my rea r e nd. So mu ch ene rgy waste d on a misunde rsta nding. Following tha t conv e rsa tion, Sha y ha d v iv id dre ams whe re lots of u nanswe re d quest ion s from h is ch ildh ood fell int o pla ce . A we igh t of sa dne ss lifte d for h im. Wha t took u s so long?

Giv ing the exe rcise a t ry, Sh ay forgave me for issue s such a s t he way t hat I left k it che n cu pboa rd doors open. It drove h im nut s but he h ad given u p me nt ioning it. I ha d ma de h alf-hea rte d a tte mpt s to kee p them close d but it wa sn’ t importa nt to me, so I ha d ne ve r take n it se riou sly. Sha y a lso v oice d how difficult it was tha t I wou ld discou ra ge h im from be ing a ngry. If I sense d t hat he was tense a bout somet hing, I would cook h is fav ou rite food. If Shay wa s u pset, I h ea rd it as h im be ing u pset with me. I make my world safe by be ing a people plea se r. The proble m is t hat whe n we av oid conflict , it doesn’t go a way ; most of it ends u p stu ck inside t he othe r pe rson. It ge t s st uck in u s t oo bu t we t ry to conv ince ou rse lve s it h as noth ing to do with us. Shay knew th at he h a d t o find h ealthy way s to re lea se the pent up a nge r of a lways h av ing bee n a good boy’. I e ffe ct iv ely ke pt te lling him not to ta ke it out a round me. In my h ea d the re wa s some th ing ‘ wrong’ wit h ange r; whe re as now I get th at wh a t wa s wrong wa s t h e wa y s we h a d be e n t a u ght t o de a l wit h it .

T h e se we re t h e mome nts t h a t ch a nged ou r liv e s t oge t her. Not

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$TRETCttMARKS ON /W SANiTV

The Growing Pains Of Raising A Family


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St re t ch ma rks O n My Sa nit y The Growing Pains of Raising a Family

All Rights Reserved Š 2001 by Linda M. Sharp No part of this book may be reproduced or transm itted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or m echanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system, without the perm ission in writing from the publisher. Writer’s Showcase an imprint of iUniverse. com, Inc. For information address: iUniverse.com, Inc. 5220 S 16th, Ste. 200 Lincoln, NE 68512 w w w. i u n i verse. co m

ISBN: 0-595-17641-0

Printed in the United States of America


Contents

Acknowledgements ..................................................................................... ix Preface ....................................................................................................... xi Introduction ............................................................................................. xiii Chapter 1

How It All Begins

................................................................ 1

Chapter 2

7 he “By-products ** of Parenting

.............................................. 15

Chapter 3

Parenting Is the Same In Any Language: $ % #@!@#$ %!!

.................. 25

Chapter 4

Aging Gracefully... Yeah, Right

................................................. 36

Chapter 5

Taking the Children Out in Public... Do I Haaaaave To?

....................... 44

Chapter 6

Feeding Time at the Zoo

........................................................ 53

Chapter 7

Traveling

........................................................................ 56

Chapter 8

The World from a Child's Perspective

........................................... 66

Chapter 9

My Kids: Same Genes , Different Pools ........................................... 78 Read More:Weight Loss Percentage Calculator Coconut Oil Stretch Marks

• vi i •


S t r et c h m ar k s On M y S an i t y

Ch a pt e r 13

Happy "Hell "idays... Er, Oops , I Mean Holidays

............................ 127

Ch a pt e r 14

Your Own Parents .............................................................. 148 E pilogue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161 About the Aut hor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163


Acknowledgements I would like to thank my family for being the inspiration and perspiration behind this book.

;

To Rudy who bravely falls asleep beside my warped brain each night. To Culley

;

who gifted me with my first hemorrhoids.

To Kendall who reminds me daily that what goes around comes

,

around.

And to Carson who taught me that every cloud does have a silver lining...

,

in her case though it was platinum. I love you all.

• IX •


Giwgtorj nifMtW


Preface In sit t ing down t o writ e t h is book, I conside red t wo v e ry import a nt t h ings. O ne, we a re a ll pa rents, a nd as su ch a re e nga ge d in the most difficu lt job we will eve r fa ce, t hat of ra ising ch ildren. To th at end, we nee d t o la ugh as mu ch a s possible , if only t o ke e p fro m cry ing. T wo, we a re a ll pa rents, and a s su ch a re e ngage d in the most difficu lt job we will eve r fa ce, tha t of raising ch ildre n. (Yes, I a m awa re I have restate d t h e obv iou s.) T o t h a t e nd, we h a v e no t ime t o ou rse lves. So, th is book sha ll att empt to a ddre ss ou r despe rate nee d t o lau gh in the shortest amount of t ime possible. Pick it u p when y ou nee d to be picke d u p. Sta sh it in th e minivan a nd rea d it in the ca rpool line . Th row it into y our pu rse when y ou hav e a doct or s a ppoint ment. (Heck, y ou’ ll probably ge t the wh ole th ing rea d in t he wa it ing room!) lu st don’ t leave it in t he bat h room. We bot h k now y ou ne v e r ge t a ny qu a lity t ime in t h e re a ny way. In ea ch of th ese t wo t o th ree minut e obse rvat ions on pa re nt ing, I we lcome you int o my fa mily’s life and gua ra n te e you will leave th inking t h a t I h a v e be e n h iding in y ou r h a ll close t . (You ne e d t o bu y v a cu u m ba gs, by t h e wa y . )

• XI •


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