The Next Day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, which has to be one of my least liked days of every year.

I posted a 10 slide mini-essay on Instagram, sharing my feelings about the day and how being an adopted person impacts the pinkest day of dotage on on the calendar. You can find my Instagram account here.

The first thing I did after posting was send a message to my sisters, assuring them of my love and telling them I’d posted something about MD and that the post was not about our family.
Thank everything good in the world, they get it, to the degree that than can. They both sent back messages of love and support, which meant so, so much to me. Their words of affirmation made me cry.

I was a little concerned about backlash, so I didn’t tweet the mini-essay, as Twitter can turn nasty fast. I was glad that the people I know on Instagram were supportive of me; I received lovely comments, and a few people shared their own familial connections to relinquishment and adoption.
To each of you, I send my heartfelt thanks.

Speaking or writing about adoption isn’t easy, especially on social media where things can be so easily misconstrued. I did pause before I hit OK, and then I hit it. They were my words, my thoughts and I wanted to share them.

After feeling relieved and buoyed by the response to my post, especially the words from my sisters, I watched MasterChef then binged more of my latest fave series, Power, which is on Stan. (Get on to that, FYI.)

Yesterday wasn’t an awful day, it was a (mildly) difficult day, as it is for lots of people.

Took myself off to bed and fell asleep without any issues. My brain clearly wasn’t finished pondering mothers and adoption though, as I had an incredibly vivid dream in which my family moved out of our family home of over four decades, without telling me. They just left.

In the dream, I was somehow at their new house, which had none of the family’s furniture or belongings, and literally no room for me, even though it was a big house. I couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone on why they left without telling me. It was horrible. Horrible. Absolutely real, and gutting.

I woke up, sprang out of bed and had a brilliant day.


Actually, I woke up feeling literally wrenched out of the dream. I felt the emotions of the dream, abandonment and fear, coursing through me, like liquid neon.

I sat on my bed for more than an hour, trying to will myself to get going, get in the shower, get ready for work. I couldn’t do it.

Finally, I sent a text to my boss and let him know that I was having a difficult mental health day. I don’t sugar coat why I can’t function. No ‘I’m feeling a bit sick’ excuses. Just because pain is mental not physical, doesn’t make it any less real or valid. I was not capable of concentrating enough to work. I now know myself well enough to stay within my limits.

So, straight to the yoga mat, followed by 45 minutes of silent meditation? Sorry, no. Straight into my fluffy pink dressy-gown and then to the coffee machine. I ordered fresh bread on UberEats, thinking eggs on toast would be good, then popped myself on the couch. I finished watching Power (wow!) and just vegged out for a good few hours. No eggs on toast. Shrug.

A couple of people checked in after I posted on Facey and Insta, which was brilliant. I’m glad nobody called, I didn’t want to expend my limited energy on big emotions. I just let myself be in my vulnerable state, and didn’t give a second thought to missing work. I am more important than my productivity, so I chose myself today.

One of the main reasons I find it easy to choose myself is because I have broken the tape that loops in most of our heads shouting ‘compare yourself to others and find yourself lacking’. I don’t play that rigged game anymore.

I needed space and quiet time to let the after affects of that awful dream dissipate. It worked. I even managed a reviving shower by 5pm.

That’s how I got through the next day.

(Re-watching Taylor Swift’s Miss Americana helped too. Thanks TayTay.)

I guess I type all of that, to say this: Choose yourself.
The more often you choose yourself, the easier it gets.
It is within your power.

Annette xx

Lessons from the heart

I’ve had nothing but time on my hands since I was wheeled out of surgery last Thursday. 

Here are some things I’ve been pondering.

Hearts are amazing. 

Really, that should say hearts and heart surgeons are amazing. 

Last Thursday at 10am I lay in the catheter lab, on a bed/slab whatsit which I’m sure has a fancy medical name I don’t know, and two surgeons guided three teensy wires into my heart, and the process didn’t kill me. 

Not only that, they attached those wires to a little electrical box that is now controlling the beating of my heart. 

I mean, wowee kazowee I’ve got my very own internal beatbox!! 

And I was awake while all this happened; though I will say the sedatives they gave me were excellent and I wasn’t really *there* for a lot of the procedure. I would dearly like to pash whoever invented those drugs. 

Nurses are incredible. 

All nurses deserve to be applauded each and every day as they arrive at hospitals and clinics the world over. If you are a nurse or a midwife reading this, I want to say thank you. 
Thank you from the bottom of my beatbox heart. 
What a magnificent job nurses do, caring for people on their most vulnerable days. 
As my procedure wound down last week, the only place I was feeling any pain was my lower back. I was on that whatsit slab for three hours, and my back was not happy about it. 
I was crying under the surgical drape, knowing I had to stay still and let the doctors finish their work, and I asked one of the nurses if she would hold my hand. Without hesitation she grabbed my hand and held it for what I think was about 20 minutes, until I was stitched up and patched up and wheeled back to the ward. I love that nurse! 

Family matters.

Team Hill has been sensationally present and supportive throughout this whole process.
My awesome sisters tag-teamed taking me to and from hospital on surgery day, and my parents have been wonderful in making sure I’ve got everything I need as I recuperate. From having enough fruit at home to coming over to cook for me, to spontaneous pharmacy runs and putting the bins out, they’ve been so helpful. Thank you family! 
A special shout-out goes to my niece Matilda, who let me sleep in her bed that first night after surgery. Her room used to be my room when I was a kid, and there was something wonderfully comforting about peeking out at the night sky from the exact same spot I did that 30+ years ago. 
I reckon the familiarity of home has healing power. 

You got to have friends…

This one’s a biggie. It’s one I’m lucky and grateful to say I’m bigly blessed in. 
I have outstanding friends. Outstanding! 
I’ve had friends rallying and sending me sweet words, and utterly delightful cards and gifts; beautiful art, home made tea bags, care packages bursting with chocolate, flowers, some beautiful soft tees, journals, and magazines. (I hope I didn’t forget anyone or anything!) My workmates even bought me some super cute recovery pjs! 
I am absolutely convinced that all the positive energy that came my way prior to surgery helped me to stay calm on the day. 
I’ve had lots of super uplifting messages from friends old and new, and offers of help, and I’m proud to say I’ve allowed myself to be helped, without worrying about whether it’s an imposition. Pro-tip: when someone offers help and you accept it, you’re not imposing on them. 
Also, when someone else makes you a chicken sandwich, it always tastes at least 84% more delicious. Fact. 
Being stuck at home (I still can’t drive until the end of next week) I’ve been hanging out online a lot and posting a lot of #recoveryselfie photos. It’s great to still be able to connect with people, even if I can’t get out and about. 
On that note, a friend saw a post of mine on Facebook last night, where I was fretting about my wound, and she called to check on me, then turned up on my doorstep after midnight with supplies from the chemist! We gasbagged and laughed for a few hours, so I got to use up some of my words, and even better, I was distracted from worrying about my wound. 
Another beautiful friend offered to cook for me, and arrived earlier in the week with a gigantic basket filled with home-baked, and low sodium, meals. They’ve all been delicious! 
Like I said, bigly blessed. 

Wounds, and hearts, know how to heal. 

it’s extraordinary how the body is built to heal. 
Each day since the surgery, I’ve felt better and better. 
Sleeping has been a massive part of that incremental improvement. 
I’m convinced that the vast majority of us underestimate the power of sleep, not just for post-operative healing, but for daily rejuvenation. We need more sleep. Do whatever you can to get it. 
Generally, I’m not much of a rule follower (you’re shocked, aren’t you?!) but I have been extra diligent about not moving my left arm much, not trying to do all the usual things myself, and it is paying off. 
Yes, I’m bored, and I’ve got cabin fever; but I’d much rather be bored now than land myself back in hospital, or worse, because I didn’t follow doctor’s orders. 
My heart muscle is still damaged, but it is working more efficiently. My pacemaker sees to that. 
My body is wounded, but it’s healing. 
That’s how it’s designed.
Pretty awe-inspiring isn’t it? 
From the couch, 
Annette xxx