Feeling Myself – Episode 1 – The Nine Lives of Mary Meadows

Natasha Bailie – We don’t know why we are starting a podcast after exclusively talking to no-one, for the past year, but we are here. Hi. Welcome to Feeling Myself, a podcast with me, Natasha Bailie, a podcast editor, and my co-conspirator Lauren Ashley Gordon, aka the orgasm influencer, I mean why wouldn’t we have a podcast. We talk about everything from relationships to online dating, therapy sessions to wanking. You can expect real, honest conversations with mates, our therapists and other inspirational humans who are sharing their knowledge and resources to make this life more habitable. It is officially an all rounder and that is what we wanted, an oversharing, self loving, mental dump of love, friendship, life and self worth. Thank you so much for listening and if you like what you hear please rate, like, follow and subscribe.

In this episode we got to talk to Mary Meadows. She is a Life Coach and a NLP Practitioner, don’t worry I wasn’t clear on what that meant until I, myself, got coached. Mary also works within the mental health and wellbeing arm of our, gloriously underfunded, national health service. She is such a badass woman, she is a single mother, a motivational speaker, occasional influencer and one of my best friends. Mary bravely opens her life up, to Lauren and I, and she shares the good, the bad and the ugly. Her reason for doing so is the exact reason we started this podcast, because over sharing is caring. Like us, Mary is unashamedly and unapologetically telling her truth in the hope that sharing her story will help someone listening with the words to ask for help, if they need it.

This episode deals with and discusses, pregnancy loss, post natal depression and anxiety. If that is not something you can hear about right now, please just look after you and skip to the next episode.

Without further ado here is the nine lives, of Mary “Badass” Meadows. Enjoy.

Before Mary came I thought I had better make a list of subjects to talk about, but she has had nine lives, it is actually nine, you are going to die soon.

Mary Meadows – They are pretty epic, the list does go on, I should really write a book.

Natasha Bailie – Although, because I had my notepad open last night and the man came round “ Periods, coils, shagging and blood” was one of the topics and he was like, what the fuck!

Mary Meadows – It is all the stuff that causes shame, isn’t it.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – That is a big therapy topic for all of us, i’m sure.

Mary Meadows – I guess the start of it was my move to Brighton. When I was 18, I went down Sutton high street and saw three school friends, all with babies and drug dealer boyfriends and I thought, do you know what, if I stay here that will be me. I thought I didn’t want that, I want to have an adventure, so I moved down to Brighton. So I just moved here, it took me two weeks and I got myself a job at The Grand, a hotel on the seafront, then I just said to my parents, “I’m moving to Brighton. See you later”

Lauren Ashley Gordon – Off to live the dream.

Mary Meadows – I really didn’t over think it at all, I just did it. I was in Brighton, working at The Grand, for years, it was such an amazing time to be working in hotels. I would be working on reception, doing a late shift which finishes at 11, I would then get changed in the toilet and then we would all go out, to various clubs in Brighton and we would just stay out. We would get home at 5 o clock in the morning, have a shower and then we would be at work at half past 6.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – God, I miss having that kind of stamina. Now i’m like, I need a 3 day recovery period.

Mary Meadows – It was like that for years. Shagging everybody, everything was so incestuous, it was just brilliant. So that is where it started. I met my, now ex, husband also at the hotel. So we met, fell in love, got married, had the big white wedding, but I think I was more about the wedding.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – That does seem to be a common theme for people.

Mary Meadows – Well certainly in hindsight, it was definitely more that someone has asked me to marry them therefore I have to say yes. There was no thinking about if this was the right man for me, do I want to spend the rest of my life with him, I was just thinking I want a wedding, I have to get married before my brother does because he is younger than me, I just want a wedding because that is what we do. My dream in life was to be a homemaker.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – You wanted to live in the 1950’s?

Mary Meadows – I really did. That is really how I thought it would be.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – It is a narrative that we are all fed, a man is going to come, offer us this life, look after us, so we can be these little women.

Mary Meadows – But I really, truly, wanted it. I wanted someone to look after me, I wanted to have children, to me, that was normal. So we got married, we had that fairytale, but then we couldn’t get pregnant. I just assumed, because of the fairytale that we are sold, that once you got married you then got pregnant.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – Yeah, because it is that easy.

Mary Meadows – Well it wasn’t happening. We tried various drugs from the GP and then I had an internal examination, just to check me out, it was discovered that I have polycystic ovaries. He had his sperm tested and that was all fine, so it was definitely me that the problem was with. So then we started our fertility journey, I suppose, and it was just years of IUI, where they put the sperm where it needs to be. We had miscarriage after miscarriage, oh my god, I can’t tell you how many pregnancy tests I must have gone through. I mean the knicker checking was just off the wall, every month, and this was for years.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – That must really take it’s toll, it is such a tough thing to go through.

Mary Meadows – It was my life for about 7 years.

Natasha Bailie – Do you think that’s why a lot of the shame started as well?

Mary Meadows – Yeah, because I couldn’t have a baby.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – And it was all your fault. I can so relate to that, you are completely right, we are sold this dream that it is really easy, you get pregnant, nothing ever goes wrong, you have the baby and it is all perfect. So when something does goes wrong, it is so hard to not think my body failed me, that’s my fault, what’s wrong with me? Where as in reality it is so common but we don’t talk about that as much. It really does build up a lot of shame.

Mary Meadows – We don’t talk about it and it is heartbreaking wanting a baby. I can remember sitting in the reception area of the fertility clinic, there was loads of posters with different statistics on the wall, I was reaching 35 so that is the age that your eggs can start to go down hill. I just remember looking at one of the posters then looking around the waiting room and there were 10 women, including me, and I just thought shit, only 2 of us are going to get babies. We ended up having IVF, we had a couple of goes, we had 2 fresh and 2 frozen goes. Fresh is where they do it straight away and depending on how many eggs they get, they can freeze them. Because I have polycystic ovaries, the drugs that I was injecting, oh my god. My stomach was just this mess of bruises because you have to inject yourself but you can’t inject in the same place that you did it the day before, the drugs are there to increase the amount of eggs you produce but it can go too far the other way and you can die.

Natasha Bailie – Oh my gosh Mary, so it is actually a case of life or death.

Mary Meadows – Basically. I never produced enough eggs, before the egg collection, to be able to freeze any so we only had 2 goes. I was so distraught. The nurse said to me “but they only need one” Two of them took and then i basically just laid on the sofa with my feet up in the air.

Natasha Bailie – How long were you doing all of that for?

Mary Meadows – 7 years.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – That is wild.

Mary Meadows – Then I got pregnant and the anxiety started. It was knicker checking, literally every half an hour. I was just waiting to start bleeding. I was doing pregnancy tests when I was technically 7 weeks pregnant, I was just doing a test every morning.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – There is just so much pressure, isn’t there, it is a silent pressure that you don’t talk about but you just feel the weight of it everyday.

Natasha Bailie – I always think about, I know we always bring her up, but Katherine Ryan.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – We are obsessed with Katherine Ryan.

Natasha Bailie – She spoke about her miscarriage, she was called brave. It’s like the body stuff, if you wear a bikini and you are bigger than a size 16 then you are brave, it’s just life.

Mary Meadows – Exactly. I don’t like it when people call me brave, because I get called that because of the things that I have talked about and the things that I have said and I don’t like it because this should just be normal. It should just be normal.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – You’re right because brave, gives the connotation that you shouldn’t be doing that but you are anyway, well no this is what we need more of. We had the same when I got pregnant, after Dilon, we announced it really early because it hadn’t even occurred to me that something may go wrong. I was just so naive to that. We had announced it on Instagram so what choice did I have but to talk about my miscarriage, I had told everyone I was pregnant. People were saying “oh you are so amazing” what was I going to do, crawl in to a hole, no I had to carry on.

Mary Meadows – I started bleeding when I was about 8 weeks. I was at work and I can remember the blood in my knickers and I just couldn’t even speak. I went to the early pregnancy unit, I must have been holding my breath the whole time I don’t even remember breathing at all and then I heard this heartbeat, there was Albie. I had a very bad pregnancy and so I was anxious the whole time, my body just wasn’t coping at all with being pregnant. I remember my teeth crumbling, there was so much stuff going on. I was in and out of hospital and I just remember crying and saying that I just felt so unwell so as soon as it is safe can we just get him out. Albie was pulled out to Ave Maria.

Natasha Bailie – Oh my god, dramatic.

Mary Meadows – I know! Then I can remember hearing him cry, but that was my last solid memory.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – That was 7 years of trauma, proper trauma, with no proper after care and no support from a mental health perspective and then you just get to go home and forget about it. That is not how it works.

Mary Meadows – So there was a lot of talk about the “baby blues” and stuff, I can remember someone mentioning postnatal depression, but I didn’t know much about it and I certainly didn’t know that that was what was happening. And of course for anyone on the outside it was like, Mary’s dreams have come true, that was it, the dream has come true you must be loving it. I didn’t feel anything, nothing. I went to see the GP and I remember saying to them that when I look at my dog, I have a dog called George who is so fucking cute. I remember saying to the GP that when I look at my dog I get this warm, I want to squeeze you so much type of love and then I would look at Albie and feel absolutely nothing. I knew that it wasn’t right and that is when they started talking about postnatal depression and the fact that I was breastfeeding, so I couldn’t go on the latest type of anti depressants so I could just try these ones, but actually you should just stop breastfeeding.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – I think the dream that we are sold is that actually it is going to be easy, it is super natural, life is a fucking dream, and that is the problem. If we set parents up with the knowledge that this might be fucking difficult and you might have some really fucking hard times, and here is some real, decent, actual proper support, it would be a whole different story. Instead it is yeah, you are on your own, why can’t you make it work? That is your problem. There must be something wrong with you? That is the narrative and that is a real dangerous problem.

Mary Meadows- Albie must have been just over a year old and my ex announced that he didn’t love me any more and that he was leaving, and that he had had an affair. In my head it was totally fixable, we just had spent enough time together and we had just had a baby. Also no one checked in on him, not even me, and all of those things happened to him as well, so I imagine he probably had post natal depression too, but it was never talked about that men could feel anything about all of that. So he had all of that happen to him as well, I can see why the affair happened, the affair was a consequence of what had happened and where we were but it didn’t hurt any less because I could see that. That affair ended our marriage and over night I became a single mum, that was certainly not the dream that I expected.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – Yeah, it is quite far from the 50’s housewife that we had the goal of.

Mary Meadows – Albie was about 18 months and I can remember crying a lot. I can remember him wiping my tears and then going to get the spiderman plasters from the bathroom and saying “ hurt mummy?” I had to tell him that it was my heart that was hurting and we can’t put a spiderman plaster on my heart.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – That’s another one for the guilt pile, isn’t it?

Mary Meadows – That was then the start of my big adventure. And of course now, he is 9, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – Yeah. It is really hard, isn’t it. Me and Dilon are very similar, we have been alone from a really early age and I had very similar situations. It used to kill me that I cried infront of him so much, I just had so much guilt about him having to see me so upset, so often, but actually we went through so much together. I mean they are your kid so it is a weird dynamic, but because it is just the two of you we have such an incredible bond, we went through this stuff together, we survived it because of each other, we were all we had so it was quite a magical time too, in a weird way.

Mary Meadows – I agree. I think it is really intense, it is hard to understand unless you have had a lived experience of it, but looking back it was really magical and special, and I really enjoy the relationship now.

Natasha Bailie – So it wasn’t the dream, but you created your own dream.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – That is the lesson isn’t it, that’s the lesson.

Mary Meadows – I think it is always our expectations that kind of fuck us up.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – 100% yes.

Mary Meadows – Even making a fucking birthday cake. It is our expectations, it is what we are sold, this Pinterest mum shit. You try making a spiderman face on a fucking cake with red icing.

Natasha Bailie – I wouldn’t though, I would just buy it.

Mary Meadows – * Laughing

Lauren Ashley Gordon – It is like what we talked about last week, Natasha, about the half terms and stuff. We think we have to make the half terms amazing, we must have 7 days out, but we are doing that to ourselves. Our expectation is what is causing that, if we just accept that we are going to have a nice time and probably just do nothing then that is great, the kids will love it.

Mary Meadows – When I first separated women friends and at groups, really started to open up to me about how imperfect their marriage was, however even when you know that, it still didn’t change how I felt.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – Our logical brain knows all of those things and you can tell it all of that stuff but the emotion runs a whole lot deeper, logic doesn’t really matter to that young self that is feeling all the deep hurt, the shame, and the guilt, logic doesn’t get through to that part of you. Like you said, even if you know the reality, it doesn’t change the feeling.

Mary Meadows – People have to know a lot of things that are going on in my life, it is the fact that Damien doesn’t have to explain where he is, or he doesn’t have to plan things in advance, he could go to the pub tonight without a care in the world, so I do hold a lot of resentment about that. Not that I would change it, which is where that conflict of emotion comes in, because I wouldn’t change it, I don’t want anything different but that doesn’t stop me feeling very resentful.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – And both things can be true too, you can feel resentful and also feel grateful for what you have and not what to change it.

Mary Meadows – And having to have a really intentional way of living and having to intentionally carve out the time for the things that you really want to do and really make them happen.

Natasha Bailie – Absolutely, and it is the constant conversations that have to happen. I went to London last week for one night, I was just thinking I need to tell Ian that I am going to London. So I told him and he was like “ okay, I was in London on Monday and Tuesday” and I didn’t know that beforehand, I guess I didn’t need to know, but it is just so weird, because I feel bad that if I was in London and he didn’t know I was there, what if the kid needs something. But he just said that he doesn’t think like that, I was like, wow okay.

Mary Meadows – They don’t, it’s mad, I genuinely don’t think they think like that.

Natasha Bailie – I get jealous, I am jealous.

Mary Meadows – Yes, jealous of that life, jealous of that freedom.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – I think a lot of people will resonate with that feeling. Even when I don’t have Dilon I always feel like I have to be available or feel bad if I’m not, even if he is with his dad, it is such a strange feeling. That is probably, if I am being brutally honest, the reason why my last relationship failed was 1000% my co parenting relationship and because I had a kid, and because there was more than just me and him in that relationship.

Natasha Bailie – When I had Max, I then started to really invest in the women in my life, emotionally invest, and now I wish that friendships were romanticised more, like romantic relationships are.

Mary Meadows – Absolutely. Would you look at the fucking movies, I got the right hump a couple of months ago, when are the movies going to catch up with the awareness that we have now, this whole conversation.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – What is that one with Lady GaGa?

Natasha Bailie – A Star is Born?

Lauren Ashley Gordon – Yes, that one. Oh my god I watched that and I wanted to put a brick through my tv, he is awful and she just completely looses who she is because she is in love with him, I do not need that romanticised any more.

Natasha Bailie – I always think that, my favourite Disney film was The Little Mermaid, she literally had to loose her voice to grow legs. I mean what the actual fuck!

Mary Meadows – I know. It still goes on though doesn’t it, I feel like it is my duty in my parenting, to show that family units work differently. I talk about Natasha a lot, Albie has a wonderful relationship with Natasha, she is my chosen family, well that is how I feel it is. Families look different and you get to choose that, but it all starts with deciding what you want in your life. I think that is why I became a Life Coach because I want to help people figure out what they want. It is very easy to figure out what you don’t want, a lot of what we have just been talking about is what we don’t want, we don’t want to see that romanticised, we don’t want to see those movies, we don’t want this, but we don’t actually talk about what we do want.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – Yeah. We spend so little time focused on that especially, not to generalise, but as women and as mothers when so much of our lives feel like it is supposed to be about other people, it kind of feels like you are not allowed and that it is selfish to think about, what do I want to do, what do I want out of my life.

Mary Meadows – All of those things don’t come naturally to me and it has taken a long time to get here.

Natasha Bailie – Bloody hell, what a battle though. we have now entered the periods, coil, shagging and blood section of our agenda.

Mary Meadows – Lovely. Again, this is another story that you get sold. So my mum, her mother, and her sister, all had heavy periods so I just thought it was normal to use a super+ tampon and a nighttime towel at the same time and to soak through both of those. I went to the doctors and she said, it doesn’t have to be like that, you could just get the coil fitted. So I just said, yep stick it in. Then didn’t really think about it for five years. Two years ago, it was due out so I just thought, do you know what, I think I will just have it taken out and see what my body and my cycle is doing. So I had the coil taken out and then I basically didn’t stop bleeding, I tried everything to sort it out. I tried changing what I was eating, I tried seeing a herbalist, I tried acupuncture, but I think my uterus had just given up. It got to the point that I was bleeding for so long, I think 62 days, I didn’t have any blood left. My GP is amazing thank god and she had me booked in for blood tests every Friday morning, she said to me “ Mary, have you just done the school run?” I was like, yep. She goes “I don’t know how you are standing up, you need to get to A&E immediately, they are waiting for you with a blood transfusion”
We put up with so much and we carry on through so much.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – And it is normalised so much, I know so many people who deal with debilitating cramps and they just have to crack on. What else are you meant to do, I don’t have the privilege of being able to lay on the sofa and not get up for four days, who is going to do all the other stuff?

Mary Meadows – From what I learnt, when I was so into it, a heavy period is not normal. If you are having a heavy period, then something is not right.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – I think if it is affecting your life in any way, whether that is heaviness, cramps, if it is causing a problem for you in your daily life, you need to get it sorted out.

Mary Meadows – So I tried everything, I went to see a Gynaecologist and asked if a hysterectomy was an option. They said I was a bit young but yes. So I had it all out in March, last year, as soon as I had my operation I was technically in the menopause, which is a whole new ball game. It just is like, when is my body going to behave! So I have been in A&E with palpitations, basically thinking I was dying, apparently palpitations are a menopause symptom.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – See this is yet another thing that we just don’t speak about. You have got the stereotypical hot flashes, but that is all we are ever told about the menopause, then it starts happening to you and you are like what the fuck is this.

Mary Meadows – And the only reference point that I have for anything kind of menopausal is the sort of joke, because it is always made in to a bit of a joke, around hot flushes and mood swings, that is not the reality of it. Also any leaflets or magazine that you see, you are seeing women that don’t look like me, they look like my nan, that is what we are looking at.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – I am trying to think, the only reference I can even think of, of the menopause in tv and the media is Samantha, in Sex and The City the movie.

Mary Meadows – The first thing that I would recommend is, knowledge is power. We need to talk about it more. We need to ask more questions and I also think that we need to share resources as well, because you are nearly 40.

Natasha Bailie – Hey! Come on.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – There will 100% be people listening who can relate in some way and will feel a hundred times lighter knowing, shit, it’s not just me.

Mary Meadows – And that is why I do what I do on Instagram and why I jump at the chance to be on podcasts and things like this because I was that women sat on her sofa with a screaming baby Googling. I want to see a survivor of postnatal depression, I want to see some hope that it gets better, I want to see the realness of it, I don’t want a doctor or a medical opinion, I want to know from another person.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – This is it, I am not an expert in anything but I can share my lived experiences and I think there is so much power in that, there is so much power in the solidarity of that, we are in this together.

Natasha Bailie – All we can do is just keep talking.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – I have to apologise because we have been talking about some really serious subjects and the whole time I have just been squeezing my dildo. I think that will be a really powerful episode though and hopefully people will take loads from it. Genuinely thank you very much for sharing your story with us.

Natasha Bailie – You are very brave.

Mary Meadows – Yeah.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – #Brave. Am I meant to say that thing they always say, rate, subscribe, wherever you get your podcasts.

Natasha Bailie – Well….you just said that, so thats great.

Lauren Ashley Gordon – Love you. Bye.

Natasha Bailie – If you, or anyone you know, are struggling with any issues mentioned in this episode, please ask for help. We have left some helpful links in the show notes, for anyone that requires it. You are not alone and we hope that by sharing more stories, like Mary’s, we can create a community and a safe space for anyone who requires it.

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