On the 29th of November 2014, just over a year ago, I listed my first Cutie on Etsy. Christmas was coming up, my health was not in a good way, mentally and physically.
Shaun and I went through two heartbreaking losses that year, a loved one and my fertility and without wanting to sound too much like a cliché, our love and understanding of each other was pretty much all that held us together. (And a lot of patience from Shaun). No family close by to support us (my lovely Ma and Pa are so far away) and a lot of strong feelings for us both to handle and deal with.
Shaun lost his Christmas spirit completely (he’s a big fan and great at picking presents!), I don’t think I’ve ever had it so without him to push me, a tiny bit of tinsel stuck in the corner of a mirror was about the only gesture we made for the holiday season. We both just wanted it to come and go as quickly as possible and with no fuss.
And it did, because it always does, Christmas is just another day.
For some it’s a family time filled with joy and happiness, for others it’s a time to miss people, a lonely time, and it’s highly inflated by the hype that goes with it!
For me, having spent many Christmases on my own or at work, it just became another day. I have nothing against Christmas, I just think it’s for kids. So up until a couple of years ago I had no children and therefore I didn’t make the fuss. In the last two years, it’s been a painful reminder of the fact that I can’t have them and it’s pretty much torture every year including the one coming up. Adverts on TV, toys all over the shops, other people’s children getting all “Christmassy” on Facebook (other social network are available).
So this time last year we were pretty bummed out, all I did was craft and cry, and the only think I really wanted was for my life to be over. Absolutely no hope. I’ve told the story about how Facebook and people’s total lack of interest in what I was trying to do almost tipped me over the edge, I don’t want to think about it anymore. I lost a lot of good friends too in the last few years however, in this post, I want to focus on the positive.
Fast-forward to last week, one year on.
I’ve got myself a tiny fundraising business and it’s ticking over! This year has been a rollercoaster that never seems to end but Shaun and I finally have a tiny glimmer of hope, at last.
There are far too many people to thank for me to name any, but you all know who you are and this post is for you.
Madebysteffieb has not just been about making the money we need for IVF, it has kept me alive and given me a focus.
Not only have 300 Cuties been adopted, I have an inbox full of new friends, my days are filled with things to make and do and most importantly, I am still here. It has been tough to not give in and to keep pushing myself, every day and every night, trying to make sure that my downs don’t take over my weeks, persevering to keep growing and improving.
There has been a couple of hiccups, bad people with bad intentions, there always is, but I’ve learned to move on quickly. I don’t have time to waste anymore, I’m going to be 43 this year, and in two-years time, IVF is over for me. I can’t get bogged down with the negativity and to be honest, it wouldn’t be fair on you and the support you give me if I was to always let it get to me.
I am so proud of myself for everything I have achieved and I am so grateful for the wonderful man that stands by my side, day in, day out, believing in me, encouraging me and loving me no matter what.
Please don’t think I’m ungrateful, I’m not, I’m not a greedy person who wants diamonds or a big house, I just can’t cope with the fact that I can’t have children. Just writing it down is bringing tears to my eyes. My depression is not going away but I think I’ve done well at managing it in recent months.
I have met the most amazing people I could have hoped for this year. As I said before, online friends or not, it is YOU that have kept me here. Children, young people, men, women, parents, older people, it’s like I have a new virtual family. Real caring souls all around me and it doesn’t matter what time of day it is, there is always someone around and Shaun can finally get some sleep! I call you my angels.
I have professional people advising me on how to improve what I do or simply giving me the reassurance that I am going it the right way. An artist who actually drew Dotty (Oh Dotty!) for me. A couple of Cuties “accessories” to add to my range, who would have thought!
Cuties in a café, a restaurant, an online shop selling my Dotty bags and Dotty cards at my local post office… It may sound like nothing to the big businesses out there but to me, it’s something I achieved alone, despite the mountain I still have to climb and despite my deep sadness.
People taking me seriously after three years of medical negligence, daily battles and a complete lack of acknowledgment for it, trust me it means a lot.
Without you all supporting me, believing in me and most importantly acknowledging me, I would be nowhere, so you get points too for my achievements in the last year.
I’ve even managed to write a few blogs and people have actually read them! I’m still struggling with sharing the bad times but in all honesty, madebysteffieb keeps me so busy that most of the time it’s easier to mess around with my sidekick then it is to indulge the misery and write about it. I don’t do well at all when I concentrate on the negative and beside, nothing has changed yet, I still can’t have a child and it still cripples me with sadness everyday. I don’t feel the need to keep repeating myself.
Our fundraising is going really well, I would be lying if I said I was completely happy with it but this is only my impatient side talking because I don’t have the time to wait, my age is such a big issue. However, considering we started with nothing, we are close to one go and it’s amazing.
Quite a few of you have taken part in the Cuties sagas, sharing them and having fun with them, you have no idea how much it means to me when I see you posting them online. It always makes me smile, thank you for taking the time. Some of you have albums of your Cuties on our website. Please keep sending them in, it’s always a pleasure to add you on there.
I also hope you have enjoyed Dotty’s adventures, it’s been fun making them and I hope that the page will keep growing with more in the new year.
I couldn’t round up the year without mentioning Dotty, my little Cutie, my good luck charm, my best pal! Some of you may know I nearly lost Dotty a couple of months ago, it was not a good day! I thought I’d lost my force, the thing that drives me daily but luckily she was handed in a shop and we were reunited after about three hours… Pfeww! You should have seen Shaun’s face when I realised she was gone! I think he’s secretly grown attached to Dotty too.
Dotty is my saviour and to this day, she still sits with me everyday when I do what I do, and I still love doing what we do together. So, to my Dotty, I love you and I’m sorry you keep having to go in the wash!
A huge massive thank you to everyone who has ever been in touch, adopted, shared, written about us, you are amazing and I really mean this from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you for your love and support, I hope you fell my love back when you receive your little Cuties and when we chat, you mean the world to me.
Please keep helping, we are just over £1500 away from being on our way to the clinic for our first try…
So, Dotty and I have got together and made a mini movie… (with a surprise for Dotty) as a special thank you. I know I’m no Spielberg but I really hope you enjoy it. The story also includes a special Cutie called Millie. You’ll find details about Millie on our page. We don’t actually personally know Millie but this is our gift to her for Christmas. The story will be out over the next few days with our Newsletter so look out!
Oh and by the way, Shaun’s Christmas spirit has appeared back and he’s roped me into it, so we got a Christmas tree!
To say thank you doesn’t seem enough, but it’s the biggest Thank You we’ve ever given.
Have a wonderful Holiday whatever you are doing and may all your dreams come true in 2016.