Archive of ‘parenting’ category

Diagnosis

Diagnosis: the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms.

This time next Thursday, I will be sat at home with my fasting six year old, waiting to take him into hospital for a lobectomy. Surgery where he has to have part of his right lung removed because it is permanently collapsed, and what remains is a hot bed for mucus and bacteria.
This diagnosis and operation has been a very long time coming and, whilst I know that it needs to be done urgently before the rest of his lung is affected and he needs a more serious remedy, the preparation for a stay in hospital and surgery like this is not easy.
When my son was born he was a healthy baby weighing in at 8lbs 10oz. I had a normal delivery and we were home the next day. He fed well and after an initial scary weight loss continued to thrive. There were a few strange things that happened, which each of them on their own should not have rung alarm bells, but looking back now maybe were all connected. He failed his newborn hearing test, in itself not unusual, and soon after passed one at the hospital and was given the ok. He had reflux, as many babies do, but vomited blood one day when he was a couple of weeks old. The doctor checked him over and said it was nothing and a one off, which technically it was. Then at four months old he had an anoxic seizure. Again, he was referred to the hospital and checked over and they said it was a one off, which again, it was. (We did buy a breathing alarm for the cot after this, which thankfully never went off.) He had the usual coughs, colds and viruses, but nothing that required hospitalisation or more than one dose of antibiotics.
But he was always full of snot and mucus and had a permanent cough. It was present in the winter, spring and summer and was no worse day or night, but it was there and ever present and when he was two and a half was diagnosed with asthma. I remember telling my mum, right then and there after that diagnosis that he wasn’t asthmatic. That it was something else. But we trusted the doctors and gave him a brown preventative inhaler every day.
And he started to waste away.
Dark circles appeared under his eyes and he began to fade in front of us. He looked skeletal and every photo I have of him at that time I have had to delete because they broke my heart.
Again back to the doctors we went and he was put on protein shakes, as he was malnourished and failing to thrive. This was when the phlegm vomiting started. If he laughed, cried, ran too much or sometimes simply for no reason at all, he would cough until he threw up a yellowy grey pool of mucus. An urgent referral was made to a paediatrician, however the wait was for twelve weeks minimum.
We couldn’t imagine what would’ve happened had we have had to wait those twelve weeks and were so lucky that my husband had private health insurance. I spent over a day on the phone to various different people and ended up getting an appointment for the next week.
At that first appointment my son was checked over, had his chest and heart listened to and the initial thoughts were that maybe he had a cow’s milk protein allergy, reflux and possibly something wrong with his immune system. Bloods were taken, we were given Omeprazole for the reflux and advised to go dairy free, with a follow up appointment made for in a few months.
When we returned a couple of months later, I said that he was better, but not fixed. So we were referred to an ENT specialist who said maybe his tonsils needed to come out, but because he was not 100% convinced this was the problem and I did not want my son to have an unnecessary operation, we decided against it. The ENT doctor gave us some Flixonase for allergic rhinitis and off we went again, now with two different sorts of medication.
A few months later we were back and yes, again I said things were ok, the early morning marathons of coughing and retching were less frequent, but still I didn’t think we’d cracked it. So this time we were sent away with Montelukast to help my son’s lungs as the cough and phlegm vomiting were ever present.
I remember during this long period of time, when I was back and forth to the paediatrician, how frustrated my husband and I were. The paediatrician always said that with children they work very differently to how they do with adults in that they don’t do any investigative tests and work empirically. To us it seemed like they were just throwing medicines at us and I wondered if we’d still be going there in ten years time with our son now on a hundred different types of medication.
But what choice did we have other than to trust them and go with it? He was improving after all, and with each new medication we hoped we’d finally cracked it and solved the puzzle.
We returned again, a year ago, and this time we were given Certirizine, which is an anti-histamine.
The phlegm vomiting and cough all but disappeared and we started to reintroduce some dairy. He began to put on weight and had more energy than he’d had in a long time. The combination of the four different types of medication seemed to be working.
However in December, the paediatrician noticed that he had some clubbing of his fingernails, a sign of lung disease, and ordered an immediate chest x-ray, which showed a collapse of the lower lobe of his right lung.
Our son needed a four-week course of antibiotics in an attempt to re-inflate the lung. It didn’t work.
We were then referred to a respiratory paediatrician who told us some hard facts.
This could be congenital and he was born with a diseased lung. Or it could’ve happened from him having a nasty virus that damaged the lung. He could’ve aspirated something, which had caused the collapse. Or he may have a genetic condition called PCD, which had led to this happening.
There was so much to take in and the advice was that he would need antibiotics for the foreseeable future before having to undergo a bronchoscopy to look into his lung, followed by a two-week stay, on IV antibiotics, in hospital with vigorous physiotherapy to try and re-inflate it.
We spent three long weeks in the Children’s Hospital and he had IV antibiotics, two bronchoscopies and intensive physiotherapy all to no avail and so, at the next outpatients appointment, were sent for an immediate CT scan, which showed permanent damage to the lower lobe of the lung. It was never going to inflate fully again and needed to come out before it infected the rest of his otherwise healthy lung.
The operation is risky because the lung has been collapsed for so long and I’m dreading it, but that is where we are. He has on-going tests to try and determine the cause of the collapse, which we still don’t definitively know, however several results do point towards the genetic PCD condition, which has implications for his younger brother, who too coughs constantly.
He is a wonderful six-year old who has, remarkably, taken all of this in his stride. He hates cannulas (or ‘nasties’ as he calls them) but knows they need to be done, and if you ask him how he is he will tell you, in a very matter of fact way, that he has to have some of his lung chopped out, and that afterwards he will feel better and get all the presents in the world. Children are so resilient and are masters at not worrying about something unless they have to.
I could learn a lot from him.

Collapse

Collapse: verb (used without object) to fall or cave in: crumble suddenly: to sink into extreme weakness: (of lungs) to come into an airless state.

 

There’s a lot of time to think when you are in hospital for two weeks. Seconds, minutes and hours to get lost in your own imagination…or frustrations…or neuroses. 

You see things differently when you have a child who is unwell, at least I have. I don’t care about my weight, or money, or housework, or the little things. So what if someone is rude to me for no reason – it’s their problem and a reflection of how their day is going not mine. Who cares if I’m a bit late, or forget to reply to a text message the same day – true friends understand. 

These two weeks have taught me many things. 

already knew that I am very much a person who is both a people pleaser – desperate to be liked – and someone who can be quite intolerant of people. In many respects the latter has intensified during our time in here. Some people really do stress about the most ridiculous of things – which I guess are relevant to them, but still. And yes, that may sound harsh, but I…don’t…care. 

I’ve learnt how amazing nurses, physios, doctors and anaesthetists are. They are seriously awesome. They work so bloody hard and go above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis. There are so many things that happen in children’s hospitals that have blown me away. Right now, my 5yo is sat with Wilf, a bubbly storyteller who is reading him a monster book that he is allowed to keep thanks to a wonderful charity called Readwell. My son isn’t usually a talker, but has opened up and is chatting like he’s known Wilf for years. The people who work here know children, and know how to make them feel safe and important. And of course they are wonderful at supporting us parents too. 

I’ve also learnt about the never-ending resilience of lovely little people. They simply go with how they are feeling at that moment in time and never, ever wallow in self-pity. They get on with it, day after day. No matter what is taken out of them, or injected into them. They may complain at the time, but when it’s done it’s as though it didn’t happen in the first place and their smiles are soon back in place. (Disclaimer: bribery and corruption may, of course, help to inject them with a bit of bravery!)

And of course, although my son is seriously poorly with a collapsed lung that is proving to be very stubborn and reluctant to inflate, and although he is puzzling the doctors as to why this has happened, even though he has a list as long as my arm of other symptoms, he is in himself doing a very good job of appearing to be a perfectly healthy young boy. There are many reasons why a child may be unwell, and varying degrees of how this affects them, I am talking here about my experience with my son. 

I knew sleep would be rare, but I’ve learnt that I can survive on less slumber than I thought. I’ve had a hunger that has in no way been satisfied, but have learnt to listen to my body and eat whatever I’ve craved – my figure will still be there under the blubber and waiting to return when I stop stuffing my face through comfort eating.

I didn’t know I could spend so long in one room (my son has been in isolation) and have dealt with my anxieties and stresses in ways I hadn’t considered before. (You all need Omvana in your life!)

I’ve learnt that one of the most painful sounds is that of a sick, young baby crying. 

I’ve learnt that noise cancelling earphones and Netflix have been the best way to spend the evenings and distract me from the many noises a hospital emits.

The generosity and love from others has been overwhelming. I don’t like being pitied, and have never been good at asking for help, but I have learnt that everyone wants to help and even if you don’t let themthey often do so anywayI’ve also learnt that everyone helps in their own individual way – ways as individual as the people offering the help are themselves – and to gratefully accept it all.

still need to learn to lock myself away from the outside world a little less, but must admit I have found it hard repeating my son’s current condition over and over again to so many different people. I love that they care and I am so humbled by the amount of people whoare thinking about him and need to know how he is, but at times it’s been too hard to talk to them all. What do people expect me to say when they ask how I am? How the hell do they think I am? I’m drained. I’m broken. I’m in a constant sleep deprived, anxiety ridden state. We’ve been here for two weeks. Two intense weeks of general anaesthetics, bronchoscopies, ciliary brushings, blood tests, X-rays, mucus tests, biopsies, physio, antibiotics, nebulisers, tubes up noses and into stomachs and more. There have been no diagnoses, only things we now know it’s not, and the lung is still partially collapsed. Harsh as it sounds it’s beeeasier to ignore people who ask me how I am than to tell them the truth and for that I am sorry. I’ve cried, I’ve had panic attacks, I’ve shouted, but I’ve done it. And I couldn’t have done it without every single one of those people who care having been behind me all the way.

I’ve learnt how my son is so very much loved. The get well soon’ cards and gifts from his friends have filled his hospital room, meaning he has never been short of things to do. Visits and video messages have put that infectious grin back on his face and given him renewed energy and strength. 

I’ve learnt how mature a thirteen year old can be. My daughter has been such an amazing support and has quietly got on and organised herself whilst we’ve been to and fro from the hospitalMy two year old has also surprised with me with how aware he is that something isn’t right. He’s needed a lot more cuddles during the last couple of weeks when I have seen him. Mind you, so have I. I miss being at home as a complete family. 

I knew my mum was wonderful and amazing and supportive and she has done nothing but cement that knowledge. She is the best.

I knew how bloody brilliant my husband was. He’s stepped in during the night shifts when it all got too much for me and I needed to go home. He’s listened to me rant. He’s wiped away my tears. And he’s not complained (much!) and was always there when we needed him. He has been such a support whilst also dealing with his own emotions. Not to mention the fact that he had to cancel his yearly snowboarding holiday. That did not go down well!

I’ve learnt that some illnesses are hard to diagnose and even though you want your children to be fixed, it’s not always straightforward. Trusting doctors can take a lot of effort at times, amazing though they usually are. 

I’ve learnt that I can cope with more than I realised. 

And finally…I knew that my five year-old son was awesome…but he has blown me away these last two weeks.

Fingers crossed we get some answers soon – I’m still learning to be patient.  

       

Mrs Vyle

It will come as no surprise to you to discover I love books. Reading them, and writing them has always been such a huge source of enjoyment to me. And as a mother and a teacher one of my passions is instilling a love of reading for pleasure in children – something that is not always easy.

Luckily there is such an amazing array of talented new writers around to help! One of them – James Hallsworth, a father of two who writes fun, rhyming storybooks for young children – sent me a copy of the manuscript of his brilliant new children’s book, Mrs Vyle.

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Mrs Vyle has been illustrated by the fantastic Helen Braid (who illustrated A Monster Ate My Mum for me) and contains all of the ingredients for a book that children will love.

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Here is a summary of the book taken from James’s web page..

A strange and unpleasant new teacher has arrived in class. Pointy claws, sharp yellow fangs and skin that is definitely bit green: could she be a monster? Join the smart and brave classmates as they reveal the truth about their slobbery, smelly and green-ish imposter – despite the snooty Molly. But who can help them overcome the terrible Mrs Vyle…??

It’s written in rhyme which helps the story to flow perfectly, and James is currently very close to the 250 pre-orders he needs in order for Mrs Vyle to be published with Britain’s Next Bestseller. So if you love slobbery monster-teachers, cheeky children and books that are fun and silly, then visit his site, pre-order the book and make his day! Check it out and get more information here…
https://britainsnextbestseller.co.uk/index.php/book/index/MrsVyle

Review of the BOB Revolution® PRO

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As you all know I love being a BRITAX Mumbassador! Recently I was lucky enough to be given another amazing opportunity through them, and was sent the new BOB Revolution® PRO to review. It’s a pushchair unlike one I’ve ever had before, and has fast become one of my favourites.

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Since reviewing the B-Motion 3 I’ve favoured three wheeled pushchairs, they’re easier to push, and in my opinion a smoother ride. The BOB Revolution® PRO was no exception! Perfect for travelling easily over different terrains it is a dream to control when power walking or running, and is very easy to manoeuvre.

Designed with the busy parent in mind, the new BOB Revolution® PRO stroller is the first pushchair on the market that has a front swivel wheel which is safe and approved for running in the UK and Europe. So you can run to the shops and back all with your little one in tow! It also has hand-activated rear drum brakes and is perfect for using on steep hills!

Things I love about the BOB Revolution® PRO

*Ease: The pushchair is extremely easy to put up and collapse and is one of the easiest systems I’ve seen. By pressing on two leavers and pushing the top of the stroller forwards it neatly folds up, then you can pull up on a handle to place in a car or to where it’s stored. There is a strap and clip to keep it folded down, however I rarely use this as it sits neatly in the boot of my car without needing it to be clasped shut.

*Manoeuvre: As I’ve already mentioned this pushchair is a dream to push, whether you’re walking, power walking or running in sport mode, it is smooth and can easily be pushed and controlled using one hand. Lifting the front wheel up to go up onto a pavement is done using a light touch, and the break on the handlebar offers extra control. Its state-of-the-art adjustable suspension system provides an exceptionally smooth ride. The pushchair has high-impact polymer composite wheels with pneumatic tyres to take on tough terrain. I’ve used it in woodland, on the beach and off road and it has been amazing!

*Extra features: We love the large viewing window on the top of the canopy. I can easily see if my toddler has fallen asleep and he can see me when he needs to. The little pockets at the side of where he sits are also brilliant, allowing me to place a water bottle or snack there ready for when he’d like them so I don’t have to interrupt my walk/run. The canopy is also extra large and perfect letting my toddler snooze in the shade.

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What I don’t love about the BOB Revolution® PRO

*Size: Whilst it’s not the largest pram I’ve owned it is quite long and I have regularly found myself accidentally knocking people heels. (which NEVER goes down well) The back two wheels are quite wide and when I have used the pram when shopping I have found it too wide for some stores, knocking several things off the shelves in the process! Perfect in a supermarket though for your post-workout snack shopping!

*Weight: Even though it is a lightweight stroller, for me it still feels quite heavy and cumbersome to lift. It wouldn’t put me off buying the pushchair as the positives outweigh this issue for me. And besides, it’s a pram for fitness fanatics and so lifting it has just become part of my exercise routine! 😉

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If you are a busy parent who loves the outdoors I would definitely recommend the BOB Revolution® PRO. It is a brilliant pushchair to use when out and about walking, power walking or running – with the reassurance of knowing your little one is comfortable along the ride!

I was sent the BOB Revolution® PRO to review by BRITAX as part of the Mumbassador Program.

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Happiness

Happiness: Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

I didn’t think it possible,
A dream I’d always chased.
Wishing, hoping, yearning.
Not wanting life to be a waste.

Courage came from deep within.
Forced myself to try.
Worked harder than I ever have before,
Not once questioning why.

Supported by so many people,
All believing I could succeed.
Encouraging, listening, inspiring.
Giving me everything I could need.

I chased my dream and caught it,
I’m so excited I could cry.
Like a dragonfly emerging from a pond,
I’m spreading my wings preparing to fly.

Life is for the taking,
Grab it with both hands.
Don’t stay in stagnant water,
Fly away to different lands.

Spread your wings and gather speed,
Do what you were born to do.
For the only person responsible for
Your happiness is you.

Prose for Thought

Little Casa Pyjamas Review

I’ve always loved pyjamas…especially on children! They signify the end of what has usually been a very busy day, and means that bed time is on the horizon!

Recently I was emailed by Little Casa – an online children’s clothing store – and asked if I’d like to review some of their baby clothes. Which of course I did, and of course I chose pyjamas!

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Little Casa do a huge range of gorgeous clothing for children, at affordable prices. Jumpers, sleep suits, vests, pyjamas and so much more – there is a great range, including many top brands.

I chose the Superman pyjamas for my youngest (ok well, my 5 year old chose them to match his!) and we love them. They are made from 100% cotton so are perfect for delicate skin. So comfortable, they don’t lose shape or colour no matter how many times you wash them (which for us has been quite a few times now) and fit really nicely. Aged 2-3 years they’re a good size, not too baggy and yet plenty of room for growth!

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As you can see my youngest was more than happy in them, becoming sleepy as soon as I put them on! 😉

There is such a fantastic range of children’s clothes aged 0 – 6 years old and bedding on the website, that I can see myself shopping there again and again – especially now there is currently an offer for free delivery on orders over £30! Check out http://www.littlecasashop.com and have a look!

BRITAX’S B-Motion 3 wins award!

BRITAX’S B-MOTION 3 STROLLER AWARDED PRESTIGIOUS
WHICH? ‘BEST BUY’ AWARD

UK – May 2014: Today, leading family lifestyle and child safety brand, BRITAX, is delighted to announce that its lightweight, three-wheeler stroller, the B-MOTION 3, has been awarded the highly coveted ‘Best Buy’ award from Which? Magazine.*

The super smart stroller, which launched in 2013, achieved an outstanding rating after undergoing rigorous independent testing by the Which? team. The perfect choice for parents looking for a one-stop solution to their pushchair woes, the versatile B-MOTION 3 scored top marks for manoeuvrability on both pavements and bumpy off-road terrain thanks to its air-filled rubber wheels and superior rear suspension.

The award-winning stroller features a lightweight aluminium chassis, a quick, easy one-handed fold mechanism and a height-adjustable handlebar that can be simply moved to a position that is exactly right for each individual parent. As an added bonus, the B-MOTION 3 also incorporates a protective barrier on the handle bar avoiding little tears and scratches while standing up folded.

With multi-position seat recline, including lay-flat mode, the B-MOTION 3 provides the ultimate comfort and protection from birth to four years, whilst its detachable CLICK & GO® adapters create a handy travel system when used in conjunction with BRITAX BABY-SAFE infant carriers.
Bengi Bingol Yalcin, Marketing Manager at Britax, comments, “Our teams worked incredibly hard to perfect the design for the B-MOTION 3, so we’re very proud that it’s performed so well in the Which? test. For us, it was all about listening to the needs of real parents and trying to incorporate all of the little features that come in so handy when out and about with little ones. The result was a quality product at a great price point that will grow with families from birth right up to four years of age.”

Further features of the B-MOTION 3 include a spacious shopping basket that is ideal for storing all-important baby essentials on-the-go; a removable, washable seat cover and a raincover that protects the little ones from the elements. The B-MOTION 3 also comes complete with a bumper bar, raincover and CLICK & GO® adapters as standard which are included in the price (RRP £249.99).

For more information visit http://www.britax.co.uk or call 01264 386 034.

Follow us at http://www.facebook.com/britaxUK or http://www.twitter.com/BritaxUK

It’s Baby Show time again!

This competition has now closed.

Win tickets to the Birmingham Baby Show, courtesy of BRITAX!

From 16th-18th May the BRITAX team will be packing their bags and heading to Birmingham for The annual Baby Show fair at the NEC. As a BRITAX Mumbassador I’ve been given a pair of tickets to give away to one of my lucky followers!

At the show, BRITAX will be showcasing its brand new all-terrain power pushchair the BOB Revolution® PRO. This is the FIRST pushchair on the market that has a swivel wheel which is safe and approved* for running and skating in the UK and Europe. Adaptable and easy to use, it is also the perfect everyday stroller for any family, with a swivel front wheel that makes it easy to manoeuvre around town and will be on hand to try at the show.

Also on the stand will be the versatile DUALFIX seat. This clever ISOFIX Group 0+ & 1 car seat swivels a full 360°, offering parents the choice to leave their child rearward facing up until 18kg (approx. 4 years) or turn them 180° to a forward facing position from 9kg without reinstallation. DUALFIX’s 360° flexibility offers parents the best of both worlds, empowering them to choose a position that best suits them, their vehicle and their child.

Finally, BRITAX will also be showcasing its luxury pushchair, the Britax Affinity. A super-sleek pushchair for the fashion conscious mum and exuding quality, the BRITAX Affinity was created in conjunction with one of Europe’s leading designers and is as elegant as it is practical. Suitable from birth, its minimalist design gives it a distinctive, modern look, but without compromising on comfort, safety or ease of use.

Enter into the give-away below and you could find yourself on your way to The Baby Show to see the most innovative and popular products on the market! Competition closes Thursday 8th May. Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter! T&Cs apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* approved by TUV, world leading technical service providers of testing and product certification. The TUV stamp of approval provides peace of mind to parents that products are safe, reliable and compliant. For more information, visit http://www.tuv.com/en/corporate/about_us_1/aboutus_1.html
This competition has been brought to you as part of the BRITAX Mumbassador programme.

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Complete

Complete: having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole; entire; full: a complete set of Mark Twain’s writings. Finished; ended; concluded: a complete orbit.

The weekend just passed was one of those weekends where you don’t really do anything, but you get a lot done. No family or friends visiting it was just the five of us, and Saturday morning was focused on organising and decluttering. We seem to be a family that collects stuff, stuff in every room of the house, stuff we don’t use or need and stuff that doesn’t necessarily belong here anymore. For example, my bedroom currently houses an old car seat; which is no longer needed or used. Our youngest’s room has a bed guard and dismantled Jumperoo in it, sitting unassuming in the opposite corner to his cot; and our kitchen has umpteen unused gadgets covering either what little workspace we have or in nooks and crannies on the floor. And do not get me started on our garage, which unsurprisingly isn’t currently used for parking our car.

So, on Saturday morning, a visit to the tip was in order and the pram I’d first used when having our youngest (now broken) (pram, not youngest) was casually thrown into the boot of the car with a load of clothes and some other random bits and bobs.

Putting the pram into the car it didn’t hit me. Driving to the tip it didn’t hit me. Wheeling the pram over to the designated area it didn’t hit me. But driving past it, sitting there empty and broken, it did hit me. Hit me that it was the pram which had carried my last baby. I mentally went back in time and remembered using the pram on walks we’d been on, holidays where I’d pushed and rocked him to sleep in it; day trips, school runs, supermarket visits. And out of no-where I began to cry! I felt so daft for it was just a silly old broken pram…and yet it represented so much – and it was like saying goodbye to a part of my life that I’d never get back.
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As we drove on to do our supermarket shopping (we really know how to have a good time don’t we?!) my husband asked me what was wrong. And so I told him that I was sad I wouldn’t be having anymore babies, and that leaving the pram at the tip had brought this home to me. And he sighed. And he looked at the road straight ahead and calmly said, ‘I’d quite like another baby.’ My eyes opened wide, as did my mouth! What! Another baby! That’s crazy! Or…was it…?

As we did the shopping we found ourselves excitedly chatting about babies, how amazing they are, how we’re awake all of the time now anyway so one more wouldn’t make a difference. We got a bit carried away (no, not that carried away!) and spent the rest of the day wondering ‘what if?’ and reliving happy memories of when our boys were babies.

And so, for the rest of the weekend, and even today, it got me thinking….thinking about how when you have children do you ever know if you’re done and would like no more? Is there a maternal switch that just turns off and you’re happy with your lot? Or as mums, do we always think…one more, maybe just one more?

I vowed, vehemently so, that I would NEVER EVER IN A MILLION YEARS have another baby after I had my youngest, and yet now he’s nearly two I find myself craving a newborn and being unbelievably broody – even though the PND I suffered afterwards was something I wouldn’t want to put anyone through ever again. I love babies, I love my babies, and could literally make a million of them if it was physically and practically possible. But it’s not is it, finances and the size of my house are all factors for a start. As is my mental health and our other children. I’m so fortunate to have been blessed with three amazing children, three healthy children whose lives are pretty fab at the moment. Deciding whether to have another baby or not isn’t just my decision, nor is it just mine and my husband’s…there is so much more at stake and so many more people involved and affected by it. (including my best friend, who firmly stated that she’d be moving abroad if I ever announced a fourth pregnancy)

In all honesty – even though I’m still clearly thinking about it today – as the days have passed since the pram went to a new home, I’ve become less enamoured with the idea of another baby. A sleepless night and eight loads of washing this morning later have helped confirm that opinion. I guess I know the reality of what having another child means, and that excites me and unnerves me all at the same time. It hard work, babies and children are hard work…and it’s relentless….and yet it’s all worth it and for me is the most wonderful thing in the world. And so I keep thinking – is our family complete, will it ever be complete, or will I always want one more…just one more…

Seems my decision at the moment, quite possibly isn’t a final one…

What do you think? Is deciding to have a baby ever an easy decision? Are we ruled by our hearts or our heads, and do we truly know when our family is complete?

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MAD Blog of the Year, Best Blog Writer, Outstanding Contribution, Most Innovative Blog and Best Schooldays Blog. You can nominate by clicking on the button below. Thank you x


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Time Out

Time Out: Noun: a pause from doing something (as work); “we took a 10-minute break”; “he took time out to recuperate,” respite, break, recess; pause – temporary inactivity.

If you follow me on Twitter you may or may not have noticed my unusual silence of late. I needed some time out, and from life not just Twitter.

I had recently read an article in Psychologies magazine about pleasure that got me thinking – and in it there was the following quote:

‘Our culture teaches a woman to over-give and she ends up depleted, lonely, cranky and victimised. Pleasure is something every woman requires.’

Now this article very much focused on sexual pleasure (don’t worry, we won’t be going there in this post) but it also mentions how pleasure also comes from discovering what brings you fun and joy in your spare time, and that if you do nothing and always wait for others to make you happy, chances are you’ll lead a miserable life.

Now I know that sounds a bit dramatic – and maybe it is – but recently, even though I think myself happier than I’ve ever been before, I am almost certainly not finding many things pleasurable, and have become increasingly downtrodden with the groundhogdayness of life that comes with looking after three small people. Clearing food repeatedly off the floor was becoming beyond boring; doing the laundry, endless loads of laundry, was almost unbearable to the point that there were piles and piles of clothes in my house and I had no idea if they were clean or not; my husband walking in after a hard day at work and casually asking me what was for dinner was increasingly making me want to rip of his man bits, fry them in a little oil and then ram them down his throat. Life had become so repetitive and familiar that I was locked in my own sweet hell, where everything was beginning to irritate me and I was morphing into a spiky ball of built up resentment and frustration.

We all know how hard parenting can be, we all support and listen to each other, yet when really faced with the really of its relentlessness are we truly honest? I know I’m terrible for plastering on my make-up (never seen without it, God forbid!) and casually throwing the phrase ‘I’m fine’ into everyday conversations, when inside I’m screaming ‘no, I’m bloody well not fine, I’ve just had to change the biggest, smelliest nappy with one hand whilst simultaneously emptying the dishwasher with the other and watching my umpteenth cup of coffee go cold. I’ve already had three people burst in on me whilst I’m trying to have a poo and have yet again been faced with the constant ‘why have you got a beard down there mummy?’ question whilst dipping under the shower for five minutes whilst hoping my youngest doesn’t flush himself, or my mobile phone down the toilet.’

Most days, most days I can laugh about all of the above, even when I’ve stupidly given the toddler a packet of Cheerios that he takes great pleasure on firing across the lounge. Or when I run to catch vomit in my hands for the gazillionth time, knowing damn well that it still manages to go absolutely everywhere and then makes my hands stink of sick for days. But last week it had all completely and utterly got on top of me and I was properly fed up. Fed up with feeling like dogsbody that was solely there to make everyone’s life easier, when no-one was making mine simple in any way shape or form – and so I quickly arranged for some time out. Four days in fact of total time out where I went away with my mum somewhere special…somewhere that we disappear to once a year…somewhere that is child and husband free.

I remember as a child how important time out had been for my parents – my dad would regularly go on fishing holidays (he was a keen fly fisherman, often having meetings with a Mr B. R. Owntrout on Friday afternoons!) and my mum would often go away with ‘the girls’ on Butlins fitness weekends. I clearly remember a time that my dad was left with us on one such weekend. He served up dinner, and it was stew…and it was grey…and yes, my brother and I refused to touch it. For years we teased and taunted him unbeknown to us that mum had actually cooked it (mushroom stew, hence the greyness!) and had left it for him to reheat! So I’ve grown up knowing time out is important and maybe that is why I am a firm believer in doing it myself, without any guilt whatsoever…honestly! And when I was away I fully indulged in activities I categorically can’t do with children. It was uplifting, refreshing and so very indulgent. Someone else cooked for me, another did the dishes for me and conversations with my mum were uninterrupted and always complete. I only got up when I needed something and chose to, my sleep was uninterrupted, my coffee was hot, and oh joy of joys I got to pee and shower on my own.

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The time away gave me time to think. Having recently turned 37 I’ve been feeling a little uneasy…not a young ‘un anymore my life is very much set on its path, and yet I’ve not been ready for middle age-ness at all. I have very much been feeling feel torn in between two lives, unsure of which step to take next. When young your life is always segmented by different events – you work towards GCSEs, then A-Levels before further education if you so choose. Marriage and babies give you life-changing things to look forward to and your life is broken into different stages; however now I’m settled. My life doesn’t have a next stage as I am having no more children, which in turn means no more maternity leave, just unbroken work for the next few decades. It’s a strange time and one that honestly, hadn’t been sitting well with me. I’ve always been someone who gets bored relatively easily. I feel I need to achieve more than I have. I feel like I need to make every day count, every experience a memorable one and I’ve recently not been very good at living in the moment and being grateful for all I’ve got.

I know I’m so very lucky, several years ago as a young single mother I’d never have dreamt of having a career, a husband and a wonderful family. I’m so blessed to have everything I do, I’ve just been totally determined for it to be perfect. Maybe my need for perfection stems from losing my father when he was just 48, and then a dear friend at the age of just 40 – I don’t take a single minute for granted, but in turn that means my aspirations are often unrealistically high and I strive to meet them, failing often.

However over the last few days I’ve been able to take a step back from my life…and am so much more appreciative for it. I’ve been able to look at things in more perspective and have relished the opportunity to regain my momentum and zest for life. I’ve recognised that bringing up three children is a huge achievement, as is maintaining a successful marriage – which is so very hard at times. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve written a book to support families living with post natal depression and am involved in some wonderfully exciting charity work in this area at the moment. I have an amazing group of friends who are so brilliantly supportive. I may not be going out as much as I used to and I may (definitely) have several more wrinkles than I did ten years ago, but these things now seem so unimportant.

These four days away have been magical, powerful and I feel revitalised. I came home to smiles and cuddles and a husband so exhausted from looking after the children that he fell asleep at half past seven last night. And today? Today I’m back in the swing of being a mum and a housewife. I’m no longer irritable and have an infectious grin across my face. Never has the phrase happy mum = happy family been more true – without doubt everyone is more settled and grounded because of it.

Now where did I leave that cup of coffee….

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MAD Blog of the Year, Best Blog Writer, Outstanding Contribution, Most Innovative Blog and Best Schooldays Blog. You can nominate by clicking on the button below. Thank you x


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