Monday, 31 August 2015

When baby wipes take over!

You know you're a mum to small children when you have unlimited amounts of baby wipes stashed in every room. There is always a pack or two open and at your disposal should you need one, or two, or three.

To be honest, that could be any time. When you start buying and using baby wipes, they instantly become your go-to cleaning product.

Oh no, they aren't just for wiping your babies cute little tush, the dirty face of your toddler, or their sticky hands that you are certain you've wiped 20 times already today!

Do you see that dirty mark on the wall over there? It's about toddler height. We all know who did it. Go on, grab a baby wipe, give it a little wipe over, and voila, its gone.

Same with the sticky mark on the couch (what is that?!) or the dried in yoghurt on the table. Baby wipes at the ready.

Not to mention the dust on the TV stand that you notice every time you walk past, then forget to grab the polish from under the sink. I mean, who needs furniture polish anyway?!

They're also fabulous for getting your make up off. Well, when you actually have time to wear it. Don't bother with those expensive "anti-ageing, wrinkle preventing, pore cleansing, 100% natural ingredients for refreshingly healthy skin" facial wipes. You know, the ones with a hint of cucumber, that cost you £3.47 for 22 wipes.

And then there is that weird stain on a top that you are sure was clean a minute ago. A little scrub with a baby wipe.. you know the result.

Notice a bit of baby sick on your shoulder just as you've left the house? Baby wipe. Or a bit of mud on your otherwise clean converse? Yep, they're great for cleaning shoes too.

Seriously, baby wipes are your best friend. You'll begin to wonder how you managed without them before your children came along!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Fighting the black cloud of PND.

I have been wanting to write this post for a while, but with something so personal, I wasn't quite sure what to say or how to start it.

I'm starting to find this whole process of blogging quite therapeutic. A bit like a diary, only minus the hand ache you get from writing one, so with that in mind, and a glass of wine in hand, I thought this would be the best time to start. What is there to lose?

I was first diagnosed with Post Natal Depression (PND) around the time my second son was 4 months old. But that was only the official diagnosis. I felt terrible a long time before that.

I remember the day I first felt that feeling of dread, the feeling that so often engulfed me, and sometimes still does. I was sat on a bus home from town, Master L in his pram only a few days old. J was sat next to me, and I remember telling him that around the time your milk comes in is the time your most likely to get signs and symptoms of the "baby blues". He knew my milk had just come in, I'd told him so that morning. I was giving subtle hints on how I felt, knowing full well he wouldn't guess. How could he? I was a moody cow at the best of times when pregnant, and my baby was only a few days old, how was this any different?

The following four months were a blur. I barely remember them and still feel completely cheated out of my new born baby.

Master L was first diagnosed with colic at a few weeks old, but I knew this wasn't the right diagnosis for him. There was no pattern to his screaming like there usually is with colic - he would just scream on and off all day, pulling his legs up with belly ache and constipation, spitting up his milk and very rarely taking more than 3oz at a time.

I knew it wasn't just colic, but I listened to the doctors when they told me it was, and began looking up things that may help him. I bought Dr Browns bottles which helped marginally with his wind. I bought colic drops which barely did anything apart from make it harder for me to prepare his bottles in the night. Infacol, Dentinox, Gripe water and many more things were given and barely helped him.

I then came across a link to a website about cows milk protein allergies and lactose allergies. Master L had symptoms for both of them, but as he had constipation and not diarrhea and because he was still gaining weight, the doctor wouldn't really see us. I continued to make appointments with him, researching what we could do until they finally agreed we could try him on a lactose free formula. 

This improved things drastically, but there was still something niggling at him. He would still bring up his feeds and still cry in pain after them too. But there was no constipation or wind either.

Finally after a 10 hour stint in hospital, feeds observed and lots of prodding and poking, they diagnosed, as well as lactose allergy, silent reflux. We had already tried the gaviscon powder in his bottles, but, alone, this made things worse. He was prescribed ranitidine and gaviscon powder, and together they worked wonders. More or less over night it was like I had a new baby. He was no longer in pain, he wasn't screaming for hours on end, and he was taking more than 3oz at a time!

This took 4 months of constant screaming, never being settled. A baby who wouldn't sleep unless on me, wouldn't be put down anywhere. A baby who I had to take the lead with, J couldn't deal with the screaming so it was down to me. Sometimes when he was crying and I had literally ran out of ideas of how to soothe him, I would leave him on the bed to cry & cry with him. I felt so useless, I was his mum and I was the one who should be able to soothe him and get rid of his pain. But it was all left to me to research his symptoms and what it could be, and then approach the doctors. all of it was down to me. Everything. And to this day I can honestly say it was the lack of support that contributed to my PND.

It was a hard few months. But people thought, because Master L was now "sorted" and no longer screaming 22 hours a day, I would instantly feel myself again. The doctors told me that by the time my baby was 12 months, I would be off the tablets I was now taking.

Wrong. Nearly 3 years later I am still on my tablets. Different tablets than I started on, but still on them. The first lot of tablets didn't agree with me at all. You know the feeling when you have had a few alcoholic drinks, and you know your in the room, but it all feels like a dream? Well that is how I felt most of the time. As well as the sickness and headaches they gave me too. After a few weeks I begged the doctors to change them. I couldn't decide what was worse, the side effects of the tablets that were meant to make me better, or the depression itself.

Having depression is the most confusing illness ever. You are constantly second guessing yourself. I felt tired all the time, I just wanted to lie in bed and hide away from everyone. I had no motivation to do anything, I didn't want to play with my boys - I didn't really enjoy being around them - nor did I want to be around family or friends. But was I simply being lazy? Was it "depression" or had I just become a lazy cow?

I was rarely eating, but when I ate, it was junk food. I wish I lost weight from not eating, but the amount of sheer junk I ate when I did feel like it - for example, at 12midnight - made up for it.

I completely lost my temper at the most random of times. I couldn't cope with the children making noise. God forbid if I ever had to go to a children's party.. the thought of all the noise would give me palpitation's. My heart would race and my palms would get sweaty. I couldn't do noise. At all. If the kids were happily playing, but being noisy in the process,  I would end up snapping and screaming at them.

And then the guilt I felt for shouting at them would be unbearable, the look my boys gave me when I lost my temper and screamed will be forever ingrained in my memory. I felt like such a useless mum. I didn't want to play with them, be around them, I wanted to stay in bed instead. I would lie in bed and just cry myself to sleep with the guilt of being a complete waste of a parent. If they boys were - what I would call - a handful, I would lock myself in the toilet and just cry because I couldn't cope with them.

But I felt like I had no reason to moan. I wanted both of my children, and they were well behaved boys. There are people in the world who would kill for children, who cant have them for what ever reason, and there I was, crying over nothing and not being able to cope. I was a mess. I felt like such a failure. Such a pathetic excuse for a mother and a woman.

With the first lot of tablets not working, and having to change them to something else, it took a lot longer than usual for them to start working. And then I began to feel happier. I looked forward to days out with my family. I laughed again, and wasn't crying as much. My anger wasn't always simmering over. It wasn't instant. And this wasn't how I felt every day. I still had my down days, but very slowly, I began to feel myself again.

But then, with the feeling of happiness, and being "me" again, came the whole "well I fell much better, I must not need my tablets now" cycle. That is another nightmare they don't tell you about. The constant yo-yoing of taking tablets to feel better, to then feel better and stop taking the tablets, to then quickly decline and be back at square one. It was awful.

I had been off my tablets a few months when I found out I was pregnant. The doctors didn't know this. I told them I had stopped taking them when I found out I was pregnant. See, when you have depression, you become a great liar. Fabulous at covering up. You become so good at getting on with your day to day life, making out that your fine, when inside your completely falling apart and dying.

I was petrified of declining whilst pregnant. I knew with all the hormones flowing around my body, it would be so much worse, and a lot harder to distinguish between "normal, pregnancy hormones" and my depression. I wanted to be better for the baby growing inside me, and for my two gorgeous boys who deserved better than a crappy mum with depression.

I was also petrified of feeling like I did after having Master L. Of being completely unable to cope. I couldn't be like that again, I just couldn't. I needed support this time.

At 23 weeks I was put back on my antidepressants. I began to feel calmer, less anxious. I was back to, mainly, being me again. And after having Miss DL, I had the support I needed too. I never even had the "baby blues" they so often warn you of. I was happy and complete, with my baby girl and her big brothers. I could have took on the world at that point.

Nearly 5 months after having my baby girl, I am still on my antidepressants. I am no longer ashamed to say I have depression, and the fact I have to take "happy pills" to get me through the days is just something that has to be done. Some days I still feel like spending the whole day in bed, but, thankfully, they are few and far between.

I wont say these 6 weeks holidays have been easy, I have noticed my temper simmering over again, and "shouty mummy" has reappeared more often than I'd like her to. I've been slacking with the housework and there are probably more things I could have done with the boys too, but I wake up in the morning happy to still be here. I now know when I am declining, and when I need to speak to the doctor. That can only be a good thing surely?

I am so thankful for my children. If it wasn't for them I probably wouldn't be here today. It is the thought of them being without me - no matter how useless I was - that got me through those really really dark days.

All I can hope for now, is that I continue to get better. For me, as well as my children. I can't say I will ever be the person I used to be, having depression has changed me completely as a person, as a mum, but I hope, in the not too distant future, I will have that dark cloud that used to engulf me, so tightly locked away that this will all be a distant memory.


Friday, 28 August 2015

Pass me the wine!

Jesus its been one of those days. The kids have been on one for sure. The fighting and the "he did this, he said that" has drove me up the wall.

We had Master D's friend over and he was that hospitable to his friend and such good company, that he decided having a nap on the couch would be the way to go.

Master L took it upon himself to slowly strip naked, and at one point, wearing just a top, started to climb on Master D's friends sister (aged 3), practically shoving his boy bits in her face. She, rightfully so, was disgusted. I think he's put her off boys for life.

More or less the whole car box - containing around 500 cars - was emptied, Miss DL's pram was used as a "car collector" after the boys shot cars from a track to land in the basket. They were shot under the table, the couch, behind the TV.. everywhere.

We had fights over sweets. They were given 3 each, but Master L had hold of the bowl containing them all - cue huge meltdown because everyone had "pinched" his sweets.

Every conversation I had with Master D, I had to have with Master L. I felt I was in a room that echoed and repeated back to me everything I said. And should Master L come up with a new conversation starter, heaven forbid I not reply to him within 5 seconds - he would spend the next 45 seconds to a minute simply repeating the last sentence he said, over, and over, and over, and over, until I was so, so close to banging my head against the wall to kill my brain cells.

We drove to J's friends house before tea, to be told by Master L "this isn't the way".. Yes it is.. "nope, its not".. I'm quite certain its the right way.. "no its not mum. This isn't the right way!".. It is, I'm going the way we always go! .. "no mum, its not the way!"

Seriously. Kill me now. How are they not back at school yet? Next week seems so close, yet so far.

I am not ashamed to say I bought a huge bottle of wine from the shop. I fully intend to drink the full bottle, as well as eat the cream cake I also bought. Maybe I should just stick a straw in the bottle and miss out the glass completely. Saves on the washing up.

Come to Mamma!!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

From Two kids to Three. My journey from pregnancy to birth

It was around this time last year that I found out I was pregnant with our youngest Miss DL. I remember the day so clearly. I was a few days late, which was unusual for me as I took the pill and was like clockwork on my 7 day break. This particular day, my eldest Master D had an appointment at the hospital ENT department for a check up on his grommets.

Whilst in town, before getting the bus to the hospital, I ran into boots and got a cheap test to do, so I would know either way. My heart would pound at the thought of being pregnant again. We didn't plan to have another, we had just agreed the two boys was enough for us.

I used the bathroom in Costa coffee whilst waiting for a coffee to take out. My hands were all clammy and shaking whilst I waited for the results. My heart was beating so hard.

And then a little faint pink line showed up on the test. I couldn't believe it at first, I kept moving the test different ways under the light to see if I was imagining it. I took a picture and sent it to J to see if he could see the line. He actually thought I had got the picture off google. It wasn't until he saw the test himself that he believed me. And there was no denying the test was right. A few hours later, the test line was as dark as the control line!

I was speechless to say the least. I had my hands full with two boys, not to mention my age, I was only 23, what would people say? What would my family think? How would we manage?

I had just been made redundant from my job I had worked at since I was 17. I had - at the time - uncontrolled post natal depression. How the hell was I going to manage with three children 5 and under? What if the depression came back or got worse?

"What are we going to do?" was the question going around my mind. Over and over I would think about my options. Abort the pregnancy - something I said I would never do. Ever. But we hadn't planned on a third baby. Dare I say it, we didn't want another. We were happy with the children we had, the life we had.

All the questions I was asking myself were "what if's". Questions I couldn't answer and would never know. It was a decision I had to made blindly. I would never know in advance what it would be like with three, and I would never know what it would be like after aborting my child.

J had told me the decision was down to me, and what ever I decided he would support me. He was worried about my PND too, whether it would resurface or not and how we would manage money wise with an extra mouth.

It wasn't a decision I could take lightly. I thought about it every waking moment, I cried thinking about the possibility of aborting my baby. I never, ever, thought I would be in a position where I had to think about abortion. I didn't want to be in this position. Do I keep the baby and potentially make it harder for the family I already have, having to stretch our already stretched funds a bit further, or do I bless them with another sibling, another ready made friend to play with, another bundle of joy?

And then I spoke to my gran. She told me "its done now, you'll manage, don't worry, these things are sent to test us and they're only sent to those who can. What if its the little girl you have always wanted? He or she will be a gift from your granddad"

My Gran and Granddad were like my second parents. After more or less bringing me up with my parents all my life, they always knew what to say, when, and how to comfort me. I always went to them if I had something bugging me, or if I couldn't tell my mum or dad. I was devastated when my granddad died of Cancer whilst I was pregnant with Master L. Knowing that he only met one of my children is something that will always upset me, but knowing that this could be a gift from him was a lovely way of looking at it.

From then on in I knew I had made my decision. I don't think I could ever have gone through with an abortion. The second I knew I had a teeny baby growing inside of me was the second I knew I couldn't have terminated this pregnancy. I have no idea how women go through with it, it must be such a difficult and emotional decision to have to make and those ladies are definitely stronger than I will ever be. I don't think I'd ever be able to make that decision.

It wasn't an easy pregnancy. I was always second guessing whether I had made the right decision, whether I had put myself or my children first. Was I keeping this baby for me, in case it was the little girl I had always wanted? Should I have terminated and been happy I had my two beautiful boys? This we will never know.

At my 12 week scan I was given the due date of 23rd April 2015, and at our 20 week scan we were told our baby was indeed a little girl. She was being a little madam already, hiding away so I had to go for a walk in the hope she would change position. 

I was forever worried about my PND rearing its ugly head, and at 23 weeks I admitted defeat and went back on my anti-depressants. I was terrified of the side effects, but I was reassured that as everything was ok at the anomaly scan, there was a very slim chance of the tablets causing any problems at this stage in the pregnancy. I had to concentrate on me being well, so in turn, my baby would be ok too.

At 33 weeks, I was admitted to hospital with the worry that my waters had gone and I may be having my baby girl early. Thankfully this was a false alarm and I was allowed home late that night. It pushed us into getting everything ready, from making sure she had enough nappies and clothes, to having the hospital bag packed and ready to go. Her moses basket was set up next to my bed and her clothes were set out in the new drawers we had bought her.

It was early morning on 9th April that I woke with niggling pains. It was 1.30am, J was sleeping next to me and I needed to toilet. Again. But when I got back into bed, the pain in my back wouldn't go, I couldn't get comfy, and I couldn't get back to sleep.

I turned the TV on in the bedroom and I started pacing back and forth. Cleo (our pup) was looking at me funny, she was used to the numerous toilet trips, but I would always get back in bed and drop straight off to sleep again. This isn't normal, she was thinking.

At 2am, I went downstairs and sat on my birthing ball. I flicked through the TV downstairs whilst Cleo kept me company on the couch. I started timing the pains I was getting. I just remember having this craving for a cup of tea, but every time I went to make it I would get a pain and need to start bouncing on my ball again.

At about 2.50am, the pains were pretty regular and were starting to hurt, but I was only 38 weeks pregnant, my waters hadn't broken and I wasn't 100% convinced I was in labour. The pains hurt but they were bearable. I woke J up and told him I was getting pains, and he told me to phone his mum. She came to look after the boys, and off we went in a taxi to the hospital, where we arrived at 3.30am. I was finally examined around 4am to be told I was 5cm dilated and would be moved to a bed on the delivery ward as soon as it was ready.

I was given gas and air to help with the pains - which by this point were getting really bloody painful - and 20 minutes later I was told the room was ready. I was wheeled around, without the gas and air and in complete agony, to the room.

There was no time to get gas and air in the room, the midwife barely had enough time to put a plastic apron over her and turn the computer on before I was ready to push. After a few minutes pushing, at 4.45am on 9th April, my darling baby girl was born.

I knew right there and then I had made the right decision. The love I felt for her, the pure rush of love was overwhelming. I couldn't stop looking at her, watching her sleep, touching her soft skin. She was amazing. Her father and I were totally in love, and what made it even more special was the look on the boys' faces when they saw their baby sister for the first time.

My three beauties. My whole world.

The Dad Network

Best friends at Two.

We had Master L's best friend over yesterday morning for a few hours, which I always look forward to. They generally play well together, which is a good thing as I tend to spend a good amount of time with his mum too.

Funnily enough, our oldest two - Master D and her eldest - are in the same class at school. Master L and his friend - her second child - will also be in the same class, as will Miss DL and her youngest. Funny how things work out!

Anyhow, he came round and they were both playing lovely. We had sandwiches for lunch, with a yoghurt and some juice. They barely sat still long enough before they were off sword fighting, squishing cars with dinosaurs and bouncing on the trampoline.

But you know when one of them starts getting tired and the other winds them up, or one of them is playing with something that the other wants? This happened. Or we have "muuum, he said he's taking that toy home!"

But in between the fighting (which isn't often to be fair), its lovely to see two young boys who get on so well, who have a lovely connection, who I know will grow up friends for life.

They genuinely care for each other and I know Maser L is always talking about his friend. He waits for him at the door in playgroup, and shouts for him when he seems him. He's sad when he realises his friend wont be in playgroup that morning, and when we pick them both up, Master L wants to go to his friends house and play!

Its a good thing they get on so well, as I said we spend a lot of time with them. As we have children the same age, we have a lot in common and find ourselves chatting for hours, before realising its well past tea time and no one has been fed! (I joke, no children were harmed in the making of this friendship!)

Although they get on well for the most part, when they rub each other the wrong way, they do it properly. Screaming, snatching, pushing and shoving, but typically, like many children, 30 seconds later they are friends and playing nicely again.

Essentials for a morning with friends!
I have friends who I went to high school with (some 12/13 years ago) and although our lives are busy (and different), we still try to meet for a catch up when we can. I hope this will be the case with Master L and his friend, but should that not happen, I'll be forever grateful to them for bringing myself and his friends mum closer together. We have formed a great friendship which doesn't feel like its only a few months old. A friendship which I hope will last a long time.


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

An afternoon by the Sea

As we never made it to the seaside on Saturday due to everything going wrong (see previous post on this) I woke up on Sunday morning to find J had made sandwiches for our second attempt at going to Blackpool.

Master D had a swimming lesson from 9.30-10am so after getting home, we packed the sandwiches, snacks, juices, towels and spare clothes in a bag. We put both seat units in the boot for the pram and made sure we had rain coats and sun cream. Once we were packed, off we went.

We arrived at our friends campsite around lunchtime. We emptied the car, had a little bite to eat before heading out to catch the bus to the seaside!

Once there, we found a nice spot that wasn't too busy, and set up camp.

The boys stripped off leaving just there shorts on and went splashing in the sea. Thankfully the tide was still out so we had time for a good play in the water.

 Miss DL even had her first feel of water running over her toes. She wasn't phased in the slightest at the chilly temperature!

After lots of splashing, rolling and jumping in the sea, we made a few sandcastles, buried a few little boys knee high in the sand, and then made our way back to base camp at which point Miss DL was completely wiped by the sea air and decided it was time for a nap. By this time, the tide was starting to come in and it was getting a bit cooler too.
I saw an amazing tip online about talcum powder and sand. Basically if you sprinkle the talc over you where the sand is, and rub the area, it gets rid of the sand. Its that easy - or so they claimed. I took the powder with us to try it out and its the best thing ever for getting sand off your feet. No more trying to find water to get the sand off, to then have to dry your feet and have nowhere to put your now-dry foot whilst you get your sock and shoe on! Its an amazing discovery! Master D also loved sprinkling the talc everywhere too!

Once dry and in clean, fresh clothes, we had a bit more of our picnic, sitting and taking in the scenery, whilst taking a few pictures for the memory book. I cant resist taking photos of everything we do, to look back on when the children are older.
Master D making sure his sarnie was in the picture too!

Myself and J enjoying the views.

I'm not sure what happened from then on in. The wind came from nowhere, blowing dry sand into the back of our legs, making it a hard task to push the pram around corners, and the heavens opened. We made our way into the nearest arcades and waited for the rain to stop.
We had a good play on the teddy machines trying to win a minion each for the boys and a baby meerkat in pj's for Miss DL - we won none - and we lost a fare few 2ps on the slot machines. By the time the rain had stopped, we were all getting a bit hungry, and everyone knows you have to have fish and chips when you're at the seaside. We found a lovely little cafĂ© and ordered our tea. Why is it that not only does the sea air make you really tired, but it makes you super hungry too? Everyone devoured their tea, and J treated us to some freshly made sugar donuts afterwards. Delicious.
We got some candyfloss and a HUGE lolly for on the way home and made our way back to the campsite on the bus.
Everyone had had such a wonderful time, there was so much laughter and joy. Seeing my children happy and playing without a care in the world is something I will never get tired of seeing. The children were that worn out, that 30 seconds into the journey home they were all fast asleep, and stayed that way until we parked up at home.

Ickle Bubba Orb Highchair

As Miss DL is 4 months now, weaning will begin in the next few months. We tend to do Baby Led Weaning (BLW for short) and I have done that with both boys so far. Its fun, very messy, but great fun.

This would mean we would need a highchair. This time I was going to go for an IKEA Antilop highchair with a lovely little supporting cushion. This is the best highchair when doing BLW, as trust me when I say food goes everywhere.

But then I saw the Ickle Bubba Orb highchair for sale at Costco for around £80. It came in two choices for the frame colour - white or black, and an array of colours for the seat - navy, lime, pink, plum, yellow and more. We chose the white frame and the plum seat colour. I was very excited to get this delivered.

It arrived today, and came in this HUGE box. Inside the box was two more boxes. My boys were having a ball playing with all the packaging!

After getting everything out of the boxes and bubble wrap, we set out the parts and opened the instructions. It was fairly simple to put together. First up, you get the base which is flat and you pull the middle bar up and towards you until it clicks into place.

You then need to assemble the seat unit and tray. This is very straightforward. There is a set of "bars" with the footrest attached, which slide through to holes on either side of the tray. There are two buttons that you lift so the bars slide through and then lock into place.

This then slides and clicks into place on the seat unit. Like below.

The seat unit itself comes ready with the plum liner and the harness attached, you just need to attach the tray, and once that is done, you simply lift the seat onto the base unit until you hear the click.
The highchair itself is a great design, it comes in lovely colours and although it is foldable for storing, it isn't something I wouldn't necessarily pack and fold away. I personally think its a nice statement piece in the dining area, its stylish and the colours aren't too "in your face" like some highchairs are. I also like the fact the seat can be reclined and is one of the reasons we went for this chair. Miss DL isn't old enough or ready for weaning yet, but I still like her to join us at the table for meals. She can sit in this, but should she fall asleep there is no major rush to move her to somewhere comfier.
This highchair states it is from birth, but I don't think I would put my new born in this. It needs a little more padding or cushioning for a new born in my opinion. I also think the foot rest is a little flimsy. From having older children who tend to kick and play whilst waiting for their food, I could imagine the footrest breaking or possibly coming loose after a little while.
All in all, it is a lovely highchair, a great design with some lovely colours to choose from. It has a sturdy frame and a futuristic look to it. A great buy for the parent who likes style and practicality.


Thunderstorms and Lightening.

We have been due a big thunderstorm for a while. The air outside has been really close - the kind that gives you a headache - its been hot but neither bright, nor sunny. Its been dark, cloudy and very sweaty! We have been having to sleep with barely any clothes on at night and all windows wide open, something which I've been having to do anyway since breastfeeding as I've found I get SO hot in bed, so this required the windows opening that bit more and a bit less clothing!

That thunderstorm came thick and fast late last week. It didn't just rain, it was like a never emptying bucket was being poured from the skies. Torrential rain. The skies lit up with the lightening and the ground shook with the thunder.

The boys didn't seem to like the noises, but after watching the rain and seeing how pretty the thunder can be, they settled down and soon fell to sleep.

I love nothing more than sitting in a quiet room and just listening to the rain and the thunder. Its so therapeutic, the rumble of the thunder, the heavy pitter patter of the rain. A thunderstorm is the best thing to clear the air, and the mind sometimes too!


Sunday, 23 August 2015

10 reasons why (my) kids are gross.

I thought it was just boys who were gross. But, it appears, after a little research, that girls are just as disgusting. There is no doubt about it, I probably did a lot of these nasty things when I was a child too. And there I was thinking my darling daughter would be sugar and spice, and all things nice.

Here are my 10 reasons why all children are yucky, disgusting, gross creatures.

1. They pick their noses. That isn't all. They show me it on the tip of their fingers, and if that isn't disgusting enough, they bloody eat it! They do this purely because they know it knocks me sick. Especially the really slimy ones. Eurgh!

2. Wiping their nose treasures on their top, a wall, or the table is a must. Only if they're too full from eating them, obviously. Or wiping their snotty nose down the length of their arm or sleeve. Nice.

3. They trump on my leg. Now we all know breaking wind is pretty normal. But why the need to do it on my leg, and then ask "did you feel that mum?"

4. They play with their widge. A lot. and then say "look mum, its all big" whilst laughing.

5. They frequently leave number 2's in the toilet or potty for me to find when I next use the bathroom. Or, they shout me up just to show me how HUGE it is.

6. They generally miss the toilet, so I find myself standing or sitting in their wee.

7. If they cannot find a toilet, or know they wont make it, they will pee on the floor. And then play in it.

8. Picking toe/belly button fluff and sniffing it. I'll say no more.

9. Finding the oldest, crustiest, most stale piece of food down the couch/under their beds/in the car, and eating it. Like they don't get fed.

10.Mixing food that really shouldn't be eaten together. Like pizza and jelly. Really. When my eldest was about 2 years old, he ate a spoonful of jelly and a bite of pizza in one mouthful until it was all gone.

And that's all without mentioning the constant talk of bums, poo and wee. If I don't get called a "wee wee poopy head" at least once throughout the day, I know something is wrong!

The Dad Network

Saturday, 22 August 2015

When planning a day out goes t*ts up.

Myself and J had planned to take the kids on a trip to Blackpool for the day. A few of J's friends had just travelled there for a holiday, so we thought we would take the opportunity to have a day out & meet up with them so our kiddies could play.

Only it didn't quite work out like that. What was supposed to be a lovely day by the seaside, making sandcastles and eating a picnic we had packed, then racing to the arcades to drop 2p after 2p into the slots so you could win more 2ps to drop into the slots, was quite the opposite.

We had planned to leave about 11am, getting there just in time for lunch. We had looked at the forecasted weather for the day and we had hoped it would be wrong - like it so often is - and instead of torrential rain and thunderstorms that was planned for the day, we kept our fingers crossed so it would at least be dry. We were wrong. A quick phone call to our friends and we realised it was hail stoning and raining 'cats and dogs'.

Disaster. The kids were so excited. Did we go with our coats and wellies, get wet and potentially cold, or stay home? Whilst deciding what best to do over a late breakfast (I had been out early to collect a jumperoo for Miss DL), Master L took it upon himself to have the mother of all tantrums. Complete meltdown, panic stations, please exit at your nearest emergency exit.. that kind of tantrum. He was tired.

It was now nearly 11am, 3 people still weren't showered or dressed and one of them needed a major nap. Just as J and Master D came down the stairs, after finally showering and dressing themselves appropriately for the weather (Master D would wear shorts, no matter what the weather, if he could get away with it) Master L decided that would be the right time for his nap. Yep, right there on the floor, snoring.

So we weren't going anywhere for at least an hour. Instead, I spent my morning washing the pots piled up from the night before, sorting out dirty washing, folding clean, dry clothes from the drier and putting the wet stuff on the line. Surprisingly the sun was beginning to shine through the gaps in the clouds and it was looking like a nice day. Master D decided he would take the opportunity to play in the garden whilst his brother was sleeping, which meant one thing: Poop Duty. Something me and J fight over. I hate picking up cold dog poop off the grass, but I lost this round of rock, paper, scissors. Damn.

By the time Master L woke from his nap, Master D was in the middle of a game with his dad, and Miss DL was due a feed. And Master L still needed to get dressed. I wont mention that it was still raining at the seaside either.

We gave up the hope of ever getting to Blackpool, instead, Master L stayed naked for rest of the afternoon, whilst I escaped to Asda to do the food shop. I got back to find all 3 children playing - Miss DL in her new jumperoo and the boys surrounding her, playing with it too!

Sometimes, you plan days out and everything seems to get in your way stopping you from doing it. And then there are the days when you plan nothing, take an impromptu ride out in the car and you are blessed with the best weather, no traffic, and well behaved kids.

Maybe next time?


Thursday, 20 August 2015

I make milk. What's your superpower?

I breastfeed. I haven't always, but at this moment I do (well not right this moment, Miss DL is snoozing next to me). I absolutely LOVE it.

When I was pregnant with my eldest, I was 18 years old. I thought, maybe, I would give it a go, but to be honest I was never overly comfortable with it. I was aware it was better for baby, but that was as far as it went. I also knew I was breastfed as a baby, although the length of time I was fed for, I have no idea. Then following the rather traumatic haemorrhage I had after delivering Master D, where I lost 3litres of blood and needed fluids, blood transfusions and lots of doctors around me, I could barely lift my head up let alone feed a baby. My other half, J, fed our son his first bottle. 

I don't normally look like Morticia from the Addams Family!

With my second child, aged 21, I did want to try breastfeeding and felt that pull towards it a bit more, but again, nothing too strong. I felt I didn't have much support around me, pro breast feeder's telling me to do it, give it a go and see what its like. So again, after a less stressful birth, he had his first feed via bottle. Although his birth was a lot less traumatic than his brothers, the following months were like a living hell. What we thought was infantile colic actually turned out to be a lactose intolerance which wasn't diagnosed until around 4 months old. This time in my life was a very dark one, and one which led to my diagnosis of Post Natal Depression. But that's for another post.

Master D loved his baby brother

Proud Daddy with his two boys.

We thought we were done at two children, but in August 2014 I found out - rather surprisingly - I was expecting baby number three.

I thought it must be some kind of sign, this time I had to try breastfeeding. There was no formula bought this time apart from 2 small ready made bottles which were put at the back of a cupboard for extreme emergencies. But none taken into hospital at all. I was excited to try it this time. I was determined to at least give it a go.

Having discovered I had flat nipples, I invested in an amazing product called nipple shields. They are basically little silicone nipples that sit over mine and make it easier for baby to latch on to. I joined 2 breastfeeding groups on Facebook and took as much information in as I could. I was prepared. 

On the 9th April 2015, 4.45am, Miss DL was born into the world. Her first feed went ok, she didn't feed for long, and it was a little bit of a struggle to latch her due to my flat nipples. But I was assured by the midwives that I wouldn't need my shields as she had a strong suck and would, in effect, pull my nipples out when latched and feeding. Every few hours we would try to latch her and let her feed for a few minutes, or until she came off. She didn't seem to feed for long, or that often, so it was suggested that I hand express my colostrum into syringes for her. This I did, at first a tiny 0.5ml, then 0.8ml and finally 1ml at a time, she was syringe fed my 'liquid gold'.

I asked numerous midwives if her latch was ok and if she was feeding correctly, which they assured me she was. But it was painful. She slipped off regularly, and very rarely stayed on longer than a few minutes

one of her first feeds. Hours old.

We were discharged from hospital at around 7pm on 10th April, we got home, got comfortable and she was due a feed. I decided to try it out with my shields to see if she would latch better, and feed for longer. I was so glad I did, it wasn't as painful and she fed for a full 10 minutes. But unfortunately the damage was done. My nipples were red raw, cracked, and bleeding. The pain when she latched was excruciating, my toes curled and I had to breath in, count to 4 and out again. It was hell on earth.

Midwives came out to visit us, like they do, and watched her feed. They said she was doing ok, but to try and get her to feed for longer, and to make sure she was swallowing. She was having wet nappies, but due to her not having had a 'bowel movement' since her first meconium ones (which she did 3 HUGE ones I might add!) they were a little concerned. I wasn't. I had read it was quite normal for breast fed babies to go anything up to 10 days (sometimes more) without pooing, and we were only day 2. I was told they would call me on days 3 and 4 to check in, if she had done a poo, weigh in would be like normal on day 5.

It turns out, she didn't poo, and was weighed again on day 4. Miss DL had lost 15% of her birth weight (anything up to 10% is considered normal). My world fell apart. I was clearly doing something wrong. My milk wasn't good enough, she wasn't feeding/latching properly. What could I do?

We were admitted back to hospital where Miss DL was examined, her dehydration levels and Bilirubin levels were checked, and a feed (or 3 in our case) was observed. The paediatric doctor at the hospital was amazing. He was reassuring in the fact he wasn't worried, she was having wet nappies, her tone was ok, and after observing 3 feeds knew she had turned a corner with her feeding (yay to shields!) He let us go home, but we had to be weighed daily and she needed to do a poo. If she hadn't gained in 24 hours we were being admitted, and the possibility of her being topped up with formula was the "threat". This I did not want. I was told if we wanted to avoid this, I had to feed her every 2 hours, express in between, and top her up with that.

Over the next few days, I cried a lot, fed a lot and prayed Miss DL would gain weight. With daily weigh ins, the pressure of expressing to top her up so she wouldn't need formula or to be admitted again, very nearly tipped me over the edge. Thankfully I had the great support of J, who took over the role of housemaid, main carer of the boys and general dogs body whilst I concentrated on getting Miss DL back to her birth weight.

I thought we were getting somewhere, with 10g gain one day, 20g the next and then 30g, but the following weigh in, at day 12 she had only maintained. Although we had finally had movement in the bottom area - and boy was she making up for it - she still wasn't gaining. The paediatric doctor at the hospital was called again, and the tears began flowing. I had wanted to try this so badly, and I seemed to be failing at every turn.

The lovely doctor, thankfully, wasn't worried. She simply needed to catch up he said, her body is taking its time, that's all. But she had to be weighed again in 24 hours.

How was this giving her time to catch up? The stress they were putting me under as a newly breastfeeding mother was immense. I told them if she had gained in the next 24 hours they weren't to come back for a few days. They had to give us time. I was happy in the knowledge that her input was increasing - she was feeding more and for longer - and her output showed that. Her nappies were always full, and she was having bowel movements too.  Thankfully, she had. They weren't coming back for 5 days. Five whole days I could spend with my family without waiting in for people to come and prod and poke my baby girl.

From then on in, she continued to gain. Yes, it was slowly, but she was gaining. By day 26, she was back up to 6lb12. Still a little off her birth weight of 7lb5, but after gaining 5oz in 5 days, the midwife discharged us. Yippee!!! Hallelujah!

Miss DL wasn't back to her birth weight until she was 6 weeks old. We had to buy tiny baby clothes for her to wear as new born and 0-3 months drowned her. I had to change my diet, making sure I ate 3 meals plus snacks, no low fat foods, nothing too healthy. I could - and did - eat my weight in cake if I wanted to. I needed to make my milk as high calorie as possible.

Around the 6 week mark, we stopped using shields too. Miss DL was getting annoyed and knocking them off mid feeds, so we simply (or not so simply, the thought terrified me in case she stopped feeding properly and began losing weight again!) stopped using them. It no longer hurt for her to feed from me, and I was really, really staring to enjoy breastfeeding.

We are now 4 months into our breastfeeding journey. Last weighed at 16 weeks, Miss DL weighed 13lb13, and is now into 3-6 month clothes. She is definitely catching up and making up for the slow weight gain in the beginning. Her thighs are the chubbiest little legs I have ever seen!

The pure joy I get out of knowing, even after all of the struggles we had initially, that I have got her this far. Me, through hard work and determination. The rush of love that I feel when she smiles up at me mid feed fills me with emotion. I don't care that in the early days she was attached to me constantly. I used to walk around with her on my boob. I would push an empty pram as she would be feeding as I was shopping, or stood waiting for one of her brothers to come out of school or playgroup. I didn't care that I was getting funny looks because I was sat feeding my baby.

Who were they to judge me? They had no idea how hard I had to fight to get where I (we) was at that point. I was feeding my baby and that was the end of it. If I, someone who was never really comfortable with the whole breastfeeding "thing" can overcome it, then so can people who look at me funny for doing something so natural.

People ask me how long I intend to breast feed for. I had no timescale at first, I thought maybe until she was 6 months. Maybe when she started to wean I would stop. But at this moment in time, I cannot see me not feeding her. I will continue breastfeeding until the time comes that Miss DL wants to stop. It is her decision when she wants to stop as at the moment I have no desire to stop. Who knows what the future holds. But I know one thing is for sure, I damn well wish I'd have breastfed my boys.

Having had the struggles we had at the beginning, knowing how hard (and painful) it can be at first, but also knowing how easy it can become has made me want to help other mums. I have, this month, applied to become a Breastfeeding Support Worker with the Breastfeeding Network, something which I am so excited to do! I shall update you in due course with how I get on and if I pass the course. Eeek!


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Ewan The Dream Sheep.

I did a review of sorts for this product when Master L was a few months old. It was a life saver and we still use it to this day - ok its not the same one; we had to replace his - but it is still a firm favourite in this household. I thought I would put it up here for you all to read :)

May 2013
Master L has been sleeping in our bed since being diagnosed with Colic, and whilst I loved the cuddles and easy access to feeding during the night, it was something I wanted to discourage. I wanted him to sleep in his own bed and get used to it for when the time came to move him into him and Master D's bedroom.

We got the from birth travel cot back from Nanas last weekend (left there from when Master D slept over before he outgrew it) and put it up at the end of our bed ready for that night. It didn't take us long to realise, though, that Master L was not for one minute, going to give his new sleeping quarters the time of day. He kicked off big style. That first night when we put him to bed, it took us 2 hours of running up and down the stairs, lots of shushing, picking up and rocking, and returning his dummy before he settled. For 20 minutes he slept before waking up for round two, so I brought him down and he fell asleep with Daddy, on the couch, for an hour.

In the end I gave up and he slept with me that night. I tried again Sunday night, and Monday night but the same thing happened, he screamed, I gave in and he slept in our bed. That was until a friend told me about Ewan the dream sheep. I knew a few girls had bought this sheep for their little ones but I wasn't really sure what it did, where to get it or how effective it was. I asked around, it seemed to play white noise and a lullaby and was , in their words "magic".

I must admit, I was a bit sceptical. How can a sheep that plays music be that good? Surely its just like any other lullaby playing baby item? But the more I asked, the more I was sold on this singing sheep. The more I heard it was successful, the more I wanted it. I had to try it. If it had such success with my friends babies, its got to have some kind of success with mine. But then Master L is particularly "high maintenance" and I wasn't sure anything would work too well.

I had a look online, and found my local Mothercare and Boots stored sold Ewan. It was decided, after picking Master D up from the Child-minder's, we would go on the hunt for Ewan the sheep. Mothercare, it turned out, didn't sell them in store, only online and if was to try him out I wanted to try him out that night. So off we went to Boots.

Thankfully, we found him in Boots. We snapped him up and got him home ready for bedtime. Master L was washed, fed and in his baby grow and I put him down with Ewan in his cot. I'm not going to say he instantly went off to sleep, end of story. We did have a bit of crying,  I did have to pick him up and settle him a few times. But it took, what,  20 minutes before he was asleep. I was shocked. Truly shocked, but also wondering if this was too much of a good thing.  Too easy. Will this happen every night?  I couldn't see it personally.

But I was wrong. The second night with Ewan, I put L down, turned on the womb sound (he seems to like this one best) and went downstairs. I had to go up three times, once to return his dummy, the second to give medicine for a slight temperature (from his needles given that day), and the third to turn Ewan back on. And that's it he was asleep.

And that, my fiends, is how our nights are now. He goes up to bed around 7.30 after Master D is asleep and we switch Ewan on, pop dummy in and leave him to go to sleep.
I am know a fan of Ewan the dream sheep. I take him out with us, he takes naps with Master L, and never fails to get him back off to sleep after his 3am feed.

Ewan really is magic!

We used Ewan until Master L was around 2 years old, every day for naps and every evening at bedtime. It was put on so many times and the batteries changed over and over, but unfortunately, with that amount of use it had, it couldn't last forever. Around this time I found I was expecting Master D and Master L's baby sister. I entered a competition on a Facebook page to win a Ewan the Dream Sheep and, surprisingly (I never win anything) we won!! As Master L had stopped using the sounds within the sheep a short while before me entering the competition (he used to use it as a teddy!) I decided to keep the new one for our new baby.
Miss DL uses Ewan too, Master L still has cuddles from time to time and Miss DL uses Ewan when she is particularly struggling to drop off to sleep. He is a definite winner in our household. We LOVE Ewan!

When your child becomes THAT child at soft play.

Do you ever have those days when you think to yourself "why did I ever bother leaving the house?" But then you think back to the squabbling and the 3 loads of washing waiting to be done, and the dishes piling up on the side, and you remember why you ventured out into the scary world with your three children.

Master L definitely woke with the devil in him today. After taking his older brother to his swimming lesson, my friend and I decided to take our brood to a soft play centre for the afternoon and get some lunch there. I was quite looking forward to going as it was a new centre just opened and local to us, so trying it out was a must.

I should have known it was a bad idea when my friend told me "he's not listened to a word I've said when you were out there getting the older two" (referring to Master L). I should have taken the hint and turned that car right around and gone back home. But no, I clearly like to punish myself, or similar.

We all know the child I'm talking about, the one who's mum is forever on edge, looking to see where her child is, to make sure he is behaving and playing nicely. The one who shouts "NO" when his mum is crouched down trying to drum into him that we "be gentle" and "play nicely with others", and the one who likes to have his turn with a toy before its time for his turn. The child who likes to grab before asking and, shock horror, the one who hits!

Well, it was Master L's turn to be "that" child today. He quickly found a softer hearted, more mellow child and decided it was his afternoon's goal to annoy him (and his mother). He took it upon himself to follow this boy, snatch from him, tell him not to do something "naughty" but then continue doing it himself. He was causing mayhem. My apologies and explanation's of "sorry, he has mischief in him today" were falling on deaf ears and I could feel those disapproving looks from the boys mother, burning holes into the back of my head whilst I made Master L apologise to the boy and move him away to play with something else. The type of looks that scream at you "your parenting all wrong! Your child is the DEVIL!"

Master L isn't a "naughty" child. He is what you call 'strong willed'. He's very independent, he argues back and thinks he has the right to get his own way, all of the time. He's a mini tornado (think the Tasmanian devil), very full on all of the time, and he terrorises the hell out of his big brother. But he is also the most loving and caring 2 and a half year old too. He'd give you his last smartie if you ask nice enough, and completely drown you with kisses (and licks too - gross!) He gives the best hugs and always makes sure you're OK if he sees you hurt or upset.

What people forget in the heat of the moment - and I have been guilty of it too - is these little people are still only 2 and 3 years old. They're still learning about the world and their place in it. No matter how old we get, we all have bad days, and behind the child having a bad day is a mother (or father) having an equally bad time, thinking they are doing everything wrong and feeling pretty confident in the fact that they aren't good enough as a parent.

Obviously, though, some kids are just little sh*ts!