Sunday, 27 May 2012

When Four Became Six...

Just over a week and a half ago I tweeted "today is the day when 3 become 5"...apparently I'd forgotten how many people are in my family!  D'oh!  I'm not sure which one I'd forgotten, my Other Half probably ;o)

That was the day we picked up our new additions, the rabbits!

Meg, bless her, on being asked what she wanted to call them chose the names "rabbit 1" and "rabbit 2" but after a bit more thought she chose the names Peppa and George (original I know!)

 Peppa is blue and George is white with magpie markings.  It seems my decrepit hamster detector didn't let me down as George is a bit of a wimp and Peppa gets first pick of all the food, meaning she is now twice the size of him.  She sleeps next to the food bowl for ease of access too!

We've had lots of different comments ranging from "waste of time and money" to "great idea for the kids" but so far we've seen nothing but positives, they are both very friendly and don't seem put off by the loud noises of two small children. 

Meg is very good if somewhat determined to mother them and doesn't yet grasp the concept that they might want to run around and not just be carried around by her (I'm seeing visions of her pushing them around in her pram in the not too distant future!) and Eli gets very excited when they are hopping around and will start shouting and chasing them, making a grab for an ear or a tail if he gets the chance!  Despite this they seem totally happy and content.

 It's been a brilliant tool for teaching Meg.  She doesn't yet fully understand how to care for them but we're putting the foundations in.  She will help change their straw and give them hay and when we went down to the market we were able to talk about different vegetables they can eat and she chose which ones she wanted to buy and bring home.  Eli's getting the knowledge second hand too as I can often hear Meg repeating all the things we've said to her later on!

I'm under no illusion that it will probably end up being me or my Other Half who look after the rabbits the most but I think on the whole it's important to teach children about the responsibility of taking care of animals.   And it gets us off the hook for having to get a dog for the moment too!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Make the Change...

I'm not a fan of change, not really, it takes me a while to come around to the idea of things being 'different' especially if I don't see the need for them to be!

But at the moment we're looking at some big life-changing decisions and for once, it's making me feel cross that we can't just decide and get on with it.  There are too many variables to consider. 

I suppose that's what happens when you have children, the same way it takes two or three hours of preparation in order to go out anywhere these days, I can't just grab my handbag and my coat and tootle off - I have to consider every angle and try to plan for every possibility.

We've always tried to live our lives in an "if the door opens" kind of way.  When my Other Half graduated from university and we were trying to decide where to live, we drew up a pros and cons list for five different places that took our fancy...and then he got offered a job right in the place we lived.  So that made our decision for us!

This is pretty much the same scenario...we've extended some feelers and if the door opens then we'll make a move but the whole waiting game is just driving me to distraction.  I've found myself getting irrationally cross about the man at the post office who always call me love, or the man who was walking down the high street last week wearing shorts and t-shirt when I was wearing gloves (I wanted to tell him to get a is NOT summer). 

I'm being terribly cryptic I know but whilst so much is still in the air I don't want to reveal too much.  Sometimes you can really build something up and then it just falls flat on its face and that is something I definitely want to avoid!

So for now, I'll just be irritated with the slow-moving pace of the situation, and probably will still get annoyed at all the mundane details of my every day life. 

Urgh, I don't want to write such a negative post.  I read somewhere that if you won't want to read it in 5 years - don't write it!  This is one of those posts where it's just me in my own little cyber space palace, unloading what I'm thinking (I warned you about that in my first ever post!)  There were loads of topics buzzing around this week that I wanted to blog about but I can't seem to clear my mind enough to write yes, this is a bit 'spewy', but it's where I'm at! 

That said, I don't want to end on a grumpy note...I have a lot to be grateful for in my every day life. 

My two little cherubs to start with!!

And experience tells me that it will all come out in the wash, in the end.  Whether the path we're wondering over works out or whether nothing changes I can't actually make these things happen any quicker!

I think I ended my last post with this, but it seems to fit the pattern of my thinking at the moment so...

 C'est la vie ;o)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Let's Play: Treasure Map

I was a bit stumped when after watching an episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates Meg asked me if we could make a treasure map.  But I managed to cobble something together!

What you need:
- Large piece of paper
- Colouring pens
- Good imaginations!
- Teabag (if you wish to make it look old)

What you need to do:
This kind of craft relies on your toddler having a good imagination and you having the ability to draw.  As we had one out of the two I did my best but I know my drawing leaves a lot to be desired!

Very simple just create different places on your map, 'rocky place', 'crabby's cove' etc.

If you wish to make it look authentic you can use the old method of rubbing a wet teabag over it and crisping it in the oven/with a hairdryer.  I started this but our map was so big I gave up so we have a half new-half old looking map but heyho!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Love Your Neighbour

Tonight I did something that (even now as I'm writing about it) sets my knees knocking.

I'd taken the kids out to the park and when I arrived home, next door had parked pretty much up to the edge of our drive so I pulled up behind them, noticing as I got out that I had effectively blocked them in. 

I had every good intention of going out and moving my car onto our drive once I'd got the kids out (reason: it's not a proper driveway and you can't open the doors wide enough to get children out of car seats when parked on it) but when I got in I needed to make the dinner and put the kids into bed etc etc and time just ran away with me.

About 10 minutes after I'd put Meg to bed and come downstairs I was sorting out some washing when I heard a commotion going on outside.  Being the nosy sort, I sidled up to our front window and basically heard a barrage of swearing coming from 'the bloke' from next door at the fact that I'd blocked him in.

It was his partner parked on the other side of him, so she came out and moved her car and off he drove.

Obviously he had no idea that I'd heard him but I was a bit put out that he would be so aggressive about the whole thing - after all, he could have just come and asked us to move.  Or he could have parked in front of his own house...I do have two small children!

Ah I digress...

So anyway I was so affronted by his reaction that I decided that when he got back, I would go round and apologise for blocking him in.  Actually, that part is a total fabrication - I decided I would go round whilst he was out and speak to his partner as she always smiles at me in the mornings and isn't quite so scary looking. 

But to my utter dismay when I finally built up the nerve to go round, 'the bloke' answered the door.  Which was a bit off-putting to say the least and the clear, refined statement in my head came out as a total babble.

It might not seem like a big deal to most people but it really is to me.  I had to build up a lot of 'hidden so deep down I'm not even sure it's really there' nerve to go round and knock on their door in the first place.  I'm such a home-bod...I don't enjoy 'putting myself out there' and to be honest, he looked at me like I'd lost the plot which kind of confirmed that what I was doing was a bit strange.

I don't mind confrontation if there is a need for it.  But putting myself into a situation where I can't plan for every outcome (such as the shock of 'the bloke' opening the door rather than his partner) fills me with dread.

But once I'd apologised and come home, and the flaming sensation in my cheeks had died down, I felt good.  Truly, satisfyingly good! 

Who cares if he thinks I'm a bit odd? 

And, at the end of the day the benefits are two-fold as a) he might also feel good that I cared enough to come round and apologise and b) if he doesn't care one bit about the apology, he might at least feel a bit sheepish that I clearly heard him having a go.

And tomorrow is another day - if he parks in front of my house, I'll probably block him in again.  C'est la vie!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Let's Play: Fishy Danglers

For this we used an actual kit we had been given but it could very easily be replicated by printing off some templates and cutting the shapes out of card.

What you need:
- Templates 
- Coloured card
- Googly eyes
- Sparkly decorations
- Green tissue paper (or other colours)
- String

What you need to do:
- Cut the shapes out of coloured card or plain white card and get your toddler to colour in.

- Stick the sparkly bits onto the undersea animals to make them look pretty

- Add googly eyes and a smile face

- To create the seaweed, scrunch up bits of the green tissue paper and stick to the shape (again easily printed off.)

- Make 'dangly' by using a piece of string to link the various shapes together.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The End of Sterilisation...

Since Eli turned one on Sunday it's time for me to keep my end of a bargain I struck a long time ago with my Other Half.  To stop sterilisng Eli's bottles.

I know I'm being un-necessarily precious about the whole thing.  Especially as it's a total waste of time.  I think being a second child automatically means you are going to be dirtier, and eat/be fed things you shouldn't from the word go.  I think E was two months old when he had his first taste of toast - and that's only what I know about - Meg has always been very good at 'sharing' food with Eli!

The thing is, it marks the end of Eli being a baby.  He's over one, he's on the move, soon he'll be walking and then he'll officially be a 'toddler' and not a baby. And that makes me sad.

I don't even get to do the whole ritual of 'packing away' the steriliser as we switched to self-sterilising bottles so all we're really cutting out is the three minutes they sit in the microwave for.  I think that makes it worse.  It's just done, over, finished.

Or maybe that's me being dramatic (hard to believe, I know). 

I was upset at the thought of getting rid of all the neutral nursery stuff and it has formed the centre of a good many arguments heated discussions between myself and my Other Half as we technically have no where to store it.  But you never know do you?  I can't bring myself to get rid of it 'just in case' we decide we do want another baby. 

But, the simple fact that Eli might be my last baby means I want to cling to every possible moment.  Even if that means pretending he still needs his bottles sterilising.  

It must be a mad hormonal mother thing...if I was listening to someone else talk like this I'd be thinking "get a grip woman they're just bottles."

And I also know how much I've enjoyed Meg being a toddler and I'm going to love going through that stage with Eli as well.  So I'm completely torn between not wanting to lose my baby and wanting to see E move into the brilliant toddler stage.

My big boy!
 I certainly don't want to become one of those mummies who 'babies' their child when they are clearly no longer a baby.  

However, I have definitely been softer with E than I ever was with Meg.  We had quite certain and strong opinions about how we were going to raise Meg and I've let a lot of that slip with E.  Mostly because he's 'my baby boy.'

He has these huge beautiful blue eyes that just melt my heart when he looks at me, even when he's doing something he shouldn't be!!

It would be interesting to know if other mummies have felt the same way about their last babies and how they dealt with letting go of their baby whilst still (secretly) keeping them as their baby!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Daddy Sensor

Every day at 4.45pm Eli starts to fuss.  This is because my Other Half arrives home at 5.45pm.

When my Other Half was working closer to home and arriving back at 5.30pm, the clinging to my feet, not wanting to play with any toys unless it involved throwing them across the room and high pitched whining sound would start at 4.30pm.

Last night due to a prison lockdown my Other Half was two hours late home.  Eli cried for "da-da-daddy" the whole time even through his dinner.

I've often wondered whether there is some kind of Daddy Sensor embedded in my children as I can remember Meg being the same when she was small.

Or maybe it's simpler than that, perhaps they are just picking up on my 'nearly time for a break' vibes.  I know I'm usually more short-tempered the closer to Daddy time it gets.  Kind of like when you need the toilet.  You can manage to hold on for an entire car journey possibly even hours long but the minute you pull up outside your house you HAVE to go, IMMEDIATELY.  

Shouting for Daddy - now that's a cross face!

When it gets to almost that time when Daddy gets home just you isn't enough they need Daddy and they need him NOW.

It's worse now Eli can crawl as he will literally go and sit by the front door and shout for Daddy.  For an hour.  Or sometimes, if he's feeling particularly mean he will come and sit by the kitchen safety gate as I'm making the dinner and shake it and shout "daddy daddy daddy" just to let it really sink in that I'm not the parent he wants.

Daddy where are you!?!
And heaven forbid if my Other Half doesn't pick E up the second he walks through the door. 
Oh the tantrums we have.  Suppose it's the toilet scenario all over again!

I shouldn't take it personally I know.  Or compare it to when I pick Eli up from nursery and he crawls away from me (usually into a corner of the room) shouting "no no no."  The staff all think it's hilarious when I stand there trying to coax my own son into leaving with me.  Charming.

We do spend a lot of time together so I see his point, I'd get pretty bored too.  There's only so much time you can sit and look at each other before you want a change of scenery, even with a crazy almost three year old thrown into the mix.

And, now that Meg is older she's not so bothered about it.  Don't get me wrong.  As soon as we hear Daddy's car pull onto the drive she races to the front door and has to be the one who opens it (today Daddy forgot and he had to go back out, knock on the door and be admitted by Meg, silly Daddy!) but at least we don't have the hour long whinging.

So, that's something to look forward to.

And maybe, one day, the situation will be reversed and E will cry for me.  Hurray!! 

Maybe ;o)

(Secretly I'm hoping I'm not the only one with children like this otherwise that would be very sad!!)   

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Where did the last three years go?!?

Last week was crazily busy and went ridiculously fast as we prepared for the kids birthday party on Saturday and then Eli's birthday on Sunday.  I won't have much time to blog this week either as it's Meg's birthday on Friday but I didn't like to think of not blogging for the whole week.

Firstly, I can't believe that Eli is one, but more than that I can't believe at all that Meg is three this week.

In the spirit of nostalgia I thought I'd share some of my photos and thoughts from the last three years.

I may have been a rarity for a first time mother in that in my attempt to pretend it wouldn't happen to me, I refused to read any books about labour and only attended a one-off 3 hour antenatal class with my Other Half provided by the NHS, where we were talked through the various pain relief options and then shown a video of an 'average' sized baby followed by a 'larger than average' baby being delivered (and I'm not going to lie...I didn't watch either).  So I really was unprepared for what actual labour would be like.  I'd also, somewhere along the line, adopted the idea that I was going to do the whole thing 'au naturale' and wrote in my birth plan that I didn't want an epidural regardless of what I asked for!

Of course, it didn't happen that way at all.  I woke up at 4am with contractions every three minutes apart.  As we didn't have a car at the time we had to wait for a friend to come and pick us up and I was in total panic mode.  By the time we made it to the hospital 30 minutes away I really wasn't coping.  I cried through my examination (even though I was 6cms dilated) and within half an hour was begging for an epidural.   9 hours later I was ready to push when the midwife realised Meg was a compound presentation and had her elbow crossed over her face.  By that point it was too late and I was already pushing...all I can say is I am mightily glad I took the epidural!!

Meg, a few minutes old

From day one she's been a character.  Totally alert and taking in her surroundings we thought it was amazing until we realised that she didn't know how to switch off and would just stay awake until she was totally exhausted and screaming.  At 3 months the Baby Whisperer became our guidebook and we never looked back! (Interestingly, we didn't even consider using it with Eli)

I have often observed to friends that I'm glad we had a baby like Meg first as it meant that any baby that followed would seem easy.  And I truly mean that.  On Eli's bad days he doesn't even scrape the surface of how bad Meg could be.

My Other Half once filmed one of her screaming tantrums and I wish we'd kept it, it would act as a very good contraceptive!  I can even remember one time when she was 9 months old and she was crying so hard that I thought something must be wrong with her, so I packed her into the car and drove to the local walk in centre.  Turns out she just wanted her own way.

We've been dealing with the terrible two's since Meg was first mobile at 10 months.  For whatever reason, she always wants to be one step ahead of where she's actually capable of being and this has led to a great many frustrations.   It's also taught me a lot about patience!

But over the past three years, we've watched an amazing little girl learn and develop every single day to become the Meg that we love (and honestly, sometimes despair of!)

She is demanding, strong willed and stubborn.  But she's also funny, passionate and cute beyond belief (I'm allowed to say that, I made her) 

She's also fantastic with Eli, and I'm so pleased to say that she's only ever been guilty of over mothering him.  Peppa Pig has a lot to answer for in this house!

When Meg decided to dress up a cinderella and make Eli her fairy godmother.

I'm aware this is at risk of becoming a self-indulgent post about how fantastic Meg is so I'll just wrap it up with this: I am so proud to be mummy to Meg and I can't wait to see what her next three years bring.  There will be many more milestones to come but as long as she stays her little cute (sometimes stroppy) comical self, I think we'll do just fine!


I'll leave off telling you all about Eli until another day ;o)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Blogging it for babies...

I'm a little late into the game but nevertheless this week I am going to #blogitforbabies.
I've read a lot of the contributions made by bloggers for this fantastic campaign and thought about joining a significant portion and sharing my birth stories, but the story that sticks out the most to me, and highlights the reality of how lucky we are is Eli's heart/reflux story.

It will be a long tale, so if you fancy tackling it grab a cuppa and a slice of cake and let's go on a little journey :)

A brief overview of my birth story with E - it was quick!  And I wasn't sure I was really in labour until I turned up at the hospital and was examined.  The journey to the hospital was 30 mins, we sat in the queue for the car park for 15 mins, walked the 15 mins across the hospital to the birthing centre and I hadn't had a single contraction.  I was hooked up to the monitors to check on baby and an hour later examined and told I was 7cms dilated.  Two hours after that Eli arrived.

He was a sleepy baby and not quick to latch on like Meg had been but the midwife who delivered him told us he was quite mucusy and babies who are born fairly quickly can suffer from 'stage fright' (as she called it!) so we didn't think anything of it.  Neither did we think anything of the fact that we came home, went to bed around 9pm and he didn't wake for a feed until 4am.  We actually thought "great, a baby who sleeps!"

Over the next few days though I began to realise that something wasn't right.  Eli would scream with (I assumed) hunger but then fight to get away from me when I tried to feed him.  He'd get so worked up that by the time I actually got him to latch on he'd be breathless almost immediately, feed for 3 0r 4mins and then fall asleep, and we'd repeat the whole cycle again half an hour later when he woke.

It was hard trying to look after a two year old and spend every hour fighting to feed Eli.  On top of my concerns over his feeding there was his cough.  He'd had a rattle in the back of his throat from the day he was born.  The midwife at the hospital put it down to mucus, when we had our 24hr check and I mentioned his poor feeding and his rattle, the midwife put it down to mucus.  When I took him to see the GP a week later, he put it down to mucus.  When I went to see the GP the week after that he told me he had a virus.  And so the cycle continued. 

For 3 months I saw the Health Visitor every other week to help monitor his poor feeding.  His weight gain was slow but steady so there weren't too many concerns other than my hourly feeding routine.  I also took him down to the GP pretty much every week to ask for more help with his rattle and his cough.  Each time I was told it was just a virus.  It makes me so mad even now when as a mummy, having a gut instinct that something isn't right with your baby sometimes isn't enough to convince a GP to do something more (but that's for another day).

Until one such day when Eli was 3 months old I saw Dr Amazing (I love Dr Amazing as he's the only GP at the surgery with paediatric training and Meg thinks he's the best i.e. she doesn't run from the room screaming when he looks at her!).   I explained the situation and then Dr Amazing did a check over of E including listening to his chest.  When I look back now I can appreciate that he spent a long time listening to his chest and I should probably have picked up the signals but I just thought he was checking if Eli had an infection.  Then Dr Amazing got up and left the room.  For 15mins.  When he came back he handed me a sealed envelope and said "I think Eli needs to go to the hospital, just so they can make sure he's ok."

Dutifully/blindly/trustingly we dropped Meg off at my parents and took Eli up to the children's hospital.  We sat in the waiting room for around half an hour before being taken in for consultation.  The nurse who carried out the assessment asked why we were there and I said it was due to Eli having a cough.  Then I handed her the letter from Dr Amazing.  After she'd read it and started back on her notes my Other Half asked her what the letter said.  She paused and then said "it just talks about his cough and poor feeding."  Then she left the room.

When she came back we were taken to a small changing area where I could attempt to feed in private before being moved to our "pod" (nice name for hospital room!).  We arrived at the hospital around 5pm and were in our pod by 7.30pm.  I was given some dinner as a feeding mother and my Other Half went to the cafe to get something to eat.  And then we waited.

And waited. 

Daddy and Eli having a sleep.
Then a young doctor came in and asked us again, why we thought we were at the hospital.  At this point, we did raise our eyebrows at each other (didn't they have any notes!?!) but explained that it was due to Eli's cough.  The doctor checked Eli over and asked a bunch of questions about his feeding...

"Does he struggle?"  "Yes" 
"Does he get exhausted?"  "Yes"
"Have you ever noticed him getting blue around the mouth" "Yes"

She listened to his chest again and left.

We waited some more and then two young nurses came in to check Eli's vitals.  By this point we'd had enough.  Eli was howling, we weren't really being told anything, and were beginning to get suspicious about why we kept being asked what was wrong with Eli.

At 11pm my Other Half went to ask if we could discharge ourselves as we were, quite frankly, fed up and exhausted.  The nurse at the desk advised us that we could of course discharge Eli anytime but she strongly recommended waiting.

Not even 2 mins after that exchange the young doctor came back in and said she would like us to stay and wait and that she wanted her Registrar to come and see Eli and speak to us.

All this for a flipping cough?  I'd wanted to be taken seriously but I think we were both a bit surprised at this!

It was around 1am when the Registrar came in to see us with the young doctor.  The first thing he asked us after checking Eli over and listening to his chest was why we thought we were there. 

I did, at that point think my head was going to explode, and just glared at him whilst he went on to explain that Dr Amazing had picked up a heart murmur and had felt it was significant enough to send Eli for further examination.  He went on to explain that his colleague (young doctor) also considered it to be serious and that having checked Eli over he too considered it to be high level.  Talk about a curve ball.

I remember being dumbfounded and just saying "but what about his cough?"

They felt that was the reason for his poor feeding and his breathlessness and discharged us for the night with an appointment two days later for further tests to be carried out.  We sat in the pod for a good half hour after they'd left just stunned.  Looking at our beautiful baby boy and wondering how there could be anything wrong with such a tiny human being.  In the end we did the only thing we could think of, we prayed.  Prayed that it would be a mistake, that when we came back they wouldn't be able to find anything and there would be another reason, an easy, fixable reason for Eli's poor feeding.

And do you know what?  For our little miracle baby that is exactly what happened.  The Consultant who saw Eli said he could only hear the tiniest murmur, the smallest whisper of a noise and after much extra insistence from me that as a paediatrician he should be able to tell me why my baby had a cough diagnosed Eli with silent reflux. 

I'm not making light of babies with heart issues, and I thank God that our story was a simple happy one.  We know people who have walked through the more serious side of that and it's tough and heartbreaking. 

For weeks and months afterwards I was so angry that a) none of the GP's I had seen had ever even suggested reflux as a possible cause of Eli's problems and b) that we had spent about 9 hours at the children's hospital without ever being told why we were there.  It still makes me seethe a little bit now and I do wonder if we went through the same thing again whether we'd be much more forward in finding out what was going on.

But here's the crux of the issue...quite simply, I was able to take Eli down to the GP's surgery as many times as I pleased.  We were able to take him to be seen by specialists and yes, we had to wait, and ok, it wasn't the best experience we've ever had but so what?

It seems completely trivial when put into perspective:
  • 1 in 19 children in Bangladesh don't live to see their 5th birthday because access to basic healthcare is limited. 
  • Every hour of every day, 11 newborn babies die in Bangladesh.
  • For every 10 births, 8 mothers have to give birth in their homes without a skilled midwife present, putting the life of both mother and baby at risk.

Blog it for Babies is part of Save the Children's Build it for Babies campaign to raise money to build 7 new clinics in Bangladesh.

It's an amazing campaign and I'm proud to be able to write about it.

If you made it to the end, well done!!  Have some more cake ;o)

For more information check out this link or watch this video and consider donating just £1 to the campaign by texting the code XVRL71 £1 to 70070

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Choosing A Rabbit

If you read my mummy's blog regularly you will know that me and Eli are getting rabbits for our birthday.  Today we went to choose them.  Mummy couldn't take any pictures but she said we will take some photos as soon as we bring them home! 

They are still babies though now and have to stay with their mummy for a few more weeks. 

I think mummy was more excited than any of us!

Especially as mummy took this photo of me and Eli sleeping all of the way there.  Thanks mummy!