Blog

Coffee

Today, I really fancied a proper coffee. After dropping my daughter at her ballet class, I decided to have a wander (please read by that mad- dash rush!) into town in the 40 minutes I had spare to grab a coffee to go. Passing Boots on the way, I realised said daughter needed hair nets, grips and all things ballet bun related after the last lot seemed to have vanished into thin air, so I stopped off to make a purchase. By the time I had navigated the hair accessories aisle and contemplated whether the clear elastics which guaranteed tangle free would be better than the cotton ones (which also guaranteed tangle free) I realised that I was running short on time and so the coffee got exchanged for a wander (please again read mad dash rush) back to class to ensure I was there in plenty of time for the pick up.

My point of my ramblings is…us Mums (& Dads too) never really put ourselves first. It’s simply not our way to put our need for a coffee above the need for hair grips. So for goodness sake, put your feet up this weekend after the little people are in bed. Take half an hour away from the washing, clearing, planning etc etc and reward yourselves for being awesome. Because we are! For me, the coffee need has passed, but a nice bottle of wine is already chilling in the fridge!! Happy Weekend! Sally x

Growing up way too fast…

It flies by…that’s what everyone says isn’t it?

This week my eldest son went on a school residential week away. One whole week. Well, 5 whole days…but regardless…in a mummy’s heart…a very long time!

I have felt physically hollow, I have had a headache which has pounded to varying degrees as the week has gone on, and I have been highly emotional all week. Getting my youngest her jabs was probably next the best plan as the nurse practically had to deal with me crying as well as my 12 month old! And despite all the best plans to strip his bed and air his mattress, it took me until Wednesday to bring myself to take the sheets off whereby they were duly washed, dried and put straight back on so I knew it was ready for him when he gets home,

Now, I know, I’m over the top and emotional as a parent. I totally recognise that. But my child, being away from me, in a situation completely unfamiliar to me, out of my care, my hands, no control over whether or not he is eating, drinking, sleeping etc etc…well it’s a pretty large pill for any parent to swallow.

The week has passed and I am currently sat outside his school (I am only about an hour early – but best not to be late!) typing frantically whilst twitching continually to look up for the peep of a coach. I am honestly so excited, I really do feel like a 5 year old at Christmas.

I know for a fact that he will have had a fantastic time. The activities they have undertaken are all things he would enjoy, and I am sure he has had the time of his life. But that doesn’t stop it being hard for us parents left behind. And it worries me that I am not equipped to deal with my children growing up.

Despite doing it four times, I have never really enjoyed pregnancy. But the one thing I loved was constantly having my baby with me. Everywhere I went, baby came too. And it’s the same when you have a newborn. You get to snuggle them tight into a sling and carry them around all day. But the older they get, the further they move away from you – both physically and emotionally. They start nursery, then it’s school and before you know it the time has come for the week residential visit. And this is just the start! There will be more and more the older they get, until eventually….well, I can’t deal with that today!

Fact is, we can’t stop it..nor would we want to, I would not have sacrificed him staying here with me for the week and me not having had to feel this awful sense of loss in exchange for him missing out. There was never a question about him not going. He was always going to be on that coach. But I’m not going to lie, I’m really glad it’s Friday! And I’m even more glad that it will be at least a year before I have to face this again.

Do you really have to grow up quite so fast?

Sally x

 

Accepting miscarriage…and even moving on?

Everything happens for a reason. Isn’t that what everyone says?

June marks the Anniversary of, what would have been, the 7th birthday of my LLO – my Lost Little One.

Not a day goes past when I don’t find myself pondering the baby that never was. I don’t dwell or mope, but I do catch myself thinking of her at least once a day, every day, and without fail she gets blown a goodnight kiss.

I knew in my heart, right from the start, that something wasn’t right when I fell pregnant. I couldn’t put my finger on it, and having only been pregnant once before, I had minimal experience, but my gut told me that all was not well. Based entirely on my mother’s instinct, we booked an early scan. Learning that my instincts were right took my breath away. How could this be? I hadn’t bled, I had no physical symptoms whatsoever to suggest that there was a problem and yet, there on the screen, I stared at a clear line which was the foetal pole, and no flickering heartbeat.

Perhaps the hardest week of my life lay ahead.

I wrestled with the need to just get it over with and for my body to ‘reject the pregnancy’ as it is somewhat coldly termed, with my heart yelling as loud as it could to hang on in there and prove them all wrong. When I finally did start to miscarriage, there was no relief – just very raw pain.

Every year, on the 20th of June – my LLO’s due date, I have a bad day. I don’t mean to, I don’t plan to, but I can’t help it. It creeps up on me no matter how hard I try to push it down, and as much as I try and ignore the grief, it’s still there and it bubbles up each year without fail.

But for the first time, this year was different.

Ever since I became a mum, I have wanted four children. Four was my number. And no matter how hard I have tried to convince myself along the way that 1 or 2 or 3 would work, in my heart, it was always four. Never five, always four.

But it has not been an easy path for us. I think people assume if you have four children that they have all come easy and of their own accord, but that’s not been my journey. We have had our fair share of fertility treatments, all sorts of prodding, poking and investigating, and have had our patience tested to the max – which for someone who would open her Christmas presents in November given the choice, has been pretty challenging!

But now we have four. My beautiful daughter Chess completed our family just over 12 months ago, and she is the perfect finishing piece in our family jigsaw. She is everything we could have wished for and so much more, and our family would not have been whole without her. And had it not been for losing my LLO….well, that doesn’t bear thinking about it. Chess was always meant to be.

I will never forget the baby I never held in my arms but who will always be in my heart.

But instead of it just being about missing her, this year, I was also so grateful to her, grateful for the pain I went through, grateful for that bit of my journey in a way I have never been before, as it is part of the story that has led me to the perfect jigsaw I have.

I do believe that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes those reasons are impossible to understand. Sometimes, they are so painful to an extent you could never put into words. But there is a reason. I could never have imagined getting to a point where I understood my miscarriage and accepted it. But because of Chess, I not only accept it but I am also grateful for it.

I hope by sharing this post, it brings courage and hope to those of you on your own journeys, those of you who have suffered a loss and those of you going through tough times for whatever reason right now. It’s taken 7 years for me, but I can now see the reason why my path took such turns. It is my hope and wish that your reasons will also become clear.

With love.

Sally x

The questions you really want answered about IVF

I think people assume with four children that they all came easily when I wanted them.  That is not the case and we had three rounds of fertility treatment (ICSI twice and then Frozen Embryo Transfer) to have our beautiful daughter Belle.

When I was going through treatment, I found there was information everywhere – but no-one really answered the questions I wanted to ask. So here goes… these were my burning questions with answers and if you have any others, please do comment below and I will do my best.

1.  The injections really do not hurt.  Just remind yourself each time what you are doing and why (I used to say in my head “For a baby”) and you will barely flinch – I promise.

2. Side effects include: Nightmares (weird I know, but I used wake up most mornings insisting we fitted another lock on the front door/ checked the smoke alarms, check all torch batteries etc, etc!) mood swings (I was a bit of a monster to my poor hubby!) and hot flushes (very bizarre and I am so not looking forward to the menopause!)

3. Cost – a fortune, there is no getting away from it.  But it is worth every penny.  Check for funding with your Primary Care Trust before you do anything else as they may have strict rules which can forfeit funding you may be entitled to if you break them – even if you don’t realise you have.  For general information, please see http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/889.aspx    You can check your local PCT at http://www.nhs.uk/ServiceDirectories/Pages/ServiceSearchAdditional.aspx?SearchType=PCT&ServiceType=Trust

4. Cycle length – Most cycles (please note that this is not the case in all women) involve approximately 5 weeks of drugs before egg collection, and then embryo transfer follows that with a 2 week wait until you can check to see if you have that precious BFP (Big Fat Positive pregnancy test) after transfer.   It is a long path for each cycle.  There is no getting around this so just accept it and try and be patient.  I found it helped to view each stage as a hurdle I had jumped – closer and closer to the finish line.

5. If you have a choice – choose your clinic very carefully.  Check their success rates but also dig a bit beeper as the success rates are only part the stroy.  Be sure to check on forums to see what people are really saying about them.  Most clinics have an open evening but they are only going to tell you the good bits.  You are trusting them with your future family (and often your savings which may also limit the number of cycles you can afford if it doesn’t work first time around (and often, it doesn’t)).  So research, research, research.

6. Think carefully about who you share the fact that you are having treatment with.  It may seem lovely to have lots of support from all sorts of people but remember that they will all know at what stage you are at.  You wouldn’t normally tell people you were pregnant as early as 4 weeks (which will be how pregnant you are after a positive test – bizarrely enough!) so do you want these people to know just because you are having fertility treatment?   The support is great, but just be sure it is from the right people and carefully communicate what you want from them.  If you don’t want them to ask every day ‘how things are…’ ask them not to.  They will understand.

7.  It often doesn’t work first cycle.  It didn’t for us and I found it hard to accept why not given that our little embryo was safe and sound in my womb where it just needed to grow.  It’s so hard to jump each hurdle and then not get that BFP.  Be kind to yourself and when you are ready, pick yourself up and try again.

7. It’s tough.  It’s ok to think it sucks, that the world’s not fair and why me.   It is the hardest thing I have ever done, but equally the most rewarding.

Sending you all oodles of baby dust.

Sally x

Life with four

For anyone whose thinking about adding to their brood, there is always so much to consider. The rational head of baby making has a great deal to say – albeit my rational head didn’t get much say – I wanted four and that was all there was to it! But if you are more considered than I, here’s some things you might what to know when considering the jump to four.

Number 1. It’s noisy. I mean really, really noisy! I would not describe myself as a quiet, reserved wall flower type of character, and noise is not something I would have ever thought would be a concern, but wow, my house can get really, really loud. Even when we are having ‘quiet time’ it’s noisy. Between the laughs, screams, devices, noisy toys, musical instruments and general chat, I often pity my neighbours. So be prepared for the volume.

2.  There is always someone to hang out with. And in the same vein, there is always someone to fall out with. My lot drive me bonkers in that they are always one extreme or the other. They are either playing beautifully, sharing, looking out for each other…or…well, or the opposite! And the flip from friends to enemies can happen in a matter of seconds.

3.  There is competition. Every morning, I adjudicate the ‘who gets to sit next to Chess game’ (our youngest) reasoning that it was Belle’s turn yesterday so should be Griffin’s today and Dalton’s for tea. They don’t get to feed Chess, or even particularly interact with her…it’s just a competition that seems to have become embedded for no apparent reason, and whilst on one hand it’s lovely they all want to sit next to their baby sister, on the other it’s a source of huge discourse and one which tests my patience even before I’ve had a cup of tea in the mornings! Seating arrangements are just an example. Whatever it might be, there is always competition between one child and another, and it can send a mummy slightly potty!

4.  There is enough love to go round. I worried so much with baby number four that my third child would feel left out or jealous of her. With the journey we had, Griffin (who is affectionately known as LBB – our Little Bonus Ball) was, I thought, my last child, And so I definitely babied him more than the others. When I was pregnant with Chess, his relationship with her was the only one which I was really worried about. But I needn’t have stressed. If anything, he is more loving and giving to her than the older two. The love from me to him (& of course the others) has not depreciated – if anything it has grown, so please don’t think you’ll run out! It’s busy and it’s hard to find 1:1 time for them all every day, but we manage it and we encourage their relationships too by setting them joint tasks or games. As many challenges as I know lie ahead for me, my children feeling that here isn’t enough love to go round will never be one of them.

5.  Your tolerance to crumbs increases. It has too.

6.  There is an ginormous amount of washing. If I don’t do at least one wash a day, every day, the wheels will come off and someone will not have what they need. Even on holiday, I wash!

7.  It’s expensive! I know that sounds obvious but it’s worth mention. We had anticipated the cost of a bigger car, feeding four hungry mouths, holidays etc, but those are not the things you really notice. It’s the little things. An ice cream may only be £2 but when you times it by four it quickly adds up. A bottle of water, go on a bouncy castle, pocket money, four lots of money for school/ nursery events, etc etc. It’s is pretty much a tenner minimum a hit. And it adds up fast.

8.  It’s wonderful. If you are considering more children, my advice is to ignore points 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 & 7 above and just do it!

Sally x

Being Helpless

As a parent we are programmed to help.  The minute we hold that baby for the very first time, our desire to do everything we can for this tiny human kicks in.   Whatever is wrong, we want to fix it.

Last week say my youngest daughter who has just turned one, developed horrific croup.  What started as a bit of a cough on Tuesday morning ended up with her being admitted to hospital struggling to catch her breath Tuesday night.  And it’s one of the few times in my parenthood journey that I have felt truly helpless.

Chess is not old enough to have any appreciation or understanding of what was going on.  Of course she did not understand that the Doctors and everyone prodding her were actually there to help – she just wanted to be left alone.  She couldn’t possibly know at this age that the medicine which was hurting her throat to swallow and tasted so horrible was exactly what she needed to get better.  And worst of all, she could not understand why I, of all people, was helping to hold her down and constrain her so the medical staff could administer the nasty medicine which she hated so much.  She is a baby still and when babies hurt, Mummy or Daddy picks them up and make it all better.

Of course I shushed and cuddled and reassured.  I stayed awake for all but about 3 hours over 3 days so that I could hold her whilst she slept instead of making her sleep in an unfamiliar cot in an unfamiliar place when all she wanted to do was cuddle.  I didn’t leave her alone at all in fear she would wake and be even more afraid, taking her with me to go to the bathroom or to grab a drink even though, as us Mums know, these things are far easier and more efficient if undertaken with two hands and not one!  And I rowed that darn imaginary boat from here to Australia as ‘Row, row, row the boat’ is her absolute favourite thing to do!  But at the end of the day, it didn’t take away from the feelings of helplessness when my baby needed me most. Not to mention felling awful that I was not around for my other children too, particularly Griffin who had his first full week at school.

We are now home again and Chess is well on the mend.  I still seem to be her favourite person and have clearly been forgiven for my part in ‘medicine-gate’!   But for me the feelings of helplessness are not as easily forgotten.

The fear of not being able to help my children in their hour of need haunts me.  What happens if I am presented with an emotional challenge in their lives that I do not know how to deal with?  Let alone medical emergencies.  Is it enough for me to know that I will always try my best?  Will my thirst for knowledge which finds me reading the most random of websites dealing with everything from medical diagnosis to signs of depression or drug use be enough?  Will I have read the right article about the right thing…and remembered it at the right time?

Ultimately I of course will never know.  I pray that I will never need any of this knowledge in any event. But we simply cannot be prepared for every eventuality and unless we are qualified in everything that there ever was, there is no possible way we will always have the skills or knowledge we need.  It’s a scary thing to admit that as a parent, you may not be able to help your children whenever or for whatever they might need you for the most.

For now, more cuddles, more kisses, and more rowing of that boat of ours!  And that’s all I have.  And honestly, it is enough.  Whilst I hate that I couldn’t take  Chess’ hurt away, I have to remind myself that we did play our part.  We realised she needed professional help, and we got her exactly where she needed to be at exactly the right time.   And then we scurried around to make arrangements to ensure that I could stay in hospital and look after her and that our other children were also properly cared for and wherever they needed to be too.   We did our bit, we did everything we could do, and we did to the best of our abilities.  And I guess, at the end of the day, that’s all as parents we can do.  We won’t always be able to fix things, we won’t always have the right words to say at the right time or the exact thing our child might need.  But to do our best is all we can do.  And the feelings of helplessness…they will fade as Chess continues to get better and I realise that doing my bit was actually not that helpless, but in fact, critical to getting her well and providing the love and support she needed.

Knowing it all…

Being a mum of 4 delicious ( and very noisy) little people, people say to me all the time ‘Oh, you must be an old hand at this by now’.   A kind and generous comment which I tend to just laugh off.  Yes, Chess is baby number four, and yes some days I do have some idea what I am doing. But others….hmmmm, not so much!

When it came to weaning her, I honestly had no clue whatsoever what I was doing. How does the food affect the milk? When do I feed her? How much? How often? The only bit I had covered was what to feed her – mush!

When I last went to get her weighed – which I admit I don’t do that often (but that is more down to trying to fit it in alongside every other aspect of my crazy busy life, than not wanting too), she was about 5 months.  I happened to have all of the children with me due to it being a non-school day and when I apologetically handed over her red book mumbling about the infrequency I attended but that I was confident she was putting on weight well, the Health Visitor replied with a “To be honest, I am impressed you come at all!”

But here’s the thing, (possibly the only thing!) that I have learned through my journey so far as a mother. And that is, we are all learning all of the time. About all sorts of things.   Just because Chess is my fourth, doesn’t mean I know everything, or for that matter anything!

She is completely different to all the rest. She is the only one I have had that has ever slept well (long may that continue!), she is by far my smile-iest, happiest and placid baby, and she is super content all the time. Which is completely lovely of course, but also brings its’ own challenges. If she cries, which is pretty rare, she will almost without fail, stop when you pick her up.  So finding out if she is hungry or hurting is nearly impossible.   And back to the weaning – not knowing if she was hungry or not did not help!

All we can do as parents is to simply recognise that whilst we nowhere near know everything, but that we will learn it when we need to.   I will once again learn what I do with food, just as, I hope, will be ready to be a mum to a teenager by the time I have one of those!

And in the mean time – thank goodness for Google and fellow mums! A quick text to a friend, a little search on the web, and I am content that I am not starving my little Beauty and that the mush is perfect for her present needs.

So let’s hold each other’s hands and recognise that we all have things to learn and things to share. And no, I am not an old hand at this – far from it. But I genuinely really do appreciate the vote of confidence!