Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top ten of 2011

As the year grows to a close and everyone seems to be making lists of their highlights, lowlights or favourite kebabs (no, really) of 2011 I thought I might as well join in.

2011 did not start well for us, as you may well have read about here or here. But, it has got a lot better since and so I thought I would tell you all about that.

So here goes...my positives from 2011. And you know what, it's been a good one!

1. Getting pregnant and getting past the 12 week mark. We lost our second pregnancy at 10 weeks so the happiness and excitement of this one was tempered until we made it safely past the first trimester. With just 2 months to go, the realisation of our family expanding by one more little person is setting in and we are all so very excited and happy!



2. We got engaged. We had always talked about marriage and kids and felt under no pressure to do the former before the latter. However, after getting through all of this and becoming a much, much stronger couple and team for it, it became really important to us to make it official. The wedding is not until December 2013 because we want the kids to be old enough to be part of it but planning is well under way and we are very excited!



3. Our wonderful William, against all odds, started to talk. His first proper, identifiable word was duck. It changed our worlds more than you know. He seems to have given up on saying duck now but clearly says 'car', 'gone', 'cat', 'Parker' (our cat's name) and 'cook' and has a whole heap of other sounds that are just waiting to be turned into proper words when his wee head is ready. Yay for him!

4. We bought a house. A proper grown up, expensive, let's stay here for a long time, house. I love it. It is just the perfect size and shape for our family with heaps of parks nearby to help with that never ending wee boy energy.

5. We had our first proper family holiday. We have been away for weekends since Will was born, and for long haul holidays to see family but they never felt like holidays should feel. They were full of obligation and tension and often, tragedy, and family time was rare. But last summer we went here to stay on a farm and it was wonderful. It was easy, enjoyable, relaxing, stimulating and perfect family QT. And that was with morning sickness and torrential rain all week!



6. Will stopped pulling out his hearing aids or refusing to wear them at all and started keeping them in ALL DAY long other than nap time and bath time. The difference they have made to both his and our lives is immeasurable. Such a huge milestone for us. 



7. Will started to sign; to properly use signing as a language and communication tool. I wrote this list when he had almost 40 signs, it badly needs updated as he already has closer to 60. It has made life much easier and more fun and is hopefully keeping Will from feeling too frustrated at not yet mastering much speech.

8. We got a cat. Well, technically, he is just on loan while some friends of ours are away experiencing life on the other side of the world. I have never been so much of an animal person but the difference he has made to our life as a family is wonderful. Will adores him as you can clearly see from the fact that 2 out of the 5 words he can say are 'cat' and 'Parker'. They are still learning each others limits but I can tell that there is a mutual admiration / fascination there and a whole lot of love.


9. Shaun got a new job. I knew that his old job was hard, that the people were annoying and that he felt, and was, undervalued and taken advantage of. I thought that was just how working was but turns out it doesn't have to be! His new job is just the right amount of hard to be stimulating without losing sleep over it, the people are wonderfully crazy so far and he feels valued and in control. He keeps saying 'I am so much happier' which makes me feel a) awful for not realising how unhappy he actually was and b) so very grateful that he had the gumption to get up and move on. We are all happier for it!

10. This last one is not so much of a point as just the whole year of 2011. At the beginning of the year it felt like we could, very easily, fall apart as a couple, a family and individuals. And what happened was that not only did we not fall apart, we got stronger as a couple, a family and as individuals. We didn't just get through it, we got over it and we are happy, happier than we have been probably. And going into 2012 I feel so lucky to have everything that I have and so excited about everything that is coming.




But enough of this sappy nonsense, someone pass the champagne and let's toast the new year!! xx

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Still a shame but less ashamed

PhotobucketSo the idea behind ghosts of blogging past is to republish a post from your first week blogging. I picked the post below and, to be honest, it was hard enough for me to read it back, let alone republish it. But as heart wrenching as it was it was also wonderful to see how far we have come. From a baby who couldn't talk or sign or keep his hearing aids, in 5 short months, we have a toddler who can say about 5 words, sign about 50 words and keeps his hearing aids in all day every day.

But the huge thing for me is how far I have come. I still carry a massive burden of guilt. I still blame myself and I still spend a lot of time worrying about the future. But I am a good Mum and I feel like a good Mum. I am so proud of how many signs I know and how quickly I can pick up more. I am so proud of my ability to do whatever it takes to communicate with my son. In a lot of ways we have our little world. I understand his little grunts and noises and half words. I understand what signs his clumsy baby fingers are making. But more importantly for both of us I no longer feel ashamed. Ashamed of him or ashamed of myself. I feel proud of both of us, of how far we have come and of how far I am certain we will go.

But this is not supposed to be a new post, it is supposed to be an old one...


Such a Shame

I feel like I need to point out that I love my son. To me he is everything. He is the smartest, funniest, cheekiest, most handsome boy there ever has been. And I love him more than I ever thought it was possible to love anyone. And now this is the part I say 'and I wouldn't change him for the world'. But I would. I wouldn't change his temper, or his fierce determination, or his need to throw half his lunch on the floor and I wouldn't change his beautiful ginger hair even though I lose sleep over worrying about him being bullied at school.

What I would change is the fact he can't quite hear what we can. He's not profoundly deaf, just partially. This is supposed to inspire some kind of hope in me. 'He has got some hearing though' people say. As if that makes it better. As if that means that just part of my heart is broken, not all of it. Even if he does learn to talk, he might talk 'funny'. He might sound like a deaf person, because that's what he is. He already doesn't babble like other children his age. It's more of a grunt. He will never be able to listen to an iPod without everyone else listening to it with him. He can't play sport because what is 'wrong' with him will get worse if he hits his head. No rugby, no American Football and soccer only if he wears a helmet. He will be that kid that wears a helmet in PE. He will be that kid who wears hearing aids. He will be that kid whose iPod is laughable loud. He will be that kid that talks funny. He will be that kid who doesn't hear the mean comments the other kids make about him.

When I think about all of these things, and the hundred more that cross my mind every time I look at my beautiful baby boy I feel ashamed. Ashamed of his hearing aids. Ashamed of his funny sounding babbling. Ashamed of the fact he is deaf. I am so very very ashamed. And then I feel ashamed of being ashamed of someone so very wonderful. But it's not him I am ashamed of. It's myself. I am so ashamed that I gave him less of a chance at life than any other child. I failed him from the beginning. Denied him a world of experiences.

Now I know that you are all screaming 'but it's not your fault!' and you may well be right. Despite a barrage of tests, we still don't know why William has dilated vestibular aqueducts. Perhaps we never will. But the facts of the matter are that I built him and even though I can see in my head that it is not my fault and nothing I did or did not do would have made any difference, in my heart I will never ever be able to forgive myself for letting my baby down.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Things I won't miss...

All this Christmas cheer that is going around is making me feel like I should be part of it...but alas I am still full of the grumps and last night our lights on our tree broke so now we don't even have sparkle. So here I remain.

One positive I do have is that we have booked a grown ups only weekend away in January to visit wedding venues - very exciting. But for me at least, the wedding bit of it comes second to all the other things I am excited about. Let me share them with you...

1. Not having to share my breakfast with anyone

2. Not having to be spoon fed my own cereal by cute but spill-y little hands

3. Not having to have an audience while I use the bathroom

4. Not having those same small hands tearing at toilet roll, pulling at me, cleaning the floor with my toothbrush...etc while I use the bathroom

5. Being able to go to sleep whenever I want and be certain of not being woken by crying or wailing or the very worse, whining.

6. Being able to wake up when I want to wake up, when MY BODY is ready.

7. Having the time and space to acknowledge, properly, that I am indeed pregnant again. To give the foetus some attention for a change

8. To give my fiance some attention for a change

9. Not to have to tidy up, mainly because there will be no mess to tidy up.

10. Not to have to change a nappy, or another persons clothes for 3 whole days

There are more but I feel like I have grumped enough for this festive season, my next post will be chirpier I promise!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas Time, Mistletoe and whining.

When I was a kid, Christmas was not a big deal in our house. We didn't put up our tree (it was always fake, never real) until the very last minute and the tree was the only decoration we had other than the cards people had sent. We aren't a religious family so I guess it makes sense. Without God and Jesus there isn't much to celebrate other than 4 days cooped up with only one anothers company. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a miserable time or anything, just low key.

As a grown up I rebelled against this though. I wanted the magic. I wanted the grotto of decorations, the beautifully wrapped gifts, the sparkles everywhere. I wanted it to be like it is in the movies. I'm still not religious but I think that Christmas has become so much more than that. It has become about family, about friends, about celebrating the year gone by or indeed mourning it and looking forward to the next one ahead. It is about giving and eating and sharing and laughing. I love decorating our house and this year was particularly looking forward to it because it is just that, our house. It's our first Christmas as home owners and although we had Will last year, this is the first year he will really feel the excitement of it all. It feels like our first Christmas as a proper family. Come mid November, I could not wait to get the decorations out and start feeling festive.

But I've lost it. Sometime between then and now it's gone and I just can't seem to get it back.

Perhaps it's all the doctors appointments we have had. Perhaps it's because we've been poorly. Perhaps it's because I'm pregnant and tired and have no energy for the excitement. Perhaps it's because the idea of shopping with a toddler fills me with fear and dread and so gift shopping has lost its appeal. Perhaps it's because I bought Shaun everything he wanted or needed for his birthday a month ago so there is nothing left to buy. Perhaps it's because ever since I have put the tree up I have spent more time that I would like saying 'no, don't touch' to Will or shouting at the cat for climbing up it.

I don't think it is any of these things. I don't know what it is. But I want it back. I want to be excited. I want to care about shopping. I want to want to wrap presents. I want to actually care that it is a mere two weeks away and I am not even vaguely prepared.

But alas, I don't. I don't care about any of it. Bah Humbug!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Get on your dancing shoes...or socks at least

So, as I'm sure you'll already know from my previous two posts about the doctors and his blood tests, my son is pretty freaking awesome.

What you won't already know is that he got his Mummy's moves. And for a deaf kid, it's quite an achievement to appreciate music at all, let alone with grooves like this.

video


video

And if you are wondering, yes I do dance and clean at the same time. And yes, I do it in my undies.

There are some things only a mother can teach you.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Blood tests and a super hero

Did you read my recent post about going to the doctors?

Well today surpassed all of that pride I have felt over recent trips. Today Will had a blood test as part of his genetic testing to try and find out what it is (if anything) that has caused his hearing loss and if it will affect future children of ours.

This is his shirt, and I can tell you that the badge does not do my wee boy justice.




We went in and Will was placed on my lap with a cushion on his. The nurses rolled up both his sleeves and chose his left inner elbow to take the blood from. We discussed anaesthetic but because of his eczema the cream would have taken an hour to take effect and I didn't want to hang around that long, so we went without. Eeeeeeeeeeeeekkkk.

There was a 'play expert' with bubbles and a finger puppet kitten to distract him - he was having none of it.

Will watched the needle go in to his little arm, watched the skin around it turn red and fiery and watched the vial fill up with his own blood.

He made not a peep. He had no dummy, no snacks, no distraction, and there wasn't a tear in sight.

The staff were astounded.

And then, AND THEN, when they had removed the needle and put the plaster over the hole, he offered them his other arm to do the same to that.

I am pretty sure that gives him super hero status, in his Mummy's eyes at least.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Doctors

We have been to a lot of doctors recently. We have been sick. Really, really sick. Just your average winter cough, cold, ear infection, flu type sick but it's been rough. Probably because this foetus takes enough of my energy to make me feel like crap every day anyway, let alone when I'm fighting off germs and bugs and tending to a toddler (who reverted to sleeping like a newborn, i.e. not, for a few nights) with germs and bugs also!

Anyway, as well as that we have had hearing tests and genetic testing, both of which took up a lot of time and a lot of head space. But I won't bore you with them, what I will tell you about is how is how brave and how wonderful my William is.

At his hearing test he was a complete star. Have I mentioned to you that the hospital we go to is rubbish? Well it is. Rubbish at everything but in particular rubbish at paediatrics, which, when you think about it, is pretty key, what with Will being a kid and all. But he put up with their prodding and poking and taking his hearing aids out and putting his hearing aids in and out and generally taking forever to mess him around.

And then again at his genetic testing he was again, wonderful. Brave and patient which I think you will agree are two massive achievements for an 18 month old. The testing was at Great Ormand Street which is the leading children's hospital in the country so the care was fantastic but I still think that he excelled himself in how calm he was throughout.

But the real stories came from when we went to the GP.

At the genetic testing the doctor had used a stethoscope to listen to Will's tummy and chest. A few days later we visited the GP and there was a stethoscope on her desk. While the doctor and I were talking Will had picked up the stethoscope, lifted up his top and started to try and listen to his own tummy. My heart actually bled with how cute he looked and how clever he was for remembering and re-enacting.



And then back to the GP a few days later where she used an otoscope to look in my ears

When she was done, Will picked up the otoscope, used it to look in both my ears himself and then took out his hearing aids and put it in his own ears! Again, so very, very cute and clever. 

Both of these occasions have brought out an mixture of emotions for me. First, as I hope came through above, is pride at how smart Will is turning out to be. He has seen and been the subject of at otoscope enough timers in his short wee life but I still think it's amazing how he used it to look in my ears and then his own. And the same for the stethoscope. I love how these things don't upset him, or make him angry. I love how he takes them in his stride and wants to use them on other people as well as himself. And I especially love that we can use the stethoscope to 'listen' to the new baby in mummy's tummy.

But it's the guilt that breaks me. The guilt that he even knows what to do with either of those medical instruments. The guilt that he thinks that they are part of life. The guilt that they aren't for most other children. The guilt that my baby has to go to all these different hospitals in the first place.

But for now I will try and focus on the bravery and the cuteness and my wee boy listening to his baby brother or sister inside his Mummy's tummy. Because those things make me cry in a good way!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

D U C K

So, last week. A week ago today in fact, William said his first word. His first actual, proper, undeniable, every letter within, word.

He said duck. He said the d and the u and the ck.

And he was pointing to a picture of a duck at the time.

So he definitely said duck and he definitely meant duck. And did I mention that he said duck?


Speech. It brings up a BIG array of emotions, most of which I choose to bury deep.

So here's something you should know about me. I do not like to fail. I am a high achiever. I have high expectations of myself and I take it really hard if I let myself down. You can probably analyse my childhood or my parents or both and figure out where is comes from but it really doesn't matter. Because that's just how it is. I am a perfectionist and expect nothing less from myself than just that, perfection.

Because of this I have a coping mechanism. Again you can analyse and what not but this is just how it is. If I think I am going to fail at something I will not do it. I will not even try. Because I do not like to fail, and if I don't attempt something it dramatically reduces the chances of me failing at it. This may well be why I hate sport. why I don't play an instrument and why I never really forged a career before having kids. If I don't try these things, I cannot get them wrong. It is definitely why I was a wreck about breastfeeding when I was pregnant and determined not to do it. As it was that turned out alright for me and I was one of the lucky ones, as was my son as he benefited from 9 months of the stuff.

And so back to speech. Now this is not so much about trying or failing because it's not about me. But it's about expectations. I have NO expectations of William when it comes to speech. I know that in my heart and in my head I have accepted that he may never talk. Because it's easier for me that way. That way if he does never talk, it's OK. And if he does talk, well then, that's bonus for all of us. But I don't have emotions tied up in it. Ahem.

But then he said his first word. He spoke.

And now I do not know what to do with myself.

Because you see, this opens windows. It releases possibilities. It gives hope. I do not like hope any more than I like failure because one can only lead to the other. Right?

Wrong. Because this is my baby. And I have higher hopes for him than I have ever had for myself. Not expectations, I expect nothing for him or from him. But hopes. And dreams. And with him, hope cannot lead to failure. Because he cannot fail in my eyes. And he cannot let me down.

This parenting lark has turned my world upside down.

I'm trying lovelinks again this week, pop on over and check out who else is...

lovelinks

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Milestones

Milestones are funny aren't they.

You turn 16, 18, 21, then wait for 30, 40, 50...

And somewhere in there you have kids and they are an hour, a day, a week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks...5 months, 6 months, 7 months...a year.

Yesterday my baby was 18 months.

EV-ER-Y-ONE says it. "It goes so fast; they grow up so fast; you'll miss this stage when it's gone" etc etc.

And it's true. I do not know where the past year and a half have gone. I remember him turning 6 months like it was yesterday. Some days I'm certain it was. He seems so grown up, so capable. So smart. I watch him walking, running, laughing, signing. I remember him sleeping, breastfeeding, snuggling, crying. The change was instant. I do not remember him learning any of the things he does now, it just changed in a snap of my fingers.

But at the same time I have minimal recollection of our life without him. I don't remember not being a Mum. The past year and a half feel like the whole of my life. I have changed so much, been through so much. I have been pushed to limits I didn't know I had. Experienced emotions I didn't know existed. Felt the highest of highs and hit the lowest of lows. I feel like I have lived 10 years in this short 18 months.

I read yesterday that 18 months is often the point parents accept that their baby is no longer a baby but a little person. I have to admit I got a lump in my throat reading it, knowing how present that feeling is.

And I know that just as quickly we will be celebrating his 18th birthday and I will feel like today was yesterday but that I have lived for 100 years in those 18.

Kids mess with the time continuum. There is no denying it.

Monday, 7 November 2011

The greenest of monsters

Jealousy.

Once upon a time a good friend of mine (she doesn't look like that) said to me 'Envy is wanting what someone else has, jealousy is not wanting them to have it'

I have been thinking a lot about both recently, fueled by this post here, which I feel has blurred the line between the two. But it's about something I know nothing about. Here's what I do know about.

I suffer from what is, based on the above, a big old case of envy. Ever since I found out that William was deaf I have looked at all the people around me having children and wondered why they 'got off'. Why it had to be my baby that got the duff gene out of nowhere. Why my baby has a harder life than theirs. Why they get to moan about sleepless nights and weaning and laundry while I sit on the floor rocking, wishing that these were the only things I had to worry about. Why do my friends get to fret about their perfectly normal children going to school, making friends and coping with the change when I, already, worry about my child going to school and being able to talk.  

But not once, not ever, not for one portion of a second, have I ever, ever wished that these people had deaf children. Or that their children had any kind of disability at all. Or that they didn't have their wonderful, non disabled children.

I am envious that they don't have to deal with what I have to deal with. But I am not jealous of their 'normality'. I would not for one second wish this heartache on anyone.

But that doesn't stop me from wishing it was different sometimes. For me. Not for anyone else.

I'm linking up with lovelinks for the first time...come join me!


lovelinks

Friday, 4 November 2011

Signs

I have decided, partly to make myself feel better and partly from a purely administrative point of view, to keep a list of William's signs. I also want to publish them with photographic evidence but, as I'm sure you know, toddlers are not always camera compliant, so we will see how that works out.

Ok, so for now, at 04/11/2011 (at almost exactly 18 months) we have...

1. bye bye (waving)
2. dummy (pointing at mouth with one finger)
3. food (pointing at mouth with all fingers)
4. bottle (fist with thumb and little finger out, drinking from thumb)
5. please (tapping mouth with open hand)
6. thank you (tapping mouth with open hand)
7. yes (nodding)
8. no (shaking head)
9. dog (hands bent forward like paws in front of chest)
10. cow (fist with thumb and finger out, thumbs into side of head)
11. sheep (fists with just little fingers out, little fingers spiralling from sides of head)
12. pig (fist twisting nose)
13. horse (fists on top of one another, in front of body, up and down)
14. bird (thumb and index finger tapping together)
15. duck (thumb and rest of fingers tapping together)
16. fish (moving flat hand infront of body like fish)
17. cake (tapping clawed hand onto flat hand)
18. ball (making ball shape with both hands)
19. up (pointing up)
20. come (beconing to come with his hand)
21. lion (making a claw coming toward you)
22. giraffe (hand coming out of neck and moving upward)
23. elephant (fist coming down from nose, mimicing a trunk)
24. train (flat hands either side of body moving circularly)
25. car (mimic turning a steering wheel)
26. bus (mimic turning a larger steering wheel)
27. digger (pretend to dig with one hand)
28. banana (pretend to peel an imaginary banana)
29. orange (pretend to squeeze something round, next to your mouth)
30. grape (hold one hand as if dangling a bunch of grapes, use the other to twist from it bigger and down)
31. hot (go to touch something and pull hand away sharply, as if it is hot)
32. cook (pretend to hold a frying pan and shake back and forth)
33. gone (have claw hands open and together and then pull away to clasped hands, repeatedly)
34. ready (with two open hands, push your thumbs into your chest)
35. again (flick the index and middle fingers of one hand down with the rest curled into a fist)
36. plane (make a fist with your thumb and little finger protruding and move it around up high, like a plane)
37. balloon (make a ball shape with your hands as if coming from your mouth while blowing)
38. drink (make a cup with your hand and pretend to drink from it

I feel better already, my kid is smart! Time to get some snaps!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Mmmmmm

I have been trying to write a post for a while now about Will's speech. Or lack of, rather. He still doesn't have any words and it's taking it's toll on me. Since he started wearing his hearing aids consistently he has come so far and the difference when he has them in is breathtaking.

But we have stalled. Predictably, I guess. Nothing can continue along that steep trajectory of progress. He has more sounds than before. And more listening skills. More understanding. More signing. All so very positive but my heart longs for a word. Just one word.

We work so hard, every day. Repeating, playing, reading. Nothing.

Today we went to deaf playgroup. It was much better than the previous time. There was a new boy there that William took quite a shine to. They played beautifully together around the toy kitchen and then with some jigsaws. One of the jigsaws was animals, an area where Will's signing excels. He was showing each animal to the other boy and telling him what it was, through sign. Horse, giraffe, elephant. Monkey, dog, alligator.

The professionals that run the group were so excited that of course my heart swelled with joy and with pride. My baby, not only communicating but teaching.

We decided from the beginning to sign with Will and always knew he would sign before he spoke. In sign he has as many, if not more, words as the children we know with normal hearing.

And whenever he signs a new word, I get excited, I praise him, I hug him and I am genuinely happy for him and for us for making such a smart kid. Because he is super smart.

But I still long for speech. Just for one word so that I can be reassured that one day there will be more. Because as much as I boldly say 'Will may never talk' and 'we are learning and teaching sign because he is deaf, it's part of who he is', there is still a part of me that is desperate for him to be normal. The part of me that is worrying about nursery, school, friends, bullies, exams, careers, relationships, grandchildren. That part of me was given hope when he started wearing his aids. Hope when he started to make sounds that I thought would become words. Hope that he would grow up to be just like everyone else but with hearing aids in his ears.

But the truth is he won't ever be like everyone else. Because he is different. Because he is disabled. And as much as I know I need to embrace this fact. Some days, most days of late, I just want to embrace him and cry about it.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

My favourite things

I have talked a little bit before about how I have always wanted to be a Mum and how, because of this I have always made sure to surround myself with children.

But I always knew that having my own children would be different, harder in some ways maybe but better is so many. And I was right.

For me it's the little things; when I am doing something and I realise that I am the Mum.

Putting on Wills shoes. There is something about having your child on your lap and labouring to get his socks and shoes on before he darts away to something more interesting that really melts my heart.

Hanging out his cute clothes. Not so much doing four loads of laundry a day, you understand, I'm not crazy. But hanging out the tiny socks and trousers and vests. Even now that they aren't teeny tiny baby clothes, I still find them massively cute.

Having crap in all of my bags (nappies, dummies, bits of food, odd socks). I love finding something random but child related (as long as it's not sticky), especially if I am not with Will. It's a lovely reminder that I am a Mum. His Mum.

My house being a tip. Sure, it drives me crazy and exhausts me but there is something that I love about tripping over toys, finding toys in my bed, under my duvet, the fact that every room in the house has a little reminder that a little person lives here. That we are a family.

Recently this happened

And as much as I was annoyed (at myself for leaving Will and pens unattended) and as much as attempting, and failing, to clean it off was frustrating, part of me felt a warm glow inside. Because it's funny. Because it was going to happen one day. Because it felt like a parental rite of passage. And because it was a reminder that I am a Mum. Not a very attentive one, clearly, but a Mum none the less.

And I love being a Mum.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Diagnosis Day

It was over a year ago now and I have not talked about the day William was diagnosed as deaf since the day itself. To anyone. It was, easily, the worst day of my life. And, as you may have read here, I have had some pretty tough days.

It was his fifth hearing test. We had had four inconclusive tests because the baby has to be asleep for the entirety of the testing which can take up to an hour. If you have had children you probably know that young babies do not sleep on demand and are easily woken, especially if you put 5 of these around their skull when they are already asleep.


And, despite people around us having their babies pass their hearing tests whilst awake but breastfeeding or being cradled into stillness, we were constantly reassured by the health professionals that our baby probably wasn't deaf, he just needed to be asleep for the testing to work.

So, on test 5, he managed to stay asleep. When he awoke, the audiologist was very quiet.
Shaun said to him "Did you get it?"
He said "It doesn't look good".
I said nothing
My head said "What the FUCK does that even mean????? Is he deaf or not deaf???? I don't want to know how it LOOKS, I want to know how it IS"

In time the audiologist told us that William had moderate hearing loss in his right ear and severe to profound hearing loss in his left. They are not able to test to the highest level of sounds in babies, lest they damage the hearing (the irony is not lost on me) so we won't really know about his left ear until he is older. For now he will wear hearing aids on both ears. If he turns out to be profoundly deaf in his left there will be no point in a hearing aid on that ear.

My world had literally stopped turning. My heart had broken into more than a million pieces. I have never felt grief or sorrow or pain or guilt like it. I kept him close to me and sobbed 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry' over and over again. My poor baby.

I was told I needed to take him to hospital to have blood tests taken. I did not need an appointment, I just had to rock up and they would do it. No time to waste, I thought, I'll go now. This was one of my poorer life decisions.

It took me an hour to get to the hospital.

Blood tests at the hospital are on a ticket system. You take a ticket, you wait, they call your number off you go. I waited for an hour and a half. William did a poo. A poo that went all the way up his back, requiring a change of clothes. I couldn't fit my buggy in the toilet to get to the change table. By the time I had got in and changed him completely, we had missed our turn.

I went up to the curtains and pleaded, begged, that I didn't have to take a new ticket, that they would fit me in. The looked at me and said 'you or the baby?' I nodded 'the baby', the response 'we don't take blood from babies'.

I sobbed. Standing in the middle of a crowded hospital I sobbed and sobbed until I couldn't breathe. My baby was deaf and I didn't know why. All I knew was that it was my fault and that by not getting these blood tests I was failing him, again.

I found a reception desk and begged them to help me, to tell me where to go, to give me an appointment, to make the day easier. They sent me to paediatrics.

Paediatrics are obviously used to hysterical mothers because they knew how to look after me, to calm me down, to make it better. There was another long wait and eventually they took blood samples from the back of Wills hand and we left, still crying.

I got home at 5.30 that evening. Our hearing test appointment had been at 9am.

That was the longest day of my life.

The next few days, weeks maybe months even, I remember crying a lot. Sitting on the floor and crying. I remember thinking I would never get up.

It breaks my heart to think of how impossible that day was but it mends it to think of how far we've come. It's been a battle of course but we have a beautiful, smart, engaging little boy who runs and signs and talks and communicates and laughs and who loves life and who makes me so glad I did get off that floor and carry on because he is so very, very worth it.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The edge of reason

I remember when Will was a little baby and started to smile.


When does that happen? 6 weeks or something right? Well clearly I don't actually remember that, but what I do remember is people saying to me 'just when you think you can't take anymore, they start giving something back don't they?'. 6 weeks into having a new born you are exhausted, hungry, still quite fat and no doubt a little disillusioned with the whole parenting thing. And then your little bundle of joy smiles at you and it is all so very worthwhile. All of it. More than worthwhile, an absolute pleasure.

My point here is that I think kids continue to do that, to push you to the very end of your tether and then give you something back to pull you back from the brink. As you may have read, last week was tough. My buttons were pushed by life as well as by parenting.

Cut to Friday and William's swimming lesson. This is week 4 of this term and the first 3 have been very challenging. The first 3 were me wrestling with a crying baby while everyone looked on with 'I'm so glad that's not me' eyes. Because he wasn't crying in an 'I'm scared/ upset/ concerned' way, he was crying in an 'I want that ball on the side of the pool and I am going to kick and scream until I get it' way. Terrible twos and all that.

Thursday night Will didn't really sleep for whatever reason so we were both tired and cranky. I had too much to do for our house warming the next day and could really have done without the lesson.

And so he was perfect. The lesson was perfect. He kicked when he was supposed to kick and the water, not me or his unborn sibling. He blew bubbles. He laughed. He went under with no tears or drama. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire 30 minutes. So much so that afterwards I felt energised. This, for me, is a long lost feeling at the moment!

And it reminded me of what people say, and of how, sometimes, how right they are.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Sod, and his damned law.

I like to give myself a lot to do, I do. I enjoy pressure. And most of the time I go too far and push my luck, ending up in a ball on the floor.

But I am trying to change this and thought I was doing alright. This weekend we are having our housewarming party. It's been a fair few months since we moved in but we wanted to get the house a bit more sorted, a bit more 'us'. And this is only the second free weekend we've had since we moved in so we didn't have a heap of choice. Because of this 'so busy we can hardly breathe' life we have made for ourselves the house isn't sorted or remotely 'us'.

Last weekend was our first free weekend so that was the time we gave ourselves to rectify the situation and to be fair, we did an alright job. We spent Saturday shopping and Sunday putting stuff up. But then along came Sod (I think some of his friends call him Murphy also). Actually, he had arrived a few days before last weekend but we didn't realise how long he would be staying. Don't you hate an unwelcome guest?

So the first thing he did upon arrival was break our vacuum cleaner. Not ideal, especially from a financial point of view, but not the end of the world. We bought a new one when we bought the rest of our 'stuff' on Saturday.

But he was not to be stumped so easily! While we were out shopping up a storm he took it upon himself to break our boiler. And not in a 'get the plumber out, wiggle something around hey presto it's fixed' kind of way. Oh no. He broke it in a 'shaking and vibrating like there is an earthquake whilst making the most horrendous noise like if it stays on you might all actually die' kind of way. In an 'there is nothing your plumber can do, you fools, you will need to get the manufacturer out and spend hundreds of those pounds you don't really have' kind of way. What's that? You were out all day spending money? Shame, shame.

Does he stop there? C'mon, you know the answer. Sunday night, he excels. He decides that a vomiting bug is necessary. Because, when you have no boiler and therefore no hot water, what is the last thing in the world you need? That's right, 4 loads of vomit covered washing to do. That my friends, in Sod's Law and that is, after all, why he came to stay, to prove his law. Like Newton, only shit.

By Monday evening we are all exhausted and we all smell pretty gross but we spend a good 45 minutes boiling pots and pans and kettles of water to fill the bath that we all share. Yes that's right, all three of us bathed in the same water. Pretty gross eh? Not as gross as we smelled prior to the communal bath I can assure you. So at that point we thought he had left, we thought the family bath time had scuppered him, shown him we couldn't be defeated.

Fools.

It's now Tuesday and remember I have a house warming this weekend? I have shelves to paint and then put up, I have rooms to tidy, rooms to clean, hooks to put up, wardrobe doors to fix, paperwork to not only pick up off the floor but to organise, things to get out the loft, things to put in the loft - you get the idea. I am busy. Also, I didn't do any laundry last week because I took a nap every single day. I was tired you see. So this week, I have two weeks of laundry to do, as well as the vomit sheets, and I have no hot water. There he is again you see, rearing his ugly head. Proving his precious law.

I started to tidy William's room, it was going OK, most of what I was doing was staying where I put it. Sunlight, though, that's what it needs, I'll open the blind. And there he was! Behind the blind! He broke the piece of plastic that holds it to the ceiling and pushed the whole bloody thing down on my head! What's that? You wanted to show off your babies beautiful nursery? You were going to put the wall stickers up and everything? Right, well there isn't a blind. Or any window covering, so now everyone will see the marks left from when you taped black bin liners up there to keep the light out before you had a blind. The law is proven once more!

Too much for me, I give up. I give in, Sod wins. But success is not enough for him. We go downstairs to sit quietly, to give up trying to do anything because let's face it, it's a lost cause. I am a lost cause while I have my unwelcome guest staying. But what's that? The TV doesn't work? Or the Internet? But you've unplugged it and re-plugged it?  Nothing? Yep that's Sod again. You see, he realised you were going to put your feet up and he couldn't have that. Not while he's staying.

Remind me again when he's leaving?

UPDATE: I had literally posted this blog, put the laptop down and gone to get dinner out the oven when this happened


Instead of just taking the chicken out the oven (where Sod was hiding, clearly miffed at my post about him), the chicken jumped out of the oven at me landing on the floor in a splatter of hot fat leaving me with no choice but to drop the glass dish I had baked it in to smash on the floor.

I did what any tired, exacerbated pregnant mother would do, I sat down alongside the chicken and the broken glass and cried until Shaun came home and cleaned both it and me up. (He was AWOL for a good couple of hours in an unexpected meeting meaning I had an unexpected extra hour or so of parenting pushing me to my limit - pretty sure Sod was behind that too).

He's never moving out is he? He lives here now. Stupid Sod and his stupid Law.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Comfort

Last night was one of those really tough nights of parenting. One of the ones that makes you wonder how you are going to cope with two. Why you ever thought you could cope with one. One of the ones that feels like it will never end but will be forgotten in an instant when something wonderful happens that we will remember forever like a milestone or a kiss.

There was vomit, lots of vomit. And tears, lots and lots of tears. And no sleep.

As I was lying in bed, listening to Shaun comfort our son through his 4th bout of vomiting, I thought how tender he is. How tender their relationship is. How lucky I am that I can stay in bed and listen to them rather than having to be the one up and doing it all alone. But as he whispered to him 'it's ok Puffin, it's ok, just get it all out, you'll be ok, Daddy's here, it's going to be ok, you are going to be ok, I love you, just get it out and you will feel better, I love you' I found myself thinking 'he can't hear you'.

And I think that this the is part of Will's hearing impairment that hurts the most. That in the depths of illness, as infrequent as they are, we don't put his hearing aids in. But we still talk to him, whisper to him. We use words that have been used to comfort us through pain by our own parents, by each other. And he misses all of it.

I take some comfort of my own in that I am a great believer in the power of touch. I am a tactile person and Shaun and I are a very tactile couple. William is cuddled and kissed and held and rocked and nurtured whether or not he is ill. And last night, when Shaun was whispering to him that it was all going to be ok, I hope that even though he couldn't hear him, he could understand that Daddy was there because Daddy was just that, there. Holding him, stroking his brow, mopping the sick from his mouth, kissing his head.

And I hope that every evening before I go to bed when I look in on my sleeping baby and tell him I love him, what he doesn't hear in my words he understands the next morning when we start our day with a long, perfect hug.

Because actions, as they say, speak louder than words.

My Miscarriage

I am writing this post in conjunction with the Mumsnet campaign for better miscarriage care.

I found out I was pregnant when I was about 5 weeks. It was unexpected, I had only had one period since having my first baby 8 months earlier. I was sick and tired, more so than I remembered being with my first.

The nausea was unbearable most days until about 7 weeks and then it subsided but I still felt tired. At 9.5 weeks we flew to NZ, I felt very nauseous all through the flight but put it down to stress of travelling that far and with a 9 month old baby. We arrived on the Saturday, on the Monday I went to the bathroom and there was a spot of blood.

We went to a local GP who assured me that because I had carried one baby to full term this was probably just spotting and very unlikely to be a miscarriage. The doctor asked me if I had any pain, if it was cramp like. I lied and said no, I was not ready to lose this baby, not here, not so far from home. They took some blood to measure my pregnancy hormone levels and sent me on my way. If it was to miscarry, they said, it would just progress like a period and be over in a week.

I didn't have any bleeding for the rest of the Monday or the Tuesday. On the Wednesday I went to the bathroom and there it was. Blood. Lots of it. Like a heavy period. I was losing the baby. The emotions were impossible. I was devastated and we were on holiday. We still had to meet people, see people, socialise. I still had to be a Mum to my little boy a million miles from my home, my Mum, my friends.

And then the pain started. It was excruciating. It was contractions. I am so grateful I had already had a baby and could understand what the pain was. I felt like I was in labour as my body tried to expel the fetus. On the Thursday we were supposed to fly from Wellington to Auckland but the pain was so very, very unbearable that I went back to the doctors. This was not progressing like an ordinary period. The bleeding was heavier than any period I had ever had and the pain was only comparable to labour.

The doctors wouldn't see me and so I went to the hospital. They felt my tummy and examined my cervix. Because I was between 9 and 10 weeks pregnant there was a high chance that the pregnancy was ectopic. There was a chance the embryo was rupturing in my fallopian tube. There was a chance that I would have to be operated on. There was a chance that I would have to have my fallopian tube removed. There would be a chance that I wouldn't be able to have any more children. They put me on a morphine drip to numb the physical pain.

I was sent in an ambulance to a bigger hospital where they could do more tests. I had an emergency ultrasound. There was a fetus. It was in my womb, where it was supposed to be. There would be no operation, no irreversible damage. The baby was just 6 weeks gestation. No heartbeat. But that could be because it was just too small to see one. There was hope. Except I knew that there wasn't. I had lost too much blood, been in too much pain, no good was to come from this.

They took another blood sample to compare my pregnancy hormone levels with the one taken a few days earlier at the doctors. We went out for lunch.

We went back to the hospital to be delivered the inevitable news. The baby was dead. It's heart had stopped beating at 6 weeks gestation. It had been dead inside me for 4 weeks, a month. I had no idea. They call it a missed miscarriage.

I took a full 10 days for the bleeding to stop, I was prescribed super strength codeine for the pain. On about the 5th day the codeine didn't touch the pain, I could barely walk. But we had people to visit. I was in my partners God Mother's house. I went to the bathroom and my sanitary pad was saturated after only an hour or so. I sat on the toilet and had an overwhelming urge to push. There was a plop. There it was, my fetus. In the toilet. It was the fanciest bathroom I had ever been in. I came out and went to the beach, telling no-one what had just happened.

After that day the bleeding and pain eased and eventually stopped. The heartache has neither eased nor stopped and I doubt it ever will.

For me the worst thing was being so far from home and my family. I cannot fault the care I was given.

People band around the word miscarriage like it's something simple. I always thought it was just a late period, especially miscarrying before 12 weeks. For me it was like labour but with no happy ending. People need to be made more aware of the intensity of the pain, both physical and emotional that comes with miscarrying.

Please, read the Mumsnet campaign for better miscarriage care and support it. It is something that so many women will go through and we need to make sure that support for both the physical and emotional pain is both available and appropriate.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Sex!

Did the title get you here? Ha ha, sadly (or not so) it's the gender type I want to talk to you about, not the naked time.

We have our 20 week anomaly scan today for baby2. I cannot believe it's done half it's time already!

The half way scan is where, if you so choose to, you can find out the sex (gender, not direction) of your baby. With William we found out. I think we wanted to but I also remember being under a lot of pressure from our family to do so. Either way it made little difference in the end and was definitely good for planning.

This time we have decided not to. We have a boy so it feels like everyone in the WORLD wants us to have a girl. I really don't want a girl. There you go, I said it. I want another boy. Brothers. We aren't stopping after this one so there's plenty of opportunity for a girl. But the thing with this pregnancy is that it is so very different from William's.

Here's how...

With Will, all I wanted to eat was steak, crisps and diet coke.
With baby2, all day I crave fruit, vegetables and fish. Chocolate has featured heavily in both pregnancies but I think that's just because it's a bloody good excuse to indulge!

With Will, I didn't have a bump until I was way past 20 weeks, probably closer to 25.
I am already huge. I know that I have less muscles or weaker muscles or whatever but I am a completely different shape. Much more all over weight and rounder bump.

With Will I cried a lot, got stressed a lot, worried a lot.
This time, not so much but my goodness, my temper! It comes out of nowhere and hits hard.

With Will I was tired, sure.
But with no2 I am whacked. All the time. I am 19 weeks now and there is no sign of any glow arriving anytime soon. I still nap every day when Will does. I know I have a toddler to look after but it's not that hard is it? That even with a daily 2 hour nap I can hardly make conversation with Shaun when he gets home at 7pm?

So, my point is, I think it's a girl. Because it is so very different from when I was pregnant with a boy.

And I am interested in what you think

Do you have different sexes? Were your pregnancies notably different?

Or two or more of the same? Were those pregnancies similar?

What old wives tales do you believe in?

What do you think I'm having?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A disappointment

When William was 6 months old we went for the first time to what is officially called 'Toddler Group'. In our house it is called 'Deaf playgroup'. Because that's what it is. Playgroup for deaf kids, kids with hearing aids, and cochlear implants. Kids who communicate through sign language.

It was hard. I didn't want to be there, I didn't want a deaf kid. I didn't want to learn sign language, I didn't want my kid to have to. I didn't want to hear what the other Mums had to say. I wasn't interested in how it was going to get better, how successful their kids were, how 'normal' life could, in fact, be.

But we persevered. And it did get better. And William did achieve and develop. And life does, more often than not, have a semblance of normality about it. There was one Mum in particular that helped me a lot. That very first day, she was the only one who talked to me. She asked how I felt, how my partner felt, my parents, his parents. She discussed tests with me, told me her story. She made me feel welcome and comfortable and most importantly, she made me realise that life goes on. That this wasn't the end.

And deaf playgroup became a wonderful thing. It was first thing on a Monday morning, it got us up and out the house. It was a 30 minute walk so it got me exercising and in the fresh air. William adored being there and socialising with the other children. For a long time Monday afternoons were the only day he would nap for 2 hours. It was part of our routine and we loved it.

And then the Government had to make cuts. The NHS had to make cuts. Playgroup is every other week now, somewhere new. On paper it's just a different children's centre in a different area, fortnightly instead of weekly.

To us, it is now two buses or a 20 minute walk and then a bus to get there. It takes 50 minutes.
The room it is in is upstairs. I have to leave my pushchair outside, even in the rain. I have to carry our bags and William up 2 flights of stairs.
The room is much smaller. Today there were 6 children, all William's age and it was crowded.
There are leaflets at a reachable level so the kids can pull them off and get in trouble for it.
There is no kitchen to make a cup of tea, just a shelf for the juice that again the kids can reach and again get in trouble for spilling.
It's on every other Tuesday, so if you miss one week, it's a whole month between playgroups.

These all might sounds silly or small. But they make it harder. And combined they make it hardly worth my while. I am pregnant and tired, if I am going to travel 50 minutes somewhere and the same home, it has to be worth it. And today just made me feel like it no longer is. Which is a real shame because it used to be the highlight of our week. And I really would have liked to have given the support that Mum gave me to another Mum with a newly diagnosed deaf baby.

Have budget cuts affected you and your family? How does it make you feel?

Monday, 3 October 2011

I have to tell you this story

This is my favourite piece of perfect communication William has carried out yet.

My parents were here this weekend and when Will woke up I took him into their bedroom to see them. After a bit of pottering he found my Dad's car keys on the side. He showed them to my Dad and my Dad signed 'car' to him (pretended to turn a steering wheel). William did it back and my Dad nodded. "Yes, car".

Then it got really cute. William pulled at my Dad until he was out of bed and sitting up. Then he went and got my Dad's shoes for him and gestured that he had to put them on. OMG just the cutest thing. Then he pulled at my Dad's hand again, to the stairs, down the stairs, to the front door, out into the street and into the car.

Last time my Dad was here he had let William sit in the front seat of his car and pretend to drive. I just find it the most beautiful thing that not only did he remember (it was 3 weeks ago), but he managed to get him to do it again just from finding a set of keys.

Alas I didn't get a picture because it was 7am and as happy as my Dad and Will are to walk the streets in their PJs at that time, me not so much. But I will never forget it. It was William's first full conversation.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

TWOsday! My two gingers

When Jamie posted that she was doing a link up, I of course wanted to take part. But twos? I don't have so many twos other than the obvious - arms, legs, eyes etc. I have one beautiful baby boy, one ever expanding bump due in March and one wonderful, wonderful (so much so it deserves to be said twice - there's a two!) fiance.

But there it is, right there. My bump is (literally) an ever growing part of our lives but doesn't quite feature yet. So I am left with two. Two! My two boys. My big boy and my little boy. My two gingers I like to call them, the big ginger and the little ginger. The two people that make both my head and my heart spin upside down and inside out and ultimately keep my world turning.

And of all the men in my life it's their hair that makes them stand out as much as their fiery (see what I did there) personalities. So here they are, my TWO perfect gingers.



Photobucket

Big steps for a little boy

A while ago I told you a story that, I think, displayed the first signs of Will not only hearing and listening but understanding. Well, that turned out to be just one of a few that have occurred over the past few weeks. Hurrah!

The first is a similar story to the last, one of listening and understanding. Will is really into pretending to cook, both me and his Dad love to cook and do cook a lot so it's no surprise he thinks of it as a fun thing to do. So rather than any of his toys, his present favourite thing to play with is anything out of the kitchen. Pots, pans, utensils, cake tins, tupperware.

Our coffee tables look like this...



Because of our delightful, inquisitive son, we do not keep anything in them and recently Will has taken to pretending they are his very own little oven. So unbelievably cute. I love watching him taking things in and out of it and watching his mind working overtime.

The other day he was carrying a two handled pan with just one hand and because of the angle he was holding it at, it wouldn't fit into the gap. From a distance away, I called his name and said to him 'use two hands, hold it with two hands'. We try and sign alongside speech at all times but I couldn't think of a gesture to accompany this so I just continued to repeat the words. It only took about three times before he did it. He looked at me, looked back, used two hands and sure enough got the pan in the 'oven'. So. Very. Proud. 

The other steps forward are wanted to share with you are particularly exciting - SPEECH!!!

Over the past couple of weeks Will has begun to mimic sounds. When he waves bye bye it is now accompanied by a heartwarming 'buh buh'. When playing on the train in the playground and a friend of ours said 'choo choo', William repeated 'wooo wooo'. And then this week when we were playing with rubber ducks and making them quack he said 'ack ack'.

I cannot tell you how excited and proud all of this makes me. Wearing the hearing aids is making such a difference at such a fast rate. I am so very pleased with him and his progress and I have even turned my own little corner. I am, for the first time, much happier when Will has his hearing aids in and want him to wear them. There is such a distinct difference in his behaviour and mood, making it obvious that they are quite blatantly the best thing for him. And what's best for him is best for me and best for us.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Playground Parenting

Will has recently just started to really enjoy playgrounds. He loves to climb up the stairs, down the stairs, up the stairs, down the stairs. Occasionally the slide or the swing get a look in but at the moment it's mainly about the stairs.



And other kids. It's just me at home all day so Will doesn't get a whole heap of time with other children. Since going to the park on a regular basis we have both learnt about other kids. Will thinks they are all wonderful and is desperate to play, interact, talk and share. Me, on the other hand, I'm not so sure. I think they are all horrid. Well not all, but most, definitely the majority. Basically any that don't belong to my friends!

It's an experience all parents must go through and not one I have enjoyed. Seeing that kid get a little bit too close to yours. Seeing the moment their hand goes up to push them over, their face gets close to scream in their face. It invokes a protective feeling I had no idea could be so strong. I remember the first time I felt it. It was when I took Will for his 8 week immunisations. Watching that nurse stick those needles into my baby and seeing him cry because of it made my skin crawl with rage. Even though my head knew that it was better than him getting any of the nasty diseases they were protecting him from, my heart wanted me to jump over the desk, wrestle the nurse to the ground, pull out her hair and jab the needle in her eye. I had never worried that I didn't love my baby, but that experience made me sure that I did.

The park is like that. If a kid gets in his face, I want to push them over. If they dare to touch him, I want to knock them out. I thought I liked kids, all kids but ones that look like they might hurt mine make me not so friendly!

Of course most of them are polite and play nicely and have plenty of time to talk to and play with my Will. But there are ones that don't want to share, don't want to play and don't want to talk to a kid that grunts and signs rather than talks. Recently another wee boy shouted right in Will's face "I can't understand you!". Oh my, it took all my strength just to say to him, quietly "Please don't shout at him".



But all the while, Will was smiling. You see, he loves other children. If they kick bark at him, he things it's hilarious. If they scream in his face, he thinks they are communicating with him. If they try and pick him up to move him out of their way, he thinks they are just being affectionate. If they run away from him, he thinks they are playing chase. And that's what I've learned these past few weeks. It's all me. The tension, the fear, the anger, it's all me. I am so worried about Will being picked on and bullied about his hearing aids I go to these parks on the super defensive. But they are just parks. And they are just kids, doing what kids do. They aren't treating him any differently than any other baby that might happen to get in their way. And you know what? They don't even notice his hearing aids.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Pushing my luck. Or not, as the story goes.

Earlier this week I talked about compromising my principles since becoming a parent because of lessons learnt, or sometimes just to get through the day.

This week has been a really good week. Will and I have had fun, napped during the day and slept well in the night. There have been very few cross words and even fewer tantrums. I put this down to one thing. I have finally learned the biggest lesson of them all.

Do Not Push Your Luck.

I have always pushed my luck. I would work until I burned out. Party until I burned out harder. Expected more from my body, mind, emotional and mental health than any of them could give. And no matter how many times I found myself on the edge, I would always go back and do it again. And again.

Pregnancy was no different. I was determined that being pregnant wasn't going to change my life. I still went out late, away for weekends, worked, exercised, baked, hosted parties, pushed myself to my limits. And my mental health suffered. Big time.

And then when Will was born, I continued along the same path. I could have listened to my body, my mind, my emotional breakdowns. But I continued to push myself. And continued to suffer for it.

I don't know what changed. Or when it changed. Or how it changed. But I have finally cracked it. Well that is clearly actually a lie but I am on the way to cracking it.

Yesterday we went *into town to get my fringe cut. We arrived at 10 and the hairdressers were all on training until 11. So do you know what I did? I came home. Because 11.30 is nap time. So the hairdressers at 11 would have been pushing my luck. I did not push my luck. And even though I spent £8 on transport for NO reason, even though I got the wrong bus home and had to get off after one stop and walk back, even though we didn't get into bed for our nap until 12.30, I did not lose it. I did not get upset or stressed or short tempered. We had a fun morning travelling followed by a nap, followed by a lovely afternoon at home together. All because we made it home in time for our nap. All because I did not push my luck.

This is a very big deal for me. A very big deal indeed. And I hope you don't mind if I give myself just a little pat on the back.


*this in itself is pushing my luck really. The London transport system is not overly pushchair friendly and its a 45 minute trek. But alas, vanity prevailed.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The lonely life of a S A H M

I love being a Mum. But I don't love being a Stay At Home Mum. I know, shock horror! There are women desperate to have the opportunity to be a SAHM and here I am bitching about it. But I'm not, I'm just explaining it to you. Please don't be upset with me.

The days are long. It's lonely, And at times it's boring. And infuriating. And exhausting.

But it is the best thing for William. Within a week we have deaf playgroup one morning, an hour of speech and language therapy, an hour of sign language tuition and an hour with our Teacher of the Deaf. All on different days. So it doesn't leave a lot of time for me to work. Never mind trying to find child care that knows BSL and how to put hearing aids back in and spot them as they are coming out, not after when they are in a bush, a road, under a car etc. And I don't want his whole world to be about the fact he is deaf. I want him to see 'normal' children. I want him to go swimming. I want him to play in the park.

And so our decision is made. It's the right decision and one that I am happy with. But that doesn't mean that there aren't hard days, lonely days and boring days.

I recently read a post over at Chosen Chaos that made me swoon (yes swoon) with admiration. The post was about things going wrong but just the idea that Jamie would attempt to have all four kids by herself while her Husband is away (here with us drinking beer) makes me think she is a better woman than me.

Last time S went away with his friends for a long weekend I went and stayed with my parents. Because the time before that, by the time Sunday afternoon came around I was LIVID with him and for no real reason than I had been on my own for 3 days. THREE DAYS. I mean, pre baby I don't think I would have noticed he'd gone!

So this last time I thought I would go to my parents. I thought it would be easy. I thought I would get a rest, some naps, food cooked for me by my own Mummy. Alas, the very same Mummy broke her ankle a while back and so was somewhat physically impaired. My poor Dad had spent 2 weeks looking after her and cooking for them both (not his forte) and so was tired and stressed. So I spent the weekend (with a lot of help from my little sister) cooking everyone's dinner as well as entertaining and feeding Will. There was not a nap in sight and by the end of it I was exhausted. Much, much more exhausted than I would have been if I had stayed at home and solo parented. I thought I had made a mistake, that I had made life harder. But that Sunday evening, I could not have been happier to see Shaun. There was not one ounce of resentment or anger or bitterness that he had been away. All I felt was gratitude that he was home and that we were together again.

Because that's the key, for me anyway, to sanity. People. Friends. Family. Avoiding the beast that is loneliness. I can handle the exhaustion, boredom and frustration monsters but the big L is my downfall.

So who wants to go for a cup of tea?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The television. And other hypocrisies.

Before becoming a Mum, I had a lot of experience with children and babies. I have seven cousins much younger than me, have worked in schools, volunteered in orphanages. Alongside this experience I also had a lot of opinions. I could see what parents, carers and teachers were doing right and what they were doing wrong. I pretty much had parenting sorted.

And then I had a baby. HO-LY SHIZZLE.

People say that you don't know what it is like to have a child until you actually have one. And it's true. And it's true that you will never appreciate how true that sentence is until you have actually had one. No matter how many times I say it to you. No matter how many times it was said to me. Since having my own baby I have learnt a whole heap of lessons and consequently have a whole heap more understanding and a whole heap less opinions!

Since William has started wearing his hearing aids regularly, we have been watching a lot more TV. It is amazing to see how much more he gets out of it now he can hear it. It may sound obvious but when he was younger it was hard to tell what, if any, difference the aids actually made. But here I have clear cut scientific evidence. Without the aids he would have watched for 10 minutes before getting bored and wandering off to amuse himself. Now he will sit for an hour, probably more if I let him.

Watching TV is just one of the many things I had certainty about when it comes to parenting...so here's what changed...

  • My child was NEVER going to watch TV.
    • It's not like he watches it all day every day but we do enjoy an hour or so of CBeebies and since he has started dancing to the music, laughing at the laughter, hearing the shows it's harder to turn it off
  • My child will NEVER sleep in our bed.
    • I can blame it on the tongue tie but despite feeding all day he actually slept alright at night and he was still in our bed for the first 4 months of his life.
  • My child will NEVER eat crisps or cake or biscuits of chocolate.
    • Come on, if you're eating it, they're eating it. It's moderated but still, he gets his fair share of sugar.
  • My child will NEVER have a dummy.
    • Again I can make excuses about his tongue tie but at the end of the day it was my decision to give it to him because it makes MY life easier. Sometimes that's key.
There are still some things that I am trying to hold on to like
  • My child will not have any advanced technology like a mobile phone, iPod, iPad, laptop of his OWN until he is at least 10 (he can play on ours if the time is right).
  • My child will never have a TV in his room
  • My child will go to school every day, come rain or shine or cough or cold
But I have come to realise that you never know what parenting will throw at you and sometimes you do what you can just to get through another day. Or you compromise your principles because there are larger ones at stake. And, most importantly, that you never know what is 'right' until you are there, in that situation with your children and your partner and your level of exhaustion.

What, if any, of your principles have you compromised?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Our trip to the zoo

Last weekend we went to the zoo because they had a 'special children's day'. I hate that they called it special children's day and I hate whoever and whatever turned the word from special to special.

Anyway, we went. We got to go in a special entrance and that was enough to send me over the edge. I could not stop myself from having a little cry behind my sunglasses about how we shouldn't be here, how unfair it all was. But then we were in and I had pulled myself together.

And what a wonderful day we had. Here are some of the highlights:

  • All the displays we went to were accompanied by sign language.
  • We always got to sit in the front row
  • Will kept his hearing aidS (he wears both now, woohoo!) in ALL day.
  • It was so good to be around other special children. Seeing other children with hearing aids in makes it all feel a lot more normal which I appreciate massively
  • Spending time as a family
This last one I cherish the most. We are very, very busy people for some reason and so time as a threesome almost never happens. It was so wonderful to laugh and smile and sign and play and eat as our little family unit.  And that, my friends, is what I found truly, truly special about our day at the zoo.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

He understands!

Communication with children is tricky. You can never be sure if they can hear you or if they are ignoring you or if they just don't understand you. Communication with William is trickier. More often than not he cannot hear you and so is always 'ignoring' you and is a long way from understanding you, words at least (his communication through Sign Language is coming on wonderfully).

So this week we had a breakthrough. I had a friend visit with her 6 month old son. We had been home all day, Will was bored which turned into manic as soon as they arrived. He ran around, showing off, being loud and aggressive (you know the usual cabin fever score). Anyway, this culminated in him hitting the baby hard on the head with a toy. The poor baby cried very loudly and his Mummy picked him up and gave him a cuddle and he soon settled but William was obviously disturbed by the consequences of his actions. He looked over in mortification and I said to him 'go and give him a cuddle and say sorry'. And that's just what he did. He got up off of my lap, walked over to the baby and put his arms around him. Broke. My. Heart.

Now I'm not sure if he heard me - he has been wearing his hearing aids pretty much all day since we turned that corner recently - and understood my words.
Or if he understood the situation and transferred his knowledge that Mummy and Daddy cuddle him when he cries so that's what he had to do here.

Either way it shows that he is growing up, and he understood something and acted on it and that is a big step for us. Exciting!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

How did that happen?

Last night I said to Shaun, 'is the back door locked?' and then I suddenly had this flash of realisation, 'Fuck, I have a back door' 'Far out, I have a whole bloody house, an entire building that I OWN with my fiance that we are going to raise our kids (plural!) in'. 'Fuck, I have a kid and another on the way'. Do you find that being a grown up has all of a sudden jumped up on you, as if out of nowhere? Because I don't know how I went from this...





 

To this....


s


 
In what feels like a blink of an eye.

A lot of the Mummy blogs I read are American because I was introduced to this blogging world by Jamie from Chosen Chaos. Now bearing in mind out of my closest pre-mum girlfriends, only about 10% of them have any kids at all, let alone more than one; I always gasp when reading a blog of a mum-of-two talking about what she got for her 27th birthday. TWO kids? At 27? How early do these Americans start popping them out?! Because they all seem really young, yet really grown up, and together and funny. Then I realise that I am only 28. And I have a 16 month old. And I am pregnant. I am not that far behind (apart from maybe the together bit!).

And I don't know how that happened.

But I am bloody glad it did.