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.


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


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


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.