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 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.

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


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!