Dear Boys,

As the festive season is upon us I wanted to tell you what Christmas was like when I was a child. I know it’s probably hard to imagine mummy as a child herself but it doesn’t seem very long ago to me at all. Once you are all grown up yourselves you will realise why I say that. Christmas as a child was magical and it still is up to this day but the magic is now seen through your eyes. My mum had a tradition of not putting up the decorations until a week before Christmas and we weren’t allowed to put up the tree until Christmas eve itself. I understand now why she did it as she didn’t want us getting over excited I guess but at the time I never understood. All my friends had their trees up and we weren’t allowed until the day before. It did I suppose make putting the tree up all together a very exciting time. As a child we always had an artificial tree, in fact I’m pretty sure we had the same tree throughout my childhood, I remember us getting a new one when I was in my early teens. I loved the smell of an artificial tree. As daft as that sounds they always have a certain smell and to me that was the smell of Christmas. Year after year we used to get out the same decorations and I loved them. They all felt familiar, felt like Christmas had arrived. It made my heart leap with excitement.
On Christmas eve one year mum surprised us with duvets, I must have only been about 5 or 6 at the time but up until then we had traditional blankets on the bed, I remember having to pull them up, we’d have a sheet and them maybe two or so heavy blankets. But that particular year we went up to bed on Christmas eve and Mum had bought us both a duvet and duvet cover. Seems daft ow something so simple but I remember it so clearly.
We’d always leave out a mince-pie, a glass of milk and a carrot near the tree for Father Christmas and his reindeer, alongside our neatly folded pillow case then head on up to bed. I never tried to stay up late to see Father Christmas but I do remember the sleepless nights, I’d toss and turn all night waking up every so often to see if it was morning time. That night always felt so magical, like there was glitter in the air. There were never present put under the tree until that magical night. I’d sometimes get up to look out of the window to see if I could see the big man himself flying through the air. In my childhood there was no internet so we couldn’t track his journey like we do today!
Each Christmas morning Father Christmas would leave a stocking on mine and your Uncle’s door handle, which would have small wrapped gifts inside. We still have the same stockings today from mum (your grandma) There was always some smells and without a doubt I’d get marshmallows as well. Often there would be some chocolate which would have been eaten by breakfast time! So we’d get our stockings and head to Mum and Dad’s bedroom and sit with Mum (dad would hide under the pillow snoozing!) and open the stockings. Once that was done we’d have to get dressed before we were allowed to go downstairs. That rule used to frustrate me as it seemed to stall the proceedings but obviously that was the quickest we’d get dressed all year! Once we were dressed we’d head downstairs to see if he’d been. We were very lucky children as he’d always make a stop off at our house. I remember marvelling at the half eaten carrot and crumbs of mince-pie and the empty glass of milk. It felt very exciting to me that the big man himself had taken the time to eat the goodies we had left him, I could never quite believe he’d come into our house. I remember loving the sight of a pillow case full of presents just for me, I still do!
Your Uncle was always a fast present opener, he’d be tearing at the paper on gift number 3 whilst I was still carefully removing sellotape from the first present. I really like to take my time. We were allowed to open our present all morning long while mum popped in and out of the kitchen to cook the dinner. When we were much smaller we would go to church on Christmas morning with my Grandma, I remember coming back from church one year to a big box, it was my pram. I loved that pram, it was a miniature silver cross coach build one. I wonder what happened to it, I’ll have to ask my mum about that. I’d love to get you a pram boys but you’ve never been interested in playing with dolls, I wouldn’t hesitate if you did ask for one though! As we got a little older and Grandma wasn’t as mobile we used to stop by her house for a while instead of her coming to us.
Christmas dinner was usually served in the middle of the afternoon and was turkey with all the trimmings. There was always pigs in blankets or sausages, all the veggies, roast potatoes, gravy, bread sauce, apple & cranberry sauce. The table would be heaving. We’d have crackers and wear the hats – although my head is massive so the hat always tore (I’m afraid you may have inherited this from me – I wonder if they make big head crackers these days?!) After dinner we were allowed to have the special tree presents, these were always hidden in the tree. Usually just a small gift, some socks, or a magazine etc. I don’t know where this tradition came from but it was something our family did and still do today. Some years we’d watch the Queens speech but not always, in the evenings as if we hadn’t eaten enough already mum would always do a buffet with cheeses and party nibbles. I looked forward to this every year. Dad would always moan that it was over the top and unnecessary but being a bit like Victor Meldrew we’d come to expect it. We’d carry on enjoying ourselves as we always did. By the time that was over it was time to collapse in a heap and go off to bed, sad that Christmas day was over but thankful for a lovely family day together.
As a young child I thought all people’s Christmas days were the same. It was only as I got older that I realised everyone had their own traditions and some people of course didn’t celebrate Christmas at all. I however looking back am thankful for the effort my mum must have put into our Christmas each year. All the unseen things I now realise she must have done for us. I remember Christmas as a child fondly, I wish I could go back and be invisible just like Scrooge does and watch on silently in the corner. There are a few back and white video clips of Christmas day when I was very young but nothing like we have today. I hope that when you are all grown up boys that you look back and remember magical Christmas’s in our house. I hope that you look back and remember the love most of all. The love we have for you and each other at this special time of year.

Please always remember I love you unconditionally ….forever.
Love Mummy x

P.S Don’t grown up to quickly and always, ALWAYS believe!

IMG_5467

I love a good list and inspired by #TheList blog link up this is my weekly list:

Blessings & Highlights

Being able to finally put up the Elf door and let the Christmas advent countdown begin

Going late night Christmas shopping with my mum – it’s our yearly tradition for us and it was nice to be child free to look at all the fabulous decorated Christmas shops

Attending a Christmas party to celebrate another year of the breastfeeding peer support service in my area

Finding and buying matching Christmas PJ’s for the boys for Christmas eve to put in the Christmas eve box

Challenges

Having a poorly baby who just wants mummy cuddles all the time – meaning I’m not getting much done

Surviving Monday with Daddy back at work – It was the first day I’d been alone with both children in 11 days

Getting the house back to normal after our holiday – the washing mountain is now smaller

 

Aims for next week

Get the Christmas decorations and tree out of the loft and up in the house

Make a donation to the local food bank

Get the Christmas cards written and sent before it gets too late

Make a list of all friends and family to buy for and make sure we haven’t missed anyone

 

 

Mums' Days

Home Birth – Our story

My second son was born en caul at home in water at 8:38am on Sunday 13th April, this is the story of his amazing home birth.

I had planned a home birth for my first son but unfortunately things had not gone to plan and I ended up with a blue light transfer at 10cm and pushing due to meconium in his waters. It was the most horrendous ride of my life and subsequently I ended up with a horrible memory of a bad birth experience. I also had a retained placenta, which I always wonder if it was a result of having gone from the peaceful environment of home to the adrenaline fuelled ride to hospital where I was threatened with all sorts of intervention and eventually they tried ventouse. I look back and wonder if my body went into shock and decided to hold onto the placenta, so after a trip to theatre post baby arriving I was separated from my husband and left on a ward in the middle of the night to fend for myself, which is where I stayed for 2 nights.

Home Birth the Difference

This time I knew things had to be different, despite thinking I was prepared last time I hadn’t factored in not knowing the two midwives who attended my birth and them not knowing me. We were very lucky and blessed that when we decided to try for baby number 2 we conceived the first month of trying. It came as a shock to us both but I knew before the tests were even dry that I wanted to make contact with One to One midwives. I had read so many positive things about the service and had attended an open day information session they had held. I am extremely lucky that I live in an area that is covered by the One to One service. I referred myself to them and within a few days I had been contacted by our allocated midwife who phoned me to arrange a booking in appointment.

All my appointments were held at home where I never felt rushed and had time to discuss all my concerns and worries. At my first appointment I chatted with my midwife about my previous birth and how much I was still angry thinking about it and the way I had been treated. She was amazing and took the time to listen and reassure me that things could be different. Over the course of the pregnancy I saw the same midwife at each appointment and was able to form a bond with her so that she knew all my wishes and hopes for the birth.

As the weeks flew by and we drew closer to my guess date, I talked through with my midwife all the options I’d have if things during the birth didn’t go the way I hoped, I really wanted a home birth. I had questions about what would happen if there was meconium in the waters again and if I had a retained placenta. We chatted through all the scenarios so that I knew exactly what would be available to me should that happen. I trusted that my midwife had given me all the pros and cons of each option and if the time came where I had to make a quick decision I knew I would be making an informed choice for myself and baby.

With my first pregnancy I had not known which day or cycle I had conceived so had to trust that the scan date was accurate, I happened to go into labour naturally 8 days after the EDD with my first son. This time around I knew exactly the day I ovulated so was able to work out my own guess date. I was so sure I would go over that date again this time around that I made plans for roughly a week following it to keep myself busy while I waited for baby to decide when to be born.

The day before my ‘guess date’ I woke at 4:30am in the morning with what I thought were trapped wind pains, so I went to the toilet to see if I could make myself more comfortable. I returned to bed only to become uncomfortable again just a few minutes later, so I got out of bed to stand up again. This happened a few more times before my husband woke up to see if I was ok. Up to that point I hadn’t even thought that it could be labour, I began to realise though that the pains were coming and going and the only way I could get comfy with them was by standing up and rocking my hips. I think my husband realised before I did that, in fact this could be labour. We began timing the pains and they were roughly every 3 minutes at this point. Not wanting to bother anyone too early I waited until about 5:30 to ring my midwife. As I dialed the number my call was redirected to another midwife who I’d previously met at one of my scans. My midwife had told me that the other midwife would probably be my second midwife at the birth so I felt happy that we had already met her. She explained to me that my midwife had been off call for the night but was back on later in the morning. She listened in while I had a contraction and as I wasn’t able to chat during it she told us to start filling up the pool and that she was on her way. My husband immediately rang my mum to come and pick up the boy as she was going to look after him whilst I was birthing because we were nervous that I’d end up in hospital and if that was the case then we wanted to be fully prepared to leave at a minutes notice.

We moved downstairs and the second midwife arrived about 20 minutes later and we had already started to fill the pool. She looked at my notes and chatted with me, she told me that she had rung my named home birth midwife too and she was on her way. She asked if I’d like to be examined but I declined as I had already discussed with my own midwife not wanting any internal examinations unless I asked for them. At around 6:30am my mum arrived to collect the boy shortly followed by my usual midwife. By now I had put on the tens machine to try to help with the pains and was rocking through each contractions on all fours propped up on the birth ball. The atmosphere was peaceful, I had my labour playlist on random playing in the room and I got through each contraction by zoning out and rocking on the ball. I could hear myself gently moan through each contraction as it helped me to remember to breathe slowly and steadily. I remember my midwife asking me if I wanted to get into the pool but I’m not sure what time it was by then. I took the tens machine off and got into the pool, which by now was ready. The warmth of the water was blissful, I was able to move around freely through each contraction getting into a position that suited me each time. My midwife commented that my purple line was by now quite long and she joked that she thought the baby would be here in time for her to get a McDonalds breakfast. I wasn’t convinced! I had been in labour for 24 hours with my first son, so naturally assumed that although this time may be shorter, as it had only been a couple of hours so far, I thought I was in for the long haul still. I felt down myself at that point to see if I could feel anything, but there was absolutely nothing there.

home birth
20 Minutes before he was born

Not long after that I felt that the baby had moved down considerably and my midwife also commented that she thought she saw him drop down a lot lower. Sure enough just a couple of contractions later I knew I had started to push, I couldn’t help myself, my body wanted to do it so I just went with it. It was at that point I recognised the signs, I felt suddenly quite sick, like I needed to open my throat up, I could also hear myself change vocally from a gentle moan to what I can only describe as a “mooing” noise! At that point although I had my eyes shut and my head down on the side of the pool I knew the midwives had moved from sitting on the sofa where they had been for most of the birth so far, to much nearer the pool. One of them said that he’d be with us soon. By this point my waters still hadn’t gone, or at least I didn’t think they had. My midwife saying she could see his waters, so I felt down again and sure enough there was a bulging sack just on top of his head, which I could also feel.

I moved my hand back to the side of the pool so I could grip onto my husband and with one more push as ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay was playing he was born en caul (inside his intact amniotic sac) at 8:38am, at that point I reached down behind me as that’s where I thought he was but in fact he had swum up to the side and slightly in front of me. At that point even though it was only seconds it felt to me like minutes as I tried to locate him in the pool! I picked him up in total shock and turned around to sit down and cradle him, I remember just looking at my midwife and exclaiming ‘I did it!’ I couldn’t believe how quickly things had changed from contractions to him being here.

home birth

We waited for the cord to stop pulsing before it was clamped and my husband cut it, something he missed out on first time round. I sat in the pool with him on my chest, offering feeds and waiting to see if my placenta would come without any form of intervention. We discussed the birth and the midwife explained that he was born with his membranes intact and as he swam up he had popped them himself with his hand, I wish I had seen that! The second midwife mentioned that it is thought to be a sign of luck. After an hour it was suggested I stand up to see if the placenta was just sitting there waiting to come out, so I handed baby to husband who sat on the sofa and had some skin to skin time with him while I stood up.

home birth

Sure enough as I stood up the midwife gently touched the cord and out plopped the placenta. To me that was an amazing moment as I couldn’t believe I’d done everything myself without intervention or pain relief. It was the icing on the cake to see the placenta!

I was made comfortable on the sofa where I was examined and found that I would heal naturally given time. I took the baby back in my arms for skin to skin time and just sat staring for the following few hours, thinking about the amazing home birth experience that I had just had!

For the rest of the day I had skin to skin time with him under a blanket on the sofa until I finally got him dressed at 5pm. We couldn’t believe that out of all the songs on the playlist it had been ‘Fix you’ that was playing as he was born. That song has always been special to us as a couple and one of the only singles I had ever bought on CD and kept, I don’t own many CDs anymore now that everything is digital. We had even been there when Coldplay had filmed the video for the single, so although you can’t spot us on the video I know we are in the crowd! It was also poignant as this birth really has fixed me after such a traumatic time first time around. His home birth song is fix you and I love it just as much as I loved my home birth.

home birth Home birth

I truly loved every minute of the positive pregnancy and birth experience and would do it again in a heartbeat if I could!

This year the boy is old enough to be aware of Christmas, he’s now 3 1/2 and never ever……ever stops talking. I love him for it but sometimes I do wonder if he’s capable of exhaling without making a noise! I’m sure all toddlers are the same. So when I was planning Christmas this year I decided I’d like to do something similar to elf on the shelf, the idea being that a magical little elf comes to live with us during December, not to keep an eye on the boys behaviour but to just have lots of Christmas fun! On my list of things to do before Christmas was make an Elf door, so here is how I made it!

1) I ordered a dolls house door from Ebay – it came from China so took a while but was only around £3

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 08.55.07

2) I painted the door red

IMG_4919 IMG_5095

3) I put silver glitter on the door (I love glitter!)

4) I wanted to mould the door to the skirting board so that the boy couldn’t see behind it and spoil the magic so I used some cardboard and trial and error to get the shape right.

IMG_5097 IMG_5099

5) Once it was  shaped right I stuck it together with glue and sticky tape in the hope of covering up all the mistakes with paint!

6) I painted the surround green

7) I ordered some fymo from ebay but it hasn’t arrived in time, I was going to make a wreath and candy canes for decoration. If and when it arrives I’ll update the post!

8) The door was stuck on the skirting board downstairs in time for 1st December

 

IMG_5310

9) The boy woke up that morning to the Elf bringing him a Lego Advent calendar, he was very excited

IMG_5313 IMG_0481_2

I’ve told him that the door is closed and only opens when no one is looking, he seemed happy with this explanation so far. He went to the toilet and asked if the door would open while he was gone. It’s so sweet. I myself have started to believe that the door goes to the north pole, I like to imagine that when the door opens a blast of cold air and a little snow comes through. I think one day he will wake to a little snow by the door (I need to figure out how to do that too!) Watch out for Elf door updates!

IMG_5310

Mini Creations

Now let me begin by saying I only have experience of groups I have attended in my area, but I have attended a few. I now volunteer at my local one as a BfN helper.

When the boy was just a few weeks old I was encouraged to attend my local group by the peer supporter that came to see me at home. My first thoughts were no way! Not only am I new to the role of mummy but I’m only just getting the hang of this breastfeeding business (and I’m not too good at that either!) I really didn’t want to go to a room full of people who knew what they were doing to sit there and have them all stare at my breasts when he needed a feed.

I seemed to only be able to feed with a cushion under the boy and using one awkward hand to hold my breast while holding him on with the other. How on earth was I going to do that at a group? I didn’t want people looking at me and my crying baby.

They would all know each other and I would know no one. So a couple more weeks went by and I was getting cabin fever stuck inside, but I certainly wasn’t ready to venture further than round the corner. So I thought about it for a few days and made the decision to give it a try, just the once and if it was awful I’d never have to go back again.

So Tuesday came and I packed myself up knowing it started at 10:30 I tried to feed the boy before leaving, which resulted in me leaving the house late. I debated on the way there if I should just turn around and go home. But I’d not been out for days so carried on walking. It’s not far to the place where it is held – a 15 minute walk. I glanced at the time as I reached the gate, it was now 10:45. I was late. I hate being late to anything. I hurried into the centre and asked the receptionist where I should be going. She told me which room it was in. The doors were closed and the blinds down so I couldn’t even see inside, I pushed the door open nervously and glanced around the room. There were some mats down with blankets and toys, a few chairs laid out and a sofa as well. I gave a nervous smile without making eye contact and walked in. I had only been there about 30 seconds before a lady with a wide smile on her face approached me and introduced herself as a volunteer helper. She asked my name, cooed over the boy for a moment and encouraged me to take a seat. She sat and talked with me for quite a while and my nervousness had gone, without me even realising I was fine in the room full of other breastfeeding mums and I was fine. Thankfully the time went quickly and before I knew it 12 o’clock had arrived and the group was finishing. The boy had slept all the way through, I didn’t even have to feed him, I couldn’t believe it. I walked home and reflected on how grateful I was that the lady had come to talk to me. In my professional life I talk to new people all the time but in my new role of mummy I was a different person!

The next Tuesday seemed to come round quite quickly and I ventured out once more. This time we didn’t have time to feed before leaving the house so I knew I’d have to feed at group. The same helper was there and she greeted me by name. When it was time to feed I asked her about a cushion and as if by magic she produced one. She also sat with me during the feed and gave me some great pointers on position and attachment. I was able to feed for the first time in public! All be it amongst other breastfeeding mums, but it was to me a massive step forward. Perhaps I could leave the house after all? As time went on I kept going back to the group week by week and made some friends there who I am still friends with now. I loved it, it was more of a social group than a support group as I thought it had been before I went. You defiantly didn’t need to have a problem with feeding to attend the group. I went to the group for a year then as I went back to work I had to stop going. I cried at my last time there because I was going to miss everyone. My little baby had grown into a 1-year-old at that group and often when times were hard with being a mummy and I’d consider giving up breastfeeding I’d think about having to leave the group and realise that I didn’t want to so carried on feeding.

After going back to work I explored my options around becoming a helper and being able to give back to other mums the help and encouragement I had been given and found the BfN helper course. I expressed my interest but had to wait quite a while to get a place that suited me and the ability to attend all the course. Finally I was able to attend and I am so glad I did. The course was amazing, I learnt so much about myself and my own listening skills. I really enjoyed every aspect of it. The tutor was such an enthusiastic teacher that the positivity around helping other breastfeeding mummies really shined through for me. I couldn’t wait to get started. I now volunteer each week as a breastfeeding helper at the very group I nearly didn’t go to three and a half years ago. So if you’re reading this now and wondering if you should go along, please do. You’ll more than likely find that there are lots of like-minded mummies there who just like you were unsure at first. You may make some new friends. You may just end up loving it so much that you too want to be a helper too. I’ll be forever grateful to the helper who welcomed me into the group that first time and I hope as a helper myself that I too make people feel welcome, and help them to continue their own breastfeeding journey to fulfil their own feeding choices.

Have you been to a group, were your experiences similar or different? I’d love to know.

 

IMG_0566

 

baby sling

How am I going to cope with a toddler and a baby? A question I often asked myself when I was pregnant with Flixster. With the boy still in nappies and not quite in a toddler bed yet I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope. I would reason with myself that many millions of people had survived before me so surely I could…maybe….right? Flixster is now almost 8 months old and so far I’ve survived, ok it’s on very little sleep but I’m here, I’m still standing (sort of!) So without further ado I’ll let you know my top tips for surviving!

1) Alcohol – start drinking, anytime, anywhere!
2) Lower your standards – your appearance, your expectations of food, your hopes for a tidy home etc

Now of course I’m joking about the above, although there have been times I’ve looked longingly at my open bottle of red on the top of the fridge, wondering if a small glass at 2pm would see me through until Daddy gets home! In reality though I only have the odd glass once the babies are in bed on a Saturday night.

What follows below is my serious list of hints and tips!
Organisation – now you’re probably thinking that of course I’m talking about being generally organised and although many of us would love to be organised in all aspects of life it’s just never going to happen! I’m talking specifically about getting yourself organised each night just for the next day.

1) So first and foremost if you’re going to be leaving the house the next day get your bag and the car packed. If you’re going to need the pushchair or pram then put it in the boot ready. Don’t think that it doesn’t matter and you can do it in the morning, good luck with that! Trying to juggle a baby and wrangle a toddler whilst folding a pushchair and ensuring no one accidentally ends up in the road is nearly impossible, you only have two hands – take it from me!

2) Make sure your changing bag is packed, be sure to remember everything you might need, drinks for toddler, nappies, wipes etc. In the early days of having two I used to really enjoy watching “What’s in my diaper bag” videos on YouTube. They would give me an idea of what I would need to pack and how to organise the bag. If you’re going to be staying at home, then make sure you have everything you need downstairs so that you’re not running up and down,holding a baby, or having to leave the two alone. The first time I did this for 20 seconds I came back to the boy trying to share his banana with Flixster who was only a week old!

3) Sling – This should probably be top tip number 1, it wasn’t until I had two children that I realised how valuable having a sling/baby carrier would be. You can get far more done with the toddler if the baby is in a carrier close to mummy. Be sure to buy a good one though and I highly recommend hiring one from a local sling library (if your lucky enough to live near one) before you invest your hard-earned money. There is a sling/carrier out there to suit everyone but not all types will suit you. Finding the one that suits you and your lifestyle well will bring you the joy of being hands free to deal with a toddler. I started out with a stretchy wrap for Flixster and now I have a material wrap alongside a ring sling for quick up and downs and a mei-tai style one for daddy to use. They get used multiple times a day and I’m not sure how I would have survived without them. There are lots of cheaper baby carriers out there on the market but most are not recommended as the baby hips aren’t kept in the correct ‘M’ position. A good place to check if the carrier is suitable is to have a look at the TICKS baby carrier list which you can view here.

IMG_0806

 

4) Toilet – No nobody likes toilet talk but it is a part of everyone’s life. What if you need to go when you have sole charge of two small people? If you have a downstairs toilet then you’re probably ok, but what if you don’t? I take both children with me, place Flixster on the floor and get a book for the boy to look at. I have stair gates so I know if he leaves the bathroom he’ll be ok. What if you’re out in public? Try and find a disabled toilet so that you can all fit in together. If you have a double pushchair then strap the little ones in so that the toddler doesn’t go around touching everything while you have a wee! Yuck!

5) Feeding – Being a breastfeeder it’s a little harder to control a toddler while I’m feeding Flixster as I need both my hands for feeding. So if you can find a corner of a coffee shop and block the toddler in while you feed then great but what if you can’t? Do you have a pushchair where you could strap the toddler in safely while you feed? Perhaps the toddler could look at a toy, phone or book for distraction? Is there a feeding room where you are that you could go to in order to keep the toddler contained? Many large shopping centres have them now so just ask to see if the one you are in has one.

Believe me it’s not easy looking after a baby and toddler at the same time, there have been times in the early days where all three of us have been crying at the same time, but you live and learn and hopefully my tips will help. Good luck mummies and daddies, if there are any tips I’ve missed please feel free to let me know and I can add them on!

The List

So it begins, my need to learn to fake laugh. The boy has started to tell jokes. Here are the two he told me this week.

Why did the eggs have fun?
Because they love the shop!

Why did the Pirates love the shop?
Because it ‘selled’ food!

 

I actually did laugh at these because they were so cute and I was laughing at him not with him.

He thought he was hilarious though.

I love that boy!

Now if you can explain these to me please do!

IMG_5134