Friday 30 September 2011

Going MAD at the MADs

Several months ago I was nominated for the MAD Blog Awards. I was delighted, amazed, shocked and stunned when I discovered I was a finalist in the Most Inspiring Category. It's wonderful to get some recognition for my blog, which is a labour of love. I don't earn money through it, I don't really do product reviews, I just share my thoughts, feelings and information with my readers. I have got a lot, personally, out of blogging, and getting feedback that I've helped others keeps me going.

So as the awards ceremony has drawn closer I have found that I am nominated alongside some truly amazing bloggers and mums (and dads). It's a vibrant, opinionated and caring community that I am part of, and I am really proud to be a blogger.

One of the perks of the awards is that you get dressed! I attending a fabulous event at TKMaxx in London.
Together with a group of lovely mummy bloggers, we had the run of the store, we were like teenagers again, and it was fab. I think the most wonderful thing about shopping with others is it pushes you outside your comfort zone, you try things you possible wouldn't otherwise. The outfit I have chosen is nothing like I usually wear, and I'm not 100% sure I can walk in the rather fabulous shoes, however will give them a go. I must admit to putting emergency shoes in my bag.

I have to say, I think you either a TKMaxx shopper or you are not, but you can most easily be converted if you fall into the latter category.

TKMaxx has some amazing labels. Simply amazing. It has the latest trends, not just in clothing, but I have found, in my time some amazing homewares, such as my simply wonderful knife set that I have had for 5 years and is still going strong.

I think the best way to shop at TKMaxx is either in a hurry, run in on impulse and see what catches your eye, or devote an hour or so, go relaxed, and with an open mind. I will say that you MUST try on. Sizes vary as the pieces are coming from different designers and from all over the world. A lot of the sizes are European or US and you may get a pleasant surprise in terms of what fits you.

I would also say, get to know your stores. The stores vary a lot in their content. I found the branch we went to was amazing, very high end, beautiful pieces, but obviously selected for the clientele that frequents it. There wasn't a huge selection in my size, what there was, was however, fabulous.

In my local store, Bury, they stock all sorts of amazing things, but have a massive, dedicated plus size section. Whenever I need something, either for Joseph, Corey, my home, or myself, I always try TKMaxx first. I recently got a gorgeous shirt for Joseph for a wedding we attended, at the fraction of what it should have cost.

In these budget concious times, TKMaxx is an amazing resource, and I know of nothing like it in Australia, where I'm from originally. For your next outfit, or even you next knife set or dinner service, give it a try.

The ceremony is tonight and I can't wait to let you know all the goss. And how I got on! In my heels!

Thursday 29 September 2011

Let's Get Physical - Exercise in Pregnancy

Image: Flickr/Frank De Kleine Coloring (Creative Commons)


I wanted to a post on this, because I have found with my friends there is a lot of confusion about whether exercise is ok in pregnancy, and whether you should do any at all. I thought it would be helpful to talk about this as it's one of the key points in Tommy's 5 point pregnancy plan, in conjunction with Bounty.

In pregnancy, as in every day life, the Royal College of Obsetricians and Gynaecologist recommend 30 minutes each day. What I really love about the Tommy's advice is that they know that for many women, this is a big ask, if you have other children, a job, and generally feel a bit rubbish and that the sofa to the kitchen is a bit of a mission, doing 30 minutes sounds tough. So they have put together a really fantastic little guidebook to fitting exercise into your day in manageable chunks.

Exercise not only helps you manage your calorie balance, it helps to strengthen and prime your muscles and  get you ready for labour and looking after your little bundle/s. The other really important thing about exercise, is its good for your mental well being and managing stress. I found at work, it was brilliant to get out in my breaks and lunch time for a walk. I worked an eight hour day, and did 10 minutes walk before I started, and a further 3 10 minute walks during the day. There was a group of us that walked together, so as well as exercise we got a good gossip in as well!

In pregnancy there's a hormone called relaxin which is released and makes your ligaments and muscles more stretchy and less stable than usual, so its recommended that by the second trimester you are careful with high impact activities and switch to more moderate ones, brisk walking instead of running etc, and check whether any class you go to is suitable in pregnancy.

In many areas there are specific exercise classes available such as pregnancy yoga, pilates and aqua fitness, some are free, some are offered privately, your midwife should have information about these. There is a lot you can do at home as the guidebook I linked to shows.

In pregnancy I walked at least 45 minutes a day. I used to do it in 15 minute chunks mostly, as I was completely knackered all the time. I also did fit ball exercises. I love fit balls. You can buy them cheaply (I got mine at TKMaxx), and they are comfortable to sit on and really work your abdominal muscles (yes you have abs, even if they are covered with lots of fluff like mine are)

I did some swimming, and was planning to do more as my pregnancy continued. I loved the feeling of swimming when pregnant, and could feel Joseph doing what I used to call "the flippy turny thing" when I swum.

I am aware that this blog is often read by second time around premmie mums, and in respect to swimming, if you have had an unexplained early birth, you should speak to your consultant team managing your pregnancy, as swimming is not always recommended.

Exercise is an important part of managing your weight in pregnancy, and I do put exercise and sensible eating down to my success in managing my weight whilst pregnant.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

The Daughter I'll Never Have

This post is inspired by this week's Britmums Blog Prompt. Which is  If I wouldn't be judged harshly, I would say ________ out loud.  My ____________ is I want a daughter.....

"Dear daughter,

I do believe I had you once. I was pregnant, a long long time ago, you would be almost 15 now. I lost the baby, sadly, at around 8 weeks. I saw its image on a screen, the heartbeat had only just stopped, the obstetrician said. I had an operation to remove the foetus. I was bereft. 

I dreamt of you, about 5 years later, you were just as a 5 year old girl should be. You walked into a bookshop and came up to me. You asked me how many children I had. I said none. You spat at me. You were angry "you have me, do not deny me, you are my mother, how dare you?" It shook me to the core, and I still remember that dream.

I had you, but I will never have you.

And that makes me sad."

I am blessed with a son. I love my relationship with Joseph, and I am looking forward to that maturing and growing as he does. He's simply amazing, and a clever, emapthetic, charming little boy.

But I feel a gap in my heart, and in my home. I feel outnumbered. When I was pregnant, initially I had hoped for a girl, just a little hope, as my pregnancy progressed I was quite convinced I was carrying a boy, and had got used to the idea, but I still had that little wish for a daughter to share my life with. And it's the little things, shopping trips, girly chats, getting our hair and nails done together, just the little girlie things that would be nice to do with a daughter. And the big things, sharing my feminist ideals, raising a strong woman, having that adult relationship.

That shared gender is important, no matter how much you try to pretend it isn't, there is something special about the mother and daughter relationship, that I am never going to have.

When I see pictures of little tutus, or pink shoes, or a nursery all done in princess pink, I feel a pang of sadness that I'll never have my little princess. I can't honestly say that even if I had a girl she'd have a princess pink room, and tutus and ballet shoes, and God knows I loathed ballet classes when I was a girl!

I am blessed to have nieces, and my sister, and good female friends, and I have lots of virtual nieces too. But I do feel sad about it. And I feel sad that I haven't got another girl in my house, apart from the cat. My husband is so excited about taking Joseph to football, and to Diggerland, and doing blokey things with him. And I feel left out (although Diggerland does sound cool!)

I hope some day, some how, a girl does come into my life, and can fill that gap......

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Starting Pre-school

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or read my post about toddler separation anxiety you will know that Joseph has commenced pre-school.This post must have struck a chord as I have been awarded Sudocrem's Mummy Blogger of the Week! Britain's favourite nappy rash treatment. 

Joseph is only 2 and 5 months, and seems very young to be starting pre-school! It came about because a few months ago I was very much struggling, which I documented in my blog, with not having more children, and with feeling very depressed. My support worker from my local sure start centre had a series of meetings with me, and we decided to apply for funding for Joseph to attend pre school for 10 hours a week.

There were a couple of reasons for this, firstly to give me a bit of breathing space to get my head around things. Since falling pregnant I feel a bit like I've been on a perpetually moving conveyor belt and just couldn't get my head around things.

Also, for Joseph, to give him more opportunities to socialise with other children and adults. We do have play groups locally but they're only for an hour or so, and I am always there. I have been a little concerned about his maturity levels, particularly sitting still and turn taking, and this seems to be improving already!

Since starting nursery Joseph has begun to mature. The last few times I have taken him, he has toddled off happily. He is very pleased to see me when I collect him, but not desperate to come home. Somethng amazing has happened with manners. If I ask Joseph if he wants something he says "yes please" and then states the item, for example "yes please, drink" or even "yes please, bed". As well as manners, his new found confidence with speech is making it a lot easier for me to learn his needs.

His two word pairs are disappearing and being replaced by short little sentences, often around the wrong way or missing the odd word, which doesn't matter in the slightest, and its just so endearing. I love this little person who is emerging, and finding his place in the world.

The other thing I have noticed is singing. Joseph has always loved rhythm and melody and he's been completing lines in songs for a while, but hasn't spontaneously sung until last week. I heard this little voice singing "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed", which was just so cute. He also does a mean rendition of "Pop Goes the Weazel"

The decision to send him to pre-school was a big one for me, as I've never left him before on a regular basis, but it appears to be just what he needs right at the moment. I'm still not sure I like the sound of an empty house, and I have to admit to being tempted to put Cbeebies on just so it seems like he's still here!

Monday 26 September 2011

Songs I Associate with Pregnancy - Oh Mammy Musical Meme

It's that time of the week, Oh Mammy's Musical Meme time. Come and share and link up. I love this meme as at present there is no theme or restriction, but I have chosen to focus on pregnancy this week.

When doing my media interviews last week this song was in my head.

This song was a hit in the early 90s and during my pregnancy with Joseph when I felt sick and miserable, it used to pop up in my mind. Although, it is quite a sad song, as it is about an unplanned pregnancy, and the voice in the song is quite resentful, but at times I felt like this too. I blame the pre eclampsia. My theory is because your body systems are rejecting the placenta, your whole being feels just wrong, that its hosting some sort of alien, that's how I felt anyway.

I had always been aware of Sinead O'Connor, but it wasn't until my sister's Sinead phase that I really listened to her. I found I really related to this when pregnant with Joseph. I felt like everyone had advice, telling me how I should be. I found it frustrating, and this song comforted me, that it's pretty common to feel like this, and its ok to be angry and annoyed about it!. I did feel annoyed that at 36 I felt exactly the same as Sinead did at 21!

This song, Waltzing Matilda, runs deep in the heart of any Australian, I think. We all know the words, perhaps better than our national anthem. I used to sing this to Joseph in the shower every morning, with my hand on my belly. It gave me great comfort to sing it to him in hospital, and I still sing it now to him at bed time sometimes. I've chosen this version to counteract my two miserable songs. I really wanted to choose "Tom Traubert's Blues" but it was a bit too miserable after Sinead and Natalie!

Sunday 25 September 2011

Life as a Fat Chick

As far as I can recall I have always been fat. That's how I've always seen myself, which is sad. Because now, when I look at photos, up until the age of about 14 I was quite slim. Then it hit me, my weight started creeping up and up.

I even declared my weight on national tv this week, 19 stone. But researching for this piece I have discovered something, I am, in fact only 18 stone!!! I converted the kilos wrong....woo.

My weight started creeping up in high school. There were a number of factors. In Australian schools, sport is very important. I have always been completely and utterly useless at sport. I run like turkey, I look awkward. I can't do sports like archery. I have been known to miss the target and hit nearby trees. As for gymnastics or athletics just forget it. PE class was always an ordeal.

I was bullied terribly, which had a dual effect. It made me avoid group exercise. The other factor was I medicated my pain and social isolation with food. When I recall how much I used to eat, I am astounded that I am only 18 stone and not 28. I got into a terrible cycle of eating chocolate, crisps and cake.

When I was 15 my mum sent me to Weight Watchers. This made everything worse. I felt punished, embarrassed. I felt completely out of place. It made my overeating worse, if anything. It made me concious of everything that went into my mouth, and made me obsessive. But I lost weight and got near "normal". Then it all came back, and more.

Once I left home at 17 and went to university everything got worse. I had complete food freedom for the first time in my life and ate everything in sight. I lived on site in my first year, and all meals were included, they weren't exactly healthy fare and we had pudding every night. My sweet tooth got worse. And then there were the endless takeaways at weekend.

I reached 120 kilos by my mid 20s. I have had two periods in my adult life where I have successfully got down to 90 kilos, but it never lasts long.

The reasons are complex and simple. The simple part is, I eat too much and don't exercise enough. Easily fixed. The complex reasons are I feel comfortable at the weight I am at. I find clothes for plus size are completely adequate, I feel comfortable in my own skin. I don't even mind sticking on my swimming costume. However, as I lose weight, I feel frightened. I hate being looked at, commented on, admiring glances, it makes me nervous.

But, now, I have long term health concerns. I am worried I am on the track for diabetes. I didn't get gestational diabetes in pregnancy, as far as I know, my test was due at 28 weeks. I had a recent blood test and I am not at risk at present. So really, I have to do it now, to work on my weight and my eating and exercise. I know this. I already have essential hypertension, which may be due to pregnancy but who knows? I come from a family where this is quite common, regardless of weight, and I am now on medication.

I am entering into my 40s and becoming aware that old age, is really, not that far away. I want to see Joseph grow up, enter work or go to university,  marry (or enter civil partnership) and achieve his dreams. I want to be there to help him and to support him. I don't want to go to an early grave.

I need to lose the weight, and lose the monkey on my back.

I just need to figure it all out.

Friday 23 September 2011

Managing Your Weight in Pregnancy

I cannot emphasise this enough, if you are obese/overweight and considering pregnancy or are already pregnant, please ask your midwife, GP or consultant for specific advice. Tommy's in conjunction with Bounty, have some fantastic information and I would urge you to use this in conjunction with advice from your own health professionals.

Tommy's 5 point pregnancy plan.  

I'm really passionate about this topic, and I really wanted to do a blog post to try and highlight why its important to eat healthily but not diet. I didn't know where to start, until I picked up today's Metro and saw this story. This mum was around the same weight as me and underwent gastric bypass surgery in order to lose weight. I'd love to blog about this at some point, but not today. Anyway, as it transpires, she was already pregnant, but did not know it. We know that obesity can affect the way contraception works. No one thought to advise this woman to do a pregnancy test before undergoing surgery.

My heart absolutely goes out to this lady. As a result of the surgery, her baby was starved of essential nutrients and died. She was born two weeks earlier in gestation than Joseph, at 25 weeks, but weighed slightly more.

And this illustrates the point I was making in my media interviews this week. Yes, obesity is bad, but eating healthily in pregnancy is so important and make a powerful difference to your baby's health.

We talked a lot about the "eating for two" myth this week. And whilst quantity wise this is true, we only need to eat for ourselves only 200 additional calories are required, and that is only in the last 3 months of pregnancy. Quality wise we are eating for two, and its important, when making food decisions, that we consider that what we're eating, our baby is consuming too. I found it much easier to eat well and exercise when pregnant. I will do a post about my own battle with my weight in a day or two.

Micronutrients are vital, and it is thought that this baby died due to a lack of them. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that we can take in a pill and/or through our diet. Gastric bypass surgery, unfortunately, affects the way the body absorbs micronutrients, and people who have this surgery need to take vitamin tablets for the rest of their life. In pregnancy we are urged to take a multivitamin including vitamin D and folic acid to help our baby's development, but its important to do this through diet as well. Whatever is not required, in vitamin and mineral terms, passes through the system.

When pregnant, protein is essential too. There is some research that indicates a diet rich in protein may help with preventing pre eclampsia, but its not yet proven. But it can't hurt. And  the baby needs protein in order to grow.

When Joseph was born, several of his doctors took me aside to find out about what I ate in pregnancy. They felt he was very strong, and active and felt my diet had something to do with it, so this is what I did.

* I ate 7-9 different fruits and vegetables a day. This is in line with the Australian advice, which is 5 vegetables and 2 fruits. In Greece their "5 a day campaign" is actually 9. I personally felt it was important to eat these throughout the day so I'd have tomato or avocado on toast, then lunch might be salmon and salad, and then a lighter dinner. I'd snack on fruit or nuts (no history of nut allergy in our families).

* I increased my portions of protein. I tried to have protein at every meal, which wasn't always easy, as my body no longer liked eggs. I still tried to eat them however!

* I cut right down on sugar. Joseph would not allow me to touch chocolate anyway, so that was helpful.

* I watched my carbohydrate intake. Good carbs, such as pasta, wholewheat bread, brown rice etc were fine, but I cut out pastries, stodgy breads etc.

* I limited my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee a day during the week and none at weekends.

I didn't gain any weight in pregnancy. I was planning to increase my calories by a further 200 for the last trimester, however did not need to do this as I missed that bit.

In pregnancy, we are, in fact, eating for two, in the sense that our baby needs us to eat healthily in order to grow. We do need to consider the needs of our baby as well as ourselves.  I hope, over the coming days and weeks to do some more posts about the 5 point pregnancy plan, as there are some really powerful messages for women who are pregnant, and find themselves obese or overweight.

Thursday 22 September 2011

I've Been to London to Visit.....

I've been away this week and am raring to go with lots of interesting posts! So I thought I would just give you a bit of a run down of just what I have been up to!

Well first of all I have joined up with Tommy's to help launch their 5 point pregnancy plan in conjunction with Bounty (the UK's best loved parenting club, not the chocolate bar!) And, I kept a secret, I am really bad at keeping secrets, but I appeared on ITV daybreak. I am hoping to get an email link so those of you who can't view the ITV player on line can see Joseph and I on national television.

The highlight of the day was going on BBC Radio 5 Live, with my new best friend Dr Hilary Jones, who was honoured to share the couch with me at ITV. I really enjoyed being "on wireless", as my beloved husband would say. I was also on BBC Radio Manchester as well.

I am so passionate about the 5 point pregnancy plan, because, when I fell pregnant I felt at a loss. I was confused about "do not diet" but "be careful". This plan - Nutrition, Weight Management, Exercise, Quitting Smoking and Mental Health will undoubtedly help many women, and hopefully, as a result, see more babies being born healthy and at term and I'm excited about sharing more about this in the coming weeks.

On Wednesday I was thrilled to attend an amazing shopping day with TKMaxx, to be dressed in a fabulous outfit for the MAD Blog Awards. I'm passionate about TKMaxx and look forward to sharing more about this event. It was great to make new friends and to meet up with some people I already tweet with. I am even more excited about the awards. Joseph came with me, who says toddlers can't shop, he was perfect. her did manage to fall asleep all through our very delightful lunch, waking up just in time for dessert! That's my boy!

And on Thursday I went to the Bliss offices to be part of the Little Bliss panel. Little Bliss is a gorgeous little publication dear to my heart, as I read it on the unit, and its great to be part of it. I have learned a lot about design and content, and its always good to meet other parents of premature babies. I feel so honoured to be part of this amazing community.

I hope to have some great posts coming up, and sharing more about my struggle with obesity and how I managed my pregnancy. This week has inspired me to start looking again at getting my weight out of the too hard basket and start working on it......again! If you own a gym and want to give me a membership get in touch!

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Toddler Separation Anxiety

How the tables have turned. When Joseph was born, I felt acutely that he wasn't with me. The first pangs of separation anxiety. I couldn't bear the fact that my precious baby wasn't with me. It was horrendous. Every time I left him my heart just pained, that he was laying there, all on his own, in his little plastic box. It has taken me a long time to get over those feelings of separation anxiety. 

Joseph was a reasonably laid back baby, he would happily go to anyone (though only mama was allowed to give him bottles and food). I was taken by suprise when separation anxiety hit at around one year corrected, If I dared to go to the toilet at a friend's house, Joseph would let fly, dragging himself to the bottom of the stairs screaming like a diva. At first his separation anxiety worried me. It was so out of character. Unfortunately, it was to get worse. On the odd occasion I had to leave him, as he got older, it got worse. Now his separation anxiety is still very acute.

Joseph has just started a pre-school placement. I applied, through my local sure start centre, for 2 year old funding. This is allocated by our local council to children who would benefit from pre-school input. I was suprised, and pleased to be given this opportunity to send Joseph to pre-school. Having no extended family means Joseph hasn't had much input from anyone other than myself (and my husband too but to a much lesser extent). I do take him to various activities, however, these are a little limited now he is 2 and most children are in full time nursery.

The first day I took him, I was pleasantly suprised. He went straight to the mat in the corner and started playing with a train set. I went and kissed him goodbye and he didn't look up. So I assumed all would be well. His session is "only" three hours, so I thought he would be fine. How wrong could I be. Just short of two hours I got a call "Joseph is going into melt down, you need to come and get him". I got there and saw my darling boy, playing with cars with his key worker, with tears still stinging his eyes. He grabbed on to me for dear life. I felt crushed.

The second day we agreed to take him for two hours. When I dropped him off he clung to me and sobbed very loudly. It was heart-breaking. But I kissed him goodbye and left. He made the two hours, but nearly tore a hole in the carpet to come and get me. He was in such a tizz he said a full sentence, which is very rare "mummy I draw picture of Uki!" I was cheered that he appeared to have a good time.

Unfortuantely we only got two sessions in before our holiday. I was a bit torn, do I put him in just for the Friday or write the whole week off and start afresh. I decided to put him in for Friday, my rationale being that a whole week seems daunting and perhaps Monday would be easier if he'd been in on the Friday.

This time the sobbing started as we got to the door. My heart sank. Waiting to go in he went ballistic. "Mummy don't go" it was awful. His words are suddenly forming more and more sentences. As I took him into the main room it got worse. His clinging turned into claws digging into my leg. The manager suggested I take him home. But I didn't really want to, concerned that if we start giving in, it's going to take even longer to get him settled.

So I left, on the understanding I wouldn't go so far. So I went to Tesco (a tiny little version), the post office, the pharmacy, and by then 30 minutes had passed and no phone call. So I walked home, looking at my phone every 5 minutes. No call. I went to collect him at 11.15. The manager came out beaming from ear to ear. She managed to extract Joseph from the snack table. He took one look at me and said "no, stay here!". The manager said he'd had a fabulous time, settled quickly and didn't give me a second thought.

The manager was so happy. And to be honest, so am I. I don't want my child sobbing in the corner for 3 hours. I want him playing and enjoying his time with different toys and new faces, and getting used to a range of other grown ups.

But I love that snuggle when I pick him up and he says "oh my mummy".

Monday 19 September 2011

#Healthworkers - Please Join Us

On Saturday a number of bloggers got together with Save the Children to talk about one important fact. In East Africa, as we speak 750 000 children are on the brink of death. Each of these children has a name, an identity, likes and dislikes, a personality, it is up to us, in the wealthy countries of the West to give these precious children the one thing they so desperately need. A future. The current focus is on providing healthworkers where they are needed with the resources to do their job effectively. Before reading another word, sign this very important petition.

The beautiful Gemma has set a challenge and I am excited to be part of it. 100 words about a great healthworker I have encountered in my life. It's impossible for me really but I will give it a go, as I have had many fabulous healthworkers, both for myself, and family member.

To my shame, I always thought of midwives as baby catchers. I had no appreciation for the expertise required to be a midwife until my life depended on one. M was my midwife on three consecutive nights when I was admitted with severe early onset preeclampsia. I was on a complex and delicate balance of drugs. I needed 15 minute checks. She had to shave me for my section. She talked to me, prayed with me, she gave me reassurance. I have never known such fear. I have never known such expert care. Everyone deserves access to high quality healthcare.

If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged! Please get involved, tweet and share. 

Sunday 18 September 2011

World Prematurity Day - November 17th

Last year I was reasonably new to blogging and Twitter. March of Dimes approached me to join in Bloggers Unite Fight for Preemies, which I was more than happy to do. I really enjoyed it, and the Twitter conversations. I was so green back then I didn't even know how to put a badge on my blog and the March of Dimes team held my hand and showed me how to do it!

So this year, I really want to ramp it up, and see loads of my mummy and blogger friends getting involved in this important event. March of Dimes want this to go global this year the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants, Africa’s Little Big Souls International Foundation and Australia’s National Premmie Foundation are all involved, so it's going to be a diverse and exciting range of blog posts and people tweeting.

You don't have to have had personal experience of having a premature baby. With 1 in 9 premature babies born each year in the UK, you will know one, and of course you know me. You can write about anything, a newspaper article, a television programme, a friend, a relative. You could post a picture, or a poem, or even get your kids involved, or a even do a vlog.

Maybe you don't even blog, but you would love to get involved. I'm happy to collate guest posts, and perhaps if we get many contributions a few of my preemie blogging friends can help host. This could be a great opportunity to share your baby's or child's story.

So why don't you comment below and pledge to blog for preemies on November 17th! If you need any support or advice, let me know. I will also collate some topic ideas and post these at the beginning of November.

Saturday 17 September 2011

How to Prepare for a Caesarean Section

Dr. Howard Vogel, Third From Left, Is Assisted by His Daughter, Dr. Ann Vogel, as They Perform the Last Caesarean Section of a New-Born Child in Union Hospital in New Ulm, Minnesota...

When I was pregnant I watched a lot of programmes on television about childbirth, and read lots of books and magazines. I was looking forward to experiencing labour, to pushing my baby out. I was intrigued as to what it would feel like, how I would cope. In the back of my mind I knew that there was a strong possibility that I would have a caesarean section. No one medical prepared me for this, apart from my Mother In Law, a very experienced mid wife. She felt I may develop pre eclampsia, and she prepared me by saying "don't write a birth plan and just go with the flow".

It is said there are two types of caesarean sections, planned (elective) and emergency. Mine was a little different, a planned emergency! It wasn't your typical emergency section, as there was plenty of time to discuss it and explore alternatives, and I had to give written consent. Often, with an emergency,  labour has commenced and then a caesarean needs to be performed due to foetal distress or other complications. Sometimes a caesarean is planned, for example, if the baby is not in the correct position for vaginal delivery - ie breach or transverse, or for other reasons such as the mental health of the mother.

My section was a combination, it was emergency because it was to save my life and that of my baby, and it was planned because I had 24 hours notice. Here are my tips for planning and getting through a caesarean section. I don't have any experience of having a term section but hopefully my tips cover both scenarios.

1. Bridget Jones knickers. Buy big knickers, not disposable ones, in soft cotton a couple of sizes bigger than you normally wear. Usually the cut will be made along your bikini line and you don't want briefs that sit there, or they may irritate your scar. I bought mine at 24 weeks and popped them into my hospital bag.

2. Comfy sleepwear/loungewear. I bought beautiful pyjama pants at Marks and Spencer, not maternity ones, they were black stretch jersey and very accommodating. I lived in them. They looked so smart I could wear them as trousers, and often did in the early days!

3. Kamillosan. This ointment is almost like a cushion on your skin. It isn't cheap, a little goes a long way, and it really helped me deal with itchiness around the scar area.

4. Hair removal. Most caesarean cuts will be a long the bikini line, and you will need to deal with the hair down below. If its an emergency this will be done by your midwife. If you know in advance, it may be worth either doing this yourself or going to a beautician. I found that the hair growth was very painful and annoying, and wished I'd had it waxed. The midwife only had a very cheap bic razor and had to do it quite quickly.

5. Music. My consultant told me afterwards that I could have brought music in. Most operating theatres will have a cd player or iPod docking station,

6. Hypnobirthing. I did some self hypnosis classes during pregnancy. I found that the self hypnosis was absolutely wonderful for getting through the slightly daunting first bit of the procedure, the spinal anaesthetic. I found it kept me calm and still. So if you have done hypnobirthing or are considering it, it is still a useful technique even if you don't have a lambing end delivery.

7. Have a couple of conversation topics ready for the procedure. Your birth partner can go with you if you have a spinal block, if you have a general anaesthetic, which is reasonably uncommon, your birth partner will have to wait outside the theatre for you. Corey and I talked about our honeymoon and elephants whilst they did the procedure. It made me feel a lot calmer and provided a distraction from what was happening.

8. Ask your midwives before the procedure about what happens once the baby is delivered and ask for any preferences. In our case, it was a little different, as we knew we would not see Joseph and he would be taken straight to an ante room for treatment. Ask about skin to skin and breastfeeding.

9. Do take care post operatively. Whilst in some ways a caesarean section is straight forward in terms of surgical procedures it is major abdominal surgery and you need to look after yourself. Move slowly, think about what you are doing and how you are lifting and avoid unnecessary lifting and activity. You will need to check with your car insurance company about driving, some preclude you from driving for six weeks.

10. Warm baths. Whilst swimming should be avoided for a few weeks, you can have baths. The Tuesday after Joseph was born I was in bits, distressed, upset and frightened and one of the midwives said to me "what is one thing that would make you feel better?" I plaintively cried "a bath". Swiftly the bath was run, the nicest towels found for me, and I felt wonderful afterwards.

11. Cry. I felt crushingly disappointed that I had to have a caesarean. I was pissed off at myself for failing my baby. I was angry at myself, and I just felt so let down by pregnancy. It is good to cry, to let those feelings out, write them down if it helps, then let it go.

Caesarean sections are a completely valid way of birthing a baby. Whilst it may not be what you expected or wanted, you may find that the actual process is much nicer than you expected. Whilst a frightening situation, my caesarean was actually enjoyable, and is one of the most memorable moments of my life. I will always wish things could have been different, but I am proud of my scar, and proud of my husband (who can't stand the sight of blood) and proud of my little boy for being so brave.

Friday 16 September 2011

Thankful Third Thursday

The Church of Christ, One of Many Churches Each of Which Are Built in Different Architectural Styles in New Ulm, Minnesota...

I know, it's Friday. But I was tagged yesterday by the lovely Mummy Pink Wellies, and wanted to respond this week, and don't like to post two blogs in a day! Reading through what she is thankful for, its clear we have a lot of similarities. It is good to take time to give thanks, and something I do not do often enough.

So here we go, the then ten things I am most thankful for this month.

1. I am thankful for our holiday we booked in January, that we finally went on this week. It was so beautiful to just completely relax and be together just the three of us.

2. Don't tell him, but I'm thankful for my husband, who works hard to provide for us, and looks after us. And brought me cocktails every night on holiday!

3. I am thankful for my blog, for keeping me sane, and for giving me a voice in this crazy world.

4. I am thankful for the Bury Times for doing a story on me this week! It was great to talk about my blog, and a long lost friend has got in touch as a result, so that is very cool.

5. I am very thankful for the hardworking and lovely Sally Whittle who is busting a gasket getting us all organised for the MAD blog awards.

6. I am thankful for all the bloggers and readers who take the time to read and comment on my posts.

7. I am thankful for all the help I have had to get better, and to keep things in perspective. One of my neighbours asked when number two is due today, and I didn't cry!

8. Now this is an odd one, but whilst away something like 13 people on my parenting forum announced their pregnancies, and another on the Bliss forums.  This is a good thing, as its so much easier to cope with a lot of people pregnant at once than just getting used to one and someone else falling pregnant! So I am thankful for our wet boring summer and that people had nothing better to do this summer!

9. I am thankful for my wonderful little boy, who makes me laugh, and drops sweets on the floor in favour of fruit!

10. I am thankful for my health, and that I am fit and well despite being a fat person, but I am determined to work harder on not being a fat person.

So what are you thankful for?

Thursday 15 September 2011

Return from Holiday!

I've missed you all, and missed blogging for a week. I have decided that its best not to schedule posts, apart from one or two cheeky ones, and just enjoy the break. So let me tell you about our fabulous holiday.

We thought we were going to Lindos in Rhodes. I mean you would, wouldn't you, if your hotel was called Lindos Princess, assume that your hotel was, in fact in Lindos, but no. It was in Lardos, a considerable distance away. But no matter, its only semantics. Because, dear reader, we didn't venture out of our holiday complex. Well I do tell a small lie, Joseph and I went across the road to a shop to buy a truck!

We went all inclusive, so that means our flights, transfers, drinks, and meals were all paid for. We had a modest amount of holiday money, half of which went unspent! I only really bought toys for Joseph, as I hadn't taken quite enough to keep him amused (I pack light these days) Our hotel was amazing with several pools, restaurants and even a toddler club.

Prior to having a small person to look after, Corey and I were exploratory travellers, just our backpacks, and quite content to wander about, checking out the sights, and staying in hostels and pensiones. With a toddler we find its definitely better to have one base, and to have food and drink on tap. Finding an appropriate place to eat with a hungry, hot, grumpy toddler is not our idea of a good time. We hope once he is a little older, we will return to a our wandering days. Our other complication is we can't do fly drive, which is a total pain in the rear end. I can't drive, and Corey needs an adapted car, which are impossible to source.

Holiday lowlight - Joseph's first morning at toddler club. One parent stays with the child whilst they play for an hour. Corey decided it was only fair that I had the hour off. We went together to drop him off, and when I left, boy oh boy, the screaming! He screamed and screamed and screamed, and Joseph was a bit unsettled too. No other way around! Joseph's seperation anxiety is still going max power. But it got better. Poor Corey was completely unprepared for it, I forgot to warn him! Joseph has just started a pre school placement, which I will blog more on in the coming weeks, and we're having a few issues, primarily with dramatic screaming when mummy goes "mummy gooooonnnneeeee" "mummy go away" "mummy come back soooooooon"

Holiday highlight - working on Joseph's fear of the water. There were several pools and Joseph enjoyed both the quieter "adult" pool, and the kids pool, with all the slides and squirty things. He loved skidding down the slides and had a ball with the other kids. His best friends on holiday were Polish, Slovakian and German and it was so fun to see them play and communicate, without worrying about the language barrier.

Scariest moment - Joseph has an annoying habit of wandering off. He hopped out of the tiny toddler pool and wandered, I was still in the pool and casually emerged, thinking Joseph was heading towards the ice cream stall. Corey made chase, but due to his disability, he struggles without shoes on. Quick as a whippet, Joseph changed direction to head into the deep end of the adult pool, turned around and shuffled his little body into the pool. He was pursued by a Polish woman and a very tall German man, who, just as Joseph let go from the side, swept him out! Joseph was wearing floats, so I think would have been ok til I got there, but it was scary, and made me realise just how vulnerable we are at times, with Corey's disability and Joseph's stubborn personality.

Proudest moment - Joseph did exactly the same thing the next day. But I pre-empted him and over took him. This time he had no floats on. He shimmied into the deep end again, but I had over taken him and was there to meet him, he lept into my arms and we had a lovely swim together with no screaming!

We had such a fantastic time, we're going again next year, this time for two weeks. We plan to escape the resort at least twice and see a bit of Rhodes! I'd like to feel guilty that we didn't go anywhere or do anything, but I don't. We needed it!

I've just realised I took next to no photos, the reason being is I don't like photos by the pool particularly as its hard to get shots without other kids. I did take a few uninspirational ones on our balcony so apologies for no stunning shorts. You'll just have to make do with these poor ones!

View of Lindos acropolis taken from coach window, complete with smears!

A busman's holiday, Joseph on the slide about to flip onto his tummy!

Our hotel, view from reception on the way to use the hotel internet cafe!

Thursday 8 September 2011

10 Really Silly Things You Didn't Know About Me

Oh great, I have one of those faces and Oh Mammy who I love very much has tagged me the 10 Things You Didn't Know About Me meme. Again. Well she hasn't tagged me again but I have been tagged for the second time. So I'm gonna write another ten things. But these are really silly things that you really don't care about at all.

Schooltandarts / School dentist

1. I sleep with a teddy bear. Always have done. At the moment its one of the comforters Joseph was given when he was small. I tend to adopt a "new" toy every couple of years.

2. I have a fear of dentitsts and haven't been in over 20 years. I really want to go and get sorted out but am too ashamed of the state my teeth are in.

3. I have Rio Ferdinand's autobiography, and queued for hours to get him to sign it. But I've never read it. And I don't support Manchester United.

4. Emmanuel Adebayour is known in our house as "my next husband". But I don't support Manchester City.

5. I've bitten my nails since I was very young, and I give up for months at a time, but then one breaks and I start biting again. I also have a lovely collection of nail polish in the hope that one day I'll have nice nails.

6. I've never smoked a cigarrette. And I am the only person in my immediate family never to do so.

7. I worked in a call centre for a major Australian bank, and used to have one of the lowest call handling times, even though I love to talk. My nickname was Cornelia Frances, the Australian host of Weakest Link, due to the manner in which I ended my calls. "thank you for calling goodbye".

8. I've supported Richmond Tigers FC all my life just about, but sincerely wish I'd picked another team. If I had my time over I'd be an Essendon fan. I only picked Richmond because on the way back from Healesville sanctuary, when I was 12, we stopped and found a toilet at Richmond and I was so grateful. And they have been down the pan ever since.

9. I sometimes plan my little girl's nursery in my head, even though I will never have one. I have have resisted starting a pinterest board though. But only just. If I did have another, I wouldn't be disappointed to have another boy. Boys are fab!

10. I can't see 3D. The magic eye pictures that everyone was raving about in the 90s - completely lost on me. It's due to surgery I had as a child for a squint. When Joseph has his eye tests the opthalmologist or orthoptist says "no helping mum" to which I groan and say "no I can't see it", Joseph is shouting out "car" "flower" and I just sit there. His main opthalmologist decided to test me further, and couldn't stop laughing that my 2 year old could do things I couldn't. 3D films totally lost on me!

Wednesday 7 September 2011


One of the things I was looking forward to with my new baby was baby swimming lessons. I love to swim, its the only physical activity I am remotely good at, and whilst I am no Dawn Fraser it is something I deeply enjoy. I have great memories of my dad teaching me to swim, and regular swimming lessons, firstly specific swimming sessions for children with asthma, and later general swimming. I loved it so much, learning new strokes, and the freedom I felt in the water.

I've never really felt bothered about my size in the water, and don't feel self concious in a costume, even though I am often the fattest at the pool! Until the day we took Joseph swimming, Sunday just gone.

Joseph is not used to the water. It was suggested by the neo natal outreach team to avoid swimming due to potential infection, due to Joseph's history of chronic lung disease. I never questioned this, as I felt it was wise, he had been on oxygen a long time and was still very small. I asked again at Joseph's one year corrected check up, but the consultant was reluctant to support it. So again I decided that it was best to be careful.

Now Joseph is over 2 corrected I think its time. He adored being in the paddling pool on holiday recently in Gorleston on Sea, and he enjoyed the seaside too, showing no fear as the waves crashed at his feet. So the pool in Ramsbottom would be a walk in the

We started well, in his lovely cozzie, and me in my nice one too, a boob tube style with a strap around the neck. Mistake number one. We took him into the pool and he looked quite excited as I put his floats on his arms. My husband took Joseph as I got in and passed him to me.

Well, that is where the trouble started, he started to cry and shout. I just assumed 10 minutes of shouting and he'd settle and enjoy it. Mistake number two. It didn't get better. My husband blamed me, as he normally does when things are going wrong, and said "pass him to me". Mistake number three. Joseph was welded to me. More specifically to my costume. Ya know, the boob tube style with one little strap. Hubby tugged, Joseph clung, I looked around to see a group of men positioned nicely near my left boob. Please, don't try to move Joseph, you will cause a scene, I yelled.

For a moment I lost it. Tears stung my eyes. My fault. Mistake number four. Don't go there. "If Joseph hadn't been prem, I could have taken him swimming as a baby and we wouldn't be here now, he'd be happy". This line of thought not helped by two nine month olds ducking and diving and giggling and having a bawl. But it's not my fault. I didn't cause the pre eclampsia, I listened to the doctors, none of this is my fault. Stop that thought now. 

So Joseph remained, like a baby possum stuck to me like glue. Have you ever seen the claws on a brushtail possum? They are very sharp. After 20 minutes they roped the shallow end off and threw in some lovely floats, pirate ships, winnie the poo, frogs. We sung and played with the floats. Joseph screamed and shouted. "No want mummy cuggles!" So we left. I was so looking forward to my shower. But no. More screaming as I tried to shower the two of us (we have only a bath at home).

But once in the changing room, my Joseph came back, laughing, giggling, throwing his shoes over the door of the changing room and giggling as I tried putting his shorts on. He was positively charming and bright and funny.

"Joseph, would you like to go swimming next week?" And his reply "Yes please mummy, more swim".

Go figure. Care to join us? Bring ear plugs.


Tuesday 6 September 2011

3 Years Ago Today

It's our wedding anniversary today. 3 years! It's kinda funny, because at the age of 39, many people have been married for a lot longer than that. 2 of my best friends in Australia are much closer to their 20 year anniversary than I am to my 10 years.

Marriage has always been very important to me, and I was shocked to find myself separated at 24 and divorced by 29, it was never part of my plan and I still feel a bit ashamed that I have a failed marriage behind me. A lot of people are shocked to discover I've been married before. I don't keep it a secret, well I don't think I do, but I don't talk about it as much as I possibly should.

When we decided to get married my husband to be started telling me his vision for "his" wedding. He was so excited and really keen on a wedding. I was happy to just go off and get it done! He wanted 450 guests! I was very calm and just said, "yes dear that's fine, price them at £50 a head, do the maths, and then tell me a venue that holds that many in our area, and how your going to fund it". He was horrified! We settled on 150.

I decided that I wanted to show case our area, and the best Ramsbottom had to offer, that is where we lived at the time. I also was adamant I did not want a registry office. I researched a lot and found the Unitarian church the ideal solution for us, and we met Jeff, our minister who became so important to us over time. Little did I know that Jeff would be my greatest support when Joseph was in hospital, as Jeff, himself, had been a teeny, tiny poorly premature baby.

We had a vintage bus that weaved its way from Manchester to Bury picking up passengers. We then had the ceremony, drinks on the platform of the East Lancashire Railway and everyone got on a diesel train to go back to the Civic Hall in Ramsbottom for our reception. It took a lot of organising and it was logisticallly quite tricky.

We had fields of flowers, massive bouquests of hydrangeas, roses, and herbs. When looking through my wedding photos one of my friends gave me the biggest compliment "it looks like you just popped out into a cottage garden and picked them" that's the look we were aiming for. Well  me.

My dress was amazing, made to measure, in silk. It wasn't cheap. But I felt like a vintage princess.

Today we are spending the night at Manchester Airport, then going to Greece for a week!

Happy anniversary darling!

Monday 5 September 2011

One Day Like This - Oh Mammy's Monday Musical Meme

So tomorrow is a special anniversary, three years of wedded bliss. It's been quite a busy three years, full of excitement, tears and a bit of fear thrown in, and there were times when I wasn't sure whether we would make it, but here we are. So I would like to dedicate today's Musical Meme to my lovely, and never annoying, husband. If you want to join in link up here. You can post on anything you like, with a musical theme.

We debated quite a bit about what our first dance song should be for our wedding. We had a vintage themed wedding, with a double decker bus, a vintage diesel train, and loads of flowers and tea dresses, it was wonderful. And we chose this song as our first dance. Something slow and soppy just wasn't our style. We'd been to see Van the Man in concert some months before, and we both just looked at each other and smiled. This was it!

Corey has introduced me to Radio 4 being 20 years older than me 20 months older than me, Corey is middle aged, unlike my sweet self still in my 30s (who am I kidding, only very just). Our favourite thing to do on a Sunday morning is listen to Desert Island Discs over a leisurely breakfast. (More accurately, snatched listenings in between Cbeebies or trips to the park!) Corey always says this will be his first track when he is featured on Desert Island Discs to commemorate his knighthood (he's never annoying, and never predispositioned to delusions of grandeur either)

This song was huge the year we were planning our wedding, and we debated trying to include it but failed, it didn't seem right somehow. Elbow are a band close to our hearts as they are from Bury, where we live. This song is just beautiful and always makes me smile. Joseph loves it too (being a strings fanatic) so for me it's our family song, just the three of us.

Sunday 4 September 2011

The Best

I love reading magazines, but one of our post baby money saving tactics was, sadly, no more magazines for me. So imagine my delight when I discovered a load of unspent Tesco points online and found out you could exchange them for magazine subscriptions. I now subscribe to Good Housekeeping and Good Food. I think my Cosmo days are well behind me.

Anyway, in Good Housekeeping they do a "Best of" section where a well-known person answers some questions. This month it was Alan Titchmarsh (for Aussie readers, think Don Burke) But I love reading these so I thought I'd have a go at filling it in too. Why don't you do it on your blog or even on your Facebook page?

Best Compliment - When Joseph was just over a year I had to take him to opthalmology. As I was pushing the pram through the corridors at the hospital I ran into one of his consultants. She said hello, then nearly fell over. She said "Oh Kylie, you have done just the most amazing job with Joseph, he's a real credit to you". I was just so pleased that she thought I had done ok, as it was when my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was at its height.

Best Weekend - The best weekend was our first wedding anniversary, September 6 2009. Joseph was 4 months old and we went to Chester, stayed at the very lovely Grosvener, had room service and a visit to Chester Zoo. It was memorable because I had to feed Joseph at 3am as usual, but we kept him in our bed, which we didn't normally do, and we were woken by room service bringing coffee at 8am, the longest any of us had slept since Joseph's birth!

Best Kept Secret - I don't do secrets!

Best Meal - I'll pick a recent one, there's an incredibly smart restaurant and bar recently opened in Manchester called Australasia that we went to in June, a rare meal without Joseph. I had Tasmanian kingfish sushi, porkbelly with pineapple curry and an amazing pineapple and passionfruit trio of desserts. It was a lovely meal, and a really special location, under the street off Deansgate.

Best Friend - I seem to have a collection of friends, I never seem to have just one best friend.

Best Book - Another difficult one, but my enduring book that I've read over and over, is The Secret Garden. I have always felt such empathy for the main character, and I love the story of redemption and love and mystery. It's a wonderful book that has really stood the test of time.

Best Decision - To move to England. It was a massive decision and I've always been one who plays it safe so I think it was suprising for everyone when I up and left. But I feel as a person, I have grown immensely in the UK, and of course I've met my lovely husband and have the loveliest little boy in the world ever!

Best Job - I'm not career minded at all, however the best job I had was working as a carer, in Bury, when I had been in the UK for around 5 months. My youngest client was 7 my oldest 87 maybe? I looked after people in their own homes, but also took young children with severe disabilities out and about. I adored that job, and am glad to have found myself in care work again.

Best Lesson - One of my favourite quotes is an Eleanor Roosevelt one. "A woman is like a tea bag, you never find out how strong she is, until she is in hot water." Joseph's birth was my best lesson. I went through a scary illness, and watched my baby surmount quite incredible odds, and I've come out of it a better, more knowledgeable and more compassionate person.

Best Moment - Standing at the doorway of the NICU with my baby in his car seat, hugging and kissing all the doctors and nurses, saying goodbye. Will never forget the relief of finally being able to take our baby home after 76 days.

Best Gift - My birthday when Joseph was in hospital, my husband, not the great romantic normally, gave me a necklace with three intertwined love hearts, one for each of us.

Best Way to Relax - that's a hard one, these days, its just snuggled up in bed at the end of the day. My favourite way to relax is to go swimming, and my best place to do that is in Germany, my favourite swimming place in the world is Bali Thermes.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Look Before You Leap - Listen Before You Judge

pre·judge  (pr-jj)
tr.v. pre·judged, pre·judg·ing, pre·judg·es
To judge beforehand without possessing adequate evidence.
Ever since Joseph was born I've had to deal with people's attitudes, advice and general nosiness. Something about becoming a parent makes you public property. I found it really hard, and I overshared. Looking back I should have just lied. "Oh a brand new baby" - no well actually he's 4 months old - cue opening the floodgates, questions, prejudgements, attitude. I should have just said "yes". No matter how disingenious it felt, just say yes. 

But now, 2 years on, I'm still in this boat of people making rash judgements. I am the most friendly, open person, if you want to know something, just ask me, I'll tell you happily. But don't judge what you don't seek to understand. It's annoying, and its hurtful. I've had two occasions in the last couple of weeks that have just made me hopping mad. And I never know what to say, or how much to say. If I am too brief, I get interrogated with lots of closed questions and snappy judgemental comments. If I say too much, I get upset, Joseph picks up on it and it all goes wrong.

Situation one, I was at messy play with Joseph, it's a small group of mums with toddlers. Unfortunately for me, nearly every single toddler in attendance is an older sibling, and the babies attend. Anyway the person who was running the session was chatting to me and another parent, saying "oh you have the kids in old clothes, but yours are getting trashed". I laughed saying "I'm wearing a maternity top, as I won't be needing them they are fair game for being wrecked!" 

Well I was not prepared for what happened next. "I thought Joseph was an only child?" this woman said, raising an eyebrow at me. "Why yes", I replied, he is. "And will always be". She started on at me "Well that's quite selfish isn't it?" I looked around for support, no one who knew the story was within earshot. I explained "I have 80% chance of having another premature baby". She glared "well, being premature isn't that bad is it?" So there I was, covered in jelly, angel delight, paint and playdough thinking "come on Kylie, explain and don't cry, and really, don't hit this woman, its not worth it".

So I explained the story, and she understood and started saying about what a precious gift Joseph was and blah blah blah. If she'd just said at the beginning "oh why aren't you having any more?" then we could have avoided the whole scene. 

I find it hard now that Joseph's comprehension and language are so good, I don't want to say too much. I want to explain about his birth and our decisions over time, I don't want him to know, until he's older, about my feelings, and the fear that he nearly died, and I think that's fair enough.

The second situation was at a party. Joseph had got mucky out (the comfort blanket) but then decided to play outside. There were other parents supervising, and I got mucky to put him away before going out to watch Joseph. I felt I had to pick him up and put him away, as he could be mistaken for a rag and thrown away, in which case my life would be over.

An older lady, presumably a grandparent scowled at me "that baby must be supervised there are children playing out here". I explained quickly that I would be right there but needed to put this away first. She said I was irresponsible allowing my baby out. I looked and Joseph's friend was playing out, without direct supervision. I said to her "what about that little girl there, her parents aren't watching her". And she snapped "but she is not a baby, she's over 2."

I smiled and said "well, actually, not wanting to be rude or anything but Joseph is a month older."

I don't know what I can do, put mascara and blusher on him and make him look older? Put him in a t-shirt that says "I'm older than I look?" He was fine outside, climbing, running and playing with the other kids, he didn't need me there, not for those 2 minutes. Again the whole exchange could have been cut short "How old is he, is he ok playing on his own?"

I've just got business cards printed to promote my blog when out and about. I am seriously considering passing these randoms a card and saying, go read this, and email me with any questions!

How do you deal with random comments and unwanted advice?

Friday 2 September 2011

Friday Feature - Nobody Said It Was Easy

For my third Friday Feature I am featuring two blogs, one of whom is written by a dear friend of  mine, the other introduced to me by a fellow parent of a premature baby, Ross, who blogs about his son Freddie.

Nobody Said It Was Easy is written by my good friend Stacey. I met her on a wedding forum well over three years ago now! It's kinda ruining the story of her blog, however her blog charts her progress as she tries to conceive, up until her pregnancy, and hopefully well beyond into parenthood. At times very honest, and a great comfort to anyone trying to conceive and going through diagnosis and treatment. She has nominated me as her pregnancy mentor, lets hope I do better with Stacey than I did with myself!

The Anderson Bump and Baby is a beautiful read, but extremely sensitive at the moment. What started as a blog about Mummy and Daddy Anderson's journey into parenthood has become a journey no father would ever want to take. Lauren is currently in ITU unconcious, and the baby girl (who I have nicknamed Possum) is in NICU, born at 27 weeks weighing 1lb 6oz. Lauren is in Inverness and Possum is in Aberdeen. I know a lot of my readers will empathise with Matt and have words of comfort for him at this frightening time.

I hope you will read and support these two blogs, and encourage each of their writers in their journeys.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Premature Babies - Can We do More? 3 Dads Share Their Stories

I have asked Dean a Gurgle nominated Daddy Blogger, otherwise known as Daddy Natal, to write for Not Even A Bag of sugar, as I am very concious that I write purely from the perspective of a mother. Dads have a vital role to play in the care of their premature baby, and its important that we support dads going through this scary and difficult time. I know my husband felt the weight of the world on his shoulders when Joseph was born, and he did a fantastic job looking after the two of us, but I realise that he didn't have a good support network and still feels traumatised about Joseph's premature birth. I hope you find what he has to say, and the perspective of the three dads he has interviewed helpful This is part 1 of a 2 part piece.

Some recent occurrences and discussions have led me to ask some questions. 

In 2010/11 of 522,000 births with a known gestation length, 35,775 babies were born at 36 weeks or before, 28,489 were born in their 37 week. Now officially a premature baby is defined as one born before their 37th week of pregnancy.

I had been talking to Kylie and she asked me if I would write a piece on dads and premature babies. Having spent some time mulling this over, I decided that although I can write about it, from my training, working with dads and work on the MSLC at Peterborough hospital, I hadn’t experienced it.  It was further bought home to me when one of my dad’s (yes they are mine!) having attended the first class with me, two days later had his partners waters break at 34weeks and 1 day. I spent the next few days supporting them, when they needed me to answer questions or offer reassurance, and at 34 weeks and 6 days their daughter was born, 5 weeks premature.

Now, 5 weeks premature in this day and age doesn’t seem that bad, and I suppose that’s true, if it’s not YOUR child! They still had to spend a week with their child in hospital, with all the concerns and worries that comes with that.

That has bought me to writing this piece, and I have already realised I cannot do this subject justice in just one piece. So forgive me, but this will now also run as a series alongside Life with a new born, things to expect! Which in its self I think will be interesting as automatically I had been writing that from the perspective of full term new borns, so there should be some interesting differences.

To help with this piece, I have spoken to three dads all who have experienced their child being born prematurely, each has been kind enough to answer some questions for me, and I will share with you their answers. So for now I would like to share with you just a small glimpse into their journeys.

Let’s introduce the dads, first up is Neil, he is the dad referenced above, his daughter Lauren was born at 34 weeks and 6 days, he has started to blog about it here. Next up is Rob, his son Felix was born at 29weeks and 6 days, he shares his story here. Finally there is Ross, his son Frederick was born at 28 weeks and 2 days, Fredericks story is shared here .

So I asked them some questions about their experiences and these are what they had to say. I think it starts to paint a picture and I will look in more detail at some of points raised later . I also want to address some questions of my own and get some views which I will come to at the end of the piece.

Had you or your partner managed to attend any antenatal classes?

No.....we had talked about it, but even up to 28wks, we had not attended any.

Our first antenatal class was booked on the 36th week of pregnancy. Nearly 7 weeks too late!

I attended half of a DaddyNatal course but that was all. Vicki hadn't attended any classes.

Freddie on Day 1
How prepared were you for birth? Had you done much reading research? (not talking prepared for premature birth)

We were not prepared at all! We were warned around week 24/5 that Freddie was small, not growing....and that he may have to be born early. We assumed around 33/34 weeks, but even then, we did not research or start to prepare ourselves for a premature birth. When he arrived 2-3wks later, we were shocked, traumatised and totally ill-prepared.

I was prepared mentally to have a child, I work with children and love cuddling all my friend's babies. Regarding research, I had read 'The Pregnancy Book' provided by the NHS and I also had various applications on my phone with information regarding pregnancy and    baby development.

What was the worst part of your experience?

Oh, there are can refer to the blog. Day 3, Day 16, Day 35.
Suspected Meningitis
Going to see Freddie on my own for the 1st time while Mummy lay in recovery.
The 86 mile transfer back to a hospital closer to where we live.
Our 1st cuddle (Day 16) ending with heartache and fear of the worst.

I've had to think hard about this. I can't really say the surprise birth was the worst part, however scary it was, it was just a blur and was over in 10 minutes. 
Freddie Now
When Felix had a bleed from his lungs on Day 2 of his life, my wife and mother were with him. I received a phone call to come straight away and was warned it wasn't good. When I arrived, both my wife and mum were waiting outside the ward. As I peered through the window,  I could see the white screen being set up around his incubator whilst doctors and nurses from different wards appeared to stabilise him. All we could do was wait.  

If you could turn back the clock, what is the one thing you wish you had known by the time your baby was born?

Huh! That he was going to make it - I wouldn't have spent 82 days worrying so much!
But seriously, I wish I was more aware of premature births...even if we were/were not going to have an early delivery. You are never fully prepared for what you are about to see.

As impossible as this sounds, I just wish I had warning of when Felix was to be born. In lots of premature cases mothers are admitted weeks in advance to prepare for the birth. In this case, the mother receives steroids to hopefully delay the birth and to support the babies lungs. If we had known this we could have had the steroids which may have avoided various complications.

Anything else you wish you had known?

About Bliss Charity prior to the delivery. Fantastic support/resources.

Did we do anything to cause the premature birth of our child? We still don't know why Felix came so early.

What one piece of advice would you give to all expectant parents based on your experiences?

Talk. Talk to other parents who are going through the same experience.
Ask friends for, costs etc etc.

Stay positive but be prepared! This is how we survived in hospital, we knew it was going to be a tough journey but we genuinely believed Felix would survive. We set up what-if scenarios on a regular basis and came to terms with all possible outcomes so when bad news came our way we had already come to terms with it.

I hope you have enjoyed this post from Dean. Please have a look at his blog and website, there is a wealth of information there from a dad's perspective. And stay tuned for part 2!

 If you have enjoyed what Dean has written please vote for him for Best Daddy Blogs in the Gurgles a prestigious award created by Mothercare. Also please vote for the sister blog Bump Birth and Beyond in Best Overal Mummy Blog.