One day we will be normal parents.

That joyous moment when your tiny baby is handed to you, all slimy and squidgy, fresh from the womb mewing its first cries, such a momentous occasion filled with overwhelming happiness and love, the start of parenthood, the start of many memories together as a family.

But then there are those who don’t get this fairytale start, those who’s babies are born, whipped away and hours tick by before you are given any news, hours before you can glance upon your child and feel a tsunami of emotions all rising from the pit of dread in your stomach, hours, days pass by before you can even hold your precious baby.

You see being a parent to a NICU baby is a completely different ball game, we don’t have the whimsical milestones of our first picture snuggled with our baby straight after birth, our first cutesy little outfit moments after being born in between kisses and cuddles. We have NICU! Now I’ll hand it to the doctors and nurses and all the specialist consultants, they are amazing, they live and breathe your babies and without them and their support it would be an even harder process to get through but it’s just no where near ‘normal’. In fact normal is far from what we go through…until we reach a point along the NICU journey that it all becomes your ‘normal’.

I remember  when our eldest was born and immediately being whisked away, a hurried shout back “oh you’ve had a boy” as he was wheeled away to the NICU ward. What was a room full of people, a hive of activity soon became an empty shell of just me and my husband, no baby, no cuddles, no first cries and kisses. Just us! It was a bizarre out of body experience, suddenly being plunged into the unknown as our 29 weeker was rushed away with a team of consultants surrounding him as he was intubated and hooked up to every machine possible.

I hobbled my way into the shower, dumbfounded with shock and numb to the world around me, my husband helped me wash as postpartum blood trickled away and yet we had no baby to hold, my belly was empty, the room had gone quiet, it was like we had entered the twilight zone. A cup of tea and a round of toast was brought to us before we were guided to a private room on the postnatal ward, it was 4 am, we were exhausted, we were desperate to hear any news, we just wanted our boy but nothing we had to wait. Fitful sleep came as we clung to each other on the bed, there were no tears left to cry, but a mindful of many questions left unanswered.

Finally at 7 am a gentle knock on the door, it had been five hours since our boy was born, “you can go and see him now”

We leapt out of the bed and hurried anxiously across the corridor and began the first of MANY entries into NICU. We put our bits and pieces in a locker, washed our hands, sanitised, pushed the buzzer and in we entered. We were led into the intensive care room, the quiet buzz of nurses going about their business with an elegant grace as they worked their way around each incubator tending to the alarms, beeps and buzzes. Five incubators lined around the room, machines on either side, a cacophony of unsynchronised buzzes and beeps, alarms sounding and constant checks being done, it felt like it was a normal day for the nurses – well it was, it was just alien to us.

Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would start our lives as parents in a room like this. We tentatively made our way to the incubator in the left hand corner, inside lay a tiny baby cradled in a comforting little snug attached to a multitude of wires and tubes. Our baby boy, there he was so fragile, so tiny, literally skin and bone, he hadn’t reached any stage of fattening up, he was coated in downy hair and helped to breathe.

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“He’s doing well, he’s definitely a good size”

Doing well??? He was hooked up to an intubation tube, he had wires coming out of his umbilical stump!! As for a good size, he was tiny, 2lb 15oz was not a good size – upon reflection, this was a pretty good size, but for the months leading up to this point there were jokes I was going to have a massive baby for the sheer size of my bump puzzled everyone when I said I still had three months to go, anyway I digress.

But the look on the nurses face to our shock and worry said it all, she wasn’t phased, she had seen it all before, many a time, she knew the drill.

“The next 48 hours are the most crucial”

Oh God, we had to endure 48 hours before we could even start breathing any sighs of relief.

And that’s how our life as parents began. Every moment waiting, watching, over analysing. We very soon became fluent in NICU as we looked over his notes at every visit. What were his oxygen levels? How often had he desaturated? What had his blood tests come back as? Before too long we were reading his notes before even greeting our baby, what did we need to prepare ourselves for? What news (good or bad) was coming our way. I remember physically telling myself to stop seeing my child as a set of notes and test results but to say hello first and question later – it was hard to make that shift but it needed to be done, it became obsessive – we needed to feel normal, we needed to greet our beautiful boy first and resist the urge to read up on everything as it was easy to panic over something that actually was pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

The urge as a parent to hold your child becomes increasingly stronger as hour after hour passes by and that cuddle is still far from grasp. The first time we could touch our son was a moment filled with joy and fear. At first we were not able to hold a hand or stroke his face as at this stage it could cause him pain, how could a loving touch cause him pain? It was heartbreaking to not be able to hold him, instead we could gently place our hands upon him in a containment hold letting him know we were there and that he was safe. Soon we could hold his hand or wait for him to hold ours, and when he did we didn’t want to ever pull away, we waited until he made the first move, I wasn’t letting go for a moment.

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In those first few days I longed for that first hold but also anything to make the urge to feel like a mother come to light, I was desperate to change a nappy, to give him a wash, anything that was not just standing and staring through a perspex box listening to the chorus of beeps and alarms.

It was the longest three days but we finally had our first cuddle, we held our baby for the first time and it’s a moment that will be forever engrained in my memory and my heart, I had wished for this moment so much, I cried so hard in the dark nights as I expressed hoping I would get to hold my boy and that nothing would happen that would take that moment away from me.

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You see life in NICU is a roller coaster it’s one step forwards two steps back, it’s exhausting and heart breaking but we find the strength to keep going.

I spent every day by my sons side, some days I was dropped off at 8am and picked up at 5pm, home for tea and then back again to say goodnight. I read by his side, wrote a diary, sat for hours watching him, stroking his hand, desperate for a moment when I could finally change a nappy, give a milk feed through his tube or do his cares.

It wasn’t long before I felt like a pro, I knew what temperature to defrost his milk, how much to draw up and when I needed to signal a nurse over to do a quick pH test. I spent hour after hour expressing by his side storing up as much milk as I could for the day he would gobble it all up and become big and fat.

The milestone moments of finding out he was no longer intubated but on CPAP and low oxygen, when he had been off CPAP for X amount of hours, when he was putting on weight and having 0.5ml of milk, then 1 ml, when we could finally put on a little vest and dress our baby, put a teddy in his incubator and have more frequent cuddles – these were our milestone moments, the ones we documented and photographed.

We watched as other babies came and went, watched as babies smaller than ours were whisked away to other hospitals, watched as other parents entered into our world, handing tissues as we pass on by not wanting to interrupt the private moment between them but then also let them know they weren’t alone. We counted down the hours and days until he could become a high dependency baby, no longer in an incubator but snuggled in a heated cot – finally that day came. A little more freedom and one step closer to going home, it was a joke between other parents and the nurses that we edging our way closer to the door.

We celebrated weigh ins exceeding 3 lbs, 3.5lbs, our tiny baby was chunking up, he had tried a few boobie cuddles as I attempted to breastfeed, every moment no matter how small was noted down in a list of achievements. We high fived as his medication doses were slowly dropping, all he needed to do was quit his desats and we could move onto the final room, we were so close…I could almost smell the sweet celebratory success of going home. But this was one of our one step forwards two steps back moments, he was ready to move into the nursery, a spot had opened up, he had been good for a while, he was ready to go. We eagerly skipped into NICU the next morning waiting to see his name proudly on the nursery board, laters high dependency we’re on our way out, but his name wasn’t there, ‘it mustn’t be updated yet’ we peered into high dependency, he was still there, our hearts sank, ‘he’s not quite ready yet, he’s still desatting too much, he just needs time’, she could see how crushed we were, ‘dont forget he’s only 4 weeks old, he’s doing really well to be where he is right now’ I know that was supposed to be comforting and thinking back we were obviously trying to rush through this moment so we could go home so we could finally become ‘normal’ parents, but it reminded us of where we were and what journey we were on.

I know it’s nothing catastrophic but we had been fortunate to ride the waves of success with (small yet massive) achievements one after the other, we had hoped that all the willing in the world had paid off and he would be a miracle baby, born at 29 weeks and out into the big wide world in 4 weeks, he didn’t need NICU he was a super baby! That disillusioned optimism was soon shot down in flames, we did have a NICU baby, he needed time, time to strengthen, time to grow – we were just going to have to wait, we just needed to accept reality. Sowe waited. Our life continued scheduled around the hospital, only going home to change, shower and sleep, other than that I was by our boys side, forever talking to him, holding him tight, recording every moment….this soon became my ‘normal’.

It was one morning as we went about our morning ritual of washing hands etc that we walked on in, into high dependency and suddenly he wasn’t there ‘shit!!’ What had happened was everything OK? Was he alright? The panicked look on our face must have been clear as day as one of the nurses hurried over with a big smile ‘oh don’t worry, you don’t need to be seeing us anymore – he was moved last night’ and she pointed to the nursery.

He had made it, finally he was at the last hurdle, gone were the machines and wires, gone was his feeding tube, all it was was a simple little machine monitoring his oxygen levels, he had never looked so normal, so free of stuff! Every moment I spent my days holding him right, clutching onto my baby tight, now no longer in fear and savoring every hold incase it was the last, but holding on tight in celebration that we would soon be home, we would soon be a family, we would soon be normal.

We celebrated his first bath, after much deliberation we decided to combi-feed so we celebrated his first successful bottle feed, we were ticking things off one by one. It was almost our time. Then the day came when we were asked if we were ready for a rooming in session? I didn’t need to go home, I could stay with him in a room and we could be together for a whole night! This was it, this was us making those final preparations for finally coming home, it was time to ditch the final monitor. No more machines, no more alarms, it was just me and my boy, and I was scared. I had become so used to the machines I subconsciously relied upon them, my nonchalant dismissal when it beeped now and again were false confidence – this was a leap of faith. That first night together I literally stayed awake ALL night listening to him breathe, was it too fast, too slow, was he too hot, too cold. I peered over the cot watching him anxiously as he took every breath. Was this what it was like being a ‘normal’ parent? After surviving our first night and all going well, we just had one more to go. This time I let my instinct take over and instead of peering over his cot, I held him close, felt each breathe, felt the calm wash over me, this was how I was going to feel normal.

The next day we had the all clear it was time to go, finally we had made it to the end, after checking everything off the list, handed a bag load of meds, we said our final good byes and walked out the doors carrying our boy to the car.

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We had dreamt of the moment where ‘one day we will be normal parents’ nearly six weeks after our son was born that day came. We had endured our time in NICU now it was time for the rest of the world to meet our son and begin life as ‘normal’. It wasn’t ‘normal’, it was never going to be normal, just because you have left NICU doesn’t mean it has left you completely, we still had milestones to reach, tests to take and medication to wean off from. Despite those first few weeks which felt torturous as if we were stuck in limbo were nothing compared to living life with a prem baby, it didn’t all disappear as soon as we walked out those doors, instead we had a whole other set of challenges to face, once again we muttered ‘one day we will be normal parents’.

Little did we know, 19months later we would back in NICU once again with our youngest son and starting yet another journey.

‘One day we will be ‘normal’parents’

 

In a bid to help other parents going through this heart wrenching journey, over at Pudding & Chops we have created something special and partnered with Bliss to help give every baby born premature or sick in the UK the best chance of survival and quality of life.

 

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Being a parent is….

I can waffle on about how wonderful it is to be a parent, because essentially at the end of it all it can be wonderful, but for every amazing moment there must be a thousand shitty moments. For every instagrammed perfect picture is chaos tornadoing in the background.

So here is a little compilation of what life as a parent can entail.

Being a parent is:

(Warning a lot of it is sleep related)

Enduring months, years of sleep deprivation, being so insanely tired that you feel hungover and will hallucinate through blood shot eyes, yet you still have to function. Sometimes you will find cars pulled up on the side of the road or in car parks with parents and children fast asleep – well they say ‘sleep when they sleep’. Needs must my friend, needs must.

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Having the delightful duty of removing a floating turd from the bath or extracting said turd from a pair of pants, the carpet, the dog bowl, anywhere other than where its supposed to be, even to the point when in the throes of potty training you will rush a half crapping child across the house to avoid turdmania on your unclean carpets (who has time to clean), I mean that’s mess you can’t ignore really.

Living in a groundhog day of attempting to clean up after your delightful offspring who will undo every amount of effort you make, in fact they will double their efforts when they cotton on that you are actually trying to clean clean rather than scoop their crap to one side – you bring out the big guns of cleaning products and they go wild, they will dump toilet rolls down the toilet, paint the walls with the bog brush, tip whole boxes of cereal over the floor, eat some and smear it back onto any surface that it will glue itself to – the list goes on.

Discovering that the gentle rock to sleep may actually be a manic rock of insanity and that your child may not actually have gone to sleep in a soothing manner but actually they’ve had to close their eyes to avoid severe motion sickness – either way they are asleep so win win. Or if you are in the throes of the bum pat, back stroke kind of putting to bed then it’s knowing when to change the soothing bum pat into a gentle backstroke and then peel away finger by finger as you attempt to retract your limbs from a sleepy child.

Trying to leave the room of a sleeping child whilst avoiding all objects in the way – suddenly escaping the room is like a assault course which you must do in silence, even if you are out of the room it’s the actual getting down the stairs – which are all creaky so you are walking down the sides of each step, balancing on the skirting boards and half lifting yourself using the hand rail and wall – now this should be an Olympic sport!

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Learning that spanx AND jeggings/legging/skinnies or heaven forbid leatherette pants are not a good combo when you have to hold a child AND go to the toilet at the same time!! Lesson learnt – just don’t do it, such attire requires two hands. If you do make it to the toilet on your own then it’s hearing a thump/smash/scream/cry as you are mid shite, having to then decide on the level of cry whether you have to dump and go or whether you’ve thirty seconds to wipe and run – never will you get a moments peace AGAIN.

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Negotiating with the limp limbs of your child as they refused to be dressed but instead they just want to be an octopus just as you NEED to get out of the house or having to karate chop your child into a pushchair/ car seat, then it’s entering the delightful era when your child wishes to dress themselves and then you have to redress them as they are inside out and back to front.

Spending days negotiating, coercing and downright bribing your child just so you don’t have to resort to alcohol at 9 am, sometimes you’ve downed a bottle of (insert alcohol of choice) and then you’ve realised ‘shit it’s only Tuesday’, ah sod it, you feel hungover from sleep deprivation you may as well be actually hungover.

Surviving the never ending period of time with small children hankering around your ankles begging to be fed as you try to create some form of nutritional sustenance only for them to refuse it as soon as it is presented them.  After trying to encourage said sweet children to eat the food you have made, you are met with a rather stubborn and indignant ‘I’m not hungry!!’, so sod it, you eat it or bin it and strop off in your own little tantrum…. 5 minutes later ‘mummy can I have a snack?’ – Are you F*&@king kidding me?!?!

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Living your life surviving on the off cuts from sandwiches or eating half chewed pieces of food, the discarded meals that they just can’t stomach, you soon realise that a lot will go to waste unless you literally become a human dustbin – don’t bother making your own meal just eat their cold leftovers ‘Yummy!’. It’s a glamorous life of fine dining and a la carte menus.

Upon having a second/third/ (insert number of children) you lower your standards on what you deem acceptable ‘toys’ to play with – knives – no, spatulas, wooden spoons, rocks, bins, nappies – clean – yes, dirty – erm best not. Nothing entertains your child more than a pack of wet wipes or a toilet roll, and then you can clean your house afterwards with them – well when I say clean I mean just a cursory wipe over the worst bits, spray a bit of Febreeze and you could almost pass it off as a clean and tidy house.

Answering the incessant question ‘why’ it certainly tests your general knowledge and can make you contemplate why we do actually do things but sometimes we just have to resort to ‘because it just is, now accept it’…….’why’ – oh fml!!

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Constantly having a brew that’s too hot to handle and will melt you from the inside out or its tepid – like gross tepid. There’s never the in between.

Finally making into the shower ALONE and then you are constantly plagued by the imaginary sounds of children crying – so you are stood there, soaped up, shampoo dribbling into your eyes in the cold as you’ve switched the shower off to listen for the sounds of a distressed child – NOTHING, instead you’re butt naked, freezing with eyes full of soap.

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Yoyoing from the beaming boastful moment of ‘oh my goodnes look at _________(insert wonderful moment here), this is why we have children’ to ‘holy shit look at _______(insert goddamn awful moment that can never be eradicated from memory) why did we have children?!?! FFS’ Smearing human faeces on a wall is one of those moments – why would you do that???

Spending many an hour, night upon night, laying on the bedroom floor willing your child with every fibre of your being to go to sleep – not so bad when you have your phone to keep you company and you can trawl through every social media account you have – however God help you if your phone battery goes whilst you’re in mid way through, trying to escape is futile as you will just reset your child back to the beginning and hell starts all over again, so instead you lay there, in the dark, with your thoughts. Either you will start to think of the billions things you need to do but can’t, have an absolute brain wave of an idea, a proper Eureka moment however you can’t write down your idea and you know full well you will forget it as soon as you manage to escape OR you fall asleep yourself, only to be rudely awoken by aching limbs, a bad hip and a sore back.

When you do finally make it to bed yourself, suddenly a mindful of crap downloads into your brain and you realise you’ve got so many things to do, people to reply to, orders to place. Cue replying to messages and ordering nappies at 1am – you’re going to be up at 5am but at least you’ve ordered the nappies.

Having spent a great portion of the night when you should have been asleep catching up on all the things you should have done at some point when children weren’t destroying your house, ripping it apart and breaking you down bit by bit, you wake early – however the kids are not awake. Instead of going back to sleep and enjoying the rarity of a lie in, you start to panic – ‘why are they not awake?’ ‘is something wrong?’. At first these worries and doubts just play tricks on you every time you try to fall back to sleep but you remain stubborn in your bed, however the anxiety builds and you’ve convinced yourself they’ve slipped into a coma or something else just as drastic, so you go to check on them, double check that they are breathing – lo and behold they are in the dreamy land of nod – where you should be. You look on and smile and your beautiful sleeping children and then tip toe back to bed….and then stand on a creaking floorboard ‘mummy?’ BOLLOCKS!!! If you’d just stayed in bed and ignored that voice in your head every one would still  be asleep but no you had to ruin it all by being all worried and crap like that!

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Being a parent is many things – and there are many more that could easily be added to this list however you wouldn’t be a parent if you didn’t mutter in sheer exasperation, sing (yes I do mean sing, like sing as if you were performing an opera or even rap it, either way you’ll find yourself cursing your child through song) or shout manically at multiple points in the day;

‘what the fuck’

‘are you kidding me?’

‘what the ACTUAL fuck!!’

‘fuck my life’

‘oh Jesus Christ – seriously!!’

along with endless ‘no’ ‘yes’ ‘because I said so’

It’s great being a parent – Honest!

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Out of the darkness comes strength and courage.

Facebook has a wonderful way of stirring up memories from times past by reminding you of pictures and statuses you posted years ago, some make you cringe, some make you laugh and some remind you of a time you didn’t think you would escape from. My ‘memories’ from this time of year are always focused around my eldest son and his journey through NICU as a 29 weeker – the milestones he reached, the weight he put on and eventually the time he came home. I remember that part of my life like it was yesterday, the beeps and alarms of the machines, the desats, the countless tests, the one step forwards two steps back, the constant wave of emotions that were so incredibly draining. There were so many tears and hours of anguished waiting, I spent many an hour just sat holding my boy when I was finally able to and I was never ready to put him down just in case, just in case it was my last cuddle, just in case despite how well he was doing something happened. I never wanted to waste a moment, I wanted to absorb every smell, crease, and breath he took.

Seeing these ‘memories’ brings back that time in my life where I didn’t know whether I would have the strength to go on. Then another story came on my feed, a story that was not mine, but one that broke my heart.

A school friend from years ago had shared their story of the moment they discovered their son was to be born sleeping.

 “We went to the hospital as I had experienced reduced movement this is when we were told the devastating news that there was no heartbeat.

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I was 32 weeks pregnant. Baby Noah was just perfect, we got to hold him, dress him and kiss him and we will cherish forever all of the memories we made that evening.”

Upon reading these first few words, I was overwhelmed by emotion, even writing this now brings me to tears, I cannot for a moment comprehend what they must have been going through. Even through our hardest times when Grayson was born I always counted my blessings that he was with us in our arms – I’d had nightmares of the worst and struggled to cope with the emotion of it all on some days but I could never fully imagine how devasting this would be if we were to ever lose him.

The awful and tragic thing about this story for Nicky and Jonathan (and for many others) was that it was nobody’s ‘fault’

“Sadly there was nothing that could be done for Noah, he had got himself in a tangle, the cord was wrapped around his neck and his arm which had cut off the oxygen supply”

Upon reading this I think back to when our youngest son Myles was born. Although technically premature at 36+4, I begged to have a water birth, in my stubbornness I pushed and pushed because I hadn’t had the birth that I had planned with Grayson. I was determined to have at least one of my babies how I wanted. I was fortunate that upon great deliberation I was allowed a water birth AS LONG as I was monitored every five minutes – ‘yeah yeah’ I thought. But I am so glad they did because in the moment’s of checking they quickly discovered that Myles was going into distress. I was immediately ordered out of the pool and a team came rushing in, gone were the moments of calm, instead there were shouts of instructions, alarm calls, doctors and midwives came rushing in. Once his head was out it was discovered that his cord was wrapped round his neck, tightening and causing him to go into distress. The moments after he was born was an anxious one, we nervously waited as the team with their backs to us tried to get that first breath. You could feel the tension and see the sense of panic until finally there was a squeak – everyones shoulders suddenly relaxed and after a few moments he was handed to me.

Again we were so close, as with Grayson, it could have gone either way, but we were fortunate. And that’s what it comes down to in the end, sometimes there’s nothing we can do, there’s nothing that we did it was just what happens, as unfortunate as it is.

I feel deeply saddened that this has happened to Nicky and Jonathan, no one should ever have to go through this, no one ever deserves such a thing. But out of these dark times they are showing strength, they are wanting to break the silence and the taboo and raise awareness.

” we want pregnant ladies not be afraid to go to the hospital if they are concerned, have the confidence to seek advice and ask questions. We need to break the silence on stillbirths, today it is still a taboo subject but everyday families are going through this heartache. “

I remember feeling like I was a nuisance but I’m glad I was, if I had not ‘bugged’ the midwives would I have carried on in naivety and then not had my boy?

I think their story resonates with me so much because of how close I could have come with both of my boys, although I know this is heartwrenching to read by anyone. From their story I see great strength, I see turning a heartbreaking moment into something positive for others and I hope with all of my heart that their future will be a brighter one with a little bundle in tow.

It’s not something I would normally do but this has touched me so much and I admire the courage that these two have to try and make a difference for others – nothing will ever replace the beautiful boy that they lost but hopefully in time the heartache will be easier to bear and the grief will be lighter to handle, so I am asking you if you could, please read their story and if possible support them in their hopes to bring some light to their dark times. I know that this will touch many hearts as does every story of loss, but keeping it quiet and hidden does nothing for those who are suffering and want/need help. These women need the confidence to speak up without feeling like they are ‘bugging’ anyone, parents need to be acknowledged in these difficult times and these angel babies need a voice.  Please help support Nicky and Jonathan and their son Noah and the many other families who have experienced this.

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“Excuse me is this your child?”

I approached a woman the other day and asked,

“Excuse me, is this your child?”

For a moment I saw her face fall and instinctively I knew what flashed through her mind.

(“Oh shit, what has he done?”)

I could almost sense her heart fall, her stomach turn and that creeping blotchy rash start to spread across her chest, I could almost feel the beads of sweat forming on the back of her neck and her heart start to race.
I could envisage the thoughts crashing through her mind like a stormy sea scrabbling around for the excuses, the come backs, the justifications for whatever had just happened.

The adrenaline starts to surge and this poor woman is ready to enter flight or flight, but I’m not done yet, I had something I wanted to say to this mother and I didn’t want her walking away until I had said it.

You see I had been watching her son with mine and what I saw I had to comment on, I couldn’t just leave it.

“Excuse me, is this your child?”

“Erm yes”

“I just wanted to say what a lovely little boy you have there”

Instantly her shoulders relax, a small sigh of relief escapes her lips and the tense look on her face softens and she breaks out in a shy smile.

“I’ve been watching your son playing with mine for the last 15 minutes and it was such a lovely sight to see.”

For a moment she looked slightly taken aback.

“I said thank you to your son for playing with mine and he said ‘I thought he looked lonely and needed a friend’, he was so sweet helping him up, sitting with him and talking to him, you’re raising such a lovely boy”

The compliment seemed to take her back but I meant every word for I had watched this boy (who was 5 compared to my 2 year old) as he helped lift him up onto the hay bales at the barn. I watched as they sat and chatted together, as they slid down the hay laughing with each other.

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I watched as my son looked up admiringly at this older boy taking him under his wing and follow him around eager to be a part of whatever game was being played. This older boy wasn’t put off by my toddler not being able to fully interact in a conversation, not did he mind lifting him up again and again onto the hay bales. Even when I said to my son that we had to go, this boys face dropped slightly and asked “Can he come back and play later?”. He didn’t just take him under his wing but he liked him being around.

I knew I had to find this boys mum and tell her how sweet her child had been. In a world of shaming and blaming today needed a little happiness and cheer.

It shouldn’t take us by surprise when we receive a compliment, and it shouldn’t feel like a rarity in a sea of negativity that surrounds us. With so many shocking stories in the news, moaning and whining on social media, ranting posts on who may be supporting breastfeeding or not, the “go f@#* yourselves” retorts or the usual corrupt hypocritical politicians, what ever happened to the happily ever after? What ever happened to the light at the end of negative media ralleyed tunnel?

We find it so easy to criticise and complain, to rant and rave but it almost feels too awkward to compliment someone, to say something nice, to tell someone they’ve done well. Well not today, I bounded up to this mum with smiles and compliments and I wanted her to know that at that moment her boy was special and not just to her but to a stranger passing by, and I wanted her to know that she had done good, as this just doesn’t come from nowhere and that needed acknowledgement.

“Well done”

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It’s OK to not always “love” being a mum.

There are many days where being a mum is wonderful, you have these small people who look up to you and think you are the greatest thing that ever existed. You make them laugh proper belly laughs, you get the sweetest of cuddles where they nestle lovingly into your neck and to them you are their superhero, their everything.

Some days your children will make your heart swell with pride and you wonder how you could have possibly truly lived without them in your life.

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And then there are days where you just think “For f@#*s sake…are you shitting me?” It feels like I’ve had a few of those days lately. Overall I do love being a mum, I’d much rather be at home with my boys than slogging away at work not quite feeling appreciated and missing out the time with my two crazies, but some days they literally make me want to bash my own head in.

The littlest one has never been the best sleeper, sometimes I wonder whether it is due to me being too lazy whapping a boob out at every squawk just to shut him up? At first it was what he needed, now….does he really “need” it or am I just his comforter and nothing else will suffice?

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We have been attempting to curb his addiction to his favourite boob and try and get him to settle without it….cue the type of crying/screaming that makes you want to push pins through your ear drums (and I’m pretty hard of hearing at the best of time). Having endured sleepless nights with that noise reverberating round your skull the last thing you want to hear ever is the tell tale whinge and whine that sends prickles down your spine and instantly your back is up.

Mummy walks away – wail

Mummy goes for a wee – wail

Mummy tries to make tea – hangs around ankles and wails

Mummy tries to quickly grab a drink – WAIL

Mummy places littlest one next to her on the sofa – clambers all over, clawing at mummy and….yep wails!!!

Unless I am holding this small creature and involving him in EVERYTHING I do he will just breakdown and emit the siren of despair that makes me feel like I’ve been captured and held hostage and tortured. Why does he do that to me?

Then there’s the napping, God help me this boy needs to sort his napping out, obviously he is tired, he knows it, I know it, he will go down fine but during his sleepy slumber he crawls around his bed, stands up whilst half asleep and starts…. wailing. I have barely gotten down stairs and started the million and one things I need to do that I couldn’t do before because he was clinging to me like a limpet.

Just give me a sodding break!!!

The usual day to day routine sometimes fills me with dread as each Ground hog day moment unfolds in its predictable fashion. Escape to toilet to have wee….in come the boys eager to peer round the toilet and “help” by forcing tissue down any gap that they can find, even whilst I’m mid pee. If I try to shut them out they attempt to break down the door like possessed zombies from the walking dead.

Then we progress to the bathroom to clean our teeth and systematically every bottle, every lotion and potion is emptied out on to the floor creating a death trap of obstacles to step over while trying to reach for safe ground.

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Not to mention when the make up bag gets rifled through and the boys undergo a “make over”.

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Every day we battle through the same explosion of foodie mess where cheerios lay strewn across the floor, down the cracks in the sofa and stuck to the bottom of feet. Half chewed pieces of toast are thrown across the kitchen and rammed down the side of the highchair and for some reason there seems to be more bowls and spoons scattered around the table than members of this household. The never ending cycle of clearing up half chewed food, wiping yogurty smears off the wall and scrubbing the unmoveable scum from under the high chair makes me wonder if this will ever end. At the end of a long day trying to survive the demands of two toddling dictators, clearing up the mess that they have created is the last thing I want to do. Its like a test of strength and endurance, every day I do it and every day it happens again and again – where is my relief?

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It’s the FFS moments when you’ve put on a clean outfit and instantaneously you are tagged with the hallmarks of your toddler’s graffiti of snot, dribble and whatever else they ooze. You can recount the days misadventures from the stains on your clothes, snot – check, half chewed dribbled food – check, tears of despair (yours not theirs) – check, chocolate (please let it be chocolate….phew it’s chocolate, haven’t quite restored to sporting fecal matter smears as my fashion accessory) – check, muddy hand prints – check. Hold on a minute why do they have muddy hands they have a bath EVERY SINGLE day, certainly more opportunities of cleansing than I do, they’ve got no excuse to be unclean. You soon forget what it’s like to truly have a clean outfit and some days its just easier to sniff a top and pick off the worst of the crusty bits before wearing it again, why bother putting on something clean, it will only magnetise the slobbering infants in your direction.

It’s the moments when you “try” to get yourself sorted when the coast seems to be clear only to have the a little angelic voice proclaim sweetly with pride “Mummy I done a big wee on floor”. Just what you need to hear when you’re mid a pits and bits once over, you have to throw on whatever clothing you can quickly find to go and clean up a monstrous puddle of piss, which by the way your child has decided to add things to!! “Look mummy I put sticks in big puddle” (Sticks being broken pieces of spaghetti), all the while the one you’ve left upstairs has gotten into the toilet and is adding whatever he can get his hands on. What started off as 7am in the morning has quickly become 10am and what have you achieved? Naff all apart from a rise in blood pressure and the urge to scream into a pillow.

It’s the arguing over who gets to stick the panty liner on or who wipes my butt…ME!! It’s always me, let me have that shred of dignity!!

It’s the little fingers poking at prodding, pulling at every part of you, ripping out the tiny hairs that makes you squeal, it’s the fingers up the nose, fish hooks in the mouth and the attempt at being curious and “touching” your eyes….get your sodding fingers out of my eyeballs!!! Can literally feel nails scraping across my corneas, how I’m not blind is beyond me!

It’s the constant refereeing trying to stop one from pushing over the other, attempting to show what it means to share, watch it happen for a moment before it descends back into a neanderthal like scuffle over a twig or a stone.

It’s feeling like you’ve been resorted to becoming the mad woman rocking manically in a corner muttering and cursing to yourself whilst nursing a cold cup of scummy tea.

All in all these are not really terrible things to be experiencing, it’s not like I’m being observed and going to be judged when everything seems like its gone to pot – Mothering Skills requires improvement, into special measures you go! I don’t really have deadline to adhere to so when things don’t quite happen as they should c’est la vie, just take a step back and breathe.

There are so many nice moments to enjoy and relish, we needn’t sit and dwell on the shitty things that make us weep into a glass of Gin at 10am, but then we needn’t kid ourselves into thinking we have to love every part of being a mum, some parts of it suck ass and its OK to admit that we don’t always “love” being a mum.

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Give the guy a break!!! Stand together one boob at at time.

OK I don’t know about you or which side of the fence you sit on but I think we need to give Jamie Oliver a break. The guy decided to show support for women, support for mothers, support for breastfeeding mamma’s and what has been the response? A cornucopia of posts, discussions, debates from women who have basically said “what the fuck does he know? he needs to get his nose out from where it doesn’t belong…BACK OFF”

Fair enough he did say that “It’s easy” OK so its not always easy, I can admit to that one. It took me three months to finally feel comfortable breastfeeding my youngest as he had a tight lip tie that we didn’t get seen to, but I persevered, through the pain, the tears and desperation of wanting to give up yet I’m still feeding 13 months on!

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It’s not always what I want to do and it can literally and metaphorically do my tits in but I keep going because “it’s easy”. I don’t have formula to buy, bottles to sterilise, I don’t need gadgets or fancy machinery to boil and cool the water to the right temperature, I don’t need to try a vast array of different bottles and teats to find the right one that works only to waste the others and contribute to the ever growing pile of waste we produce, I don’t need to worry. I just whap out a boob and off we go “it’s more convenient, it’s more nutritious, it’s better, it’s free”. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

I honestly don’t see the problem!

Meals on Heels breastfeeding campaign
Supermum’s all the way. 

Following his initial statement on LBC radio Jamie did state that he was “scrabbling around for more information on this” so he was admitting he didn’t know all that goes on, how could he? he’s a man, he can’t breastfeed, but he’s going out of his way to find out all that he can – don’t castrate the man for trying to be informed oh and wait a minute isnt he a dad??? oh yeah he has four children and Jool’s breastfed so he’s not completely in the dark about what can go on and how hard it can be for us ladies. He did however state that “we have the worst breastfeeding in the world” and that he wanted to “support the women of Britain to breastfeed more, anywhere they want to, be supported, be informed” Jesus!! Quick somebody lynch the guy, he wants to show support!!

It’s not like he’s trying to campaign anything alien here, most new mums “want” to breastfeed and according to the 2010 Infant Feeding Survey;

“results from a poll of more than 10,000 women show 81 in every 100 start breastfeeding, up from 76 in 2005.
But after one week less than half of all new mothers are still exclusively breastfeeding.
And only one in every 100 manage the full recommended six months, the NHS Information Centre found.
This rate has remained static for years, despite repeated public health messages about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for six months for infant health.”

So come on guys seriously? what’s with the backlash, the manbashing, the insults and the “go back to what you do best” kind of thing. What is wrong with someone standing up and supporting women? What is wrong with a MAN standing up and wanting to support women? (Emma Watson, this is great example for the “HeforShe” campaign) What is wrong with someone using the media spotlight for a worthy supportive cause? It’s not like he’s using his position as a role model for the younger generation to air naked selfie’s!! Jamie has brought to light that there are issues with breastfeeding, maybe we don’t need to hear so much about the benefits as we all seem to know those right??? I mean I’m practically a size 8 from losing all my baby weight from breastfeeding **complete lie but what there does seem to be a need for is the focus on is why is there a drop in the percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfeed? What seems to be the actual problem? What can be done there to help?

We seem to have gone and got our knickers in a twist about this but I think we are missing a great opportunity here. Seems to me like we are never happy. Moral outrage when a mother is cast out of a restaurant or asked to cover up, feed in a toilet blah blah, then outrage when someone voices a positive opinion and rally us breasties together to create an informed, supportive and educated group of women who want to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding in public: New poster campaign shows babies fed in public toilets
The best seat in the house!!

I know not every woman can breastfeed, for whatever circumstance there is whether through illness, latch issues, tongue/lip ties, mastitis, low supply….the list goes on but would some of us have breastfed for longer if there was more help? Less mum shaming? More confidence with breastfeeding in public?

I am fortunate that a) I don’t really give a crap what anyone else thinks when I breastfeed but b) I do live in a town where support seems to be fairly readily available, there are the Facebook groups, breastfeeding peer support workers, easy access to the infant feeding team, quick referrals for tongue tie issues, breastfeeding groups that we can go to. But does every one have access to that kind of support? Even as I type this campaign groups are trying to keep our local Children’s Centre’s open, not only are they are vital resource of help, advice and community spirit for families they are also a place to go, regularly for us breastfeeding mamma’s, and what’s happening to them? They are being shut down due to government cuts, how is that supporting women, parents, and children – surely this should have had more of a shine to it in the media spotlight but instead we have focused our efforts on the wrong person.

Whether we like it or not, Jamie does do good, his campaigns are totally for the right reasons, boo hoo our kids can’t eat turkey twizzlers for school dinners and fizzy drinks will cost more – GOOD!! I am sick of seeing kids queuing up outside of the shops early in the morning on the way to school filling their bags with bottle after bottle of fizzy drinks to “fuel” them through the day, as a teacher it does my head in watching children descend into a state of sugar induced chaos whilst they get their fix and vacate their brains away from what they should be doing. A school should be feeding our children healthy and nutritious food that fuels them for the day, giving them the energy to concentrate, for some children this may be the only decent meal that they get so let it be a balanced, healthy one.

Now Jamie and Jools are expecting again, it won’t be long before all the woes of having a newborn are thrust back into their lives once again and all this will become even more relevant. Despite being a celebrity couple Jools has had the usual breastfeeding issues in the past with her previous children from cracked nipples to bout after bout of Mastitis and I’m sure she’s not one to shy and hide away the pain and torture of it all for dear ol’ Jamie.

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Another baby on the way!

So come on girls give the guy a break and lets welcome him, support him supporting us, lets try and make a difference together one boob at a time.

 

A for effort!
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ethannevelyn

Time to turn a blind eye and not give a f*#$

The wonders of smartphones means EVERYTHING is at your finger tips, banking – done, emails – checked, Facebook- scrolled, shopping – ordered. It’s all there but so is the constant stream of articles, blogs (ahem ooops), advice, forums, and instagrammed perfect lives, sometimes it all gets a bit too much.

I’ve seen some posts recently on various topics and each time I’ve read them and thought “shit…I don’t do that” *cue tidal wave of mummy guilt.

1. Extended rear facing car seats….bollocksed that one right away, since we had our second boy any trip in the car resulted in screaming meltdowns. The smallest one would not be comforted by the lull of a humming engine…nope he screamed and screamed and screamed.
One day I tried him in his brothers seat and voila…not.a.peep. so there we were, 10 months old and we are ordering a second forward facing car seat, now both our delightful offspring were facing the world head on.

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Finally I was free from nearly crashing the car everytime I got behind the wheel because the stress of screaming would make each journey torturous. Now it’s been replaced with the extreme guilt of knowing that if we are in a crash and the boys are hurt it will be our fault because we didn’t choose rear facing – fuck!!!

2. Putting to sleep on their front – yep we disobeyed the rules with that one 😯 after weeks and weeks of the youngest one refusing to sleep on his back and waking as soon as you attempted to turn him over we decided to try him on his front….well it wasn’t a eureka moment because he would sleep beautifully lying on me but we did it, we put him down to bed on his front and what did we get????sleep!!!

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So once again there was the feeling of relief for having something that worked, however what instantly replaced that relief was guilt, anxiety and a creeping feeling of overwhelming paranoia. Excellent now I was worrying about whether our little bundle of joy was going to still be breathing when I checked on him. Cue the sensor mat and the odd moment where I would sit and listen to him breathing whilst placing a hand on his back just to double check he was still alive!!

3. Food, processed food!!! Well having read an article recently on a mum who follows a paleo diet and so does her daughter it got me thinking about how much processed food do my littles consume? Do they have a lot? *as I ponder whilst making a ham sandwich. Do they eat too much sugar? *as I let my eldest have a Kinder bar!! Oh wait what did they have for breakfast? Oh yeah Honey Cheerios. *face palm!!
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I know I make every effort to ensure the evening meal has an abundance of vegetables in it, lunch I try and put a couple in there like beans, peas or sweetcorn but am I doing enough?? Probably not, I’m no Annabel Karmel but I am trying my best to feed them a well balanced diet.

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4. Activities – pinterest is great for ideas but then also a bitch for making you feel guilty, I do lots of messy, sensory play,

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I encourage drawing and painting, I’m all for role play with trains, the kitchen, cars, teddies. I even let my eldest help out in the kitchen with cooking and baking but what about other activities? What about the paid groups and the classes? Weeeeeellll I do one or two, ok so I did one or two, now I pay for soft play places or use our annual zoo pass or stick with playdates.

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I’ve always been hesitant about signing up for classes that are over a term etc, what if your child is ill, you’re away, your child doesnt like it or you just can’t be arsed to go that day? Maternity pay doesn’t stretch far and I’m not exactly rolling in money to just waste it so I’ve not signed up for any fixed classes just PAYG ones. Are my boys missing out? Have I restricted their development by not doing such things? Should they be joining in with Forest schools, swimming lessons and gymnastics??? Maybe but it doesn’t have to be right now, they have years of being a child, years to explore and try new things.

5. Kids/baby fashion – now I LOVE Instagram, I’m an instagrammer, I’m a follower, I’m a poster and I do love seeing cute outfits from little boutique businesses, it’s great seeing the funky ideas that I could be dressing my boys in but do I succumb to it….no 😯 I want to. I want to buy the boys cool patterned leggings with slogan tops, I want them to masquerade around in something other than their standard joggers and T’s or hand me downs but I can’t justify it. I can’t justify spending money on clothes that I know will get food smeared all over it and crawled about in. Unless these were outfits that they wore for being showcased in (which is never, as soon as I let them out of the house they find mud or puddles or muddy puddles!!). I sometimes feel a pang of guilt that I don’t bother dressing my boys in anything other than what is available in the Tu clothing range – at 25% off mind you. But why am I feeling guilty? They’re clothed aren’t they, they don’t give a monkeys what they are wearing, they still look smart what am I worrying about. Love is based on the clothes they wear…Haha remind me of that when they are teenagers 😉

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The ONE pair of funky boutique leggings we own.

6. Capturing the moment – I’ve had good intentions of trying to document my pregnancies but failed with both, two prem babies meant my bump shoots were never made a reality, I think I have approximately 6 photos from BOTH pregnancies. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of shoots done after each of the boys was born and a first birthday shoot for my eldest but other than that it’s just the good ol’ camera phone.

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I’ve tried to fill in the baby journals but end up stopping and starting trying to remember when they first sat up/smiled/slept through blah blah….Maybe I need these milestone cards that I’ve seen flying around – that would require a little more organisation as opposed to snapping and posting on various social media platforms. What if the boys ask about all these important moments? I might be able to dig out a photo of them doing these things but could I place a date/age for these memories??? Will the boys think less of me as a mother because I haven’t documented when they said their first word or ate their first piece of broccoli? Maybe I should collate all the pictures on the various social media platforms and try to create some sort of time line. …Yeah I’ll do that when I’ve got some free time!?!?

7. Getting back in shape – have I cleansed recently? been to a baby exercise class? joined the gym? gone on juicing diet? I’m going to be honest I’m lazy, I like my food. I have taken up running and I try to go once or twice a week

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but I use this as an excuse to keep eating the cake and chocolate but it seems like all around me I see mum’s bouncing back into shape, slipping into their skinny jeans sans shape wear, some I’ve seen rocking a two piece on the beach….a bikini body post baby what the….!!! Man I wish I had the determination to sort myself out and sometimes the pangs of guilt do hit me as I’m reaching for the chocolate but then that evil little voice whispers “you only live once, eat that chocolate if you want it”.
I’m not obese or out of shape so I’m not worried about myself from a health point of view it’s more from a vanity point of view.
Us women are supposed to have it all, the kids, the money, the picture perfect lifestyle whilst rocking a killer body. Well let’s put it this way I have the kids!!

8. There’s many more out there but the last one that sticks out at me from something that I’ve read recently was a blog post on “what would you do?” The general gist of the post was about what would you do if you had to go into the shop to pay for petrol and you had the kids with you in the car? My first thought was lock the car and go into the shop and pay for my fuel, I would be a matter of a couple of minutes, boom, bam, bosh I’m on my way. Well after reading that particular post and the comments attached to it I felt like the biggest shit of a mum. Everyone was screaming “how could you leave your child?” “there are some horrible people in this world” “what if there was a fire?” “what kind of mother leaves their child in the car alone?” “what if they started choking?”. Well normally I pay at the pump or I would wait until I didn’t have the boys with me, but my thoughts clashed with everyone else’s, how could I think such a thing? How could I call myself a mother?

Then I realised I’m not the only one thinking like I do, I’m not a shit mum, I’ve got nothing to feel guilty about, I love my boys, I do my best, they are happy, safe, well fed, in clean clothes and do plenty. I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got, I give them as much as I can and let them experience as many things as possible so I’m going to turn a blind eye to all the advice, must haves, must do’s and not give a f*#$ because no one is going to love these boys as much as I do.

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 Mums In The Know Super Blogger

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ethannevelyn

A little ‘thank you’ would be nice.

So I’m hiding away in bed as all three boys have migrated downstairs and inevitably football will be put on and I don’t really want to watch football, I don’t really want to be responsible just yet, I don’t want to listen to the whines and demands from small people, I don’t want to start the day of juggling who has my attention first, I just want to hide for a moment longer.

I am thankful for small moments like this as I don’t get many child free opportunities before I am pounced upon, slimed all over and scaled like a tree from two monkey like creatures. Yet as I sit here in my moment of calm and I think about what needs to be done today, what shopping needs to be bought, what meals to be made and I wonder does the other half of the adult part of this household think the same??? **

I write this as I feel a little unjust now and again as to how I’m the one who does most of the thinking, prepping, doing (maybe this is more to do with fluctuating hormones than an unfair split of the “chores”). Its been stated to me before “that is your job” as I’m the stay at home parent but a little heartfelt thanks now and again wouldn’t go amiss especially recently with our travelling dramas trying to get to Center Parcs.

Thank you for all the laundry that’s washed and ironed and put away. OK yes he does help to fold now and again but sometimes his “folding” is just laying items of clothing on top of one another which then requires actual folding when they are placed away into drawers. Maybe I need to not leave it until it gets to this point.

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Thank you keeping the fridge stocked, meals planned and snacks in the cupboards for when he needs his 8pm fix of nibbles and sweets.

Thank you for the meals made each day, even when I can’t be arsed I still knock up something for us all to eat conscious of the number of vegetables needed to consume to warrant it being a healthy meal.

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Thank you for breastfeeding for over a year, saving him getting up in the night to do feeds. I’m not discounting the times he’s gotten up to fetch a small child to me because those few moments are a saving grace on top of having to feed, but he’s not had to offer his breast and freeze his arse off whilst trying to keep a small child quiet, fed and sleepy.

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Thank for cleaning multiple times a day, I know it doesn’t look like it when he walks through the door but I’ve cleaned, wiped, sprayed, organised and swept at least twice if not three times in a day just so we can have a house that doesn’t look like we have been completely ransacked.

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*disclosure: I am sometimes the instigator of mess by encouraging messy play so I do bring that upon myself.

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Thank you for ensuring there are plenty of nappies and wipes ordered when stocks diminish, no there isn’t a magic nappy fairy that delivers these wonders.

Thank you for just getting on with dealing with life when he’s staying away with work. Yes it’s work but it’s still a full nights sleep undisturbed, a restaurant meal, time alone, opportunities to enjoy the gym/pool/sauna/jacuzzi/run by the beach, I KNOW it’s work but there are some good perks there, there are no such perks with my “work”.

Thank you for always making sure the boys have clothes that fit and all the while wanting to buy nice pretty things for them I remain sensible and resort to waiting patiently for Sainsburys 25% off clothes sales to kit them out, dreaming of a day when I can buy them something that isn’t just from a supermarket.

Thank you for all the prepping and planning for the recent break away to Center Parcs, the time spent online ordering, shopping and packing all while I had both boys to entertain everyday over the half term holiday.

Thank you for thinking of ways to solve problems we encountered whilst trying to go to Center Parcs itself with the car breaking down. Pass me my cape I’m supermum today.

Thank you for single handedly fixing the roof box to the car (okay I have to give him his dues he did start fixing it but I had to take over as things weren’t going to plan and stress levels were high enough.)

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Thank you for fitting everything into the car while juggling a small monster who didn’t want to leave mummy.

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Thank you for making breakfast everyday whilst we were away, no relaxing for mummy on such breaks away but still delivering gastronomical goodness.

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Thank you for taking the boys to a party and giving you almost five and half hours to yourself because you felt unwell. (Although thanks to hubby for walking and showering the dogs and making some tea for the boys for when we got home that was very much appreciated.)

Thank you for planning Christmas and birthdays, buying the presents and cards for all the family and the boys, buying the celebratory food, making the meals, making the cakes.

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Actually maybe this doesn’t need a thank you as I choose to plan parties, make invites and make the cakes for the boys, this isn’t a necessity this is me making work for myself, will I learn? Nope because I enjoy doing these sorts of things, just because I do them doesn’t mean I should get thanks for it so scrap that one.

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The list could go on but then it would seem like I do everything and dear ol’ hubby does nothing which isn’t true, he does do things, he’s very good at doing things, he does help out a lot, he is a great dad.

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** I can hear the dishwasher being loaded and nappies being changed. (I was selfishly kind of hoping that if I stayed up here long enough I would be brought a cup of tea so I could end this post with “aaaw he’s a good egg really” but he hasn’t quite mastered mind reading, maybe next time 😉)

I guess I’m just wanting a little recognition for what I have done especially more so recently because it feels like I’ve worked my ass off.

Maybe I’m being really selfish, why am I asking for thanks for things that I’m doing to make my own life easier and for things that need to be done anyway? If I was single parent and doing all of this who would be thanking me then???

I guess it boils down to this being my “job” as it were and sometimes it’s nice to feel recognised with the efforts you make, the time you give and the sacrifices you make, I’m not asking for much, just a little “Thank you” here and there.
But have I actually thanked my husband for going to work each day and bringing home a pay packet?!?!? Have I considered the time away from the boys he has to sacrifice because of the early starts and late finishes and the nights away, have I thought about all the times he’s missed and memories he’s not been part of because he’s the one that is going to work whilst I stay at home. Now there’s food for thought.

So maybe amongst the whinging and whining and the tales of “woe is me, isn’t life so hard being a stay at home mum” maybe I need to take a step back and give thanks and appreciate that at least I’m not at work right now – extended maternity leave = amazing, going back to work soon = sucks, but being a dad who’s missed out on all that I’ve had with the boys = heartbreaking at times.

Maybe we need to give each other a moment to say a little “Thank You” and show our appreciation for what we do for our family, it’s so easy to get swept along in the day to day things and feel like you’re the only one swimming against the tide but is that really what’s going on? Probably not, we have our strengths within a relationship and family, some are the day to day things, some are the things you don’t see. Sometimes you need to stop, look, appreciate and be thankful for what’s around you.

“Thank you, keep up the good work, you’re doing great”

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ethannevelyn

Putting baby on the shelf.

So we’ve been enjoying our stay at Center Parcs this week with lots of sunshine, playing on the beach,

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We’ve enjoyed walks in the sunshine and spotting all the animals that scurry about but most of all we’ve enjoyed the pool.

We’ve been swimming inside and out, going down slides and rapids and generally just splashing about, it’s all been great until we get to the changing room.

So the changing rooms are equipped with family changing cubicles with baby change shelves and a larger amount of room to move about in, all well and good. But when there are two children to dry and dress, one of which will be confined to the changing shelf, the other worming around and trying to explore every corner of the limited space there is, usually round by the bin area, things can become a little flustered, nevermind the fact that you also need to put clothes on!

So we’ve already wrangled the boys out of their wetsuits and into a dressing gown before we’ve left the poolside – Boom!! Winning. They are practically dry before we’ve even found a cubicle.

So now we have to get them dressed, the eldest is not so bad, it’s mainly the littlest one who is confined to the shelf.

So the littlest one HATES lying down for his nappy to go on, to limit screaming I put his nappy on whilst he stands up, fine until he lurches in a different direction to where I’m trying to put his nappy on, then he attempts to try and scale my upper body to get even closer to my face than he ready is, all while I’m trying to force small defiant limbs into vests and joggers.

In a bid to make the changing process quicker I’ve undressed and wrapped myself in a towel hoping to be dry once I’ve finished wrestling a small mound of wriggly flesh….cue towel slipping off and standing butt naked all while still wrestling with said small child.

“Look mummy’s big bottom”

Cheers son, just what I wanted shouted in the changing rooms.

Anyway so now I’m stood starkers putting on the littlest one’s socks and shoes, he’s spotted a rogue boob swinging about and is attempting to grab a nipple, pincer like pinch and I’m muffling a squeal.

“Wiggle wiggle” as I feel two little hands jiggle my bottom and slap my thighs- the two year old has escaped and is roaming free and is slapping my cold bare slightly damp arse.

The littlest one has now pulled off one shoe and sock and is sucking on said sock whilst I groan, give up and attempt to dress myself.

Now this requires the fastest of dressing as my youngest has decided he wants to explore what’s over the side of his containment shelf. One arm is out creating a barrier whilst the other hand is attempted to loop knickers round my ankles and pull them up one handed, next is the skinny jeans….slight damp legs and skinny jeans DO NOT mix. I attempt to use my own body as a barrier to stop my one year old from toppling over the edge of the baby change which results in me bent over wrestling on my jeans with a one year old attempting to crawl onto my back.

Two year old comes over whilst I’m bent over “oooh mummy’s boobies” and swings them about. I feel abused right now and disgusted that my boobs “swing” so much – like spaniels ears in the wind just flapping about – damn you breastfeeding!!!

Once I’ve finally wiggled into my jeans I’ve just the last hurdle, putting my top on. This will require not having my eyes on either child for a few seconds – doesn’t help when I try to push my head through the arm of my top. As soon as I poke my head through I am greeted by my one year old lurching towards me with a soggy sock in his mouth and he grapples round my neck. I forget my own socks and just throw my boots barefoot whilst being mid strangle and forced to eat a sock that has been pushed into my face.

As I throw everything into the bag and scurry out of the cubicle I observe in envy women who are blow drying and brushing their hair and touching up their makeup, I on the otherhand literally look like I’ve been dragged upstream as hair is still plastered to my forehead. I have a small child under one arm who’s adamant that he wants to look at the floor and a two year old running on ahead amongst the sea of bodies millingvabout as I carry the bag of wet swim stuff and towels, I quickly realise I’m feeling a little “swingy” and realise the “ears” are free and I am bra less…well at least I have my knickers on!

Just your usual trip to the pool. #alwaystheglamourmum
#spanieleartits

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The pincher of nipples.

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Pass me my cape – I’m supermum today.

So in theory going on a Centre Parcs holiday should be a little less stressful than trying to negotiate planes, airports, transfers, lost luggage scenarios but today’s antics have completely disproved that theory.

Now I am an organised person, in fact you could say I border on being a little bit anally retentive when it comes to being organised for going away.

I had my online shopping ordered and scheduled for delivery for Saturday evening, giving me chance to get last minute bits on Sunday if required. Meals had been planned, laundry washed and ironed, outfits coordinated and planned for each day including spare outfits in case of spills/poonamis. I had a case for clothes, bag for toiletries, box of toys and books, swim bag was packed. I had it covered.

The only thing that needed to be done this morning was put the chilled food and toiletries in the car, wipe the sides down and mop the floor – outfits were laid out last night so once breakfast had been smeared all over the boys they just had to be wiped down and changed, plonked in the car and off we go.

Did that happen?

Did it bollocks!!!!

Four hours behind schedule, unpacking one car and repacking into another we are finally on our way. I’ve even succumbed to peer pressure from dear hubby and I’m shoving a Big Mac into my face.

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So what has caused such a delay to a well organised plan….

Children going wild??? nope

Bad night with the boys??? nope

Forgetting something vitally important??? Erm of course not!!

No it was our trusty family car that had decided the day before out of nowhere to suddenly not start. Ah just needs a jump start, call out breakdown….jump starts car, hubby goes off for half and hour or more to charge the battery. I go to do a couple of errands later on. …car still won’t start, call breakdown out again!!
This time it’s 8pm on a Sunday night, I’ve spent all day running around like a mad woman trying to get everything together so we have a quick smooth start to our journey the next day and now the car still won’t start.

Mechanic comes out, he’s slightly baffled, jump starts car, informs hubby to leave the engine running for thirty minutes. His advice, set alarm for 6.30am if it doesn’t start call breakdown again and hopefully the next mechanic can change the battery for a new one.

Did the car start this morning???

Obviously not, otherwise I wouldn’t be prattling on about it now. So cue a stressed hubby who’s now ringing car garages, trying to think of a plan B as all our stuff will NOT fit in my little Citroën C3, not with two car seats and two adults.  “We will have to hire a car” he suggests, quick Google and that plan is out of the window, no cars available until Wednesday – shit!!
“call your sister and see if she can divert here” I had already preempted my sister that I may call on her but seeing as it would be a 4 hour diversion, then another two hours driving to centre parcs, I wanted to avoid that if I could…but she was on standby.

Then a thought hit me, my moment to shine came. “What about the roof box in the garden??” I suggested. “Let’s see if we can get that to fit”

So off I trudged, baby in one arm, roof box bar in the other and off I went, yep that’s right this super mum pulled out the leaf covered, spider and slug infested roof box, wiped it down and fitted it to the car, whilst simultaneously juggling a small child who was adamant he was not leaving mummy’s side

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(said nice clean outfit had now been ruined both his and mine). But who cares I found a solution to our shitty problem, now all we needed to do was get the “family” car into the garage and dogs to the kennels and we were finally onto a winner. Fortunately this supermum called upon the powers of another and she too donned her cape and came to rescue as she escorted dear hubby around whilst I packed eveything into my little car, tidied the house AGAIN. Finally there was light at the end of the tunnel.

So here we are four hours behind schedule in my tiny little C3 bombing down the A50 with roof box packed, the littlest one sleeping in the back and a Maccies on my knee.

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Think I deserve my glass of bubbles tonight, in the meantime the boys couldn’t care less what’s gone on this morning, the eldest has even donned his “cool hat” and is munching on his fries – don’t judge this is his first McDonald’s!

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Now where can I hang my cape? This supermum is now on holiday!!

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