Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Certified Bonkers - I am going to TTC again!

Amidst all the excitement of our busy July, I experienced my first fertile moments since the last miscarriage. I really thought I was over it. That I had accepted that it was all over. I have sold things on ebay - big things like the high chair for example. I was happy to clear stuff out, make space in our house  and get ready for the move overseas.

But hormones are powerful things.

Though it didn't happen in the first month after the miscarriage, leading me into a false sense of security, this time the sudden urge to get pregnant again was huge! DD was actually here that weekend - and had it not been BB's Birthday, or if PP hadn't been here too, I would have suggested another attempt there and then. But, I didn't. I thought it would pass - but instead I was left with huge pangs of regret. Another egg missed, another chance gone. That would have been the best time too, capitalising on the heightened fertility after the miscarriage...

I ended up ringing DD on the following Monday and asking him if he would consider it. He agrees I am bonkers, but said yes. We had a long conversation and both agreed that it does still feel like someone is missing. I always thought there should be two. BB has been saying over and over that he wants me to have another baby. He even pretends to pull one out of my tummy. He says he wants a baby and a sister. I think what he has in mind is an older sister, plus a baby, but still.

During our conversation DD said that he thought the fact that I am still breastfeeding BB was the cause of my miscarriages. I think he's probably wrong. There is no evidence anywhere that I can find that breastfeeding causes miscarriage. I do have a regular cycle, so it is not impacting on my fertility in that way. I told him all of this and he says that perhaps I am an anomaly. I decided to investigate further. If that is the reason then I should seriously consider stopping breastfeeding.

Once more my research turned up again and again that breastfeeding does not cause miscarriage. The most likely cause of my miscarriages is my age. I am fully aware of this. My eggs just aint what they used to be. What I did find though, was that breastfeeding can decrease progesterone levels, and that low progesterone is a common cause of miscarriage. It seems generally accepted that the reduction in progesterone caused by breastfeeding is not enough to cause miscarriage, but, having read of all the signs and symptoms,  I do think I have low progesterone. I think I should try and correct that.

So I set to work on Dr Google, researching all sorts of things about progesterone, how to increase it, balance out oestrogen, a few more studies digested, a bit more self diagnosis. I found a really great website, Miscarriage Research which has pulled together the findings of lots of different studies on miscarriage in a brilliantly accessible way. Thank you to whoever put all that together, its a fantastic resource.

From here I also started to investigate some micronutrients. Some supplements are recommended in some studies to increase progesterone, others in general. I decided that I could possibly have some deficiencies. Biotin for example - apparently only 2 % of pregnant or breastfeeding or pre menopausal women were found to have adequate biotin levels in one study. Biotin is also found in grains and legumes. So as a a premenopausal, breastfeeding, recently pregnant woman who doesn't eat many grains or legumes you can pretty much bet I am low on that. Look at the symptoms of low biotin and insulin resistance is one of the main ones. I have that. So I am now taking biotin supplements (and a few others!).

I have been taking a pregnancy and breastfeeding multi vitamin for ages too. I thought this meant I was covered. I am not sure why I was so naive - I am biological scientist, I constantly research nutrition and read scientific studies on all sorts of things related to human development, physical and psychological health and wellbeing- but for some reason I missed this. Looking at the recommended dose and the levels that are supplied in the multi vitamins, they are a fairly pointless waste of money. Only folate levels meet the nutritional requirements as evidenced by the studies I have read.

So, I have shelled out heaps on vitamins. I have been taking them all for a couple of weeks. I figured I would give myself a good dose of all the things that research and my own knowledge of my health and diet suggest I might be needing, to boost my supplies. I have been doing this for just over two weeks and I can tell you feel sooooo much better for it. My skin is clearer, I have more energy, I am sleeping better, I am 100 times happier. I will continue with the current regime until I get pregnant, then I will review it again.

I also invested in some progesterone cream. There are mixed opinions as to whether supplemental progesterone can help prevent miscarriage. Most of it says it can, but some says that low progesterone is an early symptom of miscarriage rather than a cause. In the UK it is very hard to get a progesterone test. I know in the US and Australia, where many of you reading this are located, it is routine, but in the UK there is no maternal care under 12 weeks, you are totally on your own, even in miscarriage. There are forums full of women who have had repeated miscarriage who have asked for an investigation into their progesterone levels and been denied this by their GP. It's simply not a part of our health service. Although we can't access progesterone supplements (unless we buy them on lie from China) we can get a progesterone cream which is created for menopausal women. A lot of research suggests that progesterone is better taken this way rather than orally anyway, and the dose is lower and the side effects much less. Lots of people in the forums seem to go on to have full term healthy pregnancies after a series of losses when using this particular bio identical brand. Research indicates that use for a short period of time will be of no harm to me, or to BB, so it seems like its worth a go. I have some to use for the second half of this current cycle.

And so... here we go again.

I feel healthy, happy and like its definitely worth another go. I feel good. I feel strong enough to miscarry again. Obviously I hope that I don't, but I think getting to the point where I feel I can cope with it if I do is the essential milestone here. There is someone missing in our family. I need to give them a chance, and I hope she or he finds us soon.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Big July

July was a busy month in the Blissful House, as evidenced by my absence form the blogosphere.

We discovered Church Farm. I am going to write a separate post about that sometime, but in the meantime it is brilliant, by far the best Children's Farm we have been to.  In short there are animals to view and pet, brilliant indoor and outdoor play areas, tractor rides, woods, cafe...

BB went to his first Disco - the end of term party at his swimming club. I love this place. Its the local Virgin Active centre. The swimming lessons are great, but what I like about it most is that it is a really family friendly place. If we lived closer we'd be members, but as it is, we just travel there once a week.

Yes that's him and Lily again!
Then BB turned three and we had his Birthday Party. A small affair at home in the garden, with about 6 kids and their parents, plus our family. We ended up with 24 people in total, ranging from 9 weeks to 99 years old. It was fun. Thankfully the weather held out for us too or my tiny house would have been bursting at the seams.

Yep - Lily again!

Then 2 days after BB turned 3 my Nana turned 99! She is an incredible woman - still living in her own home, though really she would be better off in a home with people to take care of her and others to talk to - but she doesn't think so. She thinks they are places people go to die - so she's not going!

Then we had some of BB's Australian family come to visit us for a few days. We took them out and about the local area. Showing them Sandringham Woods, Norfolk Lavender, Cromer, Wells, Stamford and Burghley House. BB also went on his first ever fairground ride at Cromer Beach.

In summary, it was a busy but brilliant month. 

Amidst all this - I decided to TTC again! More on that in another post to follow.

Monday, July 21, 2014

BB is three!

You are three? How can that be? This means I have been a mum for 3 years! I can't believe how fast that time has flown, but at the same time it is almost impossible to remember what my life was like before you came.

A snapshot of you right now.

Just after eating Birthday Cake!

Physically: You still have your longish blondish curlyish hair, and in the last year you have really slimmed down to be more boy like and less baby like. You weigh about 16kg and are 96 cm tall. 

Your favourite colour is blue.

Your favourite foods are mango, pomegranate, sausages, and fruit corner yoghurts.

Your have discovered you first ever favourite song, Bruno Mars, Locked out of Heaven, and like to play it over and over. You call it "da da da".

You just learnt to swim on your own with arm bands, and got your ducklings 1 badge at swimming lessons.

You also went back to Tumble Tots after a little break and love that again too.

Your best friends are Noah, who you have been at nursery with for almost two years, and Lily who you have been swimming with since you were babies. You also still love Gracie from Australia, even though you've not seen her in person for a year. We Skype and you send gifts and pictures to each other.

You had a little time where you didn't enjoy nursery, turns out some kids were hitting you and pushing you. Once you told me, I stopped you going on the day they were there and sent you only when Noah was there and the bullies were not, and now you love it again. 

You start pre-school in September. Wow! I think you might like it as when we went to look around you didn't want to leave. 

You have an incredible vocabulary. Even I wonder where you get it from. You use many long descriptive words in perfect context which surprises many people.

You LOVE trains. Oh how much you love trains. You have train sets, remote control train, talking trains. You role play trains, by yourself if you have to, but whenever possible you bring other people in to your game. Often, but not always, you are the driver. We go to the train station to drop off and collect people and we stand around watching trains. We wait by train lines and wave. The other day a driver even beeped his horn at you. You also like watching videos of other peoples trains on YouTube! That is a bit nerdy. The Accidents Happen videos like this one appeal to you most, and you have just started setting up your own accident scenes. 

You love investigating how things work. Especially wheels and levers. You like watching trucks unload skips and you love watching the bin men and the rubbish truck.

You still sleep in my bed. I love it when you wake up and smile at me, and when you sleepily nestle in next to me and say "cuddle me".

You still breastfeed too- first thing in the morning, after breakfast and a bed time.

You still wear nappies, though you are generally dry at night, you just haven't mastered the potty or loo yet and are worried about doing a wee on the floor. I think you'll get there soon with that one. You do take yourself into the bathroom to practice now.

Your favourite TV shows at the moment are Abney and Teal, Bing, Boj and The Lingo Show

You also love anything about the sea, you like sea books, pictures of sea creatures, we recently went to the aquarium in London. The penguins were your favourite thing on the day. 

You love exploring new places. We have a little game where we are always looking for new playgrounds. We look out for then wherever we go. There are so many. You like climbing, balancing, and jumping. You are also happy to sit in a swing with me pushing you for ages. Some "round and round" things really appeal to you too. 

You have a scooter and a balance bike, both of which you are still learning to master, but you like them both a lot. 

Your favourite author is Julia Donaldson, The Snail and the Whale, Room on the Broom and Giant in Town are your favourites. I think it's from these books that you have learned a love of rhyme and rhythm. You now make your own language that follows these rules. 

You ask some difficult questions that I sometimes can't answer, and surprise me with your insight. For example the other day we saw a van you didn't recognise and asked me what it was - it was a library van. I explained that in villages, like where Mama and Chaps live, there is no library so a mobile one comes to the village. "Huh??" You said, incredulously "how can the books stay on the shelves when the driver goes around a corner ?" We will check out a library van one day and see. 

You love singing, though you call it songing, and frequently make your own songs, often about trains. When your made up song is finished, you often ask "do you know that one?" 

You are a joker too. You like to do silly things, like if I ask you to put your shorts on you might put them on your head and say " is this right? " , or you will go upside down and then look at me and say "what are you doing upside down mummy? "

You have always liked to get out and about - this hasn't changed. Your first question after booby every morning is "Where are we going today?"

You don't want to grow big. You have noticed that you are getting bigger. When you sit on the booby chair sideways your legs no longer fit. "Why am I getting bigger?" you ask. I talk to you again about how kids grow. You don't like it. You have mentioned it many times that you don't want to get bigger. You don't like it when people tell you you are a big boy, or that you are getting a big boy, or talk to you about when you will be a big boy. "But, I want to be little" you say, because you like being with me and big boys go without their mummy, and because you like booby, and because you don't want to go to school or do wees in the toilet. Though I feel a little sad that you already have worries about the future, I love that your love your life so much right now. It's a good lesson to me to be in the present moment with you. Thank you.

Thank you too for spending another year with me. I feel so lucky, you have taught me a lot already and you are brilliant company.

"Team Work" 
(that's what you say when you hold up cups together, like when grown ups say cheers! I think you got it from Bob the Builder).

Here are some photos from the last year.

A selfie - taken on a punt in Cambridge - July 2013

I think Auntie Katie put this flower in your hair
August 2013

Being the "Shop Man" - you love to have a veggie or
Ice cream shop in the play house
September 2013

Another selfie with Mummy - it was a lovely sunny day and the leaves were falling.
We both rolled in the crunchy leaves leaves that day
October 2013

On Holiday in Wales in November 2013

Lunch with Mummy, just before Christmas 2013

One of Mummy's very best friends got sick and you got your
Dr Kit out to make her better - Jan 2014

In the dinosaur suit that Auntie Katie sent you from
"The Bodia" (Cambodia) Feb 2014

In the Daffodils at Mama and Chaps' House - I like this one
because I think you look like me when I was little
March 2014

You liked sitting on this Tractor outside the supermarket.
We never did put money in, as you get scared when
they move - April 2014

Helping me photograph stuff to sell on ebay - this is
the old Chicken food bin - May 2014

Dancing with Lily at Sophia's Birthday Party.
You LOVE Lily - June 2014

Playing in the sand pit at Church Farm - July 2014

And here are a few from your party

Playing in the garden

The Cake - Made by Mum and decorated by Dad

More Cakes - this time by Auntie Helen

Singing Happy Birthday to You

You and Lily

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Tallest Sunflower Competition

A while back BB and I were asked if we were interested in entering a tallest sunflower competition. We both enjoy playing with dirt and growing things, so we said yes.

At the beginning of May a package arrived containing garden tools, five pots and five seeds.

Sadly we didn't get off to a great start, as four of the five pots were cracked. Still, we found some similar ones in the shed, and a few days later we were given the go ahead to plant our seeds. We then placed them on a sunny windowsill with some tomato seeds we planted a few days earlier.

Then our second misfortune. Only one germinated, and to be fair, it didn't really look very healthy either, but it clung on and we nurtured it as best we could, watering it and turning it around on the windowsill every day until it was ready to plant outside. We planted it out early one morning at the beginning of June, and BB watered it well

This is how our sorry sunflower looks today. Not as tall as BB yet, so I'd estimate it's about 90 cm, and propped up with a stick. I'm guessing we may not be the winners of this competition!

Monday, July 7, 2014

“Can I Help?” — Getting Kids to Help In the Kitchen

Image by Rachel Tayse, used under Creative Commons licence.

Cooking with kids might spell disaster with a capital ‘D’, but, actually, it’s a fun and rewarding experience that teaches kids life skills and raises their awareness about healthy eating. In the fast food- and convenience meal-culture of today, many children grow up without having learned to cook even the most simple of dishes, or with no idea where their food comes from. Getting the kids to take part in meal preparation connects them to the food supply and sets them on the path to healthy eating and self-sufficiency later on in life. Oh and it can also lighten your workload in the kitchen slightly, which is always good!

Some recipes and aspects of cooking obviously aren't suited for small children, such as chopping vegetables and preparing elaborate dishes, but most everyday food has some element children can participate in. Take soup; when making a soup, parents can do all the chopping while the kids can gather the diced and sliced vegetables and heat them up in the soup pot or slow cooker. They can also tear up greens for a salad, and may even enjoy coming to the grocery or market to pick out ingredients. 

If cakes and biscuits are on the agenda, the kids can help to put the measured ingredients into the bowl (maybe they can even measure them out?), stir the batter, grease pans and shape things like cookies. There’s something about the ticking of the timer and the whirring of the oven that makes kids enjoy simply watching the baking process. Let them take light items such as baking trays without the oven — but supervise them while they’re doing it, and most importantly, make sure that they’re wearing oven gloves.

Slow cooker meals are good to make with kids because they allow both parties to take it easy. Prepare the ingredients and start the slow cooker at bedtime, and make it a game to guess what sort of food will be there the next day. Recipes like jams and jellies that require constant stirring provide an excellent way for kids to take part in preparation.

Whether it's a tray of chocolate chip cookies or a stew, there are many ways to involve children in cooking. Getting kids involved in age-appropriate ways teaches them valuable life skills and helps them appreciate all the hard work that goes into making meals. Children are naturally curious and most kids are happy to help in the kitchen. It makes them feel important and useful. As a bonus, many children are more likely to eat their veggies if they had a part in preparing them. No more stressful mealtimes!

For more ideas on how to involve young children in the kitchen see 10 Jobs a two year old can do in the kitchen

This is a collaborative post written by a guest author, exclusively for A Blissful Life

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