Tuesday, December 31, 2013

That was 2013!

Just a little photo summary of the growing and changing BB through 2013

January - at one of our favourite parks
February- building a tower with Nana's tubs
March - New Motorbike
April - Rocking horse at my folks place
May - first chocolate mousse
June - posing for Dad's father's day photo
July - on his Birthday
August - punting in Cambridge
September - The vegetable shop keeper
October - loving the leaves
November - Regents Park
December - poorly but still happy

All Change!

So, when I wrote about looking forward to 2014, I really thought I had it sorted.

And then it slowly unravelled.

I really wanted to end the old year and start a new one with new goals, but it seems I am stuck with the life that I have. That's not so bad I suppose.

The first thing to go was the new house. I realised that a 3 bedroom house would be no good for us, unless there was a separate office too, as I have currently. We need a room for me, one for BB and ideally I want a spare one. One that will mean we have a room available if I decide to adopt or foster in the future, and a place where DD can stay when he visits. I looked at 4 bedroom places in the development I was looking at and there was a really nice one, but the price was higher and the location was right next to a raised, busy, dual carriageway.

I went back to the city twice more to try and find other places I might like to live - but I really couldn't. Where I am now is better. The preschool and infant school are really close and really good. The pre-school is officially 'outstanding' according to Ofsted. BB has friends from his current nursery that will be going there with him, so there is some continuity to staying here too. I would still like to move at some point, but maybe now is just not the time.

I also mentioned that I hadn't 100% let go of the idea of another baby. A couple of days before Christmas I found myself sobbing in the lounge after BB had gone to bed. Grieving the idea maybe. I found myself angry at DD and PP. It really felt like they weren't telling me the real truth. That they were just stringing me along and would next find another excuse if I hadn't given up. I thought again about using another donor and just doing it anyway. Their reasons just didn't make sense. If I did have another child with another donor, then the kids would be kept together if I died and they wouldn't have much chance of getting BB at all - but the reason not to donate was because they were worried about that...  I decided to have another conversation with DD to see if I could get to the bottom of their decision - just to clarify it in my own mind, and then hopefully put it all to rest.

When DD arrived on Boxing day I launched at him with my questions. "What is your real reason?". He was quite taken aback and not exactly sure what I was going on about. He said that he and PP were really into it. That they had been talking about it and considering his nutrition etc. during their holiday. He had told PP after his last visit here that my responses to all his concerns had made him feel very much reassured and that he was all for it now.

He hadn't actually told me that though!

I had thought that everything I was saying made sense and should make him feel better, but I didn't know it had. That's why I couldn't understand his logic and thought he was just making excuses.

So TTC is back on then?

I think so. Well, yes, definitely. I am actually in the 2ww right now! I do feel the need to put a time limit on it again though. I don't want this to go on indefinitely. I need to move on at some point, though assisted conception is now back to being an option, so I need to make all those decisions again. Unless I get pregnant of course…

Ennora Binaural Beats Meditation Audios

Meditation used to be a big part of my life. In my child free days I would meditate daily, and even attended a couple of Vipassana silent retreats. I really believe that learning this skill has made my life better. I get less caught up in things and am more able to observe the situation I am in rather than get carried away with it - well some of the time at least!

As a mum, it is really hard to find the time to meditate. I do listen to a few dharma talks on a podcast every now and then when I am cooking or working. I also try to bring myself into the present moment as much as I can. This works particularly well when I am out walking with BB - he wants to stop and admire all sorts of things, from a fallen leaf to a drain cover, from a flower to the moon. Only yesterday he made me stop and watch a little trickle of water from a stream enter a lake, for ages! He is a great reminder to be in the present moment, and whenever he calls me to just be in this way I do remind myself that I am here, now. Still though, there are times when I wish I could do more to still my mind, particularly in the last few months when the debate re another child has really taken off . What do I want? Do I actually know?

A few weeks ago, I was invited by Ennora to review their Binaural Beats Meditation Audios. From my understanding, (and I have used these kind of audio files before) the sound files actually entrain your brain by sending a slightly different frequency to each ear and letting your brain make sense of it across it's two hemispheres. You can read more about that here. What I was told before, and what seemed to be the case in my past experience, is that this type of file can give you the results of deep and practised meditation that you could expect after years of work, just by wearing headphones and listening to some sounds.

Finding moments when you can actually put headphones on and listen to these exclusively has been hard as a single mum, but I have done it a few times. I have also played the sleep one on my phone a few times when BB and I have been going to sleep. Both ways I have really enjoyed the audio files and definitely feel more relaxed for listening.

Being the New Year and all, I am thinking about how I can make time to do this on a regular basis, as undoubtedly a more centred and peaceful me, will make a better mum for BB. I could listen on my phone in bed for example - BB is right next to me so I will know if he stirs, maybe once a week - on a Sunday perhaps - it should be manageable if only I create the time for myself!

If you have a New Year's resolution to be more present or peaceful, you can download the files from the Ennora website. You could choose just one audio file or a package - they have free samples too, so you can try before you buy. It may not come as any surprise that my favourites are Perfect Sleep and Crystal Clear Mind.

Thank you to Ennora for allowing me for try these audio files for the purposes of this review - I have now loaded them 
on to my phone and plan to continue using them in 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What Every Parent Needs to Know - Book Review

What every parent needs to know
 by Margot Sunderland

I really didn't expect to like this book What every parent needs to know as much as I do. I think perhaps the title put me off a little - I still feel a bit burned from parenting books that tell you what to do, regardless of who you are or what your baby needs. My particular bad experience was reading Tracey Hogg, but there are plenty of others out there too. I thought it might be more of the same. But I was so wrong. In fact, I think I would go as far as to say that of all the books I have read so far, if I had to recommend just one for parenting, this might well be it.

The book starts with talking about how your child's brain is still quite undeveloped at birth, and the importance of how we parent that unfinished brain. It then moves on through chapters on crying and separation, and sleep and bedtimes. Then it looks at behaviour and discipline, the chemistry of love, the socially intelligent child and looking after yourself. 

Each chapter is further divided into smaller, manageable chunks of text which are accompanied by appropriate photos and diagrams, making it really attractive to look at an easy to read. Even if you are parenting and are only able to read a little at a time this book is accessible. I particularly like the key points at the end of each chapter, which are a clear and concise summary of the key points within the chapter - again brilliant for a parent who can't just sit down an digest a full chapter in one go.

I like it too because it is a wonderful blend of science and love. It is very much based on science, i.e. that of brain development, sleep, stress hormones, psychology etc. and yet also deeply connected to the human nature and instinct, and with much focus on the need for love and care. It's not just about babies either, but also about older children, particularly in the latter half, so it is a book that can be referred to again and again over the years.

A great book, worthy of a place on any parents book shelf. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Roll on 2014

I know we didn't even have Christmas yet, but I am already thinking about next year. About what I want to change, what I want to achieve, and how to reorient the direction of our lives.

I suppose the call to focus was brought about by DD's recent decision. I worked through a lot of my thoughts on this in the responses to all your comments (thank you so much blogiverse - you really did help me focus). I have pretty much reached conclusion.

I think from comments that have been made by DD and PP about how hard it would be to treat a child with another biological father the same as they do BB, and things like what will child 2 do when BB goes on great holidays with his dads, have made me realise that it would be far from ideal to have a child with another donor. In fact, thinking about their reasoning for saying yes for that brief time, it was really only a yes to prevent me from using another donor - kind of an "if you must, we will" sort of decision. For the record, I am not meaning to sound negative about their choice. That's their position and I understand that - our situation is complex. I genuinely think it is good that everyone can say what they feel, even if it isn't always what the others want to hear. It would be far worse to proceed with something regardless of other peoples feeling - we are a family after all, and we all want what's best for BB.

So, for all those reasons, I am not going to go ahead with another donor.

The second option then is to try AI at home again. I am still wavering on this - changing my mind frequently. I am finding it hard to let go of the dream, but the reality of TTC is quite off putting. The last 18 months have been such an emotional drain, the miscarriage, the trapped nerve, PP changing his mind, DD changing his mind, lots of BFN's and missed opportunities. Giving up. Trying again. Fertility tests. The worry of losing BB.

IVF would have been a fast end to the process. I would either get pregnant within a couple of tries, or be out of money so the decision was made for me. We would have maximised our chances, and used a 3 year old sperm sample which we know is up to the task. Pursuing more AI seems like prolonging the agony. If I were in a relationship and just decided to stop 'trying' and see what happens that would be different, but the pressure is always on in our situation. It's not the most pleasant of activities, and lets get real - it hasn't worked!!! The fact that I hadn't sustained a successful pregnancy after a year is what lead to the idea of going to a clinic for IVF in the first place. Trying again at home then just seems like a pointless waste of emotional energy. Energy that could be better directed into being a good parent to the child I already have.

There's also the fact that at any moment one of them could change their mind again. Once more, I don't blame them for having their own emotional dramas about it all, that's just how it is, but if we do try again, I will really be putting myself on the line and I'm just not sure I can take any more of it. I am a bit annoyed at myself for being so weak here, but perhaps other women will understand. It's like everything is so beyond my control,  the innate biological drive to have a child, the urge of the mother within me to give my child a sibling, and the independent will of two men in London. I am just so powerless and vulnerable within all that. I am also a single parent who must be dependable and strong all the time. I've been on this wobbly and unpredictable road for over a year - I feel the need to get onto a more stable path and take control of my own destiny again.

I don't think I have entirely let go of the dream. I thought I had, then I found myself purchasing a fertility monitor on Monday, just in case. There is still that what if. Maybe it would only take one more try. But maybe in a year I will still be having this same conversation with myself. That would really suck! Chocofishie really helped when she said to go with what makes me happiest in my heart. From the above you will see that using another donor doesn't make my heart happy, more AI doesn't make my heart happy, but my third option, to be happy with just BB, makes my heart sing. That's definitely my best answer - but I am still to accept it 100%.

Other stuff that has been going on also leads to the same conclusion. As you will know from past posts, my current place of residence was only ever a temporary measure. The reality that I am unlikely to conceive again, and that I won't need my small, baby friendly home much longer, has hit in the last couple of weeks. If BB is to be an only child, without the built in best friend to fall back on when you move to a new place, it would be good if we were in a more long term home before he starts school. Our current friends, activities we do, and the energy around my BabyCalm™ business, are all pulling me towards Peterborough. Perhaps not my favourite place in the world, but nice enough, with some good community things happening.  It also has a meditation centre, a community garden, great sports and recreation facilities, and a brilliant road and rail network for getting to other places. It's convenient for my family and for DD, with lots of opportunities for BB and for me. I think I may have even found us a place to live - a new build which comes with the option of a Government Equity Loan, meaning that with the equity I have in our current house, it is affordable. I have checked out the schools online and there are three very good schools to choose from close by. I'm feeling really good about it too.

So, roll on 2014: Let's move on, move house, grow a happy child and a healthy business, and embrace life as a family of two!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Everybody Loves Butterflies - Book Review

Everybody Loves Butterflies is another beautifully illustrated story book that BB and I have been sent as part of the Parragon Book Buddies program.

It is a lovely tale of a caterpillar that doesn't want to turn into a butterfly, as he is happy with the way he is now. His friends try and tell him how great it will be, but he just doesn't believe them. Finally he realises that that he will still be himself, but he will be able to do all sorts of new things too - like loop the loop for example.

As well as being a lovely story, I can see this being an ideal book for child that is worried about change. BB currently goes to nursery for 2 mornings a week but will start pre-school in September. He always looks at the 'big kids' as we go by, but when I mentioned to him that he will go there one day he responded with a worried voice that they were too big… I can see this book being read a lot as we lead up to that period of change.

Meantime we'll just enjoy it as it is!

The book will be released for sale on 13th January 2014 and can be purchased from Amazon or The Book Depository

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Wonder Weeks - Book Review

To be honest I would never have read The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooj, if it were not for the fact that I had to for a training course I did recently. I probably wouldn’t have even picked off the shelf based on the title and cover image, and should I have picked it up, the back where it promises to tell you "specific dates" that your child will reach these “fussy phases” would have certainly raised alarm bells. If I had flicked through I would have likely been horrified at little tables with tick boxes re what your baby can do at a given age, and then I would have definitely put it down again, moaning about another thing that makes you paranoid about what your baby does and doesn’t do.

Once I actually read it though my opinion changed!

Firstly it appears to be based on some quite sound research. Each chapter has some things to look out for with your child at varying stages and explains what is going in with their development. Furthermore it validates how you might be feeling as your child goes thought these changes or ‘leaps’ , which I believe could help to normalise your experience and comfort you rather than make you paranoid. It also recommends conceptually appropriate things you can do and games you can play to help your baby with their new developments, all of which seem like good activities and having something you can do  is quite empowering when you have a crying baby and you don’t know why. 

There is a degree of flexibility regarding the timeline, and the signs the an individual child will exhibit. The tick list is more to help you remember what your child was doing when, which I do understand - I wasn’t as good at recording this as I hoped to be and a tick list in a book that also informs you about the forthcoming developments is a good idea. Hopefully this would be used in this way and not cause any worry with parents. I actually think the validating of feelings and the explanation as to why your child might be cranky this week may outweigh the risk. I like too that it really gives the notion that ‘this moment too shall pass”. 

You can also sign up for a free ‘leap alarm’ via the Wonder Weeks Website and get direct emails around the time your own child is about to go through one of these developmental stages. 

Do remember though, that although these 10 fussy phases have been observed in many infants, each child is unique, so please do not place too much weight on what ‘should’ be happening on any particular day. 

At the time of writing, the lowest price for  The Wonder Weeks was from The Book Depository

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Mothers Do - Book Review

What Mothers Do - Book Cover
Image from http://www.naomistadlen.com/what-mothers-do.asp

I recently read What Mothers Do - especially when it looks like nothing by Naomi Stadlen, as part of my professional reading for my BabyCalm™ teacher training. It's definitely one of the nicest books I have read since becoming a mum, so I really must share my thoughts on it.

I haven't read much at all since having a baby, there is just so little time. We had eight texts to read for the course which seemed a lot! I read all the other books first, and sad as it may sound, I was attracted to the ones with pictures first as they didn't seem quite so overwhelming (reviews on the ones I likes will follow). This one is 258 pages of very small text - I predicted a hard slog.

couldn't have been more wrong.

started this book on Sunday afternoon, and by 9pm on Monday I had finished it. I hardly put it down. I have not been that absorbed by a book since BB was born, I discovered for the first time that he is actually happy for me to sit and read. He sat with me, sometimes looking at his own books, sometimes playing, sometimes watching TV. He was happy with our day. Furthermore he slept through the night (still a rare occurrence) and I had a 6 hour+ stretch of sleep for the first time in 3 years. I am not sure what the cause and effect is here - possibly it has as much to do with our relaxing day and the lack of looking at a computer screen as it does with the content of the book - but still, this book gave me that. I now think that it should be on every mum’s bookshelf, for her to read whenever she finds the time.

The theme that stands out to me most is how we should all respect other mothers no matter what their choices for child rearing are, as we have all made these decisions with great thought,  doing the best for their family in their circumstances, and that this selfless generosity to our families makes us all the same. I certainly felt respected and appreciated by the author. It affirmed that my work as a mum is incredibly valuable, and it was therapeutic in many ways too.

Before I actually read it, I wondered who will read it?  Would a new mum actually be able to sit down and read this? Is that time just before the baby arrives a good time, or would it not make sense then, or worse, be off putting with regard to what was ahead? Now that I have read it, I am sending it to all my friends who are about to have or who just had a baby as I think it is the perfect gift for a new mum - they will read it when it suits them, and I'm sure they'll love it too.

The Book Depository offers free delivery worldwide on this book.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Test Results - and ensuing saga

I have mixed news and mixed feelings following the results of my my fertility tests, what has happened since and therefore the options ahead. I started writing this post a few times, and then things changed… I think we have settled a bit now.

Firstly the tests were great. Apparently my hormone levels are more typical of a 25 year old than a 42 year old, so that was excellent news. 

Also, the weekend before the appointment I met with DD and PP to discuss whether they were interested in being involved or not - the answer was YES! Basically they decided that it was better for BB to have a full sibling, and that it would be better for us all if that's what happened. So, DD rang the clinic and gave permission for me to use his previous donation as a known donor.

Once I had the results for those fertility tests, there were other tests to do, mainly disease screening before I go ahead. The tests were different depending on whether I went for IUI or IVF. I have a limited budget as you know, and IVF is expensive, but it was generally agreed that at 42 it could well work out to be the cheapest option in the end. I discusses this with DD and he agreed I should go for that. He even offered to contribute financially - so I headed back to the clinic and all the blood tests.

The following day I got an email from DD saying that he had realised that if we went through the clinic he wouldn't have the same rights as he does with BB, and therefore he did not want to do it after all. The law in the UK is that as BB was conceived at home, DD is actually the legal father. However, the legal agreement that we have says that he "will not take any action at any time to establish that he is a legal parent or to assert his parental status (either through a declaration of parentage, an application for parental responsibility, an application for orders under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 or otherwise)" so he did effectively sign that away. However, this is an agreement, not Law. He could, if he felt like it, have his case heard as BB's parent in a court of law. If we go through a clinic, the court would turn him away.

This threw me a lot. When I mentioned the agreement to him, he said that he knew what he had signed, but things had changed. 

I was floored. Here he is saying no, when 24 hours earlier he was so in he was prepared to contribute to the cost, and he had told his Mum the plan too. Now, the fact that he could not go to court was his deciding factor to pull out, and furthermore he was saying he no longer agreed with our agreement. 

Suddenly another child was not in my thoughts anymore, I was scared for the one I have. I was so anxious that I even stopped producing milk for BB. I couldn't reply to his emails and I was totally dreading his visit. I have given him much more access to BB than our agreement says I should, so effectively I have made myself vulnerable, giving him more of a case against me. I was just a mess, for several days. I tied to reply to his email about 20 times but the words just didn't come out right. 

He came to visit on Friday and we talked. Apparently his concern about being heard in court is for when I am dead and he wants the kids to live with him, but not before - this could be done in my will, indeed I have discussed that with him before, but he is still not happy about not being the legal father. He did convincingly tell me that he wouldn't ever try and take BB, and I know that his chances would be small if he did - but I just don't even want to go there or think about it. I just want us to be a happy family and carry on like we were.

We did discuss the possibility of trying again via AI at home. That would be a lot cheaper than IVF and he would still have the same rights as he does with BB. At some moments that seems like a good idea, indeed his next visit will be perfectly timed so that could be 'a sign'.  At other times it seems crazy. I feel more secure going through the clinic, both for myself physically (there is not much monitoring of a pregnant woman normally and I am old - I am still scared that it will put my health in danger and affect BB), and now, even though I hadn't thought about it before this episode, I feel more secure legally. 

So, now I am in limbo again.

AI at home with DD
IVF with an unknown donor
or be happy with just one?

Sometimes I wish I had just got pregnant by accident in my teens! It would have been so much easier! 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Sprouts Garden Fresh Salad - Review

A wonderful new role play toy arrived at our house earlier this week, in the form of the New Sprouts Garden Fresh Salad set. BB was quick to unwrap the treasure and start "making dinner".

The set includes 12 Lettuce leaves (2 colours), 8 pieces of pepper, and 4 pieces of each tomato, cucumber and carrot, along with a large salad bowl, some serving tongs, and four smaller serving bowls.
New Sprouts Garden Fresh Salad

BB loves the tongs and had stolen mine from the kitchen several times in the past, so I was pleased that he now had his own. At first he was picking up the salad with his fingers to place it in the tongs, but his skills with that are developing fast.

New Sprouts Garden Fresh Salad

I have been frequently called to dinner at his table. Sometimes with a pig, dinosaur and lion also sharing our meal, and occasionally with Big Ted and Little Ted joining us. He has also made a picnic, using a quilted blanket to sit on, for his Dad.

New Sprouts Garden Fresh Salad

As with all of the items I have had from Learning Resources so far, these are of an amazing quality. I have no doubt that they are going to get a lot of use. BB is big into role play. More than most of his peers as far as I can tell. I'm not sure if that's just him, or if it is the fact that he does do a lot of everyday tasks with me, or if the role play toys are actually reasonable for that development - it's probably a combination of the three.

New Sprouts Garden Fresh Salad

Here's something I found in his "house". He's set up a dinner party and asked me to invite his Aunties - the other fruits are from the New Sprouts Fruit and Veg set which he got previously. These too get played with every day - mostly in the form of a vegetable shop, but occasionally for cooking. 

Based on our experience, I would definitely recommend anything from the New Sprouts range. They are excellent quality, bright durable toys that are lovely to hold and ideal for little hands. Further more their uses are endless, and they really encourage imaginative play. A toy that will have a place on the shelf for several years to come. 

Disclaimer: This resource was sent to me free of charge for the purposes of this review. This review is however 100% my own honest thoughts and opinions and I have not been paid to write this!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ever wondered where the food on your plate came from?

As a child, buying food was a totally different experience for me to how it is for BB today. Our meat came from animals my parents farmed, our veg from the garden or the farm, and if we didn't grow it ourselves there was a fruit and veggie place in our village, run from someone's garage. That's not actually that long ago. I'm only 42!

Occasionally I find myself wondering about the person that grew my food. It's a special thing, to plant, nurture, and harvest food, and then to pass it on to nourish someone else. We have, on the whole, lost that connection. 

A new small fruit and vegetable shop has just opened up in our town and BB loves to go there. There staff are great with him and encourage him in selecting his own produce, and bringing it to the counter. Where possible, things they stock are locally sourced, so I love the idea of it too. Not everything can be bought from there though, and of course many crops are seasonal, so the supermarket is still a main source of our food.

Sad as it may sound, I was a bit excited when I learned about the Birds Eye Traceability scheme. Traceable packaging is being introduced across the entire petits pois range, with each pack providing the shopper with a unique code. This can then be entered into a Facebook app which shows you where your peas were grown.

I now know that our peas came from East Yorkshire and were grown on Molescroft Grange Farm by Tamara Hall - yes a woman! How awesome is that? Tamara has been managing Molescroft Grange farm for over 5 years, taking over the running of the farm when her father decided to retire. It's a real family affair as their farm has been growing Petit Pois for Birds Eye for more than 30 years. Tamara is one of 230 pea growers in East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

Facebook users are able to navigate through the app even if they do not have a code and a social sharing functionality will enable users to promote the tracker on their social media pages. There's even a little video on YouTube, which shows the journey of a typical pea.

Birds Eye Senior Brand Manager Matt Blackmore said: “We are hugely proud of the way in which we grow and harvest our peas – and work hard to ensure our product is the best it possibly can be.  We wanted to share this story with our consumers and create understanding of the incredible journey our petits pois go on before they reach people's plates.  It's been great fun creating this app and we hope people enjoy learning more about where their food comes from and the care and commitment that goes into each pod."

This does connect you to your food a little more and I really like the idea. I wonder if it will catch on with other brands. BB loves peas, so I'm guessing we'll get to track the journey of another pack before too much longer.

Disclaimer: This post is in association with BirdsEye

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

30 days alcohol free

Do you know how many units of alcohol you drink per week? I was recently asked by a Doctor. It wasn't something I have really considered lately. I never go out. I share a bottle of wine with DD if he's here, or if one of my sisters visits. As a quick estimate I said about 5 units a week.

On the way home though I got thinking about it. Occasionally I have a bottle of wine myself over 2-3 nights. The week that I was actually asked the question I had been to Blogfest (2 cocktails and 2 gins), had dinner with DD (half a bottle of wine) and dinner with my sister twice (another 2 x half a bottle of wine). Thats more like 20 units!

OK so it was an extra ordinary week, but it got me thinking. I do have lots of extra ordinary weeks. Our holiday in France for example, wine every day. A few weeks ago when my other sister was visiting, I noticed that if I drink for a couple of days, the following day I am actually thinking about drinking again. That can't be a good sign. It worried me a bit. I have a close friend who is an alcoholic, and really, I don't want to go there!

Image from here
I did some googling and found out about the stages of alcoholism. This made me laugh a little - according to this I have been in the second phase of alcoholism for about 26 years. That is, my first alcohol related black out was when I was about 16 (courtesy of a friend's mum's homemade rhubarb wine), but I haven't yet started sneaking alcohol into my coffee!

Having been pregnant a couple of times, and done the elimination diet and the whole 30 I have had a few spells of spells of being completely alcohol free in the last few years. As a result I have become much more aware of how alcohol effects me when I started drinking it again. Just a small glass for wine makes me feel a little rough the next day. Half a bottle, which is generally what I have if I am drinking, actually affects my sleep.

I have thought many times that I should just give it up completely, along with the grains that I have recently removed from my life, but I haven't - that's no fun is it!

On Monday my parents were over and I gave Mum a bottle of wine that I had promised her for taking care of BB for me the week before. My Dad announced that he wouldn't drink it - he had watched a program on TV about how much we are drinking in the UK right now. Apparently we drink 40% more alcohol that we admit (based on how much is sold and how much we say we drink when researchers ask!). Yep - I more than contributed to that discrepancy in the data.

On Monday night I thought I might do 30 days alcohol free. It would follow on nicely from the fitness30 and it would really give me the opportunity to identify what effect it has on me. It occurred to me that if I counted the Monday that had already passed as day 1, 30 days would take me nicely up to Christmas.

Yesterday I thought I might as well go the whole hog and do a full on detox. This is something I have done quite intensely prior to getting pregnant both times, perhaps I should do it again anyway, just in case? So here I am, day 3 of no alcohol and day 2 of taking this new detox liquid which I haven't tried before, and feeling already like my liver and kidneys are being purged.

The lady in the shop where I bought it pointed out that the lead up to Christmas is a tricky time to give up alcohol. She's probably right, I hadn't thought of that, but I do like a challenge. I'll let you know how  I go.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Maybe I just need a new sofa!

I am aware that this sounds rather glib, but it is a thought has repeatedly entered my mind so I thought I'd share as it illustrates my present state of torment.

Maybe its not a baby I want, but a new sofa.

I first had this thought a couple of weeks ago. We were staying in an enormous holiday home with my folks and I was laying on the most comfortable three seater sofa, reading.  Suddenly a thought popped into my head "If I can't have a baby, maybe I'll get a new sofa!".  I chastised myself for even comparing the idea of a baby with a sofa - how could I even think that way. But when I got home I sat on my own sofa and had the thought again, I actually started googling!

My lounge suite is not the best. I bought the whole lot for £70 from a charity shop when I first got the house, and then spent the same amount on 'sofa savers' to stop you from sinking right through them to the floor. It's a good colour though - a rich orange, reminds me of the Simpson Desert and brings a little warmth into my home. Its great that I don't care what BB spills on it, but it's old and smelly and not all that comfortable either.

The thought of a new sofa keeps coming back. I even confessed it to DD when he was last here. It's hard to ascertain whether I am being practical, or if it is just my brain's clever way of protecting me from the fact that the results of the fertility tests might come back against me. I am finding it so hard to know what I really think. I went for the scan and blood tests last Friday, and I get the results in a couple of weeks time. Reality is though, despite what I first thought, with all the added costs, I can't really afford IVF. IUI  probably won't be advised at my age, and could just be money down the drain. Maybe I should just forget the whole idea and move on.

red leather sofa
Red Leather sofa (image taken from here)
So here I am investing lots of thought into the type of sofa I want, just so I know what to spend my money on if the need arises! Leather I think, for the feel and practicality of being able to wipe it clean. I would love a deep red one, just to keep the warmth in my lounge, but maybe brown is more practical when you have a toddler with pens to contend with. I found some sofas I really like at Furniture Choice . They are really affordable compared to other places I have looked. I think I'd want to lay on them before I purchased though…

Aaaaarghhhh! Roll on two weeks time.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Memories of Blogfest 2013

Last Saturday I had a grown up day out all to my self. A rare occurrence, which I appreciate immensely, but it's also a reminder that I wouldn't would to go to work every day. The event was Blogfest 2013. I went last year and loved it. It was my first grown up day out alone in 15 months, I was blown away by the quality of the speakers and loved being in the company of some intelligent professional women - and a man!

My blog has come a long way since then. I have written a lot more frequently, and I like to think I am getting better at it. I have started using Twitter, and Google + and Pinterest. I have even made a little money - who'd have thought. Still, I wanted to go back to Blogfest 2013 for another great day, to meet more brilliant people, to be inspired and entertained.

All of this occurred - and more. Having been to a couple of blogging conferences before and attended the practical 'how to' sessions, my focus now is on developing my writing skills, so the sessions I chose reflect that.

Here are some of the things I will remember from the day:

  • I personally found the first keynote session, The New Wild West, a bit of a strange way to start the day. If I had organised the agenda,  I would have started with a more positive and uplifting topic than internet trolls, bullying and rape threats. Still, I enjoyed the session and the stand out speaker for me was most definitely Stella Creasy, what an amazing and articulate woman.
  • Writing Funnier Stuff was a very entertaining session - I am not sure that I will become a comedian as a result, but I did enjoy the session a lot. Viv Groskop for me is one of those people you feel like you know - I'd probably say hi in the supermarket and be thinking, now where do I know you from, and I'm sure if she did know me we'd be mates! Andrea Mann was new to me, but definitely someone I will be looking out for in the future. I also got to meet Kate who writes London with a Toddler, a blog I have read several times, and it was great to say hello
  • Future Minds: How will technology shape the way we think? was one of my favourite sessions. All the speakers were brilliant, it was thought provoking, inspiring and funny - why didn't the day start with this?
  • How blogging and social media can change the world  I had never heard of Helen Lewis before this, but she was an amazing chair and I will definitely be looking out for her work in the future. I also loved how all the bloggers were just ordinary people who did an ordinary thing, which became something quite extraordinary. 
  • Cracking yarns and tall tales, how to tell a better story was another excellent session - things that will stay with me are a few quotes from AL Kennedy - 'as a writer you have the utmost privilege of being in someones head' and 'bad writing is like having a little piece of shit in your stew' 
  • Other thought provoking things I wrote down but have no idea who said them:
What are people going to get out of reading your blog posts? 
Always write in a way that you are practicing writing at your best!
Write as if you respect the person who is going to read it 
Write lots and lots, but only put a small amount out into the public domain 
Remember there is always a gap between what you write and what other people perceive 
Stick to one topic per post  
  • Can you be a Mummy Blogger and still be a feminist? Could you ask a more stupid question? We touched on this last year and it annoyed people then, so a whole session was dedicated to it this year. It was a debacle. I don't really want to give this too much space, but it has to have some as it really p*$$ed me off! The way the question was worded ensured that everyone entered the room in defensive mode, having already been insulted by the title (unless you are a man of course, then you were just excluded from the outset). Things like this annoy me as they make women look stupid. It makes a mockery of feminism, dividing women and pitching them against each other, and sets the debate back rather than furthering our cause. Hmph! 
  • Whilst I'm having a grump, the food was rubbish, signing in took forever, we queued a lot, and the drinks reception room was too small. The location was great though!
  • And Jo Brand was great - we were all extra pleased to see her after the 'heated discussion'. She actually squeezed past me in the drinks room and for a brief second out bottoms touched - that can be my new claim to fame! 
  • As for whoever it was that said that all 'Mum's' that blog write the same thing, here are the blogs I discovered as a result of my trip to Blogfest 2013

         Quite diverse, don't you think?


I do need to think more about what I write on here. I write for me mostly, but now quite a lot of other people read it, which still seems a bit odd, but perhaps I should make some changes. 

Am I happy to direct someone to this site to see examples of my best writing? No, probably not!

I really really want to read more - I need to find a way to make time for that.

This post breaks the rule of only publishing your best writing - this is far from it I know - but I need it done and to free my brain for the next thing - I have a 2 day training course this weekend and I need all the brain capacity I can muster.

An overriding thought of the day was how young some of the presenters are. How can these people be so brilliant and so young? And why didn't I get to that point yet when I am older than they? 


And now to break the rule about one topic per post, here's my Top Tip for Family Holidays

If you maintain their eating and sleeping routine, you can do pretty much what you like in between

On trips with BB I always make sure that the thing we do in the morning provides him with lots of running around and activity time, then after a good lunch we do something he's less interested in so that he sleeps. Happy child, happy Mum, happy holiday! There's more in my Paris with a Toddler post.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Clinic

I have been delaying writing this post as my thoughts change from moment to moment - whatever I say now will be old news tomorrow! For the sake of my own pursuit of clarity though, here it is.

I did actually go to the appointment on Monday. I nearly cancelled it so many times, but finally I made it to the point when there was less that 2 working days notice before the appointment, so I couldn't!

Reasons why I nearly cancelled? I have a nice life, I am happy with BB, it's causing trouble with DD and PP, I am setting myself up for more emotional turmoil, I am not that rich, I am just starting to get on with my business, being pregnant is hard work, I might not cope with two kids, I might get twins or triplets, I might not get pregnant, I might miscarry, I might die in childbirth and leave BB behind, I might be sick in pregnancy and not a good Mum to BB

Reasons why I didn't? I really want BB to have a sibling, being pregnant is lovely, I feel I have enough love for one more, I feel scared of having all my eggs in one basket with just one - scared for me and for him - I might be over protective or smothering as a result, I want reassurance that I am physically OK anyway, I need an end to the what if?

So I went.

It is a nice clinic. Friendly people. Lovely old building.

The appointment was planned to be on CD2, so that I could have all the blood tests and scan etc. but AF decided not to show. I did have a consultation with the doctor though, and a physical examination. The good news is,  as far as she can tell I am fine physically. The blood tests and scan will tell them about my egg quantity. She said given my age they will probably recommend IVF, which is what I was expecting her to say. She also said that statistically 90% of my eggs will be no good. I asked if they screen eggs for IVF and she said it is not routine, but an option for an extra £3000!

The cost is considerably more than I thought. Not for the basic stuff - that was clearly outlined on the website, but there are other incidental costs that could be quite high, such as if they have to inject the sperm into the egg which would be an extra £1275. The medications were also not included in the price I saw, and are estimated at £1500. There is even a possibility that I will have to pay extra if I use DD's reserves that are in their bank - apparently it is different as he then becomes a known donor and there are 3 years of storage costs that they may want compensating for (I think that's out of order personally - surely they factored that into the price of a vial!). The initial assessment will add up to £800+. It's pushing it out of my league really, one round of IVF could wipe out ALL of my savings if a couple of things go wrong and a couple of 'incidental' charges are added.

So I came back on the train on Monday a bit disheartened. A big part of me was telling me to just forget it now. Don't even bother with the next £600 worth of tests and scans. The fact that AF was late is a sign. Give up, save your money, enjoy want you have.

Then I thought, I should just do the tests anyway - so I know.

I expected that CD2 would be today (Weds).

But, I am really busy right now with work, conferences, training courses and all sorts. I was on holiday last week too, to add to the pressure. So I then started thinking that maybe its best to wait until next month. Maybe by then I will have decided not to bother, and so will save my £600. Also, the talk  with DD and PP takes place at the end of November, so I could wait until after then, when I know what their thoughts are. That made lots of sense.


Then my thoughts changed to wanting to know all the results before that meeting - so we know where we stand.

I do have a sense of urgency.

AF didn't show up on Tuesday, so I spent that day thinking that Thursday might be test day. That could work? As long as I can take BB along. I was still thinking that this morning, in between the thoughts of not going at all!

This morning came - no AF. I was still being a bit cautious about my plans for Thursday though - she might show up. At lunch time I switched back to forget it - it's a sign. Its all a sign. The miscarriage was a sign, the timing is a sign, the universe is telling me to stop.

I made plans for Thursday.

Then late this afternoon she showed up. Within half an hour I'd made the appointment. How could I not? It's on Friday.

For the interested - the bloods I am having are FSH, LH, Oest, Prol, AMH.

The results should be available 2 weeks after that.

First run since becoming Mum #fitness30

I just got back from my first run in three years!

It was awesome.

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long really. I always blame time, needing to use every second that BB is at nursery to do work, or cleaning, or something else. I love running. In the past it was my therapy. I like to run alone. I find it meditative as well as exhilarating. Yet the more time passed, the harder it was to gather the motivation to do it.

Having BB go to nursery for a second morning a week was all part of the plan to allow me time to exercise. He started that second morning in September, and I have been to the gym and for a swim a few times, but I still didn't run.

I think part of me was scared of how hard running might be, and that it would indicate just how unfit I have become since becoming Mum. I do feel much fitter and healthier since adopting a paleo/primal diet though (when I stick to it that is!) and do actually feel like need to move more to use the energy I have.

Finally the motivation I needed to do it now began with the news of the forthcoming Team Honk Blogger to Blogger Relay

Team Honk Blogger to Blogger Relay 2014

I signed up immediately. I am not sure how I am going to do it yet, but I'd like to be able to run my section (assuming I'm not pregnant, which I doubt, more on that coming soon). Then my sister asked me what I wanted for my birthday I asked for things to help me get off my butt and run - she bought me running socks and gloves, and an iPhone carrier, and some energy boosters.  She runs too, and so is also going to join me on the relay.

Then during a #paleohour (8-9pm Tues) conversation on Twitter, it emerged that several of us felt the need to move more, so we set ourselves the task of a #fitness30, in which committed to getting of our butts and doing something each day of November.

My month so far has been fairly typical of my usual activity levels. 

1st - Swimming with BB
2nd - Swimming with BB
3rd - 30 mins on Wii Fit
4th - travel in the car for 6 hours to go on holiday - then some hill walking with a push chair
5th, 6th and 7th - lots of hill walking with a push chair, sometimes on rough terrain, definitely more of a work out than I am used to!
8th unwell - hard to tell if I had BB's stomach bug (he was vomiting the day before) or if it was just that I ate food I wouldn't usually eat, like battered fish, and Birthday Cake.
9th - I was at a conference, but I did walk a bit from the train station etc
10th - Lots of walking in Cambridge - shopping 
11th - I went to London to the fertility clinic - walked from Kings Cross and back, google says that was 1 hour walking, and I ran to make my connections too.
12th - nothing really - other than digging out my iPod, loading it with  Podrunner and psyching myself up for today

13th - Today I ran!

It was great. The weather is perfect; sunny and cool, and I was so ready for it. I began right back at the beginning of the First Day to 5 K, which is where I started when I first began running. It wasn't too hard - I managed all that I was supposed to with relative ease, at no point did I want to stop, or feel out of breath and ready to collapse in a heap. I am looking forward to going again, though I know I can't go frequently I can definitely go once a week, twice on the weeks DD is here - I need to make the most of it.

Next time I am going to pop some mini bacon quiches in the oven as I leave, so I can tuck in to a yummy cooked breakfast when I get back.

I am thinking I might want to sign up for a little 5km run early next year to keep me motivated - know of any?

Other #fitness30 bloggers

Primal Park Girl
Irish Paleo

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear - Book Review

At two and a quarter, BB is becoming aware of the changing seasons. The dark is very intriguing, and now that night time descends before bedtime, he loves to go out to look at the stars and moon. We have also been enjoying some relatively good weather for the time of year, and last Wednesday, BB and I took a lovely walk along a wooded track, and soaked up some of the autumn sunshine.

I love this time of year, when the sun shines in a clear blue sky and the air is as crisp as the falling leaves. I missed the autumn leaf drop during my years in the desert and was keen to get out and show BB the joys of kicking though the crunchy leaves.

He needed no showing at all. It seems that kicking through fallen leaves is an instinctive behaviour, as is rolling in them. Watching him delight in these simple pleasures was great. How brilliant is childhood. Several times he rolled on his back and just lay there, looking up, saying "Hello trees" and in the end I had to join in!

Hello trees

When we got home, a large letter was waiting. Inside was a new book, Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear

Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear - Book Review
Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear - Cover Illustration

Big Brown Bear doesn't want to go to bed - he'll miss Autumn, with it's crunchy leaves, and Winter, with it's sparkly snow. His friends promise to wake him up, but nothing works! So they come up with a clever plan...
We couldn't believe it. How perfect that a book about the joys of rolling in the autumn leaves should have arrived - we had to read it at once!

As you might predict from the description, the story is about a bear who doesn't want to hibernate (described as a long sleep) as he know this means he will miss out on Autumn and Winter. He wants to roll in crunchy leaves, jump in giant puddles and make a snow bear. His friends promise to wake him up when the forest is a carpet of leaves, and when the rain comes tumbling down…

But they can't. Big Bear won't wake up!

His friends have some very clever ideas though.

Wakey Wakey Big Brown Bear - Book Review

Obviously we loved this book just because of the timeliness of it's arrival, but now that we have read it a few times, we love it for other reasons too. It is a tale of friendship and doing nice things purely for someone else's pleasure. It is beautifully illustrated and well written. It gives you the opportunity to discuss changing seasons, and hibernation.

The only thing I don't like is that the text is all different sizes. I am fine with that in some cases, for example when they are shouting wakey wakey at the bear, larger text works well to show a big, loud voice, or  just using a larger font for the dialogue in general is good too - but there are too many different sizes here, it appears quite random and to me it seems untidy.

Don't let that put you off the book though, it is a great little book for toddler that loves exploring the natural world and deserves a place on the book shelf.

Disclaimer - we received this book free of charge for the purpose of this review as part of the Parragon Book Buddies Scheme. No payment was received for writing this post, and the opinions are entirely our own.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

BB's friends

Whilst we were getting ready for BB's bath tonight, his attention was drawn to this friendship stone from the bathroom windowsill.

He was curious. He thought it was a bit egg shaped, and also wondered why I have a stone in the house. He wanted to take it outside, something I frequently ask him to do as he is a bit of a stone collector.

So I sat down with him to tell him about this stone. It is a very special stone. It was given to me by one of my closest friends, the friend that connected DD and I, without whom BB would not exist. I told him about my friend, and then we started talking about his friends. I started the list. Lily is your friend. Thomas is your friend… and he continued "Fia my friend, Noah my friend, Daddy my Friend, Mama my friend…"

He listed pretty much every one we know.

Everyone, except me!

"What about me?" I asked, "Am I your friend?"

He looked at me like I was crazy! "No, [giggle - interpret as don't be silly], you're Mummy!"

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Case of Severe Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is something that every new mum anticipates in the first few weeks of parenthood, but despite our expectations, many of us are surprised at just how often that new baby wants to feed. Most of us are amazed at how well our bodies cope with the frequent waking and sleepless nights. Generally the days pass quickly, and soon that new little bundle of joy has grown. Rarely does the sleep deprivation get so severe that we need 3 months of bed rest, though for Rebecca Welton, mum of two, that is exactly what happened.

Rebecca with her children, Alex and Harry

I recently spoke to Rebecca about her experience with severe sleep deprivation and the resulting exhaustion. We discussed how things got so bad she had to be taken off all family duties and confined to her bed, about how she approached her recovery, and how she is now driven to help other parents avoid the situation in which she found herself.

On talking with Rebecca, it sounds like her exhaustion began before her first child was even born. Rebecca suffered with hyperemesis during both of her pregnancies. She was hospitalised and on a drip five times during her first pregnancy. In her second pregnancy she avoided the hospital (she had a toddler to care for!) but she was in bed for four months. By the sixth month of her second pregnancy she was up and around, and everything appeared normal, but she was still very weak.

Then Harry was born.

Neither of Rebecca's children were good sleepers, but it was Harry that really turned the family upside down. At five months old, he was still waking 8 or 9 times a night, disturbing not just his parents' sleep, but his elder sister's too. The whole family were exhausted.

"Everyone said we should do Controlled Crying, but we didn't really want to. We believed it would damage our relationship with Harry, we didn't want to lose his trust in the fact that we were there to care for him. Eventually though, we did end up giving it a try. Once. Leaving her brother to cry really distressed our two year old, as she couldn't understand why we weren't comforting him. We had to find another solution.

"In the end we worked out that the problem Harry had was a sleep association with food. He couldn't settle himself and needed to be fed to sleep. Spending a lot of time settling him without food was not an option with a 2 year old around either, but eventually we created our own solution, which we called the Peekaboo Baby Technique, and by 7 months Harry was over his sleep association"

Rebecca was a member of her local NCT Branch and discovered that many other parents were also having difficulties getting their babies to sleep. They also wanted to find some alternatives to controlled crying. Rebecca set up the Walking Zombies Club as a place where parents could come and discuss sleep problems and share solutions, as she really wanted to help others.

Although Harry was over his sleep association, Rebecca's wakeful nights had not ceased. For then came teething, and illness, and more teething. She couldn't sleep in after a difficult night with Harry as her toddler was always up early regardless. Rebecca's sleep deprivation continued. "By this time I was so tired I couldn't drive. I couldn't even really have a conversation. I certainly had no ability to make even the simplest of decisions. Everything came down to just getting though the next hour. There wasn't much joy or fun in the house. If everyone was fed and had a clean nappy it had been a good day" said Rebecca.

One day in April 2012, when Harry was around 10 months, Rebecca's body finally gave up. "I was walking back from a friend's house with the kids in the buggy. I was so tired my eyes stung just from being open. I closed my eyes and did wonder if I had actually fallen asleep walking. Finally I went to bed that night, but I was so tired I couldn't sleep. The next day I decided I had to get myself to the Doctors but it was so hard, just getting out of bed made me breathless."

Thankfully Rebecca did make it to see a Doctor. The diagnosis was severe sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Rebecca was prescribed amitriptyline and told that she would need to get in someone to look after the kids for a while as she needed complete bed rest. The doctor was unable to tell her how long for, but luckily her Mum was able to move in for a while and take care of the family.

"It was horrible. My kids were there but I couldn't be a Mum. I couldn't play with them or feed them or do anything a Mum should do. My son had his first birthday during this time, and I know I was there, that even I went downstairs for a short while, but I have no memory of it at all. I was determined to get well, to get my life back, and to bring joy, laughter and cuddles to the family again."

Her recovery was very gradual, but after a couple of months Rebecca could go downstairs for 10 minutes or so. Then she started walking, just a few yards at first, and then gradually increasing it. "I only ever did this at night as it would wipe me out for the rest of the day if I did it earlier on, and I wanted to see my children. Doing it at night meant that I could then sleep".

By her own admission, Rebecca's recollection of what happened when during this time is patchy - that is just one of the symptoms of severe sleep deprivation. However, at some point during her period of bed rest, Rebecca began to write a book. "I needed to do something positive with this experience. I couldn't just sit there and watch day time TV or I would have gone even more crazy, this was my way of making sense of it. Also, up until the point where I saw the doctor, I thought what I was experiencing was normal parental sleep deprivation, I had no inkling that what was happening to me was so severe. I really wanted to stop other parents getting in to that situation too".

Rebecca has written her book on sleep techniques with the sleep deprived in mind. It includes advice on dealing with your own sleep deprivation and what to do if you are too tired to even try sleep training with your baby. The short book presents five different sleep techniques, and includes her own Peekaboo Baby Technique. There are five ways presented because every family is different. Rebecca describes them as Trust techniques, by this she means ways to help your baby sleep whilst continuing to nurture the bond of trust between you.  She has also addressed the issue of siblings, an area that many sleep books neglect, as they do alter the family dynamic and impact the options that might work best in any particular case.

In January of this year Rebecca became a qualified Child Sleep Practitioner, and the Walking Zombies Club has evolved into a Sleep Clinic, which Rebecca runs three times a month. She is able to help parents with all sorts of sleep issues, and can recognise when people are heading beyond the normal realms of parental sleep deprivation, therefore helping to avoid the situation she found herself in. "Mainly we talk about what has been going on so I can work out exactly what the issue is, and I find out a little bit about the rest of the family too. I then explain how I see the problem to the parents and talk through different options available to them, so they can make an informed choice about how they want to handle it." 

Her book Baby Sleeping Trust Techniques - Alternatives to Controlled Crying was published as a Kindle Edition in February, and then, by popular demand, she released a Paperback version in May. She is currently working on a second book, Trust Techniques for Toddlers and Children.

Rebecca herself is much better these days, but she still hasn't fully recovered.  She was advised that 10 months of disturbed sleep would take 10 months of totally undisturbed sleep to recover from. But as a mum of two small children, a night of undisturbed sleep rarely happens. She is however very careful about her sleep these days, and regularly goes to bed at 8.30.

Rebecca has also recently launched the Trust Techniques Website