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