Tag Archives: parent

A shoulder to cry on

Some time after the toddler was born, I made a promise to him- and to myself- that I would do everything I could with the time I had left to make it all up to him. I needed to let him know that I was deeply, deeply sorry for letting him down when he needed me most. I needed him to know that I was sorry for not being strong enough, for missing that first hour of his life, and for failing to be the mum he needed when he needed it most. He was just a baby. He was barely four months old. He didn’t understand what I was saying and in a way, neither did I. I don’t think I had even begun to accept what had happened during his birth by that point. I certainly wasn’t feeling like a mother to him; I just knew that I was supposed to be feeling it.

Making that promise seemed like the best thing to do and I admit that even today, it weighs heavily on my mind. If  I’m tired, or he’s having a tantrum and my face won’t form a smile… guilt hits me like a bullet then. What about the promise?

When I made that promise I was grieving. Not for a person, but for something… something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.Perhaps I was grieving for that amazing birth I was supposed to have, especially after the first one had gone so wrong? Perhaps I was grieving for that little boy in the delivery room, who’s heart beat fell silent and died in my dreams? Perhaps I was grieving for… for me?

I am not the same person I was before my son was born. In many ways I am a better person. It’s taken me two long years to realise that. In many ways I know so much more about life and love and motherhood. In many ways I can now be that mother I thought I was before he was born. Perhaps I can now stop grieving for that person I was back then and embrace the new me?

These are all things I have been thinking since I left the meeting yesterday. It was the first Manchester Birth Trauma Association meeting and despite being involved in its set-up, I hadn’t actually thought much about how it might affect me. I’d bought a box of tissues, knowing that it could be emotional to talk to people who understand, or even just to talk to people. Caroline bought individual packets of tissues so that we could go home and cry too.

I didn’t cry. But I did think about that promise. I think I’m keeping it. I think I can keep it.

 

I’m glad to have a shoulder to cry on.


Graco Symbio b: what would yours look like?

With the testing period drawing to a close and the final challenge about to be reported on, I thought I would post something a little different. I’ve been thinking about the ultimate pram. The one that ticks all the boxes and makes the other mums on the school yard wish they had one too. The pram that caters to mum, dad, baby and more. The pram that is creative, innovative, fun and different. What would yours look like?

The Symbio b is a fantastic pram. It has many fabulous features that genuinely sets it apart from other prams that I’ve owned. It is stylish, light-weight, easy to use and reasonably priced. But if I was a pram designer, I think my ultimate Symbio b might be a combination of the following models:

The Roller Buggy. How cool is this? It’s like a buggy board for parents. Yes, Graco- take note. Its not only toddlers that want a faster ride. How about adding this feature to the Symbio to enable us to get where we want to be even faster and with a bigger smile on our faces? Scooters aren’t just for kids- us mums want to have fun too! 

Or how about the Babyoom? It’s a pram that converts to a bike then to a shopping cart. Or something like that. Its more than a pram. Its a lifestyle on wheels. It transports parents and helps them to shop. That’s good, right? But is it as good as the bike stroller? Forget the shopping cart bit. This is a bike with the stroller bit attached to the front. The Symbio could rock this look, no problem.

Sporty models aside, I think Graco could take a lot from this last pram. This was sold for a mere £6, 000 and has to be the most sparkly pram I have ever seen. Could the Symbio carry this off? You bet!

So in an ideal world, my ultimate Symbio b would have the following features:

  • a parent buggy board
  • a bike/ granny-shopping-cart converter
  • a separate bicycle attachment
  • a tonne of gold

What do you think? Perhaps I should leave the pram designing to Graco, they seem to know what they’re doing…

Other prams have tried to derail the Symbio b

Actually, I think that the Symbio b doesn’t really need any of these far out features at all. I’m all for creativity but there has to be a reason for it when it comes to prams. In fact, basic pram designs haven’t really changed all that much since they were first introduced way back when. And the things that parents look for in a pram don’t really differ all that much from family to family either.

According to Which, Graco are one of the best pram manufacturers around and “the first pushchair manufacturer to create a travel system pushchair, which allows parents to add a car seat to the pushchair frame”- which just goes to show that they have always been in touch with what parents actually need in a pram. Forget the scooter attachments and the bling. A pram needs to be practical and it needs to do its job efficiently.

So with this in mind, the Symbio b doesn’t need re-designing all that much.

symbio b toddler side view


Parenting by the book?

When I was pregnant with The big one, around 8 years ago, I devoured pregnancy ‘manuals’ and magazines. It was my first pregnancy and I made it my mission to read up on as much as I could. I think I’ve mentioned before that I tend to get a little ‘obsessed’ with things from time to time and I found that this was one obsession that could actually benefit me. After all, education is the key to greater knowledge and power, right? It’s just that I wonder what exactly these books were teaching me?

Ok, so I knew what was happening to my body as the weeks progressed and I thought I knew what to expect during childbirth. I actually read the infamous’ What to expect when you’re expecting’ and enjoyed it so much I bought the follow on books: the First year and the Toddler years. I find it pretty telling that the Toddler years book has been barely opened.

Is that because by the time my daughter was a toddler I felt that no book could really tell me what I needed to know? I mean, it wasn’t written for my child, now was it? It was written for the average child and I don’t think I know anybody who has one of those.

Our kids are all so different- how can they possibly write a guide to raising them?

During my second pregnancy, I lost interest in the guide books and went with the flow a little more. I was a little older and a little wiser… I still wasn’t prepared for childbirth though. This time, I invested in a different type of parenting manual and I devoured The Baby Whisperer. I found that a lot of her methods suited me and there are still aspects of her work which I greatly admire and techniques which are still working for me and the kids today. But I was still unconvinced.

Should we really be doing it by the book? Should we really be labelling ourselves as a such-and-such parent? Ok, so I don’t agree with the crying it out ‘sleep solution’ but I’m not going to judge you if you do. They’re your children after all and only you know how to raise them. 

I have three children and each of them is a different person. My eldest daughter slept like a dream from five weeks old and self-weaned from the breast at 7 months. My son still does not sleep through the night every night at two years old and he was weaned from the breast at four months, onto specialised formula. Currently, the baby is exclusively breastfed and we are co-sleeping. I’ve practised baby wearing since my son was born and the baby is now in cloth nappies rather than disposables.

I think my point is that I feel unable to box myself into one type of parenting. I have evolved. I have allowed my experiences and my children to guide me through what they need and how they will cope with parenting techniques. Perhaps I am borrowing a method from here and a tip from there- is that so bad?

Parents don’t need to judge each other. Parents need to accept that other parents may do things differently. We are, of course, entitled to believe that our way is much more effective than any other way- we would only do what we thought was best, after all, wouldn’t we?

I no longer parent by the book. I have not opened a single one since the baby was born and I intend to keep it that way. Yes, parenting guides are useful tools for reassurance and for, you know, guidance, but at the end of the day the only person who knows my babies is ME.


At weekends, my name is Captain Tantrum

Aaaaaaggghhhhh!!!!

Nope, still don’t feel any better.

Thank goodness it is Monday!! Honestly, weekends are an absolute nightmare at the moment. The toddler seems to change overnight on a Friday. He goes to bed as the toddler and wakes up as Captain Tantrum. Nothing we do or say pleases him and he is not a pleasant sight to behold at times. What is this all about?

I know that the weekends are a change for him- both mummy and daddy and big sister are around all day, as opposed to just mummy. But its been like that every weekend since he was born. Why has he chosen now to throw  tantrum after tantrum all weekend?

Last Sunday, we spent an hour listening to his screaming demands for me to STAND UP!!

We’ve taken the stance of ignoring his tantrums, in the hope that they will just go away. I don’t believe in the ‘naughty step’ or putting him in a room on his own. I think that ignoring his challenging behaviour and congratulating him when he is playing nicely works a lot better. And it does work… eventually.

This weekend, he kicked off about various things, so small that I cannot remember now what they were. We got to the point where we felt he must be coming down with something, otherwise why else would he be acting this way?!

This morning, I discovered that distraction still works as I brightly tried to convince him that I could hear a cat saying ‘quack quack’. He solemnly told me that cats say ‘miaow’ and luckily a tantrum was avoided. And guess what? He has been good as gold all day.

It’s a weekend thing. All week, he is his usual cheery self, with the odd little stamp of the feet and raised voice (he isn’t boring, after all) but nothing to really report back on. Today we have taken the big one to school, then to the aquarium, then to soft play with friends. And as I write this, a huge light bulb is hovering over my head…

The kid likes routine. He likes to know where he is and when he is doing it. He likes to see the same people at the same times and he likes to keep busy. There is no time for relaxing at weekends (just as well with a new baby imminent) and, most importantly, he likes to be in charge AT ALL TIMES.

Is this it? Will I eliminate weekend tantrums by imitating a weekday at the weekend? Watch this space…


No Child Born to Die

I will keep this short and simple. The title says it all: No Child Born to Die.

If you’re reading this, the chances are that you are a parent. If you aren’t a parent, I’m willing to bet a year’s salary that you are a human being with a beating heart. A heart that cares and a concience that pricks every now and then.

 

 

 

Yesterday I attended the Blogging/ Vlogging Conference hosted by Save The Children. Those that were there too will know what I mean when I say that my own “problems” have certainly been put into perspective. It’s been a very very emotional week for me but I have to admit to feeling like one of the luckiest people alive today.

Yesterday we spoke to Lucy via a live link to Nairobi in South Sudan. She is was of the very few healthworkers out there trying to make a difference. She is saving children’s lives. It is reported that

“Half of the 8 million children who die each year are in Africa, yet Africa has only 3% of the world’s doctors, nurses and midwives.” (Save The Children)

Lucy helped to save the life of a mother and child during childbirth. The mother’s bladder was full and so obstructing a safe delivery. All it took was a simple procedure to empty the bladder and two lives were saved. Children are dying from the most simple of illnesses and we want this to stop.

If you are a parent, you need to help. If you aren’t a parent, you still need to help. Save The Children need another 20,000 signatures before Tuesday if the government are going to commit to helping these children. All you need to do is sign the petition. You can also make a donation; if you do this before September 30th 2011, the government will double your donation pound for pound.

During the session we were asked to sign an audio petition, in which we were asked to contribute towards a song entitled ‘Time For Action’. Here’s the official video:

 

 

This week, Liz (Save the Chilren) and Chris (Thinly Spread) are in New York to lobby world leaders to take action. We can also do our bit. Sign the petition. Save Lives.

 

Click here to sign the petition now!


Separation Anxiety?

Every day with my son is a brand new learning curve. I know only too well that each and every child is so different, even those with the same parents. In this case, especially those with the same parents. My two are like chalk and cheese and there is hardly ever a time where I can, hand on heart, say: oh yes, his sister was just like that.

The big one never really suffered with separation anxiety, whilst the toddler has it bad. Since returning from Florida, his little world has turned upside down and everything he once knew to be constant is not so much anymore. In his eyes, anyway. We went away with several other family members and I guess we didn’t really anticipate how much it would affect him. Looking at it through his eyes, one day he was living in a big house with a pool and lots of people to play with, the next they are all gone and he has a new set of people to get used to at a new nursery. The result is this: lots of screaming, lots of tantrums, lots of hitting and lots of clinginess to daddy.

That’s the other part of my son’s separation anxiety. He is struggling to understand why daddy isn’t here to play all the time like he was on holiday. As soon as my husband gets home from work, the toddler becomes a bit of a demon child and the tantrums begin. My poor husband only sees this side of him from day to day. And don’t even talk about weekends. It’s such an awful feeling to get to bedtime and realise you have waited all day for that time.

Oh yes, and sleeping. It’s not good. He is waking in the night screaming “Daddy gone!” and I can tell you now, it isn’t easy to calm him down. He also isn’t sleeping at nursery so the tantrums are becoming a lot more frequent, as is the unsettled sleep at night. The whole thing is a bit of a circle of frustration to be honest.

Where did my confident boy go? Is this just an age thing? I know that there are a lot of changes happening for him at the moment and this only intensifies the guilt. What will his reaction be when the baby is here? How does one prepare a 22 month old for  a new sibling? I don’t even know how to get him to understand that I am coming back for him each day I wrestle his little fingers from my arms in the mornings I have to work.

I know I am not alone with the terrible twos phase (thank goodness for weekly catch ups with @Minty_b!) but I really wish someone would come and wave a magic wand for me here!


Baby and all bag- a review

I am extremely lucky to have been sent a really fabulous, innovative and above all handy bag to review. The Baby and All bag is more than just a changing bag. It’s an award winning, newly patented bag that really lends a helping hand!

Regular readers of my blog might know that my son benefited greatly from being carried in slings and carriers from a really young age. It helps his reflux and also helped us to bond after a pretty rocky beginning. Some of you might also know that we are off to Florida this summer and so the Baby and All bag has come at exactly the right time! Let me explain…

The Baby and All bag is a stylish looking changing bag with a baby carrier attached so that when little ones are tired of walking you can simply pop them in and off you go. It’s perfect for popping to the shops (we tried that one) and I’m thinking it will be ideal for Disney World. The toddler is at the stage where he can become tired of siting in the buggy yet his little legs don’t always keep him going for long. Sooner or later Mummy or Daddy are required to give a helping hand and I don’t fancy doing that in the heat on holiday. The great thing about the bag is that you just clip the seat together and pop him in- simple!

There are three different positions you can use but the toddler and I prefer the hands free hip position. This was always his favourite position in the sling as he can talk to me and still see what’s going on around him. That’s going to be essential for spotting Mickey Mouse!

I really can’t recommend this bag enough. Such a clever idea that it’s a wonder it wasn’t invented before! This is one essential travel item we will definitely be taking with us this summer. It will be handy for the busy airport before we even leave the UK and obviously, a girl can never have too many bags…

The Baby and All bag is available at Mothercare, Debra Clare and Amazon and is the winner of the following awards: Tommy’s Innovation for Baby Award, BPA Concept Award, Mother and Baby Magazine bronze award winner for most innovative product, and finalist in Practical Parenting and Pregnancy Awards. The bag also comes with a changing mat and retails at £45.95.

 

Verdict: a super stylish changing bag with lots of room for essentials and a fabulous integrated carrier- a fantastic product that ultimately enables busy parents to keep their little ones close without resorting to the buggy. Perfect for enabling toddlers to feel independent and for keeping them safe and secure.


An open letter to The Baby Whisperer

To TBW

When I found out I was expecting my daughter, I bought  two pregnancy guides: a humorous one and a sensible one. I read them both and quickly sold the humorous one to buy the parenting guide that went with the serious one. I’ve always been one for reading up on a subject and being a mum was the perfect thing to get my teeth into. It’s a good job that my daughter actually was a text-book baby; the book covered her every milestone and guided me through every tooth, the surprise bout of chicken-pox and the momentary epsisode of separation anxiety.

When I found out I was expecting the baby, I dug out the same book. And then he happened. All of a sudden, the serious parenting guide which had been indispensable was a useless pile of papers collected together in a cover featuring an impossibly smiling ‘mother’. There were no chapters on how to cope if your baby only slept for twenty minutes at a time and you were a gibbering mess. Where was the section on resenting everyone around you that was unable to breastfeed your baby for ther twelvth time in an evening? Oh, and what happened to the chapter on what to do if you genuinely wanted to run away and leave the whole sorry mess of parenting behind you?

My stepdad ordered your book for me and gave it to me when the baby was one month old. I devoured your every word, initially only because my motto had become ‘anything is worth a try’. I even found old episodes of your programme on Dicovery Health and your forum online. What I didn’t realise at the time was that I had found a way to love my baby.

There is a lot of ‘parent manual bashing’ around these days and I have to say that I agree totally with those that say parenting cannot be taught. But it can be guided. I know that now.

The baby was not- is not- a text-book baby. In fact, I think my daughter was slightly abnormal in her freaky sleeping through at five weeks old and smiling all the time. The baby required new rules, and so did I. I needed to know that it was ok to stay with my baby, stroking his head for hours at a time in an attempt to get him to go to sleep independently. I needed to know that it was ok to be there for him when he cried and to pick him up, cuddle him, love him. I needed to know that I could fall in love with my baby, because that’s what you taught me.

If there is nothing else that I learnt from your book, it’s that my baby is a unique human being who needs me. Needs me. This woman who was broken and bruised and living a life that was never meant to be hers. This woman who wanted to leave her baby at the hospital. This woman who wanted a different baby; one that slept and never cried. A different baby. You helped me realise that I wanted this baby. You helped me.

It may not be cool these days to admit that a ‘celebrity’ parenting expert helped you in any way, but you did. Because all of those long lonely nights that I spent by my baby’s cot, I spent watching him. Listening to him. Touching his face. Learning his every twitch and his every sigh. I spent so long by his side that there was nothing else I could do, but fall in love with him.

So thankyou, BW.


It’s not the first time Eastenders have done this…

Not the first time for Eastenders

… and it won’t be the last, either. Following on from the brilliant post by Me, The Man and The Baby , I felt compelled to write about my own turbulent relationship with the soap. As Crystal Jigsaw put it in her comments to the aforementioned post, I too am feeling a little ashamed to call myself an Eastenders fan at the moment. Truth is, I stopped watching it whilst pregnant with my son (I forget why, too much time spent with my head down the toilet, perhaps) and I have only just started watching it again. In fact, New Year’s Eve’s episode was the first full episode I had watched in a long time. Like I said, I’ve had a turbulent relationship with Eastenders.

I remember the first episode, although I can’t have been that old, but I still have memories of Nasty Nick, Dirty Den and Wicksy with their mullets and perms down the caf. Ha!
So, the current storyliine is bringing complaints flooding in and people are fuming at the way the writers have turned an already devastating situation into something horrific and incomprendable. Yes, it does highlight the unpredictability of human nature and yes, we all deal with things differently. I hope that we never have to be in that situation and never have to choose.

But, I have to say that this is not the first time Eastenders has gone to lengths to hammer home a storyline, all in the name of “creating good, dramatic television”. A few years ago, Sharon tearfully revealed a dark secret that made me question my loyalty to the soap. She explained that she was infertile due to a botched termination and went on to beg Vicky not to end her pregnancy. It was all very pro-life and I found it quite upsetting. I am pro-choice and I believe that if Eastenders wants to be a social commentator they should at least offer both sides of the argument. The clear message- to me, at least- was that termination is wrong and so Sharon’s punishment was her inability to have a baby herself. Of course, in the style of bringing people back to life and swapping babies, Sharon then went on to fall pregnant (by her brother) and then lose the father before she could even get the chance to think about playing happy families. The fact of the matter is that I think Eastenders played the whole storyline wrong, much like they are doing now.

That’s why I don’t think this will be the last time that Eastenders brings us a contraversial storyline. They’ve done it before, they will do it again. The question is, why do they feel they need to play on the emotions of parents and why choose to make uncomfortable/ distasteful situations the star of the show? Its every mother’s worse nightmare to face cot-death, particularly having it happen whilst you- god forbid- are sleeping. It is every mother’s worse nightmare to find you are unable to conceive due to a mistake in your younger years. Will it be Eastenders’ worse nightmare if we all stop watching? Probably not. I’m not sure I will be tuning in next week, and yes- I know it is just a story. Its just that I have children and I am emotional about them. I simply don’t have the time to immerse myself in ridiculous storylines that cause hurt and are intended to do nothing more than boost ratings. Donate to SANDS or FSIDS, BBC.
There! Rant over. Feel free to disagree/ agree with me.


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