Friday, 23 December 2016

To all the parents in NICU this Christmas

Image result for christmas in hospitalTo you...
The mum, dad or family member currently sitting in the NICU ward by your baby’s side wishing them to be home for Christmas.
They had a good week last week, things were looking up, surely just one more week and you would all be home?

Celebrating your first Christmas with your NICU graduate, getting to grips with your new baby whilst making your festive lunch and opening presents, breathing a sigh of relief that you were now finally home.

As a family, you were in the place where you all belonged, it wasn't meant to be though was it?

There have now been a few setbacks, the test results didn't come back as they should and further action is needed over the next week.

The next week, which is Christmas.

The stark reality is that you will be in NICU over Christmas.

No amount of knitted Santa hats, tinsel on the display boards or the mock turkey dinner in the canteen will ever make it feel like a real Christmas.

You feel sick just walking to the NICU, seeing everyone do their Christmas shopping in town as you drive to hospital.

You may not even want to celebrate, just keep focused on your normal daily routine.

To you this year it is just another day, another day you will hopefully be closer to bring your baby home.

Your social media feed is making you choke back the tears, how is this fair?

It should be you who is bringing their baby home and taking them to see Santa for the first time.

But it isn't, you will once again you will be making the trip up the hospital to sit for hours on end by your baby's incubator.

I wish I could make this better for you, I do, this is likely to be one of the hardest times of year to have a baby in NICU and not at home by your side. When pictures of happy families are everywhere.

After this year, each year that passes will be more special, this time next year you will be feeling a million times better than you are now.

If you feel down, depressed, angry and you resent every single person who has got their baby home, it is okay, it makes you normal.

You may not even feel grateful you get to spend Christmas with your baby, as you are in this setting.

Where you are not alone with your baby, where there are always lights and noises, and a million strangers in the same room.

This is one year out of many, this is temporary, this time next year, this will be your time.

Your time to get back what rightly belongs to you, your family. That will be your closure.

For now, if the sight of tinsel makes you sick, don't bother with it, rip it down.

It may not feel like it but this is your Christmas too and you can deal with it however you want to.
You may want to celebrate, make the best of it, and for this I admire you.

If we break it down, Christmas is a mere 24 hours. It is 24 hours closer to your goal. To bringing your amazing baby home.
I know you didn’t ask for this, none of us did, and it is something that will never leave you even when you are not in there anymore.

You will always be a NICU parent, and so will I, it is a club that you have now become a member for life.
It also means you have the support of the thousands of other lifelong members, and we do not forget you no matter if it is Christmas or not.

Many of us will help, will support and try and make your Christmas as normal as possible, you will appreciate this a lot more in the long run. We will never see you as ungrateful, we know how hard it is to process.

I am a NICU Mum, and I am thinking of you, it doesn't count for much but I am.

I will be by your side whilst you scream, shout, cry and wonder what you did to deserve this.

It really isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for you right now is it?

It is Christmas, and I am here for you.

From one NICU parent to another, you, your family, your baby and all the staff working with you, we will be thinking of you.








Monday, 5 December 2016

I really don't know what I am doing.

Vote for me!
My blog started 9 months ago now, and is considered my baby. It took 9 months of growing and it developed into something so much more than I ever imagined. It has led me to connect and meet some amazing people. I started the blog as a way of processing what I was feeling when I was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after the birth of Elijah. I wanted to tell my story, as if writing it down would somehow make it better, that it may help others and it did. It gave me a channel to focus everything that I was feeling and thinking and to get it out. I didn’t expect much to come of the blog when I first set it up, I didn’t even set it up one of our friends did and I had no clue what I was doing! Then it became an addiction, I had to write and write and write, the more I did the more I felt like myself again. It was if I was becoming a better version of the person I was before as I was stronger, I had a focus and a purpose to help others who were going through the same thing. One small thing I had no idea what I was doing, (I still don’t).

When I first started out, I looked at the elite bloggers (you know the ones, where you stalk their amazing Insta feeds and hope they like or comment and when they do you fan girl off your chair.) I knew I would never reach their level. My photos on Insta are average at best and I cannot bear to part with my Nokia Lumia 925. I can never do a nice arty or Instagram worthy pic as Elijah runs away, cries or throws a strop if there is a nice pic, it happened by accident I can tell you. The photos are like my blog, and I think this is what my mantra is, they are honest, they are our real lives. I didn’t think brands would be interested in me, and after a while I realised I had a bigger purpose I wanted to serve. Yes, my blog may not bring me an income (occasionally some free stuff) and it does take up a lot of my time, but I believe the purpose of my blog changed in those first few months. I made me realise I could make a difference, I could help and hope to change people’s lives.

I began to identify what went wrong on our own journey. Where I was let down, and after some researching realised thousands of families across the UK were being let down too. I have one voice, one small blog but I have tried to use it to raise awareness of NICU issues and mental health issues. It took a lot of struggling whether I was brave enough to honestly tell my story it is one thing going out to strangers, another when your friends and family read it. How would they react? But, if I told my story, my honest story then others may begin to follow suit and we can make a change. All pieces, especially the honest and raw ones were received well, I guess the one person they were a shock to the most was Greg. You can live with a person, and realise they are not themselves but I didn’t think he knew to what I was truly feeling. I think he felt guilt, but it has made us closer and the lines of communication are fully open between us now.

After beginning to connect with some lovely ladies on Instagram who all had blogs, ones that seemed to be on a completely different level to mine (Mummy and Nina, Too Much Mothering Information Mamazou, The Mum Coach, The Mommy Somniac). They began to help, encourage and even let me feature on their blogs. It led to making lifelong friends ones whose house you crash at for 4 days (Life with my Little Duck), ones who you feel you may have been separated at birth from as you both laugh so much (Uh Oh Mum, Hey Is It Me, Pabarilife). Ones who check in with you for no other reason than to see if you are okay, (The Mum Coach), and ones who notice when you are not yourself or haven’t been online for a few days (Too Much Mothering Information) Ones who when you need it will help you in a heartbeat. Ones who help make your dream of being published real (Salisbury Parenting). I will still maintain I don’t really know what I am doing, most is done on gut feeling and I will always help those and pass on what I know especially to new bloggers. After all, if I wasn’t given helped I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I began to contact parenting sites, and other sites that accepted guest blogs. My biggest achievements to date, was being invited to become a Huffington Post Parent blogger and taking part in the first #PNDAW16. Back then, I had no idea what I was doing, and if I was even good enough I look back on the email I was sending out to everyone, and no wonder most didn’t ever come back to me! It is strange to think of how much I have picked up since then. I became a regular blogger on two other parenting sites and took the decision this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to write, to campaign to help others so have joined Bliss and Little Miracles UK as a campaigner as this is where my passion is. If I can use my writing to make a difference, then I will be happy. I guess like most 90’s kids my dream was to become like Carrie Bradshaw and with the help I have been given, and the amazing opportunities that it now becoming a reality. My dream, to be published in print, my words, on a page you can go out and buy, to maybe even one day write a book.

This leads me to now, I entered the UK blog Awards 17 on a whim (like most things on my blogging journey) and didn’t think I would get through. However, here I find myself pleading for your votes to get to the judges round (the closest I will ever get to X Factor that’s for sure) like most of my blogging journey it was done on whim and I have no idea if I will get through, but if you can help me do this then I will be very grateful. After all, it’s not just for me, but it is exposure for all of those NICU parents as well. This is who I am doing this for and why I continue to do this. You can vote for me at the following link; until Dec 19th;

Thank you,

Thursday, 17 November 2016

World Prematurity Day

Today, November the 17th sees the world celebrate all the premature babies and their families. To raise awareness for premature births and to highlight the issues that they face. 1 in 10 babies will be born premature that is 15 million babies each year. Today, may also be the time some children learn what it means that they were premature and the journey they and their family took. It can always be hard to breach the subject with a child, to explain that they faced a tougher start to life than most. That they were poorly, they needed extra care and stayed in hospital. They had to fight, to stay here, to be where they are today.

The world stands up today and celebrates all the babies who were born early, and their families. Today, is for the mums, dads, grannies, aunties, uncle’s, cousins and friends which watched their little one small, vulnerable and fragile flight for their lives. It is to recognise the issues they face, and how we can improve the NICU experience for all. It is to celebrate how far these amazing babies have come, what they have overcome to get here.

Although, Elijah was not premature he was born at 38+3 weeks and was 11 days early, I often wonder how I will tell him that he was ill and admitted to NICU. That for the first 9 days he as hooked up to wires, tubes and fought his way to come home. When do you do this? I mean Elijah is aware when we go to the doctors now, what happens when we take him for his heart check-up in Jan? When do we tell him that the scar running down his chest was because he has had open heart surgery? How do you even begin to explain this? Will he understand? Seeing the pics of himself in hospital will they frighten him? I find it very hard to look at pictures when he was in NICU.

I often wander in the parent section of the library, and you can find a book on pretty much anything, except how to tell your child they were in NICU, they were ill, they were premature. What I am seeing more and more is books for children covering the subjects that themselves will be going through; potty training, first day at nursery or a new sibling. When we were in hospital for Elijah’s operation we were given a leaflet and it again was aimed at a slightly older child but helped them relate and explain what was about to happen. You will find most of these everyday subjects being covered in some sort of way on kid’s TV, Peppa, Bing etc. I find Elijah takes notice of these a lot more. He was see it on the TV, or in a book and it is easy to talk about. The big subjects like NICU, being premature, having lifesaving operations seem to however not cross the producer’s minds.  I for one, however will continue to spread the word about these issues and publish them wherever I can.

I was contacted via another NICU parent and made aware of a lady who had created a book all about explaining to your child they were premature. What they may have gone though in hospital. When the author Ali Dunn got in touch with me, I was delighted that she sent me a copy to review. The book is 24 pages and starts with a little girl explaining that she was premature just like you. I love the one to one concept, like they are two children having an adult conversation. In a way, not to frighten the child the pictures are colourful, even when talking about needing help from wires or tubes it is accessible to the child. I think my favourite thing about the book is the adventures the baby goes on when they are in NICU, a submarine, in a rocket, a kangaroo pouch and ends with the baby going home, that they too have been brave and are a little miracle.
This book is a great way to explain to a child how they started off in life, that it wasn’t easy but they are strong, they are a fighter and they can be anything they want too. You could argue do they need to know this? I think they do, after all as I always say the NICU journey does not just end when you get home. In fact, that is the start of the journey. There are follow ups, development checks, hospital visits and there may be lifelong health issues that will need to be monitored just like Elijah’s heart condition. The more educate the child becomes about their condition, and how it started out the better prepared they are to look after themselves in the future. I would thoroughly recommend this book to any premature parent to read to their child, even if it is just to celebrate how fat they have come from those first weeks in the NICU.

I believe the subject of NICU should be discussed and features a lot more in the media channels such as kids’ books, television and even way before then in ante natal classes. Today we will also recognise the many issues that having a child in NICU brings and this could be the family’s mental health suffering. As you are aware from other blogs I am currently campaigning with Bliss and Little Miracles UK to bring about change due to the lack of mental health care for NICU parents, this includes premature parents too.

What better way to show your support to a premature and NICU parent by taking a couple of minutes to sign the ongoing petition or donate to one of the fantastic charities that help the families when they need it most and are campaigning for the issues that are affecting thousands of families;

I have featured many premature parents on the blog before and in honour of them today I have included the links to all of their amazingly honest words;

To celebrate all of you amazing preemie parents, I have one copy of Ali Dunn of I was a preemie just like you to GIVEAWAY! This is a one day giveaway to mark World Prematurity Day, head over to my Instagram and comment on the post and I will choose a random winner this evening at 20.00! UK RESIDENTS ONLY.


Friday, 11 November 2016

It was my choice to have two kids under two, not yours so back off #mamaissue.

Today my very good friend who I was lucky enough to be pregnant at the same time as (so much so we class the kids as family) explains how she feels when people question her choice of having two kids under two. I have seen first hand they can be a handful normally when naps are non existent and they have run around soft play for 2 hours. So is Elijah and so are most toddlers. But, this was her choice and one she whole heartedly stands by, I know she wouldn't have changed it for the world. So perhaps before you speak, perhaps this post will show you the other side of the coin....
Are they twins? '
No. No they are not.
'Wow your brave.'
Yes. Yes I am.
'Aren’t they alike? '
Seriously?!? ...

Having two children under 2 isn't without its challenges. We are a carefully regimented machine that needs maintenance and plenty of oil to keep going.
I suppose you could call it survival mode. Preparation is key. Clothes are prepared the night before. As are bottles… Washing… Everything. The slightest change or upheaval sends into full blown destruction mode.
I suppose the daily routine being regimented is my way of claiming some sort of control on my life that seems to being pulled in two very strong willed whingey directions!
Don't get me wrong I adore my kids, but I would be lying if I said I didn't fantasise about drop kicking them on the odd occasion. They are like dominoes, one freaks out about being told off for throwing crayons at the cat, the other will laugh, throw more, then the cycle continues.
Disciplining two under two is HARD. Mainly due to the fact one is that much more advanced. She knows what she is doing. If she launches a toy across the veg aisle, she will get pulled up for it. My 1YO however is still in that awkward do I tell him off or don't I stage? Still a baby, but verging on toddlerdom. Then I feel that guilt of only telling one of.
You just can't win.
It's beating yourself up on a daily basis. I try not to compare my life and kids to others purely because we are all battling our own struggles. (although part of me dies inside when I hear a mum of one saying how bad their day was) O you wait Mama, just you wait!!! 😂🙈
When I find it getting too much I remind myself of the good moments.
When my babies sit and laugh at each other while I make dinner. Or if my little girl asks for 'Bubba' to come play. The little things that make you melt. Hearing her say 'Goodnight Bubba love euuuuu' giving him a kind of sloppy awkward snog until his face screws up and he grins back lovingly.
I like to find the fun and hang onto it! Make the mess. Paint the picture. Get the toys out the box. Make a tent out of the sofa that will cause your OCD partner to self-destruct upon walking in the door. Just make the most of it. That's one thing I learnt from my 1st. The time flies. You have to take care of you and yours and enjoy every stage for what it is.
Sam, Elliot and Evelyn
One day you won't have to pick up sloppy beans off the floor while your toddler launches their lunch at you from their high chair.
One day you won't have to wipe another sweet corn bum (gags) or have bogies lined up along your skinnies.
One day you won't have a clingy baby running after you shouting mummy (or in my case two).
Embrace it. Enjoy it.
It's a small piece of the pie.
Coming to terms with becoming a mum is something you could ponder on forever. Or stressing over keeping a clean home. That's not what your kids will remember you for. Two under two is certainly chaos in bundles. But it is our chaos. Their personalities feed off each other and they truly thrive on their relationship with each other.
This is Our story. I know my babies will always have each other and there is truly no better feeling. I could go on for days. Don't get me started on nights or sleep deprivation. Buying a house with two wildlings. Or God forbid a doctors trip 😂
But sadly, there's no time for typing it. Because I'm doing it!! 💃🏼
(Probably don't ask me during a Morrisons shop at 4pm how it is with 2 under 2) I have probably lost my shit by then 😂


Saturday, 5 November 2016

YOU can help make a change to NICU parent care, here is how.

I am delighted to officially announce I have become a Bliss campaigner, and am currently pursuing the lack of mental health care that NICU parents are offered. I slipped through the cracks, and was offered aftercare, and didn't see a mental health professions once. I developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I believe this could have been avoided if the correct care, or in fact any care was offered to NICU parents. After all having a baby in NICU is the most anxious and traumatic time of your life.

In my pursuit of better mental health care, I found the brilliant Little Miracles UK an organisation run by the amazing Marsha Davis which provides support and care for premature babies and most importantly their families. Me and Marsha have one thing in common and it was clear we were both very passionate about campaigning for better mental health care for NICU parents. So it was only logically we teamed up like a campaigning Cagney and Lacey!

90,253 premature and sick babies were admitted to a neonatal unit in the UK. [Neonatal Data Analysis Unit, 2014 report]
Parents of these babies are 10 times more likely to suffer post-natal depression.
41% of neonatal units have no access to trained support; 30% no support at all.

Little Miracles has been doing such good job about getting  NICU parents voice heard, currently a petition is underway which you can sign by clicking on the below link. It is calling for;

(1) Funding/resources for mental health support for all neonatal units in the UK
(2) Mental health screening for all parents of premature and sick babies.
(3) A trained mental health worker e.g. a counsellor, assigned to all neonatal units
(4) After leaving hospital; care and professional support for as long as it is needed
(5) Provision for peer-to-peer support, or similar, for these parents


It only takes a minute or so to sign and your signature could make the world of difference to NICU families.

Another great way you can get involved is to take this survey, this is just for NICU parents and the data received will be turned into a report to illustrate the care that NICU parents are receiving.

You can take part in the survey by clicking here.

You may read this and think that one signature, one survey result it will not make a difference. But it will. To families like mine, a family who was nearly ripped apart because of my mental illness after Elijah's admission to NICU.  You may have seen the news recently where a woman died because of her severe PND and not receiving the help she needed. Please help us make a difference and save lives and families.

Thank you.


Friday, 4 November 2016

You are raising a sexist child and you don’t know it! Maybe…

I bring you yet another #mamaissue that's right two in one week and it isn't even Christmas yet! This amazing post is written by the lovely Anna who I actually know! We live in the same town! She is now starting out her blogging career but I know it will be a successful one if this post is anything to go by! Stay tuned for later in the series when Anna features again! I think by the end of this post you will evaluate if you are really raising a sexist child.

We all know that our children are impressionable and we may think that we are watching what we say around them (most of us don’t drop the “C” bomb right?!) but what about the things that we are subconsciously saying? The throwaway comments that are planting teeny tiny seeds in teeny tiny minds. Here are 8 things that many of us have or do say and the implications that they could have down the line:

1.”Because I am a girl….”
To explain something to your child using the term “because I am a girl” just shouldn’t be legal. Saying you cannot partake in certain physical activities due to your gender especially in front of your sons and daughters is exactly the same as saying that females are the weaker sex. Unless you suffer from a limiting health issue then ability is pretty much 100% optional. Do what I do and at least be honest with your kids and say “Mummy can’t be bothered to get off her arse “. Do you think this woman can’t handle anything that a man can?

2.”Grow some balls and man up!”
By insinuating that your sensitive son is not masculine enough because he is crying is 50 shades of fucked up. Telling your son he should swallow his emotions and carry the weight of his problems silently forevermore is not OK. It seems to me that it is socially acceptable for me to cry into my Ben and Jerries with my friends whilst men in the UK aged 20 to 49 are now more likely to die from suicide than any other cause of death. Let that sink in.

3.”No girls allowed!”
Recently, my Husband joked to our son that our Friend’s tree house was a “no girls allowed zone”. Sure, it was a “joke”. But words are words. And words stick. Are girls not allowed to like trees, climbing, exploring and dirt? How can we expect our sons to take women seriously as adults if they don’t see them as equals in play?

4.”You don’t want to be like her!” AKA Slut Shaming
In today’s society we do not know if we are coming or going. We are meant to be sexy for men (as exemplified by the media) but not too sexy if we are married as heaven forbid we make our Husband’s jealous. We are meant to have perfect boobs but we aren’t meant to slip some nip whilst breastfeeding because that would be gross. Let’s teach our daughters that all women are amazing… even the ones who dare to have sex with more than a hand full of men in their lives. After all, women are more than their sexual choices, right? Right?!

5.”Pink is for girls, blue is for boys”
Ok, so now we are telling our children which colours they are allowed to like? Think about it. How is that normal? I don’t even know where to begin explaining this one so let’s just all agree now that we aren’t the bloody colour police. Insane.

6.”Boys will be boys!”

OK, so what you are saying here is that boys have some kind of magical pass that excuses their behaviors or actions because they are boys? Next time my daughter pushes your daughter over in the playground (let’s face it they can be little shits at times) maybe I will just brush it under the carpet by saying “Oh you know, girls will be girls hahaha!”. No, that shit would not slide. Humans will be humans and will all be responsible for their actions.

7.”Your son has a really big willy!”
So, you are changing your sons nappy and someone feels the need to point out the size of his penis and make some comment like “You’ve got plenty of time to play with that, Boy!” Think of it this way… if we want to live in an equal society then don’t say anything about a little boy that you wouldn’t say about a little girl. If I were to say “Blimey, look at the rack on your little girl” I would just go ahead and close my eyes for that punch in the face. Stop sexualising boys from age zero and protecting girls like delicate flowers.

 8.”That is not very lady like”
I will keep this simple. Practice what you preach. Below is a photo of myself #lovinglife. I don’t want my daughter to lady like… I want her to be open minded, full of spirit and kick-arsingly awesome.

To follow the lovely Anna, you can on;




Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Half of me, Half of you. - the real #mamaissue

The brilliant Jade features today with a #mamaissue that is going on right now. That the outcome will affect thousands of families,  hardworking families, loving families. The election is less than one week away and campaigns are in full swing. But, what happens if you know that YOUR FAMILY will be affected by the decision, that you have no control on as you cannot vote. That your children will be affected by, your husband? When you are now beginning to face prejudice every single day because of one man and his campaign? What do you do? Here is Jade's beautifully written but incredibly raw account of her family being affected by the election 16.

'When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They';re bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they're telling us what we're getting.' Quote – Donald Trump,Republican president candidate, Trump Tower Atrium in Manhattan on June 16, 2015

This quote still makes me shudder. It’s not the only quote that has made me shiver through-out this
farce of an electoral campaign, but it is one that comes to haunt me in the middle of the night when I
can’t sleep. As a white woman the only discrimination I have ever faced has been due to my gender, and even then I can’t really say that it has been any worse than any woman on any given day. I benefit from this privilege every single day, most of the time without realizing it. I’ve always been an introvert, but one who has no issues standing up for myself and others. And I really can’t stand any type of discrimination, or anyone placing themselves above others. We are all human beings.

The thing is, I can continue to say that until I am blue in the face, and I can teach my children this, but I can’t stop the damage that other people’s words may cause them at any point in time. It’s no secret that racism is completely ingrained in this country, that immigration is always considered to be a huge cause of concern for people who have no idea what they are talking about, and that the colour of your skin can open or close doors. So much for a melting pot hey? If one of the two main presidential candidates can get away with publicly saying that most Mexican immigrants are rapists and that he wants to build a wall to keep them out, then we can’t be surprised that kids are going to pick up on this and think it’s a normal way of thinking. (I’m not going to even touch on what I’ve heard say about other minorities…

The word “minority” actually annoys me terribly, because it’s mainly used to describe anyone who isn’t white).

To get to the point of the story, and why I am now affected by these types of quotes more than I was
during the last election (I was more fired up about women’s rights at that time, still am), is that I now
have a partner who is one of those rapist, drug dealing immigrants and we have two half Mexican,
quarter English, quarter Welsh and fully US citizen daughters. Oh, and I also happen to be an immigrant, but because I’m white I suppose that doesn’t really make me a problem. So does this make our kids half drug dealer rapists? Or can we consider my partner to be one of few “good ones”?

Oh gosh, I really messed up didn’t I, I should have thought about all of this before falling in love and having children! What on earth was I thinking?! Sarcasm aside, I wasn’t. Why should I have been thinking about that? I always said that I would only have kids with someone who I knew would always be there for us. Someone I would spend the rest of my life with. That’s how I made my choice of partner. It’s about love and longevity for us; we are in it for the long haul, for good and bad, for the lows and the highs, all of that. I never once thought about our different backgrounds. Yes, there have been times that we have had to climb over a language barrier or two, but we are both pretty adept in that. I’ve always been surrounded by multiple languages anyway, so that didn’t change anything. But I never realised how racism and ignorance could affect us all on a daily basis. And it’s usually little things that you might not notice at first until they happen all the time.

Apparently it is impossible for people to write my kids’ last name properly, even when I spell it out for them. It is really two very common names with a hyphen in between. People write the names properly,but they seem to stick both names together, forget the hyphen or just go by the last name. If you look at doctors’ records, hospital records and health insurance cards their last name is written differently on each of them. I don’t know how many times I have had to say “their name is not Hughes, it’s Castro-Hughes!!”. I think Luna literally had three hospital records created by three different people because they didn’t input her name in properly. Whenever I have to fill in some kind of form for anything there is always a space asking for your ethnicity. I know it’s supposed to be a way to ensure everyone is treated equally (although I’m not sure how that is supposed to work), but since I don’t want to pigeonhole the girls I usually don’t put anything.

This was after a lengthy discussion with my other half on what we should do, knowing full well that if we checked the “white” box life might be a little easier for them… So you can imagine my surprise when I was reading through a routine child check up paper for Aurora and noticed that someone had marked her as “Hispanic”. So I then checked through Luna’s and hers said “White”. So even though we, as parents, had decided to not put anything, someone else had. And someone had decided, without much thought, to also separate my girls by ethnicity, which is exactly what we didn’t want to do. Yes, the girls look like sisters, but they also look different. Luna is very pale and looks a lot like me as a kid, and Aurora has darker skin and looks just like her dad right now. But it’s very, very important to me that people don’t treat them differently, or at least don’t treat them differently because of their appearance. I already worry about the girls going to school and all of the ethnic jokes and slurs that I see adults throwing around quite happily be passed down to their kids, who will then use them without a second thought. I remember when I was at school in a different country it was bad enough; I don’t even want to imagine what it is like here. The American middle and high school system seems to be tough enough as it is, but with all of the hatred and fear that I see surrounding us I can’t imagine it getting any better or any easier.

You only have to start reading the comments section of any political article to
realize that people still segregate in their minds… How often do you hear or read the words “the
Hispanics” or “the Blacks”?! But then how often do you ever hear “the Whites”? It’s as if people think it’s normal to group a bunch of people together because of their skin colour or language (even if their backgrounds are extremely diverse), but not so much for others.

If you have ever been treated differently because of your skin colour you will understand the fears I
have for my daughters. I never have, but I see it happen on a regular basis. My partner is often treated
differently. People assume he doesn’t speak English without even bothering to try, talking in a loud,
slow voice as if he has a hearing problem. The neighbourhood we currently live in is predominantly
white, with your visible Trump supporters scattered here and there, and I see the strange glances we
sometimes get thrown our way. These things were a lot less noticeable when we strolled around the
streets of NYC as a family talking in a mix of different languages. Everything fit in a little easier there.

Sometimes I feel that we stick out somewhat, in both predominantly white and predominantly Hispanic areas, and we probably do. For example when we go to a Mexican restaurant I speak in English and Cesar speaks in Spanish, because I’m embarrassed that I don’t speak Spanish as well as I should. We don’t really fit into a neat little case, like all mixed families. I want our kids to embrace and enjoy all of our backgrounds, my upbringing and languages, Cesar’s, as well as the traditions of the country they were born in. I don’t ever want them to feel embarrassed about anything.

Anyway, I guess my issue is that while I want to protect my children from all of this, at the same time I want them to be aware of the prejudices and judgments that people carry around with them. I don’t
ever want them to be surprised and I want them to be able to rise above ignorance, intolerance and
hatred. I also don’t want them to fall prey to the feeling that they may be superior or inferior to others
because of skin colour, money, gender, sexual orientation or anything else. We will do our best to build a strong foundation of individuality, compassion, love and strength within them, but I can only hope that the current climate in society won’t put a wedge in all of this. I know it’s a bit of a utopia, that perfect world I dream of where everyone accepts each other as they are, but I would like to think that if all of us like-minded individuals stick together, one day we can maybe hope for a better world for our kids where we celebrate differences rather than outcast them, or make them feel inferior.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

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Twitter: @jadeannahughes

Friday, 28 October 2016

Asking permission to be a mum #mamaissue

After kicking of my #mamaissue series, the response I have received from all of you has been amazing. I have enjoyed reading each and every one of your #mamaissues after all if it is an issue for you, then it has a right of place in this series. It seems very fitting and I am sure you will agree to kick of the guest posts with a fellow NICU MUM Ashton Conway from Our Preemie Family. Here are her very honest and real (two for one) NICU #mamaissues.


August 18th, 2014
The one thing I never thought of when my husband and I decided to have kids was asking permission to do the most basic parenting things. And with your first child in the NICU you have to ask to do the most basic of parenting tasks. I had to wait until my son was 25 days old before I could even change his diaper. Changing a diaper is a task most other parents bicker and try and pass off to the other or a visiting grandparent and its something I had to wait 25 days to do. That's about 192 diapers I had to let someone else change. And with the medicine he is on for this virus he has I may have to wait up to six weeks to change a diaper unless they show me a new way to do it. I never got to talk about the possibility of him having a diaper rash, I was told one day when I came to see him he had diaper rash because my son is an awesome peer. This is something a mother should experience with her child and not be told by a nurse. And its heart-breaking to me because I have seen my friends and people I have known for years take for granted a simple privilege like taking care of your child's basic needs. I am in no way saying that everyone is like that, this is just me saying a few people I have seen and this is over my 26 years in this world too.
 I have to ask permission to hold my son, I have to have a nurse and respiratory therapist come and help me take my son out of his bed and show me how to hold him because of all his tubes wires and cords. And I have been told no I am not allowed to hold him because of the type of ventilation he is on, because he is so stressed and moving him like this could stress him out too much and he's better left alone or because there are not enough people around to help in case of emergency. And I have seen the emergency first hand, he was 4 days old and it was the second time I ever got to hold him. We were just sitting and relaxing and I was quietly humming him a song and then the alarms started, his oxygen in his blood had dipped below 81% which is bad, since his happy numbers are between 88% and 95%, and it was still dropping. And because his oxygen was so low his heart rate dropped below what was acceptable. His heart rate should be between 100 BPM and 200 BPM and his had dropped to 80 BPM. It was still dropping fast and the Non-medical Routes of calming him down were not working. They did not have time to move him of my chest to basically revive him on me, l had one nurse holding my head in her hands making me look at her while I cried. I was not to look at what they were doing but I could feel the movement of whatever they were doing. After what felt like hours' but was only 8 minutes they moved David from me and put David into his bed to take him from his CPap machine and put a breathing tube down his throat. After that it takes a lot of energy and talking myself into holding my Son. I am scared to hold him because flashback to that day and scared I may have to go through that again. l have held him since then. But it takes a lot me talking myself into it and telling myself that won't happen again. And after all that preparation mentally and emotionally, to be told NO you can't told your son just crushes me and brings me back to what if they had said yes and it happened again.
 As a parent all you want to do is hold Your child give the ma kiss and make it all go away. the pain, the poking and prodding. That's our job as mom and dad is to kiss the booboos away. what do we do here, When your child looks up at YOU as if to say help me, Mommy it hurts-Mommy 1 can't breathe. How do you handle that? You can just pick them up and make it better . But you can hold their hands and smile and talk softly to them let them know even though this is scary you are there and you are on their side no matter what. even if can't change a diaper or hold him as much as I want. Which is always and never put him down, l am still the one who knows he hates facing the window because he is scared he's gonna miss something in the Pod. I know that he loves tummy time because its the best time to try and pull out his breathing tube because it's uncomfortable. I Know that he is calmer when people are talking to me during procedures because he knows they are there because I know they are helping him.
I know he loves books and having his dad read to him every weekend for 2 hours. And he loves to Rock out music When he is stressed and angry. l may not get to do the basic stuff but I know my son. And when I am feeling sad about the basic stuff I tell myself about his little quirks. And that the basic stuff will come, I mean right now he should still be in my tummy SO I wouldn't get to do this anyways. It's a long road being a preemie Mom or dad But the ride is what makes it sweeter in the end. The story is like this post, sad and full of self pity and it ends with self acceptance and a small smile.

Ashton and baby David.



As a preemie mom you hear a lot of things and feel a lot of things differently than parents that have had a term baby. I have many pet peeves because of having a preemie as my first baby, and I do have a lot of fears because of that also, you don't need to ask questions like the ones listed or act a certain way as well , we are just moms who walk a different path, but here are some of my pet peeves.
1) PLEASE DO NOT ASK IF WE ENJOYED OUR REST WHILE THE BABY WAS IN THE HOSPITAL. I have had more than one person as me if I was more rested for when DJ came home because he spent so long in the hospital..... Moms of term babies, when your little one is so sick they need a hospital stay, did YOU enjoy your break while YOUR little one was there?? No? Really? ME neither, our babies were born sick and small, they were not being baby sat they were fighting for their lives while we were at home staring at the phone just hoping we wouldn't get a phone call causing us to rush back to the hospital. Please think before asking this question.
2) PLEASE DO NOT ROLL YOUR EYES AT US WHEN WE EXPLAIN OUR CHILDS AGE. Depending on how early your baby is, he will have 2 ages, the actual age which tracks her birthday year to year as well as an adjusted age which each mom and dad will have to remember up until our little one is about 2 and 1/2 years old. The adjusted age is to track milestone against term babies to see if your baby is developmentally behind where you hope to be. Some babies are, but just because your baby and my baby were born the same day doesn't mean they will track the same, my little guy was early, yours was term. But it is like that with any baby, they all don't start crawling at 8 months or talking at 9 to 10 months, every baby is different, so if you ask a question like "How old?" Be ready for the long answer.
3)DO NOT COMMENT ON HOW SMALL MY CHILD IS. Preemie babies tend to be a bit smaller and grow a bit slower than term babies. I am very well aware my 1 year old only weighs 17 pounds and is shorter than your 1 year old. But we see our doctor more than you guys do, and she tells us how big we are getting and if the DOCTOR is ok with his size, you better believe this mommy is. So please check your attitude about his size out the door before coming in.
I honestly have a list of a million of these but these top three kinda cover most moms I have met who have preemies. Please use some common sense when asking things to moms.
Thank you for letting me Rant a little

Check out Our Preemie Family's brilliant blog 

If you have a #mamaissue you would like to share and raise awareness for please drop me an email! I would love to feature the in the new series #mamaissue and don’t forget to use the #mamaissue on your posts and pics on social media!


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A warning to the public, I cannot control my child.

Dear Public,

This is a letter just to explain a few things, I would say it is something of a public apology but I will let you into a secret…. I am not sorry.

I am not sorry I chose to have a child, nor do I regret this even on a bad day.

I am not sorry my child is strong willed, has likes and dislikes and is his own person.

He is a little boy who expresses emotion, just like any adult. He may not understand his emotion at the time, and this will frustrate him and he will act out.

I am not sorry when you are looking disapprovingly in the supermarket when he is crying as I will not buy him sweets. That I am taking my time going down to his level to explain how he is feeling.

I am sorry I choose to comfort my son, I am not sorry I didn’t leave or take him outside through embarrassment.

What have I got to be embarrassed about?
Kicking back on the train, cue the scolding.
I am sorry that he will scream, cry and kick when he goes back in the pushchair. He wants to explore, learn and experience new things, but at times I need to do this to ensure his safety he does not understand this yet.

I am not sorry that in a restaurant he may get up and wander around, or scream too loudly and that he is maybe ‘unruly’.

I am sorry you felt we were not good enough to sit next to even though we too were paying customers JUST LIKE YOU.

I am his mother and not Professor X, and I do not control him.

He is his own person, no matter how much I will guide and teach him, he will still do what the hell he likes. Even when I bribe him with mini bags of Haribo.
I cannot control him with a remote control, he is not a robot and I am thankful for this.

Do you know while you are judging me as a parent that I am raising a kind, gentle and funny little boy who loves to share? That he had a horrendously difficult start to his life.

That I am trying to teach him to be kind, open and accepting of others so when he grows up he doesn’t judge others like you.

I am sorry I do not choose to keep him prisoner in him own home, and god forbid take him out in PUBLIC.

I am sorry you had the misfortune to come across my child who at the time, was tired and was not too impressed he was on the bus in the heat and stuck in a traffic jam. I am sorry you felt you couldn’t talk to me like an adult, a decided to make a scene and move away from us on the bus tutting.

Do you know how that made me feel? Are you a parent?
I am sorry my 2-year-old toddler hasn’t figured out all the manners and etiquette; that he does not know what is socially expected of him at his age. I mean 2 whole years and he is learning. SHOCK HORROR.

When you see a toddler or child having a tantrum why do you look at the parents like they are worthy of a social services call? It’s not their fault! They are not on the floor screaming, are they?

Why do you feel it is okay to make rude comments, judge someone’s parenting ability on that singular moment? The look of disgust on your face that you have had to endure this in your day, horrifies me.

Do you know their story? The day they have had? Their circumstance? NO.

Do you remember being a child? Don’t you think you did this at their age too?

Maybe you are a parent, or a grandparent, can you not remember the terrible twos? The tantrums?

Why are we as parents being made to feel like we are the worst humans on the planet if our child acts out in public?
The face of angel
Please think of the parent, do you think we want to be standing in Poundland having an argument with a child who is flat down refusing to let go of the plastic police helmet and gun?

So public, this is my non apology letter to say I cannot control my child, just as I cannot control you. I don’t care he is a child and he is learning.

When my child is acting out in public I will never apologise, we shouldn’t have too.


A mama who no longer gives a crap what you the public thinks.

P.S This is dedicated to Kate Raine, the mother who found herself criticized and publicly humiliated online by the café she took her child too. Mama, you’re doing amazing this is for you.