Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Our Autism Journey- Lisa and Oscar

Last week saw me launching the NICU Mum medical files where I was honoured to share Carly and Isla's NICU story click here to read part one, and part two. I wanted to create a platform for others to share their stories, it might not be a NICU story but you could have had a difficult birth, faced a difficult illness or like Elijah suffer from a CHD. It is where we can relate, educate, support and raise awareness. From going through our journey with Elijah I took comfort from reading others stories. These are all honest parenting stories from the front lines.
 
Lisa has been writing over at mrssavageangel.com for nearly three years. She is a stay at home mama to her 4 year old son Oscar. She lives with Oscar and her husband Ben in leafy Surrey. She writes about parenting, Oscar’s Autism diagnosis and weight loss.
 
Lisa 'Mrs Savage Angel'.
Note:  Autism (according to the National Autistic Society website) is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.
 
Lisa and Oscar's story
 
I guess on some level I’ve always known Oscar was different. Born in 2012 by emergency c-section, he refused to breastfeed, could roll both ways by 16 weeks and was walking unaided by the age of 10 months old. He played differently to his friends too, either turning his toys over to look at the underside or lining up his beloved cars. But our first real concern came about when Oscar’s speech development was very obviously not keeping up with that of his peers. By the age of 18 months he would repeat certain words if you asked him to, but would not use them spontaneously. Shortly after 18 months he stopped doing even that. Everyone tried to tell me it was normal, that some children don't start talking until much later, but I just knew in the pit of my stomach that this was not just a work-a-day speech delay.
 
I asked the Health Visitor to come and see him at 2 years old. She tried to fob us off with the same ‘some children talk later’ guff but when nothing had changed a couple of months down the line I called her back and she referred him for a hearing test and to a paediatrician ‘just to cover all possibilities’.
 
Baby Oscar
 
Our first visit to the paediatrician was one of the most heart breaking experiences of my life. He performed almost all of the tasks he was asked to do, but she was concerned about his lack of connection to her or the social skills toys. Towards the end of the appointment she leant forward and asked if we had heard of Autism. When we said we had, she said, although she couldn’t diagnose him on the strength of one meeting, we were “probably in that ballpark”. I was devastated. Properly broken. I had expected her to say he was too young to tell and to come back in a year. But here she was telling me my beautiful boy wasn’t perfect, wasn't even the child I thought he was. For a week after that appointment I couldn't look at Oscar. Suddenly I couldn't be with him, didn't know what to say to him, what to feel. I was scared of my own toddler son.

Because you see she used the word probably and not possibly.

I cried. Long and hard. It was so awful and no one could help. No one could say or do anything to help. The paediatrician had given us a massive list of websites and resources to look at. It was well intentioned, but far too heavy for the state I was in. I went to the National Autistic Society website, on the her recommendation. It was the worst thing I could have done. Firstly there was too much information, I had no idea what I should be looking at, and secondly they are a charity, they have to talk about all negative stats to get their fundraising message across. But all that I could focus on was 70% adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders/Conditions are unemployed and how people on the Spectrum don't feel things the way other people do. Brilliant. So my boy would never be financially solvent and he didn't love me.
 
Worst. Week. Ever.
 
To start with I chose not to tell anyone anything. But carrying something so weighty nearly crushed me and after a while it became clear keeping the secret was breaking my heart more than the secret itself. So I told a friend. The relief was palpable and the more people who knew, the less scared I felt. Which makes sense if you consider the power of a secret lies in its keeping. I thought if people knew they'd gossip about me, but when I finally told some friends they couldn’t have been any more supportive and I realised hiding what was going on was only hurting me. I also realised early on that I really don’t care what other people think of us!
 
Lisa and Oscar
We spent the next six months getting him assessed by various professionals, who wrote up reports from all kinds of angles. When it came to his MultiDisciplinary Assessment (diagnosis meeting) we all sat round, seven of us in a hot room, discussing my 23 month old blonde haired, blue eyed baby boy. No one said anything I didn't already know or agree with, which was relief. Then paediatrician asked the other professionals ‘If you walked into a room of children would Oscar immediately stand out?’ They all agreed he would, and so while Oscar sat on the borderline for a lot of the markers for Autism (mainly due to his age), the overall feeling was that a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (as it is officially called) would be appropriate.

My world didn't crumble the way it did the first time round. I think because I knew it was coming I took it more stoically. Having the validation of a diagnosis also opened up doors to support we just couldn’t have got him without it. I have seen a few raised eyebrows at the fact we got him seen, and diagnosed so early, but more and more the evidence is showing that early intervention is key. As a clever friend said to me “why wouldn't you get him all the help you possibly can?”. And she was absolutely right!
 
If I had any advice to give I would be if you suspect something is amiss, don’t let fear put you off talking about it with the professionals. You know your child and you know in your heart if there's something that needs investigating. Putting it off and hoping it’ll go away might work, but what if it doesn't? Wouldn’t it have been better to get the right people on your support team asap?
 
Post diagnosis I would say be easy on yourself. The first year (in my experience) is hard. So very very hard. The impact on you as a parent cannot be underestimated. The amount of services and people and forms that will suddenly enter your life can make your head spin. And when it all settles down a bit you may be left feeling more bereft than you ever imagined. It took me much longer than I anticipated to even start to comes to terms with his diagnosis, but once I realised that's what was happening I started being kinder to myself.
 
Read blogs and books and whatnot by all means, but remember your child’s Autism is theirs alone. You may not recognise your child in anything you read, and that's OK.

Autism is teaching me all sorts of things. And not just about Autism. I think the main thing I’ve learnt is to be a more appreciative person, because I appreciate every small achievement so much more than I would have done if Oscar didn't have his diagnosis. Every word he's said, every thing he's done, I take nothing for granted (I hope).  Waiting three and a half years to hear the word mummy, will do that to you :)
Lisa with her lovely family
 
Please check out this amazing lady's further journeys via her social media and blog;
 
If you have a story to tell and want to be part of the NICU MUM medical file guest posts please contact me!
 
 
 
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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Are we going to be known for being the nastiest generation?

I have to say I am becoming more and more shocked about how so called grown adults are acting now a days. Following on from my post from the other week, (click here to read what sort of world have I brought my son into?) I feel like as this is the honest confessions that I should be truthful with how I am feeling, especially as a mother of a small child. It is something that worries me. It worries me that people are not thinking about their actions, how they are treating one another and I keep asking myself is there now less and less good in the world? Are we all really this nasty now? Have we always been like this? Or is it now I am older, now I am a mother and responsible for setting an example to my son that I am just picking up on this a lot more, and it has always been there?

If we are being really honest I voted once when I was 18, just because I could and then until 2 years ago hadn’t bothered. I am very sorry to all of the suffragettes that I wasted this, and their families please don’t think badly of me. I was distracted by white jeans, cherry Lambrini and giant hooped earrings. Going out and getting drunk and buying dresses from New Look each weekend was far too important. My feelings changed when I had Elijah. I felt it was mine, and Elijah’s dad's responsibility to use our vote to influence what world our son would be brought up in.
 
So that brings us to the EU ref. vote. The biggest perhaps of our time, the last month or so it has been talked about again and again. Facts, figures and opinions are appearing everywhere you go and Facebook and Twitter seemed to go into meltdown. People ramming their opinions down your throat whether you wanted them to or not. People acting like it was the end of the world, the saviour of the world. It seemed every part of our lives was dictated to whether it would be best to be in or out. I didn’t really pay too much attention to this, the only real thing I watched was to see if my friend tripped down the stairs in the audience of the local BBC referendum program! Which she did! I voted for what I thought was right for me and my family. I am a part time working mother, therefore this is what led me to voting the way I did.

At the end of the day, everyone has an opinion. This is why there is a vote, two options are given to you, it is enviable that you are going to vote for one or another. There is no middle ground. You were in or you were out. That’s the end of that. We should actually count ourselves lucky we are even given the chance to do this. As history and some countries have taught us we could have one person making all of the decisions for us without a say.
                                  

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, that’s what makes us different and diverse. Not a bunch of robots all thinking, saying and doing the same things. What people aren’t entitled to is attacking someone for the way they voted because they didn’t agree. I have seen name calling, and I mean horrendous insults thrown at people putting the simplest of posts (a photo of Nutella on toast) and someone calling the poster a ‘European Fascist’. Are you bloody kidding me? This is disgusting she is a mother of a child and you have called her a fascist which to me is synonymous with Hitler. Compare some Nutella on Toast to what he did? Are you freaking kidding me?

I have seen the nastiest of words being thrown at people, racist, fascist, cowards, ignorant and so many swear words that I, who has quite a bad potty mouth was even shocked. This is our country and its future at stake, people are bound to worry or feel anxious and emotions will run high but why are we attacking one another? Why are we attacking that person’s opinion just because we do not agree with it? Why is a political view now becoming a personal attack? Are we still so pig headed to think that if someone doesn’t think the way we do then they must be wrong? That it then gives us permission to abuse them and their beliefs? Have we always been so nasty?

I pondered if my Nan’s generation really had things a bit better back then (click here to view guest blog for Mummy and Little Me on this) and I keep thinking what ever must they think of how people are acting? Although the majority of the older generation voted to leave, I never saw an older person choosing to turn key board warrior and viciously attack someone because of their beliefs.

Maybe, we should take inspiration from Big Brother and we shouldn’t be allowed to talk about the vote. That we cannot broadcast it all over social media. That you cannot advise which way you voted. When we left the polling station there was a lady with an IPAD asking and recording down what people voted. I mean surely telling her what I just voted for sort of defeats the point? I am not the most politically motivated person, but with all of these promise of change and that we will all benefit so much, how much of it will actually come to fruition?

I see so much negativity in the world, half the times I didn’t even bother to watch the news to see what we are doing to each other. I would prefer to spend my time trying to find the good. To try and teach my son to be an honest, kind and charitable person. Under the government and being a member of the EU, I was able to take maternity leave, come back to work part time with rights as a worker, and my child had open heart surgery on the NHS at Great Ormond Street. Alongside the various appointments, hospital stays etc. how much did we cost the tax payer? Way more than we have paid towards it. Would we be considered to be many of the ones exploiting the NHS?

Now, the vote didn’t go the way some people wanted, people are of course upset, the other side are gleefully gloating. Promises seemed to be being backtracked already.We can all continue to fight for what we believe in, whether that's to remain or leave, without destroying on each other and spewing vial hate. Hate doesn't make our message louder or more valid. In fact; by doing so we've let the next generation down. Those little eyes watching us learn that hate is an acceptable way to accomplishment. 

It really is our actions that will determine our child’s future. It is how we choose to raise them. I have seen that there is a group of researchers that are undergoing a study that being nasty in our DNA. It may genetically be passed on and many factors influence this including our relationships and environment factors. Maybe we need to be more conscious and set a better example?

Would you be happy if in however many years’ time, you found your child abusing someone online for what they believe it? If they didn’t agree with someone so they beat them up? What if they didn’t like if they were gay, straight, white, black, labour, conservative, tall, short? We need to end this cycle we seemed to have found ourselves in, if not seriously what the hell kind of world are we going to be living in? I am already disgusted with what is going on now! People abusing friends and family and turning on the ones they love for the sake of a vote. June the 23rd is being known as the day Britain 'stood up for itself', I think it also became the day (and subsequent days before and after) that Britain became home to some of the nastiest people. Whoop, pat on the back everyone we really showed the world who we were, what we could do, and say. We were an embarrassment. I saw people saying that Britain was ruined for their children, and future children. You are right we proved that. But, it wasn't the result of the vote that did it. It was the actions of the population.

It seems that a lot of people may need to turn away from their phones and keyboard and going put their energy into something positive. Don't force your opinion on someone, let them make it themselves.Some people definitely have too much time on their hands. Go do something that will benefit others. Go volunteer for a charity, help a new mum by giving her a break or take an elderly neighbour shopping. Or for god’s sake just be nice. Be kind.

So many people are going through some horrendous things in life, losing children, facing terminal and mental illness. One thing what having a son that needed life threatening surgery has taught me? Life is short, it can be tough it can be hard but it can also be taken away. In the blink of an eye. Let’s just make the best of what we have,and try and be nice to each other. I mean is that really so hard?

 
Similar NICU Mum posts;

Are you a judgey mum?

I don't like your child

Would you breastfeed another person's child?


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Carly and Isla's story- part two

Yesterday, I published Carly and Isla's birth story, please click here to read if you haven't already! Below is what happened after Carly gave birth prematurely at just 31 weeks. Isla was taken into NICU, and how Carly coped as a NICU parent. This is something I am all to familiar with, please click here to read Elijah's admission to NICU.

As mentioned yesterday, I wanted to start a series of guest blog posts from others who have gone through similar things, a platform for others to share their feelings, experiences and to help and provide comfort to others going through the same thing. So we can all support one another, educate and raise awareness. These are the NICU MUM medical files.

Carly's NICU story

The next day we spent the whole day in the NICU and were able to hold Isla for the first time, learning the importance of skin to skin and spending hours studying everything about her. Each day the staff in the NICU had a half hour changeover at 8pm so we used this time to get dinner and now in hindsight we laugh at the fact that I went to the Chicken Shop on the day that I gave birth!

The following morning, I was discharged so went home to get showered and changed before heading straight back to the hospital. So began a month of going to and from the hospital every day. This felt really strange to begin with as I had imagined hibernating for a few days with our new-born, not sitting on a bus alone the very next day. In fact, I was offered a seat as someone assumed I was still pregnant because I didn't have a baby with me!
Baby Isla in the NICU
Isla was jaundiced, on intravenous antibiotics, fed through a tube and breathing with the assistance of a cPap machine, however we were gradually beginning to realise that it was looking likely she didn't have any other serious issues and after 2 days she was moved into the high dependency room where she stayed for a week. This time was very scary, it was the not knowing that was so unsettling. I became obsessed with watching her heartbeat monitor and paranoid every time it dropped, insisting that the nurses record it on her chart. I constantly thought back to the birth and how at one point her heartbeat had slowed to half what it should have been for 20 minutes and the fact that I never did get the magnesium sulphate which would have protected her from many disorders. She was due to have a brain scan which kept getting postponed which I worried about a lot.  I knocked her umbilical cord off when it got caught on my bra during skin to skin! The medical staff were very relaxed about all these things and I wish I'd had more faith in their confidence but it's very difficult not to think the worst.
 
One of the things I found the hardest about our start of parenthood in the NICU is the number of visitors we had. We had over 20 friends and family come to the hospital in the first week. Everyone that came to see us did so to be supportive because they love us but at the time it felt that people were coming to gawk at her in a fish tank. I couldn't help but think that if she had been born in more normal circumstances we'd have been given a few days at home to spend time as a family before the crowds descended.  One of my lowest points was on day 4 I just wanted to spend time with my baby but my husband’s aunty and cousins were coming to the hospital and I couldn't face having to make small talk, so I took off by myself to buy a breast pump just to get away but found myself in floods of tears in the middle of Mothercare, feeling so overwhelmed by the situation.  I also felt uncomfortable whenever anyone said congratulations as I wasn't supposed to have a baby yet! it was also difficult to deal with comments such as "at least you didn't get really big" or "at least you can sleep through the night" - when I'd have definitely traded those things to know that my daughter was safe and healthy.
Skin to Skin cuddles
When she was 9 days old Isla was moved to the Special Care unit which was much more relaxed and the emphasis was just on getting her big enough and strong enough to go home. She suddenly had far fewer monitors and I was constantly worried that I didn't know what her heart rate was at all times! A week later she was moved to a cot with a heated mattress, however she was moved back into her incubator twice as her temperature kept dropping.  All that remained was for her to get the hang of feeding before we could take her home. I had heard that breastfeeding was even more important for premature babies so was adamant that I wanted to be able to feed her myself.  The time in special care was like groundhog day.
My husband had gone back to work and was fully focused on trying to establish feeding.  At this point I was spending 10 hours a day at the hospital so that I could be there for as many feeds as possible.  I attempted to feed her at the same time as she had her tube feeds so she would associate feeding with the feeling of being full. I was expressing every three hours to establish my supply, including through the night. It eventually took 3 weeks to get to the point that the hospital was happy she was gaining enough weight to consider going home. We also had to complete a checklist which included things like buying a thermometer and attending CPR training.  We then "roomed in" at the hospital for 2 nights which was a brilliant way to ease into being on our own but with the support of the medical staff nearby.
 
We finally took Isla home after 29 days at hospital. We were originally told to aim for her due date so we were so lucky that she came home almost a month before this, in fact she even attended her own baby shower!! One positive of the experience was that we got to know her well during her time at hospital so we didn't have the fear that most new parents have when she made strange noises in the middle of the night - we already knew all her strange noises!  We were still very paranoid though, I felt as though I needed to know her oxygen saturation levels and was constantly taking her temperature.  We were very conscious about her temperature dropping as this had been such an issue at the hospital, so much so we dressed her in a snowsuit and several layers the first time we ventured out the house even though it was 20 degrees outside - of course she overheated!
 
We were under the care of the community nurse for around a month after Isla came home and were discharged after around a month. She was still being tested regularly for jaundice at this time, was on medication for reflux and had an umbilical hernia for around 8 months. She still has check ups at the hospital but they are becoming less regular and they are happy with her progress.  Isla is still small for her age, wearing 9-12 month clothes at 20 months but I'm finding myself explaining her age / corrected age less and less the older she gets. We know we are incredibly lucky for her to have no long term illnesses and feel incredibly blessed. The NICU feels a long way away as we watch her grow and develop into a very lively toddler!
Look at me now!
Carly would also like to thank the charity that helped her during her family's NICU stay, whom she has even run a marathon for! http://www.first-touch.org.uk

NICU MUM similar posts;

 A guide to surviving your time in NICU
If you have a story to tell and want to be part of the NICU MUM medical file guest posts please contact me!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Carly and Isla's story.


When we were in NICU, and waiting for Elijah's surgery, I felt so alone. Like no one else was going through this and I took comfort in going online and reading others stories. I repeatedly Googled success stories and just prayed we would be one of them. Since starting my blog, I have had lots of people come to me to say they are so happy, I shared my story.

I wanted to start a series of guest blog posts from others who have gone through similar things, a platform for others to share their feelings, experiences and to help and provide comfort to others going through the same thing. We can all support one another, educate and raise awareness. One thing they all have common, these are the honest and raw stories of people's real experiences of parenthood. These are the NICU MUM medical files.
I first connected with Carly via Instagram, and she kindly agreed to share her NICU story after telling me she had Isla prematurely at 31 weeks. This is part one of her journey, her birth story. Part two of Isla's stay in NICU and how Carly really felt about this will be published tomorrow.
Carly with the beautiful Isla born at 31 weeks
                                           
Carly's birth story
I'd had a complication free pregnancy and as I am a procrastinator and always late for everything I had a feeling my baby would be late too. I was 30 weeks pregnant and midway through renovating our flat when my waters broke. I had barely had time to get excited, much less prepared practically for our new arrival.
Our friends were giving us a lift to Wickes for yet more DIY supplies and had headed out to the car, I was about to follow them when I felt what I assumed was a bladder leakage - embarrassing but I thought not uncommon during pregnancy. I was shocked to go to the toilet and see blood. At that stage I was mostly confused and trying to remember what I had ready about spotting being normal during pregnancy, but was that during the third trimester? I decided to consult Doctor Google, hoping to put my mind at rest but only finding advice to call the doctor, panicking as it was a Sunday so the doctors was shut I called 111 who advised that I head straight to the delivery suite at the hospital.  Suddenly realising that our friends were still waiting we rushed to the hospital and things began to feel very surreal, a feeling that underpinned the next few weeks.

I was examined and told everything was fine so was then surprised to be told I'd be kept in overnight as a precaution.  I headed off to the ward whilst my husband went home to pack an overnight bag for me. That was one of the strangest nights of my life. It appeared to be some sort of holding room for people in the early stages of labour, it was bizarre to hear people clearly in labour being sent home as it was too early whilst I was lying there feeling completely fine. I was monitored with my temperature and blood pressure being recorded every few hours as well as an ECG machine monitoring the baby’s heartbeat and movements.
The next day I was offered steroid injections which are routinely given to pregnant women at risk of premature labour to strengthen the baby’s lungs. These had to be issued 12 hours apart so again I was kept in overnight. The next day I was again told I was being kept in as a precaution but that there was nothing to worry about. At this point it was all still feeling very surreal and I was starting to get frustrated about missing work and not knowing what was going on. It wasn't until 4 days after the original bleeding that a doctor came round and told me my waters had broken. At this point I felt completely blindsided and cried for the first time as I finally realised things were serious as the doctor outlined my options and gave me a revised due date. 
I was told there were 3 possible outcomes; I'd either go in labour spontaneously, develop an infection and have to be induced or progress to 34 weeks and then be induced. Either way I'd be having the baby at least a month and a half early. What made it all the more surreal was that my original due date was the end of November so I had thought I was having a winter baby, yet when I was given this news we were having an Indian summer and it was 25 degrees outside! This was also the first time neonatal care was mentioned and I had to face the reality that my baby would be whisked off straight away before I was able to hold her.
I was eventually sent home after 6 days only be readmitted just 36 hours later as the bleeding got heavier again. The possibility of going into labour was beginning to be mentioned more often, I was placed on an ECG monitor again and told I would be given magnesium sulphate if it turned out that I was in labour as this would protect against cerebral palsy and motor dysfunction. I began to start feeling pains and it soon transpired that this was the beginning of birth. As the pains increased I asked for painkillers and the magnesium sulphate that I'd been told about but the midwife said this wouldn't be until I was in "active labour", at which point I'd be moved into the labour suite.  She said she wasn't able to check this herself as I was only 31 weeks so I would have to wait for the doctor, who would be around in 2 hours.

However, within an hour I could feel the baby's head and felt terrified. I didn't know anything as to what to expect during labour which I believe would have been mentioned in the later antenatal appointments.  All I remembered was a midwife on "One born every minute" saying "Don't push until I tell you to". The midwife hadn't responded when I pushed the alarm but luckily my mum was with me and she ran into the corridor and found another midwife who confirmed that I was indeed about to give birth and sounded a different emergency alarm and within seconds there were half a dozen people in the room with an incubator and various equipment, all shouting at me to push!

3 pushes later my daughter Isla came into the world at 12.08am, weighing three and a half pounds, and I was shocked when she was placed in my arms as I was already mentally prepared for her to be taken away immediately. I don't think I really appreciated that first hold as I was too shell-shocked, I just remember feeling really awkward and being amazed by her little skinny arms and legs.  A few seconds later they placed her on breathing support and the crowds disappeared with my daughter to the neonatal unit. The room felt so empty and silent. My mum went home, and my husband and I were instructed to wait to be told we could visit Isla and to get some sleep in the meantime. Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep.
Eventually at around 3am we were told we could visit the NICU and see her properly for the first time. The whole experience was so surreal as I was absolutely shattered and we could barely see her through the tubes and wires and it was difficult to focus as the nurses talked us through the practicalities of handwashing and gaining access to the unit. We stayed for about an hour and I was given a couple of small syringes and a booklet with instructions of how to hand express colostrum.  We were taken up to the ward and were lucky to be given a private room to sleep in. It was bad enough that there was an empty cot in the room, it would have been much harder to be on the ward full of other mums with their new-borns.
Baby Isla
Carly would also like to thank the charity that helped her during her family's NICU stay, whom she has even run a marathon for! http://www.first-touch.org.uk

NICU MUM similar posts;

My birth story
Birth story part 2
Elijah's admission to NICU

Part 2 of Carly and Isla's story, their stay in the NICU will go live tomorrow!

If you have a story to tell and want to be part of the NICU MUM medical file guest posts please contact me!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Happy Fathers Day, Daddy Pig.

I think when we first found out about Elijah's condition when we were still in the NICU (click here to read Elijah's admission to NICU), his life hanging in the balance we never thought we would be a normal family. We didn't know if we would get to take our baby home, or what kind of life he would live even if we did.


But, against it all; 9 days in NICU, open heart surgery, 5 days in Great Ormond Street, a PTSD diagnosis, 50+ hours weeks and everything life throws at you, we did become a normal family. Elijah is healthy and happy (click here to read his recent discharge from the development clinic). When your week becomes the routine of, work, childcare, nursery and Bad Girl re runs (were on series 4 people). You sometimes take each other for granted, I am most certainly am so guilty of this.
Greg as my Nan says is a 'good egg', he dotes on both me and Elijah, he gives us what ever we want. If he can't, he some how makes it happen anyway. Being so ill postnatally and suffering from Thyroid disease, Greg never moaned once and always took Elijah overnight and lets me have a couple of extra hours in bed even now. Not many fathers would work a 16 hour shift, have a new born overnight and still let their partner lay in, but Greg did. He does the housework on his days off and actively supports my studying and blogging (mainly as he thinks this will lead to my fame and he can live the easy life in LA).  Thinking back the last 2 years, I cannot remember when Greg put himself first. He even makes my packed lunch for work. Its been a tough journey for us as a couple (click here to read has becoming parents changed our relationship), and something like what we have been through does really put a strain on your relationship. I was struggling a lot in myself, yet he stood by me even when I knew he felt so helpless.

Me and Greg have one thing in common, we are missing the father figures in our lives. I know Greg's fear was that he wouldn't know how to be a good dad as he never had one, or he would make the same mistakes his dad did. I can say I know for a fact that he will never do this. Greg has his morals and he sticks by them to set an example to our son. He will always do the right thing by Elijah and be the dad, neither of us had. I am very lucky to have had my Grandad in my life for 13 years, he was like a dad to me and I miss him terribly. Happy Fathers Day my old boy.

Greg like the worker bee (okay more like a donkey) he is has to work this fathers day but this post is my way of trying to repay him in all that he does for us. That and the amazing haul me and Elijah have treated him too! We also wanted to get crafty!
                              
So we took some inspiration from the amazing Amelia's Crafty Corner fathers day make! Elijah normally gets bored and leaves me to finish his makes (Easter 2016 and sticking cotton balls to rabbits will haunt me forever more) but loved watching Amelia and our card didn't turn out to shabby! Click here to visit Amelia's Crafty Corner we thoroughly recommend it! Pretty soon I am sure she will be taking over Mister Maker on C beebies!

 
So, to our very own Daddy Pig, NICU DAD, Papa Smurf, Mcdaddy,  Happy Fathers Day, we love you to the moon and back.



Dear Daddy,

I just wanted to say Happy Father’s Day.

I want to say thank you for everything you have done for me, I know it hasn’t been easy.

Like when me and Mummy were poorly in hospital and you tried so hard to keep it together and be strong and look after us both.



When you had to come to the hospital on your own as Mummy was ill and you looked after me so well, you came with me when I had that scary MRI scan.

You were so excited to tell Mummy that I could come home you even brought her some flowers. We were all so happy that day weren’t we?

I know I kept you up (and I still do!) but you never moaned once and we had so many nights watching TV on the sofa together.

You work so hard Daddy, and it makes me sad to say goodbye to you at the window.


Whenever you come back I get so excited, and will stop what I am doing to run to you. No matter what sort of day you had you always want to play with me when you get home.

I know when we were waiting for my operation it was scary, and I know you didn’t like thinking about it.

Thank you Daddy for being brave, for being strong and looking after Mummy. Thank you for kissing me before I went down to theatre.

It was hard when I came back up from surgery wasn’t it? You didn’t like the look of my chest drain and you were very upset.

Thank you for being there Daddy, even though you were worried I could hear you and Mummy talking to me, and reading me stories.

When we were moved to the other ward, we watched films and thank you Daddy for playing with me, even though it was awkward to hold me. I enjoyed our cuddles.

You went back to work when I came home, and then Mummy went back too. I enjoy our Tuesday’s together and playing football and guitar and going to music classes.

Daddy, you have been amazing even when Mummy was ill or struggling you always helped her and looked after me.

I loved co sleeping with you Daddy even though you snored, and I used to kick you in the head.


I know you are normally so tired from working all weekend, but you always have a game for us to do. I like when you take me to the park and you go on all the things with me! Or when you go down the slides at soft play on your tummy, it makes me laugh.

I love having a bath with you Daddy and when you pretend to be Bain from Batman with the water jug.

More than anyone you make me laugh so much Daddy, you are so funny, I love being silly with you. When you make me laugh so much playing ‘chicken legs’.


We have come so far since last Father’s Day haven’t we?

I was still recovering, and now look at me! I am causing you mischief and making you clear up all my mess!

I actually helped Mummy choose your presents this year Daddy! You are my Daddy Pig, and I love you.

I know your Daddy wasn’t around that much, but you are the best Daddy and I know you will always be there for me.

I am a heart warrior, and I am strong because of you, my heart warrior Daddy.

Love

Elijah xxx
 
 








Friday, 17 June 2016

My name is Vicki and I am a recovering judgey mum.

Here is my second guest post for the amazing Mummy and Little Me site!

Click here to view!


My name is Vicki and I am a recovering judgey mum. Currently have been judgement free for 4 days! Instead I try and say one good thing to one parent that I may or may not know every day! In hope that maybe we can turn this culture around and set a good example to our children. As if not where will it end?

click here to read full post!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Mummy and Little Me - Guest Blog

Please have a little gander at my first piece for the great Mummy and Little Me blog!

It is a very soppy post about why I want to be my son's best friend, like forever. A bit like Leonardo Dicaprio taking his mum to the BAFTAS.


I have a secret, one that makes me a bit of a loser mum.
I really want to be my son’s best friend. For as long as I can. I also want us to start wearing matching clothes, but that is a whole other story!
We have spent 21 months together and do you know what I am realising? He is growing up. Fast

Click Here to Read Full Post

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Why blogging helped me cope with PTSD.

A few weeks ago now I announced that I had become an Up All Hours Resident Imperfect Parent!

My first post is live!

Why blogging helped me cope with PTSD.


I was very hesitant to admit this, in the event others judged me mainly as a mother. However, strangely it wasn't the medication or the counselling that helped me overcome it.

It was in fact this little ol' blog and the amazing people I have connected with along the way!

Click here to view the Up All Hours Blog!!





What sort of world have I brought my son into?

I, by in no means regret the birth of my child, in fact although we went through a traumatic journey he is by far the best thing in my life (click here to read Elijah's admission to NICU). He makes me smile, laugh and has made me realise that I really can love something so unconditionally I think my heart will burst! With the intense mother-son bond we have, I am also very protective of him. It is a parents’ job to protect their child from harm, from any danger and to support and encourage him to be the best person he can be. To teach him that he can be open minded, accepting, and kind to everyone. To not judge others for what they look like, what they believe in or where they are from.

However, nowadays I am finding it harder and harder to feel as a mother that I can keep my son safe. As a result, I wonder what sort of world is he really going to grow up in? You envisage your child becoming president, fixing the world’s problems with his Nobel prize worthy ideas and philosophies but will there even be a world left for him to grow up in? We are not born to hate, to judge so why do we feel the need to impart this on our children? For them to pass onto theirs? Should we not be encouraging the next generation to be open minded, kind and accepting? To stop this cycle of hate and killing?
Do you remember the last time you watched the news or looked online without reading there had been a mass shooting somewhere, a terrorist attack there or that’s someone senselessly lost their lives? I do not. From what my son has been through I have seen first hand that life can be unfair, that it can be tough but does this make me hate everyone no. In fact, it is the opposite since Elijah’s op (click here for Elijah's surgery story). I have been more open, less judgemental and more understanding of others. I believe it really has made me a better person. Elijah has made me a better mother. But why are so many people because they have had a traumatic incident in their lives turning to do such cruel thing? Why after finding something they truly believe in feel the need to wipe out hundreds or thousands of lives?
I had been offline for most of the day, the first thing I was greeted with when I went back on was the horrifying attack in Orlando in a LGBT club where a lot of people lost their lives, apparently an ISIS attack. Let’s not forget the Paris and Belgium attacks that have all happened this year along with so many more. Those people that lost their lives, they could have been mothers, fathers, someone’s child, uncle, sister. Because of a few individuals crazed idea of justice families have been ripped apart.
Euro 2016 has started, a worldwide event to unite us all, for us all to celebrate our counties and join together. But already violence has broken out amongst fans. For what? What is this really going to achieve? Do people think this is a viable outcome and suddenly because of this their country will now win? I would really love to know what honestly goes through these people’s heads. Are they fathers? Sons? Have they got a family at home, that they are thinking of whilst kicking someone’s head in? Do they think that this will show them to be the superior country? Who bloody cares? Can we not just enjoy these things for what they are? Why is it we continuously have to resort to violence when it will not achieve a single thing in this context.
What is this teaching our children? How to behave? How to act and being tolerant of others? What it is teaching is a culture of hate, violence and judging others. There has recently been a child who like many others have lost their lives to a ‘choking game’ where children as young as 10 are depriving themselves of oxygen to get a ‘high’. The peer pressure these kids are facing to take part in a fatally dangerous craze is beyond reason. With technological advances, comes new ways for children to have access to the senseless violence and crazes they seem to take part in. Cyber bullying has robbed so many children’s lives because a few cruel individuals target a vulnerable child who obviously felt like they had no way out but to kill themselves. I am not sure if you remember a while ago there was a group of teenagers who all took part in a suicide pact? They all killed themselves within weeks of each other, after all communicating online to do it.
It seems to be acceptable to judge others for all manner of reasons. Where a child could so mean to another that they feel the only way out is to end their lives. How exactly do I protect my child from this? Ban him from watching the news, going online and talking to anyone ever again? No matter how hard you try, how many parental controls you put in place they will still be exposed to this.
I also know there is a lot of good in the world, the 90-year-old war widow selling poppies in the rain in honour of her husband, the people shaving their heads to raise money for charity, those donating to foodbanks or helping those less fortunate than themselves, the strangers helping breastfeeding mothers to eat their dinner while nursing, to the mums and dads becoming a united and supportive network on social media. I have received overwhelming support from my lovely Instagram family whom I have never met but talk to nearly every single day. To those which don’t judge, who remain open minded and help support others. This what I want my son to see, to take example from.
I will highlight these to my son, to encourage him to do the same acts of kindness we have received. When you watch your child go through something like open heart surgery at such a young age you appreciate these things just that bit more. I feel like it is an important quality to be honest, to say what you really feel and to not be ashamed of it. But sometimes, the phrase ‘If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say it at all’, should really be put into practice. Maybe if we all spend a bit more time being kinder, the world wouldn’t be such violent one, and instead it is the acts of kindness and charity that are the headlines rather than the mass destruction we are seeing. That in itself is a very sobering thought and I do hope it is the type of world my son can grow up in.