Monday, 21 August 2017

A letter to my post-natal depression

I will not loose against this.


I am ashamed  to see you again.

I thought we went our separate ways a long time ago.

I paid my dues, letting you taint the first 18 months of my first son’s life.

Now, here you are once again as I embark as a new mother of two.

I feared you, and what you would do to me again.

You overwhelmed me.

You consumed me.

You changed me, I didn’t recognise myself anymore.

You scared me, and from the look in his eyes of how I was acting, and what I was saying you scared my partner too.

There was so much darkness in me.

You made me resent my own children.

You made me believe I couldn’t cope, that I was a failure.

You had convinced me I was a rubbish mother.

You manipulated me, and controlled me.

I didn’t sleep because of you.

I wasn’t eating because of how you made me feel.

You made me feel like I couldn’t face anyone.

You got your way and isolated me, you had me to yourself.

You trapped me.

You made me feel like I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s love not even my own children’s.

You constructed fantasies of me leaving my family.

You put a voice in my head that they would be better off without me.

You re engaged my anxiety, I felt like I was swimming against the tide every day when I woke up.

I felt like it my fault you were here again, why couldn’t I just be a ‘normal’ mother?

You made me question everything.

There was one thing you were not counting on, and that is the fact I knew who you are, what you could do.

I knew how to beat you and I knew I could do it.

It may take a while but I will not let you win again.

There will be dark days to come, but there will be so many good days too.

You are not part of me, you are just something that has a temporary residence inside me.

You will not be there forever, you will not control me for long.

I know I am normal, and I am not alone.

I am a good mother, with or without you.

So, this letter is to say, I accept you but, you are not who I really am.

And frankly PND you are a complete b***h.

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Monday, 14 August 2017

Peacocking the packed lunch

Elijah and his one true love. Cheese.
Action stations everyone. Elijah needs a packed lunch for the next two weeks while the nursery chef is off.

Now, to some that may not seem like a big deal right? Chuck a sandwich and some Mini Chedders in and away you go.

No, no, no it is so much more than that in the age of the peacocking packed lunch.

It's all about healthy, break the budget organic teeny tiny portioned toddler snacks. It's about alternative quinoa crisps that taste like cardboard. What the hell was wrong with a Dairylea Lunchable I ask you?

It is though there is now a direct link between the quality of your kid's packed lunch to your parenting ability.

Jam sandwich today compared to Timmy's wholegrain rotisserie chicken and organic tomatoes? You shoddy parent. Is that a Penguin? A PENGUIN??? Irresponsible parenting. You mean to say you sent your child in with a whole piece of fruit? Not sliced into tiny completely uniform sticks? I am calling social services. You bloody monster.

You cannot just whack in a Wagon Wheel anymore as it is deemeed unhealthy by the powers that be (personally I blame cocking Jaime Oliver. Turkey Twizzler RIP). You cannot pack nuts in case someone has an allergy. (Um me #arks). Notes get sent home by the angry dinner staff mafia as a tiny packet of raisins aka toddler crack has a lot of sugar and is the sole cause of the childhood obsesity crisis didnt you know?

This may also be where the staff realise one of my secret shames that Elijah eats and has eaten the same thing for lunch for around a year. Cheese sandwich leaving 3/4 of the bread, crisps, his own weight in Babybells and whatever stolen chocolate item he has got from the treat draw. Hardly the suff of Ella's Kitchen.

So, what did I do? Went to Morrisons panic brought half the shop with anything that one, he would eat thus not raising suspicion and two would be accepted as a reasonably healthy packed lunch. The fear of judgement is at an all time high people.

I might also confess our lunch box game is poor. A hastily brought Poundland jobby that is likely to break under the weight of a fly.

Sorry son, I have failed you. You do not have a peacock of a packed lunch. More like a old manky chicken.

Jesus knows what fresh hell his school packed lunch will bring.

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Saturday, 12 August 2017

Are we too easily offended?

 Serena posing for Vanity Fair

Do you need to give birth to be a “real woman”. The short answer? No.

Serena Williams faced a social media crucifying this week when she said in a magazine interview that she was excited to give birth as she would feel like a “real woman”. A slight poor choice of words which many took offence to and didn't hesitate to let her know by barraging her via social media channels. 

I am speculating here but I do not think she meant this as an insult to women. To those who cannot have children or choose not to. Does this make them any less of a woman compared to someone who has had children? Of course not.  When I gave birth did I feel any more of a woman compared to my pre child self? No, it made me a mother but no more of a woman. The same principle applies that you do not have to have given birth to be a mother.

Put very crudely, women were meant to carry and bear children. This was their biological design, to help carry on the human race. In this day and age there are so many more factors to consider. It isn’t as simple as that. Not all women want to have children and not all mothers give birth to theirs. Families come in all shapes and sizes and it isn't a one size fits all world anymore.

Some topics will always cause an uproar. And this is one of them. Women are not the timid hide in the shadows beings we used to be. We have a voice and one we exercise reguarly. We want to be heard, to be respected for the decisions we make.  Women do not apolgise for not wanting children or admitting how desperate they are to have them. There is still too much stigma and a sense of shame surrounding the topic of inferitility. 

People do love a good witch hunt and when something starts trending it will soon snow ball into something very ugly. One comment suddenly turns into one of the leading strong female role models in sport attacking those who cannot and choose not to have children with the common # of #chooseyourwordscarefully 

I have to admit something here and it has changed my view dramatically of how I view things on social media. When I first saw that Serena had made that comment; I too, was taken aback about how insensitive it was. Talking to my partner about it, he perceived it as something differently entirely. He said that being a sports woman she is likely to be seen as very masculine. I can imagine the comments she must have received about the way she looks and the field she has chosen to pursue a career in. Being pregnant and giving birth is something (at the moment 😉) only a woman can do. This is what I believe she was trying to convey in the interview and not what she was accused of doing. I may be wrong but I struggle to see why a feminist icon would destroy her reputation by being purposely insensitive to a lot of women  that lookup to and respect her.

It is argued we are the easily offended generation and social media does play a role. I was once attacked by what seemed like half the CHD community after I penned an article to say I didn't like it when people asked me if my son was fixed after his heart op. I was bombarded with comments and many said I was too easily offended. I do believe those in the spot light should indeed choose their words more carefully, (D Trump I am looking at you) hell, I think we could all do with doing this perhaps the world would be a kinder place. We are all still allowed an opinion and have a voice and with the ability to make something viral worldwide in a click and a matter of seconds it is so easy to cause a stir or controversy with someone. Just as it takes one retweet, one comment and the trolls are after you in the blink of an eye. When the likelihood is it has been misconstrued, manipulated and taken utterly out of context. 

When you do come across these sensationalised articles we are all guilty of devouring after they pop up on our newsfeeds maybe we should just take a step back revaluate before we start sharpening the pitchforks. 







Thursday, 10 August 2017

Harlow's one month update

Harlow

It is a week late (obvs) but here are the main observations of Harlow's first month. I have also been keeping a post partem diary which will hopefully be revealed soon. Keep your eyes peeled 👀
The monkey is damn right chunky. He is a mini @gregcockerill. Not had him weighed for a couple of weeks (sorry kiddo) but he is nearly out of newborn clothes.
We have not lost too much hair ATM but he does look like he has a tiny toupee circa Neil Diamond.
So far we have been pretty lucky with Harlow waking up roughly twice at night and around the same time. Bet I have jinxed it now but we do have a rough routine.It's not fun knowing that in a hour after the night feed your toddler will be up demanding food and Fireman Bastard Sam and his damn right catchy theme tune.
You forget how funny a newborn cracking off is.
The baby voice returns almost instantly.
The elation is real when they start stretching their feeds out longer than every 1 1/2 hours. We average 3/4 atm.
You become accumsted to completing everyday chores one handed with said limpet attatched which is his nickname.
Poonamis still leave you lost for words and wondering how on earth you will clean it up. So much so Greg had a small breakdown over one and made me do it. We have experienced a couple of memorable ones.
We have had our first smile ❤
Seeing Harlow watch Elijah in awe leaves me a hormonal mess.
The first month has gone by so quickly I know I need to appreciate it all before we know it the newborn days will be over. So I am off to sniff his head some more!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Survival tips when your flying solo...


Bribery. Alot of bribery.
Whether you have one, two, three or six small humans that belong to you, there will come a time where you have to ride the frankly terrifying ride of parentdom alone. Here are a few observations/ tips you can use for your own survival! 

1. Expect to be attached to a small human for 90% of the day. Sack of any plans to achieve anying other than perhaps having enough time to poo before the screaming begins again. Bonus points if you get to wipe before you're interrupted by the wailing limpet or invading toddler. I mean who doesn't like an audience? 

2. What you plan to shower or bath? HAHAHA. Unless you time it very well this is not going to happen. My advice? Wet wipes, dry shampoo and deodrant ALOT of deodrant. 

3. Pack a Bear Grylls worthy survival bag if you dare venture outside. You cannot have enough wipes and clothes everything will be covered in sick, shit and piss before you have even left the house...Ahhh the day light it burns...

4. Get confident identifying various stains on your clothes when someone asks what's that? Pretend you didn't notice until now. But you did and made the conscious decison to rewear it this morning after it sat on the floor for 2 days festering.

5. Have a pack of biscuits on hand at all time. They are suitable for breakfast/lunch/ tea. You can eat them with one hand too.

6. Make sure you always have the following in the house..  perhaps more important that wet wipes. Coffee.... GIN.... COFFEE.... GIN...

7. Accept help... all the help. You can digest the guilt later. You feel like you have to do it all and do it alone. You don't. Someone wants to make you food? Take the older kids out? Wash up? For heavens sake sit on your arse and let them! You birthed a person and are keeping it alive. First time round I broke myself trying to do it all. Second time? I let everyone help and yeah, I felt a tad bad but it was so much better for us all in the long run.

8. The best investment you can make as a parent? Netflix. Perfect for feeding binge sessions and to bribe older siblings with too. I am 90% sure Elijah has watched every episode of Fireman Sam EVER made but it has brought me a lot of time! 

9. You can use wet wipes for everything! Jam on the wall? Baby vomit on your leggings? Facial clenser? Poo up the toddler's back? Hell, all they need now is to make edible ones and you have an all rounder there!

10. Remember to laugh. It can sometimes feel like the last thing you feel like doing but it is so important! Laugh it off when your toddler keeps the cat prisoner in his Paw Patrol tent much to her dismay. Or when you find him butt naked up the window watching the bin men. When your toddler shouts F**k sake at the top of his voice in McDonald's or when your newborn just projectiled at baby massage and did the biggest poonami in Costa.

What would be your top tip for surviving the small humans??

#parent #survival #passthegin 

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Friday, 4 August 2017

Are we oversharing?


It seems to be a bit of a hot topic currently that we are oversharing photos of our children across social media. Or ‘sharenting’ as it has become known as.  Which to me sounds like something you do as a teenager up the rugby field after too much Frosty Jacks. Cor, did you hear about Lisa? She let Craig give her a good ol’ sharenting at the weekend.  As a parent blogger, and avid follower of many others I do not think twice about how natural it is for parents today to share photos of their children on their profiles. There has been a small revolution occurring in the last few years, one that has changed how we see modern parents and that is the honest accounts of parenting. Not a set up scene, or a paper of the cracks façade but a real-life insight into what we all go through every single day. This has redefined the out of reach social expectations we have been so used to in yester years, or the ridiculous notion we should not share our struggles and suffer in silence. It is standard to announce pregnancies with scan photos, celebrate milestones all via photos on social media. Apparently that 7/10 parents would not share photos of their children online, and some including actress Romola Gerai said that we should be prosecuted for sharing photos. As a child cannot consent they we are exploiting them by using their image which could be taken and used, that by sharenting we are harming our children and their future.

Sharing to much?
Until I had Elijah I didn’t even have a Facebook account set up, and I joined Instagram on an afternoon impulse. A way to share photos (mainly of Elijah) as like any proud hormonal new mum I wanted to share and show him off to the world. What I didn’t expect was to connect with many other parents but especially other NICU and CHD parents and in turn their photos/posts gave me hope. That Elijah could grow up and have a normal life, that there were so many positive success stories, so many people campaigning for things that would change the future of parents to come for generations. That they were using their social media platforms to raise awareness, to get a message out there, and in some cases just to get through the day in one piece. I have shared photos of Elijah for nearly three years, and my blog followed. My blog is called The Honest Confessions and that is exactly what I do. I honestly confess what it is like to have a child in NICU, to face surgery, to be pregnant, my birth story and my mental health struggles. Do I see this as oversharing? To me it isn’t, but to document my daily life and feelings it may be to some. Starting the blog and writing is a way for me to process everything, the good the bad and the ugly. If I was feeling like this were other people? Would they benefit from reading my posts? Could it make just one person feel like they are not alone? To give them hope as other stories have done for me? One post, one photo that it is all it could take to save someone from feeling like this. That is why I share our daily lives.

It could be argued that be sharing so much via the blog and photos of Elijah and now Harlow could be detrimental to them. That they may not want to read about the time their mum gave birth to them, or find it difficult when they read my mental health struggles. Elijah is three and Harlow only a month old they do not know or understand what I write about or share. However, if when they older they turned around and didn’t want me to share a photo of them or write about them as such I would stop. I will always be honest with my boys, so what I have written before will not come as a shock to them. I will not share photos of them naked, or something that could affect them personally later down the line. I am in control to a degree of what I put up on my social media and blog but I am also very mindful of the fact my accounts and blog are public and on the internet and I cannot control what people could do to the photos. Some have asked me before what my partner Greg thinks of me sharing so much and so candidly online, uploading daily posts and stories and the thing is he doesn’t mind. At times he actively encourages it, being so open online to strangers gave me the confidence to face my demons and talk to him about how I was really feeling. It made us closer when I wasn’t hiding how I really felt and told him the truth.

An expert said that by sharing photos online of our children then we are encouraging them to focus on appearance and not their personality. Not sure if she has seen my Instagram feed but it most certainly is not about appearance and it is all about the personality (well, normally the weird and wonderful exploits of a toddler and a new born). That this will in turn make them obsess over getting the perfect ‘selfie’ and fixate on looks. I do not think it is parents encouraging this but rather the over filtered, over photo shopped media and the ridiculous expectations they enforce. I have been sharing my post partem progress online and it has boosted my self-confidence, and taught me to accept and be proud of my body.

It is your decision whether you share a photo of your children, just as it is your decision to follow someone that does but this does not mean they are a bad parent or any less of a parent if they choose to share photos or not.  Do we need to be prosecuted for this though? No, why don’t we spend this time and energy on teaching our children to be safe online isn’t that what matters? Why don’t we use social media for good for once? To raise awareness of issues, to campaign for change to make someone feel less alone? To promote body condifence. To save a parent from feeling low? We are in an age where celeb parents upload daily and show us their real lives, where people rush to complete stranger’s aid via a call for help put on social media. Where one photo of a poonami explosion provides some welcome light relief after a rubbish day, or a photo with someone else in their PJ’s at 16.00 with more bags than Morrison’s make you feel less alone. Could you argue there is no privacy anymore, that we share all of ourselves online? Are we invading our children’s privacy? Perhaps, we do share too much but for the unity, the support and the fact a lot of us are just trying to get through parentdom in one piece I am grateful for the sharenters (seriously who came up with this?).
So yes, for selfish reasons I do sharent, as it helps me personally and mentally and I hope it helps others and if it does get us through the day and makes us better parents; I can only see this as a good thing.

I am off to sharent right now, just kidding, the toddler is naked eating jam on toast.


 

 

 

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The five stages of a Paw Patrol Netflix binge

                                             Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and screen


1. Denial
I will just put a few episodes on so I can get on with my jobs/ go to the toilet in peace. (Message of "Are you still there?" pops up three times.)
I can tune it out whilst I work. I will not get the theme tune stuck in my head. "Paw Patrol... Paw Patrol..." oh crap.

2. Scrutiny
You begin asking yourself...
How much must the vet bills be for all those dogs and how does a teenager afford them?
What product does Ryder use in his hair?
Why am I strangely attracted to Mr Porter and why does he remind me of Paul Hollywood?
How much is the Council Tax if dogs are the emergency services?
Should we get Captin Turbot on Tinder he seems to spend way too much time with the walrus for my liking.
 Do they clean up their own poo?
One girl dog.... 5 boy dogs... you do the math.

3. Guilt.
 Jesus the plot lines are awful why am I letting my kid watch this? It cannot be good for him especially when he has begun answering everyday questions with phrases and lines from the show. I asked him if he needed a wee and he told me Chase is on the case, that's all well and good but your arse is not on the toilet seat kiddo.

4. Sofa dweller.
Things have been quiet for some time. A coffee has been inhaled, leftover toddler breakfast consumed and you should really be getting on with cleaning the house. But you must find out if they can save the Mayor's creepy handbag chicken. (Of course they bloody do, although I am pretty sure in real life those dogs would rip it apart, just saying). You realise that you have been sitting on the sofa watching this for more than an hour. Human one isn't even in the room anymore he buggered off 20 mins ago.

5. Acceptance
The epsiodes are longer than most it has given me some time (to have a poo on my own.) The kid is quiet and Pup Pup Boogie is quite catchy.

Same time tomorrow Netflix?

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The time Fajita night resulted in having a baby in a bath.


The newest Cockerill
Do you all remember my ever so optimistic natural birth plan? You can read it here.

However, spoiler alert, it didn’t happen.

What did happen was something no one was expecting.

Wednesday the 5th July… a mundane sort of day spent cleaning the house and doing the weekly shop. With Greg going back to work the next day I was determined to make sure everything was ready for when this baby arrived! I was three days off my due date and still hadn’t had one single sign this baby was imminently coming. I had been receiving messages from quite a few people asking if baby was here yet. I was getting fed up as everything I had tried to induce labour failed miserably and every morning for the last two weeks I woke up disappointed I wasn’t in labour! I gave up, walking didn’t help, pineapple made me sick and I was beginning to tire of the raspberry leaf tea. This baby was staying put.

In the evening I put Elijah bed, and we began to settle down for the evening.  Fajitas had been served and consumed and we were then about to watch Die Hard 2. At around 9.30pm I began to get a pain across my stomach and down below. I thought nothing of it after all I had been getting aches and pains for 9 months straight. It passed, then another came, it passed, then another. I thought I may have an upset stomach so went upstairs. I was right and over the next 15 minutes I was getting pain every 2 minutes and rushing up and down to the bathroom. I began to track what were quite obviously contractions and they were 2 minutes apart. I told Greg that they shouldn’t be this close, and we made a plan to see what was happening in half an hour. (Currently John McClane was still waiting in the airport not even chasing the bad guys yet!) as it approached 10.00pm it was clear these contractions were ramping up and the breathing and ball were not helping (in between made dashes to the toilet), I came down again and was on all fours on the sofa only to throw up my fajitas which can I say is one of the worst foods in the world to come back up.

Once I was sick knew this was the real thing, I had been very sick when I was in labour with Elijah. I ran up to the toilet again, and Elijah had woken up. As Greg tried to settle him in the next room to the bathroom, I began to push. Something felt strange, it felt as though the baby was coming RIGHT NOW. I felt myself stretching and a pressure coming, it had only been half an hour and my waters hadn’t even gone. I was lifting off the toilet seat!  Then, as tried to get up to help with Elijah, my plug came out, and I whimpered that I was bleeding to Greg. He came in, and I said now was the time to call my Nan down to look after Elijah. Before he went to call her, my waters broke all over his feet! Literally shooting out like in the movies! At this point I think although I could feel this baby was coming I was slightly in denial that this was it, but that confirmed it! I begged him to run me a bath and got in on all fours.

We were labelled as a high-risk pregnancy so when things got going we needed to call the delivery suite. It was decided that I would need to go onto a drip after previously haemorrhaging in labour with Elijah.  After Greg had arranged a taxi for my Nan to get down, he was about to call them when I was pushing A LOT. I told him I think he should call an ambulance instead as this baby was coming and fast but I don’t think he believed me. I, remember him disappearing off to find the number for the delivery suite from the trusty Bounty pack and as I was on my own bath filling I turned over onto my back. Greg appeared, and was on the phone to the delivery suite and was asked to examine me, I was now screaming like a cow being taken to slaughter. I remember thinking that the window was open and that the whole street would hear! Greg looked down in the water and lifted my bum up and could see hair. He mistook this for me having a lot of hair down there… which can I say I do not have. A few seconds later I pushed and the head came out. Greg was in disbelief and this is where he began to turn a white and swear A LOT. On the next contraction and after some encouragement from Greg, Harlow Adam Nathan Cockerill was born at 22.27, delivered by his own Dad! This is where Greg may have freaked out a tad, in the shock, he thought the baby was going to drown, so scooped him up, unwrapped the cord from his arm and placed him on my chest, he began to cry which is the best sound in the world after just giving birth on your own in a bath with no pain relief in less than an hour! The bath was let out (it has only got to half way) and we were wrapped in towels.

Greg did not know what to do, and ran to get the neighbour whilst handing me the phone. Still sitting in the bath, I was dumbfounded I couldn’t find the words to describe how I was feeling. Then the lady on the other end, asked me is it a boy or girl? We hadn’t even checked! I peeked through the mountain of towels to see and for the first time in 9 months I found out I had another son. My neighbour came bounding up the stairs, and was then followed by an immediate responder who clamped the cord. Not long after my Nan arrived not even realising I had given birth!  After all it was less than 15 minutes since we called her to say I was in labour. At this point I think Greg was very much in shock, he wasn’t quite sure what to do, and I remember calmly telling him where all the bags were and what we needed to do. He was later told to go and sit down and he was flapping about. The paramedics arrived after about 10 minutes and we had to try and get me out of the bath tub attached via the cord still to the baby. I then not only had to manage that but also get down my very steep stairs, out the house into the street (where of course Greg saw someone he knew, as well as another neighbour hanging out the window watching), into the back of the ambulance and strapped down. This was quite a feat after the fact a person had just been evicted from me at quite a considerable speed. Being attached still was the weirdest feeling in the world.

The placenta had not come out naturally and I was beginning to get a lot of pain on the way to the hospital. We arrived at the delivery suite still bundled in our towels and a dressing gown (which was now also covered in pee courtesy of bubs), and arrived at the delivery suite but moved onto the Midwife Led Birthing Unit. The irony here was that I had ended up in the one place I wanted to give birth on so badly! The cord was finally cut and Greg got to hold his new son for the first time. Two or more hours had passed since the birth so the placenta had to come out, I was given the injection and as I had a pretty chesty cough, basically coughed it out with the midwife tugging on it!  I began to bleed but nothing compared to what happened with Elijah. I was made comfortable on a bed and the baby was checked over and weighed, slightly smaller than his brother but 8lbs exactly. We had skin to skin and for the first time I breast fed him. I looked around the calming room and couldn’t believe it, he was here and I was okay. All the time spent worrying about what would happen seemed irrelevant now. A knock at the door also brought a lovely visit from a midwife called Zoe that I knew who had seen our names come up on the delivery suite computer after Greg had called in.

Things were not completely smooth sailing when after I was examined to be stitched up it seemed I had a pretty bad tear. A doctor was called and here was when the second person in not so much time had their finger up my bum (dignity lost) determining the scale of tear. Let’s just say I gave birth with no pain relief by the gas and air was wheeled out for this one. I had a 3A tear and needed to go down to theatre which if you have read my birth story with Elijah, I knew that this would be far less traumatic. I have to say the midwives after reading my notes, and abandoned birth plan were so mindful of my past trauma and were so understanding and kind. I will forever be grateful for how I was treated. I was wheeled off to theatre leaving the boys on their own, and I have to say I was slightly scared at this point, but remember trying to make a joke about having a ‘gunt’ for the rest of my life! The theatre team were great and less than 40 minutes later, some cracking anaesthetic and painkillers (plus a suppository up my bum for good measure) I was out and in recovery. Not long later I was reunited with the boys and we watched the sun come up on a ward to ourselves as Harlow fed again. I felt like this was it, I had got what I wanted with my birth. Closure.

Standard obvs and monitoring for both of us for the next few hours and the obligatory two pees in a jug we basically had one foot out the door and ready to go home. Later that day we were home as a family of four. Compared to 9 days in with Elijah, I had my baby home all within 24 hours. Should we be allowed? I mean surely this was too easy? Still in shock I think I was slightly delusional (it did not help I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours!) but being a NICU Mum first, it never really leaves you and our start with Elijah was just so different, to that with Harlow. Everything was an adjustment and we didn’t really have any experience of this normal malarkey. Everything that had happened was just so surreal, amazing but so surreal we could hardly believe it. Plus, what a cracking birth story this was for the blog!
 
The smallest of feet
This post is dedicated to a few people who without them, I do not know what we would have done;

Greg- for delivering our son, for making me laugh and for staying white for 2 days straight from the shock!

My Nan- for looking after Elijah and for quietly telling Greg that she had cleaned the bath before we came home.

Nancy our neighbour- for helping with Elijah, taking him to nursery and being so supportive of us!

Ness and Adrian- for coming to get us and take us home for the first time as a family, in a pretty fancy car too and being mindful of those speed bumps!

Also on a side note, to Ally my second birth partner sorry for pushing this baby out quicker than you could get down here, I blame the fajitas.

 

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Sunday, 25 June 2017

Wish me luck...


38 weeks and baby got low low low.... 
So, the mark of a new week is also my last two weeks of pregnancy with baby number two. However, with the twinges I have been having it may be a tad sooner that so this may be my last blog post for a while.

I will aim to update when I can, but I have planned to take July off  (unless a rant post needs to come out with the baby!) Looking after a new-born and a toddler I am sure my notebook will be full to the brim with material I can share with you in August!

For those wondering, I am still ploughing on with my book A Year in the life of a NICU Mum and good progress is being made so watch this space...

As readers of the blog, I am sure you all know I write for a variety of parent websites and the Huff Post and I have submitted my last pieces to them for the next month but please do continue to check them out! I will be back and present on all after July.

Mummy and Little Me Blog

Up All Hours

Salisbury Parenting Magazine

If you do not already, please do give me a follow on social media and I will be continuing to update my Instagram and Insta Stories no doubt daily with ALOT of baby spam.

Instagram @vicki_nicu-mum

Twitter @MumNicu

I will be posting the Honest Confessions Facebook page with various bits and bobs throughout July so be sure to go over and give it a like!

Wish me luck and I will see you all on the other side!

NICU MUM X

Bedtime


Bedtime

It seems I spend a lot of time counting down the hours until bedtime.

Tea has been made, served and abandoned.

Iggle Piggle has buggered off in his boat and I have fantasised about Tom Hardy reading me a bedtime story… in my bed.

Now begins the battle.

C Beebies goes blank and you use this to signal that it is time to go upstairs.

The protests of, ‘I don’t like bedtime’, are shouted in my face (Give it twenty-five years and a few kids then let me know if you still don’t like bed kiddo).

We slowly ascend the stairs and filter into the bathroom, the fun really begins.

Bathroom flooded and hair washed amongst the screaming, a small naked wet toddler is now running around the upstairs settling into your bed where he leaves a huge wet patch.

Military negotiations begin to convince said toddler that cleaning your teeth is a good idea, and bribes can just be heard over the enthusiastic Blippi Youtube video.

After telling me twenty times that he doesn’t like the toothpaste (it’s the same one he has always had) we make it into the bedroom.

The pyjamas that were picked are of course the wrong ones, and this needs be rectified immediately to some mis matched bottoms and a top that doesn’t really fit anymore. One where the picture has been incinerated by the tumble dryer and only one Paw Patrol dog has a face.

A pull up is wrangled on and he is wrestled into bed.

We argue for about 5 minutes over what story to pick, finally settling on one we have read 100 times. (The Gruffalo anyone?)

Once we near the end, whines of ‘I want another one’, echo around the bedroom.

I sigh, getting cramp from squeezing on the toddler bed with you but now begins my favourite part of the day.

After arranging your teddies in the order known only to you, slowly you crawl under my arm and nestle in.

No matter what day we have had, how much you have driven me up the wall now is the time all is forgiven, all is erased.

After a lot of sweaty fidgeting and me wondering if I will ever get up of this bed again, I hear you snoring.

I begin the dubious task of getting up and sneaking out the door.

Every day is the same, sometimes more arguments, sometimes less but one thing that is the same no matter what; that as I creep out of the room I look down at you my sweet devil child and realise how lucky I am to have you.

Also, that you are asleep.

I love it when you are asleep.

Bedtime, done.

Now pass the Gin.

Oh bugger, he has just got up.

Sigh.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Enter stage right… you.


The Cockerill Boys, my boys.
When we first had Elijah, I envisioned myself as a creative sensory activity, organic food making all-encompassing helicopter mum. I would do it all, and I could do it myself. Fast forward a few weeks postpartum and I was quite frankly a mess. I was as far from ‘super mum’ as I could possibly be. A mother barely holding it together and who was planning her departure.

Enter stage right… you.
You stood by me right from the beginning. You visited me every day, when we were in hospital and even spent two days in your own in the NICU with Elijah when I was too ill. You were the mother, the father and everything in-between to our son. When we brought him home you did everything by my side even when I didn’t want you to be there. When I pushed you away and shouted that I hated you, that I resented you. When I begged you to come home from work, then demanded you to leave.

I had my ideas of how I wanted everything to be done, and that was it. You never did it how I wanted, but what I didn’t appreciate back then was the fact that you did it in the first place. It was hard for me to let go, especially when we were waiting for the op. I felt like I had to do it all as I blamed myself, and when things didn’t go as planned I felt like a failure. I took it out on you. I blamed you but it was never you.

I have never said this to you before but I was jealous of you. I was insanely envious it was you who got to feed Elijah for the first time, to change him, and be there for him in a way I couldn’t be in those first days. I was jealous that you could hold it together, that you would get up and do the night feeds and be able to function the next day when I could barely hold my eyes open or function. I resented that you got to escape and go to work, that you got to be you. When you became a Dad, you took it all in your stride and became an even better person. Me? I lost myself. We didn’t talk for those first months, but I am telling you now I will always be grateful for the fact you were there for our son. You never left even when things got tough, when they got messy. When we hated one another and threw sleep deprived insults at 3am.

You always made sure we came together, and that we stood strong even though I knew sometimes you didn’t feel that strong. Sometimes, you let me do what I had to, never judging and always being a silent presence that was always there. You get up with Elijah at the crack of dawn and let me sleep in nearly every morning., You work all the hours god sends, yet you still come home never complaining to play with Elijah, to give him a bath, to read him a story and put him to bed. That ‘super mum’ that I wanted to be back then? Well I think you maybe it.

For nearly three years you’ve been Elijah’ rock never faltering, when I did. You’ve been my rock and just got on with it. I know that you try your best for us, and we may not seem it but we are so grateful for everything you do for us. When you spend your only days off redecorating the house or doing the weekly shop. You strive to give us whatever we want even if it means putting yourself last. Even when things are strained you will always make us laugh. No one does make us laugh as much as you.

I know you are terrified about being a father of two any day now. I’m not, do you know why? Because we have you, and just like always you will step up and get it done. You will once again adapt and be an ever-better father than you are now to two of the small humans we co created.

You will still put us all first as you always do.

You will still make us laugh.

You still won’t be able to eat white sauce.

You will have to wait until next year to go to Bloodstock old chap, for now you will have to settle for a beer and a pizza after work with the Cockerill Clan.

Our clan, the one we built, but the one you hold together.

Happy Father’s Day.

We love you lots, like ‘jellytops’.

Xxx

Twitter; www.twitter.com/MumNicu

Instagram; www.instagram.com/vicki_nicu-mum

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A letter to my son on election day.


Cockerills go voting
Dear Elijah,

You didn’t really understand what was going on this morning, or the importance of today.

Other than the library looking different and not being able to look at the books like you normally do you had no idea what mummy and daddy were doing.

We explained we had to go and vote, go in and tick a little box.

That little box is your future.

Your unborn brother or sister’s future.

The next five years.

Until we had you, we were never too bothered about voting, partially not understanding the importance of a lost vote or just being too cool to care.

I always took those women who fought so hard for us to be able to go and vote for granted. But they should be honoured, remembered and thanked that we do have the ability to be part of the decision of how our country is run.

I  believed that I wouldn’t be able to change the country with my vote, so what was the point? I didn’t want to vote for those parties so why bother?

However, things began to affect us and we grew up. Tax, pensions, the inability to buy our own house, being burgled but most of all YOU happened.

You were born in a hospital, a NHS hospital that both me and you stayed in for over a week.

The NHS saved your life, they repaired your heart and you are here today because of them.

In some countries, we would have had to pay for this treatment, and it is something we likely could not have been able to afford.

We may not have had you here today with us.

For all the criticism of wait times, lack of GP’s I will always be grateful to the NHS for letting me be a mother, for giving me you.

You need lifelong care now, and a another surgery and it is likely that we will have the NHS to thank for this, AGAIN.

We are so privileged that yes you have a pre-existing condition but you are looked after.

Recently, I have feared your future, with the ugliness that is happening in the world.

I worry for the world we live in, the lack of compassion, kindness and humanity that seems to be rife today.

I will always teach you to be open, accepting and help others who need it.

We are not well off by any standards, but we will always give to charity, to give to those who have less than us. We have begun teaching this to you too and already you have helped me raise money for the hospital that saved you. We have given to the old soldiers with the buckets in town, the Big Issue sellers even though we rarely read the magazine or we slip some coins to a homeless person.

I always tell you how lucky you are compared to some children, you have access to food, water, toys and two loving parents and a family that adores you. So many in the world do not have this, being a mother this makes my heart ache.

I can never understand those who do not want to help these children and their families who instead spread their bigoted views that they have stolen our jobs and resources. However, just like us, I believe as a country even if we are not as rich as some in the world it is important to show some empathy and help others. Not leave them, or to pretend they are not our problem, to shut the borders down and fob them off to someone else. After all, if we were in that situation surely, we would appreciate the help?

Something we never had to worry about before until now was the future of your education, your rights, your equality, your safety. I want you to have the best education and opportunities in life, with no restrictions dependent on your sexuality, your gender. I want you to be judge on your ability not your appearance or your background. I never want you to be attacked for your beliefs whatever they may be because someone does not understand or agree with them.

I want you to stand up for what you believe in, and to demand change if you do not believe something is right. Never do I want to see you criticize other’s choices for what their opinion is or attack them because of it.

In a way, I am glad you do not understand too much of what is going on with so many although commendable for their passion, for their opinions on the election and who they want to vote for, they are being so unkind to those who may believe in something differently, even family and friends. Having an opinion is one thing, being nasty about it is another thing entirely.

Social media is a sea of who people are voting for and what you are if you do not vote the same way. This makes me slightly uneasy. Me and Dad always vote together so far, we have always agreed, but no one else is privy to who we are voting for. Mainly as this is private, personal to us and what we believe is right for us and our family.

You may wonder why I am running on about all of this but the thing is whoever is elected today, will also need to consider these things to. They will need to consider the future of this country for the next 5 years and perhaps beyond and this will affect you, Elijah.

I hope for the sake of you and your brother or sister that they make the right decisions. That they show humanity, compassion and kindness. I am not going to pretend to know what half the policies mean, how they will affect us personally or how to run the country and fix the problems.

All I want you to know Elijah, is that we voted today with our hearts and we didn’t vote tactically, or for whoever is the favourite is. We didn’t judge others for who they have voted for.

We voted with who we believed are displaying the qualities of getting this country out of the darkness that it is in now.

Whoever it may be that gets elected (you will no doubt learn about this in history class which makes me feel so old), I hope people remain kind.

A naïve hope it seems, with slurs on social media, flights at the polling stations but really, we need to remember we all want the same thing. We may be voting differently for who we believe will bring this we are all voting for a better future.

Our future, your future and your children’s future.

Never look down on anyone unless you are helping them up- Jesse Jackson

Love Mum x

Friday, 2 June 2017

From the Inside - From One to Two, From Two to Three...

I was invited by the brilliant Jade Anna Hughes to share my thoughts on transitioning from having one child to two. I have been incredibly lucky to share my pregnancy journey with Jade although she is across the pond we are due only days apart. Bets are being taken now who will get to the delivery suite first!

So, on the brink of becoming a mother to two, and Jade to three we discuss our musings of another member adding to our families.

(Also please do check out Jade's debut book When Spring Comes Hope available to buy on Amazon now! It is worth the read, take it from me!)

The Cockerills are going to be welcoming a new member in just 5 weeks.
 
The Cockerill Quadruplet - by Vicki Cockerill
 
I was asked the other day if I am ready to become a mum of two?

I guess so, I shrugged, I don’t really have much choice now, with the baby arriving in less than 5 weeks! Ready or not this baby is coming.

It got me wondering, was I ready? Can you ever be ready for the arrival of another small human that will descend into your lives and turning it upside down?

Of course, there are books/blogs/expert suggestions out there all about coping with two kids, what you can do to help yourselves with a routine but I found I could never get Elijah to follow the routine they suggested never mind throwing a new-born into the mix as well. The more the baby didn’t follow the book, the more stressed I got and ended up lobbing them across the room thinking my baby was broken. This time round, I guess we will just hope for the best and see where it leads! In textbook terms I think we are ready, the baby has somewhere to sleep, it has clothes, toys, the pram and car seat are ready, but are we?

Read the rest by visiting the brilliant From The Inside............

Sunday, 28 May 2017

10 signs you have entered the manic nesting phase of your pregnancy.


There has been some unrest in the household this week.

The reason?

I am 34 weeks pregnant and I am nesting like a maniac.
Irrational, impatient and neurotic, my desire to clean is something else right now.
There are no words you can use to describe the overwhelming urge to completely bleach and disinfect the whole house, all its contents, animals and family members to your partner at 11pm. Or why you are reorganising your books that you haven’t touched in 2 years, and yes it does have to be done NOW. RIGHT NOW, no I do not care if we are going out the kitchen tops need scrubbing down.

Cleaning products have basically become foreplay to me, and I have endless lists of what needs to be cleaned, chucked away or done before the baby comes.
Here are a few signs to look for when you enter the nesting stage of pregnancy.

1.       You begin to dream of bleach and fantasise about cleaning products.

2.      You begin to look at your house in a whole new light, examining every mark, every piece of fluff, each smudge and you will spend all day wondering how you can eradicate it, normally with BLEACH (have I mentioned how much I love bleach atm?). In my house with a two-year-old toddler, it is never going to happen and it is driving me MAD. I have considered banning all jam products. Or maybe the toddler.

3.      It begins to be a turn on going down a supermarket cleaning aisle, I could spend hours looking at cleaning cloths.

4.      Your hands are bright red from boiling water and bleach, you are only satisfied doing it yourself, no one else can do it properly.

5.      You have rearranged the whole house twice; your partner comes home and doesn’t know where anything is anymore.

6.      The baby’s clothes are in an order than only makes sense to you. (Mine are organised in size order, each new size has its own draw; new-born, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6 months+.

7.      Never have you wanted to scrub the floors, tops and doors as much as you do right now. You cannot rest, sit or relax until it is done.

8.     Despite you being the size of a small rhino and not at your most mobile, you still manage to get down and scrub the skirting boards.

9.      The bin men begin to resent your house as the sheer weight of the bins from chucking everything away has caused many a back injury.

10.   You may be having contractions but you will still Zoflora the hell out of the bathtub.
A friendly warning to partners/ family members; NEVER GET IN THE WAY OF A NESTING PREGNANT LADY.

P.s You will get bonus points by bringing us storage boxes, cleaning products and a Wispa Gold.

Pregnant lady porn right there.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

My Little Tiny Ticker


Before Elijah was born, I didn’t have any experience with heart problems, other than the odd family member having a ‘dodgy ticker’. I didn’t really know what this meant or what could cause it. I certainly didn’t know what Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) was. Soon, that was about to change and I was going to become somewhat of an expert on the subject.

When Elijah was born, 12 hours after birth he began having what we now know are called ‘Tet spells’, or, ‘dusky episodes’. Changing colour to a bluey/ purple colour and then regaining his normal pink colour. Upon his admittance to NICU he was diagnosed with a critical CHD called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). According to the NHS 1 in 111 babies born, are born with a CHD, this is also the cause of 1 in 13 infant deaths. Nothing was picked up on my scans, and we even had extra ones, all through the pregnancy we were told what a healthy heartbeat Elijah had. Never in a million years did we think there was something so wrong with our baby’s heart.  

I remember the crushing realisation our baby was severely ill when we were pulled into a room before our NICU discharge to be told what to do if Elijah had a spell, or if he needed CPR after going into heart failure. Because of this, in those first pre-surgery months I rarely left him with anyone. We were told to look out for the signs Elijah’s heart may be failing like having a blue tinge to him especially above his lip, not feeding, not putting on weight and sleeping a lot.

When Elijah was diagnosed, I felt my world crashing around me, family and friends were devastated for us, and all asked the same question. Why wasn’t this picked up on? After all we had numerous scans, and with 4 structural defects surely this is something that should have showed up? We were so lucky that we were in the right place at the right time when Elijah began to spell. If we were at home, this could have been missed and who knows what might have happened. Depending on the severity of the condition and the baby’s general wellness, the surgery for TOF is normally carried out within the first year.
However, the importance of early CHD detection is paramount for those that may need surgery within the first few hours of life. Time and lives can be saved if the CHD is picked up on a scan before birth. I came across the work of the charity Tiny Tickers when I began writing and blogging about Elijah’s journey. I have written for them, and proudly promoted them across social media for the amazing work they do for the CHD community. They are the only charity that focus on improving early detection and diagnosis of CHD which happens to be the most common birth defect. This surprised me so much when we were in NICU with Elijah. I knew no one else whose child had been born with CHD, however slowly and surely on our journey we found out about someone’s friend, a brother, and aunt or even a celebrity that had CHD in one form or another.

Tiny Tickers, have two main goals, one is to provide essential and lifesaving training to hospitals, medical staff and sonographers about the early detection of CHD during the 20-week scan. They also provide a support network, advice and support for those who have received a CHD diagnosis. This is vital as it can be a very isolating time. They believe no baby should die from an undiagnosed heart condition.
I recently posted about their ‘Think 20’ campaign which I myself used at the fetal medicine scan I had with my second child. I urge anyone who is pregnant to head over to their website and request a Think 20 pack. You take this with you to your 20-week scan and give it to your sonographer. It gives them guide of what to look for when they are examining the heart. They also provide packs on what to symptoms of heart failure in a baby as well. The more informed you are, the more educated we become on CHD via the awareness we raise the more lives we can save.

The shocking statistic is that every 2 hours in the UK a baby is born with a serious life threatening heart defect just like Elijah. More awareness needs to be raised, and more training and research must be done to save lives. Tiny Tickers will be doing just that when they appear on BBC Lifeline with Gabby Logan on Sunday 21st May at 16.00. Afterwards this can be viewed on the following link;

www.bbc.co.uk/lifeline
It shows the stories of two babies, and their two very different stories and the harrowing realisation how important early diagnosis of CHD is. To carry on their amazing work donations are needed;

£5.00 could pay for 2x Early Diagnosis Packs

£10.00 could help provide 1000 heart cards which display the signs and symptoms of heart failure

£25.00 could provide 40 Doctor’s surgeries with lifesaving info on heart problems in babies

£75.00 could train 1 sonographer to get specialist training


These amounts do not seem a lot, but they could have a huge impact on the lives they could save.

Please do check out the Lifeline Appeal and spread the word via social media, let’s raise as much awareness as we can and help give others the chance that my tiny ticker had.
Visit the Tiny Tickers Website