#CelebratingMotherhoodIG an Instagram Community

I have seen lots of  instagram communities arising recently.  Two of my favourites are #LittleFierceOnes hosted by Amy and Aby who are fast becoming instagram royalty, and also #LifeCloseUp hosted by the beautiful Jenny at Let’s Talk Mommy.  I LOVE instagram.  I have nowhere near as many followers as most instagrammers do.  Not even close.  The purpose of this is not to build up my instagram.  The purpose for this community is plain and simple.

There are too many forums and places in this world where we all are too quick to jump on the bandwagon and judge other mothers.  Motherhood means many different things to many different people.  There are Mums out there who will never see their angel babies again in this life.  There are foster Mums, step Mums.  Mum’s who needed to adopt, or chose adoption first, Mum’s that may have needed help with fertility.  There are single Mums and single Dads.  Our eldest girls will tell you they have three Mums.  They have lived between two homes for 6 years and in one home they have two mums and in our home they have their Dad and I.

Every household looks different these days.  I want this blog and this instagram community to reflect those differences.  There is no way that’s ‘right’ anymore.  What’s right is the environment created to encourage children to flourish through security, love, encouragment and freedom to be whoever their little hearts are telling them to be.

What I LOVE about instagram is that it’s a place that is relatively open to all these days.  All you need is a smart phone and the ability to download an app.

It’s difficult sometimes to feel that you connect with the blogging community, especially if you’re not a blogger yourself.  I know a lot of the readers here at ‘I’m Every Mum‘ are non bloggers.  After a few messages recently from people who want to know how to get into blogging… I usually direct them over to Aby and her ‘Blog Club‘ (so helpful if you want to learn about starting to blog and all that it entails) posts, they’re so informative.

There’s something so beautiful about a parent and child bond.  I LOVE seeing all the little squares filled with love popping up all over my instagram feed and I wanted to do something to celebrate that parent bond.

So… how do I join in?

It’s quite simple really whenever you take a photograph that symbolises parenthood for you, that could be a picture of yourself as you are a parent.  I could be a photo of your child, it could be a picture of a snowdrop (when we lost our first baby in the womb this is what we named them), absolutely ANYTHING that symbolises parenthood for you.  All you have to do is add the hashtag #CelebratingMotherhoodIG to that picture.  You can add as many pictures as you would like.  There is no limit.  If you are a Dad then we have hashtag for you too, all you need to do is add the hashtag #CMDadsCorner.  I know that my husband will be joining in with this.

Each week on a Saturday I will share my favourites in a #CelebratingMotherhoodIG round up post here on the blog and also over on my instagram account and each month there’ll be an extra special announcement.

What’s in it for me?

This is where you’d expect me to say ‘well, nothing really, the chance to be part of a beautiful community and celebrate each other’, but that’s not true.  Each month I am going to select a photograph, or rather get my children to, out of a hat (I’ll probably post the selection process with a mini instavid) and that person will receive a little something in the post.  Something you may not purchase for yourself, to make you just feel appreciated for being Mum or being Dad.  I will tailor them each month to the winner so I can’t say what it will be exactly other than if you join in… you’ll find out.  So Dad’s don’t worry if you join in you won’t be winning a beauty box.

I don’t make any money from instagram, I don’t really make any money from this blog yet, I just want to let you all know that you’re appreciated and this is one way I can make a start.

So what are you waiting for?

Get tagging for a chance to be featured this Saturday morning in our first ever #CelebratingMotherhoodIG round up.

#CelebratingMotherhoodIG, #CMDadsCorner, instagram community, I'm Every Mum


5 Things I’m Grateful For

I have been feeling so rubbish for so many reasons recently but after having a good old vent to a blogging friend (the beautiful Vicki Psarias ‘Honest Mum‘) about how I can’t blog when I feel like this, I was encouraged to focus on the positives in my life.  All the things that I am grateful for.

Such wise words, and also what my Mum told me to do.  Great minds think alike.

So here are 5 things I am grateful for right now:

1 My health

Ok to look at me you’d be like, lady, you look like a walking heart attack.  It is true I am clinically morbidly obese, extremely so, and I struggle to walk because of the weight and the way being pregnant battered my body.  I am not designed for pregnancy, although I do make beautiful babies.  However, by some miracle in all other areas I am ridiculously healthy.  If my best friend is reading this, she’d be like ‘no you’re not, you always get colds and tummy bugs.’  Ha, ha.  My immune system is worse than most, BUT I have low blood pressure, no issues with cholesterol, my body is strong.  It just buckles because it’s designed to carry about 1/3 of the weight that it does.  I can lose weight.  There are so many people who are struggling with their health at the moment all around me.  I had a cancer scare recently, and although they’ve still not diagnosed the actual issue, I am completely cancer free and there are so many beautiful people in my life who are not….yet.  I will continue to pray for them and remember that I am so fortunate that my body copes the way it does.  I don’t want to ever take it for granted.

2 My husband

I know what it’s like to have chosen badly (my first husband).  I also know when I’m being ridiculous in finding fault with the amazing husband that I have now.  You know the scene when Bridget Jones is locked in the Thai prison and they’re all chatting about how their boyfriends made them take drugs, beat them, sold their bodies to make money, and she’s complaining about Mr Darcy folding his underpants?  Yep, that is me sometimes.  To be fair, I don’t really whinge about my husband to other people as I seem to realise when I start to say it out loud, how fortunate I am, and how much I sound like Bridget in that scene.  I do however pick at him FAR TOO OFTEN.  It’s really easily done when you have too much time to think on your hands.  A wise friend told me MANY YEARS AGO to choose your battles.  This is not something I have been great at recently.  When I’m feeling low, I am ridiculously picky.  Chatting it through with my Mother-in-law the other day I realised how petty it all sounds, and how there are some things I just need to let go.  Yes, it MASSIVELY bothers me when he leaves full cartons of milk out to go off,  yet somehow always puts empty cartons back in the fridge!!! Ha, ha.  But seriously, do I need to start a World War over it?  When he is taking on so many extra tasks because of my debilitating anxieties somedays…..Hmm….. NO!  I just want to take this moment to tell him…. James you are amazing and when I’m being a bitch  meanie, please, just ignore me.  I’m trying to get better at it…. honest.

3 Our home

We are renters, but I am so grateful that we live in a country where the ability to rent such a beautiful home is possible.  I’ve not physically been able to care for our home the way that I would like to in more recent months.  In truth be told, I don’t think we’ve ever had this house how we’d like it since we moved in, it is HUGE and a mammoth task for someone who has 4 children (2 that were under 2, and are now two crazy toddlers) and a back that likes to give way after 5 minutes of me trying to do anything.  Yet, it is our home.  We have an amazing landlord who on the more difficult months was lenient with us if we ever needed to ask for an extension.  If you’ve ever rented, you will know, this is ridiculously rare and he is so lovely to us.  He brings the children sweets at Christmas, his wife wants to come and see the babies when they come to do annual checks, they really are the sweetest couple.  So many places in the world people struggle to even find shelter.  We are so lucky and I never want to overlook the privileges we have just from being born in our country.

4 My Camera

Ok, this may seem insignificant compared to the things that I’m chatting about above, but I LOVE technology.  I am a techno geek, always have been.  Put me in a room with any equipment, pretty much, and I’ll figure it out.  I guess growing up singing and understanding PA equipment and sound desks started this love affair early.  I’m so grateful to have belonged to a church that would teach me about these things rather than shun a young girl away.  I certainly by no means have the fanciest camera on the market.  It’s a pretty standard entry level DSLR.  Again though, how blessed am I to live in a country where this is so accessible and affordable.  That I’m able to take beautiful photos of our amazing children.  To capture memories that will last forever.  I NEVER want to take that for granted.  It seems so normal in the blogging world, but, when you look across the face of the earth, I am in the minority to have this priviledge.

5 Our children

Seeing how the Facebook ‘Motherhood Challenge‘ affected so many people this week in different ways really highlighted this to me.  It is such a blessing to be able to have children so easily.  I don’t ever want to forget to be grateful  There are so many people who desperately want children.  We have lost two angel babies in pregnancy but we also have four beautiful children.  We are so fortunate that aside from inheriting my terrible immune system (despite being breastfed, breastfed babies can have shocking immune systems too – just a little shout out there to all the Mum’s with healthy bottle fed babies) and my asthma, they all have their health also.  I may be shocking pregnant and two years later Eden’s pregnancy is still massively affecting me, but goodness me, I would go through it all again in a heartbeat.  There are couples, singletons straight/LGBT all over the world that would PAY everything in the world to go through what I did and a thousand times worse to be a parent.  I will never be able to understand the unfairness of it all.  I just know that being a Mum is something I never want to take lightly.

Here’s a photo my husband snapped this week with the two youngest while the girls were with their Mum:


You Baby Me Mummy


Lazy Days

These lazy days  are becoming a lot more frequent in our home as of late.  The horrible wet weather plus an anxious disposition has meant a lot more staying indoors.  A lot more reading books, playing games, watching programmes, singing songs and cuddling in our pyjamas.  It has been really nice to just be and not feel the pressure to do anything.  It was hard at the weekend as it was my beautiful sister-in-love’s baby shower and I just couldn’t muster up the strength to go.  I had been looking forward to it for ages, and I am beyond ecstatic about becoming an Auntie for the first time.  I just couldn’t go.  I kept trying to get ready, but things were getting in the way and causing HUGE panic attacks.  In the end we stayed in and once again had another lazy day resting and snuggling.

James has been doing so well keeping us all afloat while I have been struggling and he had been through a pretty awful ordeal at work this week so I told him to go out if he needed to, or have a relax as the children and I were happy just chilling together.

I put so much pressure on myself, I always have, as a Mum.  Being part of the blogging community can really help, but can also highlight it sometimes.  I want to do amazing things with my children because I love them, and I love having little adventures.  I love taking pictures, I love looking back on the memories.  When you start feeling like you need to go out because you won’t have anything to blog about then you’re kind of losing sight.

Getting out and about with the camera is normal behaviour for me, I couldn’t even remember where mine was the other day though, which told me that it had been FAR TOO LONG.  James needed to rest at the weekend and that had to take priority, and I just didn’t feel up to taking four of them out on my own.  So Saturday we all just cuddled lots, and watched programmes, and then I let Daddy disappear for a few hours.  He had a relaxing bath and watched some anime or whatever it is he likes to watch that I don’t like.

Monday I decided I HAD to get out of the house.  I kind of had a now or never moment looking at the weather forecast for the week.  To be fair there has been some beautiful afternoons despite the drizzling rain throughout the day.  The sun beams gloriously through the windows at around 3pm and it’s beautiful.  So we’ve been trying to get out of the house at around this time.

It took us longer than we meant it to on Monday so we didn’t catch the gorgeous golden hour but we did play on an empty park, all to ourselves (mostly) as the beautiful pink and purple skies enveloped the setting sun.  It was so lovely.  Reminded me on everything I’m missing while hiding in my home due to this anxiety.

I want to live, desperately, to live joyfully and full of life and energy and love.  I will fight for it.  It may take me some time to regain strength but I will get there.

One thing I have realised though on these lazy days is that all these little ones need to be happy is food, shelter, water, hygiene, security and love.  I am so blessed that even on the most difficult of days I am able to offer them this.  There are so many people who aren’t as fortunate.

lazy-days-3 lazy-days-4 lazy-days-5

I am linking this post up (although I’m very late) with Katie for {The Ordinary Moments} as for me, right now, our lives don’t get more ordinary than this.


The Diary of a Working Mum {Part Five}

Do you have an only child?  Have you thought about whether to have another one?  I’m sure that you’ll have been asked.  The final instalment in this series from our beautiful guest blogger Heather.  I bet you all wish Heather would start a blog now right?  I’ve so enjoyed reading, typing out, and seeing all your reactions to Heather’s writing.  In this last instalment Heather looks at the question that follows everyone who’s ever had a baby ‘Are you having another?’.  I don’t asked that as much having four children in tow, if you want to know our answer to that question though you can read about it by clicking here.  Read on to discover Heather’s response and thouroughly thought out answer to whether to have an only child or siblings.  I’m sure that it won’t be the last that we hear from Heather over here at ‘I’m Every Mum’.  Thank you Heather.  You are loved, appreciated and so very talented. xxx

Are you having another?

If I had a pound for everytime I’d been asked that question…

The short answer is a resounding “No.”

For those crying out “WHY?” Here’s the long answer:

As I have said in an earlier post, I am one of 3 (with acute middle child syndrome) and Nick is an only child, so between us, we have experience from both sides of the argument.

My sister Louise is 2 years older than me.  I was the baby of the family until I was 7 when my Mum and Dad held a ‘family  meeting’ in our childhood home to ask me and Louise if we’d like a little brother or sister.  Unbeknown to me Mum was already pregnant with my brother Mark at the time.  If I had known this, my answer would have probably been a bit more tactful.  In my defence, since I wasn’t equipped with this knowledge, my reaction was not a positive one.

I was the baby of the family.  I adored my Dad, he was and still is one of my favourite people in the world.  It’s fair to say I was a bit besotted with him as a girl.  I used to sit in my roller boots at the top of the slip road of Junction 8 of the M61, waiting to see his car coming home from work then hold onto the spoiler of his Sierra, Marty McFly style, as he went at a snail’s pace back home.  If I had had ‘words’ with my Mum that day, I’d be eager to get to my Dad first, to give him my version of events before Mum told him the truth.  My dad used to work in a very high pressured job all day in Advertising and PR, then come home to 3 hormonal females all vying for his attention.  The poor man couldn’t win, but he was so awesome in my eyes.

I remember the morning we found out Mark had been born.  I had convinced myself that Mum would remain pregnant forever, and that this new sibling would never actually materialise, anything to deny the fact that a change was a-coming.  As per usual I ran into Mum and Dad’s room that particular morning to inform them that I was awake, only to find my Granny Ruby and Grandpa Bill sit bolt upright in Mum and Dad’s bed.  Mum had gone into labour during the night and my Grandparents had driven over to relieve them of their duties at home, so they could get to the hospital.  As I made my way downstairs that morning for Grandpa to take us to school, just prior to leaving, my beloved Dad burst through the door and sobbed ‘I’ve got a son…at last!’ – ERRRR WHAT?  AT LAST?  AT LAST?  I did NOT like his turn of phrase, and I certainly did not like this new addition to the family.  Mark’s already questionable popularity was waning by the second.

At school that day, I managed to put on a brave face, even when the teacher invited me to tell everyone about ‘my new little brother’.  I managed, through gritted teeth to fane how ecstatic I was and how I simply couldn’t wait to visit the little darling in hospital after school, all the time fighting back the tears that had been stinging my eyes since Dad’s excited morning outburst.  So off me and Lou went to see my weary mum and my increasingly proud Dad in Chorley hospital to come face to face with this grenade that had gone off in my life.  As we opened the curtains to the ward bed, there was my Dad sat holding Mark with a face that was beaming so bright on that dark and dreary February afternoon, I thought the clocks had been brought forward early.  Louise stepped up first asking to hold him, so with careful tuition from Dad on ‘how to support the head’, she had her first cuddle with her new brother.  Next it was my turn.  I’m ashamed to say that I purposely ignored all the tips my sister had so dutifully followed and let the head loll about on my nonchalant knee to the point where Dad gasped ‘Support the head Heather!’ then eventually took golden boy off me as I clearly couldn’t be trusted.

I was not number one in my Dad’s eyes anymore.  I’d had my crown as the Sprakes baby rudely stolen off me when I wasn’t anywhere near ready to relinquish my reign.  A week later (they kept Mum’s and Baby’s in longer back then) Mark Cameron Sprakes arrived home to the box room of 12 Linden Grove and to 2 sisters, one of which didn’t want much to do with him.  Mum and Dad must have noticed that I had a face like thunder most days and called me into the kitchen for a ‘little chat’ a few days later.  What they had to say went some way to making my sad little self feel a teeny tiny bit better.  It went along the line of ‘We appreciate that you may have had your nose pushed out of joint a bit by the arrival of Mark, and we want you to make sure you tell us if you are ever feeling out or jealous because we still love you the same as before and nothing will ever change that’.  It took me all of about 5 minutes after I left the room to burst back through the door declaring that I felt left out and jealous and they needed to do something about it.

Of course I eventually came round to the idea of being a big sister and as it turned out I ended up being pretty crazy about my brother, and I still am to this day.  I was lucky in a sense because I had a childhood with just me and my sister, a stretch of us as a three, then a good few years where it was just me and Mark because my sister married at 22 and I stayed at home as long as I possibly could (age 29 was when I finally left having been at home periodically throughout my 20’s).

So I come from a relatively busy family and Nick’s family is the polar opposite.  I liken the time when we first met each other’s family to that scene out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  The Sprakes’ are all about the food, noise, chattering and laugher, whereas the Wolstenholme’s are quiet, calm and still.  Nick is an only child and he loves the chaos of our family and I love the peace of his.  I guess we all crave a bit of the opposite don’t we?

One of the main things that Nick and I share in common is our need to have time on our own, apart from each other.  Nick was used to this growing up without any siblings, and I craved it in the madness of our house.  Yes we are married, but we have friends and interests independent of each other, and we enable each other to spend that time being something other than wife, husband, mum and dad.  Nick loves to read, run, go to the football and have an ale or 2 with his mates.  I love the gym, doing the food shop on my own (bliss), cleaning in peace and quiet and catching up with my friends.  I think that is so important.  We are not 2 halves of one whole, we are 2 whole people who have a partnership.  Nick doesn’t complete me (I wasn’t incomplete  before I met him), he enhances me, and I hope I do him.

I digress.

Even a week after the birth of Martha, I received the first ‘Are you having another’ question.  My newly born daughter wasn’t even out of hospital and I felt under pressure to go through the trauma again.  I must admit that the thought has crossed my mind since Martha’s birth.  But only fleetingly.  I think the first time I thought it was on maternity leave when the whole job issue was up in the air and I didn’t know what I was going to do.  Then I realised that I would be using having another baby as an excuse for not going back when I was questioned by others, because I’d be embarassed to say ‘I’m a stay at home mum’.  Again, can I reiterate that there is nothing wrong with that, it’s just not me.

There are many reasons why we won’t be having another.  Firstly my age.  If I was considered a geriatric mum before, you can add 5 years onto that, I would be considered extremely high risk due to Martha’s prematurity combined with my age if I were to become pregnant again.  I don’t want to be knocking on 50 at the school gates either, but that’s more vanity than anything else.  I honestly don’t believe it’s fair to put Nick, Martha and myself through that anxiety again.  I am a Mum and a wife and I am incredibly lucky to have what I have and to have come through the other side of Martha’s birth relatively unscathed.  I want to enjoy what I have and to be the best Mum I can be, and I know that another pregnancy would jeopardise that.  It’s a gamble that I’m just not willing to take.  I choose the safety of what we have not the unsafety of what could be.

The other big decisive factor is cost.  I never knew how much a child would cost financially.  When Martha was in nursery and before we got the 15 hours free per week that all parents do when their child is aged 3, we effectively had 2 mortgages.  It was hard but manageable, though I wouldn’t have liked to think about paying for 2 children.  My grandpa always told me never to do anything unless I could comfortably afford to do it (House and car excluded).  I couldn’t live with myself if I bulldozed ahead and had X amount of child, then expected the state to help me pay for them.  Nick and I rightly or wrongly also have a standard of living we would like to maintain.  Selfish?  Maybe, but being able to do the things we do like going on holiday and for meals out as a family, is extremely important to us, and to Martha.  She loves nothing more thatn ‘getting dressed up fancy’ for a meal out, or packing her own suitcase for holidays.

Nick and I are acutely aware that Martha is an only child, and we encourage her as much as possible to recognise that she is incredibly lucky to have what she does.  We can afford treat days, holidays, nice clothes, exciting experiences, and we want to make sure that Martha appreciates the value of these things and not take them for granted.  I actively encourage Martha to invite friends along with us when we go out so that she learns it is ‘not all about her’ – something she regularly repeats to me when I tell her I need something ‘It’s not all about you either Mum!’  I must admit that I often wish she had a sibling and friend like I have in my sister and brother, but then I remember that it doesn’t automatically create a harmonious relationship between the two (Louise and I barely looked at each other let alone registered each others existence during our teenage years).  There are many positive reasons to have more than one child, and I wouldn’t change my upbringing for the world.  As we grow older, people have even suggested that ‘it would be better to have more than one so Martha isn’t burdened with you both in old age?’ – what a marvellous rationale for having a baby?!

I think that as long as we remain aware of Martha being an only one or ‘The One and Only’ as I call her, I honestly think she will be okay.

So no, there are no more babies for us.  And as for our twilight years, instead of burdening Martha, we will actively do the exact opposite whilst residing in a lovely retirement village, wreaking havoc with our friends, crown green bowling, shoplifting, dangerous driving, farting in public and all the other wonderfully un-burdoning thing OAP’s get up to regardless of how many children they had.


When I Grow Up I Want to be Daddy

Our little cute man is going through a phase where if you ask him who he wants to be his answer will be ‘Daddy’.  This fact was discovered by my sister when she asked him while he was staying with my Mum last week.  This made it even more special for me as it wasn’t for James’ approval, or mine, it was his genuine response in the midst of playing and laughing with my sister when she asked him.  Probably expecting him to say ‘a dinosaur’ or one of the characters from ‘Paw Patrol’, that’s what I would’ve expected.

I’m so lucky that my little man looks up to his Daddy so much that he wants to be him.  I’m so lucky that our girls want to marry someone like their Daddy.  I’m ridiculously lucky and will never stop being grateful after my past experiences (you can read my Life as a Domestic Violence Survivor post if you’re new to my blog and want to know what I’m on about) that I am with someone that I would love my baby boy to grow up to be like, or for our girls to model their future husband requirements on.  There are so many good men out there, but it was a long time before I knew and believed that.

He is such a sweet big brother.  He can be a little monster at times.  He’s going through a phase where he really doesn’t like to share and his two year old little sister will hand things over to him to stop him crying rather than the other way around.  He punched an 8 year old at soft play once though because they pushed Eden over.  We were gobsmacked and obviously told him that he shouldn’t hit anyone but also secretly proud that he was fearless in the face of someone twice his size when it came to protecting his little sister.  Of course I don’t want him to grow up to use his fists but I think at 3 you’re not sure how to express yourself sometimes and just use your body or your mouth to shout when you don’t like what’s going on.  It’s definitely not something he’s ever seen at home.

He is the sweetest and cheekiest little man, who can be found snuggling in bed with me around 8pm each evening as he just won’t settle in bed.  We used to try and get him to stay in his own room, and settle him there, and sometimes he will ask to do that with his Daddy, but no matter what we’ve tried, no matter how much his bedroom looks like the Blackpool illuminations, he still has a fear of the dark.  So, after lots of tricks we decided to just let him fall asleep with us and then we put him back to bed.  He will usually appear in our bed in the early hours of the morning and then we just co-sleep.  We weighed up the options, and I know some may think it’s not the best idea to let him have free reign in his bedtime routine but we decided that as much as we would like our bed to ourselves and for him to settle easily in his own room (the girls are all great at going to bed), it is most important to us that he feels comfortable, safe and secure.  It’s not like he’s going to be in our bed when he’s a teenager.  Once he’s old enough to get over his fear he’ll probably not want to come and snuggle in with Mummy and Daddy.

He gives the best cuddles this little man, gently stroking the arm of whoever he’s wrapped up with.  Even Eden does it now.  She’ll cuddle him and stroke his face.  It is the most adorable thing to see your 2 year old cuddling and stroking the face of your 3 year old and vice versa.  They care for each other so much, it’s adorable.  So gentle and tender.  You wouldn’t think it when they’re squabbling over toys but they really and truly love each other so much.  I pray that it always stays this way.

I pray that he always wants to be just like his Daddy, whatever form that takes, whatever job he wants to do, whoever he grows up to be, whomever he chooses to love, that his character would be gentle, kind, supportive, and free to express whatever he chooses to express.  My husband is the most liberated, free of inhibitions person that I have ever met.  I really pray that all the children get that quality from him.  I’m blessed to have one in a million and four gorgeous, loving children.

He is the light in my eyes, my only son, and the sunshine that breaks through the cloudiest days.




The Diary of a Working Mum {Part Four}

It’s been a while since I posted one of these instalments.  Christmas and all the advent festivities took over my life in December.  I wanted this to have the attention that it deserved on my blog space.  My beautiful friend Heather sent me this blog a while ago now and I’ve been loving reading every single one.  Heather could have her own blog space easily if she had the time to maintain it.  Every time she sends me a message via facebook (our usual way of communicating when we’re busy) it’s like diamonds drip from the page.  She always knows exactly what to say to speak into my life.  One of the most honest, direct and beautiful writers I know.  When I read this the first time I was in tears, so have your tissues at the ready as Heather takes us through the dilemmas we go through as Mum’s that work to provide the best for our family.

The second longest week of my life

The August before I went back to work, we went on holiday with some friends of ours to Spain for a week.  This would be the first proper holiday we had as a family (having already trialled Center Parcs in the May which was a roaring success even though I detest Center Parcs).  As our confidence grew as parents, and Martha was passing all her checks with flying colours; we decided to treat ourselves to some sunshine after a somewhat dramatic year.

I don’t know why it changed, but up until that point Martha had been catching up magnificently with her adjusted age, then suddenly she stopped being interested in food.  As any mum of a prem knows acutely, the desire to get your child to ‘catch-up’ with other kids their age can at times be all consuming, and I was no exception.  I was obsessed with how much Martha ate, I was obsessed with her weight, and I was obsessed with getting her up to speed.  Again it probably stems from a guilt on my part for not getting through 9 months of pregnancy and a determination to right that wrong, as I saw it.  This is why I couldn’t bear to go to Mother and Child groups; I hated the constant comparisons and measuring up to others that consumed my thoughts.  I can remember getting myself so worked up in the days between weighing clinic, desperately trying to feed up Martha so she would have gained.  Oh the elation I felt when she had put on ounces, and the despair that consumed me if she had maintained or worse still lost.  I cried at each weigh in, joyous or disappointed tears.  My obsession was becoming unhealthy and thank God one of the Health Visitors recognised this in me because she gently took me to one side and said ‘I don’t want to see you here again, you are doing a brilliant job.  Go and enjoy your baby!’  And that’s what I did in the most part, although these creeping fears would be in the back of my mind and they usually revolved around Martha’s food intake.

After our holiday we had a month or so before I started work, and I hoped that the eating thing would rectify itself once she started nursery.  Seeing other children heartily tucking into their dinners, might encourage her to do the same.  It didn’t and what we initially hoped was a phase, is still something we as a family struggle with every meal of every day.  I occasionally stumble across pictures of Martha from back then and my heart breaks a little at how skinny she was.  She wouldn’t eat, so she would wake in the night hungry, she would be grumpy in the day and get tired easily; as would I, and all the time I was trying to stop myself screaming ‘YOU NEED TO EAT!  PLEASE, PLEASE EAT SOMETHING, ANYTHING!’  I would enviously look at other babies with their rolls of fat and their curiosity at new foods, their willingness to put things in their mouths and the speed at which their mealtimes happened.  Whereas Martha could take up to an hour and a half to put 1 spoonful in her mouth, and that was after a copious amount of encouragement.  It was so frustrating.

The eating thing levelled out and we attended various feeding clinics and paediatric appointments to monitor her food intake and to encourage a healthy eating environment.  Yes, she was small, but she appeared healthy in every other way and Dr Yadav at the hospital prescribed her iron to boost her appetite, and we worked out a special meal-plan with the chef at nursery so she was getting familiar meals that she enjoyed.  We did everything we could, but her lack of interest in food made her susceptible to illness and infection as she just didn’t have the reserves to fight a lot of normal childhood illnesses that came her way.  A common cold would knock her for six and for weeks on end, and it was exhausting for all of us.

Just before Martha’s 3rd birthday, we went to look round a potential school for her in Blackrod village.  She’d had a restless night, and she was crying and moaning throughout the presentation the Headmaster gave.  I was worried about her.  She seemed weak and distracted but I had to drop her off at nursery because I needed to get to work that day too.

At about 12 midday I got a phone call from nursery saying she was struggling to breathe and that we needed to get her to hospital.  I fled from work and organised for my mum to collect her and meet me at Chorley Hospital (I work in Blackburn so this would be half way and save time.  Nick worked in Manchester which would take too long).  As soon as we got there, they decided to admit her to Bolton Hospital and they ambulanced her there as a matter of urgency.  A chest x-ray showed that she had pneumonia and we would be staying put until she stabilised and her oxygen levels improved.  She was fitted with a cannula and put on oxygen and Nick rushed home to get me some essentials as I would be staying with her overnight and for the foreseeable next few days.  It was hell.  There is nothing scarier than seeing your child so ill and being utterly helpless to do anything.  My heart was broken.  How had I not seen she was so ill?  I was a crap mum, and her lying there hooked up to a machine brought back those terrible memories from not 3 years earlier when we didn’t know what to expect.  We were right back to square 1.

I sat up all night holding an oxygen mask over her little face and chastising myself for not making her stronger to fight things like this.  The next day, she had improved slightly and by late afternoon we were told that if she ate something and her levels stayed the same for the next few hours, she would be allowed home.  We managed to get her to eat a small bite of a fish finger and we were discharged with an inhaler and a list of things to look out for which would mean her being readmitted.  She survived off milk and the odd cheesy wotsit for the next week.  I have a picture of her from that week with her Dad in a little beret and scarf and she looks so thin it still makes me anxious when I see it.

After a week of me taking emergency leave to care for her, she finally ate a bowl of meatballs and seemed to be picking up; the relief for me was immense.  I had kept work up to date with her progress and I knew I needed to get back to work and let go of Martha a little bit again.  She only did 2 mornings and one full day a week in nursery so the next Monday we decided to let her go back.  She was welcomed into pre-school with a round of applause and a present as they had all missed her so much.  She proudly showed the staff how to use her inhaler and was ecstatic to see her friends again.  I on the other hand got half way to work, and had to pull into a slip road because I was sobbing so much and my tears were blinding the road ahead.  What was I doing???  I phoned work and turned my car around so I could go and collect Martha at lunchtime and have her safe in my arms again.  I ached for her.

I needed comfort so I called my Mum, but comfort was not what I got.  I won’t relay the full conversation because what was said made me so angry and hurt me so much that I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  Basically my mum told me that my little girl needed me, I should give up my job, I had to put her first, nothing was more important than her health, etc etc.  I stupidly tried to justify myself with arguments such as ‘how will I pay for my car?’  ‘How will we afford to carry on saving up for the deposit for a new house so she can run in the garden?’ all of which were met with counter-arguments like ‘you don’t need a car!  I never had a car!’  ‘I never worked!’  ‘You don’t need the extra money’  ‘she’s ill, you’re her Mum, and you need to look after her’ ‘nursery is full of germs’ ‘she needs to go to a child minder instead if you won’t look after her, there’s less germs there’.

Whether it was an accumulation of shock at directness of what she had said, heightened emotions after the horrendous week we had just had or the fact that I was just so emotionally fragile at that time, but her words were like a knife to my heart that kept stabbing me over and over and over again.  The timing of it was just utterly terrible.  I understand that my mum had been frightened and worried too by the recent events and that she was only thinking about Martha’s well-being, but the fact that she had failed to see that I was already such an emotionally frail state, and she seemed to suggest that if Martha got ill again, it would somehow be my own doing, was simply more than I could bear.  After her phone call, I cried those tears you cry when you are little, and you can’t catch your breath and you honestly think you’ll never stop crying.

I couldn’t get the words out when I phoned Nick.  I was so angry, so distraught, so devastated that my Mum had suggested that MY choices had made my precious baby poorly.  But I knew, I knew that my mum knew too, I was a good mum, that I loved her with an intensity, with a passion, with an all-consuming unconditional force, and I didn’t need to prove that to anyone.

Nick was amazing with me.  He calmly took the argument out of my hands and he dealt with the situation privately by speaking to my Dad.  I had a moment of clarity when he did that.  I should be looking to my husband for this support.  Not my Mum.  My lovely husband who had gone through this journey with me, experiencing all our hopes and fears with me, finding his way as a new father whilst supporting me and championing me at the same time.  I had again neglected to believe in the unit we are as a family of 3.  To stand strong in our choices.  I had sought affirmation, acceptance and approval from somewhere else, when I had it right next to me all the time.  As I slowly let go and forgave my mum (after a week of silence) and myself, I was ready to get back on the rollercoaster.



Isis Mae on YouTube {The Ordinary Moments 16 #1}

Hello, welcome to the first ‘Ordinary Moments’ post of 2016.  I felt I was doing really well at keeping up with these on my old blog but here at ‘I’m Every Mum’ I’ve been so inconsistent the latter part of the year.  So much going on, well, here’s to 2016 and beginning again.  I’m excited to work on my blog and YouTube channel this year as now I’m not working, I just have this, the children and university to focus on.  Yes, that sounds like a lot, but when you’re no longer working four nights a week (they fired me because of my anxiety), it’s much more manageable.

Our beautiful Isis Mae got lots of lovely things for Christmas but one of the main things from us was my old laptop and DSLR.  They were sat around not being used, and I figured that seeing as she kept asking about blogging, but I was struggling to find the time to sort out my own blog, nevermind have time to sit around waiting to blog whilst she was typing things up, this seemed like the best thing to do.  It’s been so lovely being able to just sit down together and work.  Once our office is sorted it’s going to be even easier and more relaxing.

I don’t want this to become any kind of chore for her, I have said that she can sit with me, one night or two at the weekend for a couple of hours when the babies have gone to bed and she can blog or plan for her YouTube channel, or whatever she wants to do.   She often spends this time sat by my side watching me blog anyway, so now, she can work on her own.

She is a mini me, a little imitator, and it’s lovely that the things I’m interested in, she shows real passion for too.  I always love when we find these little connections as obviously I didn’t give birth to Isis and I only met her when she was 5.  Sometimes, I look at her and find it so uncanny how similar we are, when she isn’t biologically mine.  When I think about what God gave me when He brought James into my life, I strongly believe that I was supposed to be these little girls Mum too.  Of course they have a Mum, but on the days that they’re with their Dad things could’ve been so different if James hadn’t chosen to be with me.  Those little girls are definitely supposed to be a part of my life.  The day Judah was born was beautiful in so many ways but also in the sense that, it dawned on me that these little girls and I had a blood connection.  Not that it’s all about blood, but it hit me that God forbid anything should happen to tear James and I apart, sickness, death, an unforgiveable situation (you know what I mean ladies, it’s not that we expect these things but our over active minds think about this kind of stuff once in a while, especially when we’re pregnant), these beautiful little girls still would feel connected to me.  I was now the Mother of their brother and they would always be welcome to come and hang out in my home, whatever ‘home’ would look like.

My mini me wanted to have a blog and I wanted her to have her own YouTube channel, as I love the videos she films for my channel, but we obviously are two different personalities, and as much as we’ll still be a part of each other’s channels, she deserves the chance to build up her channel herself.  She has a HUGE personality that will only continue to unfold on camera as she becomes less shy (on camera, she is certainly not shy in real life), her and Shayla-Rae love to do silly challenges, so she will be doing more of that too.  I also have hardly any subscribers.  Isis may end up connecting with other children that watch YouTube and build her channel to way beyond what I could imagine.

Blogging, vlogging, YouTube, Reviews, I see these things as amazing skills that will only help her in later life whichever course she chooses to follow.  They increase her confidence, organisation, technical skills (she watches me edit and we’ve been working on photography since she received the camera at Christmas).  I imagine that she will interview so well when she’s older and applying for jobs.  She also wants to use her channel as a platform for singing the songs she writes.  This is something I’m privileged to make a reality as I have access to the University recording studios as part of my course.  So we will just go in whatever creative direction she would like to.

Also, if she decides she doesn’t want to do it anymore, then she can do that too.  There is no pressure at all, this is her space, her creative outlet and I’m looking forward to seeing all that she does in and through it this year.  We were watching lots of ‘What I Got For Christmas’ videos on YouTube the other day, so Isis decided to film her first video for her new channel based on this too.  It’s very cute.  If YouTube is your thing or you have children you think would enjoy watching her, please show her some love and subscribe.

Thanks guys.

I’m excited for 2016 and all that will happen for us, and all of you.  Thank you for coming on this journey with us. xxx

I’ll leave you with the beautiful Isis Mae and what she got for Christmas :

Thank you Katie for hosting again ‘The Ordinary Moments‘ we look forward to joining in this year


When Time Out’s Stop Working

We have a crazily clingy three year old.  I don’t know exactly when the transition happened.  I know it had something to do with when I started working even though my shifts were at night and he was asleep when I was out of the house.  He also started pre-school in September for the first time, but he LOVES it.  He absolutely LOVES it.  When he first started going he NEVER wanted to come home.  I was the Mum at the end of the day who’s child wasn’t bothered to see her arrive, would run off because he didn’t want to leave, and although it upset me a little I was really pleased that he loved it there.

Whether it’s the combined people in his life now instead of just his Dad and my rules, he seems to have become wild and uncontrollable.  It’s impossible to get his attention sometimes unless you raise your voice, but if he thinks for one moment that you’re shouting at him (I’ve never been a shouter) then he is heartbroken and sobs until you apologise for shouting and give him lots of cuddles.

Yesterday morning he came down from playing in his room with Eden screaming at her, full on screaming, it was difficult to decipher what he was saying at first but then I figured it out. ‘I want Eden to play with me’.  Eden had run in seconds prior to cuddle me, for what seemed like safety, she was obviously not wanting to play with the screaming child as that didn’t seem like a fun idea to her.  Who can blame her?

We don’t do them often anymore as we don’t really seem to have much need but I put Judah on time out to calm down, so he sat on the bottom step of the stairs, I could still see him, and I explained that once he calmed down he could come and have a cuddle.

This was a disaster.  It resulted in an hour of ‘Mummy’, ‘Mummy’, ‘Mummy’, ‘Mummy,’ ‘I’ve calmed down’, he was pretty much shouting this though.  I said no baby, that’s not calm, you just need to be able to be quiet a moment.  I had long given up on the ideas of a three minutes time out, I just would settle for a few seconds silence.  I’m surprised he had time to breathe.  He was incessant.  After a few minutes Daddy tried to speak to him about calming down, well then it just became ‘Daddy’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Daddy’, I was determined that seeing as he wasn’t listening we couldn’t give in.  Maybe we need a new approach in future and a lovely lady on twitter was giving me some tips and ideas, but I was not going to give in this time, he had to just be silent, even for a second and we would welcome him back with open arms.

I have to explain at this time, at no point was he hysterical.  He was not particularly unhappy, he just refused to acknowledge the concept of being quiet a minute.  To be honest, as I think about it now, it reminds me of his Dad when we row.  He doesn’t know when to leave things and always thinks he can talk his way out of any situation when sometimes all I want is a little bit of space.  This is what Judah was doing, he was trying to barter his way off the step rather than listening to the brief of a few seconds silence resulted in him coming back for cuddles anyway.

It completely wore me down, I was literally holding my fingers in my ears, I could feel the anxiety in me rising (I’ve been struggling with anxiety recently if you’re not a regular reader of this blog).  I knew we had to see it through.   Sometimes I just have to go with my gut, I wasn’t deliberately being stubborn to prove a point, it just felt like he had to understand, and I wasn’t helping him if I gave in.

I’ll be honest, I felt like he was breaking me, obviously this isn’t his fault, he’s just a child, but I just thought this is too hard with my anxiety issues.  I was almost wishing deafness upon myself.  I wanted to start drinking.  I needed distracting.  James had gone off to clean out the fridge, he decided it was a nicer alternative than listening to Judah’s relentless noise.  Yep, it was really that bad.

Anyway, after about an hour, he was silent for about 10 seconds to be honest and I called him back in, he wasn’t upset in any way.  You’d think after going on and on and on (and on) for an hour, he’d be hysterical, but he was cool as a cucumber.  I just feel like this approach is no longer going to work for him.  Obviously, I don’t want him to be upset, he just has a lot longer capacity for being relentless and providing incessant noise than I have the ability to withstand it.

Any suggestions are massively appreciated.  I’ve had a few, I’m not sure which approach will work best.  Maybe, we’ll need to try a few, maybe we should suck it up and carry on with time outs.  Any thoughts?  Comments?  They’re hugely appreciated and the sooner we find an approach we can be consistent with the better.

Thanks for listening to my ramble.




The Ordinary Moments 2015 {Being a Student Mum}

Wow!  It has been a long time since I have linked up to my favourite linky ‘The Ordinary Moments‘ as I have not been the best at blogging in recent times.  I made a choice this week to challenge myself and get back to blogging daily.  It is so important for my creativity, to not get stuck in a rut, having writers’ block, procrastinating, all of those things.  I read a brilliant article from Hannah one of the editors at ‘Live. Love. Blog‘ called ‘6 Reasons to Embrace Your Passion Daily‘ and it really resonated with me.  So, as far as is possible writing daily is now very high on my priorities, as this is something I see being a HUGE part of my life and my husband hugely encourages it as he sees the positive effect that blogging has on me.

A lot of my posts have been more personal recently.  I have many people telling me that they love these kinds of posts.  I love being able to be transparent and open with my readers, but I’m also very aware that the main reason I started this blog is to record the memories for our beautiful children.  There are so many things that I’ve missed documenting because I’ve not been putting my hands to the laptop, but I do have files and files of photos and video footage that I am slowly working my way through so I can put them here.  So, if my blog seems out of sync with ‘real life’ time please excuse me, I will try and post an extra post those days as we catch up with all the beautiful ordinary moments that are currently sat on memory cards, hard drives and in my dropbox.

At the moment I am signed off with anxiety but I am getting stronger every day.  The physical pain in my chest when I had to do anything, even such as go to the supermarket has now left me, so the tablets must be working their magic but this week I have been full of flu like symptoms, so our poor toddlers have been stuck in with me anyway.  The weather has been so dreary that I haven’t wanted to take them and their chesty coughs anywhere, and as much as I’m starting to feel a bit better, if I dared venture into soft play hell without my husbands company I think my anxiety would’ve come back with a vengeance.

I’m sat here this morning child free because my wonderful in-laws have had all four children since Friday night for us.  It has been surreal to not have them around.  We haven’t done anything particularly exciting because my flu like symptoms now seem to have settled into a chest infection (I’m going to have to hit up the GP’s tomorrow for some antibiotics) but we did spend all yesterday, well after 2:30pm as we took ages having a lazy morning because we didn’t have to be up haha, with our dear friends and their little boy.  It was lovely to be out and not have to wonder which toddler was trying to destroy what, or jump to certain death off book cases, to feel fully relaxed and at ease with friends was just wonderful.  We sat playing board games all afternoon (they have an amazing selection) and we left late last night after discussing so many things, not the least of which was planning a potential holiday together next year.  Eek, I’m so excited.

So, anyway, back to the post in hand, I am currently signed off and not at university but I am really missing it.  I need to speak to my tutors, who are all aware of my situation but I haven’t actually formalised anything and applied for some extensions so I can now feel the deadlines looming.  One of my favourite modules at the moment, big surpise, has been Photography.  I am enjoying this SO much and my tutor has been amazing.  So helpful and really understanding in the recent weeks.  I have been working on a black and white portraiture project inspired by the works of Sally Mann called ‘Let Kids Be Kids‘ for my first assignment and I’ve been really loving the challenge of setting my photographs.  Designing the concept for each shoot in my head and then trying to make them happen.  I haven’t always achieved my desired results but that has been part of the journey and learning how to really use my camera has been amazing.  I’m really loving it.  I can’t wait to get back to University, it has been the best part of my week in a way as I felt I was starting to find who I was again, and I REALLY enjoy learning and getting my teeth stuck in to a good assignment.  I’ve always been a bit of a technology geek as well at heart and learning how things work really fascinates me.  I am LOVING my Audio/Visual classes for that, and web development has been interesting as we’ve been learning how to code and all the history of the internet.

To some that must sound so boring, but I am really LOVING it and just writing about it now makes me excited to go back.

One of the last things I did for university before getting signed off was an experiment for my photography project in the studio, to see if I could achieve one of the effects that I was after.  These shots may seem strange as they’re a mixture of ones that fit my concept and just ones I caught and loved, so some are a bit more stylised and some are more candid.  I absolutely LOVED working in the studio.  This isn’t something I would’ve thought would be my forté but I had such a positive reaction when I posted them on my facebook.  I am going to be doing lots of shoots when I am well for friends who have noticed my work for a small fee (also some freebies for some close friends who don’t mind me using them as experiments as I constantly try to improve).

Here are some images from that photoshoot to leave you with for now.  Thanks for bearing with me my lovely readers whilst I’ve been on a journey recently.  I really appreciate all the love and support that this blog has been bringing me, from other bloggers, and from friends who contact me after reading my posts.  I love you all, and am grateful for every single one of you.

let kids be kids, black and white portraits, beautiful children, siblings, portrait photography, photography, studio photography, I'm Every Mum. Alexandra James, mummy blogger, llfestyle blogger,

The Diary of a Working Mum {Part Three}

The Diary of a Working Mum {Part Three}

Another stunning guest post from my beautiful friend Heather in our series (to read Heather’s other posts click here)

Feel the Fear and do it anyway

On October the 9th 2011, I went back to work. Nick and I had decided that he would take my first full week back as annual leave, so I could get to grips with my new responsibilities at the council, without the added worry of how Martha was settling in at nursery and whether or not her Grandparents had picked her up on time. I am so glad we staggered the new routine this way. It gave me breathing space and allowed me to gradually introduce the new routine to Martha, Nick and myself.

I immediately felt at home in my new job. Something, which I absolutely didn’t expect. My new colleagues were friendly, funny, understanding and if I’m honest, they were a breath of fresh air too after months of weigh in clinics, paediatric appointments to chart Martha’s progress, eye tests, ear tests… all the things that prem babies have to attend as part of their follow up. It felt so good to be back in the company of adults. People you can have a conversation with other than a gurgling, albeit delightful, nearly one year old, and I had a new sense of worth that I was contributing to an organisation, and I was bringing home money that I had earned, I must stress that for me, money is not a priority on my list as a motivation for working. I work because of how it makes me feel; confident, important, sane and happy. I actually took home more money on maternity leave than I did going back to work, but that wasn’t the point. I was back in the game, and it felt great.

Although my post at the council is a full time funded position, I had agreed with my new boss that I would work 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) with a view to increasing my hours when Martha started school. This worked perfectly for us as a family. I had one day in work, the next day with Martha and so on. It meant that if I had a bad night with Martha, I only needed to get through one tired day before I could catch up again. It worked amazingly. Plenty of people said ‘why don’t you get work out of the way for the week at the beginning of the week, then you could have Thursday, Friday and the weekend free for Martha?’ but that was totally not my mentality. I didn’t want to ‘get work out of the way’ I wanted to incorporate it back into my life. Make it a part of my week and look forward to it. Besides which, working Friday’s is brilliant, everyone else is on wind down and I come in ready for action! I don’t like monotony and the mixing up of my week suited me well. It made me appreciate both my time with Martha, and my time at work all the more, because by the end of each day, I was ready for the alternating next.

I had loved my time off with Martha. So many people don’t get as long as I did, and whilst it was wonderful to be with her, especially after all she and I had been through, I can now admit that I was (gasp) quite bored. Months of no routine to my day, nights where Nick would get back from work and I’d still be in the same clothes as when he left (i.e. pyjamas), Peppa Pig on TV and meeting with friends who also had become new mums, was not doing my mental health much good. I had no stimulation other than going to the gym when I wasn’t too tired, or cooking an elaborate meal for dinner because I had nothing better to do. I just didn’t feel like me. I wanted the old me back, and I wanted to show Martha what the old me was all about. I hated going to Mum and Baby groups because the women there were obsessed with their developing children and so competitive and I always felt like the underdog. I took Martha to Baby Massage once when she was tiny and she farted her way through the session attracting some disgruntled looks so I think we were both relieved to get out of there and never go back. Don’t get me wrong, we went on lovely walks, picnics, we joined the library, we visited my Gran every week, we ate in cafes, we sang, we danced, we became very familiar with the Trafford Centre but I felt I owed Martha more. Much more that I could give her if it was just us two.

They say that prem babies have an amazing mental capacity in the first two years of their life. Their physical development is often delayed, as was the case with Martha who took her first steps at nearly 20 months old. During this time when they are not yet strong enough to walk, their tiny minds are going ten to the dozen absorbing, processing and taking in so much more than would be normal for their age. Martha had made this apparent from Day 1. She is such a clever little soul. We always wanted her to be brave, to speak her mind, to share her opinion, and to ask questions. When I was small, I was often told not to be cheeky, not to answer back, and I used to be so frustrated because all I wanted to do was share my opinion. I now know that my Mum was probably just trying to referee 3 kids and was at the end of her tether most days, but I had just one child and I wanted her to have a voice.

Because Martha is an only child, and will be the only child we have, we felt is so important that she socialise and mix with other children. I am one of three, but Nick is an only child, and so was my Mum. I’m sure they would both agree that the importance of relationships with friends is paramount to the only child. Nick and I count our friends as family. They are part of us, and we them. Martha proudly boasts about her big family (we’re not a big family, she just includes our friends) and going to nursery certainly helped her socially and grew her confidence. As parents our job is to equip our children with the tools they need to prosper, to make relationships aside from us as parents; to be independent and have a stronghold on who they are as an individual, what they believe in and how to treat the world with compassion. I could not have taught Martha any of this as effectively as Playdays (her nursery) did.

At nursery school Martha met two friends called Abigail and Isobel who are one of the few sets of identical twins in the UK to have Downs Syndrome. Martha has known Abigail and Isobel since they were babies. She grew up with them and she learned sign language so she can communicate with them. We once bumped into Abigail and Isobel shopping with their Mum Jodi in Morrisons, so Martha shouted ‘Mum, there’s my friends, can we go and see them?’ I have never been more in awe of the amazing little people kids are when my 4 year old daughter started to sign to them and they had a conversation, whilst I stood there like a lemon wondering what the 3 of them were nattering about. How cool is that? In that moment, I had such a deep sense of contentment that I almost skipped for joy out of the supermarket.

My headstrong daughter was on her way, making her beautiful footprint in the world.

Going back to work was so much easier than I thought it would be. Yes, there are tough days, days when you struggle through on 45 minutes of sleep, days when you were up 6 times in the night, feeding, changing bums, changing vomit covered sheets, wiping up nosebleeds and soothing teary nightmares. We’ve had some rough bumps along the way which I will share in my next post and there have been many times when my choices have been called into question, not just by others but by me also. But having this added purpose in my life, this independence, this work ethic, this routine and this life was ultimately absolutely the right thing for me and my family to do. We made the right choice for us, and that’s all any of us can do.