WHY WE WON’T BE HAVING ANY MORE BABIES

Why We Won’t Be Having Any More Babies

Our beautiful daughter Eden turned 2 last Thursday.  I can’t believe it, 2 years old.  The time has flown and dragged all at the same time.  She was the most peaceful and teeny baby for so long, she would always look at me with so much expression, I used to think there were times she was mocking me, but would dismiss it as she was tiny.  She still pulls those faces now but she can also back them up with her words.  She really does mock me sometimes, she has such an amazing sense of humour.  So much personality in one so tiny.

Eden turned 2 last Thursday and I still weigh a crazy amount more than before I got pregnant with her.  I still struggle to walk and have a very weak body.  My emotional state has NEVER been what it was before we conceived her.  It has been 2 years and I am so over feeling broken.

This baby has brought so much joy into my life.  They all do, but the effect going from 3 to 4 had in my life was absolutely crazy.  Maybe, it was having 2 toddlers, maybe it was because I had to be Mum to 2 older girls as well as having 2 toddlers that I was learning how to Mother full-time.  Who knows, but I have felt like a failure most of the time since we had Eden.  When we had Judah and the girls I felt like Super Mum.  We constantly had people round at our home, our home was always tidy (massively so compared to how it is now), I would cook meals fresh every evening, I would go to the gym at 6 o’clock in the morning, I would attend Zumba class, I would take 3 non-swimmers swimming each week, and taught 2 of them to swim (Judah was still tiny).  I would manage a 40 minute each way school run in all weathers to collect the girls on the school days that we had them (Thursdays and Fridays), I learned to drive a car.  I taught singing lessons from my home.  The girls attended ballet, tap and modern every week, partook in shows and exams.

The person that I am now, is a very different one.  I feel like a failure constantly, like everything I do, I can’t do it well.  I’m so thinly spread.  I want to be the best Mum in the world, I want to do arts and crafts, I want to cook them healthy meals, I want to be able to exercise and go out for long walks, I want to be able to provide extra curricular activities.  I want to be able to earn money.  I just seem to fail at EVERYTHING.  I can’t be a good Mum because it all feels too much.  We had an aupair for 5 months and I still couldn’t get on top of things.

Gosh, I sound like such a whinge bag, but I’m just putting this out there for others that may feel the same.  As soon as I became pregnant with Eden I experienced a chemical imbalance.  I was immediately suicidal.  I went straight to the GP as I knew that this was completely irrational, I had never been happier.  They put me on some tablets, and a week later I found out I was pregnant.  Judah was 7 months old.  Of course I came straight off the tablets, and my emotional state was monitored throughout my pregnancy.

I am a terrible pregnant person, I stopped blogging at this point because all I had to say was never anything positive, every single week was a struggle.  I have horrendous hyperemesis gravidarum when I’m pregnant, I couldn’t keep water down at one point and would be constantly at the GP and hospital.  I also, as well as SPD, have hypermobility which displays itself as my not being able to walk when I’m pregnant without my extra lax muscles making my hips come out of joint.  I was on crutches from 9 weeks pregnant with Eden and bed bound before I hit the second trimester.

As the pregnancy drew to an end and my due date came closer I would be worse.  I was at the stage where I couldn’t take myself to the bathroom, James had to do EVERYTHING for me.  I would beg to be induced at every appointment once she was at a safe gestational age.  Something in my sound mind I would strongly object to, but I just wanted her out of me, I wanted to feel normal again and to enjoy this beautiful baby girl that I knew I was carrying, but felt as though would never arrive after spending months in my bed.  I have to say I am a rubbish patient too, the amount of times I would be scrubbing tiles in the shower as I was nesting and refusing to give in to my lack of movement.  I’d sit on my pilates ball and try and move myself around the house to clean, which would result in my tummy muscles tearing even more than usual and my just becoming more and more useless all the time.

After all this, I have to say that I would go through it all again in a heartbeat for another child.  Every single one of our children is the biggest blessing and Eden especially brings so much joy to us.  Maybe it’s because she’s so dinky, maybe it’s because she’s the baby, maybe it’s because she’s so cheeky and always happy.  We don’t have favourites, but she just is, as her name means, a ‘delight’.

Due to the fact that I am horrendous pregnant, we planned a vasectomy for my husband before my pregnancy was over, we knew that if Eden arrived and was happy and healthy in the New Year this was the first thing that James was going to do.  He wanted it too, after experiencing how traumatic my being pregnant was for the whole family.

I see so many friends and especially bloggers at the moment that are pregnant.  It makes me ridiculously broody.  I always wanted 3, James always wanted to have 3 with me.  We wanted 5, I’m one of 5 (2 adopted siblings) so I guess that’s where I’d determined my family size from.  James, well, he would just have as many babies as he could, he LOVES little babies.  He is a very broody Daddy and amazing with newborns.

I look at my life and I see that it would be absolutely ridiculous for us to have another child, and feel grateful that we already made it so that couldn’t happen, as James and I in our impulsive natures would probably have thought, ah, forget it, and conceived another anyway.  Eden is 2 and I still can’t walk properly.  Another pregnancy would probably finish me off (and maybe my marriage haha, just kidding James I know you would amazingly put up with me and survive somehow).

We’ve talked about adopting.  In the future, when Eden is older, about 10 we’d like to adopt a 7 or 8 year old.  A child that they say is past the point of achieving a Forever Home, and we long to give them a forever home.  This hole in our hearts will be filled one day, and I’d love the child to be able to look back here and know that they were extremely planned and wanted by us.

So, anyway, I just wanted to put it out there as we are both extremely broody at the moment, why we won’t be having any more babies.

Please comment if you are in a similar situation, or if like me you are horrendous pregnant.  I always feel like all my friends are like the glowing lady in ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ who can still wear 7 inch heels and strut around looking like a supermodel whilst pregnant with twins.no more babies, hyperemesis gravidarum, baby portrait, 3 week old baby, black and white mother and baby, imeverymum, mummy blogger

World Prematurity Day

World Prematurity Day

I have a beautiful friend who has been guest posting a couple of times on my blog, she doesn’t have her own blogging platform, but I believe her voice is powerful and she inspires me everytime she encourages me through a private message on facebook, or on email.  She has been writing my ‘Diary of a Working Mum’ series and if you’ve read any you’ll agree, she’s a gifted writer, she also has a beautiful little girl who was born at 29 weeks gestation (31 weeks and 3 days pregnant).  I asked her if she wanted to share anything for ‘World Prematurity Day’ and she has written me an amazing guest post.  Thank you Heather, you are truly one in a million and I know all reading will be blessed, moved, encouraged and inspired after reading this.

I’ve wanted to write this blog piece for so long now but have always chickened out at the last minute, partly because I would not know where to start, but mainly because I am absolutely petrified of re-visiting the memories associated with that time. As I write this, it is exactly 5 years to the day that my premature baby story started.  Nick and I are huge football fans. We both used to be season ticket holders at Bolton Wanderers (Nick still is) but now we have Martha, I don’t get to go as much as I’d like. The season of my pregnancy, we decided to try and go to as many away games as we could so I could soak up the football and have something to occupy my time during the weekends where we’d usually be down at the pub having a boozy afternoon followed by a greasy take-away, neither of which is befitting for a pregnant woman!

On Saturday November 13th we headed off to Wolverhampton to watch Bolton beat Wolves 2-3. It was a brilliant day. I can remember taking a picture of us both in the Concourse at half time, laughing together whilst eating the staple half time Footy Pie. That picture is still on my phone. The next picture I took was of a tiny baby, in an incubator, with a cannula in her hand with wires and tubes attached to her.  On the giddy journey home from Wolverhampton, we both discussed upcoming fixtures, and deliberated how many of them I would be able to realistically go to before the baby arrived. Little did I know that that would be the last game I attended for quite some time. That night, as I slept, my waters broke. I was 30 weeks and 3 days pregnant.

Waking up to a wet bed is not something you would expect a 36 year old to do, but I was pregnant and my pregnancy hadn’t been a smooth one. I had bled on and off throughout and had been in and out of hospital with various different problems. To make matters worse my baby wasn’t very active.  She barely kicked at all, but always had hiccups, something which I found quite reassuring. Upon waking that morning my first thought was ‘I’ve wet the bed. It must be something pregnant women do’ and shared my conclusion with Nick who presumed the same. A couple of hours later Nick and I built a wardrobe (I know, how stupid of me) but I think I was just trying to take my mind off these little trickles that kept seeping out of me. It wasn’t until later on that afternoon as we were walking round Tesco that I finally said ‘Nick, this isn’t right. I’m leaking. I’m going to go to the hospital’. Not wanting to worry him too much nor have us both spend hours in a waiting room at the hospital only to be told everything was fine as had happened many times before, I decided to go on my own, and call Nick as soon as I knew what was going on.

Speaking to the receptionist at the hospital in a blasé manner, I explained what had happened and that I was sure it was nothing to worry about. She had other ideas.  I was ushered straight out of the waiting area and sent into a private room. A doctor was with me within seconds. I had an internal examination and was told I wasn’t going home because my waters had broken. I was immediately given a steroid injection in my bottom to mature the baby’s lungs if its arrival was imminent. I was so very scared. That’s when I phoned Nick. I told him to bring me essentials like pyjamas, toothbrush etc., and to phone my Mum to tell her what had happened. I think I was in shock. I had no idea what any of this meant. I knew that some babies were born prematurely but I didn’t know any of them personally. What was happening? Was my baby going to die?

I was diagnosed with PPROM (Pre-term Premature Rupture of the Membranes). This in laymen’s terms meant that I had a tear in the sac that carried the baby and was leaking amniotic fluid. There was no cause for it; it was just something that happened. I had no other signs of labour, no pain, no gushing of waters, just a slow trickle which only seemed to happen when I stood up. That night I was sent for a scan which revealed that the tear was at the top of the sac – good news as amniotic fluid is reproduced as it is lost and the sac that carried the baby would therefore keep topping itself up as fluid leaked out. I had substantial measureable fluid which was a good thing for the baby, but because of the tear, the baby would be prone to infection, and once infection set in, the baby would have to come out. Fast.

Nick arrived shortly afterwards with the following items; A Terry’s chocolate orange, a football shirt, 2 pairs of highly inappropriate knickers considering my circumstances, and a toothbrush. Bless him; I can just imagine him running around the flat in a blind panic, grabbing anything he could. And so began my bed rest. The best thing I could do for my baby was to stay in hospital and stay horizontal.  No baths, no standing up unless necessary, daily scans, and to just wait. I was on a ward with 7 other women all in risky situations, and I met some amazing women that week. In the bed opposite me was a lady called Carren who had not been feeling her baby kick often. She already knew that the baby had a heart condition. We chatted a lot and are still friends to this day. Her little girl Lagan was born full term and underwent numerous operations on her heart but sadly passed away the Easter of her first year. Carren has since set up Lagan’s Foundation in her honour which gives invaluable support to woman and families of children with heart conditions.

I witnessed some amazing things happen on that ward. One of the girls who had also Pprom-ed re-sealed (something very rare) and was allowed to go home, and another girl announced she felt like she ‘needed a big pooh’ – etiquette flies out the window on a ward full of pregnant women – and came back from the toilet with a screaming baby. There was never a dull moment, or maybe you just observe so much more when you are laid on your back all day and night. I mostly kept myself to myself for the week and kept my curtains closed. I think I just went into survival mode. I ate so much that week, determined that if this baby was coming, I was going to give it the best chance of being healthy and a good weight. And I read loads. I restricted myself to an hour a day of the internet because it was so tempting to try and predict my baby’s chances. My sister brought me one of my favourite books to read as I was growing up – ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole’ and I cannot express how much comfort reading it gave me. It transported me back to a place in time where none of this heartache was happening and the escapism was just so lovely. I would get to the end of the book and start again, something which I’ve always done with books (and films) I love.

One of the pieces of advice the nurses gave me was to drink lots of water, which I did in abundance, but one of the down sides to this was how many times I would have to go to the toilet. I had been told that if my situation took a turn for the worse, the first signs would be bleeding, so I became absolutely petrified of going to the toilet in case I found blood on the pad I had to wear for the leaking. I would regularly call the nurses in the middle of the night crying hysterically and asking her to check my pad as I would be convinced there was blood on it. The pad once had tiny strands of lanugo on it (the fine hair that covers a baby’s body and sheds as they develop) and the sight of this upset me so much. I still get freaked out when I visit a public facility with the same toilet paper dispenser in it as the hospital. It’s the little things that can set me off. A few years after Martha was born I got into a lift in a department store and it smelled of the Neo-natal unit and I stood there quietly sobbing at the memory.

Bed rest in the hospital continued with no change until the following Thursday evening. I had only told my close friends what had been happening and had removed myself from Social Media to avoid having to tell anyone. My only visitors were family and my best friend Helen. I didn’t want anyone else there, I just wanted to hide until I’d come out the other side. My Dad used to come and visit me on his lunch hour, but often I would be dozing, so he would quietly stand at the ward door watching me as I slept. That Thursday night, Helen, my Mum and my sister came to visit. I casually mentioned to my Mum that I was getting what felt like period pains and they were happening every 7 minutes.  Just a tightening and nothing too painful. I really don’t know why their existence didn’t alarm me under the circumstances; perhaps I was sub-consciously in denial, as I thought the longer I kept the baby in, the safer the outcome would be. My mum told the nurse and I was monitored over night to see if, what I now knew were contractions, were getting any closer together. Nick came the following morning and we had an emergency scan. Sitting in that scan waiting room with other healthy pregnant mums having their sex scan and coming back into the room cheering and crying tears of happiness was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I literally buried my head in Nick’s chest and cried, hard desperate tears.

The scan revealed that we had little or no measureable fluid left but the doctors wanted to see if they could stop the labour. That night I was put in an isolation unit with a nurse monitoring me through a glass screen like something out of a sci-fi film and given a cocktail of drugs to stop labour.  Nick stayed with me all night as I was too petrified to be on my own. He slept in the chair next to me and I didn’t sleep all night. It was an awful, awful night and I was that tired, I thought I might go mad.  I can remember having this wild look in my eyes through the trauma of it all.  The next morning I sent Nick home. I wanted him to get some proper rest and I wanted him to go to the football that day. I know people will be aghast at that but I was really adamant that he went and had a break. I had the stadium on speed dial and there was nothing any of us could do other than wait to see if the labour stopped. My sister came to take over sitting with me and whilst she was there, it was decided that stopping the labour hadn’t been successful and I needed blue lighting up to Preston because the baby was coming and there were no available incubators at Bolton. Nick arrived back at the hospital with my brother-in-law Simon and followed the ambulance up to Preston. I can’t remember much of that journey except to say that a really weird peace came over me. I felt like I was on a cloud. As the ambulance doors shut in Bolton, Simon mouthed through the doors ‘it’s going to be ok sis’ and suddenly I felt calm.

At Preston I was left sat in my pyjamas and coat on the end of a bed for 2 hours. Another patient made me a cup of tea, and I waited for the doctor to assess me again. I settled into my new bed and the contractions started coming faster. I can remember watching Match of the Day that night (we had beaten Newcastle United 5 -1) and throughout the night I was strapped to the heartbeat monitor. I hadn’t slept a wink in 48 hours. In the morning a doctor and 2 nurses came to see me. I was again given an internal and the doctor decided that they urgently needed to get the baby out as infection had set in. I was induced at 2pm that day. I was exhausted, frightened and now I had to give birth.

I’d heard that labour was painful, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to experience.  Being induced apparently makes the contractions more intense and mine were off the chart, literally off the chart that hung above my bed that mapped the pain and the time apart of the contractions. I can remember screaming for an epidural and asking my mum to kill me (neither of which happened).  It wasn’t helped by the midwife who was seeing to me and kept telling me I wasn’t in labour and that I must have a very low pain threshold. She left the room an awful lot during labour and thank God my mum and Nick noticed that my frantic screams had turned into pushing because Mum ran out of the room to retrieve the midwife, who was eating a sausage butty, and told her to get back into the room with the necessary equipment because the baby was about to be born. The next few moments were a blur. All of a sudden the room went dark, the midwife looked shell-shocked that everything was happening so fast, and a man came into the room with an incubator and breathing equipment. I vaguely remember him standing at the bottom of my bed holding one blue hat and one pink hat. 3 pushes later at 8.12pm, the room erupted with the crying of a baby. A girl. A tiny 3lb 12oz baby girl born at exactly 31 weeks and 3 days.  She was quickly cut away from me and everything went quiet as they put her in the incubator. I can remember asking over and over ‘is she ok? Is she ok?’ and the man with the 2 hats shook his head, and I panicked. He then quickly clarified his head shaking by saying ‘She doesn’t need it, she doesn’t need oxygen, she’s fine’. Oh the relief that engulfed me. I was then passed my precious daughter to hold for a minute until she was taken from me to nicu. The next couple of hours were what I would describe as post traumatic shock. I was so very relieved that she was ok, but I was so angry with that midwife for not listening to me, for not believing I was in advanced labour, for not giving me any pain relief that I so desperately needed, for not having the equipment there if things had gone wrong.  After I had birthed the placenta, I was encouraged to have a bath, then wheeled back to a mother and baby ward filled with new mums and their new-borns, whilst mine was somewhere in that hospital being assessed and stabilised. I was in so much pain physically from the labour and emotionally I was in absolute shock.

Later that night, Nick and I went to see our girl who we had named Martha Iris. She was so small, all curled up in her plastic box with a huge cannula in her hand. But she was the most beautiful, most precious thing on earth to us and she was just perfect. This was the start of learning a new language for us that becomes second nature for all nicu mums and dads. We were invited to do something called ‘Kangaroo Care’ which is skin to skin contact with baby and encourages the bonding process.  Both Nick and I loved this. Having that warm little bug curled up in the nape of your neck is absolute bliss. We were shown how to do ‘Cares’ which is changing and washing your baby through the doors of the incubator without disturbing the many wires attached to them. And of course how to feed them via the tube inserted into their little nose.
I was given sleeping tablets that night and with the help of earplugs and a sleeping mask, I slept for around 9 hours. The most I had had in a week. At around 9am I was awoken by a nurse asking where my baby was! I’m not proud of what I said next…’Are you f*%king kidding me? Have you even read my notes?’ After a profuse apology, she then asked me to begin expressing as it would be beneficial for Martha to get the antibodies associated with breast milk. This began a long process of endless
pumping as I became obsessed with giving Martha every chance of getting stronger and getting out of hospital, back home where she belonged.
The next couple of days I stayed in Preston hospital because I needed to be near to Martha until she was transferred back to Bolton when space became available. 2 days after she was born, she made the journey via ambulance in her incubator with Nick and me anxiously following behind to Bolton’s fabulous NICU facility. I had briefly visited the unit in the week leading up to Martha’s birth and had met mums with babies born at the same gestation in order to prepare me. It was an emotional visit but one which made me feel so much better and not as alone. Everyone was so encouraging and hopeful in there. The nicu mums were some of the strongest I have ever had the privilege of meeting.
 world prematurity day, 7 months pregnant, imeverymum, mummy blogger, premature baby, NICU

Going back home to our flat without the baby was exceptionally difficult. It’s something you never imagine possible, and for some less fortunate than us, it’s permanent. Walking through our door having left a week earlier full of worry and uncertainty, I broke down. I ached for my little girl. She was 5 miles away all on her own, without me looking after her, but I knew she was safe. And so began a new routine of thrice daily visits to the unit to be with her. Nick had been granted 2 weeks paternity leave, but of course he had used up one of those with all the drama of the week previous, and he wanted to save the other week for when Martha came home so we could be together as a new family. We made the difficult decision for him to go back to work, and for him to join me for the evening visit each day.

Nicu is an amazing place. The nurses or ‘Aunties’ as they prefer to be called are wonderful, gifted, caring people. I would wake in the middle of the night, desperate to know how Martha was, and we could call any hour of the day or night to speak, cry, be reassured and comforted by someone who was looking at Martha as we communicated. It was so bittersweet, but Martha’s progress was exceptional. She started bottle feeding my expressed milk and moved from the high dependency unit to an open cot within a week. Exactly 3 weeks after she was born, and a week before Christmas, we got to take her home. We were invited to have a ‘sleep in’ at hospital with her so we could have on hand support if we were anxious, then she was discharged to us along with 70 bottles of my frozen breast milk – I told you I was obsessed!. We couldn’t quite believe that we had been entrusted with this precious jewel to look after at last. We were deliriously happy.  Martha progressed well, and we eventually settled into a new routine with her feeds. I had been struggling so much time-wise to express, then feed her, then express again in time for the next feed. I literally wasn’t leaving the house. Martha couldn’t feed straight from the breast as her suck was too weak and her feeds from the bottle could take up to 2 hours followed by an hour of winding as her back was too weak to get the trapped air up. We eventually gave up on breast-milk after about 2 months which gave me so much more time to enjoy Martha. One of the things you’ll find, not just as a mum of a premature baby but any mum is that the pressure from others can be immense. I actively rally against some of this pressure because I get so angry that as Mum’s we often turn against each other in our bid to be perfect. Breast or bottle? Co-sleeping or not? Baby led weaning? Pain-free labour? It makes me feel like screaming ‘It’s none of your damn business, because you don’t know my circumstances’. What I have learned from my experience is that no 2 stories are the same and the choices we make must suit our families best, not every other smug mum out there.

I’ll always remember those dark days when we feared the worst and to that end I continue to be an active part of a Pprom support group, offering advice and encouragement to ladies on bed rest all around the world. I have also taken part in races raising money for BLISS – (a registered charity for premature babies) who gave me invaluable support and advice when I needed it most.  As we remember all the babies born before their time this week, my heart breaks for all those who grew their wings too soon. Martha was one of the lucky ones and we are incredibly fortunate to have her here with us today, a feisty, independent nearly five year old who makes my heart burst with pride every day. Since Martha’s birth, I have come to realise that being a Mum of a prem is actually all around us. So many people I have spoken to in passing have said they are Mum’s of prems who are now healthy strapping adults. I love hearing those stories; they fill me with such hope and joy.

Prematurity does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone regardless of race, colour, age, religious beliefs etc. I don’t believe that we are ‘blessed’ with our girl who is safe and well, we are just extremely fortunate to have come through the other side happy, healthy and relatively unscathed.  Going back to my first football game a few months after Martha was born was brilliant. The ladies who sit behind us in the stadium had been kept up to date by Nick and I was welcomed back into the football family with open arms, warm hugs and requests to see pictures of our awesome little fighter.  We lost the game that day, but I felt like I’d won the best trophy of all, a beautiful miniature girl who had changed my world for the better.  My advice to Mums out there or to pregnant ladies for whom prematurity is a concern, real or imagined is this: take a deep breath, always trust your instincts, always ask for help, love your baby like only you can and know above anything else that, as the advert says, you’re all doing a great job.

The poem I wrote for Martha’s christening :

For my baby – 1 year old tomorrow

We fell in love with a heartbeat on a screen,

Right there, a life, all new, to the world unseen.

We shared our news with tears of joy,

Was that heartbeat our daughter or a mischievous little boy?

We watched you grow, we nurtured you,

The weeks went by and my bump grew.

One night we laid, and watched the moon,

Then morning came, you were coming too soon.

Frightened I lay in a hospital bed,

Fear and anxiety rushing through my tired head.

In the dead of night, snow fell and rested on trees,

I cried out to God, and my troubled soul eased.

The very next day, our girl was born,

So tiny and sweet and perfect in form.

Our hearts broke again when we couldn’t take you home,

But you were so small, you hadn’t fully grown.

As Christmas approached you were still so small,

Came the news that we dreamed, our best present of all.

We climbed the stairs and switched on the tree lights,

The beginning of tired days and some very long nights.

Precious nights spent together, getting to know each other,

My tiny little angel, teaching me how to be her mother.

As springtime came, you got so much stronger,

A smile then a giggle and legs so much longer.

Now summer’s here, our worlds revolve around you,

You bring so much joy, if only you knew.

I love seeing you, laughing with you Dad,

He’ll always be there for you with a cuddle when you’re sad.

We’ll both do our best to equip you well,

To live your life fully, to make all hearts swell.

I’ll try my best to set you free,

To show you the wonder of love that you’ve taught me.

Every day we thank God for our little treasure,

Who’s improved ours lives and surpassed beyond measure.

So this is your day, your family and friends are all here,

To give thanks for our fighter, Martha Iris, so dear.

THE DIARY OF A WORKING MUM {PART TWO}

Wrestling my thoughts.

Attending interviews half way through my maternity leave is not something I ever envisaged myself doing. I had been out of the ‘work loop’ for nearly 5 months and my employers were under an obligation to ‘redeploy’ me in a role they saw fit unless I agreed to take redundancy. Each week I was sent a list of vacant posts that were deemed suitable to my skill-set, and it was up to me which I applied for. I would automatically be granted an interview which took a lot of the stress out of my predicament, but it turns out that the stress surrounding this new job search would come from other sources, ones which were much closer to home.
Having a baby is life-changing. I don’t need to tell mothers out there that. But having a premature baby is heart-wrenching also and I promised myself I would always put Martha first, come what may.  When she was born I made a vow to never cry in front of her. I wanted her to think that the world was perfect, to never experience heart-ache, to never think that her mum was weak, and to always be happy. It’s like an over compensation that I needed to create this perfect world for her because I felt I had let her down; that my body had failed to sustain her during pregnancy and I owed it to her to make things right. Absolutely unrealistic promises to fulfil, and ones which I now know were ridiculous to have ever made.
It’s right that she sees my struggles, she sees my tears, she sees my frustrations, my joys my laughter all in Martha sized doses obviously, because that is what life is. It’s happy and it’s hard. We struggle so much with our conflicting emotions as mums, always trying to do our best and walking that fine line between being fabulously successful and a complete and utter failure. All or nothing. As a new mum, I needed constant affirmation from my peers and loved ones that I was doing a good job, that I
was a good mum, and that the difficult choices I was making, were the right ones. When you become a mum, you get a newfound respect for your own mum. They are the ‘go to’ person who can give you the best advice in your new parenting role, yet they can also cuddle you as their child when you are struggling. What I didn’t expect was that they are also the ones who can deliver the hardest blows; the curveballs that knock you sideways, and their differing opinions are the ones that hurt the most because they matter to you. They really matter.
I need to say that I love my mum so much. Those who know me know this. She was there at Martha’s birth and she is a brilliant parent, friend and Narny (the word for Grandma in our family). But she is one of those women who feels compelled to share her thoughts and opinions on pretty much everything anyone is doing, regardless of the impact that might have on them. She comes from the generation of ‘stay at home mums’ when, once you had a baby, there was no question of going back to work, certainly not within the first 5 years of the child’s life, if indeed ever again. She made cakes, she cooked tea, she cleaned, she ironed, she walked us in our prams, she always wore a skirt, tights and a nice blouse, and she created a fantastic childhood for all her three children. But she cried a lot, and she suffered from crippling postnatal depression after my brother Mark was born. Her tears used to distress me so much when I was little and the endless months she spent in her bedroom after Mark was born frightened me.
Now I’m not saying that the fact she was a stay at home mum caused her to be depressed, nor am I using it as the reason I went back to work- to avoid being depressed –
I’m just stating that what we witness as children influences how we try to be as parents ourselves (for example me trying never to cry in front of Martha stemmed from seeing my mums tears and how that made me feel). My Mum did absolutely the best she could with the hand she was dealt and ​now I had to find my best. Make the decisions best for my family, which may be completely different for your family and the next and the next. Because every situation is different. My mum’s situation
was different to mine, and mine is different to yours. We need to feel really strong in our personal decision making because the tiniest objection can knock us off our already fragile feet if we aren’t steadfast. As a new parent, I grew increasingly reliant on my mum’s approval to the point where if she objected to anything I was doing, I was sent into a tailspin. That’s not her fault, it’s because I wasn’t strong enough to stand up and own my decision.  Sharing my thought’s with my Mum on my work situation whilst on Mat Leave made me question so many times whether or not I was doing the right thing by going back. What I saw as loaded questions kept creeping in such as ‘Do you have to?’ ‘Won’t you miss her?’ ‘I’d take the redundancy’ ‘you don’t get this time back you know? and such like, all of which made me feel terrible. I know new mums are particularly hard on themselves and if it was anyone else, I’d have answered calmly and certainly and thought no more of it. But this was my mum. She must know best. And her questions were translated in my mind to the following; What was she trying to say? That I was a crap mum for going back to work? Especially because Martha was prem? How could I even think about abandoning her? Why had I had a child just for someone else to take care of her? My confidence was waning with every distorted question.
This was going to be a lot tougher than I thought. And if I was going to do what I knew my heart and head were telling me to do, I was going to have to toughen up; be defiant in the decisions Nick and I had made for our family and stop listening so much to other people. More importantly to stop measuring myself against other people’s expectations. I owed it to Martha to be the best Mum I could be, and that meant finding a way for me to be at peace with the choices I made regardless of what people thought. Realising this was a turning point for me and one which put a new spring in my step, a confident spring.
By June, I had secured a new post with The Council as a Freedom of Information and Data Protection Officer. I had enrolled Martha in a lovely nursery part time in the village of Blackrod; an old grammar school which was Forest School accredited meaning that the children were encouraged to learn outdoors, something important to us as at the time we were living in a flat with no garden.  October was looming and as the seasons changed, our routine was about to change with it. I have always loved Autumn. There’s something magical about the leaves crisp under your feet, the bite in the air, the early evening street lights and the home fires burning. It reminds me of going back to school after the summer break, wearing new shoes, with a new coat and a pencil case, a new teacher, new text books… A new beginning. A new mum with a new job.
dairy of a working mum, premature baby, Im every mum, parent blogger, going back to work after a premature baby
Let's Talk Mommy

THE DAY I FAILED MY FAMILY

The Day I Failed My Family

Ok, so I may be being slightly melodramatic but yesterday I arrived home from university and sobbed so hard it was like someone had died.  I really did feel as though I had failed my family.  Being a busy working Mum and student Mum is not an easy task.  I am so grateful for all of the opportunities that life throws my way but I am tired a lot of the time and I don’t always get to do the things with the children that I was able to do when I wasn’t working, and also before university began this September.

The girls Mum mentioned last week to me that Isis had complained she was bored at our house and that they always had to leave me alone.  Now I know that this isn’t actually true mostly and it was said to hurt me, Isis would’ve text her Mum as a flyaway comment on the one off day that this was true (in the summer when I had worked three nights in a row, I remember the weekend).  Isis was horrified that this was said to me, she didn’t deny it all, she just explained that it had been taken completely out of context.  She told me that she understands that I work nights to pay for their extra curricula’s and she loves being at our home.

Now I know that this is definitely more true of a scenario because I can tell when they are unhappy, I know the days when they are going stir crazy and we need to get them out of the house.  They have been very tolerant with my lack-lustre energy now that I work four nights a week, but they also understand why it’s the case.  Now the babies don’t have this understanding yet.  Judah’s behaviour has changed recently.  My little boy that was always (ok more like 95%, he is a toddler) so good, well mannered, sweet, has begun shouting, screaming, dragging his baby sister around with no regard for how it may affect her and I can see that he is desperate for our attention.

He has had our attention completely ever since he was born.  I was self-employed teaching at home, he would have James to watch him and play with him when I was in lessons.  If I was ever really unwell, he would go to my Mum who would give him her undivided attention.  We then had an au pair when I was struggling to keep on top of things so that he could have her undivided attention if I needed to get on with anything else.  He has been spoilt for attention and now he is at pre-school.  He loves it, don’t get me wrong he absolutely loves it, and it was EXACTLY what he needed.  He loves playing with all the toys, he comes home constantly singing the songs that he learns.  He’s usually wet through as he’s been allowed to just play with the water tray and trash his clothes, something I don’t really do much at home, unless it’s the summer months and even then it’s about space, there isn’t much room to sit outside and watch him play in our little garden at the moment.

Eden has been going to a friends whilst I’ve been at uni, she’s probably had the biggest change to be honest, but she is with a dear friend who I would trust with my life, who has two little children and Eden has not been missing out.  She’s been having a lovely time and playing with the older children when they’re not at pre-school and school.  It’s like she has another little family that she hangs out with.  I know that she misses me, but she’s also going through that independent stage, so really as far as Eden’s concerned the timing couldn’t have been better.  Had I been putting her into a nursery yet, it may have been different, but as it stands she loves going to my friends, and Tanya does a lot with her.  She’s always had a lovely day and is happy to see me when I (or James) collect her.

Ok, now I’ve lengthily set the scene, let me tell you about yesterday.  Yesterday I was at university in the morning for two lectures.  I then have a HUGE gap of 5 hours before I have a meeting as I am the Online Editor of the university newspaper (‘Pluto’ – furthest from The Sun).  When I’m exhausted from working nights I will sometimes go home and have a nap in that gap, but if I have the energy I try and stay at university and use that time to get some work done that needs doing.  Work for my blog, work for uni, work for the newspaper, there is ALWAYS something to do.  Yesterday with it being half-term and Judah’s pre-school being closed James had booked in some working from home days to be with the babies until I finished lectures.  He told me to stay at uni and get whatever done that I needed to.

Then everything changed, Eden was unwell so I booked her a GP appointment for in the afternoon.  She’d had a rotten cough and cold, but now her little voice had changed and I was worried it had become an infection.  James text me saying that he had to call in work and tell them he couldn’t work as he was sick.  I knew that he must feel really unwell to not even be able to answer the phone at home.  I told him I would come straight home after lectures and forget my meeting.  He told me that he was ok, he could cope, he was snuggled up on the sofa and the babies were happy playing in their play area (we have like an open plan play room that is part of the lounge downstairs) and watching TV.

So, I had my uneventful day, with technical issues and technology failures I really didn’t get much done.  In FIVE HOURS I really didn’t get much done.  Then I attended the meeting I needed to, and we didn’t really discuss anything.  Don’t get me wrong, I learned something, we were learning how to use the software that we print the newspaper in, but this is something I could’ve figured out at home.  James came to collect me, and then I saw how bad things were:

I got in the driver’s seat to drive home as I could see he’d literally brought a sick bucket with him.

We got home and Eden was so unwell, she’d been diagnosed with a viral wheeze? whatever that means.  She’d been given a teeny inhaler and spacer and James was too unwell to have thought to give her some already.  She was crying (and it sounded awful as she could barely make a sound), wheezing, all snotty, pushing me away because it’s like she doesn’t want to be comforted by me anymore, as I’m now the care giver that sees her the least.  I just held my crying baby in my arms as she fought me comforting her, and I sobbed.  I broke down and sobbed.  James had gone off to be sick in the upstairs bathroom.  I felt absolutely HORRENDOUS.  What had I been doing all day?  My family desperately needed me and I’d been faffing around with computers all day.

I opened Eden’s new inhaler and spacer and gave it to her.  I undressed her (with a lot of resistance) and put her in some comfy pyjamas and just cuddled her.  I cradled her in my arms, put some olbas oil on her clothes and watched as when James carried her out of my arms to bed, she instantly calmed.  I knew she felt better after we gave her some medicine, but she really settled once she was in her Dad’s arms.

My Mum text me asking how my day was, I wanted to tell her but I knew that what I’d get back wouldn’t comfort me, but be more like an ‘I told you so’ as she thinks that I should be at home with the babies until they go to school.  ‘They’re only little for a short time’.  And she’s right but James and I have made some decisions for our family that we felt were best.  Days like yesterday make it hard to believe that they are for the best.  I wanted to just throw everything in, I felt like an absolute failure as a wife and mother but the reality is, this was a one off.  This was James trying to “support” me in my studies and refusing my help as I offered many times throughout the day to come home.  I should’ve known to ignore his dismissive nature and go home anyway, but I didn’t.  I let them all down.  It may have just been one day, but has definitely made me rethink things.

I had some brilliant advice from a friend when I was mid melt down and I’m putting it out here for anyone else who feels like me :

‘Seriously Alex, that is absolutely normal. It’s natural that you want to protect them from life’s bumps in the road but real life isn’t plain sailing. We have been through some monumental struggles where you question everything, every decision, every disagreement and the things you do to make your family better can often disrupt their behaviour. Don’t forget that Eden and Judah have had your attention for most of their lives so far so of course they are playing up a bit when that changes. James too needs to find his new place in it all. But I honestly believe that the uncomfortable moments are a time for growth and without them, nothing would grow. Nobody likes change but when we push through change it makes us a bit more rounded. If you are really worried, I’d urge you to revisit what you are feeling right now in exactly one month. If it’s the same, then maybe change again. Adjustments are never easy and you are all going through adjustment at the moment. Let it settle before you change it if that’s what is needed. There is no shame in changing your mind about decisions you have made, but there is also nothing wrong with carrying on and finding a new normal that, although painful at first, helps your children to be independent of you. That’s what a mums job is….to equip them.’

These were such wise words and exactly what I needed to hear.  I hope this transparent, bare all post helps someone else to feel better about decisions they have made in their lives.

Working Nights

picnic, imeverymum, working nights, night shift, children
Working Nights

About 6 weeks ago whilst chatting to a friend online I decided to apply for a job working night shifts.  This was around the same time we decided to send the children to Private School and therefore obviously needed some extra income.  Life has been a little crazy since then as there has been so much to sort but I am so happy that all of this was set in motion.

I had an interview and then due to the nature of the job had to wait for my DBS certificate so I had a while to get used to the fact that I would be working again.  It has been so long since I had a ‘real’ job.  I have been self-employed for so long it was really nerve wracking going for an interview.  As I was applying for night shifts though I don’t think I had much competition.

I opted to work nights as I want to still be at home with the children until they start school.  No offence to the Mums that work 9-5 (we’re all just doing our best aren’t we to make ends meet) I just really wanted to be at home with them for as long as I could before they go off to school.  James’ wage was enough that we could cope until Eden went to school but with now needing to pay school fees a job for myself was very much needed.

I had to work two full weeks in the days on induction and that was very strange.  The children hated me being away, especially Judah who I kept finding curled up at the end of our bed when I awoke.  It was a huge change for him at nearly 3.  I guess at an earlier age it just becomes normal as their routines aren’t as firmly set.

Of course we have Martina who was prepared for having them extra, and also my Mum was on call to help the days that she wasn’t working.  So Martina spent some days over at my Mums and my Mum spent a day at our home.  They made it work bless them.  The hardest part for me was that my induction days happened to fall around Judah’s 3rd Birthday.  I hated not being with him on his birthday but James took the day off so that he could take him out to do something nice and we gave Martina the day off which she definitely deserved.

I assured my little man that I won’t be working in the day again, James told him that I would be working nights though so he was all confused with my leaving for work at 9:45.  Obviously he was in bed and blissfully unaware but because Daddy had told him before he went to bed he was all anxious about it.

When I started this post, we had Martina, but it has been sat in my drafts for a while.  Judah is just starting to ease up as my shadow.  I am finding it challenging shall we say without help in the days, but on the whole we are doing really well.  I have been going to visit my Mum or my sister who have been really helpful letting me steal a nap here and there.

Of course I am exhausted and my body is adjusting but I’m so happy that I am able to earn some money for our family and still be able to be with my beautiful babies in the day.

I’m really enjoying working and knowing I’m doing something worth while.  I’ve met some lovely people already and don’t feel as isolated anymore as a Mum of four that was usually only ever with the children.  Going back to work before the children are at school isn’t for everyone, and I’m not sure I would’ve done it had it not been night shifts, but just to encourage any of you out there thinking about it.  The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work out for you and you hand in your notice.  I’m very pleased I made this choice and look forward to what it can make possible for our family.

So what are you waiting for?   What’s the worst that can happen?

picnic, imeverymum, working nights, night shift, children
They’re so worth it!

18 Days of Summer #11

summer holidays, cute boys hairstyles, the boo
18 Days of Summer #11

 

 Today was the most stressful day I’ve had in a long time.  We had decided last night despite my anxiety that we would travel down to Worthing on Tuesday and allocate today as a rest day for me, so that I would be ready to do the 6 hour drive (not including stops) with 4 children on my own.  I felt happy with our decision, but awoke to a text from my mother-in-law with a different suggestion for us.
After a lot of back and forths, we had come to the conclusion that they didn’t want us to come down, we weren’t welcome for whatever reason (this would be very out of character) and I was getting so stressed out with all the extra thought processing whilst I was supposed to be resting.  We decided we would just forget travelling down altogether.
When we finally spoke to James’ Dad on the phone, we realised they really wanted us to come.  They had set up the whole house ready for our arrival and had even slept on the sofa bed downstairs the night before as they didn’t want to ruin the room they had prepared for us.  The truth was that they really wanted us to come down, but were trying to balance that out and not make us feel pressured as they were aware that I have been having some anxiety issues and whilst James is looking for a job there are financial pressures.  This had resulted in us being so confused with all the alternatives we kept being offered and thinking we weren’t wanted.  Bizarre.
Anyway, that was finally cleared up and we set about preparing to come down.  I have had a dreadful cold, maybe, just hayfever, hard to tell as I can’t take any antihistamines with breastfeeding Eden.

The children enjoyed a relaxed day watching movies and performing shows for us.  The girls decided that as they weren’t having a ‘cute girls hairstyle’ today, they would give Judah a ‘cute boys hairstyle.’  So funny, he loved it and kept it in all day.  James and I called it ‘the boo’ as that’s what he reminded us of, from Monsters Inc.

The rest of the evening was spent packing, so hardly an action packed day of fun for the children, but they still had a lovely day.  Sometimes, I feel so much pressure to make every day exciting for them.  I guess that’s what us mum’s do in the Summer Holidays, but especially for the girls as in the future we would aim to go away somewhere with them, like the year we went to Butlins.  When you go away there’s always entertainment for them, so you don’t have to think, or feel guilty because they’re entertained.  It doesn’t do them any hard to have a relaxed day every once in a while.

‘The Princess’ made me laugh so much with her idea of packing.  I told her it would be cold and this is what she packed in her trunki.  I guess a princess can never be under prepared for potential royal engagements.

I downloaded ‘Turbo’ onto the iPad in case the children were bored in the car.  I’ve not seen it, so hoping to get chance myself at some point.  Ignoring my anxiety, I was prepared to travel the next day.

James and I got to bed very late and I set my alarm for 3:30am tomorrow.  This didn’t leave much time.  Not the best of days, but hey, this is a realistic account of our blended family life.

*pictures displayed are just random photographs I captured today, as opposed to details of what we were up to.  Apologies for a boring blog day.

18 Days of Summer #9

18 Days of Summer #9

A more relaxed summer day today, as James stayed in bed most of the morning, he must have needed it.  It was throwing it down outside early so I started to plan in my head for a rainy day.  I booked us in to the cinema as planned for the evening, this made sense as I thought it would hardly be a beautiful summer evening for sunset strolls on the beach.

Slowly sorted breakfast, which ended up being in shifts rather than a family meal, Judah had eaten about 6 am when I’d taken him downstairs as he was up early.  The girls then ate about 8:30 after they’d been up and running around for a while.  Eden had her breakfast when she emerged with her Daddy about 9:30/10ish, I can’t remember what time James woke up.

I then commenced doing the girls hairstyles that they had been busy choosing.

braided flower tie back
braided flower tie back

Shayla-Rae had the ‘braided flower tie back‘ although her hair wasn’t really long enough, her flower looks more like a little rosebud, but hey, it’s the one she wanted.

knotted headband
knotted headband

I actually really loved doing Isis’ hair.  She opted for the ‘knotted headband‘ which although fiddly, I really enjoyed doing.  James wanted to get involved, so a crocodile clip was replaced with him holding some hair (bless) and I almost felt like I was weaving or something.  Anyways, it’s a fun one to do and I think it looks great.  This is definitely making it into my favourite school hairstyles list.

Once we had finished getting ready, the early risers (the babies) needed a nap, oh well.  Off went Judah and Eden for a nap and I made everyone some cheese and ham toasties.  Children love toasties, what a great invention, it’s just a sandwich, that can seem so bland sometimes, but just add some heat and pressure, and voila, something they think is exciting to eat.  I made Judah and Eden’s ready for when they woke, so that it would not be hot and I wouldn’t have to start faffing when they woke up hungry.

After lunch we helped my Mum clean up for tomorrow’s festivities – it’s my brother Jacob’s 21st and everyone is coming to my Mum’s for a meal.  16 people for dinner after a family of 6 has invaded your home for a week is a bit much, so we helped tidy up (as best we could, she’s fussy about how she likes things done).  Then I guess the festivities of the week caught up with me.  I ended up napping on the sofa in the front room for an hour and a half whilst the girls played in the back garden.   When I awoke there was just enough time to sort out nappies that needed changing, clothes for children (Judah had been napping in just a t-shirt),  My Mum volunteered to watch Eden and the rest of us went off to munch some chips before the cinema.

IMG_0121 IMG_0124

This was literally all that we had time to munch.  We arrived at the cinema in time to find a carpark ticket, collect our 3D glasses, buy a large popcorn between us, and in we went to the cinema.

IMG_0132 IMG_0128

This was the first time that Judah had been to the cinema where he was a paying customer who I expected to watch the movie.  His first film was ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ when he was a tiny baby and just in the buggy.  Shayla-Rae hadn’t been to the cinema for a long time.  She doesn’t remember when we took her to see ‘Tinkerbell – the secret of the wings’ or whatever it was called haha two Christmas’s ago.  We had arrived whilst the trailers were on and the house lights were down.  Shayla was petrified to even walk down the slight incline to find seats, you’d think I was trying to push her off the edge of a cliff to her death.  We got there in the end.  Judah was very reluctant to wear his glasses, until in the movie he realised the picture was better.

We watched ‘The Unbeatables’ – I am really sorry if you have seen it and enjoyed it, but James and I could not believe how horrendous the plotline was.  The children loved it so I guess that’s all that matters.  We just felt that they had spent so much time making the 3D effects cool, that they forgot the plotline.  Put it this way, my favourite part was the last half hour which was based around a football match – yep!

Outside the cinema was the most beautiful sunset, I was so annoyed that I had run out of battery on the DSLR and snapped a quick pic on James’ iphone.  It just doesn’t do it justice.  I think James thought we could grab a romantic one of us and Isis offered to take it.  She took a beautiful photo of the sky and her finger haha.  Better luck next time James, sorry.

my effort with the iphone
my effort with the iphone

When we returned home it was bedtime, I took the girls hair out for whilst they slept and they had cuddles with Eden.  We had kisses and cuddles and off they went.

snuggling with Eden on the sofa
snuggling with Eden on the sofa

It was one of those nights were Judah and Eden just wouldn’t settle, an hour later, James and I still had bed invaders…

image

we finally settled them and got snuggled down for the evening.  Early start tomorrow morning as James is serving on Kids church and we have a lot longer drive than usual, and the children will all need a bath.  Excited to hang out with the family for my little brother’s 21st.

Hope you all enjoy the bank holiday, we’ll be driving down to Worthing, West Sussex and hoping the traffic isn’t too terrible.  Think of me driving a 6 hour journey (minus toilet stops) with four children.  If you get time to say a little prayer, please do.

THE ORDINARY MOMENTS #3 {BEING A DANCE MUM}

The Ordinary Moments #3 {Being a Dance Mum}

I’ve been doing a mini blog series with the children as we are in the middle of 18 days holiday with the girls.  18 whole days with my big blended family, and I am loving it.  If you want to follow our series it’s called ’18 Days of Summer’ the most recent post is here.  As we’ve been documenting EVERYTHING that has been happening in the week, my Ordinary Moments post this week is a throwback to the girls final week at dance before breaking up for the Summer.  I love being a Dance Mum even if it does take up most of my weekend.

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The girls absolutely love their dancing lessons, and it’s a good job really because when I was on maternity and James was studying it seemed to cost the earth.  They both do ballet, tap and modern, and they are really good at it.  Going to watch them in their recent production was one of our proudest moments as parents.  Obviously, we may be a bit biased but we felt that they stood out in their respective dance numbers as they usually had the most pointed toes and biggest smiles.  Also, they both have spindly legs but it was more the toes and smiles thing *winks.*

At the end of every term they have a week ‘watching week’ where us Dance Mums and Dads can sit in on the classes and see where the children are up to.  This was the first one since Christmas due to the show and it was lovely to see how far the girls had come.

watching week 2

It’s amazing to think that Shayla has been there nearly 3 years and she is still only 4.  She’ll be 5 in September, we didn’t send her to dance lessons before she could walk (pushy mother alert).  I love seeing how confident it has made the girls and has been one of our greatest investments into them, not just financial but the time commitments.  When they were rehearsing for the show they would be at the Dance Academy for 6 hours EVERY Saturday, when this is the only real day we got to spend with them, this season was hard.  We missed them, but knew that it only comes round once every 3 years and it would be an amazing opportunity for them to perform to show standard on a big stage.  They loved it!!!  When you’re a Dance Mum sometimes you feel like a dance widow.

We’re going into a season of exams now as again, due to the show, exams were put on hold.  Both girls have progressed so well, and the Dance Academy principle has told Isis that she is ready to do an exam in each genre in this autumn term coming up.  Exams are another huge time commitment, they have to attend coaching classes in addition to their Saturday regular classes for each exam they’re taking.  We as parents have to attend too, take notes and make sure we practice with them at home (they get a CD with the exam music on to take home).  It’s an interesting time for finances too, as each exam can be between £60-£70 each, with the coaching classes, CD’s, and the exam cost, not to mention any new uniforms they may need as they need to be pristine for the exam itself.

watching week 3

 This watching week the girls weren’t in their uniforms as I had arrived back from a conference in London at 3am that morning, and had met the girls and ‘other mummy’ at the Dance Academy, so they just came in some comfy clothes.  For the purpose of my photos though, I quite like it, as it’s easy to spot who’s ours.
watching week 4
It’s lovely for the girls to have another strong constant in their lives too, I know that as they grow up these girls (and boys) will be their friends.  The bonds that they’ll make in rehearsals for shows and through moving up grades and doing exams together will be strong.  As a former teacher at this particular academy too, I taught music theatre and popular music, I am strong advocate for exams, they are good practice for them as people and the things life throws at them as they grow older.  Also, the big plus, in my opinion and the only reason I would encourage vocal pupils to take them, was due to UCAS points.  Once they get to a certain standard, their exams start counting towards getting them on to the courses they may wish to take at university.  Ok, a long way ahead at the moment, but, especially if a child is more creative than academically gifted, this can be a huge plus.
watching week 5
On a Saturday it doesn’t get any more ordinary for us (well, in term time) to be found at the Dance Academy or Costa Coffee in the shopping centre adjacent whilst waiting for them to finish their classes.  Judah will be starting Beginners Ballet in September.  He absolutely loves dancing and jumping around, I don’t see this as something we will encourage long term unless he loves it and wants to continue, but it definitely teaches discipline, having to sit when instructed, they learn co-ordination, timing and rhythms and so an increased understanding of musicality.  I am sure that he will love it, but we’ll see how it goes.
watching week 6
Do you think I’m biased?  Do you think our girls stand out for their poise, or just their outfits?
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18 DAYS OF SUMMER #10 {HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY JACOB}

18 Days of Summer #10 {Happy 21st Birthday Jacob}

Today was a day of mixed emotions, we were celebrating my brothers 21st birthday, and going back home from our summer stay at Nana and Grandad’s.  We had to be up early and head out to church, it’s further to travel from my Mum’s and James was on Kids team so had to be there an hour and a half early.  My Dad packed half of our things into his car so that when we traveled back home in the evening we’d have room for everything.  The girls had only packed summer dresses (my fault for not checking) so had brought things in two shifts earlier in the week.  My wonderful Mum had helped me get straight with our mountainous washing whilst we were there too, so we had lots to take home.

The children all needed baths, so that was a quick job and hair was put into dutch-braided pigtails with a zigzag parting.  Nice and neat, meant that they could have curly hair later.

We all chilled out whilst James was setting up the kids room in the baby area upstairs at church.  I’ve said in a previous Sunday post has cosy the baby area is.

After church, we headed back to my parents (after dropping off some things at home) and we all hung out with family before Jacob’s birthday meal.  The children love hanging out with my extended family and my brothers and sisters always spoil them with affection and gifts when they can.  My Nan and Grandad came, my two brothers came, my sister (Auntie Jenny), my cousin, family friends, as you can imagine, it was a bit of a houseful.

After dinner, I disappeared upstairs for a while.  I began to have a lot of anxiety about driving down to Worthing tomorrow.  It hit me that I have to drive on Bank Holiday Monday when it will be busy, maybe lots of traffic jams, there are weather warnings for the South of the UK and I will have four children in the car.  Hmm…. I don’t think this was an irrational anxiety.  Started debating what I should be doing, and also packing up the rest of our things ready to go home for the evening (whatever else happened).
My Mum was sad that we were leaving, the girls presented her with some flowers which I had chosen.  I knew they were her favourite, and they thanked her for having us.  I’m sure my Mum is glad to have her home back, no more pooey nappies, potty training babies, Peppa Pig *snorts* on the telly, but she was definitely sad to see us leave too.

I started having panic attacks about all we had to do.  James packed up the car, my brother looked after Eden.  The children ran riot for a while.  The girls asked to speak to their Mum for the first time.  I guess 10 days is a long time to be away.  We tried calling but couldn’t get through, we would try again tomorrow.

We got home, debated what to do tomorrow, decided that travelling down Bank Holiday with a weather warning would be foolish, and James rebooked himself on the National Express for the following day, and a train down to Worthing from London.  I felt better about this and planned a rest day for tomorrow so that I’m fresh to drive down on Tuesday nice and early.  Also, we have to organise and pack the car properly.  Travelling with so many children is very stressful.

Looking forward to my rest day tomorrow.  Anyone else driven the length of the country with four children 8 and under on their own?  Any tips?  They will be greatly appreciated.

18 DAYS OF SUMMER #7

18 Days of Summer #7

Today was a random day to be in the middle of our summer holiday, but last week my friend passed away and his wife asked me to sing a song he loved me singing at the funeral.  I loved William, he used to call me his adopted daughter.  He died suddenly whilst in hospital waiting for them to attend to him at the age of 57.  I had tried to practice last week and just ended up in floods of tears, so on the morning of the funeral I decided to try and practice again.  It’s a song that William who was a preacher would have me sing night after night about a decade ago when he was preaching every night at a church in Blackpool.  This was the church that they were holding the funeral at.  I knew it would be strange to be back in that building, singing that song at William’s funeral.  It’s a song I knew back to front and inside out even a decade later.  I spent the morning singing (Nana sorted the children’s breakfasts, just crumpets that morning) and then getting ready.  My mum was going to have the children for me, I realised four on her own was a bit harsh as I had no idea how long we would be (I had to be there early to set up etc.), so we took Eden with us, she’s never any trouble and if James needed to go out of the main room with her, he could.

The weather was terrible so my Mum was just staying in with the other three.  The girls understood what I was going to do and didn’t mind it interrupting their holiday (bless them).  Lots of kisses, cuddles and off set James, Eden and I

Was really bizarre arriving there, William’s son Adam, just a child when I last saw him, had been recently ordained in the Summer (his Dad was there to see that – ‘proudest day of his life’) and was leading the funeral.  He was giving the eulogy, along with William’s boss, he was also preaching, and when we arrived he was sorting out the words onto the overhead projector and sorting out the sound desk.  Shocked to see him there so early and to realise how much he was doing (instead of coming later with the family) I took over putting the words into the computer program, and Keith and I started to sort out the sound for our music, and made sure everything else they needed was working.

I kept my mind busy for the hour and a half that followed before the funeral commenced.  Sang my little heart out, and then went outside to have a little weep.  Strangely though, I don’t weep for the loss of William.  I believe I know where he has gone and that he will be at peace now, but seeing his wife and daughter (who was my friend years ago, we just lost contact when she got married – they are Romany Gypsy’s and have a very strong culture, her role was to stay in the home, look after her husband and have children) was the reason I wept.  I know we do not weep as those who have no hope as we believe we’ll see him again, but for those left behind it is hard as life adjusts.

 Above is one of William’s messages when he spoke at a church about a year ago.  Please watch if you want to see what all the fuss was about, his story of his life before and after meeting Jesus is amazing.  When his coffin was carried out at the end of the service yesterday there was a standing ovation and everyone applauded like when a ship makes it maiden voyage out of the harbour.  The next stage of his journey is just beginning.
So, back to the children.  My sister and her boyfriend had been at the funeral with James, Eden and I, we went back to collect the others and go out for ice-cream near the local lake.  It was so windy, so we sat inside the cafe.
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Judah and I making our way to the cafe

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Isis posing

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the whole clan plus Auntie Jenny, you can’t see James is holding the car seat behind the girls with Eden in it

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My little monkey

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Ordering their ice-creams

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Daddy photobombing indiscreetly

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Eden enjoyed her biscuit

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disappointed there’s no sweets left in the pic n mix

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Adam and Eden

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Adam playing helicopters with Shayla-Rae

I was exhausted when we got back from our little walk, with the emotional strain of the day, but dinner still needed to be made so off I went to the shop to get some mince.  I had planned to make chilli, it was a cold day so this seemed fitting.  In times like this I am grateful for the meal planner as it helps me to not have to make choices when I’m tired.  They all enjoyed the chilli and rice, then had some game time with Grandad before having a bath and going to bed.

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concentrating

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playing ‘Snorta’ with Grandad

Although today wasn’t the ideal ‘holiday’ day for the children, they had fun and what can I say? This is real life, and life doesn’t stop, it keeps going and situations happen.  I was pleased to be around the area to make it so accessible for us to continue our holiday and still be able to sing.

Tomorrow we’re taking Grandad out for a delayed birthday breakfast as we were busy with church festivities when they organised an impromptu dinner a fortnight ago.  Looking forward to that.