138 articles Articles posted in Parenting

Night Feeds – Finding Our Rhythm

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Since Burrito Baby and I came home from hospital, we’ve been settling back into family life and trying to find a rhythm that suits us. As I mentioned in this post, I struggled with tiredness for the first couple of weeks, but with Husband’s help I managed to start to feel human again. We were feeding on demand at first, allowing BB to tell us when she was ready for a feed, but that posed a few problems; firstly, BB is an impatient little monkey. If she doesn’t get her milk pretty much as soon as she tells you she wants it, her screaming will reach fever pitch and, if you’re particularly slow, she’ll actually refuse the bottle once you manage to get it to her, or fall asleep from what I can only imagine is exhaustion caused by all that fuss.This then causes a knock-on issue, which is that we live in a very small house and BB’s urgent cries are likely to wake Sausage up, which is just not fair when she has school the next day. Also, she was waking herself up to the point that she didn’t want to go back to sleep, even after a feed.

So, we had to think of something new. With Husband’s help, I decided that rather than allowing BB to get to the point of screaming for a feed, we’d give her a bottle every three hours whether she asked for it or not. That way, she wouldn’t wake up to the point of no return and I managed to get some sleep between feeds. It worked for us for a while and I started to regain the feeling of being an actual human being, not just a milk-delivery zombie.

One night, though, I decided to push my luck – my alarm went off at 1am to give BB her next feed but she seemed to be sleeping really soundly so I thought I’d see how long she’d sleep for if I didn’t wake her up. She slept right through to 4.30am, which was a 6 and a half hour stretch! From that night onwards, I’ve been giving her a late bottle before I go to bed and she’s sleeping an average of 6-7 hours, uninterrupted, which is absolutely brilliant! Given that I took her to be weighed yesterday and she’s gained just under 2lb in 17 days, I think she’s probably having a bit of a growth spurt, hence all of the eating and sleeping, and if this sleeping pattern continues, I’ll be a seriously happy mummy!

For me, this is just further proof that ‘parenting methods’ are all well and good, but nothing will work the same way for every baby. When I had Sausage, I didn’t have a lot of friends with kids, nor did I have a lot of contact with other mums online, so I didn’t really know about ‘methods’, I did things instinctively. Turns out, my version of instinct was baby-wearing, gentle parenting, with a dose of baby-led weaning thrown in later on! This time, I’m trusting my instincts again, remaining fluid and open to change and it seems to be working for us.

So far…!

A Healing Birth

IMG_20140226_082159If you’ve read Sausage’s birth story before, you’ll know that it didn’t go at all to plan. The whole thing was a disaster, right up until the surgeon pulled her from my body in under a minute, saving her life and getting her into the world safely. It’s taken five years to consider the prospect of doing it all again, but as you’ll know if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, my second daughter was delivered just over three weeks ago.

I had to be in hospital for two and a half days before I gave birth as I was only 36+6 weeks gone and had to have steroid injections to ensure that the baby’s lungs were properly developed. However, steroids can play havoc with blood sugar and being diabetic already meant that I needed to be closely monitored to ensure that I didn’t go too low or too high, as well as being on a constant insulin drip. I had to take my blood sugar, via finger prick test, every hour for the entire duration of my hospital stay, which sucked. The first night I was there, I managed a total of 45 minutes sleep, and the second night about 2 hours sleep.

By Monday morning, I was SO ready for my c-section to happen, despite being nervous about the whole thing, and luckily I didn’t have long to wait. Husband arrived before 9am and soon, the scrub nurse was ushering him off to get into scrubs and wellies (yes, seriously, wellies! Although, I must say, he looked rather tasty in scrubs!).

Walking into the operating theatre felt odd – last time, I’d been shoved through on a gurney and put to sleep in the space of a few seconds. Now, I was chatting and laughing with the theatre staff and being put at ease by Husband. The spinal was the part I was dreading the most, but I had two anaesthetists in the room, both of whom were very reassuring and kind, and not only was it over in no time, but it was SO much less painful than I expected it to be. Don’t get me wrong, feeling someone sticking a needle into my spine was slightly odd, but it was totally manageable.

Once they were sure that the spinal had worked, the screen was put up and the operation began. I could feel lots of pulling and moving around, but no pain – all of it was very odd! At one point, Husband stood and looked over the top of the screen, just in time to see the baby being pulled out of my tummy! She’d been very low down and had wedged herself in with one arm above her head, so the surgeon had to use one side of a set of forceps like a spoon to help him to scoop her out.

Between the moment she was pulled out of my body and the first time I heard her cry, it felt like all of the air had been sucked out of the room. The trauma of Sausage’s birth hung over me like the blade of an axe, but hearing her let out a cry made the horrible memories evaporate. I’ll admit, I cried right along with my newborn daughter, tears of relief and love pouring out of me. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to both the team who’d done my c-section, and the surgeon who’d managed to deliver Sausage all those years ago.

It had all gone to plan and my newborn daughter had been delivered safely.

After the baby was out, the surgeon took a long time sewing me back up and it really shows – my scar is almost invisible! One of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had was as the team were prepping me to take me to recovery; out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of the nurses move something across the bed – it was only when I looked down that I realised the ‘something’ she’d moved had been my right leg, but I had no sensation in it at all!

Despite three miserable days spent hooked up to a drip, despite my tiredness, my bruised coccyx from sitting in a bed the whole time, despite being away from Sausage and Husband and despite all of my fears, I felt utterly blissful in the hours after the birth. It was such a different experience from my first c-section and I really felt like it had gone a long way to repairing some of the damage done to my heart and mind. Being conscious and hearing my baby’s first cry was something I’ll never forget.

 We were home within a day and a half and family life has steadily been getting back to some semblance of normality. We’ve discovered that the baby loves to be swaddled, wrapped like a burrito, leading to the name she’ll be known as here on the blog…Burrito Baby, or BB!

I’ve got lots more to tell you all about the first three weeks of BB’s life, so keep your eyes peeled for more posts. Also, there’s still time to nominate Mum’s the Word for Best Pregnancy Blog in the MAD blog awards, if you feel like doing us a favour…

Why I Don’t Care if Ellen Page is Gay

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I became aware of Ellen Page back in about 2006, when Husband told me about this film he’d watched where a young woman entrapped and brutalised a paedophile, mostly for shits and giggles, which had an awesome actress playing the lead role. If you’re aware of Hard Candy, you’ll know that a young Ellen Page gave a performance which was as convincing as it was memorable and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

Skip forward a couple of years; Husband and a very pregnant me sat and watched Juno, a film which handled the issue of teen pregnancy with a grace that had never been seen before. Here, we were faced with a young woman who, while on the surface may have been a bit off-beat, was conscious and uncompromising in her decision about what to do with the life of the child that she knew, ultimately, she wasn’t ready for. Juno was a kid who fucked up, had an accident, did what so many others do, but the way she dealt with it (and the space and respect that her parents showed her in dealing with it) reflected what a kid can really do, under such enormous pressure. I cannot imagine anyone else playing that role.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed watching Ellen in various films, such as Inception, X-Men, The East and Whip It (a particular favourite which has made me desperately want to learn to skate so I can try roller derby!) and I can honestly say I don’t think she’s made a bad choice or put in a bad performance.

Aside from her impressive career, she seems to be a pretty impressive person, too. Away from the spotlight, the (self-confessed) “tiny Canadian” has involved herself with various humanitarian issues, such as campaigning to end the military dictatorship in Myanmar, Burma and also appealing for The New York City Food Bank.

Of course, there’s long been speculation as to her sexuality. Her ‘conspicuous’ lack of male escort at various award ceremonies never fails to set tongues wagging and her graceful but slightly awkward avoidance about whether she ever had a crush on Leonardo DiCaprio in various press junkets leading up to the release of Inception caused even more hyperbole (although, quite why anyone thinks that’s an appropriate question of a professional actor, I don’t know. Would it ever have been asked of a man?!).

Ellen’s self-outing was delivered at the Human Rights Campaigns Time to THRIVE conference, where she decided to use her personal life, and effectively sacrifice her well-protected privacy, to campaign for the safety and well-being of other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people across the globe. She’s unleashed her truth in the most conscientious way possible, in a way that doesn’t benefit her, but will hopefully help millions of other people across the globe. She says she’s “tired of lying by omission” and hopes that her coming out will help others to have the strength to be open about their sexuality, too.

So, while the title of this post may come across as slightly glib, I really do mean it. I adore this young woman and everything she stands for. As a mother to (almost) two girls, I feel that I can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that there are women like her out there, setting an example of strength and selflessness and showing that above all else, being yourself is the best thing you can possibly be.

Who Ellen Page chooses to fall in love with is of absolutely ZERO consequence to anyone but herself and her chosen partner and what I hope is that we can start to end the process of defining people by their sexuality. It simply does not matter whether a person is gay or straight or any of the other shades of the Rainbow. What matters is how they choose to live their life and the way they treat others around them. Of course, I believe people should be proud of who they are, and their sexuality, to an extent, factors into the person as a whole, but there’s so much more to everyone than that one small factor.

Anyway, its 4.16am, I’m sitting in a darkened maternity ward and probably rambling somewhat now, but I wanted to get my thoughts on the page and say that I wish Ellen a lifetime of happiness and love.

That’s all. 

Post C-Section Tips

 Post C-Section TipsThe date of my planned c-section is looming fast and I’m already aware of (and very happy about) the fact that this will be a totally different experience to last time. For a start, I’m more than 5 years older and totally not taking for granted what five years worth of ageing can do – I feel very different as an almost 30 year old than I did as a just-turned-24 year old, and I’m aware that this could make the healing process a little different. There’s also the fact that this will be my second c-section and that could well affect my healing time and recovery afterwards.

The biggest difference, though, will be the birth itself and subsequent days. Sausage was in NICU for the first week of her life and I had been sent home, so for those 7 days I was waking, showering, going to the hospital, sitting next to our baby and then going home to do it all again in the afternoon. I must have walked miles of corridor in that first week – a far cry from the ‘as much bed rest and sleep as you can manage’ advice that’s given to most new mothers. Having said that, I actually healed and recovered from my operation pretty quickly and I wonder if my ‘carrying on regardless’ kind of helped?

Anyway, instead of going into the second c-section feeling mystified, I thought I’d ask some of my blogging pals what their best tips were for post c-section recovery, and here’s what they had to say:

Jenny from Mum of One: “Take it slowly. It is easy to forget but it is major abdominal surgery and it will take a good while to recover. Enjoy cuddles in bed with your baby as much as possible those first few weeks.”

Laura from Tired Mummy of Two: “Pillow on your belly for the first time you put a seat belt on!”

Vanessa from HPMCQ: “Do not sneeze!”

Nikki from Stressy Mummy: “Get as much help as you can for the first couple of weeks and don’t lift anything heavier than a kettle”

Stacey from Five’s a Fellowship: “Don’t even thinking about having a bath – take a shower for the first week or so otherwise you’ll find yourself unable to get back out of the tub!”

Kelly from Domestic Goddesque: “Very big pants!”

Cat from Cat’s Yellow Days: “Take it easy but do make sure you still try to keep moving even if it’s just up and down the hall to get a cup of tea. Not getting any exercise at all can leave you feeling even weaker in the long run.”

Rebecca from Here Come the Girls: “Ignore everyone’s requests to show you the scar! On a serious note; write down a list of all the times you have taken pain killers as you’ll forget and you don’t want to do that.”

Jenny from Cheetahs in my Shoes: “If you have SPD and a C-Section it can be worth asking for a walking frame to get you moving again to stop you twisting too much when you mobilise again. It’s not glamorous but can really help”

Sarah from Boo, Roo and Tigger Too: “If you do not have a changing unit downstairs then change babies nappy on a changing mat on the sofa, to save you having to get down to the floor and bend over too far”

Anna from The Imagination Tree: “I’d say take peppermint oil to ease the wind pain as it’s excruciating after a c-s! Wear mega pants up to your belly button- buy granny knickers from primarni rather than the expensive ones made for the purpose. Walk around sooner than you feel able to and it will increase your recovery time massively. Keep all vital baby equipment at standing level. Wear your hubby’s trackie-bots or a nighty as everything hurts around the waist. Phone a doctor the very second there’s redness or swelling in your scar (eesh!) Try not to get mastitis at the same time- you’ll sob and ask for someone to kill you ;-)”

As for me, my own tip would be to invest in a v-pillow or even just a spare, regular pillow to put under your tummy if you sleep on your side; having a bit of extra support while you’re healing can really help with your comfort levels in the first couple of weeks after surgery.

Thanks to all of my lovely friends who’ve contributed their wisdom. If you have any other tips for me, please leave a comment below – knowledge is power and I need all the help I can get!

Disney Princess Palace Pets Review

If you follow me on any social media, you’ll probably know that poor Sausage has been off school all week with tonsillitis. Every time we think she’s on the mend and ready to go back to school, she seems to get all run-down again, like today when she woke up with a stinking cold on top of it all. She’s feeling pretty droopy, so when a parcel arrived just for her yesterday, the timing couldn’t have been better. She’s had the Disney Princess Palace Pets app on Daddy’s iPad for a while now and she adores the game, which is basically a virtual grooming shop for all of the pets belonging to the various Disney Princesses, and the toys we were sent to review accompany the app.

Disney Princess Palace PetsThe main Disney Princess Palace Pets Pamper and Beauty Salon Play Set retails for around £33 and contains one Palace Pet (in this case it was Summer, a cat belonging to Rapunzel), and gives you a place to sit your animals while they’re being preened and pampered, as well as coming with various hair clips and brushes which can be used on tails and manes. We were also sent Blossom, Mulan’s Panda, Bloom, Aurora’s pony, and Treasure, a singing pussy cat who belongs to Ariel.

Sausage was absolutely over the moon with all of the toys, which seemed really true to the animations within the app (she immediately recognised Blossom as we pulled her out of the box!) and she’s been playing with it all pretty much ever since. All of the toys feel high quality and well made, although some of the parts are absolutely tiny, so I wouldn’t give them to smaller kids or those prone to putting things in mouths or up noses!

I like the fact that there are lots of different pets available, so if your child has a favourite princess you can buy the corresponding animal. The talking and singing cat is slightly larger than the other pets and as such retails for a slightly higher price (around £12.99, compared with around £5.99 for the smaller, non-talking pets) but I think all of the prices seem quite fair, given that it all feels sturdy and like it would last a while. This is definitely the sort of playset that I can see us putting away when Sausage has outgrown it, and passing it onto the baby shen she’s old enough for such toys.

This would make a great gift for any child who loves their Disney Princesses and it’s genuinely cheered my little lady up in a week which has been pretty miserable for her.

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Arguing in Front of Kids

Arguing in front of kidsEarlier this week, I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and I saw a post from Mama Syder, one of my favourite bloggers, who’d seen a debate on telly about the potential damage done to kids when they see their parents argue. According to the expert findings “Destructive’ conflict – including sulking, walking away or slamming doors – puts youngsters at greater risk of a range of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, said relationship charity OnePlusOne”.

Study co-author Dr Catherine Houlston said: ‘We know conflict is a normal and necessary part of family life. It’s not whether you argue but how you argue that matters most to kids. Research suggests that, over time, the impact of being exposed to arguing between their parents can put children’s physical health at risk.”

The thing I found most interesting, though, was Mama Syder’s take on the findings. She said:

The Syders“I think kids need to see arguing so they don’t grow up with unrealistic ideas about love. I know watching my parents row & divorce taught me that marriage wont be a fairytale and that forgiveness is an essential ingredient to loving & being loved in a long term relationship.”

Now, if you don’t know anything about Mama S, I’ll give you a little rundown. She’s been married to her Husband for 25 years, has three children, one grandchild and lives a gorgeous life on the Essex coast. When you read her posts, tweets and Facebook statuses, you know that although life hasn’t always been straight-forward for her, she and Mr. S are as much in love today as they were 25 years ago and it makes me wonder if her forgiveness and realism are what have seen her manage what a staggering 42% of people can’t (official divorce statistics from 2012)

I asked two other wise and wonderous bloggers what they thought, two more women whom I admire and look up to, Annie from Mammasaurus and Tanya from Mummy Barrow, and here are their thoughts:

MammasaurusAnnie: “I think hearing people argue is an important part of growing up, friends, parents, randoms – so long as there’s discussion afterwards about the arguement. Children need to know that it’s cool to express when they are angry with something or someone but that there are different ways they can do it – some acceptable and some not. And by seeing all sorts of arguements it helps them form their own opinions, and gives them a sort of moral compass.”

Tanya:

Mummy BarrowIf arguments are constructive and calm (not screaming, hurtful, or aggressive) then it is good for children to see that adults disagree on things and can either agree to disagree, or opinions changed. I dont think it is healthy for children to not see arguments resolved if they hear the argument start and not end or do I think it is healthy for a child to NEVER hear an argument. If they sense an atmosphere and parents not talking as a result of an argument they never witnessed, how is that healthy? Children need to learn how to argue. Its not all screaming cat fights like on Eastenders, and that is not healthy. Same with funerals, I think children need to go to those too. They need to understand how processes work, there is an argument, it happens, we move on. And hearing arguments whilst upstairs is not healthy either.

I agree in part with everything that the ladies have said. While it’s not ideal for kids to see heated arguments or escalation, I do think it’s reasonable for them to see that life isn’t always sunshine and roses and that human beings do experience conflict. I also think that T’s point about resolution is really important too. As someone who grew up with a lot of adults who’d rather use passive aggression and guess work to communicate with each other, I never really saw anyone backing down or being the bigger person, just a series of snarky comments and then everything being swept under the rug until the next argument.

Husband and I do our best not to argue in front of Sausage, although there have been times when we have, but we always go to great pains to explain to her that Mummy and Daddy love each other very much and that disagreeing with each other is a totally normal part of life. We’ve also been known to conduct disagreements via WhatApp or Hangouts so that things don’t get too heated! She also sees, FAR more frequently, Husband and I being affectionate towards each other, having happy debates, mucking around and mickey taking and ribbing each other gently. Just yesterday she said to us “I love it when you two laugh together”, which really warmed our hearts!

I think the escalation factor is the most important one – as long as kids see you managing conflict in a calm, measured way, that’s okay. Providing they don’t hear name calling, see aggressive behaviour such as raised voices, door slamming and plate breaking, it’s perfectly possible for them to witness an adult argument without it causing trauma to them and I genuinely believe that they can learn effective conflict resolution by being set a good example by their parents.

So, what’s your take on all of this? Do you avoid conflict of all sorts? Have your kids seen you arguing? Do you think it’s potentially damaging or a fact of life that they need to learn? Let me know!

Sausage, Rainbows and the Religious Conundrum

Husband and I have been looking for an after-school club to send Sausage to for some time; there are clubs run through her school but they’re for slightly older kids. She’s a bright, outgoing little girl but being an only child means that she lacks interaction and sometimes is a little under-confident in social situations where she has to push her boundaries. We were aware that a few of her classmates went to Rainbows so I enquired about our local group and waited for a reply.

Husband raised concerns that he thought that The Girlguides Association was a Christian group and as someone who attended Brownies and Guides myself, I had to admit that I remembered promising to ‘do my duty to God’ during the Promise. I went onto the Girlguiding website to check it out and according to the information on the site, the part of the promise mentioning God has been removed altogether, after a public consultation. It also goes on to say that The Girlguiding Association “is not, and never has been, a Christian organisation”. The Promise, which aims to represent the inclusive values of Rainbows has now been changed to say ‘to be true to myself and develop my beliefs’

Okay, so far, so good…or so we thought.

After Sausage’s first session, which she really enjoyed, I emailed the Brown Owl at Sausage’s group to see if she could shed any light on the situation, mostly because we’d received a schedule of the next few meetings which said that she’d be attending ‘Church Parade’ within the next few weeks. I asked the leader if this was a compulsory activity and if there was a general note of religion running through any of the sessions. Here’s her reply:

“There is not a particularly religious aspect to our meetings.  As you may have read in the Press last autumn, Girlguiding has altered the Promise to ask a girl to be true to her beliefs, whatever they may be, so it is multi-cultural.  Church Parade is not compulsory, but as we meet in the Church Hall and are given greatly reduced rates for the hall hire by the PCC we do like to support the Church.  About once a year the Vicar runs a meeting for us.  This has taken the form of a nature walk round his garden, a BBQ, a tour of the church and a talk about Advent.  These meetings are listed on the programme and you are at liberty to withdraw Sausage from that evening if you so wish.”

So, what that sounds like to me is that, because the Church hires the hall space to the Rainbows for a reduced rate, they’re given access to the kids to be allowed to preach religion to them. Despite the official organisation tack of ‘all-inclusive’, I don’t see anything on the schedule about activities with a Rabbi, Imam, Buddhist monk or any other such religious leader, so it does seem to be fairly exclusively Christian, does it not? And what, in exchange for cheap hall rental?

I appreciate the fact that we’ve been given the option to keep Sausage back from the sessions which involve religion, but I don’t understand why there has to be a religious aspect at all? It’s all well and good to encourage “spiritual development”, but I really feel that should be part of the parents job, not the remit of someone who is clearly biased towards one religion or another. My daughter is five years old – she’s not old enough to make her mind up about which religion she wants to follow, if any (she regularly tells us she wants to be a Hindu until she realises that it means she’ll have to give up eating spaghetti Bolognese) and beginning some sort of insidious indoctrination at such a young age is not what we signed up for.

To be honest, I feel really disappointed on Sausage’s behalf. She should be able to attend an after-school club without us having to worry about what might be being preached in her ear, but this Rainbows pack in particular has obviously decided that the all-inclusive nature of Rainbows is to be ignored. The whole point of the Promise Consultation wasn’t just to make the organisation inclusive to all faiths, it was to make it inclusive to those with NO set faith too.

She’s given MORE than enough religious education at school (which, believe me, is an understatement, she comes home almost every day telling us that there’s been some sort of religious aspect to her education) and the last thing we want is for it to be poured onto her at an extra-curricular club too. Faith, or choosing NOT to have faith, should be a personal thing, dealt with at home and marginally through a small aspect of their education. She’s five years old and it’s all too much.

Perhaps I need to see if I can find a science club for her to attend.

How to Teach Your Kids About Sex

sex educationI’m not a parenting expert, not by a long shot; I’m more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” kinda girl (the fact that I’m quoting a fictional hooker has probably undermined any potential expertise I’d have gained, anyway…). Having said that, I like to think that Husband and I are doing a reasonable job of raising Sausage, who’s a kind, bright, inquisitive little girl and one of the things that has set us in good stead is our ‘no-bullshit’ rule.

When I was pregnant with Sausage, Husband and I made a pact that if we were ever in a position to explain something to her properly, we’d never whitewash her the way some parents do and would do our best to always explain things in a kid-friendly, but accurate manner. This is as much for our benefit as it is for hers. From our point of view, it means that we’ll never be in the tricky position of trying to think up some elaborate tale about the ways of the world, plus it’ll instill a sense of trust between us all. I often think that the more parents lie to their kids when they’re little, about things which are easily explainable, the more potential damage they could be doing to their relationship. Imagine growing up being told fairy stories about every fact of life, then having to learn it all the hard way when you’re older, not knowing if what your parents told you about anything  was ever true.

From Sausage’s point of view, I like to think that giving her information does a few things – firstly, it instils a sense of trust from us because we credit her with being logical and reasonable enough to be able to be given facts. Also, I link to think it brings us closer together. If, when she’s older, she knows that she can talk to Mum and Dad about anything, without having to watch us squirm with discomfort at “awkward” questions, she’s more likely to come to us for the really important stuff. And, on a totally different note, I’d much rather she learn about the science of reproduction from us than from her peers, who (I hope…) know a lot less about it than we do!

I’m always surprised that parents are reluctant to let their kids have sex education during primary school, too. The way I see it is that if you’re not able to give your child the information they need about sex, then why not feel relieved that a professional is doing your job for you? I completely refute the premise that teaching kids about sex will make them go out and do it – we taught Sausage the basic principle of nuclear fission once, but she’s not out trying to procure fissile materials. Kids aren’t sheep and I think many parents fail to credit them with enough intelligence and maturity to deal with cold, hard facts. If anything, teaching them that SEX leads to BABIES might make them think twice about unprotected sex.

The thing with kids (and some sciences, for that matter) is that there’s always a level to which you can break things down where they get the information they need, without making it too graphic. We’ve told Sausage that females have an egg and men have a different type of cell, called a sperm and they fit together like pieces of a puzzle. The Dad gives his sperm to the Mum and it fertilizes the egg, then it lives in the Mum’s tummy for nine months so that it can grow into a baby. She was more than satisfied with this description and we didn’t need to go into details about HOW daddy gives mummy the sperm (although, it may occur to her to ask when she gets older). That’s the easiest way to break it down, for us, it doesn’t go into unnecessary detail (which I think would probably just confuse her at her age anyway) and allows us to give an accurate and totally squirm-free explanation.

Sausage found a book in the library called the Flip Flap Body Book, which tackles  How Babies Are Made in a way that we were really comfortable with and I highly recommend it if your little ones are asking questions that you aren’t happy to answer (if you read the Amazon reviews, people are saying that it’s even good for up to 9-year-olds, so don’t feel like you’ve missed the boat if you’ve never tackled the subject with your child).

All in all, I genuinely think that honesty is the best policy when it comes to kids, especially when it’s something like this which can, in reality, be so easily explained in a way that suits you both.

Good luck!

When PTSD Rears its Ugly Head

Its a funny old thing, PTSD. Not ‘funny, haha’; believe me, in that respect it’s about as funny as a bad case of genital warts. No, its more funny in a sardonic, “well, isn’t that a mother-fucker?” kind of way. The thing with PTSD is that you can think you’re well and truly rid of it, you can think that you’ve managed to unwrap yourself from its icy, black grip, and then one day, you find yourself surrounded by dozens of unpaired socks, in a darkened room, thinking about all the things you need to do before you die.

After I had Sausage and it all went wrong, that was the first time the PTSD hit me. Everything that was written in stone, AKA: The Birth Plan, had gone completely and utterly tits up, leaving me (the perennial control freak) feeling utterly out of control. I had premonitions of death and destruction and it took me a long time to consider myself ‘back to normal’.

Who am I kidding? I don’t think you can ever be normal again after contemplating the mortality of your newborn child. Sausage’s birth changed both Husband and I indelibly.

However, I thought I’d got to a stage where I’d managed to get my head around everything, deal with it all, sort it into neat little piles and tidy it away into the sorting system inside my brain. Getting pregnant again, or being able to even contemplate having another child, was in no small part down to feeling like I’d finally shaken off the last of the trauma. But here I was, frantically pairing socks.

The house has been in dire need of a spring clean for ages and despite Husband offering on more than one occasion to pitch in and help, I’ve stubbornly refused to loosen my grip on the domestic side of our lives. Today, I plunged in and finally made some progress with the sorting and tidying, but while I was doing it, I felt those familiar thoughts creeping back in, hence the pile of socks. It occurred to me that if something were to happen – if the worst were to happen – while I’m having the baby, Husband might not be able to find a pair of socks for Sausage if they weren’t paired up properly.

Once those thoughts start creeping in, its very hard to stem the flow and before I knew it I was in full-on panic mode. My train of thought was something like this:

“Sausage likes having her hair in a French plait…I must teach Husband to do a French plait…I wonder if I can find a YouTube tutorial teaching him how to do it?…I need to write letters for Sausage to open on her 18th birthday and her wedding day…where did I put the manual for the new washing machine? Husband’s going to need that…what’s a living will? I wonder if I need to write one?…” And so on and so forth.

Last time, I spent the whole pregnancy convinced that the birth was going to go badly wrong, and ultimately it did. This time, I’ve been so consumed by all of the other things that have been going on that I’ve managed to keep it all at bay, but now I feel like I’m losing the battle against my own brain. I’ve got 5 weeks of this pregnancy left and I need to do my best to remain calm, not just for me but for the sake of the baby, and Husband and Sausage, but its not as simple as just knowing that I need to.

The shock of feeling that way again has almost doubled the effect. When you think you’ve got a handle on something like this, catching yourself having the same thoughts all over again is like being punched in the gut. That fucking pile of socks was my Everest and I needed to get it sorted, otherwise everything would go wrong. Its hard to explain how anxious a pile of odd socks can make you feel, but it was just a small part of all the things that I wouldn’t be here to do if my worst fears were confirmed.

The logical part of my brain knows that this birth will be totally different to the last. A planned c-section is a world away from the drama of an emergency procedure where mother and baby are in distress; so why can’t I get the logical part of my brain filter that information down to the bit that is convinced I’ll never make it out of that operating theatre?

I should have known this was creeping up on me – I’ve been an emotional wreck for the last few days and I’ve just put it down to hormones, but maybe its a bit more than that. I’d love to think that my new obsession with Sausage’s socks is just nesting, but it feels far more bleak than that. All I know is, I CANNOT allow myself to slide back to the place where I had to get off the bus 5 stops early because I was so convinced that it was going to crash.

I need to rebuild my outer shell and not let the blackness wrap itself around me again.

Learning to Tell the Time

When I was little, I was pretty capable when it came to most things. I had great verbal reasoning and could catch on to most concepts with minimal effort (if only it were so easy as an adult!) but the one thing that I remember struggling with was telling the time. I lived with my Grandparents when I was 5 and they had this little clock on top of their telly, a proper 1970′s marvel with an oblong-shaped face and no numbers, plus the classic orange second hand that all clocks seemed to have when I was a kid, and I remember spending what seemed like ages staring at that clock with my Grandad trying to explain 20-past and 10-to, to me.

My Nan used to do this thing, I don’t know if it’s just a Southern idiom, or a London thing specifically, but she didn’t say ‘twenty-five past’, she said ‘five and twenty past’ – I used to find it really funny as it reminded me of the nursery rhyme where they say “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”.

Anyway, the time has come where Sausage needs to learn to tell the time and the best way for her to do this is to wear a watch, so we’ve been shopping around, trying to find one which would be good for her. So far, our favourite comes from The Watch Hut:

The Watch Shop

This ICE watch looks like it’d be really sturdy, but it’s still very pretty and the numbers are bright and easy to read. Sausage will absolutely love it and it’s something that she won’t outgrow in a hurry. We love being able to teach Sausage new things, and watch her absorbing and using her new life-skills. Telling the time is one of those things that seems so simple and second-nature to an adult, but is actually really important to know, so we’re intent on providing her with the right tools to do it.

What do you think of our choice? What would you choose, if you were us?

If you need any help with teaching your kids to tell the time, there are some great resources below which are full of great tips and advice:

The Guardian

Kids Activities Blog

Here’s an Android App which is very useful

And one for iOS